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Before I proceed to the performance of the momentous duty which is at length cast upon me, I desire in the first place to return my thanks to the Judges, for the indulgence I have received in the opportunity of addressing you at this later pe. riod of the day, than the ordinary sitting of the Court; when I have had the refreshment which nature but too much required, and a few hours retirement, to arrange a little in my mind that immense matter, the result of which I must now endeavour to lay. before you.--I have to thank you also, Gentlemen, for the very condescending and obliging manner in which you so readily consented to this accommodation :-the Court could only speak for itself, referring me to you, whose rest and comforts had been so long interrupted. I shall always remember your kindness.
Before I advance to the regular consideration of this great cause, either as it regards the evidence or the law, I wish first to put aside all that I find in the speech of my learned friend, the Attorney General, which is either collateral to the merits, or in which I can agree with him.-First then, IN THE NAME OF THE PRISONER, and speaking his senti- . ments, which are well known to be my own also, I concur in the eulogium which you have heard upon the Constitution of our wise forefathers. But be. fore this eulogium can have any just or useful application, we ought to reflect upon what it is which en- . titles this Constitution to the praise so justly beštowed upon it. To say nothing at present of its most essential excellence, or rather the very soul of it, viz. the share the people ought to have in their government, by a pure representation, for the assertion of which the Prisoner stands arraigned as a traitor before you,--what is it that distinguishes the government of England from the most despotic monarchies? What—but the security which the subject enjoys in a trial and judgment by his equals ; rendered doubly secure as being part of a system of law which no expediency can warp, and which no power can abuse with impunity?
The Attorney General's second preliminary observátion, I equally agree to. I anxiously wish with him thát you shall bear in memory the anarchy which is desolating France.-Before I sit down, I may pera haps, in my turn, have occasion to reflect a little upon its probable causes; but waiting a season for such reflections, let us first consider what the evil is which has been so feelingly lamented, as having fällen on that unhappy country.It is, that under the dominion of a barbarous state necessity, every protection of law is abrogated and destroyed ;-it is, that no man can say, under such a system of alarm and terror, that his life, his liberty, his reputation, or any one human blessing, is secure to him for a moment: it is, ihat, if accused of federalism, or moderatism, or in
civism, or of whatever else the changing fashions and factions of the day shall have lifted up into high treason against the State, he must see his friends, his family, and the light of heaven, no more:--the accusation and the sentence being the same; following one another as the thunder pursues the flash. Such has been the state of England,-such is the state of France :-and how then, since they are in troduced to
you for application, ought they in reason and sobriety to be applied ? If this prosecution has been commenced (as is asserted) to avert from Great Britain the calamities incident to civil confusion, lead. ing in its issues to the deplorable condition of France; I call upon you, Gentlemen, to avert such calamity from falling upon my Client, and through his side upon yourselves and upon our country.-Let not him suffer under vague expositions of tyrannical laws, more tyrannically executed. Let not him be hurried away to pre-doomed execution, from an honest en thusiasm for the public safety. ---I ask for him a trial by this applauded constitution of our country : I call upon you to administer the law to him, according to our own wholesome institutions, by its strict and rigid letter. However you may eventually disapprove of any part of his conduct, or viewing it through a false medium, may think it even wicked, I claim for him, as a subject of England, that the law shall decide upon its criminal denomination :- I protest, in his name, against all appeals to speculations concerning consequences, when the law commands us to look
only to INTENTIONS.-If the State be threatened: with evils, let Parliament administer a prospective remedy, but let the Prisoner hold his life' UNDER THE
- Gentlemen, I ask this solemnly of the Court, whose justice I am persuaded will afford it to me; I ask it more einplatically of you, the Jury, who are called upon your oaths to make a true deliverance of your countryman, from this charge :--but lastly, and chiefly, I implore it of Him in whose hands are all the issues of life; whose humane and merciful eye expands itself over all the transactions of mankind; atwhose command nations rise, and fall, and are regenerated; without whom not a sparrow falleth to the ground ;-I implore it of God himself, that He will fill your minds with the spirit of justice and of truth; so that you may be able to find your way through the labyrinth of matter laid before you, a labyrinth in which no man's life was ever before involved, in the annals of British trial, nor indeed in the whole his tory of human justice or injustice.
Gentlemen, the first thing in order, is to look at the Indictment itself; of the whole of which, or of some integral part, the Prisoner must be found guilty, or be wholly discharged from guilt.
The Indictment charges that the Prisoners did maliciously and traitorously conspire, compass, and imagine, to bring and put our Lord the King to death ; and that to fulfil, perfect, and bring to effect, their most evil and wicked purpose (that is to say,
of bringing and putting the King to death), “ they “ met, conspired, consulted, and agreed amongst “themselves, and other false traitors unknown, to “ 'cause and procure a Convention to be assembled " within the kingdom, WITH INTENT—" (I am reading the very words of the Indictment, which I entreat you to follow in the notes you have been taking with such honest perseverance)—“WITH INTENT, " AND IN ORDER that the persons so assembled « at such Convention, should and might traitors ously, and in defiance of the authority, and « against the will of Parliament, subvert and alter, " and cause to be subverted and altered, the legissi lature, rule, and government of the country; s and to depose the King from the royal state, « title, power, and government thereof." This is the first and great leading overt act in the Indictment; and you observe that it is not charged as being treason SUBSTANTIVELY AND IN. ITSELF, but only as it is committed in pursuance of the treason against the King's PERSON, antecedently imputed ;for the charge is not, that the Prisoners conspired to assemble a Convention to DEPOSE the King, but that they conspired and compassed his death; and that, in order to accomplish that wicked and de. testable
purpose, i. e. in order to fulfil the traitorous intention of the mind against his life, they conspired to assemble a Convention, with a view to depose him. The same observation applies alike to all the other counts or overt acts upon the record,