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CHARLES JAMES FOX
virtually impeaches the establishment by which we sit in this House, in the enjoyment of this freedom, and of every other blessing of our Government. These kinds of arguments are batteries against the main pillar of the British Constitution. Some men are consistent with their own private opinions, and discover the inheritance of family maxims, when they question the principles of the Revolution ; but I have no scruple in subscribing to the articles of that creed which produced it. Sovereigns are sacred, and reverence is due to every king ; yet, with all my attachments to the person of a first magistrate, had I lived in the reign of James II. I should most certainly have contributed my efforts, and borne part in those illustrious struggles which vindicated an empire from hereditary servitude, and recorded this valuable doctrine, “that trust abused is revocable."
No man, sir, will tell me that a trust to a company of merchants stands upon the solemn and sanctified ground by which a trust is committed to a monarch ; and I am at a loss to reconcile the conduct of men who approve that resumption of violated trust, which rescued and re-established our unparalleled and admirable Constitution with a thousand valuable improvements and advantages at the Revolution, and who, at this moment, rise up the champions of the East India Company's charter, although the incapacity and incompetency of that company to a due and adequate discharge of the trust deposited in them by that charter are themes of ridicule and contempt to the world ; and although in consequence of their mismanagement, connivance, and imbecility, combined with the wickedness of their servants, the very name of an Englishman is detested, even to a proverb, through all Asia, and the national character is become degraded and dishonored. To rescue that name from odium and redeem this character from disgrace are some of the objects of the present bill ; and, gentlemen should, indeed, gravely weigh their opposition to a measure which, with a thousand other points not less valuable, aims at the attainment of these objects.
Those who condemn the present bill as a violation of the chartered rights of the East India Company, condemn, on the same ground, I say again, the Revolution as a violation of the chartered rights of King James II. He, with as much reason, might have claimed the property of dominion ; but what was the language of the people ? “No; you have no property in dominion ; dominion was vested in you, as it is in every chief magistrate, for the benefit of the community to be governed ; it was a sacred trust delegated by compact ; you have abused that trust; you have exercised dominion for the purposes of vexation and tyranny, not of comfort, protection and good order; and we, therefore, resume the power
CHARLES JAMES FOX
which was originally ours; we recur to the first principles of all government—the will of the many ; and it is our will that you shall no longer abuse your dominion.” The case is the same with the East India Company's government over a territory, as it has been said by my honorable friend (Mr. Burke), of two hundred and eighty thousand square miles in extent, nearly equal to all Christian Europe, and containing thirty millions of the human race. It matters not whether dominion arise from conquest or from compact. Conquest gives no right to the conqueror to be a tyrant; and it is no violation of right to abolish the authority which is misused.
LIBERTY IS STRENGTH AND ORDER [Fox, a supporter of the French Revolution, uttered in 1797 the following vigorous words in advocacy of liberty.]
Liberty is order! Liberty is strength! Look round the world and admire, as you must, the instructive spectacle. You will see that liberty not only is power and order, but that it is power and order predominant and invincible, that it derides all other sources of strength. And shall the preposterous imagination be fostered that men bred in liberty—the first of human kind who asserted the glorious distinction of forming for themselves their social compact-can be condemned to silence upon their rights? Is it to be conceived that men who have enjoyed, for such a length of days, the light and happiness of freedom, can be restrained and shut up again in the gloom of ignorance and degradation? As well, sir, might you try, by a miserable dam, to shut up the flowing of a rapid river. The rolling and impetuous tide would burst through every impediment that man might throw in its way; and the only consequence of the impotent would be, that, having collected new force by its temporary suspension, in forcing itself through new channels, it would spread devastation and ruin on every side. The progress of liberty is like the progress of the stream. Kept within its bounds, it is sure to fertilize the country which it runs; but no power can arrest it in its passage; and shortsighted, as well as wicked, must be the heart of the projector that would strive to divert its course.
LORD THOMAS ERSKINE (1750-1823)
THE CELEBRATED FORENSIC ORATOR
N 1774, Thomas Erskine, son of the Scottish Earl of Buchan,
happened to enter the court presided over by the famous Lord
Mansfield, and was invited by him to sit by his side. He listened to the trial with the result that, convinced that he could easily surpass any speech he had heard, he resolved to adopt the law as his profession. Leaving the fashionable world of London, where his charming social powers had made him a marked success, he entered Lincoln's Inn as a student, and was called to the bar in 1778. In his first case, in which his client was on trial for libel on the Earl of Sandwich, a member of the Cabinet, Erskine showed such remarkable powers as to astonish all his hearers, and to bring himself at a bound into the highest rank of his profession.
Erskine subsequently entered Parliament, but political debate was not to his taste, and he failed to make any high mark in the House of Commons. In the legal arena, however, his success continued, high authorities looking upon him as unequalled, either in ancient or modern times, as an advocate in the forum. In the defence of right against might he was one of the most conspicuous examples in English history. He was the successful defender of Lord George Gordon, of Thomas Paine, of Stockdale, of John Horne Tooke, and of others who had dared to defend the rights of the people against the acts of the great. He became Lord Chancellor in 1806, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Erskine, retiring from office in 1807.
THE GOVERNING OF INDIA [Burke's articles of impeachment against Warren Hastings, were published and widely spread in advance of their delivery before the House of Lords, and prejudiced the case against the defendant. This unfair act of the House of Commons was