« FöregåendeFortsätt »
occurred in another country. It was not in Ireland, gentlemen, though Mr. Gurney's smiling would seem to say so. It happened in America about fifty years ago.
Johnny Hook, gentlemen, was a Highlander: he lived in one of the most economical parts of Scotland, until he arrived at years of discretion, when, of course, he emigrated. He arrived in America about the period of the revolution, having brought with him from Scotland a little stout bullock, which I dare say he though an apt emblem of his countrymen. Patriotism is said to be a hungry quality ; and unhappily for Johnny Hook, the American army encamped in the very field where his bullock was grazing. The bullock was soon sacrificed to the appetites of the invaders of the field, and the setting sun beheld but its last rib in existence. At the conclusion of war, Johnny set off from the farm, and brought his action against the American commissary-general for the price of his bullock. The defense was conducted by the inspired peasant, Patrick Henry-a name immortal in America, and which should never die wherever talent and genius are held in estimation. He touched the chords of the jurors' hearts; and when he had pictured before them the perils and privations which the American army had undergone, the achievements and victories they had obtained, he exclaimed, with a feeling that soon became contagious, “But who is this man that disturbs a nation's devotion, and, at the very moment when they are with uplifted hands returning thanks to the God of battles, exclaims, Beef, beef, beef!" In America the name of Johnny Hook will never die; genius has touched it and made it immortal;but what was Johnny Hook when contrasted with this parson ?as a candle to the sun. For what will you say when I tell you that after taking three whole days to deliberate, though the poor man returned to his garden, to his daily work as usual, he actually had him arrested on a charge of felony !
And who was the magistrate before whom he brought
him? A sergeant-at-law, his own father-in-law! The son-in-law accused, and the father-in-law commited him ; and indeed they were right not to let the glory of the achievement go out of the family. Imagine, gentlemen, you behold the spectacle: the parson swearing to the complexion of the pennyworth; the butler endeavoring to coax him into reason; the cook maintaining the inviolability of the larder ; the sergeant threatening to bundle her out of the office ; until at last, amid the Babel of the contest, and the alternate ascendancy of “ Beef !” “ Church !" 5 Newgate !” and “ BotanyBay !” he was confined to five hours' imprisonment by these twin ornaments of law and divinity. At length his friends heard of his situation ; he was then necessarily admitted to bail, and bound over to meet his charitable 6 pastor and master” at the sessions.
Let us pause here, Gentlemen, and reflect on the situation of my client during the interval. Turned out of his service on a charge of robbery—that robbery the robbery of his own master-unable to procure employment under the doubt-obliged to expend the last shilling of his little savings, amounting to £20, in preparations for his defense—with many weeks before his innocence could be vindicated, and with the certainty that, even in the case of an acquittal, the fact of his having been tried would cling to him for ever :-weigh these sufferings of a poor man and an honest man, and then say what a rich man and a guilty man should pay for their infliction. At length the long expected Sessions came : at ten, to a moment, the parson was in attendance ; d'ay after day he missed not a minute; and at least for half their period, upon the steps of the prison-house, was this sleek emblem of orthodoxy to be seen, elbowing the thieves and convicts as they passed, and piously preparing to add an innocent man to their number. He was saved all trouble in procuring his attendance; he surrendered himself at once; not attended merely by his bail, but by the indignant crowds who had known bim
from his infancy, and who now pressed forward to attest the industrious honesty of his life. The cause was called on; and without compunction did this reverend clergyman, upon ro other grounds except these I have stated, depose to a charge of felony against my client. Gentlemen, I need scarcely tell you the result of the prosecution. The prosecutor swore, as might have been expected, to the identity of the beef-to the identity of the bread--and after establishing his full claim to the penny-worth, he called up his household to corroborate him. One of them has been turned out of his service since; the other has a second opportunity to-day. What they swore then, I take it for granted they will swear now; and if they do, I defy any man of conscience to say that this man had probable grounds for this prosecution, recollecting, as you will, that all was communicated to him before the Sessions; nay, before the arrest. The Jury rose indignantly, interposing between the accused and the mortification of a defense-he was at once acquitted. The trial over, my client and his prosecutor both departed, the one to his lordly mansion, the other to his home of desolation.
The day of retribution, however, is at last arrived ; and at your honest hands I confidently claim it. I claim it not merely for expenses incurred-for imprisonment endured-for character involved—for oppression exercised—but I claim it, in addition, for the agony of mind which the plaintiff must have suffered, when he saw himnself attainted before the world as a felon. Gentlemen of the jury, I shall leave this case to you. If you think that innocence should be accused, character involved, expense accumulated, imprisonment endured, and felony imputed upon grounds like these-dismiss my client; but if you hold probity in respect, though clothed in rags, and oppression in dishonor, though it be robed in lawn, I call on you to say so by your conscientious verdict.
In the course of the debate, Lord Suffolk, secretary for the northern department, undertook to defend the employment of the Indians in the war. His lordship contended, that, besides its policy and necessity, the measure was allowable on principle. For that "it was perfectly justifiable to use all the means that God and nature put into our hands!” Lord Chatham replied:
I AM ASTONISHED ! shocked! to hear such principles confessed to hear them avowed in this house, or in this country : principles equally unconstitutional, inhuman, and unchristian.
My lords, I did not intend to have encroached again upon your attention; but I cannot repress my indignation. I feel myself impelled by every duty. My lords, we are called upon as members of this house, as men, as christian men, to protest against such notions standing near the throne, polluting the ear of majesty,—“That God and nature put into our hands !" I know not what ideas that lord may entertain of God and nature ; but I know that such abominable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and humanity. What! to attribute the sacred sanction of God and nature to the massacres of the Indian scalping knise-to the cannibal savage, torturing, murdering, roasting, and eating ; literally, my lords, eating the mangled victims of his barbarous batiles! Such horrible notions shock every precept of religion, divine or natural, and every generous feeling of humanity. And my lords, they shock every sentiment of honor; they shock me as a lover of honorable war, and a detester of murderous barbarity.
These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them, demand the most decisive indignation. I call upon that right reverend bench, those holy ministers of the gospel, and pious pastors of our church; I con
jure them to join in the holy work, and vindicate the religion of their God. I appeal to the wisdom and the law of this learned bench, to defend and support the justice of their country. I call upon the bishops, to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their lawn; upon the learned judges, to interpose the purity of their ermine, to save us from this pollution. I call upon the honor of your lordships, to reverence the dignity of your ancestors, and to maintain your own. I call upon the spirit and humanity of my country, to vindicate the national character. I invoke the genius of the British constitution. From the tapestry that adorns these walls, the immortal ancestor of this noble lord* frowns with indignation at the disgrace of his country. In vain he led your victorious fleets against the boasted Armada of Spain ; in vain he defended and established the honor, the liberties, the religion, the Protestant religion, of this country, against the arbitrary cruelties of popery and the inquisition, if these more than popish cruelties and inquisitorial practices are let loose among us; to turn forth into our settlements, among our ancient connexions, friends, and relations, the merciless cannibal, thirsting for the blood of man, woman, and child! to send forth the infidel savage-against whom? against your Protestant brethren; to lay waste their country, to desolate their dwellings, and extirpate their race and name, with these horrible hell-hounds of savage war!-hell-hounds, I say, of savage war. Spain armed herself with blood-hounds to extirpate the wretched natives of America ; and we improve on the inhuman example even of Spanish cruelty : we turn loose these savage hell-hounds against our brethren and countrymen in America, of the same language, laws, liberties, and religion ; endeared to us by every tie that should sanctify humanity.
*Lord Effingham.-Lord Effingham Howard was lord high admiral of England against the Spanish Armada; the destruction of which is represented in the tapestry.