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1805. ployed under him to the supposed offender, .who under this load of alleged dangerous delinquency,
Il the time to exercise his official functions, and who, if guilty, was in the daily temptation and opportunity of corrupting the pure streams of public justice. It was not without reason, that it has been said *, that to accomplish his party purposes, Mr. Pitt never scrupled to play! with the constitution of his country. In fact it is impossible, that any conduct could more pointedly contravene the spirit and principles of the British constitution, and more directly diverge from the practice and analogy of the common law and equity of the land, than to attack and asperse the character of an individual on the highest points of criminality, in the first tribunal of national judicature, without notice to, and behind the back of the
party accused. Judge Fox Mr. J. Fox having read in the common newspaFingland to pers, that the Marquis of Abercorn had instituted a
Coands for mosť extraordinary proceeding against him in the his defence. House of Lords, obtained leave, which could not
have been decently refused, to go over to England, to learn the particulars of the charges against him, and to take without loss of time the necessary steps for defending his character and honor against such insidious and malignant charges. He arrived in London on the 8th of June, and to his astonishment'was informed, that no progress had been made, or was intended to be pressed during that Session
against him. He however with great prudence and 1805. discretion presented a petition to the Lords, in
which stated, that he had only accidentally'and from ... the public newspapers learnt, that proceedings had
been instituted against him in the House of Lords, on some vague charges of judicial misconduct. He entreated their Lordships to afford him the means
of knowing the charges laid against him, in the - most anxious solicitude to defend and justify his
judicial conduct, which he confided would upon i investigation be proved to have been not only i blameless, but highly meritorious. That he had
hitherto refrained from bringing the case before their Lordships, under a conviction, that proceedings would have been instituted at the instance of the party, who had preferred the complaint: he therefore, submitted to that House, that “ per“ceiving, that no measure had been brought for“ ward on that question ; that the Session of Par" liament was drawing to a conclusion : that the “ duties of his station on the near approach of the
“ circuit would require his return to Ireland ; that DE" the transactions charged had taken place in the
"most remote part of the United Kingdom, he : "could no longer forbear to address their Lord.
"ships, in order to repel the obloquy, which had "been so cruelly and unjustly cast upon him in his "absence, and through him upon the judicial cha
"racter of his country.” Notwithstanding the i reasonableness of this petition, nothing was done
upon it from the 21st of June, when it was presented, till the 5th of July, when Lord Abercorn,
1805. having been repeatedly pressed by some of his
Peers to bring forward the whole of his charges, he did reduce them to nine in number: which having been regularly digested, were presented and ordered to lie on the table: and by a farther order of the same date, a copy of the nine charges was directed to be furnished to the Judge conformably with the prayer of his petition, “ that he might “ learn with precision the nature of the charges “ against which he was to defend himself.” No analogy was observed to the constitutional delicacy of our criminal law, by which the first accusation is privately made before a Magistrate, in order that it may afterwards be discussed, and its merits enquired into with the like humane privacy. The charges are never exposed to public notice, till the accused is called upon to make his defence : thus is every unfounded scandal and ex parte opprobrium prevenied from being circulated. Whereas in this case every principle of British jurisprudence was inverted, and the utmost publicity of unqualified crimination was poured out unsparingly in the very commencement of the process : as if a power existed in the land to punish by anticipated conviction. On the 10th of July 1804, Mr. J. Fox received an official copy of the articles of complaint against him, and he instantly returned to Ireland to attend to his judicial duties. It once niore fell to his lot to go the North West Circuit: yet, however galling to his feelings from what had passed, he performed the duty without cavil or complaint: which under the peculiar delicacy of
his situation at that time, was an unequivocal proof 1805.
of his transcendent competency to answer the awche ful function of administering impartial justice to ile the most profligate and corrupt. Every word and El action upon the whole of the circuit in the Summer 8 of 1804, was, as might 'naturally be expected, 1 more than critically watched by his accusers, and
their mercenary band of purveyors of judicial cri
mination ." It is of no trivial interest to the public, to re- Unconstitu
tional proe flect, that beyond the general principles and max-secution of is ims of our constitutional policy, it is specially en- on the arse
acted by the (Irish) act of 11. Geo. I. c. 20. s. 1., charge.
that no person shall be prosecuted for any words - spoken by indictinent or information in any Court
of Justice, unless information of speaking such
words be given on oath before a Justice of the Peace. 9 where such words shall have been spoken, within
one calendar month: or before one of the Judges
of his Majesty's Court of chief place within two ca-
been spoken by Mr. J. Fox to the Grand Jury of
before the Committee, to give evidence to theni. * The Foreman and four others of the Grand Jury
have declared upon oath, that they took no notes
1805. to be criminal*. It is also to be remarked, that
no Grand Juror of the county of Longford, to whom the charge was given, nor any one of the many persons, in whose presence and hearing it was delivered, ever made any complaint of it. Neither did the Lord Lieutenant, or Governor of that county, or any one acting under them, express the slightest displeasure or disapprobation of any part of that charge addressed to the Grand Jury. The only complaint was made by Lord Abercorn, who was no way interested in the county of Longford t, and he was not truly informed of any one material fact or circumstance of the case, Not one of the witnesses examined to this charge has deposed, that a single word escaped from the Judge, which reflected even by implication on Lord Hardwicke, or any of the officers acting under him. On the contrary, they have all sworn, that the language used by the learned Judge, wherever he mentioned or referred to the Lord Lieutenant, was highly respectful, and no attempt
* True it is, that the words of the act of Geo. I. are confined to indictments and informations : not to parliamentary impeachments ; to which however the case of J. Fox never went. Yet surely upon every principle of law and justice in every species of criminal prosecution for 'words spoken or written, the criminal words should be particularly stated, because otherwise the party accused cannot defend himself: and it never can be admitted, that a witness shall be allowed to attest his own conjectures or judgment, as to the scope or tendency of words alleged, but not proved to have been uttered.
+ N. B. In page 12, the name Fermanagh is incorrectly used for Longford.