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in the state, to stamp upon this infamous procedure, the indelible stigma of the public abhorrence. More particularly, I call upon the holy prelates of our religion, to do away this iniquity ; let them perform a lustration, to purify the country from this deep and deadly sin.
LIBERTY OF THE PRESS. GENTLEMEN,—Permit me to say that if my client had occasion to defend his cause by any mad or drunken appeals to extravagance or licentiousness, I trust in God I stand in that situation, that, humble as I am, he would not have resorted to me to be his advocate. I was not recommended to his choice by any connection of principle or party, or even private friendship; and, saying this, I cannot but add, that I consider not to be acquainted with such a man as Mr. Rowan, a want of personal good fortune. But upon this great subject of reform and emancipation, there is a latitude and boldness of remark, justifiable in the people, and necessary to the defence of Mr. Rowan, for which the habits of professional studies and technical adherence to established forms, have rendered me unfit. It is, however, my duty, standing here as his advocate, to make some few observations to you, which I conceive to be material.
Gentlemen, the interest of the sovereign must be for ever the interest of his people because his interest lives beyond his life ; it must live in his fame-it must live in the tenderness of his solicitude for an unborn posterity-it must live in that heart-attaching bond, by which millions of men have united their destinies of themselves and their children with his, and call him by the endearing appellation of King AND FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE.
The people are always strong; the public chains can only be rivetted by the public hands. Look to those devoted regions of southern despotism ; behold the expiring victim on his knees, presenting the javelin, reeking with his blood, to the ferocious monster, who returns it into his heart. Call not that monster a tyrant, he is no more than the executioner of that inhuman tyranny which the people practise upon themselves, and of which he is only reserved to be a later victim, than the wretch he has sent before him. Look to a nearer country, where the sanguinary characters are more legible; whence you almost hear the groans of death and torture. Do you ascribe the rapine and murder in France, to the few names that we are execrating here ? or do you not see that it is the frenzy of an infuriated multitude, abusing its own strength, practising those hideous abominations on itself ? Against the violence of this strength, let your virtue and influence be our safeguard. You are living in a country where the constitution is rightly stated to be only ten years old; where the people have not the ordinary rudiments of education. It is a melancholy story that the lower orders of people here have less means of being enlightened than the same class in any other country. If there be no means left by which public measures can be canvassed, what then remains ? The liberty of the press only ; that sacred palladium, which no influence, no power, no minister, no government—which nothing but the depravity, or folly, or corruption of the jury, can ever destroy. And what calamities are the people saved from by having public communication left open to them ? I will tell you, Gentlemen, what they are saved from, and what the government is saved from ; I will tell you also to what both are exposed by shutting up that communication. In one case, sedition speaks aloud and walks abroad ; the demagogue goes forth ; the public eye is upon him; he frets his busy hour upon
the stage, but soon either weariness, or bribe, or punishment, or disappointment, bears him down, or drives him off, and he appears no more. In the other case, how does the work of sedition go forward ? Night after night the muffled rebel steals forth in the dark, and casts out another and another brand upon the pile, to which, when the hour of fatal maturity shall arrive, he will apply the flame. If you doubt of the horrid consequences of suppressing the effusion even of individual discontent, look to those enslaved countries, where the protection of despotism is supposed to be secured by such restraints. Even the person of the despot there is never in safety. Neither the fear of the despot, nor the machinations of the slave have any slumber ; the one anticipating the moment of peril, the other watching the opportunity of aggression. The fatal crisis is equally a surprise upon both; the decisive instant is precipitated without warning, by folly on the one side, or by frenzy on the other, and there is no notice of the treason till the traitor acts. In those unfortunate countries, (one cannot read it without horror,) there are officers whose province it is, to have the water which is to be drunk by their rulers, sealed up in bottles, lest some wretched miscreant should throw poison into the draught.
In that awful moment of a nation's travail, of the last gasp of tyranny, and the first breath of freedom, how frequent is the example! The press extinguished, the people enslaved, and the prince undone. As the advocate of society, therefore, of peace, of domestic liberty, and the lasting union of the two countries, I conjure you to guard the liberty of the press, that great sentinel of the state, that grand detector of public imposture ; guard it, because, when it sinks, there sinks with it, in one common grave, the liberty of the subject, and the security of the crown.
ON CATHOLIC EMANCIPATION. This paper, Gentlemen, insists upon the necessity of emancipating the Catholics of Ireland, and that is charged as part of the libel. If they had waited another year—if they had kept this prosecution impending for another year-how much would remain for a jury to decide upon, I should be at a loss to discover. It seems as if the progress of public information were eating away the ground of the prosecution. Since the commencement of the prosecution, this part of the libel has unluckily received the sanction of the legislature. In that interval, our Catholic brethren have obtained that admission, which, it seems, it was a libel to propose. In what way to account for this, I am really at a loss. Have any alarms been occasioned by the emancipation of our Catholic brethren ? Has the bigotted malignity of any individuals been crushed ? or has the stability of government, or that of the country, been weakened ? or is one million of subjects stronger than four millions? Do you think that the benefit they have received, should be poisoned by the sting of vengeance? If you think so, you must say to them, “ You have demanded emancipation, and you have got it; but we abhor your persons, we are outraged at your success, and we will stigmatize, by a criminal prosecution, the adviser of that relief which you have obtained from the voice of your country!” I ask you, do you think, as honest men, anxious for the public tranquillity, conscious that there are wounds not yet completely cicatrised, that you ought to speak this language at this time, to men who are too much disposed to think, that in this very emancipation, they have been saved from their own parliament by the humanity of their sovereign? Or do you wish to prepare them for the revocation of these improvident concessions ? Do you think it wise or humane, at this moment,' to insult them by sticking up in a pillory the man who dared to stand forth as their advocate ? I put it to your oaths ; do you think that a blessing of that kind--that a victory obtained by justice over bigotry and oppression, should have a stigma cast upon it by an ignominious sentence upon men bold and honest enough to propose that measure ?-to propose the redeeming of religion from the abuses of the church, the reclaiming of three millions of men from bondage, and giving liberty to all who had a right to demand it; giving, I say, in the so much censured words of this paper, giving “Universal Emancipation !” I speak in the spirit of the British law, which makes liberty commensurate with, and inseparable from, British soil ; which proclaims even to the stranger and sojourner, the moment he sets his foot upon British earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and consecrated by the genius of Universal Emancipation. No matter in what language his doom may have been pronounced-no matter with what complexion, incompatible with freedom, an Indian or an African sun may have burned upon him-no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been cloven down-no matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery, the first moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the altar and the God sink together in the dust; his soul walks abroad in her own majesty ; his body swells beyond the measure of his chains that burst from around him, and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of Universal Emancipation.