« VorigeDoorgaan »
savage, torturing and murdering his unhappy victims! Such notions shock every precept of morality, every feeling of humanity, every sentiment of honor. These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them, demand the most decisive indignation. I call upon that right reverend, and this most learned bench, to vindicate the religion of their God, to support the justice of their country. I call upon the bishops to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their lawn; upon the judges to interpose the purity of their ermine, to save us from this pollution. I call upon the honor of your lordships, to reverence the dignity of your ancestors, and to maintain your own. I call upon the spirit and humanity of my country, to vindicate the national character. I invoke the genius of the Constitution. From the tapestry that adorns these walls, the immortal ancestor of this noble lord frowns with indignation at the disgrace of his country. In vain did he defend the liberty, and establish the religion of Britain, against the tyranny of Rome, if these worse than Popish cruelties and inquisitorial practices are endured among us. To send forth the merciless Indian, thirsting for blood! against whom? — your Protestant brethren! - – to lay waste their country, to desolate their dwellings, and extirpate their race and name, by the aid and instrumentality of these horrible hellhounds of war! — Spain can no longer boast preeminence in barbarity. She armed herself with bloodhounds to extirpate the wretched natives of Mexico; we, more ruthless, loose those brutal warriors against our countrymen in America, endeared to us by every tie that can sanctify humanity. I solemnly call upon your lordships, and upon every order of men in the state, to stamp upon this infamous procedure the indelible stigma of the public abhorrence. More particularly, I call upon the venerable prelates of our religion, to do away this iniquity; let them perform a lustration to purify the country from this deep and deadly sin.
My lords, I am old and weak, and at present unable to say more; but my feelings and indignation were too strong to have allowed me to say less. I could not have slept this night in my bed, nor even reposed my head upon my pillow, without giving vent to my steadfast abhorrence of such enormous and preposterous principles.
EDMUND BURKE. 1731-1797. (Manual, p. 339.)
FROM THE "ESSAY ON THE SUBLIME AND BEAUTIFUL.”
218. SYMPATHY A SOURCE OF THE SUBLIME. 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 anything 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 commonly believed.
219. CLOSE OF HIS SPEECH TO THE ELECTORS OF BRISTOL.
Gentlemen, I have had my day. I can never sufficiently express my gratitude to you for having set me in a place wherein I could lend the slightest help to great and laudable designs. If I have had my share in any measure giving quiet to private property and private conscience; if by my vote I have aided in securing to families the best possession, peace; if I have joined in reconciling kings to their subjects, and subjects to their prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign holdings of the citizen, and taught him to look for his protection to the laws of his country, and for his comfort to the good-will of his countrymen; if I have thus taken my part with the best of men in the best of their actions, I can shut the book;: - I might wish to read a page or two more but this is enough for my measure. – I have not lived in vain.
And now, gentlemen, on this serious day, when I come, as it were, to make up my account with you, let me take to myself some degree of honest pride on the nature of the charges that are against me. I do not here stand before you accused of venality or of neglect of duty. It is not said, that, in the long period of my service, I have, in a single instance, sacrificed the slightest of your interests to my ambition or to my fortune. It is not alleged, that, to gratify any anger, or revenge of my own, or of my party, I have had a share in wronging or op
pressing any description of men, or any one man in any description. No! the charges against me are all of one kind, that I have pushed the principles of general justice and benevolence too far; farther than a cautious policy would warrant; and farther than the opinions of many would go along with me. In every accident which may happen through life - in pain, in sorrow, in depression, and distress – I will call to mind this accusation, and be comforted.
FROM THE “REFLECTIONS ON THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.”
220. Marie ANTOINETTE, QUEEN OF FRANCE. It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the Dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in - glittering like the morning star, full of life, and splendor, and joy. O, what a revolution! and what a heart must I have to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to that enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness.
221. FROM THE “IMPEACHMENT OF WARREN HASTINGS.” My lords, you have now heard the principles on which Mr. Hastings governs the part of Asia subjected to the British empire. You have heard his opinion of the mean and depraved state of those who are subject to it. You have heard his lecture upon arbitrary power, which he states to be the constitution of Asia. You hear the application he makes of it; and you hear the practices which he employs to justify
it, and who the persons were on whose authority he relies, and whose example he professes to follow. In the first place, your lordships will be astonished at the audacity with which he speaks of his own administration, as if he was reading a speculative lecture on the evils attendant upon some vicious system of foreign government, in which he had no sort of concern whatsoever. And then, when in this speculative way he has established, or thinks he has, the vices of the government, he conceives he has found a sufficient apology for his own crimes. And if he violates the most solemn engagements, if he oppresses, extorts, and robs, if he imprisons, confiscates, banishes, at his sole will and pleasure, when we accuse him for his ill treatment of the people committed to him as a sacred trust, his defence is, — “To be robbed, violated, oppressed, is their privilege — let the constitution of their country answer for it. I did not make it for them. Slaves I found them, and as slaves I have treated them. I was a despotic prince, despotic governments are jealous, and the subjects prone to rebellion. This very proneness of the subject to shake off his allegiance exposes him to continual danger from his sovereign's jealousy, and this is consequent on the political state of Hindostanic governments." He lays it down as a rule, that despotism is the genuine constitution of India; that a disposition to rebellion in the subject, or dependent prince, is the necessary effect of this despotism, and that jealousy and its consequences naturally arise on the part of the sovereign; that the government is everything, and the subject nothing; that the great landed men are in a mean and depraved state, and subject to many evils.
But nothing is more false than that despotism is the constitution of any country in Asia, that we are acquainted with. It is certainly not true of any Mahomedan constitution. But if it were, do your lordships really think that the nation would bear, that any human creature would bear, to hear an English governor defend himself on such principles? or, if he can defend himself on such principles, is it possible to deny the conclusion, that no man in India has a security for anything but by being totally independent of the British government?. Here he has declared his opinion, that he is a despotic prince, that he is to use arbitrary power, and of course all his acts are covered with that shield. “I know,” says he, “ the constitution of Asia only from its practice.” Will your lordships submit to hear the corrupt practices of mankind made the principles of government? No; it will be your pride and glory to teach men intrusted with power, that, in their use of it, they are to conform to principles, and not to draw their principles from the corrupt practice of any man whatever. Was there ever heard, or could it be conceived, that a governor would dare to heap up all the evil practices, all the cruelties, oppressions, extortions, corruptions, briberies of all the ferocious usurpers, desperate robbers, thieves, cheats, and jugglers, that ever had office from one end o' Asia to another, and consolidating all this mass of the crimes an absurdities of barbarous domination into one code, establish it as thu
"whole duty” of an English governor? I believe that till this time so audacious a thing was never attempted by man.
He have arbitrary power! My lords, the East Indian Company have not arbitrary power to give him; the king has no arbitrary power to give him; your lordships have not; nor the Commons; nor the whole legislature. We have no arbitrary power to give; because arbitrary power is a thing which neither any man can hold nor any man can give. No man can lawfully govern himself according to his own will, much less can one person be governed by the will of another. We are all born in subjection, all born equally, high and low, governors and governed, in subjection to one great, immutable, pre-existent law, prior to all our devices, and prior to all our contrivances, paramount to all our ideas and all our sensations, antecedent to our very existence, by which we are knit and connected in the eternal frame of the universe, out of which we cannot stir.
222. FROM "A LETTER TO A NOBLE LORD” (Duke of Bedford).
Had it pleased God to continue to me the hopes of succession, I should have been, according to my mediocrity, and the mediocrity of the age I live in, a sort of founder of a family; I should have left a son, who, in all the points in which personal merit can be viewed, in science, in erudition, in genius, in taste, in honor, in generosity, in humanity, in every liberal sentiment, and every liberal accomplishment, would not have shown himself inferior to the Duke of Bedford, or to any of those to whom he traces in his line. His grace very soon would have wanted all plausibility in his attack upon that provision which belonged more to mine than to me. He would soon have supplied every deficiency, and symmetrized every disproportion. It would not have been for that successor to resort to any stagnant wasting reservoir of merit in me, or in any ancestry. He had in himself a salient, living spring, of generous and manly action. Every day he lived he would have repurchased the bounty of the crown, and ten times more, if ten times more he had received. He was made a public creature; and had no enjoyment whatever but in the performance of some duty. At this exigent moment, the loss of a finished man is not easily supplied.
But a Disposer whose power we are little able to resist, and whose wisdom it behooves us not at all to dispute, has ordained it in another manner, and (whatever' my querulous weakness might suggest) a far better. The storm has gone over ine, and I lie like one of those old oaks which the late hurricane hath scattered about me. I am stripped of all my honors: I am torn up by the roots, and lie prostrate on the earth! There, and prostrate there, I most unfeignedly recognize the divine justice, and in some degree submit to it. But whilst I humble myself before God, I do not know that it is forbidden to repel the