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which we are knit and connected in the eternal frame of the universe, out of which we cannot stir.
This great law does not arise from our conventions or compacts; on the contrary, it gives to our conventions and compacts all the force and sanction they can have; it does not arise from our vain institutions. Every good gift is of God; all power is of God; - and He who has given the power, and from whom alone it originates, will never suffer the exercise of it to be practised upon any less solid foundation than the power itself. If, then, all dominion of man over man is the effect of the divine disposition, it is bound by the eternal laws of Him that gave it, with which no human authority can dispense; neither he that exercises it, nor even those who are subject to it; and, if they were mad enough to make an express compact, that should release their magistrate from his duty, and should declare their lives, liberties and properties, dependent upon, not rules and laws, but his mere capricious will, that covenant would be void.
This arbitrary power is not to be had by conquest. Nor can any sovereign have it by succession; for no man can succeed to fraud, rapine, and violence. Those who give and those who receive arbitrary power are alike criminal; and there is no man but is bound to resist it to the best of his power, wherever it shall show its face to the world.
Law and arbitrary power are in eternal enmity. Name me a magistrate, and I will name property; name me power, and I will name protection. It is a contradiction in terms, it is blasphemy in religion, it is wickedness in politics, to say that any man can have arbitrary power. In every patent of office the duty is included. For what else does a magistrate exist? To suppose for power, is an absurdity in idea. Judges are guided and governed by the eternal laws of justice, to which we are all subject. We may bite our chains, if we will; but we shall be made to know ourselves, and be taught that man is born to be governed by law; and he that will substitute will in the place of it is an enemy to God.
60. IMPEACHMENT OF WARREN HASTINGS, 1788. — Id.
The unremitting energy of Burke's appeals, in the prosecution of Hastings, was a subject of wonder at the time, and is a lasting memorial of his zeal in what he believed an honest cause, for the admiration of posterity. Hastings himself has said of Burke's eloquence against him, "For the first half-hour, I looked up to the orator in a reverie of wonder; and, during that time, I felt myself the most culpable man on earth." The trial of Warren Hastings commenced in Westminster Hall, Feb. 18, 1788. The whole process occupied ten years, from 1785 to 1795. On the 23d of April, 1796, Hastings was acquitted by a large majority of the Peers.
MY LORDS, I do not mean now to go further than just to remind your Lordships of this, that Mr. Hastings' government was one whole system of oppression, of robbery of individuals, of spoliation of the public, and of supersession of the whole system of the English Government, in order to vest in the worst of the natives all the power that could possibly exist in any Government; in order to defeat
the ends which all Governments ought, in common, to have in view. In the name of the Commons of England, I charge all this villany upon Warren Hastings, in this last moment of my application to you.
My Lords, what is it that we want here, to a great act of national justice? Do we want a cause, my Lords? You have the cause of oppressed princes, of undone women of the first rank, of desolated Provinces, and of wasted Kingdoms.
Do you want a criminal, my Lords? When was there so much iniquity ever laid to the charge of any one?—No, my Lords, you must not look to punish any other such delinquent from India. Warren Hastings has not left substance enough in India to nourish such another delinquent.
My Lords, is it a prosecutor you want? You have before you the Commons of Great Britain as prosecutors; and I believe, my Lords, that the sun, in his beneficent progress round the world, does not behold a more glorious sight than that of men, separated from a remote people by the material bounds and barriers of nature, united by the bond of a social and moral community; — all the Commons of England resenting, as their own, the indignities and cruelties that are offered to all the people of India.
Do we want a tribunal? My Lords, no example of antiquity, nothing in the modern world, nothing in the range of human imagination, can supply us with a tribunal like this. We commit safely the interests of India and humanity into your hands. Therefore, it is with confidence that, ordered by the Commons,
I impeach Warren Hastings, Esquire, of high crimes and misdemeanors.
I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, whose Parliamentary trust he has betrayed. I impeach him in the name of all the Commons of Great Britain, whose national character he has dishonored.
I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose laws, rights and liberties, he has subverted; whose properties he has destroyed; whose country he has laid waste and desolate.
I impeach him in the name and by virtue of those eternal laws of justice which he has violated.
I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured and oppressed, in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life.
61. PERORATION AGAINST WARREN HASTINGS.-Edmund Burke.
MY LORDS, at this awful close, in the name of the Commons, and surrounded by them, I attest the retiring, I attest the advancing generations, between which, as a link in the great chain of eternal order, we stand. We call this Nation, we call the world to witness, that the Commons have shrunk from no labor; that we have been guilty of no prevarication, that we have made no compromise with crime; that we have
not feared any odium whatsoever, in the long warfare which we have carried on with the crimes, with the vices, with the exorbitant wealth, with the enormous and overpowering influence of Eastern corruption.
My Lords, it has pleased Providence to place us in such a state that we appear every moment to be upon the verge of some great mutations. There is one thing, and one thing only, which defies all mutation that which existed before the world, and will survive the fabric of the world itself, -I mean justice; that justice which, emanating from the Divinity, has a place in the breast of every one of us, given us for our guide with regard to ourselves and with regard to others, and which will stand, after this globe is burned to ashes, our advocate or our accuser, before the great Judge, when He comes to call upon us for the tenor of a well-spent life.
My Lords, the Commons will share in every fate with your Lordships; there is nothing sinister which can happen to you, in which we shall not all be involved; and, if it should so happen that we shall be subjected to some of those frightful changes which we have seen, if it should happen that your Lordships, stripped of all the decorous distinctions of human society, should, by hands at once base and cruel, be led to those scaffolds and machines of murder upon which great kings and glorious queens have shed their blood, amidst the prelates, amidst the nobles, amidst the magistrates, who supported their thrones, may you in those moments feel that consolation which I am persuaded they felt in the critical moments of their dreadful agony!
My Lords, if you must fall, may you so fall! but, if you stand, and stand I trust you will, together with the fortune of this ancient monarchy, together with the ancient laws and liberties of this great and illustrious Kingdom, may you stand as unimpeached in honor as in power; may you stand, not as a substitute for virtue, but as an ornament of virtue, as a security for virtue; may you stand long, and long stand the terror of tyrants; may you stand the refuge of afflicted Nations; may you stand a sacred temple, for the perpetual residence of an inviolable justice!
62. TO THE ELECTORS OF BRISTOL.-Edmund Burke.
GENTLEMEN, I have had my day. I can never sufficiently express my gratitude unto you for having set me in a place wherein I could lend the slightest help to great and laudable designs. If I have had my share in any measure giving quiet to private property and private conscience; if by my vote I have aided in securing to families the best possession, peace; if I have joined in reconciling kings to their subjects, and subjects to their prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign holdings of the citizen, and taught him to look for his protection to the laws of his country, and for his comfort to the good will of his countrymen; if I have thus taken my part with the best of men in the best of their actions, — I can shut the book; — I might wish
to read a page or two more, but this is enough for my measure.
have not lived in vain.
And now, Gentlemen, on this serious day, when I come, as it were, to make up my account with you, let me take to myself some degree of honest pride, on the nature of the charges that are against me. I do not here stand before you accused of venality, or of neglect of duty. It is not said that, in the long period of my service, I have, in a single instance, sacrificed the slightest of your interests to my ambition, or to my fortune. It is not alleged that, to gratify any anger or revenge of my own, or of my party, I have had a share in wronging or oppressing any description of men, or any one man in any description. No! the charges against me are all of one kind, - that I have pushed the principles of general justice and benevolence too far, - further than a cautious policy would warrant, and further than the opinions of many would go along with me. In every accident which may happen through life, in pain, in sorrow, in depression and distress, I will
call to mind this accusation, and be comforted.
63. MARIE ANTOINETTE, 1790.* -Edmund Burke.
It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the Dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in, glittering like the morning star, full of life, and splendor, and joy. O! what a revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her, in a Nation of gallant men, in a Nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.
But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of Nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.
*Born, 1755; beheaded, 1792.
64. DECLARATION OF IRISH RIGHTS, 1780.- Henry Grattan.
Henry Grattan, one of the most renowned of Irish orators, was born in Dublin, on the 3d of July, 1746, and died in 1820. In December, 1775, he took his seat in the Irish House of Commons; and from that time till 1800, he figured politically in that body chiefly. The Irsh Revolution of 1782 was carried mainly by his efforts. Although a Protestant, he was a most earnest advocate of the entire emancipation of the Catholics from all invidious distinctions and disabilities. In 1805 Grattan took his seat in the British Parliament, where he became the leading Champion of Catholic rights. The passages from his speeches in this collection bearing date anterior to 1805 were pronounced in the Irish Parliament; those of a subsequent date were delivered before the popular branch of the Imperial Parliament. Of Grattan we may add, in the words of the Rev. Sydney Smith:-"No Government ever dismayed him; the world could not bribe him: he thought only of Ireland; lived for no other object; dedicated to her his beautiful fancy, his manly courage, and all the splendor of his astonishing eloquence."
SIR, I have entreated an attendance on this day, that you might, in the most public manner, deny the claim of the British Parliament to make law for Ireland, and with one voice lift up your hands against it. England now smarts under the lesson of the American war; her enemies are a host, pouring upon her from all quarters of the earth; her armies are dispersed; the sea is not hers; she has no minister, no ally, no admiral, none in whom she long confides, and no general whom she has not disgraced; the balance of her fate is in the hands of Ireland; you are not only her last connection, you are the only Nation in Europe that is not her enemy. Let corruption tremble; but let the friends of liberty rejoice at these means of safety, and this hour of redemption. You have done too much not to do more; you have gone too far not to go on; you have brought yourselves into that situation in which you must silently abdicate the rights of your country, or publicly restore them. Where is the freedom of trade? Where is the security of property? Where is the liberty of the People? I therefore say, nothing is safe, satisfactory or honorable, nothing except a declaration of rights. What! are you, with three hundred thousand men at your back, with charters in one hand and arms in the other, afraid to say you are a free People? If England is a tyrant, it is you have made her so; it is the slave that makes the tyrant, and then murmurs at the master whom he himself has constituted.
The British minister mistakes the Irish character; had he intended to make Ireland a slave, he should have kept her a beggar. There is no middle policy: win her heart by the restoration of her rights, or cut off the Nation's right hand; greatly emancipate, or fundamentally destroy. We may talk plausibly to England, but so long as she exercises a power to bind this country, so long are the Nations in a state of war; the claims of the one go against the liberty of the other, and the sentiments of the latter go to oppose those claims to the last drop of her blood. The English opposition, therefore, are right; mere trade will not satisfy Ireland. They judge of us by other great Nations; by the Nation whose political life has been a struggle for liberty, America! They judge of us with a true knowledge and just deference for our character; that a country enlightened as Ireland, chartered as Ireland, armed as Ireland, and injured as Ireland, will be satisfied with nothing less than liberty.
I might, as a constituent, come to your bar and demand my liberty.