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sessions at Guildhall, and the grand jury actually found bills of indictment against William Whitham, the messenger, who had endeavoured to enforce the speaker's warrant, and Edward Twine Carpenter, a printer, who tried to carry the proclamation into effect. On this, it was deemed proper, on the part of the officers of the crown, to remove these two causes, by certiorari, into the court of King's Bench.
All legal proceedings were soon after suspended, however, by a rule to show cause, why a noli prosequi, on the part of the attorney-general, should not be entered up? On this, the printers, at the instigation of Mr. Horne, employed Mr., afterwards serjeant Adair, as their counsel on the occasion. This gentleman, accordingly, in pursuance of notice, attended Mr. attorney-general Delgey, May 17, 1771, to show cause; and after the indictment, and an affidavit on the part of the defendant had been read, delivered a long and learned argument on this subject.
Mr. Adair, who, for his conduct on this and similar occasions, soon after obtained the office of recorder of London, concluded by questioning the power of the commons to issue such a warrant as that under colour of which Mr. Miller had been apprehended; and quoted the 11th of Henry VI, c. 11, to prove that the au
thority of an act of parliament was deemed necessary to punish an assault on the person of a member. He added, that the warrant, signed "Fletcher Norton, speaker," under colour of which Mr. Whitham acted, was for taking Mr. Miller into the custody of the serjeant at arms, or his deputy; and Mr.Whitham is described, in the direction of the very same warrant, to bę neither the one nor the other of these.·
The attorney-general, however, proved inexorable, resting the defence of his conduct solely on the question: how far it is fit the king should be a prosecutor of a servant of the house of commons, in the exertion of a privilege which they now claim, which they have claimed, and have been actually in possession of for ages? "The noli prosequi," he observed, is called a prerogative right of the crown; it amounts to no more than this, that the king makes his election, whether he will continue or not to be the prosecutor on an indictment, and the noli prosequi is entered in the same words in case of the crown as of a private person. The entry upon the record is exactly the same by the attorney-general as by a plaintiff, upon record, in any civil suit."
Mr. Adair, in his rejoinder, observed, that, in a prosecution by indictment, the crown was not
solely concerned; and, in order to make the case exactly similar with that of a private person, it should be an information, ex-officio, or any other prosecution at the suit of the crown. In the present instance, it was the same in effect, though not in form, as if the king sent his mandate, and said the prosecution should not go on: it was tantamount to the granting of a pardon.
Thus, by the manly efforts of a bold and daring individual, neither clothed in the garb of justice nor the senatorial robe, destitute of all the influence usually derived from a large fortune, and supported by nothing but talents and perseverance alone, was this great question decided in favour of popular rights. The mere nominal triumph, indeed, was apparently on the side of the house of commons; but the result proved entirely in favour of the liberty of the press: for, from that moment, the debates have been published without interruption, and now afford a constant, innocent, and edifying amusement to the nation at large, as well as a great increase to its revenues. In process of time, the house of lords, also, silently conceded the point, and the late Mr. William Woodfall informed me, that he first published its debates on the appearance of the bill for embanking the
river, and erecting the noble terrace now called the Adelphi; at which period his slumbers were discomposed by nightly visions of Newgate, yeomen-ushers, and serjeants at arms. Escaping as if by miracle, he persevered, and finally attained considerable reputation. This eminent reporter was succeeded, in both houses, by gentlemen, not only possessing more retentive memories, but also better cultivated minds, who usually clothe the ideas of the members in elegant language, and insert all the learned quotations with classical fidelity and critical cor
Controversy with Junius.
MR. HORNE, as we have already seen, was scarcely allowed time to breathe after his dispute with Wilkes, when he was forced to struggle for a degree, which would assuredly have been conferred on a man of inferior talents and less celebrity, without any opposition whatsoever. On his return, in triumph from the university, the liberty of the press, for a time, occupied his attention; and he was now assailed anew, by an arrow, shot from an unknown hand, which was intended for his destruction; but it suddenly glanced from his buckler, and that assault, originally calculated for his humiliation and defeat, finally added not a little to his character and reputation as a literary combatant.
Perhaps, this is the proper place, for a short account of some of the men of letters of that