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when he concluded there was a general and spontaneous burst of applause expressive of a greater degree of enthusiasm than probably was ever before kindled by the influence of eloquence in a deliberative assembly.* Three of the most eminent members of the house arose in succession, and bestowed on the speech the highest commendation. Mr. Burke declared it to be the most surprising effort of eloquence, argument, and wit united, of which, there is any record or tradition. Mr. Fox avowed, that all he had ever heard, all that he had ever read, when compared to it, dwindled into nothing, and vanished like vapour before the sun. Mr. Pitt confessed that it surpassed all the eloquence of ancient or modern times, and possessed every quality of excellence that genius or art could furnish to agitate, and control the human mind.

After a short interval, one of the friends of Mr. Hastings endeavoured to reply to the speech, but was unable to proceed from the convulsed and tumultuous state of the house. Enraptured with the eloquence of Mr. Sheridan, the members were unwilling to part with the delightful impressions it had created, and seemed prepared, under the excitement of the moment, to pronounce, by acclamation, the guilt of the accused.

Perceiving these dispositions in the house, Mr. Pitt very properly moved an adjournment, "that the members might have time to recover, so as to be able

* Among other proofs of the astonishing effects of this speech, it is related of the late Mr. Logan, who was one of the warmest friends of Mr. Hastings, and well known as the author of a masterly defence of his conduct, for the publication of which, Stockdale the bookseller was tried, went to the house on that day with the strongest prepossessions in favour of the accused. At the expiration of the first hour, he said to a friend," All this is declamatory assertion without proof?" When the second was finished, "This is a most wonderful oration." At the close of the third, "Mr. Hastings has acted very unjustifiably." At the fourth, "Mr. Hastings is a most atrocious criminal." And at the last, "Of all monsters of iniquity the most enormous is Warren Hastings."

to discriminate between the blaze of eloquence and the light of truth." This motion, with great difficulty, was carried. On resuming the discussion of the subject, the house still retaining its impressions, voted the charge by an immense majority.

The speeches, here inserted, we pretend not to give as a faithful transcript of Mr. Sheridan's eloquence. They are, on the contrary, evidently a very inadequate report of it. No perfect record, we believe, was ever made of these unparalleled productions. They are now presented, we can confidently say, in a better dress than they have hitherto appeared. The chain of reasoning pursued by the orator, will be found sometimes to be abruptly broken, and much of the evidence omitted, but the sublimer parts have not altogether been permitted to escape. Many a gem of the highest polish and the finest lustre is preserved, though detached and separated. These speeches in their present state, can only be viewed as splendid fragments. They have no other preten



I WILL not, sir, take up the time of the house with any general arguments, to prove that the charge which it has fallen to my lot to bring forward is of great importance. The attention parliament has devoted to the affairs of India, for many sessions past; the voluminous productions of your committees on the subject; our own strong and pointed resolutions; the repeated recommendations of his majesty, and our repeated assurances of paying due regard to these recommendations, are all undeniable evidences of the magnitude of the consideration, and tend most clearly to establish the broad fact, that parliament acknowledges the British name and character have been dishonoured, and rendered detestable throughout the Indian provinces, by the malversation and crimes of the servants of the East India Company.

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It has, however, sir, I know, been insinuated by some persons, that the national legislature is doing wrong in urging the prosecution against Mr. Hastings, at a time when its attention might be so much more advantageously employed for the country. I have heard it intimated, that among other high matters which claim a precedence, that a commercial treaty with France has just been concluded, embracing objects of such a vast and momentous nature, as alone to be entitled at present, to all our deliberative wisdom. To this I reply: is it possible that any one can conceive that parliament is mispending its time by inquiring into the oppressions practised on millions of unfortunate persons in India, with a view of bringing to exemplary and condign punishment the most daring of these delinquents, who have wantonly perpetrated flagrant acts of enormous tyranny, and rapacious peculation? Can it be deemed by any one a misuse of our functions, that we are dili gently exercising the most effectual means of wiping off the disgrace which tarnishes the British name in India, and of rescuing our national reputation from lasting infamy? Surely, sir, no man who entertains a proper sense of his country's glory can think a subject of higher magnitude, or deeper interest than this could come before us, or that we could push the inquiries which it involves with too much steadiness, too ardent a zeal, or a too industrious a per


To the credit of this house it has already pronounced the solemn award, that Warren Hastings deserves to be impeached for " high crimes and misdemeanors." By this decision we have shown our abhorrence of that novel and base sophism in the principles of judicial proceedings, which was attempted to be introduced, that crimes may be compounded; that allowing Mr. Hastings to be guilty of all which is alleged against him, his guilt ought to be balanced by the splendid successes of his administration; that these are a complete set off to all his oppressions, treacheries, corruptions, cruelties and peculations

and that though king, lords, and commons have declared against him after the most calm, patient, and elaborate scrutiny into his conduct, yet it should escape punishment, because, the high criminal can produce a vote of thanks from the court of propri


The house, I repeat, has in this respect, done itself immortal honour. We have proclaimed to the world, that however degenerate an example some of the British subjects have exhibited in India, the people of England collectively, speaking and acting by their representatives, feel as men should feel on such an occasion. We have asserted that there are acts which no political expediency can sanction or extenuate. We have said, that in the administration of Mr. Hastings, we have discovered, to use the language of an eloquent member,* "acts of strong injustice, of grinding oppression, and unprovoked severity."

We have, moreover, declared that my noble friend + who instigated this prosecution, is no false accuser. That he was actuated to do it by no envy, malice, or unworthy motive. But that, on the contrary, he is the indefatigable, the persevering, and finally, the successful champion of oppressed multitudes over their despotick and cruel oppressor. This house has proved itself, in short, superiour to the arrogant pretensions that were advanced in behalf of Mr. Hastings, "of the pillar of India, of the corner stone of our strength in the East, of the talisman of the British territories in Asia," whose character has been said by his silly admirers to be above censure, and whose conduct was not within the reach of suspicion.

If ever there was a subject, sir, in which inquiry has been full, deliberate, candid, and dispassionate, it is certainly the present one. There are, no doubt, in this house questions occasionally agitated from motives of party, and in which decisions are supposed to be matters of easy acquisition. But, I now

* Mr. Pitt.

† Mr. Burke.

utterly disclaim all such reasons as influencing this proceeding, and do solemnly profess to God, that in my own bosom there is an entire conviction of the guilt of Mr. Hastings, and that I am sensible all those who are concerned in the prosecution feel the


With regard, especially to his treatment of the Begums of Oude, the ground of the present charge, I have no hesitation, or reserve in stating as my honest belief, that it comprehends every species of human offence and moral depravity. Towards these unfortunate women, he has proved himself guilty of rapacity at once violent and insatiable; of treachery cool and premeditated; of oppression useless and unprovoked; of breach of faith unwarrantable and base; of cruelty unmanly and unmerciful. These are the crimes of which in my soul and conscience I arraign Warren Hastings, and of which, I have the confidence to say, I shall convict him.

Let it not be supposed that I mean to rest the charge on mere assertion, or upon the warm expressions which the impulse of wounded sensibility may excite. No, sir, I will establish every part of it by the most unanswerable proof, and the most unquestionable evidence. I will support every allegation by testimony which cannot be contradicted, namely, by that of Mr. Hastings himself.

As there are members in this house who are prepared to become his advocates, I therefore challenge them to keep an eye upon me, to watch if I advance one inch of assertion for which I have not solid ground. For I shall trust nothing to declaration, and hence I desire credit for no fact which I do not prove, and which, indeed, I do not demonstrate beyond the possibility of refutation or denial.

With these preliminary remarks I proceed cursorily to examine the defence of Mr. Hastings, which, sir, he put into my hands to day for the first time, as I entered into the house. This defence must be considered as a second answer to the charge now under review. But the new attempt at a vindication will be

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