THE CLOSING APPEAL TO THE SENATE OF MASSACHUSETTS, IN MR. WEB- STER'S "ARGUMENT ON THE IMPEACHMENT OF JAMES PRESCOTT," APRIL 24TH, 1821.
MR. PRESIDENT, the case is closed! The fate of the respondent is in your hands. It is for you now to say, whether, from the law and the facts as they have appeared before you, you will proceed to disgrace and disfranchise him. If your duty calls on you to convict him, let justice be done, and convict him; but, I adjure you, let it be a clear, undoubted case. Let it be so for his sake, for you are robbing him of that for which, with all your high powers, you can yield him no compensation; let it be so for your own sakes, for the responsibility of this day's judgment is one which you must carry with you through life. For myself, I am willing here to relinquish the character of an advocate, and to express opinions by which I am prepared to be bound as a citizen and a man. And I say upon my honor and conscience, that I see not how, with the law and constitution for your guides, you can pronounce the respondent guilty. I declare that I have seen no case of wilful and corrupt official misconduct, set forth according to the requisitions of the constitution, and proved according to the common rules of evidence. I see many things imprudent and ill-judged; many things that I could wish had been otherwise; but corruption and crime I do not see.
Sir, the prejudices of the day will soon be forgotten; the passions, if any there be, which have excited or favored this prosecution will subside; but the consaquence of the judgment you are about to render will outlive both them and you. The respondent is now brought, a single, unprotected individual, to this formidable bar of judgment, to stand against the power and authority of the State. I know you can crush him, as he stands before you, and clothed as you are with the sovereignty of the State. You have the power "to change his countenance and to send him away." Nor do I remind you, that your judgment is to be rejudged by the community; and, as you have summoned him for trial to this high tribunal, that you are soon to descend yourselves from these seats of justice, and stand before the higher tribunal of the world. I would not fail so much in respect to this honorable court as to hint that it could pronounce a sentence which the community will reverse. No, Sir, it is not the world's revision which I would call on you to regard; but that of your own consciences, when years have gone by and you shall look back on the sentence you are about to render. If you send away the respondent, condemned and sentenced, from your bar, you are yet to meet him in the world on which you cast him out. You will be called to behold him a disgrace to his family, a sorrow and a shame to his children, a living fountain of grief and agony to himself.
If you shall then be able to behold him only as an unjust judge, whom vengeance has overtaken and justice has blasted, you will be able to look upon him, not without pity, but yet without remorse. But if, on the other hand, you
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Publication information: Book title: The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster:With an Essay on Daniel Webster as a Master of English Style. Contributors: Edwin P. Whipple - Author, Daniel Webster - Author. Publisher: Little, Brown. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1879. Page number: 55.
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