had nothing to do but to assess the plaintiff's damages under the direction of the Court. In short, we were made to understand that there was no way under Heaven—we beg pardon; under New York Supreme Court Law—in which the editor of a newspaper could plead to an action for libel that the matter charged upon him as libelous was not in its nature or intent a libel, but simply a statement, according to the best of his knowledge and belief, of some notorious and every way public transaction, or his own honest comments thereon; and ask the Jury to decide whether the plaintiff's averment or his answers thereto be the truth! To illustrate the beauties of “the perfection of human reason” —always intending New York Circuit and Supreme Court reason—on this subject, and to show the perfect soundness and pertinence of Mr. Cooper's logic according to the decisions of these Courts, we will give an example . Our police reporter, say this evening, shall bring in on his chronicle of daily occurrences the following: “A hatchet-faced chap, with mouse-colored whiskers, who gave the name of John Smith, was brought in by a watchman who found him lying drunk in the gutter. After a suitable admonition from the Justice, and on payment of the usual fine, he was discharged.” Now, our reporter, who, no more than we, ever before heard of this John Smith, is only ambitious to do his duty correctly and thoroughly, to make his description accurate and graphic, and perhaps to protect better men who rejoice in the cognomen of John Smith, from being confounded with this one in the popular rumor of his misadventure. If the paragraph should come under our notice, we should probably strike it out altogether, as relating to a subject of no public moment, and likely to crowd out better matter. But we do not see it, and in it goes: Well: John Smith, who “ acknowledges the corn” as to being accidentally drunk and getting into the watch-house, is not willing to rest under the imputation of being hatched-faced and having mouse-colored whiskers, retains Mr. Richard Cooper—for he could not do better—and commences an action for libel against us. We take the best legal advice, and are told that we must demur to the Declaration—that is, go before a court without jury, where no facts can be shown, and maintain that the matter charged as uttered by us is not libelous. But Mr. R. Cooper meets us there and says justly:How is the court to decide without evidence that this matter is not libelous? If it was written and inserted for the express purpose of ridiculing and bringing into contempt my client, it clearly is libelous. And then as to damages: My client is neither rich nor a great man, but his character, in his own circle, is both dear and valuable to him. We shall be able to show on trial that he was on the point of contracting marriage with the daughter of the keeper of the most fashionable and lucrative oyster-cellar in Orange street, whose nerves were so shocked at the idea of her intended having a “hatchet face and mouse-colored whiskers,” that she fainted outright on reading the paragraph
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