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and the cross-examination of witnesses called on her behalf by Brougham and Denman, acting as the Queen's Attorney and Solicitor-General, assisted by Dr. Lushington and Williams, Tindal, and Wilde (all three of whom subsequently attained judicial fame). The trial was assuredly, as has been well said, "a battle of giants." For forty-nine days did the contest rage. Gifford's opening of the case against the Queen was said to have disappointed his hearers, owing to his nervousness, but it reads as a lucid exposition of the main charges alleged against the unfortunate lady, and is throughout calm and dignified in style. The witnesses were mainly Italian or of foreign extraction, whose evidence had to be taken through the tedious process of an interpreter, whose interpretation would have to be narrowly watched to see that he gave the correct signification of the answers. In the various interpellations and legal skirmishes with the versatile Brougham or vehement Denman, Gifford appears to have been always ready to hold his own, while his courtesy and restraint are very noticeable, and are frequently acknowledged by his opponents.
In the engraving of the picture, by Hayter, of the scene of the trial in the old House of Lords, Sir Robert Gifford's attitude, as he leans slightly forward on his left elbow, with the left hand upon his papers, and with the right hand held up as if to keep the witness at attention, and the first finger raised as if timing the words of the answer, marks the careful quiet character of his examination, while the figure of Copley standing at his side, with more awe-inspiring aspect, as if he were warning the witness to speak the whole truth, is equally characteristic. Majocchi is the witness depicted under examination, while the Queen, restive in her chair, looks ready to sweep up her train and leave the House with the exclamation, "Theodore !” which she is reported to have uttered when Majocchi first presented himself as a witness against her. Contemporary records concur in pronouncing Gifford's reply
on the whole case, though following after Brougham's "electrifying” speech, which reduced the old orator, Lord Erskine, to tears, as a complete success and worthy of his great reputation. His peroration dealing with Brougham's famous warning to the Peers, and Denman's startling comparison of the King to Nero, suborning Tigellinus to slander his wife, reads as a bold and dignified rebuke to these rhetorical outbursts, and recalls the House of Lords to its judicial duty. It is worth reading by those who are interested in legal polemics. In the course of it he alludes to Brougham's peroration as “one delivered in magnificent language, in a manner I have rarely seen surpassed, in effect great and considerable." Gifford's speech occupied the greater part of two days, a short time compared with the mass of evidence with which he had to deal. It is with pardonable pride and evident relief that he writes of the effect of his reply to his mother in her quiet home at Exeter.
“ November 3, 1820. “MY DEAR MOTHER,
“As Harriet (his wife) has left you and you are therefore without the means of hearing from me as you did when she was with you, I write to relieve your anxiety on my account; you will rejoice to hear that I am fast recovering from the fatigue and anxiety attendant upon my late arduous and painful duty. My success has not a little contributed to revive my spirits, and it would delight you to hear all the compliments and congratulations I have received. The Lord Chancellor (Eldon) says it was the best argumentative speech he ever heard ; and I am told from various quarters that it has operated very powerfully upon the minds of several Peers who were before wavering, and has even turned the sentiments of others. It was, I believe, one of my best efforts, and certainly no one was ever placed in a more trying situation. The importance of the subject, the public expectation, the great talents displayed on the other side, the support of my own reputation and of the high station I fill, all contributed to make me most nervous and anxious; but, by the blessing of Providence, I luckily succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectations of my friends, and to the bitter mortification of those who are not kindly disposed towards me.
“I need hardly desire you and Wearman (his brother), whose kind and affectionate letter I received this morning, not to say anything of my success, but be content to hear of it from others.
Your affectionate son,
The following note written many years later, by Sir John Coleridge to Lord Gifford's daughter, gives a glimpse of the personal risk incurred by the King's Attorney-General from the more rowdy supporters of the Queen.
“ Heath's Court, September 16, 1874. “I remember well returning from the Circuit just as the trial was drawing to a close. Your father had finished a much admired reply, and Copley had made half his great oration, and was to finish. I called on your father in the morning of that day, and he was good enough to offer me to carry his bag that I might get in to the House. He lived in a very small-looking house, close to White Hall Chapel; the streets were scarcely safe for the Attorney-General, and he and I went down to the river, and went by water. Above your father's knocker, or below, was printed “The Attorney-General;' the story went that Lady Gifford being at the window above, noticed two ill-looking fellows passing, and heard one say, 'Jack, I say, that's the old Ex-Officio,' on which she instantly had the knocker and name removed. You will laugh at my old-man stories, but they were indeed perilous times.
"J. D. COLERIDGE."
It may be added that after Copley's “oration” herein alluded to, the strictly legal part of the proceedings against Queen Caroline came to an end, and after debate the division on the second reading of the Bill was carried by a small majority. After some fencing in Committee Lord Liverpool, contrary to Lord Eldon's advice, announced the abandonment of the measure.
The next letter gives an account of the coronation of George IV., the last occasion on which the old ceremonial splendour was attempted, even the antiquated form of challenge being performed in Westminster Hall.
“ London, July 20, 1821. “ MY DEAR MOTHER,
“Your anxiety will be greatly relieved at hearing that the Coronation has terminated, not only without disturbance, but most satisfactorily. It was a most busy and fatiguing day, but a good night's rest has quite revived all the party here. By good luck and kind friends, I contrived to get tickets for Harriet, her mother (Mrs. Drew), Georgina,* Major Langton, and Edward; and yesterday morning at four o'clock we were summoned from our beds, and after taking some breakfast, we embarked about half past five in a boat at Whitehall stairs, and were rowed up to Mr. Long's, whose house fronts the river, and adjoins the House of Lords. We landed in his garden, and the party, except myself and Harriet, proceeded through his house to Westminster Hall, where they got in without difficulty. Harriet went to another house near for the purpose of meeting the Misses Plumer (daughters of the Master of the Rolls), whom she was to accompany, and with whom she afterwards went to the Hall. I remained at Mr. L.'s till after 7 a.m., and then went quietly to the House of Lords, where I was ordered to be at eight. By this mode of going we avoided a great deal of fatigue and were saved much time, as to have gone in a carriage would have taken several hours. About nine o'clock the part of the procession in which I was to walk proceeded to Westminster Hall, where we remained till we marched to the Abbey, and whilst in the Hall I tried to discover where Harriet was, and at last found her in a good situation. Mrs. Drew and Georgina I did not see, but they had very good places.
“About half-past ten we proceeded to the Abbey, and the procession was, as you can well imagine, very striking; and the scene altogether such as one may never see again. At the Abbey I had a very good seat, and inside I saw the whole ceremony to great advantage. My dress was that in which I appear at the drawingrooms on a birthday, namely, my large wig, tufted gown, and gold embroidered waistcoat (new for the occasion), and gold buckles. I am thus minute about myself, knowing you will be anxious to hear it. The Solicitor-General and myself walked together, a little before the Knights of the Bath. The ceremony and the music at the Abbey were extremely grand, though rather tedious. The King on his arrival there looked very much fagged, but really returned more briskly than he went. We went back to the Hall in the same order, where a magnificent banquet was prepared, and the whole appearance
* Afterwards wife of Baron Alderson.
of the assembly there exceeded anything I could have imagined. The beauty and grandeur of the Hall, the magnificence of the dresses, and the splendour of the ornaments, made it a most imposing spectacle, and amply repaid me for the fatigue and length of the ceremonials. The first course was served up to the King on gold plate, and was accompanied, or rather preceded by, the High Constable (the Duke of Wellington), the High Steward (Lord Anglesea), and the Earl Marshal (Lord Howard), all three on horseback; and after the dinner was set on the table they all three backed down the Hall to the front door. The Duke and Lord Anglesea (particularly the latter) performed this admirably; Lord Howard's horse was not quite so manageable, but upon the whole did it very well. This was afterwards followed by the challenge from the Champion in armour and on horseback, which was a singular and striking ceremony. The second course was afterwards served up as the first, and at the conclusion of the dinner 'God save the King' was sung with great enthusiasm, and some time after this the King retired. Harriet remained in the Hall the whole time, and till I got back from the Abbey had been unable to procure any refreshment; but I then got her something, and she, with the assistance of Major Langton, procured a boat at Westminster Bridge, and got home before nine o'clock. I followed soon after, and having taken off my wig and gown at Mr. L.'s, walked home without any difficulty. You will see by the paper how madly and foolishly the Queen behaved ; and how her endeavours at a disturbance completely failed; and I cannot help thinking that her conduct yesterday will tend more to lower her in the public estimation than anything else she has hitherto done. You will be amused by hearing the long, and I believe pretty faithful account, given in the newspapers of the whole ceremony. Who would have thought, a few years ago, that I should have borne a part in it, or have been so much before the public eye as I have of late? I shall be curious to hear how the day went off at Exeter, and shall expect a long account from Wearman. I send you enclosed one of my pass tickets to amuse you.
The three remaining years during which Sir Robert Gifford held office as Attorney-General must have compared peacefully with those preceding. No State trials of note took place. Reform was superseding revolution, and he himself