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by the practical benefits derived from them; and above all, by letting them feel their security in the administration of law and justice. What is it in the present state of that unhappy kingdom, the contagion of which fills us with such alarm, that is the just object of terror? what, but that accusation and conviction are the same, and that a false witness or power without evidence is a warrant for death? Not so here; long may the countries differ! and I am asking for nothing more, than that you should decide according to our own wholesome rules, by which our government was established, and by which it has been ever protected. Put yourselves, gentlemen, in the place of the defendants, and let me ask, if you were brought before your country, upon a charge supported by no other evidence than that which you have heard to-day, and encountered by that which I have stated to you, what would you say, or your children after
if you were touched in your persons or your properties by a conviction? May you never be put to such reflections, nor the country to such disgrace! The best service we can render to the public is, that we should live like one harmonious family, that we should banish all animosities, jealousies, and suspicions of one another; and that, living under the protection of a mild and impartial justice, we should endeavor, with one heart, according to our best judgments, to advance the freedom and maintain the security of Great Britain.
Gentlemen, I will trouble you no further; I am afraid, indeed, I have too long trespassed on your patience, I will therefore proceed to call my witnesses.
On the examination of the witnesses, to the matters mentioned by Mr. Erskine in his speech, the witness for the Crown, Thomas Dunn, was so entirely contradicted, that Mr. Law interposing, in the manner stated in the preface, the trial ended, and Mr. Walker and the other defendants were acquitted.
AGAINST CHARLES BEMBRIDGE,
In Trinity Term, 1783, an information was filed by the Attorney-General against Charles Bembridge, an accountant in the pay-office, charging him with having wilfully and fraudulently concealed numerous large and important items which were a charge against Lord Holland, a paymaster, and which should have been so returned. The trial came on in the Court of King's Bench, July 18th, 1783. Mr. Erskine, though of counsel for the defendant, and participating in the trial, did not address the jury, the argument being reserved for Mr. Bearcroft, a prominent barrister who appeared in many important trials either with or against Mr. Erskine. No further report of the trial, therefore, is here presented than the charge of Lord Mansfield to the jury, from which the reader will be enabled to gain a clear idea of the merits of the case. Following this will be found Mr. Erskine's speech on the motion for a new trial.
LORD MANSFIELD'S CHARGE TO THE
GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY: This is an information against the defendant, which states, that the office of accountant, in the paymaster's office, is a place of important public trust and confidence, and is relative particularly to the passing of the accounts of paymasters out of the office, as well as paymasters in office. That the defendant was appointed accountant in the year 1776. That the accounts of my Lord Holland, then paymaster, had been finally brought in, in the year 1772, before the time he was appointed accountant. That from the year 1776, when he was accountant, down to October or November, 1782, he concealed willfully, corruptly, and fraudulently, from the auditor of the imprest, a variety of items, which were a charge upon my Lord Holland, amounting in the total, to the sum of £48,799 10s. 11d. From this charge, you see, there are two propositions for you to be satisfied of. The first is, that this place of accountant in the paymaster's office, is a place of public trust and confidence, relative to the passing the accounts of the paymasters out of office, that is, that it is a check upon those who pass the account of a paymaster out of office, that they should be examined, controlled, and surcharged before the auditor, by the accountant; that is the first proposition of fact necessary for you to be satisfied of. The next proposition in point of fact necessary for you to be satisfied of, is, that these concealments were made by defendant, Bembridge, corruptly and fraudulently. If you are satisfied of these two facts, you are then warranted to find the defendant guilty of the indictment, in point of fact. With regard to the law of the case, when I come to state that to you, I will tell you all I think necessary for you to consider upon the subject.
The first fact is with regard to the nature and duty of this office. On the part of the prosecution, they prove, by Mr. Hughes and by Mr. Wigglesworth, two of the deputy-auditors, that the business of the office in passing accounts before them is, to send every observation they make to the accountant; and from the accountant they expect a solution, an explanation, and assistance; that in this particular case, from 1776, the time that defendant was accountant, they made objections to him, they talked to him, they applied to him, and they considered him as the person who was to answer those objections, etc. Besides that, they have read the examination of the defendant,