MR. STOCKDALE, who is brought as a criminal before you for the publication of this book, has, by employing me as his advocate, reposed what must appear to many an extraordinary degree of confidence ; since, although he well knows that I am personally connected in friendship with most of those, whose conduct and opinions are principally arraigned by its author, he nevertheless commits to my hands his defence and justification.

A trust apparently so delicate, and singular, vanity is but too apt to whisper an application of to some fancied merit of one's own; but it is proper, for the honour of the English bar, that the world should know such things happen to all of us daily, and of course; and that the defendant, without any sort of knowledge of me, or any confidence that was personal, was only not afraid to follow up an accidental retainer, from the knowledge he has of the general character of the profession.

Happy indeed is it for this country, that whatever interested divisions may characterize other places, of which I may have occasion to speak to day, however the counsels of the highest departments of the state may be occasionally distracted by personal considerations, they never enter these walls to disturb the administration of justice: Whatever may be our publick principles, or the private habits of our lives, they never cast even a shade across the path of our professional duties.

If this be the characteristick even of the bar of an English court of justice, what sacred impartiality may not every man expect from its jurors and its bench?

As from the indulgence which the court was yesterday pleased to give to my indisposition, this information was not proceeded on when you were attending to try it, it is probable you were not altogether inat

tentive to what passed on the trial of the other indict. ment, prosecuted also by the house of commons; and therefore, without a restatement of the same principles, and a similar quotation of authorities to support them, I need only remind you of the law applicable to this subject, as it was then admitted by the attorney general, in concession to my propositions, and confirmed by the higher authority of the court,


First, that every information or indictment must contain such a description of the crime that the defendant may know what crime it is which he is called upon to answer,

Secondly, that the jury may appear to be warranted in their conclusion of guilty or not guilty,

And lastly, that the court may see such a precise and definite transgression upon the record as to be able to apply the punishment which judicial discretion may dictate, or which positive law may inflict.

It was admitted also to follow as a mere corollary from these propositions, that where an information charges a writing to be composed or published of and concerning the commons of Great Britain, with an intent to bring that body into scandal and disgrace with the publick, the author cannot be brought within the scope of such a charge, unless the jury, on examination and comparison of the whole matter, written or published, shall be satisfied that the particular passages charged as criminal, when explained by the context, and considered as part of one entire work, were meant and intended by the author to vilify the house of commons as a body, and were written of, and concerning them, in parliament assembled.

These principles being settled, we are now to see what the present information is.

It charges, that the defendant "unlawfully, wickedly, and maliciously devising, contriving and intending to asperse, scandalize and vilify, the commons of Great Britain in parliament assembled, and most wickedly and audaciously to represent their proceedings as corrupt and unjust, and to make it believed

and thought, as if the commons of Great Britain in parliament assembled, were a most wicked, tyranical base, and corrupt set of persons, and to bring them into disgrace with the publick." The defendant published-What?-Not those latter ends of sentences, which the attorney general has read from his brief, as if they had followed one another in order in this book ;-Not those scraps and tails of passages which are patched together upon this record, and pronounced in one breath, as if they existed without intermediate matter in the same page, and without context any where.-No.-This is not the accusation, even mutilated as it is for the information charges, that with intention to vilify the house of commons, the defendant published the whole book, describing it on the record by its title: "A Review of the principal charges against Warren Hastings, Esquire, late governour general of Bengal;" in which amongst other things the matter particularly selected is to be found. Your inquiry, therefore, is not confined to, Whether the defendant published those select parts of it; and whether looking at them as they are distorted by the information, they carry in fair construction, the sense and meaning which the innuendos put upon them; but whether the author of the intire work,-I say the author, since, if he could defend himself, the pubFisher unquestionably can; whether the author wrote the volume which I hold in my hand, as a free, manly, bona fide disquisition of criminal charges against his fellow citizens; or whether the long eloquent discussion of them, which fills so many pages, was a mere cloak and cover for the introduction of the supposed scandal imputed to the selected passages; the mind of the writer all along being intent on traducing the house of commons, and not on fairly answering their charges against Mr. Hastings.

This, gentlemen, is the principal matter for your consideration; and therefore, if after you shall have taken the book itself into the chamber which will be provided for you, and read the whole of it with impartial attention;-if after the performance of this duty,

you can return here and with clear consciences pronounce upon your oaths that the impression made upon you by these pages is, that the author wrote them with the wicked, seditious, and corrupt intentions, charged by the information; you have then my full permission to find the defendant guilty. But if, on the other hand, the general tenour of the composition should impress you with respect for the author, and point him out to you as a man mistaken perhaps himself, but not seeking to deceive others :-If every line of the work shall present to you an intelligent animated mind, glowing with a Christian compassion towards a fellow man, whom he believed to be innocent, and with a patriot zeal for the liberty of his country, which he considered as wounded through the sides of an oppressed fellow citizen; if this shall be the impression on your consciences and understandings, when you are called upon to deliver your verdict; then hear from me, that you not only work private injustice, but break up the press of England, and surrender her rights and liberties forever if you convict


Gentlemen, to enable you to form a true judgment of the meaning of this book, and of the intention of its author, and to expose the miserable juggle that is played off in the information, by the combination of sentences, which in the work itself have no bearing upon one another-I will first give you the publication, as it is charged on the record, and presented by the Attorney General in opening the case for the Crown; and I will then by reading the interjacent matter which is studiously kept out of sight, convince you of its true interpretation. The information, beginning with the first page of the book, charges, as a libel upon the house of commons, the following


"The house of commons has now given its final decision, with regard to the merits and demerits of Mr. Hastings. The grand inquest of England have delivered their charges, and preferred their impeachment; their allegations are referred to proof; and

from the appeal to the collective wisdom and justice of the nation in the supreme tribunal of the kingdom, the question comes to be determined, whether Mr. Hastings be guilty or not guilty?”

It is but fair, however, to admit that the first sentence, which the most ingenious malice cannot torture into a criminal construction, is charged by the information rather as introductory to what is made to follow it, than as libellous in itself; for the attorney general, from this introductory passage in the first page, goes on at a leap to page thirteenth, and reads almost without a stop, as if it immediately followed the other.

"What credit can we give to multiplied and accumulated charges, when we find that they originate from misrepresentation and falsehood?"

From these two passages thus standing together without the intervenient matter which occupies thir. teen pages, one would imagine that instead of investigating the probability or improbability of the guilt imputed to Mr. Hastings; instead of carefully examining the charges of the commons, and the defence of them which had been delivered before them, or which was preparing for the Lords; the author immediately, and in a moment after stating the mere fact of the impeachment, had decided that the act of the commons originated from misrepresentation and falsehood.

Gentlemen, in the same manner a veil is cast over all that is written in the next seven pages: for knowing that the context would help to the true construction, not only of the passages charged before, but of those in the sequel of this information; the attorney general, aware that it would convince every man who read it, that there was no intention in the author to calumniate the house of commons, passes over, by another leap, to page twenty; and in the same manner, without drawing his breath, and as if it directly followed the two former sentences, in the 1st and 13th pages, reads from page 20.

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