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sumption of authority. That presumption, and all presumptions — that hope and all hopes, were at once destroyed, when they were told that the ordinance on which they had relied, itself contained a positive prohibition. An “assumption " false in " faci,” absurd in “ doctrine,” which if the court had really made, ought indeed to have covered it with shame and contempt.
‘But this is not all, sir. The ordinance does not only, according to the imputed decision of the court, prohibit grants for services rendered, but for services “to be rendered.” Now I pray, where is there a syllable said, either in the argument of counsel, or in the opinion of the court, about "services to be rendered ?” The object of the writer in this interpolation may be readily imagined. It was merely to increase the number of discontented claimants; — to render the hostile array still more formidable. Look, sir, to the concessions in evidence, and you will see numerous claims of this description, held by the most influential individ. uals among the claimants. It is true that if grants for services rendered, were prohibited by the ordinance, the inference might extend the prohibition to the other class of cases. But still, putting it in this way, was to render it more alarmingly striking. pp. 360, 362.
The argument of Mr. Wirt, as reported in this volume, appears to have been very carefully revised by his own hand. It is an admirable specimen of forensic eloquence. In the commencement he examines various circumstances which, though they have no direct bearing on the real points in the case, would yet be likely to prejudice.the members of the court against his client. While he shows in the most persuasive manner that these circumstances ought not to operate to the injury of Judge Peck, he introduces with consummate address the amiable character of that gentleman and other topics calculated to produce a favorable impression. All this is done in flowing sentences in which every word seems select and fitted to its place, so that before the reader comes to the consideration of the main body of the charge, he can scarcely fail to hope that the trial will result in an acquittal. The following extract is from the introductory part of the argument.
'Sir, the honorable managers have already advantage enough in their numbers and talents, and in that silent prejudice which is always at work against any man, however innocent, who has the misfortune to fall under an accusation from any quarter. It is enough that this unfortunate man stands here, unknown, and almost alone, a stranger from the Western wilds, to breast the storm of this impeachment. With what little mercy it has beat upon him you have witnessed, in part. He trusts to this honorable Court for a fair trial, and relies upon the correctness, the innocence and purity of his conduct for an honorable acquittal. Give him such a trial, and his innocence will be manifested to this Court and to the world. Let him be tried by the law as it is, not as gentlemen may think it ought to be. Let him be tried by the evidence in the cause as it has been placed before the Court, not by that dramatic exhibition of it which the eloquent managers have been pleased to present. Let him be tried by the simple and naked facts, as they fell from the lips of the witnesses, not by those poetic paraphrases and glosses by which they have been rhetorically distorted and discolored — not intentionally, no doubt, but from that fatal sorcery which genius often exercises over the mind of its possessor. And finally, sir, we beg that the respondent may be tried by his own case alone, and may not be involved in the guilt of all the judicial tyrants that have ever degraded the English bench. We have had glowing pictures of those tyrants presented in succession -- the staring and bloody Jeffries, the fierce tumultuous Scroggs, the cruel and unrelenting Bromley — and it seems to have been expected that the indignation naturally excited in our breasts by the rehearsal of their cruelties and enormities, was all to be transferred to the respondent, and placed to his account. He protests, with reason we humbly think, against any such transfer. He desires to be tried by his own case, and not theirs. It has been thought rather hard that the sins of the fathers should be visited on their children;
but as none of the blood of either Jeffries, Scroggs, or Bromley flows in his veins, and their sins have been expiated by themselves, more than a century ago, he is not able to perceive the justice of visiting their turpitude on his head, or even throwing upon his case a color borrowed from theirs. He is perfectly willing to answer for his own acts, but protests most strenuously against any rhetorical extension of his liability for the acts of others.
Mr. President, something is continually occurring to humble the vanity of man with regard to his boasted intellect, and to draw a sigh of regret from every reflecting bosom at witnessing the inability of human reason to contend with human prejudice. That the weak, the vicious and the interested should be the victims of this prejudice is too common an occurrence to excite surprise ; but that the strong, the enlightened, the virtuous should suffer the same kind of eclipse is a practical lesson on human infirmity well calculated to teach charity to us all. Seeing as we do, every day, what opposite conclusions are drawn, and sincerely and honestly drawn from the same premises, and how much of feeling is blended with the best operations of our reason, what candid man is there among us who can arrogate to himself the exclusive right to take the moral chair, and to arraigo the motives of his neighbor. I have labored to look at the evidence in this case as abstractedly and disinterestedly as if I were myself to pass judgment upon it; and thus looking at it, I have listened with perfect amazement, to the feelings of horror expressed by the honorable managers at the contemplation of the same picture which has left mie perfectly placid and serene.
How can I account for this, but on the presumption that there is some cloud of prejudice, on the one side or the other, which intercepts the view, and prevents us from seeing things as they really are. I look in vain at the evidence for any thing to justify those rhapsodies of horror which have been so profusely poured forth here ; and as I cannot see this horror in the picture, I am forced to conclude that it exists only in the imagination of the beholder. There is certainly some fatal prejudice at work on the one side or the other. It may be on my own. I am fully aware that the relation of advocate which I bear towards the respondent, and those kind and friendly feelings which the long and close intimacy generated by this prosecution has produced between us, and which I think it will be impossible for any man to refuse to him after such an intercourse, may have disqualified me for judging fairly of his case. On the other hand, it seems to me that the honorable managers have come to the exainination of this case under so strong a prejudication of the guilt of the respondent, that the most trivial circumstances loom into consequence before them, and chaff and straw become a forest uptorn by a hurricane and darkening the light of the sun. This honorable court will judge between us. But after hearing the evidence, noting it carefully, and, so far as I could, verbatim, after reviewing it as I have done, again and again, to what other cause than some fatal prejudice can I ascribe it, that this man, whose character you have heard from the most respectable gentlemen in Missouri, should have been held up before this Court, day after day, as a "judicial tyrant,”
," "a monster infuriated by the malignity of his passions,” “a madman, blind with rage, striding over the fallen constitution and laws of his country, to grasp his victim and inflict vengeance upon him, for no other offence than presuming, in respectful language,
to question the correctness of one of his judicial opinions." Yet all this and much more has been said, and said with invocations and appeals to the Almighty such as were never before heard within these walls, and I humbly trust will never be heard again. Not only has this unfortunate man been thus held up before this honorable Court and before the crowded galleries that have continually attended this trial, but I perceive by the public papers that this hideous caricature has been sent throughout the nation with all the wings that genius and eloquence can give it. It has been seen by thousands who will know nothing of the evidence, and who will, of course, take the picture as true, on the credit of the honorable manager by whom it has been emblazoned ; and long ere this, I do not doubt that many an anxious father in the remotest parts of our country has been addressing his son, with this paper in his hand — "See here, my son, what a horrible being the Senate of the United States have now before them see what a monster a man may become by the unbridled indulgence of his passions — take warning by this — and if your country should ever elevate you to office and honor, beware of your passions — beware of pride, revenge and cruelty, lest you become such another monster as this, and bring down the gray hairs of your father with sorrow to the grave. Even this wretch, Peck, may have had respectable parents, and may have been once their darling hope and joy — yet we see how he has blasted their hopes, turned their joy into sorrow, and covered all his connexions with shame and confusion."
• How long must it be before this cruel error can be corrected ? How long must it be before the people of the United States can be made to understand that some of the most enlightened and respectable gentlemen of Missouri have come before this Court and deposed, upon their oaths, that this alleged monster is one of the most mild and patient of men — meek and kind and charitable in private life — gentle, respectful, polite and courteous on the bench — and in the simple and touching language of one of those witnesses, Judge Carr, " so amiable, as to be very dear to all who know him.” Sir, even the witnesses against the respondent admit that such is his general character. While some of them say
that he was warmer than usual in the particular instance under consideration, they all agree that his usual temper and manner are marked with great mildness, patience, and courtesy both towards the bar and the suitors before him. Sir, with this evidence before me, to what else can I ascribe that tragical and horror-stricken · exhibition which has been made of the respondent by the honor-able managers, than to some dark and immovable cloud of prejudice which hides his real character from their view.' pp. 477, 179.
In the part of his argument where Mr. Wirt examines the questions of law which arise in the case, he places them in a strong and clear light, and at the same time brings into notice the uprightness and good intentions of Judge Peck, an object of which he evidently never loses sight during the whole current of his speech. One of the positions which he takes, is, that in order to convict his client, the burden is on the managers, to prove not only an unlawful act, but a guilty intention. We insert a few of his remarks on this subject.
* The respondent's counsel entertain no doubt that, under the laws of the land, he possessed the power which he exercised, on this occasion ; that the case was a proper one for its exercise ; and that it was exercised in good faith under a conscientious sense of duty. They believe that the case stands authorized and justified by all the principles and all the precedents which have been placed before you, both in the English and American books. The honorable managers, on the other hand, say that they differ with us in this opinion : that these authorities gave him no such power: that they extend but a little way; and that the respondent passed the line drawn around him by the books. Now, suppose that this honorable Court should be of the opinion that the respondent had not the power which he has exercised; that the judges, whose example he has followed, mistook the law of contempt; that elementary writers, hitherto received as authority in our tribunals, have carried the powers of the court too far: or suppose they should think that the respondent has misconstrued the authorities; that they do not, in reality, go the full length to which he has carried the power ; yet if they shall, also, believe that from the existing state of the authorities, elementary and reported, and from the course pursued by other courts, in like cases, both in England and the United States, the respondent might have believed he had the power, might have thought the case a proper one for the exercise of the power, and might have been influenced by a sense of official duty in doing what he did : is it possible that, under circumstances like these, you can affirm, on your judicial oaths, not only that he had no power, but that he knew he had no power, and must have consciously and intentionally usurped the power for the guilty purpose of oppressing Lawless ? Sir, can it be denied