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GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY: It is plain that I have not much embarrassed my learned friend by bespeaking from him a brilliant speech. After twenty years experience of him, I knew I might safely do it; I knew also his clients had bespoken it, and were not likely to be disappointed. I

desire to deprive defendants of their defences, and the argument of their learned counsel is entitled to attention ; but I trust, that you, gentlemen, will distinguish between the charges which the councils of nations may have against each other, and the unauthorized invectives of newspapers.

These libels might produce the very coldness and indifferences complained of. The question is just what I stated it in the opening to be, namely, whether the paragraph is a libel, and whether the defendants printed and published it. In the case of Mr. Reeves, perhaps, I hardly conducted myself as I ought to have done, having from delicacy abstained in the House of Commons from taking any share in the debate; whereas, I ought rather to have followed the example of Lord

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Hardwicke, and have spoken my sentiments upon it, and after the address was voted, have begged that his Majesty might command the alleged libel to be prosecuted by some other of his servants. I admit the paragraph complained of in the book of Mr. Reeves was improper, but upon reading the whole of it, I thought it manifest that the author had no evil intention. In the present case I have no doubt, gentlemen, that you will decide according to the sound rule and principle of law, and rather take the noble and learned judge for your guide in that respect than either Mr. Erskine or myself.

As to the punishment, it does not follow that it must be severe. The conviction is the legal consequence of the offence against the law; but the ambassador of the Emperor at our court, is a man of mild and amiable manners, concerned, of course, for the dignity of his sovereign, but greatly attached to the subjects of Great Britain ; and proper representations might obtain for the defendants what the law, in its just administration, could not possibly confer.



GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY: I shall make no apology for any punishment which the Court of King's Bench has ever ordered any individual to undergo, during the time I have been one of its judges. They, and all their proceedings are before the public; they may be brought before Parliament, and they are liable to punishment themselves in case of misbehavior. They are bound by their oaths to discharge their duty to the King and his subjects, and to discharge it conscientiously, as the King himself is bound to do, who, by his coronation oath is sworn in the most solemn manner to administer justice in mercy. I shall say nothing, therefore, on the anticipation of justice from the judges; I trust they are fully conscious of having always discharged their duty.

The learned counsel for the defendants has told you that the situation of the country is critical and awful; and I am afraid he has drawn too faithful a picture of some of the causes to which it may be ascribed.

That the contest is left chiefly to our own exertions, and that our nearest and dearest interests are embarked in it, is most true. What remains at the foot of this account I know not, but the whole seems

now to rest upon the Emperor of Russia and ourselves.

The learned counsel has very properly avoided all political discussions unconnected with the subject, and I shall follow his example. Courts of justice have nothing to do with them, but I admit that his observations as they regard the princes of Europe, were relevant to the cause, and open to him to enlarge on, as illustrations that the press could not be free if discussions of that nature were held to be illegal; but it is pretty plain to me that the learned counsel presented with great dexterity, -and, indeed, who is more dextrous—the best part of his case, concealing from you that which was vulnerable, drawing his arguments from materials so very near the subject as to appear convincing, though differing in fact, when you had freed yourselves from the delusion. What could have induced the princes of Europe to the conduct some of them have pursued, I will not venture to investigate; but sitting in a court of law, I am bound to say that it does not absolve states from enforcing a decent respect to the magistracies of each other, and to the persons of sovereigns executing the law, etc. A breach of these rules might produce

discord. In the last century, when there was less connection between us and the powers of the continent, and when, perhaps, the assistance of the court of Russia was less important, the legislature thought it wise to interpose. In the reign of Queen Anne, if I mistake not, when an ambassador had been detained on a civil suit, which was complained of as contrary to the law of nations, an act of Parliament was not only passed to protect the persons of foreign ministers from detention against civil demands, but the act was sent over to the capital of that kingdom.

All governments rest mainly on public opinion, and to that of his own subjects every wise sovereign will look. The opinion of his subjects will force a sovereign to do his duty, and by that opinion will he be exalted or depressed in the politics of the world. Our papers, it is well known, are not not only circulated over Europe, but much farther; and the sentiments they contain are interesting and popular, so that if poison appears in them without its antidote, the effect might be fatal to ourselves, as it might be reasonably concluded, that if government winked at or slumbered over such a publication, it was disposed to adopt it. Letters from the consul to the Russia Company were produced, and it was proposed, on the part of the defendants, that they should be received. They were not, however, read, and it

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