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make, or that he should have tried what would have been the effect of an appeal to the Judges. You have been told something about his having been advised that an appeal would not lie. It is not for me to say whether it would or would not, because that question might have come before me in my judicial character as one of the Judges of this Court to decide ; but I cannot help saying this,that if he had taken the course of trying that question, he would, at least, have shut out the writer of this article from many of the observations which he has made use of ; and it is for you, gentlemen, before you finally determine as to how far this language, to which I am about to call your attention, and which in general terms of sweeping censure denounces Mr. Digby Seymour,-how far much of that language, (if you should think it beyond the limits of fair and proper criticism, and therefore libellous, and that which calls upon you for a verdict in favour of the plaintiff,) may not have given rise to these observations, and provoked them, from a sense with which the writer's mind was imbued of the wholesale
in which Mr. Digby Seymour, in his defence against the effect of this censure of the Benchers, was sowing broadcast aspersions on men of the highest character and honour in the profession of the Law. Certainly the language is very strong, and I call your attention to it.
“Mr. Digby Seymour has lately informed his constituents that he was born an Irishman; but we should have thought that this information, to any one even slightly acquainted with the honourable member, was altogether superfluous. He likewise attributes to his nationality the bitter hostility with which, as he alleges, he was at first received, and has since been maligned and persecuted by his brethren on the Northern Circuit. He came among us, as he says, with the curse of Swift upon him, and gives us to understand that nothing but his unrivalled genius and purity of character could have enabled him to survive and triumph over this natal calamity. Whatever credence we may wish to attach to every statement conveyed in the mild and measured language of Mr. Digby Seymour, we must take exception to the idea that Irish birth constitues any disqualification for professional popularity or success. An eminent Englishman, himself an ornament to his alma mater, when recently comparing in a public address the achievements of the various universities in the United Kingdom, paid a high compliment to Trinity College, Dublin; and as a proof of the rare training given at that seat of learning, he adduced, among other instances, the fact that no less than five out of the fifteen Judges occupying the Bench had received their education in that famous university of Ireland. We believe that only four out of the five are Hibernian by birth," (one of the five is my brother Crompton-although educated in Dublin, he is not an Irishman) “but so large a proportion of Irish
men in the highest judicial position, and the well-earned success of many others from our sister island in the ranks of the Bar, are proof enough that the career of the profession is fair and open to all the Queen's subjects. But it is only just to Mr. Digby Seymour to admit that there are two kinds of Irishmen, and that the cordiality extended to the one is by no means secure to the other. There is the Irish gentlemen, generous, accomplished, and urbane-perhaps the highest type of the genus gentleman to be found in the United Kingdom. There is also the Irish blackguard; swaggering, foulmouthed, and shameless; the most insolent of upstarts, the most unblushing of swindlers; never destitute of a quarrel, never at a loss for a lie. For as the Irish gentleman is of rare quality, so the Irish blackguard is consummate in his growth. Ireland is always great in extremes, more especially in her psychological productions.. She has reared generals who have led their armies to certain victory, and she has reared also the tribe of cabbage-garden heroes. She has adorned our Parliament with splendid orators and consummate statesmen, and has afflicted it also with a breed of bawling demagogues and venal fools. And so it happens that this green and prolific island, with the singular versatility of her race, has supplied to the Bar of England some of its brightest ornaments, and some of its blackest sheep; bestowing on the former a learning and eloquence which Englishmen are proud to admire, and enriching the latter with a power of impudence, and a fertility in fraud which defy all description as (to the uninitiated intellect) they pass all knowledge. Should one of this latter flock find his way to an English Circuit, it could hardly be considered a matter for legitimate surprise if he should become an object of suspicion and dislike, and hic niger est” be the motto coupled with his name.”
Now, I think it is impossible to shut one's eyes to the fact that all that has special application to Mr. Digby Seymour. It is much of it general in its terms, but it is evidently pointed to one individual. The distinction between the Irish gentleman and the Irish blackguard admits of easy and immediate application ; and so does
1; the difference between the consummate statesman and orator and the bawling demagogue and venal fool, though that is much less important. You may call a man a fool or a demagogue if you are so minded, but when you come to talk of the brightest ornament of the Bar in contrast with its blackest sheep, and the learning and eloquence which Englishmen are proud to admire, and enriching the latter with a power of impudence and a fertility in fraud, which defy all description, I must confess that that is language of considerable strength, and of considerable violence. Its meaning it is for you to determine. If it was meant by that, Here is a gentleman who has been compelled to submit to the ordeal of an
examination before the Benchers of his Inn, in a matter touching most seriously his conduct as a man of probity and honour, and who has been the subject of severe animadversion and censure, arising out of those transactions, and then, not satisfied with bowing to the decision or appealing against it-not satisfied with the opportunity of challenging either public attention to the injustice of the sentence or appealing against it if an appeal be open to him, or submitting to it in a contrite spirit, with a determination to wash out the stain by a life of honour in time to come,-if instead of that he denounces those who passed that censure upon him as unjust judges actuated by sinister and unworthy motives,-if he ascribes the charges to the jealousy and hostility of a Circuit, or the members of it, who he says have persecuted him with bitter malignity and cruelty because he is an Irishman, we say that a man who under those circumstances adopts that line of conduct, is a man whom we may term “a blackguard, swaggering, foul mouthed, and shameless," and to whom may be justly applied the very strong language that is used in this article.
If you think that that is what is meant, you will make allowance for the language that is used, looking to the circumstances in which the writer was placed by the attacks which Mr. Digby Seymour himself had made on other people, and the way in which he had cast aspersions upon them. If you think that it meant more ; that instead of being satisfied with saying “ Here is a censure of the Benchers, we advert to that censure, and we say that Mr. Digby Seymour, unless he can get rid of that censure by showing that the evidence did not warrant it, or unless he can get rid of it by means of an appeal, must be considered as having been justly blameable to the extent to which the Benchers have blamed him, and if he was so, he is open to have it said of him that his character as a public man has been tarnished, and to have the propriety of his position as a public man questioned," if going beyond that they take upon themselves to say, without warrant and without authority, that he is "fertile in fraud, and the most accomplished of swindlers,” it is for you to say how far, under those circumstances, you may think him entitled to your verdict, on the ground that this writer has transgressed the bounds within which a writer canvassing the character of a public man ought still to be confined, or has made the opportunity available for the purpose of gratifying a bitter and vindictive spirit of hostility towards Mr. Digby Seymour. The matter is entirely one for you, gentlemen. If you think that in this case, instead of being a fair, reasonable, honest, and bona fide comment on the cir
cumstances relating to Mr. Digby Seymour, this has been made the opportunity of gratifying personal vindictiveness and hostility towards him, and that the writer transgressed altogether the legitimate bounds, it will be for you to show your sense of that by your verdict. I quite agree with what has been said by my brother Shee, that this is no occasion on which to review and revise the sentence pronounced by the Benchers. You have not the materials before you. If that was Mr. Digby Seymour's motive in having recourse to this action, I think it is to be regretted that he should have resorted to it instead of taking some other proceedings in which the merits of the sentence might have been legitimately canvassed.
Gentlemen, the case is entirely for you. You will say whether you think this article contains matter which is libellous for which the writer, or those who are responsible for the writer, ought justly to be held liable. If so, you will say what damages you think are sufficient to compensate Mr. Digby Seymour for any injury he may have sustained; but you will not decide the question of damages, if you think that is a question which you are called on to entertain, without considering the circumstances of provocation which may have excited the indignation of this writer, and led him to apply to Mr. Digby Seymour language which, but for the attacks that that gentleman has made upon others, possibly never would have been used.
The jury retired to consider their verdict at half-past three o'clock p.m., and returned into Court at five minutes past five.
THE ASSOCIATE:—Gentlemen, have you agreed upon your verdict ?
FOREMAN OF THE JURY:—We have.
THE ASSOCIATE :--Do you find for the plaintiff, or for the defendant ?
FOREMAN OF THE JURY : For the plaintiff.
REMARKS. We have given, in the foregoing pages, a full and accurate report, from the notes of the shorthand writer, of the whole proceedings in the trial of the issue raised by Mr. William Digby Seymour against the Publisher of this Magazine. In thus printing, at a considerable sacrifice of space, the summing up of the Chief Justice, the speeches of counsel, the questions and answers in examination, and even the casual observations made during the trial, unabridged even by the omission of a syllable, we are only pursuing to the end the course with which we commenced this painful business. Chief Justice Cockburn did us no more than right, when he observed that nothing could be fairer than the way in which we had placed before the profession Mr. Seymour's unhappy case.
The article on which that gentleman was so ill-advised as to found the suit which has terminated in a manner so little satisfactory to himself, was, to reiterate the words employed by us on a former occasion, “a fair and reasonable comment on notorious facts, written with the same knowledge of the circumstances as the whole public possessed, mis-stating nothing, suppressing nothing, and consisting in a great degree of materials supplied by Mr. Digby Seymour himself.” We, in fact, scrupulously collected all the oral and documentary testimony of his own character and conduct which Mr. Seymour, in the spring of last year, lavished on the world. We gave that letter of his to the Times which denied that he had been expelled from the Northern Circuit, and which omitted the fact that he had ceased to be a member of its Bar Mess. We gave without curtailment his protest against the judgment of the Benchers. We gave in all its truthfulness and modesty his defence before his constituents at Southampton. We narrated his history, so far as it is known to the public, and as it is generally reported at the Bar. If the evidences with which his tongue and pen had so industriously supplied us were otherwise than pleasing to Mr. Seymour, this result was no fault of ours.
Nor was it our fault that we failed to supply the public with further and fuller information. We are not to blame because the Benchers of the Middle Temple persistently resolved, for reasons good or bad, to withhold the publication of the evidence given against Mr. Seymour, nor because the explanatory statement of that gentleman was unprinted, or inaccessible at the time of the