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Burke
Burke
357

couraged him (Memoirs of Sir Philip Francis, ii. 243). On 13 Feb. 1788, the first, day of the trial, Westminster Hall presented the famous scene described by Lord Macaulay (Essay on Warren Hastings). Burke, as head of the managers for the impeachmcnt, solemnly entered the hall. He walked alone, holding a scroll in his hand, his brow ‘knit with deep labouring thought’ (Mme. d'Arblay, Diary, iv. 59). On 15 Feb. he began his opening speech (Works, vii. 279), which formed an introduction to the whole body of charges. He spoke during four sittings. On the evening of the l7th, after describing the cruelties practised by Debi Sing on the natives of Bengal, he was overpowered by indignation, and seized with an attack which made it necessary for him to break off his speech. On the next day he concluded it with a stately peroration. The effects of his exertion do not seem to have passed away for some time, for on 1 May he wrote to the speaker excusing his absence from the house on the plea of illness and the necessity of a short rest (ib. i. 541). On 6 June, on a motion relating to the expenses of the trial, he eloquently complimented Sheridan on his speech on the princesses of Oude. In the course of this summer Burke was successful in a lawsuit with a neighbour, Mr. Waller of Hall Barn, who claimed some manorial rights over his estate. His constant need of money is proved by his grateful acceptance in July of a gift of 1,000l. from his friend Dr. Brocklesby (ib. 544).

When, in November 1788, Fox was called home from the continent by the news of the king’s insanity, Burke expected to be summoned by his friend, who was now generally looked upon by his party as the future minister (ib. i. 545). Fox, however, did not send for him, and though Burke joined him in upholding the right of the Prince of Wales to the regency, and in opposing Pitt’s restrictions, he was treated with neglect. Some difficulty arose as to finding a chancellor of the exchequer for the cabinet it was proposed to form in case the party succeeded in turning Pitt out of office, but Burke’s name was not approved. At a private meeting of some of the leaders of the Portland party, held 9 Jan. 1789, it was determine to again appoint him to the insignificant post of paymaster, and to secure him a pension of 2,000l., with the reversion of half to his son and half to Mrs. Burke, and to give office to his brother Richard. The Duke of Portland, Windham, and Elliot, who were his sincere friends, believed that this was ‘acting in a manner equal to Burke's merits’ (Life and Letters of Sir G. Elliot, 261-3). Several special difficulties stood in the way of his nomination to cabinet office at this crisis. With the Prince of Wales and his set he had nothing in common save the politics of the party. ‘I know no more,‘ he said, in December 1788, ‘of Carlton House than I do of Buckingham House.’ Always irritable, even with friends so true as Windham, he seems when vexed by opposition to have lost all control over himself (Windham, Diary, 112, 167). His vehemence in debate increased with neglect. On 6 Feb., for example, he declared the conduct of the ministers ‘verging to treasons, for which the justice of their country would, he trusted, one day overtake them and bring them to trial’ (Parl. Hist. xxvii. 1171). He was accused, not altogether unjustly, of outraging propriety in his speeches on the king's condition (Sir N. Wraxall, Posth. Mem. iii. 323, 346). His enemies, and indeed ‘half the kingdom, considered him little better than an ingenious madman’ (Windham, 213). These causes, combined with his poverty, the scandalous stories of his enemies, the constantly repeated accusation that he was ‘Junius,’ and above all the exclusiveness of the whig aristocrats, hindered the due recognition of his services and talents. The dignified letter he composed for the prince accepting the regency is a sufficient proof that when unchafed by the insults of Pitt’s rank and file, unvexed by neglect, and unexcited by debate, his wisdom and judgment were not less than in earlier years. He longed to ‘retire’ for good and all, but the Indian business ‘kept him bound' (Works, i. 549). He resumed this business in April. Public interest in the trial had now declined. Burke had become unpopular, and the friends of Hastings were strong in the house. A violent expression used by Burke respecting the death of Nuncomar was made the occasion of a vote of censure, passed 4 May. Contrary to Fox's wish, Burke continued the trial the next day, and the difference of opinion occasioned a slight soreness between them (Corresp. of C. J. Fox, ii. 355). Burke has been accused ‘of surrendering himself at this period of his career to a systematic factiousness that fell little short of being downright unscrupulous (Morley, E. B. a Study, 27) He certainly worked hard for his party, for he had not as yet seen reason to differ from its general policy, and in such circumstances he ever held loyalty to his party to be incumbent on a statesman. He wrote, it is true, to Fox, on 9 Sept. 1789, suggesting that he should conciliate Dr. Priestley and his followers, in view of a general election (Corresp. of C. J. Fox, ii. 360). There is, however, nothing in this letter