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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 emulations of an orator. They 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,15 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, 16 and when, before a senate which still retained some show of freedom, Tacitus thundered against the oppressor of Africa.?? There were seen side by side the greatest painter and the greatest scholar of the age. The spectacle had allured Reynolds18 from that easel which preserved to us the thoughtful foreheads of so many writers and statesmen, and the sweet smiles of so many noble matrons. It had induced Parrle 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.20 There were the members of that brilliant society which quoted, criticized and exchanged repartees, under the rich peacock-hangings of Mrs. Montagu.21 And there the ladies whose lips, more persuasive than those of Fox himself, had carried the Westminster election against palace and treasury, shone around Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire.
15. Mrs. Sarah Siddons (1755-1831), was one of the greatest. perhaps the greatest, of English tragic actresses.
16. Verres was a Roman Politician, governor of Sicily. Accused by the Sicilians of oppression and robbery, he was brought to trial, Cicero managing the prosecution. Cicero prepared six orations, but after the first, Verres, seeing that his guilt would be clearly established, fled from Italy.
17. “The oppressor of Africa” was Marius Priscus, who was successfully prosecuted by Tacitus and his friend, Pliny the Younger.
18. Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), the most famous English portrait painter.
The Serjeants 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, on which was written, as legibly as under the picture in the council-chamber at Calcutta, Mens æqua in arduis," such was the aspect with which the great Proconsul presented himself to his judges.
19. Samuel Parr (1747–1825), a once noted English scholar.
20. This was Mrs. Fitzherbert, whom the Prince of Wales, afterward George IV, had secretly married in 1785. Later, wishing to obtain help from Parliament for the payment of his debts, he allowed the marriage to be denied in Parliament.
21. Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu (1720-1800), was an English society ieader, who numbered among her regular visitors Horace Walpole, Dr. Johnson, Burke and Sir Joshua Reynolds.
His counsel accompanied him, men all of whom were afterwards raised by their talents and learning to the highest posts in their profession. But neither the culprit nor his advocates attracted so much notice as the accusers. In the midst of the blaze of red drapery, a space had been fitted up with green benches and tables for the Commons. The managers, with Burke at their head, appeared in full dress. The collectors of gossip did not fail to remark that even Fox, generally so regardless of his appearance, had paid to the illustrious tribunal the compliment of wearing a bag and sword. Pitt had refused to be one of the conductors of the impeachment; and his commanding, copious and sonorous eloquence was wanting to that great muster of various talents. Age and blindness had unfitted Lord North for the duties of a public prosecutor; and his friends were left without the help of his excellent sense, his tact, and his urbanity. But, in spite of the absence of these two distinguished members of the Lower House, the box in which the managers stood contained an array of speakers such as perhaps had not appeared together since the great age of Athenian eloquence. There were Fox and Sheridan, the English Demosthenes and the English Hyperides. There was Burke, ignorant indeed, or negligent of the art of adapting his reasonings and his style to the capacity and taste of his hearers, but in amplitude of comprehension and richness of imagination superior to every orator, ancient or modern. There, with eyes reverentially fixed on Burke, appeared the finest gentleman of the age, his form developed by every manly exercise, his face beaming with intelligence and spirit, the ingenious, the chivalrous, the highsouled Windham. Nor, though surrounded by such men, did the youngest manager pass unnoticed. At an age when most of those who distinguish themselves in life are still contending for prizes and fellowships at college, he had won for himself a conspicuous place in Parliament. No advantage of fortune or connection was wanting that could set off to the height his splendid talents and his unblemished honor. At twenty-three he had been thought worthy to be ranked with the veteran statesmen who appeared as the delegates of the British Commons, at the bar of the British nobility. All who stood at that bar, save him alone, are gone, culprit, advocates, accusers. To the generation which is now in the vigor of life, he is the sole representative of a great age which has passed away. But those who, within the last ten years, have listened with delight, till the morning sun shone on the tapestries of the House of Lords, to the lofty and animated eloquence of Charles, Earl Grey, 24 are able to form some estimate of the powers of a race of men among whom he was not the foremost.
22. That is, a mind calm in difficulties.
23. Hyperides was a celebrated Athenian orator, who lived in the fourth century B. C.
24. Charles, Earl Grey (1764-1845), had, as Macaulay here inti. mates, but just begun his political career. It was a long and brilliant one, and throughout it he was concerned chiefly with the question of Parliamentary reform. Several times he presented petitions for such reform, but it was not until 1832, when he had been twenty-three years in the House of Lords, that he succeeded in putting through both houses of Parliament the bill which did away with many of the abuses in the elections to the House of Commons.
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