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evidence that Burke's spirits were very far from being always the same, however little he might be inclined to wear his heart upon his sleeve.
Some private circumstances made it necessary that Burke should not sit in Parliament again for Wendover. Of this he writes:
"In this difficulty, which is superadded to others, sometimes, when I am alone, in spite of all my efforts, I fall into a melancholy which is inexpressible; and to which if I gave way, I should not continue long under it, but must totally sink; yet
I do assure you, that partly, and indeed principally,
by the force of natural good spirits, and partly by a strong sense of what I ought to do, I bear up so well, that no one who did not know them, could easily discover the state of my mind or my circumstances. I have those that are dear to me, for whom I must live as long as God pleases, and in what way he pleases. Whether I ought not totally to abandon this public station, for which I am so unfit, and have of course been so unfortunate, I know not. It is certainly not so easy to arrange me in it as it has been hitherto. Most assuredly I never will put my feet within the doors of St. Stephen's Chapel, without being as much my own master as hitherto I have been, and at iberty to pursue the same course."
This was but a momentary sinking of the heart. Burke was again solicited to stand for Wendover, and was elected for both Malton and Bristol.
At the time when Bristol did itself the honor to choose Burke as one of its representatives, it was the second city of the kingdom. As yet, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow did not threaten the pre-eminence of the metropolis. London was first and Bristol second. The Marquis of Rockingham and his friends were held in honor by the British merchants. Grenville had set their opinion at defiance; but Burke had always his house open for them, and his ears were always ready to listen to their complaints.
But Burke was the very antithesis of a democratical politician. He was far too much in earnest, far too philosophical, to abandon his ideas to the enthusiasm of his constituents. Hence the speech that he delivered on returning thanks for his election, is one of the calmest and most reasoning of all the productions of his mind. It has all the judgment of the closet; no academic lecture could ever exhibit less passion; and academic lectures, as we all know, are very passionless things. Even at that time an incident occurred, which was very ominous of what followed, and we could almost believe
the noonday sun shone on a strange sight at One fine September day, in the year 1780,
the Bristol Guildhall. The greatest statesman and politician of that generation, or of any generation, stood forward to vindicate his parliamentary life for the six years during which he had been the member for that city. He had manfully struggled against all the powers of the court, shoved aside on every occasion the glittering bait of corruption; though poor himself, he had withstood every temptation of wealth, honor and applause; he had striven to preserve empire from civil war; he had foretold the consequences of all the insane violence with which the ministers goaded their fellow-men on the other side of the Atlantic to throw off the yoke of the mother-country; he had endeavored to unite subordination with liberty, peace and quiet with energy and progress; he had labored night and day in the affairs of the empire; he had devoted himself to the private interests of his constituents, and might be seen full of ardor, running about on their business, like a shipbroker, to the custom-houses and wharves, the Treasury and the Admiralty; he had endeavored to introduce a great plan of public economy; he had applied most enlightened commercial principles to Ireland, but at the same time refused to join in the insolent triumphs and narrow provincial prejudices of his native country: for conceding this act of commercial justice he had become unpopular at Bristol; for thinking it no more than justice, he had become unpopular in Ireland; he had exerted himself, like a true philanthropist, to alleviate the miseries of those who were confined in prison for debt, and acknowledged himself a debtor to the debtors; he had contended for liberty of conscience for all men of all denominations; he had strenuously attempted to infuse a liberal and enlightened spirit into the British legislature; he had been elected without the least chicanery or flattery; and now, as he stood before them, he disdained to apologize
for what he had done during the six eventful years since his election. This was a noble spectacle. There is something sublime and heroic in the conduct of Burke at this moment. It affords a complete answer to those who say that he pursued highly popular courses at all times before the French Revolution. It is in the spirit of his later years, but not more so than the very first act of his public life. Never since the House of Commons became a great branch of the British legislature, had any of its representatives, in the short period of six years, done so much as Burke did while he represented Bristol. It would seem that no member ever had a better claim, not only to be again elected, but to be in every way applauded. Burke, however, was rejected. Philosophy, wisdom, and eloquence are as nothing to minds inflamed with party zeal, religious animosity, and selfish prejudices. Bristol was one of the most independent constituencies of the kingdom. Amid the coming political storms, perhaps this part of Burke's life may be worthy of some consideration.
The little borough of Malton again received the great philosopher, and Burke had had quite enough experience of great constituen cies ever again to trust to their discernment. He represented Malton until he retired from Parliament, and his son succeeded him in that representation.
His brief career of office was eminently disinterested. But his aristocratic friends were by no means very ardent and grateful. It must ever remain as a matter for wonder that the man who had so long led the opposition, who had displayed every power of the statesman, the orator, the philosopher, and the patriot, who had been the life and soul of the party, and had kept it steadily in the true constitutional course amid all the quicksands of seventeen years, was not thought worthy of a seat in the cabinet when the Rockingham party acceded to power. Younger men with long pedigrees were considered better fitted to serve the party calling itself liberal, than Edmund Burke, who was only the greatest man of the eighteenth century. Had he immediately abandoned the party for ever, and united at once with Mr. Pitt, as some of these hereditary legislators said he wished to do, a few years later, assuredly it was not for them to accuse him of apostasy.
course without hesitation. The affairs of India had been for awhile put out of view during the American war, but as that war was brought to a close, the Eastern empire now received Burke's constant attention. The energy, the industry, the determination, the eloquence, the principles that he had hitherto devoted to America, he now brought to bear on India. But the difficulties were still more numerous. America was at least colonized by Englishmen, and bore the impress of the English character; although the colonies were not well understood, yet they were at least not entirely unknown. On India the cloud of ignorance gathered in thick darkness. Strange tales reached the ears about palaces of gold and ivory, myriads of camels with their palanquins, turbaned guards covered with jewels, heaps of diamonds, widows burning themselves on funeral piles, parents tossing their children into the Ganges, worshippers throwing themselves under the cars of idols, princes surrounded with slaves, women carefully shrouded from the gaze of men, valleys black with jungle, whence the howl of the tiger and the laugh of the hyena were echoed of rajahs, durbars, banians, polygars, duans, pollams, soucars, zemindars, soubahs, and other barbarous things quite incomprehensible to plain English people. Our countrymen had not laid aside the idea that they were only islanders; they did not know what a high station they had to fulfil. Members and electors had just the same degree of knowledge, and that was no knowledge at all, about our Indian empire. They had not yet learnt to look at Great Britain in her imperial capacity: so sudden, so wonderful had been the establishment of our dominion in the East, that India was regarded as freebooters regard their prey, and not as a trust that involved the prosperity of millions, for whose welfare the ruling people were responsible. So late as ten years ago, a great writer, in an essay on Lord Clive, thought it necessary to apologize for writing on a subject that to educated English gentlemen had so little interest.
Burke, after spending his mornings on India committees, and all his leisure hours in studying Indian details, found himself shortly in a new world, of which his countrymen had no idea. With all his usual ardor, he set himself to understand the great questions that arose out of this subject. When he had once grasped them, he laid The death of the Marquis of Rockingham aside all European prejudices, all notions might well appear to have released Burke that the Hindoos and the Mussulmans were from a political fidelity that had been so ill-in a state of subjugation. A crime committed requited. But he proceeded in the same in India appeared to him in the same light as
a crime committed in England. The poorest native who ate his rice under the dominion of the Company, was, in his eyes, as worthy of protection as any free-born Englishman. Cabinet ministers were too much in the habit of considering the millions as mere machines for taxation; but Burke felt that all these multitudes were really individuals, and that each individual was a human being. Hence his blood boiled with indignation as he read of the brutal treatment of the two Begums; and hence he sympathized so deeply with the sufferings of Marie Antoinette. The two Begums, indeed, dwelt at Fyzabad, and were the mother and wife of the late Nabob of Oude; Marie Antoinette resided at Versailles, and was the daughter of Maria Theresa, and wife of the King of France; they were both foully wronged and tortured under pretence of public good; and Burke felt as acutely for the misery of the Indian princesses, as of the Queen of France. A son, after being plundered himself, was instigated and even forced by a British statesman to plunder his own mother. Her castle was stormed, her most devoted servants put into irons, and tortured. No buccaneer had ever used more barbarity in getting the treasures of his victims, than a Governor-General of the East India Company had thought himself right in exercising, because, forsooth, the Directors were clamorous for money. For money the greatest crimes are perpetrated; and it is to prevent those enormities that governments are established. For money an English statesman agreed to let out the bravery and skill of the English armies, and a gallant nation was given over to a cruel tyrant, to be robbed, murdered, and extirpated. The only defence that has ever been pleaded as an excuse for those bloody and barbarous measures is, that the GovernorGeneral robbed and murdered, not for himself, but for his employers, and that all his wicked actions proceeded from misdirected public spirit. He was not sordid, he was not rapacious, he did not love blood; and what he did was from zeal for the cause of his country.
The pretence of public good has always been made for every great crime that stains the history of the world. Public good was alleged as some justification for the destruction of Carthage, for the alternate massacres of Marius and Sylla, for the murder of Socrates, for the persecution of the Christians, for the extirpation of the Albigenses, for the massacre of St. Bartholomew, for the autoda-fes of Spain, for the fires in Smithfield, for the dragoonings of Louis XIV. All these
great crimes, Burke in his different writings has execrated; and he laughed with bitter irony at the excuses their apologists had offered. No frightful outrage that ever was perpetrated has wanted defenders; and even defenders of great name. Seneca wrote in defence of Nero, and the bloody assizes of Jefferies have had their white-washers. It was under pretence of public good, that the Protestant Association fanned the flames that in the year 1780 threatened London with a general conflagaration. It was under the pretence of public good, that two years later, as we have before said, Hastings thought himself. justified in setting at defiance all natural instincts, all private rights, when he obliged Cheyte Sing to disregard every filial feeling, and commit a base wrong on his mother. It was under the same miserable pretext that the September massacres in Paris were committed, and all the frightful crimes of the revolutionists. Burke condemned the Protestant Association, he condemned the revolutionists, and he condemned Hastings. It must be observed that he always valued himself on his consistency, and declared that it was the key to his public life. Whether his opinions were right or wrong, is not the question.
When Hastings' public spirit is pleaded in excuse for his public crimes, and when Burke's conduct is spoken of as violent and fanatical, it ought to be remembered that Burke never believed in the possibility of convicting the Governor-General. He knew the House of Lords too well. He knew that the cause of India gained nothing by his advocacy, for he was more unpopular than the veriest machine of office or the most corrupt minion of the court had ever been. He knew well that in the eyes of worldly politicians, success, like charity, covers a multitude of sins. Hastings was certainly no ordinary man. Rome never set an abler proconsul over any of her conquered provinces. Fearless, resolute, full of resources, unconquerable by adversity, clear-sighted in all his schemes, often changing his means, but never losing sight of his end, patient under every difficulty, steady, ardent, sagacious, he was, indeed, a practical statesman. Had his energies been called forth in Europe, where rules were laid down that could not be easily broken through, he might have left a spotless name. Many men, with intentions no purer than his, have never had their actions questioned. But, unhappily, the social state of India at that time, if it called forth his abilities, also called forth the evil qualities
of his nature. The history of his long and eventful administration must be allowed even by his warmest advocates to contain many blemishes; and it gave rise to a very difficult moral and political question. With this subject we have at present nothing to do, except so far as it relates to Burke's conduct; and in whatever light Hastings' public character may be regarded, the crimes with which it was sullied afford a sufficient justification of his great accuser. They who will take the trouble of turning to the third volume of the Correspondence, p. 42, will see a most important letter from Burke to Sir Philip Francis about the affairs of India. He declares plainly that all he could expect would be to justify himself, and that he was quite aware, under present circumstances, how impracticable it was to convict Hastings. This remarkable letter is dated the 10th of December, 1785, before the inexplicable conduct of Mr. Pitt during the next session of Parliament.
But it may be asked, if Burke never believed that he could convict the GovernorGeneral, why did he devote so many years of intense labor to that hopeless object? Why did he declare, in one of his latest works after the trial had been decided, that it was on this public duty that he valued himself most ? It was not surely for the gratification of any idle vanity, nor for the wreaking of any private vengeance. The Rev. Mr. Gleig may think it becoming in him, as the panegyrist of Hastings, and the friend of Hastings' family, to suggest some discreditable motives for Burke's actions, but if his life and character do not prove the falsehood of these suggestions, we are not disposed, and have neither time nor space, to say anything about the matter. Was the conduct of Hastings so spotless that any one who found fault with it must of necessity be acting under personal malevolence? And though Burke did not succeed in convicting him, did he do no good by devoting so many years to this business, and bringing it before the world?
When he afterwards said that this was the most important business of his life, and that which, if he had to be rewarded at all, was most deserving of reward, he was not speaking like a maniac. Though nominally unsuccessful, success had really crowned his labors; though apparently defeated, he was not disgraced. Many years before Hastings returned from India, and even previous to many of his questionable actions, Burke had complained bitterly of the neglect that Par
liament showed to the newly-acquired empire in the East. He spoke with scorn of the prevalent notion, that there was one morality for Europe, and another for India, and said that the Indian government would never act properly until some great offender met with deserved punishment. His object, then, in accusing Hastings, was to make a great and memorable example, from which all future Indian governors might take warning. With this object, he selected the greatest man who had ruled the Eastern dominions, the man who had heen longest in power, who had shown the most abilities as a ruler, and who had the most frequently set at naught the plain rules of law and justice, when they stood in the way of the Company's interests. To use his own words, he sought out "the captain-general of iniquity," and struck with all his might at this leader's towering crest. He subjected Hastings to such a searching examination as perhaps no human being had ever before undergone. If the GovernorGeneral was not formally condemned by the House of Lords, assuredly he did not pass quite scatheless through the ordeal; and if Burke did not brand the man whom he believed to be a great criminal, his ultimate object in prosecuting the offender was fully attained. That object was the welfare of the people of India. It was to protect the natives from oppression, to teach the East India Company some respect for public faith, to apply the public opinion of Europe to the government of India, that he spent many years of a most valuable life. He taught the proudest British proconsul of the East that distance did not annihilate the great instincts of right and wrong which the Author of mankind had implanted in the human breast, that there was a time when he would be called to account for every public action, that might did not always mean right, that though seas rolled between India and England, yet the English love of honesty, the English hatred of oppression, the English punishment of injustice, could extend even to Hindostan.
Was not Burke, then, successful? Was he wrong in believing the impeachment a sacred duty, which he was called by every law of God and man to perform? The history of India since that time affords a sufficient excuse for all his violence, in what he sincerely believed to be a holy war against Indian oppression; for, from the time of Hastings' impeachment began the purification of our Indian government. Men might differ about the merits of the old man who was
living quietly at Daylesford, but his most enthusiastic admirers, when they became rulers of India, were very careful not to imitate his crimes. Lord Clive, indeed, ventured, during his last mission in the East, to introduce great public reforms into the government; but he effected little, and the effects of that little were soon done away. Most certainly it is not to him we owe the benevo lent and philanthropic system that has been more or less pursued during the present century; and we should have thought higher of Lord Clive's merits as an Eastern reformer, had not many of the greatest abuses against which he afterwards vainly struggled, sprung from his own deplorable breach of faith. He was the first Indian commander who sanctioned the doctrine of there being one morality for Europe and another for the East. Hastings may have believed himself to be only following the pernicious example that Chatham's "heaven-born general" first set, and the greatest corruption, mal-administration, peculation, and oppression continued after Clive's aching heart was at peace in its quiet grave. The Hindoos may reverence the statue of Lord William Bentinck; they may bless the memory of the many wise and good men who have endeavored to elevate them in the ranks of social beings; but that all this has been done, and more than this will be done, is principally due to the noble exertions of a man who had never set his foot on Indian ground, and whose name the natives had never heard.
• Burke took the same delight in contemplating Hindostan as he did in contemplating America. The contrast of the civilization of the two countries was peculiarly interesting to his mind. India spoke to him of the past, of many races, many languages, many religions; of princes who had ruled great empires, while we were yet in the woods; of literature, science, and art, different from any that Europeans had yet studied; of the changing scenes, like the advancing and receding of a deluge, which the history of the Arab, Tartar, and Persian invasions presented. Nor with all his violence, and all his so-called bias of passion, do the charges he laid on the table of the Commons, and the most able reports that he drew up, contain any wild notions, or great exaggerations. We have been at some pains to examine the statements on which the charges against Hastings were founded, and we mi ht say of Burke's writings on this subject, what Mr. Macaulay says of the Thoughts on the Causes of the Present Discontents; there is scarcely
a single touch unsubstantiated by facts of unquestionable authority. The premises of both Hastings' accusers and advocates were, indeed, nearly the same; they began to differ when the conclusion was to be drawn. To his friends, Hastings' patriotic motives were everything; to Burke, these patriotic motives were nothing, in comparison with the acts of wrong and injustice of which the GovernorGeneral was accused.
This desire to effect a great public reform in India, this devotion of all his energy and ability to the service of the suffering natives, accounts sufficiently for his conduct during the stormy period of the coalition ministry. In the able "Motion relative to the Speech from the Throne," after the general election which had been so fatal to the party of Fox and North, the principles on which Burke acted are fully explained. The motion, it is necessary to observe, was not a party measure; it was moved by Burke, and seconded by Windham; and was made without any encouragement from Fox or his immediate friends. From this, and from some circumstances shortly following, it becomes evident that the public and private friendship of Burke and Fox was not so very cordial even at this time, and that the French Revolution was not necessary to show the hollowness of this seeming union. Events, indeed, had thrown these two men together, but they had little in common. Charles Fox had assuredly many good, great, and amiable qualities, but to people who know the history of those times, and who are not inclined to worship as saints all the leaders of a certain party, it seems mere nonsense to call him "the greatest parliamentary defender of civil and religious liberty." He was as bad a representative of pure liberalism, as Pitt was of pure toryism. With the change of circumstances, it is not difficult to suppose that Pitt might have become the champion of the Whigs, and Fox the champion of the Tories. Pitt commenced his public career as a parliamentary reformer and as a respectable democrat; and Fox in his early days supported the Middlesex election, and set all public opinion at defiance. Now, during all these times, Burke acted consistently with himself and his avowed principles. No man advocated the constitutional cause so powerfully during the debates on Wilkes and Middlesex; he at all times spoke and wrote against a change in the representation; he at all times condemned abstract principles, and any violent and sudden innovations; even while he was composing the Letters on a