worthy gentleman,* who has been snatched from us at the moment of the election, and in the middle of the contest, whilst his desires were as warm, and his hopes as eager as ours, has feelingly told us, what shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue.

It has been usual for a candidate who declines, to take his leave by a letter to the sheriffs : but I received your trust in the face of day; and in the face of day, I accept your dismission. I am not, -I am not at all ashamed to look upon you; nor can my presence discompose the order of business here. I humbly and respectfully take


leave of the sheriffs, the candidates, and the electors; wishing heartily that the choice may be for the best, at a time which calls, if ever time did call, for service that is not nominal. It is no plaything you are about. I tremble when I consider the trust I have presumed to ask. I confided perhaps too much in my intentions. They were really fair and upright; and I am bold to say, that I ask no ill thing for you, when on parting from this place I pray that whomever you chuse to succeed me, he may resemble me exactly in all things, except in my abilities to serve, and my fortune to please you.

* Mr. Coombe.




In the year 1804, the Reverend Charles Massy brought an action against the Marquis of Headfort for a criminal intercourse with his lady. The suit was tried on the 27th of July, in that year, at the Ennis Assizes, holden for the County of Clare, when the ensuing speech was delivered by Mr. Curran, as the senior counsel for the plaintiff.

The parties were in the first circle of society, and mutually availed themselves of the highest legal talents of their country. Great art and skill were employed by the defendant's council to mitigate his offence, and to lessen the amount of the damages which were claimed by Mr. Massy.—But the eloquence of Mr. Curran was irresistible, and procured for his client the sum of 10,0001.

This speech is the latest forensick effort of Mr. Curran, which has reached America, and has not diminished the splendid reputation which followed his former efforts.


NEVER so clearly as in the present instance, have I observed that safeguard of justice, which Providence has placed in the nature of man.

Such is the imperious dominion with which truth and reason VOL. III.


wave their sceptre over the human intellect, that no solicitation, however artful, no talent, however commanding, can reduce it from its allegiance. In proportion to the humility of our submission to its rule, do we rise into some faint emulation of that ineffable and presiding divinity, whose characteristick attribute it is—to be coerced and bound by the inexorable laws of its own natire, so as to be all-wise and all-just from necessity, rather than election. You have seen it in the learned advocate who has preceded me, most peculiarly and strikingly illustrated-you have seen even his great talents, perhaps the first in any country, languishing under a cause too weak to carry him, and too heavy to be carried by him. He was forced to dismiss his natural candour and sincerity, and, having no merits in his case, to substitute the dignity of his own manner, the resources of his own ingenuity, over the overwhelming difficulties with which he was surrounded. Wretched client! unhappy advocate! What a combination do you form! But such is the condition of guilt-its commission mean and tremulous-its defence artificial and insincereits prosecution candid and simple—its condemnation dignified and austere. Such has been the defendant's guilt-such his defence-such shall be my address, and such, I trust, your verdict. The learned counsel has told you, that this unfortunate woman is not to be estimated at forty thousand pounds. Fatal and unquestionable is the truth of this assertion. Alas! gentlemen, she is no longer worth any thing-faded, fallen, degraded, and disgraced, she is worth less than nothing! But it is for the honour, the hope, the expectation, the tenderness, and the comforts that have been blasted by the defendant, and have fled for ever, that you are to remunerate the plaintiff, by the punishment of the defendant. It is not her present value which you are to weigh—but it is her value at that time, when she sat basking in a husband's love, with the blessing of Heaven on her head, and its purity in her heart. When she sat amongst

her family, and administered the morality of the parental

[ocr errors]

lead you

the: Fer ci In

F itse inef atric bleke



[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

board-estimate that past value-compare it with its
present deplorable diminution-and it

to form some judgment of the severity of the injury
and the extent of the compensation.

The learned counsel has told you, you ought to be
cautious, because your verdict cannot be set aside for

The assertion is just, but has he treated you fairly by its application? His cause would not allow him to be fair--for, why is the rule adopted in this single action ? Because, this being peculiarly an injury to the most susceptible of all human feelings -it leaves the injury of the husband to be ascertained

the sensibility of the jury, and does not presume to measure the justice of their determination, by the cold and chilly exercise of its own discretion. In any other action, it is easy to calculate. If a tradesman's arm is cut off, you can measure the loss which he has sustained-but the wound of feeling, and the agony of the heart, cannot be judged by any standard with which I am acquainted. And you are unfairly dealt with, when you are called on to appreciate the present suffering of the husband by the present guilt, delinquency, and degradation of his wife. As well might you, if called on, to give compensation to a man for the murder of his dearest friend find the measure of his injury by weighing the ashes of the dead. But it is not, gentlemen of the jury, by weighing the ashes of the dead, that you would estimate the loss of the surviver.

The learned counsel has referred you to other cases, and other countries, for instances of moderate verdicts. I can refer you to some authentick instances of just ones. In the next county, 15,0001. against a subaltern officer. In Travers and M-Carthy, 50001. against a servant. In Tighe against Jones, 10,0001. against a man not worth a shilling. What then ought to be the rule, where rank and power, and wealth, and station, have combined to render the example of his crime more dangerous-to make his guilt more odious-to make the injury to the plaintiff more grievous, because more conspicuous ? I affect no

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »