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be added the apparently triumphant fact, that his government was popular among the natives of India, and that his name is still remembered by them with gratitude and respect.
Allowing Mr. Hastings, however, the full advantage of these and other strong pleas in his defence, it is yet impossible, for any real lover of justice and humanity, to read the plainest and least exaggerated history of his government," without feeling deep indignaton excited at almost every page of it. His predecessors had, it is true, been guilty of wrongs as glaring—the treachery of Lord Clive to Omichund in 1757, and the abandonment of Ramnarain to Meer Causim under the administration of Mr. Vansittart, are stains upon the British character which no talents or glory can do away. There are precedents, indeed, to be found, through the annals of our Indian empire, for the
* Nothing can be more partial and misleading than the colouring given to these transactions by Mr. Nicholls and other apologists of Hastings. For the view which I have myself taken of the whole case I am chiefly indebted to the able History of British India by Mr. Mill-whose industrious research and clear analytical statements make him the most valuable authority that can be consulted on the subject.
The mood of mind in which Mr. Nicholls listened to the proceedings of the Impeachment may be judged from the following declaration, which he has had the courage to promulgate to the public :-"On this Charge (the Begam Charge) Mr. Sheridan made a speech which both sides of the House professed greatly to admire-for Mr. Pitt now openly approred of the Impeachment. I will acknowledge, that I did not admire this speech of Mr. Sheridan."
formation of the most perfect code of tyranny, in every department, legislative, judicial, and executive, that ever entered into the dreams of intoxicated power. But, while the practice of Mr. Hastings was, at least, as tyrannical as that of his predecessors, the principles upon which he founded that practice were still more odious and unpardonable. In his manner, indeed, of defending himself he is his own worst accuser-as there is no outrage of power, no violation of faith, that might not be justified by the versatile and ambidextrous doctrines, the lessons of deceit and rules of rapine, which he so ạbly illustrated by his measures, and has so shamelessly recorded with his
pen. Nothing but an early and deep initiation in the corrupting school of Indian politics could have produced the facility with which, as occasion required, he could belie his own recorded assertions, turn hostilely round upon his own expressed opinions, disclaim the proxies which he himself had delegated, and, in short, get rid of all the inconveniences of personal identity, by never acknowledging himself to be bound by any engagement or opinion which himself had formed. To select the worst features of his Administration is no very easy task; but the calculating cruelty with which he abetted the extermination of the Rohillas--his unjust and precipitate execution of Nuncomar, who had stood forth as his accuser, and, therefore, became his victim,-his violent aggression upon the Raja of Benares, and that combination of public and private rapacity, which is exhibited in the details of his conduct to the royal family of Oude;—these are acts, proved by the testimony. of himself and his accomplices, from the disgrace of which no formal acquittal upon points of law can absolve him, and whose guilt the allowances of charity may extenuate, but never can remove. That the perpetrator of such deeds should have been popular among the natives of India only proves how low was the standard of justice, to which the entire tenor of our policy had accustomed them;- but that a ruler of this character should be held up to admiration in England, is one of those anomalies with which England, more than any other nation, abounds, and only inclines us to wonder that the true worship of Liberty should so long have continued to flourish in a country, where such heresies to her sacred cause are found.
I have dwelt so long upon the circumstances and nature of this Trial, not only on account of the conspicuous place which it occupies in the fore-ground of Mr. Sheridan's life, but because of that general interest which an observer of our Institutions must take in it, from the clearness with which it brought into view some of their best and worst features. While, on one side, we perceive the weight of the popular scale, in the
lead taken, upon an occasion of such solemnity and importance, by two persons brought forward from the middle ranks of society into the very van of political distinction and influence, on the other hand, in the sympathy and favour extended by the Court to the practical assertor of despotic principles, we trace the prevalence of that feeling which, since the commencement of the late King's reign, has made the Throne the rallying point of all that are unfriendly to the cause of freedom. Again, in considering the conduct of the Crown Lawyers during the Trial—the narrow and irrational rules of evidence which they sought to establish-the unconstitutional control assumed by the Judges, over the decisions of the tribunal before which the cause was tried, and the refusal to communicate the reasons upon which those decisions were founded above all, too, the legal opinions expressed on the great question relative to the abatement of an Impeachment by Dissolution, in which almost the whole body of lawyers* took the wrong, the pedantic, and the unstatesman-like side of the question ;-while in all these indications of the spirit of that profession, and of its propensity to tie down the giant, Truth,
Among the rest, Lord Erskine, who allowed his profession, on this occasion, to stand in the light of his judgment. “ As to a Nisi-prius lawyer (said Burke) giving an opinion on the duration of an Impeachment, as well might a rabbit, that breeds six times a year, pretend to know any thing of che gestation of an elephant!"
with its small threads of technicality and precedent, we perceive the danger to be apprehended from the interference of such a spirit in politics; on the other side, arrayed against these petty tactics of the Forum, we see the broad banner of Constitutional Law, upheld alike by a Fox and a Pitt, a Sheridan and a Dundas, and find truth and good sense taking refuge from the equivocations of lawyers, in such consoling documents as the Report upon the Abuses of the Trial by Burke
a document which, if ever a reform of the English law should be attempted, will stand as a great guiding light to the adventurers in that heroic entreprise.
It has been frequently asserted, that on the evening of Mr. Sheridan's grand display in the House of Commons, The School for Scandal and The Duenna were acted at Covent-Garden and Drury-Lane, and thus three great audiences were at the same moment amused, agitated, and, as it were, wielded by the intellect of one man. As this triple triumph of talent-this manifestation of the power of Genius to multiply itself, like an Indian god—was, in the instance of Sheridan, not only possible, but within the scope of a very easy arrangement, it is to be lamented that no such coincidence did actually take place, and that the ability to have achieved the miracle is all that can be with truth attributed to him. From a careful examination of the play-bills of the dif