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the blood of its defenders; with a people who, animated with one soul, and inflamed with zeal for their laws, and for their prince, are armed in defence of all that is dear or venerable, — their wives, their parents, their children, the sanctuary of God, and the sepulchre of their fathers. We will not suppose there is one who will be deterred from exerting himself in such a cause by a pusillanimous reg rd to his safety, when he reflects that he has already lived too long who has survived the ruin of his country; and that he who can enjoy life after such an event, deserves not to have lived at all. It will suffice us, if our mortal existence, which is at most but a span, be co-extended with that of the nation which gave us birth. We will gladly quit the scene, with all that is noble and august, innocent and holy; and instead of wishing to survive the oppression of weakness, the violation of beauty, and the extinction of everything on which the heart can repose, welcome the shades which will hide from our view such hor
To form an adequate idea of the duties of this crisis, it will be necessary to raise your minds to a level with your station, to extend your views to a distant futurity, and to consequences the most certain, though most remote. By a series of criminal enterprises, by the successes of guilty ambition, the liberties of Europe have been gradually extinguished; the subjugation of Holland, Switzerland, and the free towns of Germany, has completed that catastrophe; and we are the only people in the eastern hemisphere who are in possession of equal laws and a free constitution. Freedom, driven from every spot on the Continent, has sought an asylum in a country which she always chose for her favorite abode; but she is pursued even here, and threatened with destruction. The inundation of lawless power, after covering the whole earth, threatens to follow us here; and we are most exactly, most critically placed, in the only aperture where it can be successfully repelled - in the Thermopylæ of the universe. As far as the interests of freedom are concerned, — the most important by far of sublunary interests, – you, my countrymen, stand in the capacity of the federal representatives of the human race; for with you it is to determine (under God) in what condition the latest posterity shall be born; their fortunes are intrusted to your care, and on your conduct at this moment depends the color and complexion of their destiny. If liberty, after being extinguished on the Continent, is suffered to expire here, whence is it ever to emerge in the midst of that thick night that will invest it? It remains with you, then, to decide whether that freedom, at whose voice the kingdoms of Europe awoke from the sleep of ages, to run a career of virtuous emulation in everything great and good; the freedom which dispelled the mists of superstition, and invited the nations to behold their God; whose magic touch kindled the rays of genius, the enthusiasm of poetry, and the flame of eloquence; the freedom which poured into our lap opulence and arts. and embellished life with innumerable institutions and improvements, till it became a theatre of wonders; it is for you to decide whether this freedom shall yet survive, or be covered with a funeral pall, and
wrapt in eternal gloom. It is not necessary to await your determination. In the solicitude you feel to approve yourselves worthy of such a trust, every thought of what is afflicting in warfare, every apprehension of danger, must vanish, and you are impatient to mingle in the battle of the civilized world. Go, then, ye defenders of your country, accompanied with every auspicious omen; advance with alacrity into the field, where God Himself musters the hosts to war. Religion is too much interested in your success not to lend you her aid; she will shed over this enterprise her selectest influence. While you are engaged in the field, many will repair to the closet, many to the sanctuary; the faithful of every name will employ that prayer which has power with God; the feeble hands, which are unequal to any other weapon, will grasp the sword of the Spirit; and from myriads of humble, contrite hearts, the voice of intercession, supplication, and weeping, will mingle in its ascent to heaven with the shouts of battle and the shock of arms. While you have everything to fear from the success of the enemy, you have every means of preventing that success, so that it is next to impossible for victory not to crown your exertions. The extent of your resources, under God, is equal to the justice of your cause. But should Providence determine otherwise, should you fall in this struggle, should the nation fall, you will have the satisfaction (the purest allotted to man) of having performed your part; your names will be enrolled with the most illustrious dead; while posterity, to the end of time, as often as they revolve the events of this period (and they will incessantly revolve them), will turn to you a reverential eye, while they mourn over the freedom which is entombed in your sepulchre. I cannot but imagine the virtuous heroes, legislators, and patriots, of every age and country, are bending from their elevated seats to witness this contest, as if they were incapable, till it be brought to a favorable issue, of enjoying their eternal repose. Enjoy that repose, illustrious immortals! Your mantle fell when you ascended; and thousands, inflamed with your spirit, and impatient to tread in your steps, are ready “to swear by Him that sitteth upon the throne, and liveth forever and ever,” they will protect Freedom in her last asylum, and never desert that cause which you sustained by your labors, and cemented with your blood. And Thou, sole Ruler among the children of men, to whom the shields of the earth belong, “gird on Thy sword, thou Most Mighty,” go forth with our hosts in the day of battle! Impart, in addition to their hereditary valor, that confidence of success which springs from Thy presence! Pour into their hearts the spirit of departed heroes ! Inspire them with Thine own; and, while led by Thine hand, and fighting under Thy banners, open Thou their eyes to behold in every valley, and in every plain, what the prophet beheld by the same illumination - chariots of fire, and horses of fire ! " Then shall the strong man be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark; and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.”
Sir James MACKINTOSH. 1765-1832. 362. FROM HIS SPEECH IN DEFENCE OF Peltier FOR A LIBEL
ON THE FIRST CONSUL OF FRANCE - BONAPARTE. Gentlemen, there is one point of view in which this case seems to merit your most serious attention. The real prosecutor is the master of the greatest empire the civilized world ever saw; the defendant is a defenceless, proscribed exile. I consider this case, therefore, as the first of a long series of conflicts between the greatest power in the world and the ONLY FREE Press remaining in Europc. Gentlemen, this distinction of the English press is new — - it is a proud and a melancholy distinction. Before the great earthquake of the French Revolution had swallowed up all the asylums of free discussion on the Continent, we enjoyed that privilege, indeed, more fully than others, but we did not enjoy it exclusively. In Holland, in Switzerland, in the imperial towns of Germany, the press was either legally or practically free.
But all these have been swallowed up by that fearful convulsion which has shaken the uttermost corners of the earth. They are destroyed, and gone forever! One asylum of free discussion is still in violate. There is still one spot in Europe where man can freely exercise his reason on the most important concerns of society, where he can boldly publish his judgment on the acts of the proudest and most powerful tyrants. The press of England is still free. It is guarded by the free constitution of our forefathers. It is guarded by the hearts and arms of Englishmen, and I trust I may venture to say that, if it be to fall, it will fall only under the ruins of the British empire. It is an awful consideration, gentlemen. Every other monument of European liberty has perished. That ancient fabric which has been gradually reared by the wisdom and virtue of our fathers, still stands. It stands, thanks be to God! solid and entire – but it stands alone, and it stands in ruins! Believing, then, as I do, that we are on the eve of a great struggle — that this is only the first battle between reason
- that you have now in your hands, committed to your trust, the only remains of free discussion in Europe, now confined to this kingdom; addressing you, therefore, as the guardians of the most important interests of mankind; convinced that the unfettered exercise of reason depends more on your present verdict than on any other that was ever delivered by a jury, I trust I may rely with confidence on the issue, - I trust that you will consider yourselves as the advanced guard of liberty, as having this day to fight the first battle of free discussion against the most formidable enemy that it ever encountered.
THOMAS LORD ERSKINE. 1750–1823.
FROM HIS SPEECH ON THE TRIAL OF STOCKDALE.
363. PRINCIPLES OF THE LAW OF LIBEL. Gentlemen, the question you have therefore to try upon all this matter is extremely simple. It is neither more nor less than this: At a time when the charges against Mr. Hastings were, by the implied consent of the Commons, in every hand and on every table; when, by their managers, the lightning of eloquence was incessantly consuming him, and flashing in the eyes of the public; when every man was, with perfect impunity, saying, and writing, and publishing just what he pleased of the supposed plunderer and devastator of nations, - would it have been criminal in Mr. Hastings himself to remind the public that he was a native of this free land, entitled to the common protection of her justice, and that he had a defence in his turn to offer to them, the outlines of which he implored them in the mean time to receive, as an antidote to the unlimited and unpunished poison in circulation against him? This is, without color or exaggeration, the true question you are to decide. Because I assert, without the hazard of contradiction, that if Mr. Hastings himself could have stood justified or excused in your eyes for publishing this volume in his own defence, the author, if he wrote it bonâ fide to defend him, must stand equally excused and justified; and if the author be justified, the publisher cannot be criminal, unless you had evidence that it was published by him with a different spirit and intention from those in which it was written. The question, therefore, is correctly what I just now stated it to be .- Could Mr. Hastings have been condemned to infamy for writing this book?
Gentlemen, I tremble with indignation to be driven to put such a question in England. Shall it be endured, that a subject of this country may be impeached by the Commons for the transactions of twenty years; that the accusation shall spread as wide as the region of letters; that the accused shall stand, day after day and year
after year, as a spectacle before the public, which shall be kept in a perpetual state of inflammation against him; yet that he shall not, without the severest penalties, be permitted to submit anything to the judgment of mankind in his defence? If this be law (which it is for you to-day to decide), such a man has no trial. That great hall, built by our fathers for English justice, is no longer a court, but an altar; and an Englishman, instead of being judged in it by God and his country, is a victim and a sacrifice.
One word more, gentlemen, and I have done. Every human tribunal ought to take care to administer justice, as we look hereafter to have justice administered to ourselves. Upon the principle on which the attorney-general prays sentence upon my client, God have mercy upon us! Instead of standing before him in judgment with the hopes
and consolations of Christians, we must call upon the mountains to cover us; for which of us can present, for omniscient examination, pure, unspotted, and faultless course? But I humbly expect that the benevolent Author of our being will judge us as I have been pointing out for your example. Holding up the great volume of our lives in his hands, and regarding the general scope of them, if he discovers benevolence, charity, and good-will to man beating in the heart, where he alone can look; if he finds that our conduct, though often forced out of the path by our infirmities, has been in general well directed, his all-searching eye will assuredly never pursue us into those little corners of our lives, much less will his justice select them for punishment, without the general context of our existence, by which faults may be sometimes found to have grown out of virtues, and very many of our heaviest offences to have been grafted by human imperfection upon the best and kindest of our affections. No, gentlemen, believe me, this is not the course of divine justice, or there is no truth in the gospel of Heaven. If the general tenor of a man's conduct be such as I have represented it, he may walk through the shadow of death, with all his faults about him, with as much cheerfulness as in the common paths of life, because he knows that, instead of a stern accuser to expose before the Author of his nature those frail passages, which, like the scored matter in the book before you, checkers the volume of the brightest and best spent life, his mercy will obscure them from the eye of his purity, and our repentance blot them out forever.
364. FROM HIS SPEECH ON THE TRIAL OF THOMAS HARDY.
Gentlemen, my whole argument then amounts to no more than this, that before the crime of compassing THE KING'S DEATH can be found by you, the jury, whose province it is to judge of its existence, it must be believed by you to have existed in point of fact. Before you can adjudge A FACT, you must believe it, not suspect it, or imagine it, or fancy it, — BUT BELIEVE IT; and it is impossible to impress the human mind with such a reasonable and certain belief, as is necessary to be impressed, before a Christian man can adjudge his neighbor to the smallest penalty, much less to the pains of death, without having such evidence as a reasonable mind will accept of, as the infallible test of truth. And what is that evidence? Neither more nor less than that which the constitution has established in the courts for the general administration of justice; namely, that the evidence convinces the jury, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the criminal intention, constituting the crime, existed in the mind of the man upon trial, and was the main-spring of his conduct. The rules of evidence, as they are settled by law, and adopted in its general administration, are not to be overruled or tampered with. They are founded in the charities of religion, in the philosophy of nature, in the truths of