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scandalous and disgusting disclosures which would be inevitable, were all ably canvassed by the opposing counsel on the 17th and 18th of August. Mr. Brougham held over the prosecution the threat of recrimination, of dissecting without mercy the character and conduct of the real plaintiff in the case. These dangerous weapons he kept in reserve. “At present," he said, “I hold them to be needless to my client; but when the necessity arrives, an advocate knows but one duty, and, cost what it may, he must discharge it.” On the 19th, Lord King introduced a resolution, “ That it was not necessary for the public safety, or the security of the government, that the bill should pass into a law;" the Earl of Liverpool moved as an amendment, that counsel be called in; which was carried by a vote of 181 to 65. Earl Grey then moved, as a second amendment, that, as the bill did not afford the most advisable mode for prosecuting the charges against her majesty, it was inexpedient to proceed further with it. This was lost by a vote of 64 to 179. Counsel were accordingly called in, and, after all these preliminaries, in which, as it will have been seen, Mr. Brougham took a most active part, the trial fairly began; the case in support of the bill being opened by Sir R. Gifford.
It is neither necessary nor desirable to go into the details of this protracted trial, wearisome and disagreeable as they are; but it is important to glance at the management of the defence by Mr. Brougham, and to review briefly the course pursued by him, as it was the great professional achievement of his life, as it brought him his highest renown as an advocate, and as it was mainly his connection with this case, which led to his eventually attaining the Chancellorship.
During the trial, Mr. Brougham was ever watchful of the interests of the queen, always on the alert, and ready to demand and to vigorously contend for any advantage which he saw any prospect of obtaining. The witnesses in support of the bill were all foreigners, and all Italians, with the exception of one Swiss girl, and a German waiting-maid at an inn. Their examination had to be conducted through the medium of interpreters; and Mr. Brougham showed his familiarity with these foreign languages, by instantly catching at the slight shades of difference of meaning of those words just falling short of being synonymous. He professedly had to contend also with great difficulties in having no list of witnesses and no specification of the charges. Of this he and his associates made great capital, although it has been affirmed that they had all the time a duplicate of the report of the Milan Commission. The principal witnesses for the prosecution were Teodoro Majocchi, who had been Bergami's valet, and Louisa De Mont, femme de chambre of the queen. These persons were examined at great length, and their evidence subjected to a most rigid and extended cross-examination. Mr. Brougham obtained permission to re-crossexamine the witness Majocchi, and the latter was really crossexamined four separate times. r. Brougham also demanded the right of suspending the cross-examination of a witness and resuming it again as occasion might require; that, during such postponement for some weeks, he might procure information concerning the residence, family, character, and previous habits of the witness, facts on which to base such cross-examination. This privilege, unprecedented in courts of law, he considered as in some sort a compensation for the refusal of a list of witnesses. The lords indulged in long and tiresome debates as to the legality or advisability of the admission of certain evidence. The judges were present by request, and questions of evidence were submitted to them in the form of hypotheses by the Lord Chancellor ; upon which they withdrew, and returned answers after consultation. In this way many new and interesting rules were made. The lords used great latitude in the questions which they themselves put to the witnesses. When counsel were admitted to argue any point, Mr. Brougham was as fearless as ever, showing not the slightest awe, and but little deference for that august assembly. It is questionable whether he might not perhaps have benefited his case by more conciliatory conduct.2
The court adjourned on the 7th of September, and the case was re-opened on the 3d of October. Mr. Brougham's speech in
1 “Did their lordships believe that there was so much magic in the dress of a counsel at their bar, or such a charm in his education and legal acquirements, as that he could, at sight of a witness whom he never saw, nor ever heard of before, strike upon all those points of character and conduct which it were necessary to sift to ascertain moral credibility, and at once enter upon a cross-examination, with as little preparation as he could read from his brief?”- Lord Brougham, Queen's Trial, i. 219.
2 “The great admiral, who, in the bay of Algiers, was ‘all-fightful,' complained of the disrespect of counsel [Mr. Brougham) in fixing his eyes on him at the time that he was presuming to check him for an expression which had not been used by him, but by another noble lord.'” – Knight, viii. 170.
opening the queen's defence lasted through that day and part of the next. It was the most powerful argument which he ever made; eloquent in style, carefully put together, skilfully and systematically arranged; containing a thorough and exhaustive résumé of the evidence in support of the bill, with keen and searching comments on it. It was the great forensic triumph of his life, and deserves to be placed among the most successful of the impressive and elaborate productions of the leaders of the English bar.
The most eloquent and probably the most studied parts, looking at mere oratory, are the exordium and the peroration. The exordium is as follows:
. May it please your Lordships, — The time is now come when I feel that I shall truly stand in need of all your indulgence. It is not merely the august presence of this assembly which embarrasses me, for I have oftentimes bad experience of its condescension; nor the novelty of this proceeding that perplexes me, for the mind gradually gets reconciled to the strangest things; nor the magnitude of this cause that oppresses me, for I am borne up and cheered by that conviction of its justice, which I share with all mankind: but, my lords, it is the very force of that conviction, the knowledge that it operates universally, the feeling that it operates rightly, which now dismays me with the apprehension, that my unworthy mode of handling it may, for the first time, injure it; and, while others have trembled for a guilty client, or been anxious in a doubtful case, or crippled with a consciousness of some hidden weakness, or chilled by the influence, or dismayed by the hostility, of public opinion, I, knowing that here there is no guiltiness to conceal, nor any thing, save the resources of perjury, to dread, am haunted with the apprehension that my feeble discharge of this duty may for the first time cast that cause into doubt, and may turn against me for condemnation those millions of your lordships' countrymen whose jealous eyes are now watching us, and who will not fail to impute it to me, if your lordships should reverse the judgment which the case for the charge has extorted from them. And I feel, my lords, under such a weight so troubled, that I can hardly at this moment, with all the reflection which the indulgence of your lordships has accorded to me, compose my spirits to the discharge of my professional duty, under the pressure of that grave responsibility which accompanies it. It is no light addition to this feeling, that I foresee, though happily at some distance, that before these proceedings close, it may be my unexampled lot to discharge a duty, in which the loyalty of a good subject may, among the ignorant, among the thoughtless, - certainly not with your lordships for a moment, - suffer an impeachment.” 1
1 Speeches, i 103, 104.
In his well-known letter to Lord Macaulay's father, he has recounted the laborious process to which he submitted in preparing the peroration. He writes, –
" Secondly, I know from experience that nothing is half so successful in these times bad though they be — as what has been formed on the Greek models. I use a very poor instance in giving my own experience, but I do assure you that both in courts of law and in Parliament, and even to mobs, I have never made so much play — to use a very modern phrase — as when I was almost translating from the Greek. I composed the peroration of my speech for the queen in the Lords, after reading and repeating Demosthenes for three or four weeks, and I composed it twenty times over, at least; and it certainly succeeded in a very extraordinary degree, and far above any merits of its own."
We quote the peroration entire, both to illustrate the advantages of this method, and as an example of Lord Brougham's best style:
“ Such, then, my lords, is this case. And again let me call on you, even at the risk of repetition, never to dismiss for a moment from your minds the two great points upon which I rest my attack upon the evidence: first, that the accusers have not proved the facts by the good witnesses who were within their reach, whom they had no shadow of pretext for not calling; and, secondly, that the witnesses whom they have ventured to call, are, every one of them, irreparably damaged in their credit. How, I ask, is a plot ever to be discovered, except by the means of these two principles? Nay, there are instances in which plots have been discovered through the medium of the second principle, when the first had happened to fail. When venerable witnesses have been brought forward; when persons above all suspicion have lent themselves for a season to impure plans; when no escape for the guiltless seemed open, no chance of safety to remain, — they have almost providentially escaped from the snare by the second of those two principles ; by the evidence breaking down where it was not expected to be sifted; by a weak point being found, where no provision, from the attack being unforeseen, had been made to support it. Your lordships recollect that great passage I say great, for it is poetically just and eloquent, even were it not inspired - in the Sacred Writings, where the elders had joined themselves in a plot, which had appeared to have succeeded, “for that,' as the Book says, they had hardened their hearts, and had turned away their eyes, that they might not look at heaven, and that they might do the purposes of unjust judgments. But they, though giving a clear, consistent, uncontradicted story, were disappointed, and their victim was rescued from their gripe, by the trifling circumstance
of a contradiction about a tamarisk tree. Let not man call those contradictions or those falsehoods which false witnesses swear to from needless and heedless false od, — such as Sacchi about his changing his name, or such as Demont about her letters ; such as Majocchi about the banker's clerk, or such as all the other contradictions and falsehoods not going to the main body of the case, but to the main body of the credit of the wit
; — let not man rashly and blindly call these things accidents. They are just, rather than merciful, dispensations of that Providence which wills not that the guilty should triumph, and which favorably protects the innocent!
“ Such, my lords, is the case now before you. Such is the evidence in support of this measure, - evidence inadequate to prove a debt; impotent to deprive of a civil right; ridiculous to convict of the lowest offence ; scandalous if brought forward to support a charge of the highest nature the law knows; monstrous to ruin the honor, to blast the name, of an English queen! What shall I say, then, if this is the proof by which an act of judicial legislation, a Parliamentary sentence, an ex post facto law, is sought to be passed against this defenceless woman? My lords, I pray you to pause. I do earnestly beseech you to take heed! You are standing upon the brink of a precipice, — then beware! It will go forth your judgment, if sentence shall go against the queen. But it will be the only judgment you ever pronounced, which, instead of reaching its object, will return and bound back upon those who give it. Save the country, my lords, from the horrors of this catastrophe; save yourselves from this peril; rescue that country, of which you are the ornaments, but in which you can flourish no longer, when severed from the people, than the blossom when cut off from the roots and the stem of the tree. Save that country, that you may continue to adorn it; save the Crown, which is in jeopardy, the aristocracy, which is shaken; save the altar, which must stagger with the blow that rends its kindred throne! You have said, my lords, you have willed the Church and the king have willed — that the queen should be deprived of its solemn service. She has, instead of that solemnity, the heartfelt prayers of the people. She wants no prayers of mine. But I do here pour forth my humble supplications at the Throne of Mercy, that that mercy may be poured down upon the people, in a larger measure than the merits of its rulers may deserve, and that your hearts may be turned to justice !” 1
The Earl of Dudley writes,
“At half-past twelve to-day, Brougham concluded a most able speech with a magnificently eloquent peroration. The display of his power and fertility of mind in this business, has been quite amazing; and these ex
1 Speeches, i. 226-228.