CASE OF CAPTAIN ROBISON : LIBEL LAW.
WE observe from a report of the trial in the Court of King's Bench, that this much-injured and unfortunate gentleman has been found guilty of a libel on General DARLING, late Governor of New South Wales. Nothilig dint has sippearea on this trSal has affected in any degree our pre iously expressed opinions to- ga-riling the hard and unmerited usagesk_laptaiii ROlitstIN has received at the bands of: his supvrio-s; +It illtered our opinisn that the conduct of General DARLING loss a fit suit's t for Pai ha- tmentary
In a late Number of the Speclettar,*-we alluded to this case- in the following terms.
" Never befurelliet ci Ceneral Officer in the British serviet skulk from wee. ittg smell charges in; Captain IbibISCRI'tote Kele, red sgaitot this man. lie is accresed of peculation, jobbing in late., atrocious tyranny in his ofliee of Gover- nor of New Small Wales—even with muffler, or soon-thing akin to it : rind what steps does he take to relieve himself (torn these horrid imputations? Does he press for a Corot -martial ? does Le instruct his friends in the I louse of Com- mons to acre& to Captain SOITSR111'S reiterated calls for a cctsuisIttre cci impliry? bes lie exculpated hiruseff at the Colonial Daher Ilas he, in short, taken any one step, dm ing the (rye .or six years that his character has teen klackened with charges of the West nature, to clear it in the eye of his fellow soldiers and the Ide has done ntftiring of the kind : hut—he has pieferred are indictment fro a libel egaiso4 Captain 'Robison ! Ile brought no action, moved for no critninal informati lllll it selected a 11101IC of proceeding which will prevent the truth of the charges against him from being either substantiated on the one hand or disproved on the other. He has chosen that mode of proceeding which Lord Brougham told the Libel Committee is almost the saute as acknowledg- ing the truth of a libel." Captain Routs-oat has been found guiltv, on indictment; but it will certainly require some assurance on the part of his prosecutor, to bring him tipfor judgment. What! is it a part of the law of England that a British officer shall he punished like a felon, for speaking, by possibility, the truth? Or, if he has not spoken the truth, is he to be punished because the person against whom the falsehood was uttered, took the secure means of preventing an inquiry ? If, indeed, it should turn out that General Dantiam is innocent, then would there be no punishment too severe forCaptain RomsoN: but if General DARLING should be guilty, and if he should deserve the fate of Governor WALL,—to punish Captain Romsost now, for what might not be a crime, but a meritorious and noble action, would be an injustice so rank, that English law can scarcely be supposed to authorize it. Never was there a stronger proof of the necessity for a revision of the law of libel than this case affords. We have b en some- what surprised at a remark of Lori DENMAN'S in his charge to the Jurv, which we scarcely expected from an enlightened Judge. His Lordship observed, that " As to the observation by the defendant's counsel, that the public had a right freely to discuss the acts of public men, it by no means followed that because men were public men, they nruat therefore sit down quietly under any imputation which any party, interested or not, might choose to throw upon their motives for their public conduct."
*Did it not occur to the Chief Justice, that the TRUTH of such imputations was an important ingredient? Is his Lordship pre- pared to maintain the doctrine, so long laughed at, and repudiated only the other day by Mr. Baron ALDERSON, "the greater the
truth, the greater the libel?" that public men are shielded from attacks which their conduct justly deserves, because such attacks are founded on truth and justice ? Vera; the law of England, 'if it be expounded correctly, is in a state of "recognized abuse," which cannot be too speedily reformed. Truth—at least truth spoken without malicious intent—must no longer be a libel.