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merit of the argument is, but merely to state what the questions are, to which you are to apply your judgment, and the evidence given in support of this Information. It is impossible, when one reads the preface to it, which states that the libel was written to asperse the House of Commons, not to feel that it is a matter of considerable importance ; for I do not know how far a fixed general opinion that the House of Commons deserves to have crimes imputed to it, may go; for men that are governed will be thereby much influenced by the confidence which should be reposed in government.—Mankind will never forget that governors are not made for the sake of themselves, but are placed in their respective stations, to discharge the functions of their office for the benefit of the public; and if they should ever conceive that their governors are so inattentive to their duty, as to exercise their functions only to keep themselves in power, and for their own emolument, without attending to the interests of the public, government must be relaxed, and at last crumble into dust ; and, therefore, if the case be made out, which is imputed to the Defendant, it is no doubt a most momentous case indeed; but though it is so, it does not follow that the Defendant is guilty; and Juries have been frequently told, and I am bound, in the situation in which I stand, to tell you, that, in forming your judgment upon this case, there are two points for you to altend to, namely:
Whether the Defendant, who is charged with
having published this, did publish it; and whether the sense which the Attorney General, by his innuendos in this Information, has affixed to the different passages, is fairly affixed to them.
From any consideration as to the first of these points you are delivered, because it is admitted, that the book was published by the Defendant ;-but the other is the material point to which you are to apply your judgment. It has been entered into with wonderful abilities, and much in the detail ;--but it is not enough for a man to say, I am innocent ;-it belongs alone to the Great Searcher of Hearts to know whether men are innocent or not ; we are to judge of the guilt or innocence of men (because we have no other rule to go by) by their overt acts,-. e. from what they have done.
In applying the innuendos, I accede entirely to what was laid down by the Counsel for the Defend-ant, and which was admitted yesterday by the Attorney General, as Counsel for the Crown, that
you must, upon this Information, make up your minds, that this was meant as an aspersion upon The House or COMMONS--and I admit also, that, in forming your opinion, you are not bound to confine your inquiry to those detached passages which the Attorney General has selected as offensive matter, and the subject of prosecution.-But let me on the other side warn you, that though there may be much good writing, good argument, morality, and humanity,
in many parts of it, yet if there are offensive passages, the good part will not sanctify the bad part.
Having stated that, I ought also to tell you, that in order to see what is the sense to be fairly imputed to those parts that are culled out as the offensive passages, you have a right to look at all the context; you have a right to look at the whole book ;--and if you find it has been garbled, and that the passages selected by the Attorney General do not bear the sense imputed to them, the man has a right to be acquitted ; and God forbid he should be convicted. -It is for you, upon reading the Information, which, if you go out of Court, you will undoubtedly take with you, and by comparing it with this pamphlet, to see whether the sense the Attorney General has affixed, is fairly affixed; always being guided by this, that where it is truly ambiguous and doubtful, the inclination of your judgment should be on the side of innocence ;-but if
you cannot acquit him without distorting sentences, you are to meet this case, and all other cases, as I stated yesterday, with the fortitude of men, feeling that they have a duty upon them superior to all leaning to parties ; namely, the administration of justice in the particular cause.
It would be in vain for me to go through this pamphlet which has been just put into my hand, and to say whether the sense affixed is the fair sense or not. As far as disclosed by the Information, these passages afford a strong bias, that the sense
affixed to them is the fair sense ; but of that
you will judge, not from the passages themselves merely, but by reading the context, or the whole book, so much at least as is necessary to enable you
to ascertain the true meaning of the author.
If I were prepared to comment upon the pamphlet, in my situation it would be improper for me to do it; my duty is fulfilled when I point out to you what the questions are that are proposed to your judgment, and what the evidence is
the result is
The Jury withdrew for about two hours, when they returned into Court with a verdict finding the Defend ant
THE following Ceese of Mr. John Frost, an Attørney of the Court of King's Bench, who was tried before Lord Kenyon and a Special Jury, in Hilary Term, 1793, for seditious words, requires but little preface, as the whole of the circumstances appear with sufficient clearness in the Speech of the Attorney General, und in the Evidence, which we have prefixed to the Defence by Mr. Erskine as the best illustration of his arguments.