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and the just absolution of Somers; the hall where the eloquence of Strafford had for a moment awed and melted a victorious party inflamed with just resentment; the hall where Charles had confronted the high court of justice, with the placid courage that has half redeemed his fame.
Neither military nor civil pomp were wanting. The avenues were lined with grenadiers. The streets were kept clear by cavalry. The peers, robed in gold and ermine, were marshaled by heralds under the garter king-at-arms. The judges, in their vestments of state attended to give advice on points of law. Near a hundred and seventy lords, three fourths of the upper house, as the upper house then was, walked in solemn order from their usual place of assembling to the tribunal. The junior baron present led the way, - George Eliott, Lord Heathfield, recently ennobled for his memorable defense of Gibraltar against the fleets and armies of France and Spain. The long procession was closed by the Duke of Norfolk, earl marshal of the realm, by the great dignitaries, and by the brothers and the sons of the king. Last of all came the Prince of Wales, conspicuous by his fine person and noble bearing.
The gray old walls were hung with scarlet. The long galleries were crowded by an audience such as has rarely excited the fears or the emulation of an orator. There were gathered together, from all parts of a great, free, enlightened, and prosperous empire, grace and female loveliness, wit and learning, the representatives of every science and of every art.
There were seated round the queen the fair-haired young daughters of the house of Brunswick. There the ambassadors of great kings and commonwealths gazed
with admiration on a spectacle which no other country in the world could present. There Siddons, in the prime of her majestic beauty, looked with emotion on a scene surpassing all the imitations of the stage. There the historian of the Roman Empire * thought of the days when Cicero pleaded the cause of Sicily against Verres, and when, before a senate that still retained some show of freedom, Tacitus thundered against the oppressor of Africa.
There were seen, side by side, the greatest scholar and the greatest painter of the age. The spectacle had allured Reynolds from that easel which has preserved to us the thoughtful foreheads of so many writers and statesmen, and the sweet smiles of so many noble matrons. It had induced Parr † to suspend his labors in that dark and profound mine from which he had extracted a vast treasure of erudition, a treasure too often buried in the earth, too often paraded with injudicious and inelegant ostentation, but still precious, massive, and splendid.
There appeared the voluptuous charms of her to whom the heir of the throne had in secret plighted his faith. There, too, was she, the beautiful mother of a beautiful race, the St. Cecilia, whose delicate features, lighted up by love and music, art has rescued from the common decay. There were the members of that brilliant society which quoted, criticised, and exchanged repartees, under the rich peacock hangings of Mrs. Montague. And there
† Samuel Parr, a clergyman and man of learning, but hardly the "greatest scholar of the age.”
# Mrs. Fitzherbert, whom the Prince of Wales was supposed to have secretly married.
§ The first wife of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, a woman remarkable for beauty and musical genius, whom Sir Joshua Reynolds had painted as St. Cecilia.
the ladies, whose lips, more persuasive than those of Fox himself, had carried the Westminster election against palace and treasury, shone round Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.
The sergeants made proclamation. Hastings advanced to the bar, and bent his knee. The culprit was indeed not unworthy of that great presence. He had ruled an extensive and populous country, had made laws and treaties, had sent forth armies, had set up and pulled down princes. And in his high place he had so borne himself that all had feared him, that most had loved him, and that hatred itself could deny him no title to glory, except virtue.
He looked like a great man, and not like a bad man. A person small and emaciated, yet deriving dignity from a carriage which, while it indicated deference to the court, indicated also habitual self-possession and self-respect, a high and intellectual forehead, a brow pensive, but not gloomy, a mouth of inflexible decision, a face pale and worn, but serene, such was the aspect with which the great proconsul presented himself to his judges.
The charges and the answers of Hastings were first read. The ceremony occupied two whole days, and was rendered less tedious than it would otherwise have been, by the silver voice and just emphasis of Cowper, the clerk of the court, a near relation of the amiable poet.
On the third day, Burke rose. Four sittings were occupied by his opening speech, which was intended to be a general introduction to all the charges. With an exuberance of thought and a splendor of diction which more than satisfied the highly raised expectation of the audience, he described the character and institutions of the natives of India, recounted the circumstances in which the Asiatic empire of Britain had originated, and set forth the constitution of the company, and of the English presidencies.
Having thus attempted to communicate to his hearers an idea of Eastern society as vivid as that which existed in his own mind, he proceeded to arraign the administration of Hastings, as systematically conducted in defiance of morality and public law. The energy and pathos of the great orator extorted expressions of unwonted admiration from the stern and hostile chancellor, * and, for a moment, seemed to pierce even the resolute heart of the defendant. The ladies in the galleries, unaccustomed to such displays of eloquence, excited by the solemnity of the occasion, and perhaps not unwilling to display their taste and sensibility, were in a state of uncontrollable emotion. Handkerchiefs were pulled out; smelling-bottles were handed round; hysterical sobs and screams were heard; and Mrs. Sheridan was carried out in a fit.
At length the orator concluded. Raising his voice till the old arches of Irish oak resounded, “Therefore," said he,“ hath it with all confidence been ordered by the Commons of Great Britain, that I impeach Warren Hastings of high crimes and misdemeanors. I impeach him in the name of the Commons' House of Parliament, whose trust he has betrayed. I impeach him in the name of the English nation, whose ancient honor he has sullied. I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose rights he has trodden under foot, and whose country he has turned into a desert. Lastly, in the name of human nature itself, in the name of both sexes, in the name of every age, in the name of every rank, I impeach the common enemy and oppressor of all.”
* Loru Thurlow, a stern, rough man, and friendly to Hastings.
XLIX. - CHARLES SUMNER.
JOHN G. WHITTIER.
The following is a portion of a poem written by Mr. Whittier and read at the legislative commemoration of Charles Sumner at Boston, June 9, 1874. “Mother State” refers to Massachusetts, “Auburn's Field of God” to the cemetery of Mount Auburn.
“I am not one who has disgraced beauty of sentiment by deformity of conduct, or the maxims of a freeman by the actions of a slave; but, by the grace of God, I have kept my life unsullied.”. Milton's Defence of the People of England.
MOTHER State! the winds of March
Blew chill o'er Auburn's Field of God, Where, slow, beneath a leaden arch
Of sky, thy mourning children trod.
And now, with all thy woods in leaf,
Thy fields in flower, beside thy dead Thou sittest, in thy robes of grief,
A Rachel yet uncomforted !
And once again the
organ swells, Once more the flag is half-way hung, And yet again the mournful bells
In all thy steeple-towers are rung.
No trumpet sounded in his ear,
He saw not Sinai's cloud and flame, But never yet to Hebrew seer
A clearer voice of duty came.
God said : “ Break thou these yokes; undo
These heavy burdens. I ordain
A ministry of strife and pain.