Изображения страниц

fled for ever, that you are to remunerate the plaintiff, by the punishment of the defendant. It is not her present value, which you are to weigh, but it is her value at that time, when she sat basking in a husband's love, with the blessing of heaven on her head, and its purity in her heart-when she sat amongst her family, and administered the morality of the parental board. Estimate that past value-compare it with its present deplorable diminution-and it may lead you to form some judgment of the severity of the injury, and the extent of the compensation.



Extract from Mr. Burke's Speech in Westminster Hall, on the sixth day of the trial, 15th Feb. 1788.

My Lords,-WE have now laid before you the whole conduct of Warren Hastings, foul, wicked, nefarious, and cruel as it has been, and we ask, 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

* In 1772 Warren Hastings was appointed governor-general of India. In 1785 he returned to England. Between which periods very many accounts having been received of his mal-administration, Mr. Burke, in that year, in the house of commons, moved an inquiry into his conduct. This resulted in a vote of impeachment. On the 13th Feb. 1788, Westminster Hall was opened in due form for the trial. Mr. Burke, as head manager, made the introductory speech—a speech not surpassed by any effort of eloquence of ancient or modern times.

Of the degree of guilt attached to Mr. Hastings' conduct, there have been various and conflicting opinions. His partizans have ever held up his acquittal as a proof of his innocence; while others have said, that this was owing to law quibbles-to the want of strictly legal evidence. That he appointed agents of a suspicious character, and that these agents committed the foulest crimes, are facts indisputable. It is equally certain, that he did very many things which would not have been tolerated in England; but his friends say, that all these were justified by his peculiar siuation. Mr. Burke was convinced of his guilt, to the last moment of his life; and Mills, in his History of British India, has said, "if his accusers did not prove his guilt, he himself did not prove his innocence."

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 bonds 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. My lords, here we see, virtually, in the mind's eye, that sacred majesty of the crown, under whose authority you sit, and whose power you exercise. We have here the heir apparent to the crown. We have here all the branches of the royal family, in a situation between majesty and subjection. My lords, we have a great hereditary peerage here: those, who have their own honor, the honor of their ancestors, and of their posterity, to guard. We have here a new nobility, who have risen, and exalted themselves by various merits, by great military services, which have extended the fame of this country from the rising to the setting sun. We have persons exalted from the practice of the law, from the place in which they administered high, though subordinate justice, to a seat here, to enlighten with their knowledge, and to strengthen with their votes those principles which have distinguished the courts in which they have presided. My lords, you have here also the lights of our religion; you have the bishops of England. You have the representatives of that religion, which says, that their God is love, that the very vital spirit of their institution is charity.

My lords, these are the securities which we have in all the constituent parts of the body of this house. We know them,

we reckon, we rest upon them, and commit safely the interests of India and of 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 in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life.


Speech of Hon. Jonathan Smith, of Lanesboro', in the Massachusetts Convention for ratifying the Constitution,* January 25th, 1788.

Mr. President-I am a plain man, and get my living by the plough. I am not used to speak in public, but I beg your leave to say a few words to my brother plough-joggers in this house. I have lived in a part of the country where I have known the worth of a good government by the want of it. There was a black cloud that rose in the east,† last winter, which burst upon us, and produced a dreadful effect. It brought on a state of anarchy, and that leads to tyranny. I say, it brought anarchy. People that used to live peaceably, and were before good neighbors, got distracted, and took up arms against government, and then, if you went to speak to them, you had the musket of death presented to your breast.

* See note on the first speech in the Orator. The County of Bristol.

Now Mr. President, when I saw this constitution, I found that it was a cure for these disorders. It was just such a thing as we wanted. I got a copy of it, and read it over and over. I found in it all the checks and balances of power. I did not go to any lawyer, to ask his opinion: we have no lawyer in our town, and we do well enough without. I formed my own opinion, and was pleased with this constitution. My honorable old daddy there* won't think that I expect to be a congress-man, and swallow up the liberties of the people. I never had any post, nor do I want one, and before I am done, you will think that I don't deserve one. But I don't think the worse of the constitution because lawyers, and men of learning, and monied men are fond of it. I don't suspect that they want to get into congress, and abuse their power. I am not of such a jealous make. They that are honest men themselves, are not apt to suspect other people; and I think that those gentlemen who are so very suspicious, that, as soon as a man gets into power, he turns rogue, had better look at home.

Some gentlemen seem to think, Mr. President, that our liberty and property are not safe in the hands of monied men and men of learning. I am not of that mind.

Brother famers, let us suppose a case now. Suppose you had a farm of fifty acres, and your title was disputed, and there was a farm of 5000 acres joined to you that belonged to a man of learning, and his title was involved in the same difficulty; would you not be glad to have him for your friend, rather than stand alone in the dispute? Well, the case is the same here: these lawyers, these monied men, these men of learning, are all embarked in the same cause with us, and we must all swim or sink together; and shall we throw the constitution overboard, because it does not please us alike? Suppose two or three of you had been at the pains to break up a piece of rough land, and sow it with wheat-would you let it lay waste because you could not agree what sort of a fence to make? would it not be better to put up a fence that did not please every one's fancy, rather than not fence it at all, or keep disputing about it, until the wild beast came in and devoured it? Some gentlemen say, don't be in a hurrytake time to consider-and don't take a leap in the dark. I

* Pointing to Mr. Singletons.


Mr. President, take things in time-gather fruit when it is ripe. There is a time to sow and a time to reap; we sowed our seed when we sent men to the Federal Convention, now. is the harvest, now is the time to reap the fruit of our labor, and if we don't do it now, I am afraid we never shall have another opportunity.

LXIV. THE UNION ESSENTIAL TO OUR BEING AS A NATION. Extract from the Hon. Fisher Ames' Speech in the Massachusetts Convention, for ratifying the Constitution, Feburary 5, 1788.

Mr. President,-I would now ask you, and the members of this Convention, simply this-shall we put every thing we hold precious to the hazard by rejecting this constitution? Who is there that really loves liberty, that will not tremble for its safety, if the federal government should be dissolved? Can liberty be safe without government?

The union is essential to our being as a nation. The pillars that prop it are crumbling to powder. The union is the vital sap that nourishes the tree. If we reject the constitution, to use the language of the country, we girdle the tree, its leaves will wither, its branches drop off, and the mouldering trunk will be torn down by the tempest. What security has this single state against foreign enemies? Could we defend the Can we malt country, which the Britons so much desire? protect our fisheries, or secure by treaties a sale for the produce of our lands in foreign markets? Is there no loss, no damages by delay? In spite of our negligence and perverse.. ness, are we to enjoy at all times the privilege of forming a constitution, which no other nation has ever enjoyed at all? We approve our own form of state government, and seem to think ourselves in safety under its protection. We talk as if there were no danger in deciding wrong. But when the The state inundation comes, shall we stand on dry land? government is a beautiful structure. It is situated, however, upon the naked beach. The union is the dyke to fence out the flood. That dyke is broken and decayed, and if we do not repair it, when the next spring tide comes, we shall be buried in one common destruction.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »