Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

returned to the box in less than a of a part of the auditory. Recoquarter of an hour ; when it be. vering from this unexpected ating asked by the Clerk of the tack, he spoke with much seve. Court whether they found the de- rity of such interruptions of the fendant guilty or not guilty, their courts of justice; and he conforeman replied in a firm voice, cluded with saying, that if the Not Guilty.

defendant's pamphlet were deterLoud acclamations were in- mined not to be a profane libel, stantly heard in all parts of the there was no insult of the kind Court, which continued for seve that might not be offered to the ral minutes.

established religion, and to the

sacred writings, with impunity. The next cause between the The libel was next read by the King and William Hone was tried at Clerk of nisi prius. It was enthe Court of King's-bench, before titled “ The Political Litany;" Lord Ellenborough and a special and its direct purpose was to conjury, on December 19. Of the vert to a political meaning, the special jury only six making their several articles of religious faith, appearance, the rest consisted of in the order laid down in the oritalesmen made up in Court. ginal composition.

The Attorney-General, address. The case on the part of the ing the jury, said that they were Crown being closed, Mr. Hone assembled to try a cause of the rose with the intention of comutmost importance to the consti- mencing his defence. Before he tution of society. It was that of had proceeded to any length, Lord a libel which was a parody of that Ellenborough thought it proper to part of the divine service called apprize him, that if he wished to the Litany, or General Supplica- show that similar applications or tion. The information charged misapplications of texts of Scripthe defendant with having, for ture, or what is usually revered · the purpose of exciting impiety by the subjects of the realm, have and irreligion, and to bring into been made by others as well as contempt in the minds of his Ma. himself, he should not receive it. jesty's subjects that part of the I have stated (said his lordship) public service called the Litany, my decided purpose ; and you may and to apply the style and form of now use your own discretion wheexpression there used, to scanda- ther you will dilate further upon lous purposes, had published the a point which I declare is not libel in question. He then gave judicially admissible! the jury a taste of the niode in Mr. Hone. I ask your lordwhich this conversion of the true ship whether you mean to send sense of the Litany was effected; me from this place to a prison ? but while he was with due gravity If you do not hear me, you do applying to the Prince Regent, that. If you will not allow-me to and the Ilouses of Lords and Com- make my defence to the jury, how mons, the expressions of a solemn can I avoid it? form of devotion, he was discon- After some further discussion, certed by the in:lecorous laughter his lordship said, Go on, exercise

pour

your own discretion. I have stated seven spécial jurymen, and five the rule in intelligent and intelli- talesmen. gible terms.

The Attorney-General, in adFrom this time to the termina dressing thein, said that it was tion of the trial almost the only his duty to charge the defendant speakers were Lord Ellenborough with the publication of a profane and Mr. Hone; and although it libel on that part of the service of cannot be supposed that much ci- the Church of England, which vility paised between them, yet was called the Creed of St. Athait does not appear that his lord- našius. The work in which it was ship's decision respecting what was contained was entitled the Sinéor what was not judicially atlmis- curist's Creed ; and he read seresible, prevented the defendant ral passages of the work to prove from bringing into Court the that it was a parody of that of greater part of the paródies which St. Athanasius. The whole was was selected for their hearing. afterwards read by Mr. Law; and

Lord Ellenborough, in his whatever be thought of the adopcharge to the jury, declared, that tion of the latter creed by the of all the parodies which the de- English church, it will scarcely fendant had read, he could not be disputed that the ridicule at. find any that bore any proportion tempted to be thrown upon it by to the enormity of the present; the Sinecurist's Creed was of the and in conclusion he said, that lowest class of productions of that he would deliver there his solemn nature. opinion, as he was required by Mr. Hone then commenced his Act of Parliament to do; and un- defence, which he continued durder the authority of that Act, and ing seven hours and a half with still inore in obedience to his con- extraordinary spirit, passing in science and his God, he pronounced review the whole tribe of parothis to bé à most impious and pro- dists, ancient and modern. In the fane libel.

reply of the Attorney-General, The júrý retired at á quarter and the charge by Lord Ellenbopast six, and returned at eight; rough to the jury, there was eviwhen the foreman, in a steady dently a falling off, compared to voicë, pronounced á verdict of the decision with which the deNot Guilty.

fendant had been pronounced upon The thiri day of Mr. Hone's in the former days of the trial; as trial followed on December 20th. there was on his part a confident Lord Ellenborough sat a second appeal to the sentiments of the time; and the Attorney-General, jury. At 20 minutes after eight observing that the defendant was the jury retired to consider their obviously much wearied by the verdict, and returning into Court exertioris of the two preceding at 12 minutes before nine, their days, offered, as a matter of fa- foreman pronounced å verdict of vour, to postpone the day. Mt. Not Guilty. Hone, however, declined the in- The moment the words were dulgence, and wished the trial to pronounced, a spontaneou's burst proceed. The jury consisted of of applause issued from the crowd

in the Court, which soon extended of the wound given to his próto the crowd on the outside ; and fessional reputation by Mr. Scárfor some minutės the ball and ad- lett's language at this bar. The joining avenues rang with shouts freedom of speech at the bar is of and acclamations.

the utmost importance. During Some days afterwards a liberal the present assize I heard, with subscription was entered into for much pleasure, Mr. Scarlett desMr. Hone and his family.

cant upon this topic. I could not hely believing that he spoke then

in anticipation of this action. This FREEDOM OF SPEECH AT THE BAR. freedoni of speech is of the greatLancaster, Sept. 10.

est importance, not only to the Hodgson v. Scarlett.- Mr. Rich. dignity of the bar, but to the inardson stated the action to be terests of the public, whose high brought by Peter Hodgson, gen- and delicate interests are intrusted tleman, for damages on account to the bår. Of this freedom none of words spoken by James Scarlett, can be a more strenuous and teriaEsq. at the last spring assizės in cious friend than I. In importthis court.

ảnce and utility, I hold it to be of Mr. Raine.-May it please your the same rank as freedom of dislordship, gentlemen of the jury, cússion in the Cominons' House It osten happens to all of us, owof Parliament. I have thus made ing to professional accident, to be the highest adinission in favour of engaged in actions painful to our Mr. Scarlett; but bounds inust be feelings. Painful, I can with set to this freedom of speechtruth assure you, the présent action otherwise, froin the greatest blessis to my feelings. Having trá- ing, it becomes the bitterest curse velled in our professional walk, that can infest and annoy society. with a gentleman of Mr. Scarlett's These bounds were overleaped in character, for more than 26 years, this casë. Mr. Scarlett, while ad. having known him in private life dressing the jury for the defendant for å still longer period, I cannot in an action in this court, went be supposed capable, by any out of his way to traduce and who know me, of harbouring an vilify the character of the attorney unkiud sentinient towards him, for the plaintill, and to wound and still less of giving utterance bis reputation. I shall not go into to such a sentiment, if I could en the particulars of that action: they téitain it: but what I owe to niy are not upon the record, and his client; whät I owe to tlié pro- Lordship will tell you that it was fession to which I belong; what not necessary they should. The I owe, I may say it without arro. words charged, and which we gance, to inyself, obligé me to lay shall prove to have been spoken, before you the ground of thie pré- are these" Some actions are sent action. Peter Hodyson is, founded in folly, some in knavery," and has long been, an eminent (Mr. Baron Wood. That is surely attorney in Whitehaven, in the true. --Mr. Raine. Yes, my Lord, county of Cumberland, and åp. these are certainly truisms, but plies now to you in consequence they are thus connectél), “ some

in

in both; soine actions in the fully uttered that are not warranted; and knavery of attornies, and but a serious impression to the insome in the folly and knavery of jury of character and professional the parties." My friend is not career could never be allowed to apt to deal in metaphysical ab- be made with impunity. What straction; you know very well was Mr. Hodgson to do? He called that he does not use words with upon Mr. Scarlett to justify or to out application. We shall not at deny these words : he would do tempt to prove his whole speech. neither. Mr. Hodgson, therefore, You know with how little credit a found he must appeal to a jury. long story is received from wit- The words will be indisputably nesses; but we shall prove the proved. Mr. Hodgson was diswords here entered upon the re- tinetly predicated to be a frauducord : “Mr. Peter Hodgson was lent and wicked attorney. The the attorney for the plaintiff; he only question then was, whether drew the promissory note; he he was thus to be traduced with fraudulently got Beaumont to pay impunity. I mentioned that the 1501. to the plaintiff. This was plaintiff lives in a different county. the most profligate thing I ever It is generally a suspicious cir. knew done by a professional man." cumstance for a plaintiff to come Then follows the particular ex- to a jury of a different county, as pression which we have charged if lie could not trust a jury who in the second count on the record: knew his character. But in this it concludes the remarks already case the action was brought here stated to you. The sting is always because the words charged had in the tail. “Mr. Hodgson is a been uttered here; and it is rather fraudulent and wicked attorney." advantageous to niy learned friend, Now, gentlemen, I ask you, if for if there is one place on this you were wrong in any action circuit in which he is better known brought into this court, how than in another place, it is the would you like such abuse of the county palatine of Lancaster. As freedom of speech by a gentleman I believe this will be the last time holding a high reputation at the I can address you on the subject, bar? A humbler individual, if he I must say a word of damages. I had not the spirit and the honour distinctly disclaim for my client to vindicate his fame from such an that damages are his object. He attack, would be ruined. My only wants the vindication of his client has the spirit and honour to injured character. You will take repel it. The defendant has join- care that he sustain no loss by this ed the general issue; that is, the vindication. I do not ask for words are denied. I have a right angry and vindictive damages. I to presume, indeed I have more ask no more than justice to my than a presumption, that his in- client. Less than justice you will structions did not warrant the not give. words, and Mr. Hodgson has taken Mr. Baron Wood.-Can you care to ascertain the fact. In the mention any action of the same hurry, agitation, and irritation of kind, or upon what principle it the bar, words may certainly be can be maintained ?

Mr.

Mr. Raine.--I do not know that be extracted by such protection. any action of the kind has ever I, like all my brothers, am inbeen brought.

terested in the full freedom of the Mr. Baron Wood.-It appears to bar, but there must be a limit. me that an action cannot be main- The privilege of parliament is a tained for words spoken in judicial peculiar species of right that canproceedings. If a counsel misbe- not in its very nature be made haves, or goes too far, the judge actionable in courts of law. The who presides corrects his miscon- plain question here is, if the counduct; but if an action is once sel could with impunity go out of maintained, there is no end of it. his way, and say, Mr. Hodgson “is Actions of this kind would per- a fraudulent and wicked attorney." petually occupy the court. If a Mr. Topping.-Does your Lordcounsel were to pause in his plead- ship wish us to say any thing on. ing, and to say such a man is a the question ? great rogue, that would be action- Mr. B. Wood.—Yes. able,

Mr. Topping.-1 did expect to Mr. Raine.That is precisely hear some observations by your our case. We say the libellous Lordship on the novelty of this expressions were voluntarily and action. Its tendency and nature gratuitously used.

are important, not only to the bar Mr. Baron Wood.-No; whe- but to the client. If such an action ther a note was fraudulent or not, can be maintained, very different as I understand the record, for I will be the situation of every client know nothing of the nature of the in a court of justice, when deprived first action.

of the free and vigorous exercise Mr. Richardson.—The privi-, of his counsel, at full liberty to leges of Parliament have been al- apply his talents, learning and luded to. I don't apprehend that industry to the cause in which he the question here has any resem- is engaged. The words in the blance to them.-(Mr. B. Wood. record are only the opinion, the Why not?)—Well, be it that the inference, the comment, which utmost freedom of speech is allow- my honourable and learned friend ed; but to go out of the way to felt at the time to be merited. The attack character-(Mr. B. Wood. facts of the case warranted the No, it was not out of the way; comment. Mr. Raine very judicithe words might be too severe, but ously and very ably-I observe he they were connected with the note. shakes his head, but I will say, It would be a dangerous precedent (Mr. Raine, I read every word) to receive an action on such a —if Mr. Raine had not interruptground.) -f a man's character is ed me, he would have heard me injured, if, for instance, a surgeon say, in terms no ways disrespectis injured and obstructed in his ful to him, that he showed great career, there inust surely be some prudence and discretion in not remedy. The presiding wisdom communicating the facts and cirin our courts is no protection, cumstances of the case. The when the injury is sustained, words were severe, because my when the shaft strikes, and cannot hon. and learned friend felt severity

Vol. LIX.

« AnteriorContinuar »