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words, supposed to be treasonable, they differ widely from writings in point of real malignity and proper evidence. They are often the effect of mere heat of blood, which in some natures, otherwise well disposed, carrieth a man beyond the bounds of decency or prudence. They are always liable to great misconstruction from the ignorance and inattention of the hearers, and too often from a motive truly criminal.” Loose words, therefore, not relative to any act or design, are not overt acts of treason, but words of advice or persuasion, and all consultations for the traitorous purposes treated of in this chapter, are certainly so. They are uttered in contemplation of some traitorous purpose, actually on foot or intended, and in prosecution of it.
Gentlemen of the jury, it is competent to Mr. Frost, and he will give me leave to say, I think it is incumbent upon him, having made use of words of this sort, to state to you, that in the sentiment which that language conveys, he does not express those sentiments by which his general conduct in life is regulated. For aught I know, he is otherwise well disposed; and I am sure, if evidence of that sort is given to you, you will feel the propriety of giving to it not only a candid, but you
have my leave to give it the very utmost consideration that can be possibly given to it. Gentlemen, you observe, too, that words are not made treason, because words may be sworn to by witnesses from a motive truly criminal. You will be to judge, whether the evidence of the witnesses to be called to you to-day proceeds from motives truly criminal, or whether laudable zeal for the constitution of their country is not their only motive for stating to you the conduct of this defendant.
Gentlemen, there is another circumstance. I will say but a word to you upon it; that is this: that the propriety of prosecuting for words of this sort depends a great deal upon the time and season at which those words are uttered.
Gentlemen, we know that in this country the legislature found it necessary to interfere, and by a positive law to enact that any man who should dare to affirm that the King and Parliament could not regulate the succession to the Crown, should be guilty of high treason; God forbid the time should ever come, and I do not believe it ever can come, when the legislature, acting upon the same principle, shall be obliged to say, that, if it is at this hour high treason for men deliberately to affirm that the King and Parliament of this country cannot regulate the succession to the Crown, it shall be innocent for men to say that the King and Parliament of this country have no right to continue any government in this country. Why then, gentlemen, if this doctrine of equality and no king has been attended with such consequences as it is notorious to all mankind it has been attended with, the notoriety of the fact renders it incumbent upon those, whose duty it is to bring such defendant before a jury of their country, for that jury to say, as between the country and individuals, whether, under such circumstances as will be laid before you, he is to be publicly permitted to hold such doctrines as those which are stated, in a manner that seems to evince that they are not stated for any useful purpose; but that they are stated for
; the purpose of trying, whether there is any law in this country that will secure the government of the country from attacks, which mean nothing but to . display the audacity with which men dare to attack that government? And if you
shall be convinced, upon the whole of the evidence before you, that the case is such as I have stated it to be, this I am sure of, that you will duly weigh the consequences of the verdict, however you shall be disposed to give it, for the Crown, or for the defendant; and I am sure the Crown, upon the temperate consideration of what the jury does, will not be dissatisfied with that verdict, let it be what
The constitution of this country, if it be excellent, if it has really handed down to us those great and invaluable blessings, which, I believe, ninety-nine persons out of a hundred are convinced it has, and if it be a matter of anxiety to transmit them to our posterity, you will remember that the
stability of those blessings finally and ultimately depends upon the conduct of juries. It is with them, by their verdicts, to establish their fellowsubjects in the enjoyment of those rights; it is with them to say in what cases those rights have been invaded; and the same constitution that has left it to them to say in what cases those rights have been invaded, has also bound every honest man to say, that when they have given their decision upon it, they have acted properly between the country and the individual who is charged with the offence.
Gentlemen, under these circumstances, I shall proceed to lay the case before you, and I have only again to repeat, if you shall find, upon a due consideration of this case, that this is an hasty, an unguarded, and unadvised expression of a gentleman otherwise well disposed, and who meant no real mischief to the country, you will be pleased, with my consent, to deal with the defendant as a person under those circumstances ought to be dealt with. I never will press a jury for a verdict, in a case in which, whatever may be the strictness of the law as between man and man, acting upon moral and candid feelings, it ought not to be asked for; and having given you my sentiments, I leave the defendant in your hands.
EVIDENCE FOR THE CROWN.
John Taitt, of Oxford Street, Upholsterer, sworn.
Examined by Mr. SOLICITOR-GENERAL.
know Mr. John Frost?
Q. Were there any other persons in the coffeehouse?
A. Yes, several gentlemen.
A. Mr. Yatman was there; Mr. Bullock; there were not many that I knew.
Q. Did you see Mr. Frost there?