« PreviousContinue »
When the goodman mends his armor,
And trims his helmet's plume;
Goes flashing through the loom;
Still is the story told,
In the brave days of old.
IMPEACHMENT OF WARREN HASTINGS.'
ab-so-lu'tion (-lū'shun), acquittal. gorgeous (gorljus), splendid. Ben-a'res (-ah'rez), a city of India. in-au-gu-rā’tion, crowning. char' ac-ters, letters.
Plan-tag'en-ets (-taj'en-ets), a line of con-spic'u-ous, eminent.
English monarchs. em-u-lā'tion, rivalry.
rep-ar-tee', a ready and witty reply. er' mine (-min), fur used on robes of spec'ta-cle, a show.
vo-lupt'u-ous, full of delight or er-u-dl'tion, learning.
In the mean time, the preparations for the trial had proceeded rapidly; and on the 13th of February, 1788, the sittings of the court commenced. There have been spectacles more dazzling to the eye, more gorgeous with jewelry and cloth of gold, more attractive to grown-up children, than that which was then exhibited at Westminster; but perhaps there never was a spectacle so well calculated to strike a highly cultivated, a reflecting, an imaginative mind.
All the various kinds of interest which belong to the
" From Macaulay's Essays.
near and to the distant, to the present and to the past, were collected on one spot, and in one hour. All the talents and all the accomplishments which are developed by liberty and civilization were now displayed, with every advantage that could be derived both from co-operation and from contrast. Every step in the proceedings carried the mind either backward, through many troubled centuries, to the days when the foundations of our constitution were laid, or far away, over boundless seas and deserts, to dusky nations living under strange stars, worshiping strange gods, and writing strange characters from right to left. The High Court of Parliament was to sit, according to forms handed down from the days of the Plantagenets, on an Englishman accused of exercising tyranny over the lord of the holy city of Benares, and over the ladies of the princely house of Oude.
The place was worthy of such a trial. It was the great hall of William Rufus, the hall which had resounded with acclamations at the inauguration of thirty kings, the hall which had witnessed the just sentence of Bacon 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 which has half redeemed his fame.
Neither military nor civil pomp was wanting. The avenues were lined with grenadiers. The streets were kept clear by cavalry. The peers, robed in gold and ermine, were marshaled by the heralds under 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, walked in solemn order from their usual place of assembling to the tribunal. The long procession was closed by the Duke of Norfolk, earl marshal of the realm, by the great dignitaries, and by the brothers and 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 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 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 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.
IMPEACHMENT OF WARREN HASTINGS.
e-mā'ci-a-ted, wasted away in flesh. ar-raign' (ar-rän'), to accuse. ex-u'ber-ance (egs-ü'ber-ans), abunbag, a sort of silken purse tied to dance, richness.
the hair as an adornment. in-flex'i-ble, that will not bend or carriage (kar'rij), deportment. yield. Com'mons=the House of Commons, mis-de-mean'or, a fault.
a branch of the British legislature. sullied, soiled. dic'tion (dik'shun), manner of ex- sergeant (sar'jent), an officer of pression.
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. His counsel accompanied him, men all of whom were afterward raised by