« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
the bosom of her sons, on which America must depend in those approaching crises that may "try men's souls." Will a jury weaken this our nation's hope? Will they by their verdict pronounce to the youth of our country, that character is scarce worth possessing?
We read of that philosophy which can smile over the destruction of property-of that religion which enables its possessor to extend the benign look of forgiveness and complacency to his murderers. But it is not in the soul of man to bear the laceration of slander. The philosophy which could bear it we should despise. The religion which could bear it, we should not despise-but we should be constrained to say, that its kingdom was not of this world.
SECOND PART OF MR. GRIFFIN'S SPEECH.
In a case like the present, where the jury have a right, and where it is their duty, to award exemplary damages, it becomes you, gentlemen, to look around and enquire what amount of verdict the interests of the nation demand. We ought to be a happy people. Omnipotence has exhausted itself in scattering blessings around us.-But is there no blot on the map of our prosperity? Yes, gentlemen, there is a foul, a deadly blot. A fiend has entered our political Eden;--and this fiend is the spirit of licentiousness. I speak of the licentiousness of the tongue, and the licentiousness of the press. This is the monster that stalks through our land "seeking whom he may devour," and scattering around him "fire-brands arrows, and death." He obtrudes his "miscreated front" into the hallowed retirements of private lifebeckons the man of honour to the field of deathtears the laurel from the brow of the "war-worn" soldier-and wrests from the venerable patriot his hard earned honours. Innocency is no shield against him:
he delights to sport on the ruins of spotless integrity. He spares not even the sanctuary of the grave. All men, of all parties, groan under his oppression. It is a melancholy remark, but made, I fear with too much correctness, that there is no portion of the globe where the licentiousness of the tongue and of the press has become so outrageous as in these United States. It is an increasing evil amongst us. And it feeds on the vitals of our country. It has driven into retirement, our most estimable characters, whatever may be their political denomination: for who will expose himself to the laceration of calumny? Individuals have been found, and individuals will again be found, who, for the salvation of their country, will expose themselves to death-will even court it in the "imminent, deadly breach." But where are the individuals who will expose themselves to the daggers of defamation? This spirit of licentiousness vitiates the public sentiment, and contaminates the very mind of the nation. It turns into worm-wood and gall the benevolent feelings of the human heart, -makes man the foe of man, and may unsheath the sword of civil war. If permitted to continue, it will render our country tired of freedom; and if freedom must be attended with this torrent of licentiousness, perhaps the sooner our country becomes tired of it the better. For "dear as freedom is, and in my soul's just estimation, prized above all price,”— reputation is still dearer ; and if reputation cannot be preserved under the protection of freedom, our countrymen will seek shelter, they ought to seek shelter under the strong arm of despotism-of that despotism which palsies the tongue and fetters the pen. What has destroyed other republics? The enemy was not from without: the world in arms could never extinguish a nation of freemen. Let those who doubt this, look to the streights of Thermopyla ;let them look to Bunker-Hill. The enemies of republics is within. The destroying angel of freedom has ever been the spirit of licentiousness.
tion must be saved from this spirit, or we are lost; shortly shall we follow to the tomb, the republics of other times. The friend of his country looks around him, and anxiously enquires, what power is there to save us. But one power on earth can save us and that power is a jury. If America is to be saved from the fate of other republics, jurors must be our saviours. Jurors can do more for us than generals. The heroes of the revolution created our nation ;— it is the high prerogative of jurors to preserve it. How are they to preserve it? By keeping pure and dignified the mind of the nation-by preserving uncontaminated its morality. If it is asked, how does the existence of a nation of freemen depend on their morality? I answer; were men angels, they would scarcely need the form of government ;-were they devils, they must be bound in fetters of iron; and as they approximate the one state, or the other, their government may be free, must be severe. It is thine, virtue, to preserve empires! Thou hast ever been the guardian angel of freedom! Preserve pure and dignified the mind of a nation, and its body is invincible. It may defy an armed world. It is a very Sampson in might. It is the depravation of its might that severs the locks of its strength. How are jurors to preserve the morality of our nation?-how arrest the devastations of licentiousness? By their verdicts; by writing upon the records of our courts, in legible characters, the unchangeable decree, that the violator of character shall be as surely and as severely punished by a verdict in damages as the violator of property or of person. Were jurors in earnest to pursue this course, we should find that the fiend defamation would not dare to stalk thus boldly through our land; the tongue of slander would be constrained to remain silent ;-and fear would hermetically seal the lips of calumny. But that great work is not to be accomplished by trifling verdicts. A nation is not to be saved by an oblation of pence. Trivial damages may exasperate, but can
ntimidate malice. The times require exemplaverdicts-and mercy to individuals is treason against the nation. This is not the cause of individual against individual only. The nominal parties to this suit dwindle into comparative unimportance; and the American nation rears her august form, entreating to be saved from her worst enemy,-to be saved from licentiousness. This is the cause of man against the worst passion of man; it is the cause of virtue against vice. I address myself to you, gentlemen, as the grand inquest of the nation. I appeal to you as the Areopagus of America. I invoke you as that only power which can bind in fetters, and cast out from amongst us, the destroying demon of licentiousness. The spirit of our beloved country looks to you. You are convened in the justly proud me tropolis of the land of freedom. What you are about to do will be "recorded as a precedent." In the eyes of the nation, in the eyes of the world, you are this day to pronounce the value of American characters. The honour of our city-the honour of the nationyour own honour is at stake. Act worthy of the dignity of your station-act worthy of yourselves.
CICERO'S ORATION AGAINST VERRES.
An opinion has long prevailed, not only here at home, but likewise in foreign countries, both dangerous to you, and pernicious to the state, viz. that in prosecutions, men of wealth are always safe, however clearly convicted. There is now to be brought upon his trial before you, to the confusion, I hope, of the propagators of this slanderous imputation, one, whose life and actions condemn him in the opinion of all impartial persons; but who, according to his own reckoning, and declared dependence upon his
riches, is already acquitted; I mean Caius Verres. I have undertaken this prosecution (fathers) at the general desire, and with the great expectation of the Roman people, not that I might draw envy upon that illustrious order of which the accused happens to be; but with the direct design of clearing your justice and impartiality before the world. For I have brought upon his trial, one whose conduct has been such, that in passing a just sentence upon him, you will have an opportunity of re-establishing the credit of such trials; of recovering whatever may be lost of the favor of the Roman people; and of satisfying foreign states and kingdoms in alliance with us, or tributary to us. I demand justice of you (fathers) upon the robber of the public treasury, the oppressor of Asia Minor and Pamphylia, the invader of the rights and privileges of Romans, the scourge and curse of Sicily. If that sentence is passed upon him which his crimes deserve, your authority will be venerable and sacred in the eyes of the public. But if his great riches should bias you in his favour, I shall still gain one point, viz. to make it apparent to all the world, that what was wanting in this case was not a criminal nor a prosecutor ; but justice, and adequate punishment.
For, as those acts of violence, by which he has got his exorbitant riches, were done openly, so have his attempts to pervert judgment, and escape due punishment, been public, and in open defiance of decency. He has accordingly said, that the only time he ever was afraid, was when he found the prosecution commenced against him by me; lest he should not have time enough to dispose of a sufficient number of presents in proper hands. Nor has he attempted to secure himself by the legal way of defence upon his trial. And, indeed, where is the learning, the eloquence, or the art, which would be sufficient to qualify any one for the defence of him, whose whole life has been a continued series of the most attrocious crimes? To pass over the shameful irregularities of