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twenty-two years, and the conflict has been fought at your Lordships' bar for the last seven years. My Lords, twenty-two years is a great space in the scale of the life of man; it is no inconsiderable space in the history of a great nation. A business which has so long occupied the councils and the tribunals of Great Britain cannot possibly be huddled over in the course of vulgar, trite, and transitory events. Nothing but some of those great revolutions that break the traditionary chain of human memory, and alter the very face of Nature itself, can possibly obscure it. My Lords, we are all elevated to a degree of importance by it; the meanest of us will, by means of it, more or less become the concern of posterity, - if we are yet to hope for such a thing, in the present state of the world, as a recording, retrospective, civilized posterity: but this is in the hands of the great Disposer of events; it is not ours to settle how it shall be.
My Lords, your House yet stands,- it stands as a great edifice; but let me say, that it stands in the midst of ruins, - in the midst of the ruins that have been made by the greatest moral earthquake that ever convulsed and shattered this globe of ours. My Lords, it has pleased Providence to place us in such a state that we appear every moment to be upon the verge of some great mutations. There is one thing, and one thing only, which defies all mutation, that which existed before the world, and will survive the fabric of the world itself: I mean justice, – that justice which, emanating from the Divinity, has a place in the breast of every one of us, given us for our guide with regard to ourselves and with regard to others, and which will stand, after this globe is burned to ashes, our advocate or our accuser before the great Judge, when He comes to call upon us for the tenor of a well-spent life.
My Lords, the Commons will share in every fate with your Lordships; there is nothing sinister which can happen to you, in which we shall not be involved: and if it should so happen that we shall be subjected to some of those frightful changes which we have seen, - if it should happen that your Lordships, stripped of all the decorous distinctions of human society, should, by hands at once base and cruel, be led to those scaffolds and machines of murder upon which great kings and glorious queens have shed their blood, amidst the prelates, amidst the nobles, amidst the magistrates who supported their thrones, may you in those moments feel that consolation which I am persuaded they felt in the critical moments of their dreadful agony !
My Lords, there is a consolation, and a great consolation it is, which often happens to oppressed virtue and fallen dignity. It often happens that the very oppressors and persecutors themselves are forced to bear testimony in its favor. I do not like to go for instances a great way back into antiquity. I know very well that length of time operates so as to give an air of the fabulous to remote events, which lessens the interest and weakens the application of examples. I wish to come nearer to the present time. Your Lordships know and have heard (for which of us has not known and heard ?) of the Parliament of Paris. The Parliament of Paris had an origin very, very similar to that of the great court before which I stand; the Parliament of Paris continued to have a great resemblance to it in its constitution, even to its fall: the Parliament of Paris, my Lords, WAS; it is gone! It has passed away; it has vanished like a dream! It fell, pierced by the sword of the Comte de Mirabeau. And yet I will say, that that man, at the time of his inflicting the death-wound of that Parliament, produced at once the shortest and the grandest funeral oration that ever was or could be made upon the departure of a great court of magistracy. Though he had himself smarted under its lash, as every one knows who knows his history, (and he was elevated to dreadful notoriety in history,) yet, when he pronounced the death sentence upon that Parliament, and inflicted the mortal wound, he declared that his motives for doing it were merely political, and that their hands were as pure as those of justice itself, which they administered. A great and glorious exit, my Lords, of a great and glorious body! And never was a eulogy pronounced upon a body more deserved. They were persons, in nobility of rank, in amplitude of fortune, in weight of authority, in depth of learning, inferior to few of those that hear me. My Lords, it was but the other day that they submitted their necks to the axe; but their honor was unwounded. Their enemies, the persons who sentenced them to death, were lawyers full of subtlety, they were enemies full of malice; yet lawyers full of subtlety, and enemies full of malice, as they were, they did not dare to reproach them with having supported the wealthy, the great, and powerful, and of having oppressed the weak and feeble, in
of their judgments, or of having perverted justice, in any one instance whatever, through favor, through interest, or cabal.
My Lords, if you must fall, may you so fall! But
if you stand, - and stand I trust you will, together with the fortune of this ancient monarchy, together with the ancient laws and liberties of this great and illustrious kingdom,— may you stand as unimpeached in honor as in power! May you stand, not as a substitute for virtue, but as an ornament of virtue, as a security for virtue! May you stand long, and long stand the terror of tyrants! May you stand the refuge of afflicted nations! May you stand a sacred temple, for the perpetual residence of an inviolable justice!