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[168]

This was filed on the 19th of February, and an action in accordance therewith was promptly entered by the State of Maryland against the editors of the Genius, charging them with ‘contriving and unlawfully, wickedly, and maliciously intending, to hurt, injure and vilify’ Todd, ‘and to deprive him of his good name, fame and reputation, and to bring him into great contempt, scandal, infamy, and disgrace, to the evil example of all others in like manner offending, and against the peace, government and dignity of the State.’ The case was pressed to an early trial, on the first day of March, the counsel for the prosecution being Jonathan Meredith and R. W. Gill, while the defence was conducted by Charles Mitchell, one of the most brilliant and able members of the Baltimore bar. Although a stranger to Garrison (on whom, as the author of the obnoxious article, the brunt of the trial fell), he generously volunteered his services as counsel, refusing all compensation, and defended him in a brave and masterly manner.1

The counsel for the prosecution, finding that the extracts from the libellous article which they had incorporated in their indictment were too weak to rest their case upon, sought to have the entire article read to the jury, to prove the malicious intent of the writer, which was done, the court (Judge Nicholas Brice) overruling the objections of the defendant's counsel that according such liberty to a plaintiff was utterly without precedent. The witnesses were Mr. Henry Thompson (Mr. Todd's agent), the Pilot of the Francis, the Customs officers, and the printers of the Genius, the latter being called to acknowledge that they had printed the paper containing the alleged libel; but no evidence was offered to show that the defendant had printed or published, or written

1 ‘Of his attainments as a lawyer,’ wrote Mr. Garrison, in noticing his death, a year later, ‘the fertility and amplitude of his mind, and the sweetness and energy of his eloquence, it is difficult to speak in sober terms. The benevolence of his heart was as expansive as the ocean.’ Mr. Mitchell was a native of Connecticut, and a son of Judge Stephen Mitchell of that State (Lib. 1.111).

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