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projector and his friends, failed, however, particularly those of Bristol, that they set io make an impression upon the house, every engine at work to prevent a mea and therefore all the propositions founded sure, which was called for by the exigency upon it, were rejected by a great majority. of the times, as much as by the principle When, in the course of the same session, of natural justice. Burke was instructed the measure of introducing German troops by the electors of Bristol to oppose the was adopted without the consent of par. bill, but he had the manliness to venture liament, Mr. BURKE lifted up his voice upon risking their displeasure, rather thar with powerful eloquence against the un- pursue, out of mere policy, a line of conconstitutional proceeding, and in answer duct which his conscience disapproved. to Wedderburne, the solicitor general, He wrote two letters on the subject, one to who defended it in an elaborate speech, the heads of a private commercial house, which he concluded by moving the pre- and the other to the master of the compavious question ; he observed, that the ny of merchant adventurers, in both which learned gentleman had ransacked history, he laid down the most solid maxims of statutes and journals, and had taken a trade, and advanced the most satisfactory very long journey, as was usual with him, reasons in support of the legislative grani, through which he did not wish to follow which they reprobated. him, but he was always glad to meet him These arguments, however, were thrown on his return home. “Let us” said BURKE, away upon minds that viewed every object "strip off this learned foliage entirely from through the discoloured medium of prejuhis argument; let us unswathe this Egyp- dice and self-interest. Two other steps tian corpse, and bereave it of its salt, gum, of Mr. BURKE, which while they did him and mummy, and see what sort of a dry honour, gave great offence to the good skeleton it is underneath-nothing but à people of Bristol; where the part he took precedent! The gentleman asserts, that in regard to lord Beauchamp's bill for the a bill only can declare the consent of par- Relief of Debtors, and his vigorous supliament-not an address-not a resolution port of sir George Savile's act in behalf of the house;-yet he thinks that a reso- of the Roman Catholics. This last mea lution of the house would, in this case, be sure, though nothing more than what had better than a bill of indemnity : so that been long called for by every principle of we find a bill is nothing, a resolution is humanity, policy, and right, produced in nothing—nay, I fear our liberty is nothing: England and Scotland, that shameful and that ere long, our rights, freedom, and combination of sectarian bigotry, which, spirit
, nay this house itself will vanish, in under the specious name of the Protesa previous question."
tant Association, brought an indelible After opposing in vain, the measures stain upon the country, in the riots of the taken by government for the subjugation year 1780., Just before the occurrence of the colonies, Mr. BURKE began to relax of those dreadful outrages, Mr. BURKE in his efforts, and even to be less regular brought forward, and carried his motion in his attendance in the house ; in justifi- for leave to bring in a bill “For the better cation of which conduct, and at the same regulation of his majesty's civil establishtime to express his entire sense of the ments, and of certain public offices; for question then at issue, he wrote at the the limitation of pensions, and the supbeginning of 1777, a letter to the sheriff's pression of sundry useless, expensive, and of Bristol, which'was soon afterwards inconvenient places, and for applying the printed with the consent, and most proba- monies saved thereby for the public serbly at the desire of the author. Hitherto vice." perfect harmony had subsisted between But though successful in this popular him and his constituents, but within a object, it had not the effect of securing short time after this, a serious difference his return for Bristol at the election which arose, which instead of being healed, be took place in the same year. On his arricame wider by the attempts made at ex- val in that city after the dissolution of parplanation. The first occasion of dislike liament, he found an opposition raised given by BURKE to the citizens of Bristol, against him, which, neither the power of was his voting in favour of the act for ex- his eloquence nor the interest of his friends tending the Irish trad Such was the nar. could overcome. The speech of Mr. row spirit of the English merchants, but BURKE on the hustings, in vindication of his parliamentary conduct, was indeed a America, I trust, as not the enemy of masterly piece of declamation, but it made England, I am sure, as the friend of mare so little impression upon the hearers, that kind, on the resolution of the house of after a short struggle he deemed it pru- commons, carried by a majority of nine dent to retire from the contest. A seat, teen at two o'clock this morning, in a very however, was already provided for him býfull house. It was the declaration of two his great patron, and Malton, which he hundred and thirty-four; I think it was had originally quitted for Bristol, now re- the opinion of the whole. I trust it will turned him without any difficulty. It lead to a speedy, peace between the two merits observation in this place, that not- branches of the English nation, perhaps withstanding the rejection of Mr. BURKE to a general peace; and that our happiby the electors, the corporate body of Bris- ness may be an introduction to that of the tol, for the most part, adhered inflexibly world at large. I most sincerely congra, to him, and of this attachment they gave tulate you on the event. I wish I could a striking, proof not long afterwards, in say, that I had accomplished my commischoosing his brother Richard to be their sion. Difficulties remain. But as Mr. Recorder the death of Dunning, lord Laurens is released from his confinement, Ashburton.
and has recovered his health tolerably, he The American War, after seven years may wait, I hope, without a great deal of unsuccessful struggle, was now drawing inconvenience, for the final adjustment to that point which many sagacious per- of his troublesome business. He is an sons had foreseen and predicted. exceedingly agreeable and honourable
On the 27th of February, 1782, gene- man. I am much obliged to you for the ral Conway moved in the commons, a honour of his acquaintance. He speaks resolution "That it is the opinion of this of you as I do, and is perfectly sensible house, that a further continuance of an of your warm and friendly interposition offensive war in America, for the purpose in his favour. of subduing by force, the revolted colo- “I have the honour to be, nies, is totally impracticable, inasmuch as With the highest possible it weakens that force which we ought to
esteem and regard, dear sır, employ, against our European enemies, Your most faithful and and which is contrary to his majesty's de obedient humble servant, laration in his most gracious speech from
EDMUND BURKE." the throne, where he expresses a wish to “ London, Charles Street, restore peace and tranquillity.” This resolution, after a long and warm debate,
Feb. 28, 1782. was carried by a majority of two hundred “General Burgoyne presents his best and thirty-four, against two hundred and compliments to you with his thanks for fifteen; and the next day, Mr. BURKE your obliging attentions towards him.” communicated the intelligence to Dr. Franklin, who had a little before request- Encouraged by the advantage which ed his interest in negociating the exchange they had gained in carrying this resoluof Mr. Henry Laurens, then in the Tower, tion, the opposition renewed their attacks for general Burgoyne, who had been taken upon the ministry with such vigour, that prisoner at Saratoga. In answer to the on the 20th of March, lord North andoctor, then at Paris, Mr. Burke wrote nounced his own resignation, and that of the following letter:
his colleagues in the presence of an ex
ceedingly full house. During the ad“Dear Sir,
journment which followed this notificaYour most obliging letter demanded tion, the marquis of Rockingham was an early answer. It has not received intrusted with the arrangement of a new the acknowledgment which was so justly administration, in which Mr. BURKE took due to it. But Providence has well sup his part as pay-master of the forces, with plied my deficiencies; and the delay of the a seat in the privy council. answer has made it much more satisfac- The first measure that occupied the tory than at the time of my receipt of your attention of parliament after the recess, letter, I dared to promise myself it could was the passing of an act in favour of Ire oe. I congratulate you, as the friend of land, which was followed by a bill to disqualify revenue officers for voting at elec- he came in for his share of obloquy for tions; and on the 15th of April
, Mr. the part which he now acted. Attempts BURKE brought in his great plan of re- have been made to palliate and even to form in the civil expenditure, by which, defend the conduct of these great men on according to his statement, an actual this occasion; but no dispassionate mind saving was to be effected of seventy-two has ever been yet able to reconcile it with thousand pounds a year, with a cortain the pure principle of political integrity. prospect of increase.
If the pertinacity of lord North, while in Some members objected to the bill, that power, to carry on the American war, it fell short of the original outline; but the arose, as was said, from the influence of author of it entered into the grounds of high authority, he was not a man worthy the alterations, stating, that they had been of the public confidence, and, therefore, a made in compliance with the opinions of junction with him was a reproach to the others, or from a fuller consideration of party who had uniformly opposed him: the particular cases ; at the same time and if
, on the other hand, the line he purpledging himself
, that he would be ready sued was on his part as voluntary and at all times to obey the call for prosecuting iniquitous, as Mr. Fox and his friends a more complete and extensive system of maintained it to be, then it is impossible Reform.
to justify the alliance which they made This bill was followed by another for with the man, who, according to their acthe regulation of the framer's own office, count was deserving of the block. but the lateness of the season, would not The truth is, and no sophistry can repel allow time for the completion of all the its force, that the project of a coalition plans of regulation and retrenchment sprung from the single motive of ambition, which he had projected, and these with and the desire of place. Separately the the other designs of the new ministry, two parties were unable to attain the obwere entirely frustrated by the demise of ject, which each had in view, and therethe marquis of Rockingham, on the 1st fore, in defiance of all public principle, of July, 1792. This unfortunate event they had recourse to this measure of an discovered the feeble texture of the ad- union, in full confidence, that they should ministration, of which that amiable noble- be able, without difficulty, to command man was the head; for lord Shelburne, a majority in the house. They did so, afterwards marquis of Lansdowne, being but their triumph was of short duration, appointed premier, without consulting the and they found that the good sense of the Rockingham division of the cabinet, the people is not to be imposed upon, even principals of that party immediately re- by the most splendid talents, when those signed their offices. These were, lord talents are palpably employed in reconciJohn Cavendish, chancellor of the ex- ling gross contradictions. The views of chequer, who was succeeded by Mr. Pitt; the coalesced ministers were seen through, Mr. Fox, secretary of state, whose place and though a temporary ascendancy in was filled up by lord Sidney; and Mr. the house of commons was obtained by BURKE, who gave way to his old friend them, sufficient to give them assurance, colonel Barre.
the hollowness of the foundation was After the conclusion of the general peace soon discovered. The celebrated bill, of 1783, a political manœuvre was played, brought in and carried through the lower which, though it had the effect of restoring house by Mr. Fox, for the better governMr. Burke and his colleagues, for a short ment of British India, was thrown out by time, to the reins of power, brought upon the peers, and in December of the same them a torrent of abuse, and the double year, a new administration was formed charge of duplicity and inconsistency. under Mr. Pitt, who was then no more This was the famous coalition between than twenty-four years of age. The mathem and lord North, the very statesman jority of the house of commons, however, whose measures his new associates had continued on the side of the dismissed for so many years reprobated with exces- ministers, who, on that account, made sive violence and repeated threats of im- themselves sure of displacing their adpeachment. Mr. Burke, indeed, had not versaries, that from day to day, they pemarked his hostility to that nobleman with remptorily called upon the young chanthe same virulence as Mr. Fox, but, still_cellor of the exchequer to resign a seat, Vol. 1.-0
which, as they said, he presumptuously in this instance; on the contrary, tha held in contempt of parliament. The character of lord' Shelburne, renders the situation of Mr. Pitt
, under such peculiar story of his proposition for a coalition circumstances, and opposed by so for- with lord North, extremely probable, and midable an array of numbers and abili- it is very likely that the latter nobleman, ties, was arduous and unparallelea. But finding himself an object of equal interest he remained inflexible at his post, and to both parties, thought it his wisest way endured the pelting of the merciless storm to join the strongest side, which certainly with undaunted firmness, till the month was the Rockingham division. of May in the following year, when a It has been said, but upon what authodissolution of parliament gave him a sig- rity, does not appear, that Mr. Burke nal victory over his antagonists, who were hesitated about taking a step, the hazard. now humbled in their turn to a minority. ous nature of which he instantly perceivThus, it was Mr. Burke's fortune to be ed, and freely represented to Mr. Fox; reduced again to the ranks of opposition, who exerted all his eloquence to dissipate after taking a part in three administra. his friend's apprehensions. tions, neither of which lasted a year, and The next great event in the public life from all of which he retired without having of Mr. BURKE, was the lengthened and secured either a reversionary grant or laborious impeachment of Warren Haspension.
tings, governor-general of Bengal. The i In relation to this portion of his life, we primary motive which gave rise to this cannot avoid extracting a curious anec- extraordinary prosecution, has never been dote told by Dr. Priestley, who was at yet clearly developed, but that it origina that time on terms of particular intimacy ted with Mr. Burke is certain, and that with Mr. Burke. “It was early in the he entered upon the subject in a hostile year 1783,” says the doctor, “when I spirit cannot possibly be doubted. He lived at Birmingham, that Mr. Burke, brought forward in parliament, charges accompanied by his son, called and spent against Mr. Hastings, a considerable time a great part of the afternoon with me. previous to the return of that gentleman After much general conversation, he took from India; and immediately on his arrime aside to a small terrace in the garden val in 1785, the pledge which had been in which the house stood, to tell me that made to bring him before the highest trilord Shelburne, who was then prime mi- bunal of the country, was redeemed by nister, finding his influence diminished, his accuser, and ultimately carried into and of course his situation uncertain, had effect by the house of commons. In the made proposals to join lord North. Hac meantime, the governor and his friends ving had a better opportunity of knowing were not inactive in repelling the accusathe principles and character of his lord. tions that were from day to day volumiship than Mr. Burke, I seemed (as he nously heaped up by the prosecutor: but, must have thought,) a little incredulous unfortunately for Mr. Hastings, the pubon the subject. But before I could make lic mind had been already prejudiced by any reply, he said, “I see you do not be statements, which few men even in the lieve me, but you may depend upon it, senate, much less therefore in the nation he has made overtures to him, and in at large, were qualified by information to writing:' and without any reply, I believe, comprehend and appreciate. This was a on my part, (for I did not give much credit serious disadvantage to the accused party, to the information) we returned to the rest who saw that under such circumstances, . of the company. However, it was not the most justifiable and even praisewor much more than a month, or six weeks, thy acts, were liable to be perverted into after this, before he himself did the very crimes, by the subtile power of rhetoric, thing, that whether right or wrong, expe appealing to the passions, and operating dient or inexpedient (for there were vari- upon the credulity of ignorance. Such ous opinions on the subject,) he at that was the case in this instance, for at that uime mentioned, as a thing so atrocious, period, when it might have been expected as hardly to be credible.”
that the people of this country were tole However inconsistent the conduct of rably well informed on the subject of InMr. BURKE may have been, there is no dian history and politics, nothing in fact reason for calling in question his veracity was less understood. The nation had
but just emerged out of a disgraceful war, Yet it is painful to reflect upon the and the loss of the American colonies harsh manner in which he behaved tomade the public very readily believe what wards the eminent person, against whom was boldly asserted, that an iniquitous all these exertions were directed, and system of oppression and rapacity, had whose ruin was evidently sought. On been carried on in Hindostan, which not one occasion during the trial, perceiving only stained the national character, but that Mr. Hastings had neglected the would have the effect of putting an end usual obeisance to the court at his entry, to our dominion in the East for ever. Mr. BURKE commanded him to kneel, in
To remove this impression was almost a tone of voice, and with a sternness of impossible, for the nature of the tenure aspect, that made the whole assembly on which our Oriental possessions were turn from him with disgust. Even some held, could not all at once be made intel- of his own party felt ashamed for him, ugible to minds habituated to European and Fox whispered privately to one of laws, customs, and manners. Mr. Has- his friends, in that critical moment, that tings had the whole weight of British he would rather have been Hastings than India to sustain during the recent war, BURKE. As the trial proceeded, the oraand while the attention of ministers was torical attractions, which threw at the directed to the single object of subjugating beginning a splendour around it, began the refractory states of America, the go- to lose their effect : and many who had vernor-general of Bengal was compelled voted for the prosecution, now regretted to find resources there, for the security of their having done so, when they saw how the important charge with which he was little the evidence agreed with the charges. intrusted. He was in reality abandoned A year had scarcely expired, when the to his fate by the government at home, conduct of Mr. BURKE came under the but by virtue of his local knowledge, consideration of the house of commons, personal interest, and indefatigable exer- and he was censured in a resolution, for tions, he was enabled not only to pre going beyond the powers delegated to serve our Indian territories, but actually him, by charging Mr. Hastings with the to sti:engthen them by further acquisi- murder of Nundcomar, though nothing tions; in consequence of which, all the of that kind was to be found among the attempts of the French to dispossess us articles of accusation. on the eastern, as they did on the west- Even when the trial drew towards a. ern, continent were completely frustrated. close, and every one anticipated what Mr. BURKE and his friends, however, would be the result, the asperity of Mr. chose to overlook all this splendid ser- BURKE, instead of yielding, increased to vice, and having some cause to be dis- a degree that confirmed many in the pleased with the conduct of Mr. Has opinion which they had long formed, that tings towards themselves, they were de- the prosecution originated in private and termined to immolate him at the shrine not in public motives. of party, by an impeachment for pecula- After the council for Mr. Hastings had tion, tyranny, and other high crimes and gone through with the defence of their inisdemeanors. Even a condensed nar- client, during which they were often inrative of the proceedings that took place terrupted by questions and objections, in the house of commons on this subject, Mr. Burke entered upon his reply, in the Jould far exceed the limits of the present course of which, he alternately soared to memoir; and of the trial itself, which be- the height of sublimity, and again sunk gan on the 12th of February, 1789, and into the very depth of vulgar abuse. Of terminated on the 23d of April, 1795, the latter he gave a proof in saying “That nothing like an abstract could possibly the insignificance of the prisoner ought be given without running into details of not to induce their lordships to suppose an inordinate length.
him incapable of mischief; for though his During every stage of the business, Mr. origin was low, mean, and 'vulgar; though BURKE, who of course was the leading he was trained in the most base and sormanager, evinced an Herculean strength did habits, yet when invested with a power of mind, and an industry that must have to which his mind was not equal, he was jad a serious effect upon his bodily health capable of more complete, more extensive and constitution.
devastation, than any of the greatest con