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THE HOUSE OF LORDS AND WARREN HASTINGS
My lords, 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 bounds 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 we 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 Crown, under whose authority you sit, and whose power you exercise. We see in that invisible authority, what we all feel in reality and life, the beneficent powers and protecting justice of his Majesty. We have here the heir-apparent to the Crown, such as the fond wishes of the people of England wish an heirapparent of the Crown to be. We have here all the branches of the royal family in a situation between majesty and subjection, between the sovereign and the subject, offering a pledge in that situation for the support of the rights of the Crown and the liberties of the people, both which extremities they touch. My lords, we have a great hereditary peerage here; those who have their own honour, the honour of their ancestors, and of their posterity, to guard ; and who will justify, as they have always justified, that provision in the constitution by which justice is made an hereditary office. My lords, we have here a new nobility who have risen and exalted 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 those who by various civil merits and various civil talents have been exalted to a situation which they well deserve, and in which they will justify the favour of their sovereign, and the good opinion of their fellowsubjects, and make them rejoice to see those virtuous characters, that were the other day upon a level with them, now exalted above them in rank, but feeling with them in sympathy what they felt in common with them before. 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. My lords, you have that true image of the primitive church in its ancient form, in its ancient ordinances, purified from the superstitions and the vices which a long, succession of ages will bring upon the best institutions. You have the representatives of that religion which says that their God is love, that the very vital spirit of their institution is charity ; a religion which so much hates oppression, that when the God whom we adore appeared in human form, He did not appear in a form of greatness and majesty, but in sympathy with the lowest of the people, and thereby made it a firm and ruling principle, that their welfare was the object of all government, since the Person who was the Master of Nature chose to appear Himself in a subordinate situation. These are the considerations which influence them, which animate them, and will animate them, against all oppression ; knowing that He who is called first among them and first amongst us all, both of the flock that is fed and of those who feed it, made Himself “the servant of all."
My lords, these are the securities which we have in all the constituent parts of the body 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 misdemeanours.
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 dishonoured.
I impeach him in the name of the people in 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.
(From Speech in the Impeachment of Warren Hastings, Esq.)
[In the life of Cowper (1731–1800) there are few entries of literary workonly a few essays, some occasional verses, and his Olney Hymns-before the wonderful revival of his spirits in 1780. The Progress of Error was written in 1780; Truth, Table Talk, Expostulation, in 1781, at the bidding of Mrs. Unwin : the subject of The Task was prescribed by Lady Austen in 1783. John Gilpin took the town in 1785; the translation of Homer, begun in that year, was published in 1791. Cowper in his earlier days had been interested in books, but never very zealously. He was afflicted in 1763 by an alienation of mind, and an oblivion of his former friends and pursuits, that for a time threw him out of the world : under the too powerful influence of Mr. Newton he was not inclined to read much, nor to write ; though it was by Newton that he was induced to join in the composition of the Olney Hymns (published in 1779). From 1780 onward, for about twelve or thirteen years, Cowper had something like freedom; he set himself to work, and found that he could write; with the power of original work there returned also the pleasures of study, which had been dormant since his withdrawal from London.
His prose is contained in his letters, and a few occasional papers (Works of William Cowper, Esq., edited by Southey, 1835-1837, 15 volumes). The five essays in the Connoisseur (1756) are the most considerable of Cowper's writings in the first half of his life.]
COWPER, before his melancholy attacked him and drove him out to the plains of the Ouse, was accustomed to occupy his leisure with literary diversions, appropriate to the society of “Wits and Templars” in which he lived. The days of the “Nonsense Club,” and of his association with Lloyd, Thornton, and Colman, are marked, in his writings, by the five prose papers contributed in 1756 to the Connoisseur. These essays have nothing particular in their style to distinguish them from the common following of the Tatler and the Spectator; the matter of them, in the record of the practical jokes played by lively young ladies on an old bachelor, and of the aspect and ways of country churches and congregations, is matter as good as may be found in any similar studies from life.