The Times, Friday, Aug 12, 1825; pg. 3; Issue 12730; col A


                               SUMMER ASSIZES.
                                      -------------
                      CARLISLE, TUESDAY, AUG. 9.
                       (Before Mr. Baron HULLOCK.)

            WHEATLEY V. GIBSON AND ANOTHER.    

Mr. SCARLETT then proceeded to address the jury for the defendants. In the
course of his experience he had seen several extraordinary actions for libel,
but he remembered none in which the labour of counsel had been so great, and in
which the libel complained of had been so trifling, as in the present action.
When he reflected on the speech which his learned friend had delivered, and also
upon the subject matter of it, he was irresistably reminded of the mountain in
labour, and the mouse which it produced. The throes of his learned friend were
immense whilst he was endeavouring by his speech to repel the attack which he
said had been made upon his client's character; and if he (Mr. SCARLETT) had not
previously read the alleged libels, he should never have dreamt that the
eloquence of his learned friend was expending itself on paragraphs so harmless
and insignificant as those which were now submitted to their consideration. He
was thinking in his own mind, during the time that his learned friend was
addressing them, how often he had seen attacks similar to that made on the
attorney, Mr. WHEATLEY, made upon counsel without any person thinking it worth
his while to complain of them. His learned friend, amid the difficulties with
which he was beset, in the management of this cause, had thought fit to wander
out of the record to vent his indignation against what he called the polluted
part of the press. What part of the press his learned friend meant to designate
by those expressions he did not pretend to know; but probably it was that part
of it which differed from him in political opinions. He should like, however, to
ask his learned friend what part of the press he considered that to be which had
recently accused them both of using to each other the language of Billingsgate.
He would undertake to vindicate his learned friend from the charge of having
used such language, and he was not conscious that he himself had ever used it.
He would not, however, call the press polluted because it had made such a charge
against him, nor would either his learned friend or himself think of visiting it
with an action of law because it had bestowed its rebuffs and its reprimands
upon them. Mr. WHEATLEY, the attorney, however, was more tender than either
himself or his learned friend; he was wrapped up in cotton, and was so tender
that he felt the slightest breath of reproof wound him to the very core. His
learned friend had been so hampered with the weakness and tenderness which his
client had imparted to his cause, that he must wander out of his road to abuse
the line which formed the motto of the paper published by the two defendants.
His learned friend had represented it as a line as long as that appended to a
fishing-rod. It might be so, according to his learned friend's mode of reading
it; but he read it as four harmonious and melodious lines. He said nothing of
the poetry which they contained; but four lines of verse they were, if he had
ever seen a verse in his life. Let the Jury read them thus: -
          "Where moderation dwells the soul admits
          "Distinct ideas and matur'd debate;
          "An eye impartial, and an even scale -
           "Hence wisdom sound and unrepenting choice."
In that University where he and Mr. WORDSWORTH had the good fortune to be
educated, there would be no doubt that these lines were four lines of blank
verse, whatever doubts there might be as to the fact in that University of which
his learned friend was to be founder. [A laugh, in the midst of which Mr.
BROUGHAM said, if we were rightly informed, "At any rate we will not write four
verses in one line."] His learned friend, who could not allow an opportunity of
hitting his political opponents to pass him by, had accused the defendants of
publishing a very offensive and a very dull paper. He would not say that their
paper was a dull one; but if it were, he would say so much the better for the
plaintiff, since the calumny it contained would be less read. What was the
charge against the plaintiff in this libel? That he had received a reprimand
from a bench of magistrates for rudeness and officiousness. For his own part he
could not see how words like these could be construed into a libel on the
character of an attorney. He had never heard it stated that it was necessary for
an attorney to be the very pink of politeness. Why, every man in the profession
of the law was busy, bustling, and officious. He himself was so; so, too, was
his learned friend. To be officious was to be over zealous, and to be over
zealous was to be too active. Now could any man, who had common sense, declare a
charge of officiousness to be a libel upon a man of common sense? Besides, to
say that a man was guilty of rudeness and officiousness was not to say any thing
libellous. There was not a newspaper published which did not every day make more
grievous charges than that both against himself and every one of his learned
friends. Sometimes there were in the newspapers speeches put in his mouth, which
it was not possible that he could ever have made; some of them were of such a
nature that if he had made them, he should have been ashamed to have held up his
head again in a court of justice.There were speeches also put in the mouth of
his learned friend, which, though he did not hear them, he could take his oath
that his learned friend had never uttered. It was but the other day that he was
asked in the street if it were true, that he and Mr. BROUGHAM had had such a
quarrel with each other at Lancaster, that they had thrown their briefs in each
other's faces. On his laughing, at such an idea, and asking his friend what
induced him to put so curious a question to him, he was told in reply that such
a story had appeared in the Courier. His learned friend and he had never had an
angry word with each other in their lives; and if they did not complain of the
newspapers, when they published such falsehoods to their disadvantage, why
should an attorney be so angry, when similar falsifications, if they were such,
were published about him? The learned counsel then read through the paragraphs
complained of by the plaintiff, and contended at great length that they
contained nothing libellous. If the defendants had said that the plaintiff was
so ignorant of his profession that he could not sue out a latitat, or serve a
notice in ejectment, I admit, said Mr. SCARLETT, that he would have been
damnified in his character as an attorney; but if you strike out the words "as
an attorney of the King's Bench," the libel upon him is quite the same as it was
before. Indeed, these paragraphs, if they be libellous, which I deny, would be
quite as libellous applied to me, as they would be when applied to this
attorney. The learned counsel again contended at considerable length that these
paragraphs conveyed no reproach upon the honesty, integrity, talent, and
discretion of the plaintiff. Instead of doing him injury, they were calculated
to benefit him in his profession. Would the jury dislike an attorney for being
rude and officious in their behalf? For his own part, he did not know whether he
should not like him the better, if he were rude, when engaged with his
opponents. In conclusion, he called upon the jury to give their verdict for the
defendant, because these paragraphs did not affect his character as an attorney
of the King's Bench.

Mr. Baron HULLOCK told the jury that the question which they had to decide was,
whether those publications of the defendants were published maliciously, so as
to warrant them in inferring that they were intended to injure the plaintiff's
reputation as an attorney. The charge was, that they were so published, and that
in consequence of them the plaintiff had lost large gains, which otherwise would
have accrued to him, and that he had been otherwise much damnified.

Mr. BROUGHAM interrupted his lordship, to inform him that it was laid both ways
in the declaration, not only as an attorney, but also as a common person.

Mr. Baron HULLOCK proceeded. As such is the case, the jury would say whether in
their opinion the libel was calculated to injure the plaintiff in his individual
as well as his professional capacity. The chief point in the first paragraph
which his lordship read over was, that the plaintiff had received a reprimand
from a bench of magistrates for rudeness and officiousness. Now a man might be
rude and officious, and yet not a bad attorney. The question therefore came to
this - was that imputation made in such a manner as to amount to malicious
imputation against the plaintiff? If they thought these words were calculated to
injure him in his business, then they were libellous in point of law. For his
own part, he certainly thought it to be an imputation upon an attorney to impute
to him such a want of discretion and gentleness of demeanour, as to make every
man with whom he came in contact his enemy. For want of temper and discretion,
both in an advocate and in an attorney, recoiled upon the party on whose behalf
they were employed, and did more harm than good to the cause which called them
forth. He then read the second paragraph, which he said explained and softened
the first. In conclusion he told them, that if they thought either paragraph
libellous, very moderate damages would in his opinion satisfy the justice of the
case.

The jury considered for a few minutes, and then returned a verdict for the
plaintiff - Damages one shilling.

Mr. SCARLETT. - Is this a case, my Lord, for a certificate?

Mr. Baron HULLOCK. - I will consider of it. I think that, under the
circumstances, it is possible that I may grant it.

Mr. BROUGHAM. - If an apology had been offered, this action would never have
been brought.

Mr. Baron HULLOCK. - I think your client badly advised in bringing it.