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as of descending to mix himself in the intrigues of opposition. Whenever an important question called for his opinion in parliament, he would be heard, by the most profligate minister, with deference and respect. His authority would either sanctify or disgrace the measures of government.The people would lock up to him as their protector; and a virtuous prince would have one honest man in his dominions, in whose integrity and judgment he might safely confide.-Letters of Junius.
4. To the Right Hon. Lord Mansfield.
You will not question my veracity, when I assure you, that it has not been owing to any particular respect for your person that I have abstained from you so long. Besides the distress and danger with which the press is threatened, when your lordship is party, and the party is to be judge, I confess I have been deterred by the difficulty of the task. Our language has no term of reproach, the mind has no idea of detestation, which has not already been happily applied to you, and exhausted.—Ample justice has been done by abler pens than mine to the separate merits of your life and character. Let it be my humble office to collect the scattered sweets, till their united virtue tortures the
Permit me to begin with paying a just tribute to Scotch sincerity wherever I find it. I own I am not apt to confide in the professions of gentlemen of that country; and when they smile, I feel an involuntary emotion to guard myself against mischief. With this general opinion of an ancient nation, I always thought it much to your lordship's honour, that, in your earlier days, you were but little infected with the prudence of your country. You had some original
attachments, which you took every proper opportunity to acknowledge. The liberal spirit of youth prevailed over your native discretion. Your zeal in the cause of an unhappy prince was expressed with the sincerity of wine, and some of the solemnities of religion. This, I conceive, is the most amiable point of view in which your character has appeared. Like an honest man, you took that part in politics which might have been expected from your birth, education, country, and connections. There was something generous in your attachment to the banished house of Stuart. We lament the mistakes of a good man, and do not begin to detest him until he affects to renounce his principles. Why did you not adhere to that loyalty you once professed? .... England, I think, might have spared you without regret. Your friends will say, perhaps, that although you deserted the fortune of your liege Lord, you have adhered firmly to the principles which drove his father from the throne;-that, without openly supporting the person, you have done essential service to the cause, and consoled yourself for the loss of a favourite family, by reviving and establishing the maxims of their government. This is the way in which a Scotchman's understanding corrects the errors of his heart. My lord, I acknowledge the truth of the defence, and can trace it through all your conduct. I see through your whole life one uniform plan to enlarge the power of the crown, at the expence of the liberty of the subject. To this object, your thoughts, words, and actions, have been constantly directed. In contempt or ignorance of the common law of England, you have made it your study to introduce into the court where you preside, maxims of jurisprudence unknown to Englishmen.....
The injustice done to an individual is sometimes of service to the public. Facts are apt to alarm us more than the
most dangerous principles. The sufferings and firmness of a printer have roused the public attention. You knew and felt that your conduct would not bear a parliamentary inquiry; and you hoped to escape it by the meanest, the basest sacrifice of dignity and consistency, that ever was made by a great magistrate. Where was your firmness, where was that vindictive spirit, of which we have seen so many examples, when a man, so inconsiderable as Bingley, could force you to confess, in the face of this country, that, for two years together, you had illegally deprived an English subject of his liberty, and that he had triumphed over you at last? Yet I own, my lord, that yours is not an uncommon character. Women, and men like women, are timid, vindictive, and irresolute. Their passions counteract each other; and make the same creature, at one moment hateful, at another contemptible. I fancy, my Lord, some time will elapse before you venture to commit another Englishman for refusing to answer interrogatories.
The doctrine you have constantly delivered in cases of libel, is another powerful evidence of a settled plan to contract the legal power of juries, and to draw questions, inseparable from fact, within the Arbitrium of the court. Here, my Lord, you have fortune on your side. When you invade the province of the jury in matter of libel, you in effect attack the liberty of the press, and with a single stroke wound two of your greatest enemies.-In some instances you have succeeded, because jurymen are too often ignorant of their own rights, and too apt to be awed by the authority of a chief-justice. In other criminal prosecutions, the malice of the design is confessedly as much the subject of consideration to a jury, as the certainty of the fact. If a different doctrine prevails in the case of libels, why should it not extend to all criminal cases?
why not to capital offences? I see no reason (and I dare say you will agree with me, that there is no good one) why the life of the subject should be better protected against you, than his liberty or property. Why should you enjoy the full power of pillory, fine, and imprisonment, and not be indulged with hanging or transportation? With your Lordship's fertile genius and merciful disposition, I can conceive such an exercise of the power you have, as could hardly be aggravated by that which you have not.
But, my Lord, since you have laboured (and not unsuccessfully) to destroy the substance of the trial, why should you suffer the form of the verdict to remain? Why force twelve honest men, in palpable violation of their oaths, to pronounce their fellow-subject a guilly man, when, almost at the same moment, you forbid their inquiring into the only circumstance which, in the eye of law and reason, constitutes guilt-the malignity or innocence of his intentions? But I understand your Lordship.-If you could succeed in making the trial by jury useless and ridiculous, you might then with greater safety introduce a bill into parliament for enlarging the jurisdiction of the court, and extending your favourite trial by interrogatories to every question in which the life or liberty of an Englishman is concerned. . . . .
The mischiefs you have done this country are not confined to your interpretation of the laws. You are a minister, my Lord; and, as such, have long been consulted. Let us candidly examine what use you have made of your ministerial influence. I will not descend to little matters, but come at once to those important points on which your resolution was waited for, on which the expectation of your opinion kept a great part of the nation in suspense.-A constitutional question arises upon a declaration of the law of parliament,
by which the freedom of election and the birthright of the subject were supposed to have been invaded.-The King's servants are accused of violating the constitution.—The nation is in a ferment.-The ablest men of all parties engage in the question, and exert their utmost abilities in the discussion of it.—What part has the honest Lord Mansfield acted? As an eminent judge of the law, his opinion would have been respected. As a peer, he had a right to demand an audience of his Sovereign, and inform him that his ministers were pursuing unconstitutional measures.-Upon other occasions, my Lord, you have no difficulty in finding your way into the closet. The pretended neutrality of belonging to no party, will not save your reputation. In questions merely political, an honest man may stand neuter. But the laws and constitution are the general property of the subject; not to defend is to relinquish ;—and who is there so senseless as to renounce his share in a common benefit, unless he hopes to profit by a new division of the spoil.....
In public affairs, my Lord, cunning, let it be ever so well wrought, will not conduct a man honourably through life. Like bad money, it may be current for a time, but it will soon be cried down. It cannot consist with a liberal spirit, though it be sometimes united with extraordinary qualifications. When I acknowledge your abilities, you may believe I am sincere. I feel for human nature, when I see a man, so gifted as you are, descend to such vile practice.— Yet do not suffer your vanity to console you too soon. lieve me, my good Lord, you are not admired in the same degree in which you are detested. It is only the partiality of your friends, that balances the defects of your heart with the superiority of your understanding. No learned man, even among your own tribe, thinks you qualified to preside