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96 WARREN HASTINGS.

liament and of the country. It was the one great event of that
season. But in the following year the King’s illness, the debates
on the Regency, the expectation of a change of ministry, com-
pletely diverted public attention from Indian affairs ; and within a
fortnight after George the Third had returned thanks in St. Paul’s
for his recovery, the States-General of France met at Versailles.
In the midst of the agitation produced by these events, the im-
peachment was for a time almost forgotten.

The trial in the Hall went on languidly. In the session of
1788, when the proceedings had the interest of novelty, and when
the Peers had little other business before them, only thirty-five
days were given to the impeachment. In 1789, the Regency Bill
occupied the Upper House till the session was far advanced.
When the King recovered the circuits were beginning. The
judges left town ; the Lords waited for the return of the oracles of
jurisprudence; and the consequence was that during the whole
year only seventeen days were given to the case of Hastings. It
was clear that the matter would be protracted to a length unpre-
cedented in the annals of criminal law.

In truth, it is impossible to deny that impeachment, though it is
a fine ceremony, and though it may havebeen useful in the seven-
teenth century, is not a proceeding from which much good can now
be expected. Whatever confidence may be placed in the decision
of the Peers on an appeal arising out of ordinary litigation, it is
certain that no man has the least confidence in their‘impartiality,
when a great public funetionary, charged with a great state crime,
is brought to their bar. They are all politicians. There is hardly
one among them whose vote on an impeachment may not be con-
fidently predicted before a witness has been examined; and, even
if it were possible to rely on their justice, they would still be quite
unfit. to try such a cause as that of Hastings. They sit only
during half the year. They have to transact much legislative and
much judicial business. The law-lords, whose advice is required
to guide the umearned majority, are employed daily in administer-
ing jusuce elsewhere. It is impossible, therefore, that during
a busy session, the Upper I-louse should give more than a few
days to an impeachment. To expect that their Lordships would
give up partridge-shooting, in order to bring the greatest delin-
quent to speedy justice, or to relieve accused innocence by speedy
acquittal, would be unreasonable indeed. A well constituted

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