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Next morning Mr. Denman spoke nearly two hours for the queen, strongly maintaining her right of recrimination against the king, who, when seeking for a divorce, should come into court with clean hands. He commented on the several clauses of the Bill as he went along. He said the person who framed it had worked himself up into an ebullition of moral zeal, and used expressions for the full support of which the bribes and schemes of the prosecutors would produce witnesses. Referring to a former investigation, he called the attention of the House to the letter of Mrs. Lisle, in 1806, when flirting and familiarity were the worst things alleged against her Royal Highness. On the subject of familiarity he referred to a note addressed by a waiter to the Prince of Wales"Sam, of the Cocoanut Coffeehouse, presents his compliments to his Royal Highness, and begs" so and so. That illustrious person remarked, "This is very well to us, but it won't do for him to speak so to Norfolk and Arundel." He concluded by apologising to the queen for putting even the hypothesis of her guilt, which he never could believe would be established; and whatever might be enacted by means of suborned perjury or foul conspiracy, he never would pay to any one who might usurp her situation the respect to which the laws of God and man entitled her alone.
It was at this crisis, when Hastings was just recovering his authority in the Council, that the news arrived in India, and spread amongst the native chiefs, that in Yenghi Dunia, or the New World, the Company Sahibfor the East Indians could never separate the ideas of the East India Company and England itselfthere had been a great revolution, and the English driven out. This, as might be expected, wonderfully elated the native chiefs, and especially those in the south. There the French of Pondicherry and Chandernagore boasted of the destruction of the British power, and that it was by their own hands. Hastings, who was as able and far-seeing as he was unprincipled in carrying out his plans for the maintenance of the British dominion in India, immediately set himself to counteract the mischievous effects of these diligently-disseminated rumours, and of the cabals which the French excited. These were most to be feared amongst the vast and martial family of the Mahrattas. The Mahrattas had risen on the ruins of the great Mogul empire. They now extended their tribes over a vast space of India from Mysore to the Ganges. The Peishwa, as head of these nations, held his residence at Poonah. Besides his, there were the great houses of Holkar and Scindia; the Guicowar, who ruled in Guzerat; the Bonslah, or Rajah of Berar, a descendant of Sivaji. The Mahrattas were, for the most part, a rude, warlike race, rapacious and ambitious, and living in the most primitive style. To destroy the confidence of these fierce warriors in the French, Hastings gave immediate orders, on receiving the news of the proclamation of war in Europe, for the seizure of the French settlements. This was on the 7th of July, 1778; on the 10th he had taken Chandernagore, and ordered Sir Hector Munro to invest Pondicherry. That was soon accomplished, and the only remaining possession of France, the small one of Mah, on the coast of Malabar, was seized the next spring.
The Austrian campaign, and Buonaparte's sojourn at Sch?nbrunn, gave him a sight of the Archduchess Maria Louisa, and determined his conduct. The house of Hapsburg, however ancient and however proud, was under the foot of the conqueror, and the sacrifice of an archduchess might be considered a cheap one for more favourable terms than Austria was otherwise likely to receive. It had the fate of Prussia before its eyes, and the bargain was concluded. It might have seemed to require no little courage in an Austrian princess to venture on becoming Empress of France after the awful experience of her aunt Marie Antoinette. But Maria Louisa was scarcely eighteen. She had seen Buonaparte, who had endeavoured to make himself agreeable to her; and so young a girl, of a military nation, might be as much dazzled with the conqueror's glory as older, if not wiser, heads. She made no objection to the match. In appearance she was of light, fair complexion, with light-brown hair, of a somewhat tall figure, blue eyes, and with a remarkably beautiful hand and foot. Altogether, she was an animated and agreeable young lady."Seen the way Landor's been catching it?" they asked.
So that was it! It took all the self-command that thirty-five varied years had taught him not to rise up and knock her head against the sharp rocks. But he lay quite still, and presently he said: "That is near enough for my purposes, thank you. But I would be interested to know, if you don't mind, what you had against a helpless woman and those two poor little babies. I wouldn't have supposed that a woman lived who could have been such a fiend as all that."Ellton went on, lapsing into the judicial. "In the meantime, anyway, a man's innocent until he's proven guilty. I say, do go round and see him. The others will follow your lead. He's awfully cut up and worried, and he's sick, you know."