Chapter 6: lawyers' pleas.The Court reassembled early on Monday morning, October 31. John Brown was brought from prison between files of armed men, as the practice was, and laid down on his bed within the bar. “He looked better,” we are told, “than on the previous day; his health is evidently improving, and he seemed to be at the most perfect ease of mind.” The Court room and every approach to it were densely crowded. From the opening of the Court until the afternoon session, the counsel for the defence--Messrs. Griswold and Chilton--and for the prosecution--Messrs. Hunter and Harding--occupied the attention of the jury in arguing for and against the prisoner. I do not intend to pollute my pages with any sketch of the lawyers' pleas. They were able, without doubt, and erudite, and ingenious; but they were founded, nevertheless, on an atrocious assumption. For they assumed (as all lawyers' speeches must) that the statutes of the State were just; and, therefore, if the prisoner should be proven guilty of offending against them, that it was right that he should suffer the penalty they inflict. This doctrine every Christian heart must scorn; John  Brown, at least, despised it; and so also, to be faithful to his memory, and my own instincts, must I. Mr. Griswold proved conclusively that, even according to the laws of Virginia, John Brown had not been guilty either of treason, of inciting to insurrection, or of murder with malice prepense; although, undoubtedly, he had committed other offences against the peace and dignity of that ancient Commonwealth. In any civilized State--in Europe, England, or our North--these facts would have resulted in the acquittal of the prisoner; for, although a person may be proven guilty of murder, if he be arraigned for theft, that indictment -in every free country- must at once be abandoned. Mr. Chilton's speech is unworthy of further notice than that it began in falsehood and ended in cant. Two quotations will sustain my statement:
He desired, and the whole State desired, and the whole South desired, that the trial should be fair: and it had been fair! . He charged the jury to look on this case, as far as the law would allow, with an eye favorable to the prisoner, and when their verdict should be returned — no matter what it might be--he trusted that every man in the country would acquiesce in it. Unless the majesty of the law were supported, dissolution of the Union must soon ensue, with all the evils that must necessarily follow in its train.Mr. Hunter was true to his barbaric instincts to the last; eulogizing Wise to begin with, filling up his speech with the infamous maxims of iniquitous laws, and closing it with anathemas on godly John Brown. The peroration of his speech is noteworthy from its audacity of assertion:
We therefore ask his conviction to vindicate the majesty of the law. While we have patiently borne delays, as well here as outside in the community, in preservation of the character of Virginia, that  plumes itself on its moral character, as well as physical, and on its loyal and its devotion to truth and right, we ask you to discard any thing else, and render your verdict as you are sworn to do. . . . Justice is the centre upon which Deity sits. There is another column which represents its mercy. You have nothing to do with that.Mr. Hunter closed his speech at half past 1 o'clock.
During most of the arguments to-day, Brown lay on his back, with his eyes closed. Mr. Chilton asked the Court to instruct the Jury, if they believed the prisoner was not a citizen of Virginia, but of another State, they cannot convict on a count of treason. The Court declined, saying the Constitution did not give rights and immunities alone, but also imposed responsibilities. Mr. Chilton asked another instruction, that the Jury must be satisfied that the place where the offence was committed was within the boundaries of Jefferson County, which the Court granted.The Jury then retired to consider their verdict, and the Court adjourned for half an hour.