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its close and confidential associate; at the same moment that the sword of government was turned to an assassin's dagger, the pure ermine of justice was stained and foiled with the basest and meanest contamination. Under such circumstances did Mr. Hastings com plete the treaty of Chunar: a treaty which might challenge all the treaties that ever subsisted, for containing in the smallest compass the most extensive treachery. Mr. Hastings did not conclude that treaty till he had received from the Nabob a present, or rather a bribe, of 100,000l. (p. 281–285.)
The orator next entered into the object of this bribe, and the complicated infamy of the transaction, and then resumed as follows:
“ He recollected to have heard it advanced by some of those ad, mirers of Mr. Hastings, who were not so implicit as to give ungualified applause to his crimes, that they found an apology for the atrocity of them in the greatness of his mind. To estimate the solidity of such a defence, it would be sufficient merely to consider in what consisted this prepossessipg distinction, this captivating characteristic of greatness of mind. Is it not solely to be traced in great actions directed to great ends? In them, and them alone, we are to search for true estimable magnanimity. To them only can we justly affix the splendid title and honours of real greatness. There was indeed another species of greatness, which displayed itself in boldly conceiving a bad measure, and undauntedly pursuing it to its accomplishment. Bụt had Mr. Hastings the merit of exhibiting either of these descriptions of greatness ;-even of the latter? He saw nothing great-nothing magnanimous—nothing open—nothing direct in his measures, or in his mind ;-on the contrary, he had too often pursued the worst objects by the worst means. His course was an eternal deviation from rectitude. He either ty. rannized or deceived ; and was by turns a Dyonisius and a Scapin. As well might the writbing obliquity of the serpent be compared to the swift directness of the arrow, as the duplicity of Mr. Hastings's ambition to the simple steadiness of genuine magnanimity. In his mind all was shuffing, ambiguous, dark, insidious, and little : nothing simple, nothing unmixed: all affected plainness, and actual dissimulation—a heterogeneous mass of contradictory qualities; with nothing great but his crimes ; and even those contrasted by the littleness of his motives, which at once denoted both his baseness and bis meanness, and marked him for a traitor and a trickster. Nay, in his style and writing, there was the same mixture of vicious contrarieties—the most groveling ideas were conveyed in the most inflated language, giving mock consequence to low cavils, and uttering quibbles in heroics; so that his compositions disgusted the mind's taste, as much as his actions excited the soul's abhorrence. Indeed this mixture of character seemned, by some unaccountable but inherent quality, to be appropriated, though in inferior degrees, to every thing that concerned his employers. He remembered to have heard an honourable and learned gentleman (Mr. Dundas) remark, that there was something in the first frame and constitution of the company, which extended the sordid principles of their origin over all their successive operations, connecting with their civil policy, and even with their boldest achievements, the meanness of a pedlar, and the profligacy of pirates. Alike in the political and the military line could be observed auctioneering ambassadors and trading generals; and thus we saw a revolution brought about by affidavits ; an army employed in executing an arrest; a town besieged on a note of hand; a prince dethroned for the balance of an account. Thus it was they exhibited a government, which united the mock majesty of a bloody sceptre, and the little traffic of a merchant's counting. house, wielding a truncheon with one hand, and picking a procket with the other. Mr. Sheridan now went into a long statement to shew the various irrefragable proofs exhibited in the minutes of the Bengal council, of the falsity of the charge, viz. That the Begums were the ancient disturbers of the government. And equally to prove, that the second charge also, (namely, that the Begums had in. cited the Jaghiredars to resist the Nabob) was no less untrue, it being substantiated in evidence that not one of the Jaghiredars did resist.
« Mr. Sheridan maintained, that it was incontrovertible that the Begums were pot concerned either in the rebellion of Bulbudder, or the insurrection at Benares; nor did Mr. Hastings ever once seriously believe them guilty. Their treasures were their treasons, and Asoph ul Dowlah thought like an unwise prince, when he blamed his father for leaving him so little wealth." His fatber, Shulah ul Dowla, acted wisely in leaving his son with no temptation about him, to invite acts of violence from the rapacious. He clothed him with poverty as with a shield, and armed him with necessity as with a sword.” (p. 287–289.)
He concluded this memorable speech with the following powerful appeal to the feelings of the House :
“Mr. Sheridan remarked, that he heard of factions and partics in that House, and kuew they existed. There was scarcely a subject upon which they were not broken and divided into sects. The prerogative of the crown found its advocates among the representatives of the people. The privileges of the people fouud opponents even in the House of Comwons itself. Habits, connexions, parties, all led to diversity of opinion. But when inhumanity presented itself to their observations, it found no division among them; they attacked it as their common enemy; and, as if the character of this land was involved in their zeal for its ruin, they left it uot till it was completely overthrown. It was not given to that House, to behold the objects of their compassion and benevolence in the present extensive consideration, as it was to the officers who relieved, and who so feelingly described the extatic emotions of gratitude in the
instant of deliverance. They could not behold the workings of the heart, the quivering lips, the trickling tears, the loud and vet tremulous joys of the millions whom their vote of tbis night would for ever save from the cruelty of corrupted power. But though they could not directly see the effect, was not the true enjoyinent of their benevolence increased by the blessing being conferred unseen? Would not the omnipotence of Britain be demonstrated to the wonder of nations, by stretching its mighty arm across the deep, and saving by its fiat distant millions from destruction ? And would the blessings of the people thus saved dissipate in empty air ? No! if I may dare to use the figure—we shall constitute Heaven itself our proxy, to receive for us the blessings of their pious gratitude, and the prayers of their thanksgiving.” (p. 295–296.)
No man was more elegant and at the same time more forcible in the style of his eulogy. On the discussion of the question of the Regency in 1789, the ministry had endeavoured to represent the danger to which the country must have been reduced by the councils that would have been appointed by the Prince of Wales. The orator on this occasion justified his own connexions, and among these Mr. Fox,
“ He could not advert to his right honourable friend without declaring it was the characteristic distinction of his heart to compel the most submissive devotion of mind and affection from all those who came under the observation of it, and torce them, by the most power. ful and amiable of all influence, to become the inseparable associates of his fortune. With respect to his talents, he would not speak of them; they would derive no snpport from any man's attestation, nor the most flattering panegyric of the most enlightened of his friends. Thus much he would only observe with regard to the abilities of his honourable friend, that it was the utmost effort of any other man's talents, and the best proof of their existence, that he was able to understand the extent, and comprehend the superiority of them.” (Vol. II. p. 147–148.)
We will decline making any further quotations, and merely refer to the self-vindication which occurs in the same volume, pp. 255, 257, shewing the dexterity with which Mr. Sheridan could conduct himself in the most delicate and most difficult situations, when he was suspected by some of bis nearest friends, and when he was, in the most malignant spirit, charged with pretending to situations “ far beyond his natural weight in the community.”
The style of the eloquence of Mr. Sheridan was not of that florid character which is so peculiar to his countrymen : it is without gaudiness, rich, and without rankness, luxu
species which nothine membrane
riant. We have here no frigid exclamations, no tinsel splendour, no vacant foppery. Those who have had the happiness to hear him, will recollect the simplicity with which he commenced his speeches, when he was ever more solicitous about the thought than the expression “ Habeat ille,” says Cicero, “ et quod indicet ingratam negligentiam, hominis, de re, magis quam de verbo laborantis.” But when he was warmed with his subject, no speaker was more vebement than Mr. Sheridan. Some concise specimens of this ardent, glowing, and embellished manner we have given in our extracts from the oration on Indian affairs, when the business before the Commons was postponed professedly og account of that irresistible impression his transcendent abilities produced on the members, which precluded all sober judgment. As nothing merits the name of beauty or eloquence which is not adapted to the occasion, so in his speeches we have no compulsory and unseasonable ornament, no poetic figures where we should have prosaic ar. guments, and no purpose of business or duty is surrendered for the gratification of vanity, that fools and children might applaud, where the wise and the mature would condemn. Mr. Sheridan had a clear conception of the object be pursued, and he ever kept it steadily in view, if he gathered the gayest flowers, they were always those that were within his reach; and if he selected his path through an exube. rant garden, it was because he had the promptitude to dis. cover the pleasantest road, and he never failed to make his hearers the companions of his enjoyment. Should we be required to say, in a word, what were the comparative me. rits of three distinguished orators of our time (we exclude Edmund Burke, who was perhaps the greatest, but certainly not the best man of the four), we would assert, that in mat. ter Pitt was the most precise, Fox the most judicious, and Sheridan the most witty : in manner, the first was the most stately, the second the most careless, and the third the most appropriate. Sheridan had a graceful person, a penetrating eye, a sonorous voice, and all the physical requisites of an accomplished orator, but he was deficient in some of the moral : how far these last might be necessary to the perfection of the portrait, it is not our present design to inquire.
pberkisa come presseprints
ART. III. – Bertram; a poetical Tale, in four Cantos. By
Sir EGERTON BRYDGES, K.J.-M. P. London, for
Longman and Co. 12mo. Pp. 77, 1816. This is not the only original production of Sir Egerton Brydges, who, however, is principally known to the public as an eminent bibliographer, as the conductor of several well-known periodical works connected with his pursuit, and as the proprietor of a private press at Lee Priory, employed in the laudable endeavour, by reprints, to revive a taste for the productions of our earlier English poets; by its labours many forgotten works have been restored to their just rank in the republic of letters.
From this press the poem before us originally proceeded; and though the re-publication of old authors is generally there limited to from 60 to 100 copies, yet its author reserved to himself the right of giving Bertram to the world in a cheaper form should it appear adapted to the general taste. It is not a little to be wished that this favour had been extended to the sterling works of our ancient writers, of which only so small a number of re-prints have been struck off at Lee Priory, since by such means the object of the owner of that establishment would have been more generally accomplished; for the few copies printed only circulate as dear-bought specimens among collectors, who place them within their bookcases in bindings too costly for use; and though they are thus preserved from destruction by the worms, yet, like bodies embalmed, if they keep their original shape and appearance, they are inapplicable to any advantageous purpose. Russia leather and hot-pressed drawing-paper, are most destructive opponents of the enlarged interests of literature. But we are now engaged with Sir Egerton Brydges as an author, and not as a printer.
In the dedication “ to the Muse whose light has guided him through darkness, sorrow, detraction, and neglect,” Sir E. Brydges thinks it necessary to introduce a sort of apology for dealing in the vanities of verse at the age of 53, observing, that the study of poetry " is an employment as little unworthy of age as of youth."-Surely if there be any foundation for the homage paid to this divine art by the wise and good in all ages and climes, such an apology was not required, and the insertion of it implies a doubt that none have a right to indulge. One of the favourite writers of Sir Egerton, and of ourselves too, well says of poesie,