« PreviousContinue »
the articles of impeachment seemed to vanish away, like a vision of the night, fading from the memory, and scarcely leaving a trace of its brief and airy existence. Mr. Nicholson first replies on the part of the prosecution. His speech, as reported in this volume, contains nothing subtle or eloquent. It is brief. He first attempts to prove, that to sustain an impeachment, it is not necessary, that the offence should be an indictable one, which was strenuously contended by the counsel for the respondent. The rest of his speech is confined to an examination of the several specifications under the first article of impeachment. Mr. Rodney’s speech is superior, both in substance and manner, to either of the speeches, which were made on the part of the prosecution. We wish to introduce the orators to the knowledge of our readers, and we select the following passage from Mr. Rodney's speech, as a specimen of his style and manner.
I will proceed to make a few remarks on the last article. The impropriety of the conduct of the judge, in this case, must have struck the mind of every member of the court. I believe all of them disapprove of political charges. It certainly has been the practice of the judges in the United States to deliver political charges to grand juries, and to level their artillery upon the measures of the government. But is that to justify a judge in becoming a political preacher It is indubitably of the utmost importance that courts of justice should be kept pure. Party spirit should never
suffered to enter their walls. Providtd laws are administered with justice and impartiality to every person, we may always look up to courts of justice for protection. So long as the courts and juries remain pure and uncorrupted, we may be confident of safety, if innocent ; but when judges undertake to ‘rect those sacred places into political hutings, they must lose their respect in one eyes of the people, and business can
not be confided in them with confidence. Will not the juries adopt political prejudices and carry them home with them, and decide more from political parties than justice? Justice should be administered between man and man without any distinction, and this conduct of the respondent goes to prevent it. Although books have been produced, and a number of high authorities, cited, to justify the delivery of political charges, I must be allowed to enter my protest against them ; but no instance has been cited where a judge has, like the respondent, exclaimed against the acts of the government. When we look at the charge, which has been offered in evidence by
him, we find him censuring one of the
most important acts of the government. I allude to the repeal of the judiciary sys
tem; in this he censured every branch
of the government. I am not about to
dispute the right of Judge Chase in his
individual capacity to exercise his talents to prevent any measure from being adopted. But that right cannot apply to
the case before the court. He cannot be justified in delivering from the bench
denunciations against both the measures
of the United States and the state in
which he held the court. Nor did he
stop there. He went on to declaim a
gainst citizens of the state, for being in
favour of measures which he deemed
improper. Every member of this court
must know that state jealousies still exist,
and it ought to be the anxious care of
every man, to say or do nothing calcu
lated to excite jealousies between the
United States and any individual state. Was it a part of the duty of the judge, to preach up against the acts of the
legislature of Maryland 2 Assuredly not.
He had no right to thunder anathemas
against the measures of any state.
Either the reporter has been very unjust, or Mr. Randolph is most lamentably deficient in legal science and talents for the forum. Judging from his appearance at this trial, we are of opinion, that he is well calculated to address a mob, or even to drive a majority in a deliberative assembly, who are devoted to his will. His speech, which concludes the arguments in behalf of the prosecution, is a declamatory
* * *, * harangue, in which the pre-eminent traits are, his lofty esteem of himself, and his unbounded hatred of the respondent. In his manner Mr. R. is extremely desultory. For this defect he apologizes, by observing, that he had unfortunately lost his notes. We confess our astonishment at his apparent ignorance of a prosecution, which had been “instituted at his instigation,” of articles, which “came solely from his pen,” and “the meaning of every word of which,” he confesses, “that he felt bound to explain.” On the 1st day of March, 1805, after a full and patient investigation, Judge Chase was, by the decision of the high court of impeachment, acquitted on the articles exhibited against him by the house of representatives. Whether it is our province to pass a sentence, or even to hint an opinion, on the innocence or guilt of the accused, is problematical. He was ... acquitted by his judges, and that most honourably. He appears to possess a mind ardent, lofty, and overbearing. But who may more rightfully assume animperial voice and gesture, than the judges and authoritative expounders of the law In the administration of justice, a judge must be deaf to pity and friendship. He may not listen to the claims of blood or af. fection, and therefore to superficial observers he may at times betray an unfeeling temper. In the course of his official duties, he must lay the heavy hand of justice on guilt, which sometimes excites pity even by its weakness. But never is the duty of a judge more difficult or ungrateful, than either when he is compelled to act against popular passion and prejudice, or in seasons of political fermentation. Freedom from blame at such times
is more than usually falls to the lot of mortals: since he is liable to err even from an excessive desire to avoid mistake. While therefore we humbly declare, that Judge Chase's conduct was, in every material act, free from crime; in some respects it was not free from fault. We allude to the opinion which he gave at the trial of Fries, which was, in respect of the time and manner of it, a novelty in judicial proceedings. Mr. Harper confesses that it was an errour. The honourable Judge was himself, solicitous to expiate his mistake with a generous penitence, but in a manner worthy of his dignified station. Let not the vain and presumptuous man, who is inconscious of his own limited powers, exult over this concession, Let not the personal and political enemies of Judge Chase presume, from this concession, to rank us among his accusers. Butlet them unite withous, if they have the grace so to do, in deploring the imperfections,which are incident even to great and illustrious minds; and let them weep, if they have the feeling to weep, over the frailties of the human character. It is impossible to read this trial without mingled emotions. . A judge of the supreme judicature of the nation, venerable for his years, for his integrity, and for his publick services, arraigned before the most august tribunal of his country, and charged with the commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, is a sublime spectacle, on which illustrious villany may look with fearful anticipation. It is honourable to the justice of a country, that it should contain a tribunal, for bringing to punishment criminals of the highest order. But let it be recollected, that where great power is reposed, it is
expected that it will be held with a degree of caution, equal to the magnitude of the effect, which its exercise is calculated to produce. When therefore we see an emiment citizen impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and on solemn trial it appears, that there existed against him no evidence of oppression, no suspicion of corrupt or wilful misconduct in office, it requires all our charity, and all our respect for constituted authority, to believe, that the accusation resulted from a sacred regard to the publick good. Justice impartial, and freely administered to men of all degrees and of all parties, is the sure basis of national prosperity. The body politick derives health and vigour from the salutary streams of justice, but if the fountain once becomes impure, a sickly paleness will gradually overspread the surface of the system, indicating its rapid dissolution. When the measure of justice in a nation is to be ascertained by passion, prejudice, or party spirit, or by any other rule than the eternal principles of right and wrong, and when the solemn forms of justice are to be prostituted to such nefarious purpose, that nation is rapidly following the fate of those corrupt systems of antiquity, whose ruins still warm nations and rulers, that they should be just.
America, and none in England, will be inclined to controvert. Bonaparte's naval efforts, he says, have been great and unremitted, and far more formidable than could have been expected, considering the destruction ef French commerce. “ The loss of the British superiority at sea,” he adds, “would remove from before the ambition of France almost every obstacle, by which its march to universal empire could be impeded.” The truth of this position also seems to be clear. To shew the possibility that G. Britain may finally lose,and France acquire the sovereignty of the seas, he proposes, as the chief design of this pamphlet, to prove, “that by the encroachments and frauds of the neutral flags France has found a nursery and a refuge for her navy, and that of her Dutch and Spanish allies, as well as secret conduits for those resources, by which she has nourished and augmented it.” Here again, no doubt will exist, that neutral commerce is of great and indispensable advantage to France and her allies, without which they could scarcely draw a single dollar from their colonies. This position of things furnishes a very strong inducement to GreatBritain to disturb the commerce of neutrals with her enemies’ colonies, and to trump up new and specious principles to vindicate her aggressions. The principles of this pamphlet writer ought therefore to be examined with some suspicion in America, but they ought to be carefully examined. The pamphlet proceeds to state the singular fact, that, destitute of all active commerce, as France certainly is, and of all means of asfording naval protection to her commerce, nevertheless her resources appear to be unimpaired in consequence. This, it is truly said, is a different result from what ever happened in all former wars. Only the fartial stoppage of the French commerce by the superiority of the British fleets used to produce the last extremity of distress to the people and government of France; so that, strong as the French ever were on land, “ the house of Bourbon was vanquished by the masters of the sea.” He accounts for this strange circumstance by ascribing its cause to the use of the neutral flags. If he supposes,that the great mass of the cargoes of the colonial produce, freighted on board American vessels is not, bona side, the property of Americans, we believe he is grossly mistaken. American capital is adequate to the purchase of these products, and this is what Englishmen cannot easily be made to believe. Nevertheless the purchase of the crops of Martinique and Guadaloupe by American merchants obviously relieves the French planters from the pressure of the war. How is their prosperity retarded or obstructed, if they can have a full price for their crops, the superiority of the British navy notwithstanding 2 It is true, not a French merchant flag is seen on the ocean. But as the French planter owns no ships, and is interested directly only in the sale of his rum, coffee,cotton, sugar, Kc. if the neutral will buy these articles and pay for them at a good price, it is plain the war does not reach the colony to cramp its growth, or to obstruct its supplies, which are abundantly furnished by Ineutrals. This state of things, which is verified by the most ample experience, produces no little disappointment and vexation to the belHgere: it. Hence, as the British
arms and our commercial gains mutually obstruct each other, it is extremely natural, that angry invectives and recriminations should ensue between the American and British nations. The usual progress of popular passions, when so excited, is to insult, retaliation, and war. This is a course, which it is incredible the government of either of the two countries should wish to pursue. Supposing that there is not on either side a disposition to fight, there ought to be a mutual willingness to argue. The pamphlet writer proceeds to examine, 1st, the origin, nature, and extent of what he calls the e- . vils and abuses of neutral flags. 2d, the remedy and right of applying it. 3d, the prudence of that resort. Under the first head, “ the origin, nature, and extent of the evil,” he premises, “ that a neutral has no right to deliver a belligerent from the pressure of his enemy's hostilities, by trading with his colonies in time of war, in a way that was prohibited in time of peace.” Here we find the marrow of the great question, at present depending between the belligerent and neutral nations. To support the negative, i.e. that a neutral has no right in time of war to any other trade with an enemy's colonies, than what is permitted in time of peace, he quotes at length the opinion of Sir William Scott, in the case of the Emanuel, Nov. 1799. This, he asserts, was the doctrine of the war of 1756. One of the leading points decided against the Dutch in that war was, we believe, that French colonial property on board Dutch vessels was liable to condemnation; in other words that free ships did not make free goods. That they
do, is indeed pretended by the French, and we believe only by the French, or those under their influence ; but there is demonstrably no ground for such a doctrine, either as they pretend to derive it from the law of nations, or from a just regard to the commercial advantage of neutrals. By establishing such a doctrine the French, while inferior at sea, would gain much, but the neutral American would certainly be a loser. If the principle, that “free ships make free goods,” had been established, as was vainly attempted, twenty-five years ago, neutrals would have been deprived of immense pecuniary advantages, which they have hitherto enjoyed, and would, in exchange, have derived from the innovation no benefit, to which they are not fully entitled by the acknowledged law of nations. By the operation of the laws of maritime war, the commerce of belligerents is subject to heavy losses and expenses, from which neutrals are exempt. This gives to the latter an advantage over the former, equal, at the least, to the full amount of those losses and expenses; or it drives the belligerent merchant from the sea, and thus leaves to the neutral a virtual monopoly of the whole commerce, which both had carried on. It in effect, therefore, enables the neutral to trade with the belligerent, without the possibility of the latter being an equal competitor ; of course it enables the neutral to sell unusually dear, and buy wnusually cheaf. He sells dear in the country of the belligerent, because a part of the supply is cut 2s, and a part carried at an ex; tremely dear rate. He buys the Products of the belligerent cheap, because a part of the usual buyers withdraw from the market, and Vol. III. No. 1.
and others cannot afford the accusa tomed price. Thus the insecurity and increased expense of the belligerent’s own trade, augment the profits of the neutral, whose trade is safe. But if free ships made the goods free, all the commerce would be equally safe, and the neutral would have no new reward, but simple freight (always the lowest of mercantile wages) to compensate him for the various inconveniences, to which the war exposes him; that is, he would be confined to the earnings of a mere porter, instead of superadding the Profits of a merchant, and the income of a capitalist. . . We have great doubts, however, whether the decisions of 1756 af. ford any very clear authority, either for the present British principles, or for the claims of neutral nations. The state of things now in existence is totally unlike any thing that ever was in 1756, or in any war before 1793. Laws, to be of any use or authority, must be founded on their adaptation to existing circumstances. The controversy is a hew one, because there never was, till 1793, any room for agitating it. Never, till that time, were France and her allies stripped of all active commerce, and literally banished from the ocean. Of course, never till then were they obliged to use the aid of neutrals, or forego entirely the benefit of their colonial commerce. It is onr duty to state the fact. It is the duty of others, rhore adequate to the task, to draw from it the proper inferences. The author of the pamphlet proceeds through nearly one hundred pages, to enlarge upon the principle of the war of 1756, and to explain and vindicate the conduct of the British government, and the decisions of the admiralty.