Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Mr. Erskine. As I stated before, the AttorneyGeneral found it necessary to consume nine hours; I shall not consume half that time, I think at least I shall not consume half that time, if I have an opportunity of doing that which I humbly request of the court, that is, of arranging the materials in such a manner, that I should be able to make only those observations which occur to me to be the fittest to be made, as counsel for the prisoner.

Lord Chief Justice Eyre. We have offered you an expedient; neither of you say to us whether you can accept it.

Mr. Gibbs. With respect to that expedient, I have no doubt to say that it is utterly impossible, for Mr. Erskine and myself, in the situation in which we are, respecting ourselves, respecting the court, and respecting the public and the jury, it is utterly impossible for us to think of that, because, if anything adverse should happen when we have taken such a line, the imputation will lie upon us.

Lord Chief Justice Eyre. That it may not be in your judgment a desirable thing, is very well; but that there is any other objection to it, I cannot agree to.

Whether the case is taken upon the summing up of the evidence, or whether it is taken upon the opening of the evidence, is, as to all legal purposes, the same; I can see no difference;

it may make a vast difference in your judgment, as to what is the best manner and the best

method of laying your case before the jury; undoubtedly we are assisting the prisoner by putting the counsel in a situation to do his business in the best manner, by proposing it thus; whereas, if they were put upon doing it in the ordinary course, they would lie under a peculiar difficulty and disadvantage. Mr. Erskine has not yet told us what he asks.

Mr. Erskine. Since it is put expressly to me, I shall propose, unless the jury profess it to be a

, very serious inconvenience to them, that instead of coming in the morning at the time we generally come, our coming should be at twelve o'clock, so that the Attorney-General can finish at one. Mr. Gibbs will have the goodness to take a note of the few facts stated by the witnesses, and I shall be able by that time to come.

Lord Chief Justice Eyre. Then suppose we adjourn to eleven o'clock.

Mr. Gibbs. We conceive your lordships will permit Mr. Erskine to open the case of Mr. Hardy; then our witnesses will be examined, and then I shall be heard after our witnesses.

Lord Chief Justice Eyre. You will conduct your case in the manner you think best for the interest of your client.

Mr. Erskine. I should be glad if your lordships would allow another hour.

Lord Chief Justice Eyre. I feel so much for the situation of the jury, that on their account I cannot think of it.

[graphic]

Mr. Erskine. My lord, I never was placed in such a situation in the whole course of my practice before, with so many gentlemen on the other side; however, I don't shrink from it.

One of the Jury. My lord, we are extremely willing to allow Mr. Erskine another hour, if your lordship thinks proper.

Lord Chief Justice Eyre. As the jury ask it for you, I will not refuse you.

Accordingly an adjournment was had until twelve o'clock of the same day, when two hours being spent in finishing the evidence for the Crown, Mr. Erskine came into court, and addressed the jury as follows:

SPEECH OF MR. ERSKINE.

GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY: 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 period 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 endeavor 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 rests 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 sentiments, 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 before the eulogium can have any just or useful application, we ought to reflect upon what it is which entitles this constitution to the praise so justly bestowed 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 observation I equally agree to. I anxiously wish with him that you shall bear in memory the anarchy which is desolating France. Before I sit down, I may perhaps, 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 lament

« ZurückWeiter »