Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

front., oy ha ring public communication lest open! In that awful moment of a naticn's travail, of Denekta to to them? I will tell you, gentlemen, the last gasp of tyranny and the first breath of them . what they are saved from, and what freedom, how pregnant is the example! The free prees. the government is saved from; I will press extinguished, the people enslaved, and the tell you, also, to what both are exposed by shut- prince undone. As the advocate of society, ting up that communication. In one case, sedi- therefore-of peace-of domestic liberty-and tion speaks aloud and walks abroad; the dema- the lasting union of the iwo countries, I con. gogue goes forth; the public eye is upon him ; jure you to guard the liberty of the press, thai be frets his busy hour upon the stage; but soon great sentinel of the state, that grand detector sither weariness, or bribe, or punishment, or dis- of public imposture; guard it, because, when it appointment, bears him down, or drives him off, sinks, there sinks with it, in one common grare, and he appears no more. In the other case, how the liberty of the subject and the sccurity of the does the work of sedition go forward ? Night Crown. after night the muffled rebel steals forth in the Gentlemen, I am glad that this question has dark, and casts another and another brand nipon not been brought forward earlier; I R

- Recent panic the pile, to which, when the hour of fatal matu- rejoice for the sake of the court, of the in the sister rity shall arrive, he will apply the torch. If you jury, and of the public repose, that diagraceful * doubt of the horrid consequence of suppressing this question has not been brought consego the effusion even of individual discontent, look forward till now. In Great Britain, analogous to those enslaved countries where the protection circumstances have taken place. At the comof despotism is supposed to be secured by such mencement of that unfortunate war which has restraints. Even the person of the despot there deluged Europe with blood, the spirit of the Enis never in safety. Neither the fears of the des- glish people was tremblingly alive to the terror pot nor the machinations of the slave have any of French principles; at that moment of general slumber—the one anticipating the moment of paroxysm, to accuse was to convict. The dan. peril, the other watching the opportunity of ag- ger looked larger to the public eye, from the gression. The fatal crisis is equally a surprise misty region through which it was surveyed. apon both : the decisive instant is precipitated We measure inaccessible heights by the shad. without warning-by folly on the one side, or ows which they project, where the lowness and oy frenzy on the other; and there is no notice the distance of the light form the length of the of the treason till the traitor acts. In those un- shade. fortunate countries-one can not read it without There is a sort of aspiring and adventurous horror-there are officers whose province it is credulity which disdains assenting to obvious to have the water which is to be drunk by their truths, and delights in catching at the improba. rulers sealed up in bottles, lest some wretched | bility of circumstances, as its best ground of miscreant should throw poison into the draught. faith. To what other cause, gentlemen, can you

But, gentlemen, if you wish for a nearer and ascribe that, in the wise, the reflecting, and the Fliustration seua more interesting example, you have philosophic nation of Great Britain, a printer has English history. it in the history of your own revolu- been found guilty of a libel, for publishing those tion. You have it at that memorable period, resolutions, to which the present minister of that when the Monarch (James II.] found a servile kingdom had actually subscribed his name? To acquiescence in the ministers of his follywhen what other cause can you ascribe, what in my the liberty of the press was trodden under foot mind is still more astonishing, in such a country when venal sheriffs returned packed juries, to as Scotland, a nation cast in the happy medium carry into effect those fatal conspiracies of the between the spiritless acquiescence of submiss. few against the many—when the devoted bench. ive poverty, and the sturdy credulity of pames of public justice were filled by some of those pered wealth; cool and ardent, adventurous and foundlings of fortune who, overwhelmed in the persevering; winging her eagle flight against torrent of corruption at an early period, lay at the blaze of every science, with an eye that nevthe bottom like drowned bodies while soundness er winks, and a wing that never tires; crowned or sanity remained in them ; but at length, be- as she is with the spoils of every art, and decked coming buoyant by putrefaction, they rose as with the wreath of every muse; from the deep they rotied, and floated to the surface of the and scrutinizing researches of her Hume, to the polluted stream, where they were drifted along, sweet and simple, but not less sublime and pa. the objects of terror, and contagion, and abomin-thetic morality of her Burns-how, from ihe ation. 10

bosom of a country like that, genius and charuc.

ter, and talents, should be banished to a distant, 10 It may not be ungratifying to hear the manner barbarous soil; condemned to pine under the in wbich this passage was suggested to the speak horrid communion of vulgar vice and base-lioro er's mind. A day or two before Mr. Rowan's trial,

trial, profligacy, for twice the period that ordinarr one of Mr. Carran's friends showed him a letter that

calculation gives to the continuance of human he had received from Bengal, in which the writer,

life?! But I will not further press any idea after mentioning the Hindoo custom of throwing the dead into the Ganges, added, that he was then upon ed bench, recollected this fact, and applied it as the banks of that river, and that, as he wrote, he above.-Life of Curran, by his Son, pol. i., p. 316. rould see several bodies floating down its stream. 11 Alluding to the banish:nent of the Scotch ko The orator, shortly after, while describing a corrupt- formers, Muir, Palmer, &c.

by a more recent

that is painful to me, and I am sure must be that Mr. Rowan did by this publication (suppos painful to you. I will only say, you have now ing it to be his) recommend, under the wo levelse an example of which neither England nor Scot- name of equality, a general, indiscrim- propedia land had the advantage. You have the examinate assumption of publi: rule by the Address ple of the panic, the infatuation, and the contri- every the meanest person in the state. Low as

sion of both. It is now for you to de- | we are in point of public information, there is An Irish jury ought to profit cide whether you will profit by their not, I believe, any man, who thinks for a mo. by tbem errors.

Frors experience of idle panic and idle re- ment, that does not know that all which the gret, or whether you merely prefer to palliate a great body of the people of any country can servile imitation of their frailty, by a paltry al- have from any government, is a fair encourage. feciation of their repentance. It is now for you ment to their industry, and protection for the to show that you are not carried away by the fruits of their labor. And there is scarcely any same hectic delusions, to acts of which no tears man, I believe, who does not know that if a peocan wash away the consequences or the indeli- ple could become so silly as to abandon their ble reproach.

stations in society, under pretense of governing Gentlemen, I have been warning you by in-themselves, they would become the dupes and They ought also

balso stances of public intellect suspended the victims of their own folly. But does this pobto be intluenced or obscured ; let me rather excite lication recommend any such infatuated abandonchange of feeling you by the example of that intellect ment, or any such desperate assumption? I will in England.

recovered and restored. In that read the words which relate to that subject. case which Mr. Attorney General has cited him. "By liberty we never understood unlimited freesell, I mean that of the trial of Lambert in En dom, nor by equality the leveling of property or gland, is there a topic of invective against con- destruction of subordination." I ask you with stituted authorities, is there a topic of abuse what justice, upon what principle of commoa against every department of British government sense, you can charge a man with the publics. that you do not find in the most glowing and tion of sentiments the very reverse of what his unqualified terms in that publication, for which words avow; and that, when there is no collat. the printer of it was prosecuted, and acquitted eral evidence, where there is no foundation whatby an English jury? See, too, what a difference ever, save those very words, by which his measthere is between the case of a man publishing ing can be ascertained ? or, if you do adopt ais his own opinion of facts, thinking that he is arbitrary principle of imputing to him your meanbound by duty to hazard the promulgation of ing instead of his own, what publication can be hem, and without the remotest hope of any per- guiltless or safe? It is a sort of accusation that sonal advantage, and that of a man who makes I am ashamed and sorry to see introduced in a publication his trade. And saying this, let me court acting on the principles of the British CCEpot be misunderstood ; it is not my province to stitution. enter into any abstract defense of the opinions. In the bitterness of reproach it was said - cot of any man upon public subjects. I do not af- of thine own mouth will I condemn thee."? From firmatively state to you that these grievances, the severity of justice I demand no more. See which this paper supposes, do in fact exist ; yet I | is, in the words that have been spoken, you can can not but say that the movers of this prosecution find matter to acquit or to condemn. “By libhave forced that question upon you. Their mo-erty we never understood unlimited freedom, con tives and their merits, like those of all accusers, by equality the leveling of property, nor the deare put in issue before you; and I need not tell you struction of subordination. This is a calamny how strongly the motive and merits of any inform- invented by that faction, or that gang, unich er ought to influence the fate of his accusation. misrepresents the King to the people, and the I agree most implicitly with Mr. Attorney | people to the King ; traduces one half of the na

van an. General that nothing can be more tion to cajole the other; and, by keeping up disswerable only for criminal than an attempt to work trust and division, wishes to continue the proud for leis errors of a change in the government by arbitrators of the fortune and fate of Ireland." judgment.

armed force, and I entreat that the Here you find that meaning disclaimed as a cal court will not suffer any expression of mine to umny, which is artfully imputed as a crime. be considered as giving encouragement or de- ! I say, therefore, gentlemen of the jury, as to sense to any design to excite disaffection, to the four parts into which the publica

Rerapia overawe or to overturn the government. But I tion must be divided, I answer thus : * put my client's case upon another ground. If It calls upon the Volunteers. Consider the time, he was led into an opinion of grievances where the danger, the authority of the prosecutors them. there were none; if he thought there ought to selves for believing that danger to exist; the be a reform where none was necessary, he is an- high character, the known moderation, the ap swerable only for his intention. He can be an- proved loyalty of that venerable institution: the swerable to you in the same way only that he is similarity of the circumstances between here. answerable to that God before whom the accuser, riod at which they are summoned to take ara.s, the accused, and the judge must appear togeth- and that in which they have been called upon er; that is, not for the clearness of his under- reassume them. Upon this simple ground, genstanding, but for the purity of his heart. tlemen, you will decide whether this part of the

Gentlemen, Mr. Attorney General has said publication was libelous and criminal or not

Mr. Rowan an

his intentions,

[ocr errors]

A stroug cir

As to reform, I could wish to have said noth- acter. Who he is I know not. I know not the ag upon it. I believe I have said enough. If man; but his credit is impeached. Mr. Blake be thought the state required it, he acted like an was called; he said he knew him. I asked him, nonest man. For the rectitude of the opinion “Do you think, sir, that Mr. Lyster is or is not a he was not answerable. He discharged his duty man deserving credit upon his oath ?" If you in telling the country that he thought so. find a verdict of conviction, it can be only upon

As to the emancipation of the Catholics, I can the credit of Mr. Lyster. What said Mr. Blake: hot but say that Mr. Attorney General did very Did he tell you that he believed he was a man wisely in sceping clear of that. Yet, gentle. to be believed upon his oath ? He did not atcon. ceed not tell you how important a figure tempt to say that he was. The best he could it was intended to make upon the scene, though, say was, that he would hesitate. Do you believe from unlucky accidents, it has become necessary Blake? Have you the same opinion of Lyster's to expunge it during the rehearsal.

testimony that Mr. Blake has ? Do you know or the concluding part of this publication, the Lyster? If you do know him, and know that he Convention which it recommends, I have spoken is credible, your knowledge should not be shakalready. I wish not to trouble you with saying en by the doubts of any man. But if you do not more upon it. I feel that I have already tres- know him, you must take his credit from an passed much upon your patience. In truth, upon unimpeached witness, swearing that he would a subject embracing such a variety of topics, a hesitate to believe him. rigid observance either of conciseness or arrange- In my mind there is a circumstance of the inent could, perhaps, scarcely be expected. It strongest nature that came out from is, however, with pleasure I feel I am drawing Lyster on the table. I am aware that cumstance to a close, and that only one question remains, to a very respectable man, if impeached against him which I beg your attention.

| by surprise, may not be ready prepared to repel Whatever, gentlemen, may be your opinion of a wanton calumny by contrary testimony. But Want oferi the meaning of this publication, there was Lyster unapprised of this attack upon him ? come the put yet remains a great point for you to What said he? “I knew that you had Blake to lication of the decide upon; namely, whether, in examine against me. You have brought him Rowan point of fact, this publication be im- here for that purpose.” He knew the very wit. putable to Mr. Rowan or not; whether he didness that was to be produced against him ; he publish it or not. And two witnesses are call. knew that his credit was impeached, and yet he ed to that fact, one of the name of Lyster, and produced no person to support that credit. What the other of the name of Morton. You must said Mr. Smyth? “From my knowledge of him, have observed that Morton gave no evidence I would not believe him upon his oath." upon which that paper could even have been Mr. Attorney General. I beg pardon, but 1 read, he produced no paper; he identified no must set - Mr. Curran right. Mr. Lyster said paper; so that in point of law, there was no ev. he heard Blake would be here, but not in time idence to be given to a jury; and, therefore, it to prepare himself. turns entirely upon the evidence of the other wit. Mr. Curran. But what said Mrs. Hatchell ? ness. He has stated that he went to a public Was the production of that witness a surprise meeting, in a place where there was a gallery upon Mr. Lyster ? her cross-examination shows crowded with spectators; and that he there got the fact to be the contrary. The learned couna printed paper, the same which has been read sel, you see, was perfectly apprised of a chain to you.

of private circumstances, to which he pointed his I know you are well acquainted with the fact questions. Did he know these circumstances by

that the credit of every witness must inspiration ? No; they could come only from Only one wit ness, and he be considered by, and rest with the Lyster himself. I insist, therefore, the gentleman imr.peached.

eacbed jury. They are the sovereign judges knew his character was to be impeached; his of that circumstance; and I will not insult your counsel knew it; and not a single witness has been feelings by insisting on the caution with which produced to support it. Then consider, gentleyou should watch the testimony of a witness that men, upon what ground you can find a verdict of seeks to affect the liberty, or property, or char-conviction against my client, when the only witness acter of your fellow-citizens. Under what cir- produced to the fact of publication is impeached cumstances does this evidence come before you ? without even an attempt to defend his character. The witness says he has got a commission in the Many hundreds, he said, were at that meeting; army by the interest of a lady, from a person why not produce one of them to swear to the fact then bigh in administration. He told you that of such a meeting? One he has ventured to he made a memorandum upon the back of that name; but he was certainly very sale in naming paper, it being his general custom, when he got a person who, he has told you, is not in the king. such papers to make an endorsement upon them; dom, and could not, therefore, be called to con. That he did this from mere fancy; that he had no front him. intention of giving any evidence or the subject; Gentlemen, let me suggest another observa. he took it with no such view.

tion or two. If still you have any doubt as to There is something whimsical enough in this 12 In the Irish courts the witness gives his testi Comments on curious story. Put his credit upon the mony seated in a chair, ov a raised platforin called his testimony. positive evidence adduced to his char- | the table.

be guilt or innocence of the defendant, give me has an Irish jury done this deed? The monen Argumen: de leave to suggest to you what circum- he ceases to be regarded as a criminal, he be.

med tomobila stances you ought to consider in or- comes of necessity an accuser. And, let me ask kvused. der to found your verdict. You you, what can your most zealous defenders te should consider the character of the person ac prepared to answer to such a charge? Wher cused, and in this your task is easy. I will ven- your sentence shall have sent him forth to that ture to say there is not a man in this nation stage (the pillory which guilt alone con render more known than the gentleman who is the sub- infamous, let me tell you he will not be like a ject of this prosecution, not only by the part he little statue upon a mighty pedestal, diminishing has taken in public concerns, and which he has by elevation. But he will stand a striking and taken in common with many, but still more so imposing object upon a monument, which, if it by that extraordinary sympathy for human af- does not, and it can not, record the atrocity porn fliction which, I am sorry to think, he shares his crime, must record ths atrocity of lus convic with so small a number. There is not a day tion. And upon this subject credit me when I that you hear the cries of your starving manu- say that I am still moru anxious for you than 1 facturers in your streets, that you do not also can possibly be for him. I can not but feel the see the advocate of their sufferings. That you peculiarity of your situation. Not the jury of do not see his honest and manly figure, with un- his own choice, which the law of England al. covered head soliciting for their relief, searching lows, but which ours refuses, 14 collected in that the frozen heart of charity for every string that box by a person certainly no friend to Mr. Row. can be touched by compassion, and urging the an, certainly not very deeply interested in giving force of every argument and every motive, save him a very impartial jury. Feeling this, as I that which his modesty suppresses; the author. am persuaded you do, you can not be surprised, ity of his own generous example. Or, if you see however you may be distressed at the mournful him not there, you may trace his steps to the presage with which an anxious public is led to private abode of disease, and famine, and despair; fear the worst from your possible determination the messenger of Heaven, bearing with him food, But I will not, for the justice and honor of ou and medicine, and consolation. Are these the common country, suffer my mind to be borne materials of which anarchy and public rapine away by such melancholy anticipations. I will are to be formed? Is this the man on whom to not relinquish the confidence that this day will fasten the abominable charge of goading on a be the period of his sufferings; and however frantic populace to mutiny and bloodshed ? Is merciless he has been hitherto pursued tha! this the man likely to apostatize from every prin- your verdict will send him home to the arris of ciple that can bind him to the state, his birth, his his family and the wishes of his countıy. But property, his education, his character, and his if, which Heaven forbid, it hath still been ufor. children? Let me tell you, gentlemen of the tunately determined that, because he has not jury, if you agree with his prosecutors in thinking bent to power and authority, because he would that there ought to be a sacrifice of such a man, not bow down before the golden call and woron such an occasion, and upon the credit of such ship it, he is to be bound and cast into the far. evidence, you are to convict him-never did you, nace; I do trust in God that there is a redeemnever can you give a sentence, consigning any ing spirit in the Constitution which will be seer man to public punishment with less danger to to walk with the sufferer through the flames, and his person or to his fame; for where could the to preserve him unhurt by the conflagration. hireling be found to fling contumely or ingrati. tude at his head, whose private distress he had At the conclusion of this speech, there was not labored to alleviate, or whose public condi- another universal burst of applause, throughout tion he had not labored to improve.

the court and hall, for some minutes, wuich was I can not, however, avoid adverting to a cir- again silenced by the interference of Lord Clon

cumstance that distinguishes the case mel. “Mr. Curran,' says Charles Phillips, "ase! Mr. Rowan, ir of Mr. Rowan from that of a late to relate a ludicrous incident which attended his must suffer'in sacrifice in a neighboring kingdom.13 departure from court after the trial. His path

The severer law of that country, it was instantly beset by the populace, who were seems, and happy for them that it should, ena- bent on chairing him. He implored-he entreal bles them to remove from their sight the victim ed—all in vain. At length, assuming an air of of their infatuation. The more mercisul spirit authority, he addressed those nearest to him: "I of our law deprives you of that consolation. His desire, gentlemen, that you will desist." "I laid sufferings must remain forever before your eyes great emphasis," says Curran," on the word de1 continual call upon your shame and your re- sist,' and put on my best suit of dignity. How morse. But those sufferings will do more; they ever, my next neighbor, a gigantic, brawny chair. will not rest satisfied with your unavailing con- man, eyeing me with a somewhat contemptucci trition, they will challenge the great and para- affection, from top to toe, bellowed out to hi mount inquest of society. The man will be companion, · Arrah, blood and turf! Pat, don'l weighed against the charge, the witness, and the

---sentence; and impartial justice will demand, why 14 In making up the jury, Mr. Rowan was not al

lowed the same right of challenging woich is enjoy "Allading to the banishment of Muir, Palmer, &c. ed in England.

Peroration:

Ireland.

mind the little ci schur; here, pitch him up this Mr. Rowan was sentenced to pay £500, wd to minute upon my shoulder.' Pat did as he was be imprisoned two years. Within a shc:t time, desired; the little crachur' was carried, nolens however, he escaped from prison and fled to volens, to his carriage, and drawn home by an America, where he remained for many years, applauding populace."

but finally returned to Ireland and had all further The jury brought in a verdict of Guilty, and punishment remitted.

SPEECH

OP MR CURRAN IN BEHALF OF PETER FINNERTY WHEN INDICTED FOR A LIBEL, DELIVERED BZ

FORE JUSTICE DOWNS IN THE COMMISSION COURT, DECEMBER 22, 1797.

W:niom Or

INTRODUCTION. MR. FINNERTY was the printer of a newspaper published at Dublin called the Press, and was indicted for publishing a severe letter, signed MARCUs, addressed to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in reference to the execution of William Orr.

Orr was a farmer of the Presbyterian sect-a man of pious, gentle, and gallant character, greatly respected and beloved in the county of Antrim, where he lived. He was prosecuted for administering at path to a United Irishman, and for so doing was condemned to death! Some of the jury made an affidavit, immediately after the trial, that they acted under intimidation in convicting him, and that spirits were introdaced into the jury room. It was likewise ascertained that the principal witness against Orr was a man of infamous character, whose word could not be relied on. These things were certified to the Lord Lieutenant with a view to Orr's being pardoned. He was accordingly respited to allow time for consideration; a second, and then a third respite was granted, and the feeling became general that his pardop was secured ; when, to the astonishment and horror of the public, he was hanged at the expiration of seven days, surrounded by large bodies of troops collected to overawe the people. He died with great calmness, leaving a written declaration of his entire innocence.

The public indignation was now universal. Medals were struck and circulated bearing the inscrip tion, “ Remember Ort;” bis name became a watch-word even in England ; Mr. Fox spoke of bim as a martyr; and the toast, "The ministers in Orr's place," was often heard in both countries. The letters of MARCUS expressed the general sentiment of the people respecting his execution ; and this was thought by the government a favorable opportunity for crushing Finnerty's paper, in which it was published-the oniy remaining paper in Ireland which had not been bought out or broken down by the government.

“Mr. Curran's address to the jury in this case," says his son, “must be considered, if not the finest, at least the most surprising specimen of his oratorical powers. He had no time for preparation ; it was not till a few minutes before the case commenced that his brief was handed him. During the progress of the trial, he had occasion to speak at unusual length to questions of law that arose upon the evidence, so that bis speech to the jury could necessarily be no other than a sudden, extemporaneous effusion; and it was, perbaps, a secret, and no: unjustihable, feeling of pride at having so acquitted himself upon such an emergency that inclined his own mind to prefer it to any of his other efforts.”

SPEECH, &c. (Mr. Curran, after a few observations on the counsel for the Crown would have gone directly right of the jury under the Libel Bill of Mr. to the proof of this allegation. But he has not Fox, proceeded thus :)

done so; he has gone to a most extraordinary And now, gentlemen, let us come to the im- length, indeed, of preliminary observation, and

he mediate subject of the trial, as it is an allusion to facts, and sometimes an assertion Remarks on the estraneros mat brought before you by the charge of facts, at which, I own, I was astonished, until

the counsel in the indictment, to which it ought I saw the drift of these allusions and assertions. for Ebe Crown to have been confined; and also, as Whether you have been fairly dealt with by him, it is presented to you by the statement of the or are now honestly dealt with by me, you must learned counsel who has taken a much wider be judges. He has been pleased to

Hlis insinuation range than the mere limits of the accusation, say that this prosecution is brought aguunst the gen. and has endeavored to force upon your consider against this letter signed Marcus, the newspaper tion extraneous and irrelevant facts, for reasons merely as a part of what he calls a pieca.com

piece complaswhich it is my duty to explain. The indictment system of attack upon government ed of. statez siraply that Mr. Finnerty has published a by the paper called the Press. As to this I will Glee and scandalous libel upon the Lord Lieu- only ask you whether you are fairly dealt with? enant of Ireland, tending to bring his govern- Whether it is fair treatment to men upon their

ent into disrepute, and to alienate the affec. oaths, to insinuate to them, that the general char. fons of the people; and one would have expect acter of a newspaper (and that genaral character d that, without stating any other matter, the founded merely upon the assertion of the pros,

containing the

« AnteriorContinuar »