Графични страници
PDF файл



still bleed from the wounds of his talons. You crouched, and still crouch, beneath his rage. Nor has he dreaded the terror of your brow, sir: he has attacked even you,

he has; and I believe you have no reason to triumph in the encounter. In short, after carrying away our royal eagle in his pounces, and dashing him against a rock, he has laid you prostrate. Kings, , Lords, and Commons are but the sport of his fury. Were he a member of this house, what might not be expected from his knowledge, his firmness, and integrity! He would be easily known by his contempt of all danger, by his penetration, by his vigor. Nothing would escape his vigilance and activity : bad ministers could conceal nothing from his sagacity; nor could promises or threats induce him to conceal any thing from the public.


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 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 you 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 crowri, 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 exalteil 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 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, Esq., 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.


No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear; for, fear being an apprehension of pain or death, it operates in a manner that resembles actual pain. Whatever, therefore, is terrible with regard to sight, is sublime too, whether this cause of terror be endued with greatness of dimensions, or not; for it is impossible to look on any thing as trifling or contemptible that may be dangerous. There are many animals, who, though far from being large, are yet capable of raising ideas of the sublime, because they are considered as objects of terror; as serpents, and poisonous animals of almost all kinds. Even to things of great dimensions, if we annex any adventitious

idea of terror, they become, without comparison, greater. An even plain of a vast extent of land is certainly no mean idea: the

prospect of such a plain may be as extensive as a prospect of the ocean; but can it ever till the mind with any thing so great as the ocean itself? This is owing to several causes; but it is owing to none more than to this, — that the ocean is an object of no small terror.

SYMPATHY A SOURCE OF THE SUBLLUE. It is by the passion of sympathy that we enter into the concerns of others; that we are moved as they are moved, and are never suffered to be indifferent spectators of almost any thing which men can do or suffer. For sympathy must be considered as a sort of substitution, by which we are put into the place of another man, and affected in a good measure as he is affected: so that this passion may either partake of the nature of those which regard self-preservation, and, turning upon pain, may be a source of the sublime; or it may turn upon ideas of pleasure, and then whatever has been said of the social affections, whether they regard society in general, or only some particular modes of it, may be applicable here.

It is by this principle chiefly that poetry, painting, and other affecting arts, transfuse their passions from one breast to another, and are often capable of grafting a delight on wretchedness, misery, and death itself. It is a common observation, that objects which in the reality would shock, are, in tragical and such like representations, the source of a very high species of pleasure. This, taken as a fact, has been the cause of much reasoning. This satisfaction has been commonly attributed, first to the comfort we receive in considering that so melancholy a story is no more than a fiction, and next to the contemplation of our own freedom from the evils we see represented. I am afraid it is a practice much too common in inquiries of this nature to attribute the cause of feelings which merely arise from the mechanical structure of our bodies, or from the natural frame and constitution of our minds, to certain conclusions of the reasoning faculty on the objects presented to us; for I have some reason to apprehend that the influence of reason in producing our passions is nothing near so extensive as is comi

mmonly believed.

UNCERTAINTY A SOURCE OF TIE SUBLIME. A low, tremulous, intermitting sound is productive of the sublime. It is worth while to examine this a little. The fact itself must be determined by every man's own experience and reflec

tion. I have always observed that night increases our terror more, perhaps, than any thing else. It is our nature, when we do not know what may happen to us, to fear the worst that can happen; and hence it is that uncertainty is so terrible, that we often seek to be rid of it at the hazard of a certain mischief. Now, some low, confused, uncertain sounds leave us in the same fearful anxiety concerning their causes, that no light, or an uncertain light, does concerning the objects that surround us:

" A faint shadow of uncertain light,
Like as a lamp wiose lite doth fade awill;
Or as the moon, clothed with cloudy night,
Doth show to him who walks in fear an great affright.”

But light now appearing, and now leaving us, and so off and on, is even more terrible than total darkness; and sorts of uncertain sounds are, when the necessary dispositions concur, more alarıning than a total silence.


NATURAL objects affect us by the laws of that connection which Providence has established between certain motions and configurations of bodies and certain consequent feelings in our minds. Painting affects in the same manner, but with the superadded pleasure of imitation. Architecture affects by the laws of nature and the law of reason; from which latter result the rules of proportion, which make a work to be praised or censured, in the whole or in some part, when the end for which it was designed is or is not properly answered. But, as to words, they seem to me to affect us in a manner very different from that in which we are affected by natural objects, or by painting or architecture. Yet words have as considerable a share in exciting ideas of beauty and of the sublime as any of those, and sometimes a much greater than any of them : therefore an inquiry into the manner by which they excite such emotions is far from being unnecessary in a discourse of this kind.


OF THINGS. The common notion of the power of poetry and eloquence, as well as that of words in ordinary conversation, is, that they affect the mind by raising in it ideas of those things for which custom has appointed them to stand. To examine the truth of this notion, it may be requisite to observe, that words may be divided into three sorts, The first are such as represent many simple

i leas, united by nature to form some one determinate composition ; as man, borse, tree, castle, &c. These I call aggregate words. The second are those that stanıi for one simple idea of such compositions, and no more; as red, blue, round, square, and the like. These I call simple abstract words. The third are those which are formed by a union, an arbitrary union, of both the others, and of the various relations between them in greater or lesser degrees of complexity; as virtue, honor, persuasion, magistrate, and the like. These I call compound abstract words. Words, I am sensible, are capable of being classed into more curious distinctions: but these seem to be natural, and enough for our pirpose; and they are disposed in that order in which they are commonly taught, and in which the mind gets the ideas for which they are substituted. I shall begin with the third sort of words, - compound abstracts, - such as virtue, honor, persuasion, docility. Of these I am convinced, that, whatever power they may have on the passions, they do not derive it from any representation raised in the mind of the things for which they stand. As compositions, they are not real essences, and hardly cause, I think, any real ideas. Nobody, I believe, immediately on hearing the sounds virtue, liberty, or honor, conceives any precise notions of the particular modes of action and thinking, together with the mixed and simple ideas, and the several relations of them, for which these words are substituted: neither has he any general idea compounded of them ; for, if he had, then some of those particular ones, though indistinct perhaps, and confused, might come soon to be perceived. But this, I take it, is hardly ever the case : for put yourself upon analyzing one of these worls, and you must recluce it from one set of general words to another, and then into the simple abstracts and aggregates, in a much longer series than may be at first imagineil, before any real idea emerges to light, before you come to discover any thing like the first principles of such compositions; and, when you have made such a liscovery of the original ideas, the effect of the composition is utterly lost. A train of thinking of this sort is much too long to be pursued in the orilinary ways of conversation; nor is it at all necessary that it should. Such words are, in reality, but mere sounds; but they are sounds, which, being used on particular occasions, wherein we receive some good, or suffer some evil, or see others affected with good or evil, or which we hear applied to other interesting things or events, and being applied in such a variety of cases that we know readily by habit to what things they belong, they produce in the mind, whenever they are afterward mentioned, effects similar to those of their occasions. The sounds being often used without reference to any particular occasion, and carrying still their first impression.i, they at last utterly lose their connection

« ПредишнаНапред »