Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

agree to.

[ocr errors]

that there is any other objection to it, I cannot

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 pur. pose 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

čase 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.

Mr. Erskine. My Lord, I never was placed in such à situation in the whole course of my practice before; with so many Gentlemen on the other side ; how: ever, 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.

It now being half past one o'clock, on Saturday morning, the Court adjourned to twelve o'clock of the same day.

The Court having adjourned to twelve o'clock instead of nine, as above mentioned, and two hours being spent in finishing the evidence for the Crown, Mr. Erskine came into Court, and addressed the Jury as follows :

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 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

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 be

your

[ocr errors]

fore this 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 asser. tion of which the Prisoner stands arraigned as a trai. tor before you,—what is it that distinguishes the governınent 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 - 110 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 lamented, as having fallen on that unhappy country.-It is, that under the domi. nion 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, that, if accused of federalism, or moderatism, or in

ciyism, 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 introduced 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 Englayd, that the law shall decide upon its criminal denomination :-) protest, in his .name, against all appeals to speculations concerning consequences, when the law commands us to look

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »