Previous Index Next
Page 182
(previous) (Page 000182) (next)
 
82 WARREN HASTINGS.

the bazar, humming like a bee-hive with the crowd of buyers and
sellers, to the jungle where the lonely courier shakes his bunch of
iron rings to scare away the hyaenas. He had just as lively an
idea of the insurrection at Benares as of Lord George Gordon’s
riots, and of the execution of Nuncomar as of the execution of
Dr. Dodd. Oppression in Bengal was to him the same thing as
oppression in the streets of London.

He saw that Hastings had been guilty of some most unjustifiable
acts. All that followed was natural and necessary in a mind like
Burl;e’s. His imagination and his passions, once excited, hurried
him beyond the bounds of justice and good sense. His reason,
powerful as it Was, became the slave of feelings which it should
have controlled. His indignation, virtuous in its origin, acquired
too much of the character of personal aversion. He could see no
mitigating circumstance. no redeeming merit. His temper, which,
though generous and afl"ectionate, had always been irritable, had
now been made almost savage by bodily infirmities and mental
vexations. Conscious of great powers and great virtues, he found
himself, in age and poverty, a mark for the hatred of a perfidious
court and a deluded people. In Parliament his eloquence was out
of date. A young generation, which knew him not, had filled the

louse. VVhenever he rose to speak, his voice was drowned by the
unseemly interruption of lads who were in their cradles when his
orations on the Stamp Act called forth the applause of the great
Earl of Chatham. These things had produced on his proud and
sensitive spirit an effect at which we cannot wonder. He could
no longer discuss any question with calmness, or make allowance
for honest differences of opinion. Those who think that he was
more violent and acrimonious in debates about India than on other
o«-casions are ill informed respecting the last years of his life. In
the discussions on the Commercial Treaty with the Court of Ver-
snillcs, on the Regency, on the French Revolution, he showed
even more virulence than in conducting the impeachment. Indeed
it may be remarked that the very persons who called him a mis-
chi.-.-\'ons maniac, for condemning in burning words the Rohilla war
and the spoliation of the Begums, exalted him into a prophet as
soon as he began to declaim, with greater vehemence, and not with
greater reason, against the taking of the Bastile and the insults
om-ml to Marie Antoinette. To us he appears to have been
m-ixher a maniac in the former case, nor a prophet in the latter,

Previous Index Next