"OUR ANCESTORS, FOR MANY CENTURIES, MUST HAVE CONCEIVED THE RIGHT OF AN ENGLISH JURY TO DECIDE UPON EVERY QUESTION…"
STOCKDALE, John. The Whole Proceedings on the Trial of an Information Exhibited Ex Officio by the King's Attorney General, Against John Stockdale; for a Libel on the House of Commons, Tried in the Court of King's-Bench West-Minster, on Wednesday, the Ninth of December, 1789, Before the Right Hon. Lloyd Lord Kenyon, Chief Justice of England… to Which Is Subjoined, An Argument in Support of the Rights of Juries. London: Printed for John Stockdale, 1790. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter brown sheep rebacked in modern calf-gilt, contemporary marbled boards, raised bands. $800.
First edition of publisher John Stockdale's account of his libel trial for publishing a pamphlet attacking the House of Commons in the Warren Hasting affair, with a lengthy argument about the rule of juries in libel trials that underpinned the 1792 Libel Act.
John Stockdale established his career working for the radical publisher John Almon before opening his own printing enterprise in Piccadilly. In 1788, less than a decade after he opened his business, Stockdale was indicted for libel after publishing John Logan's account of the impeachment of Warren Hastings, the late Governor General of Bengal. Hastings was subjected to numerous politically motivated attacks and had been widely accused of misconduct including corruption during his time in Calcutta. The author of the account, John Logan, accused the House of Commons of being corrupt and perverting the course of justice. Stockdale secured the distinguished barrister, Thomas Erskine, as defense counsel. Erskine eloquently argued that Stockdale should be judged by the entirety of the pamphlet, not just by some isolated and inflammatory passages within it. Stockdale was acquitted. The trial is believed to have led to the Libel Act of 1792, which restored judies in libel cases. This is Stockdale's own account of the trial, published by his publishing house. Preceding a Dublin printing and a "New" London edition of the same year. ESTC T83638.
Only occasional foxing to interior, wear to original binding. An extremely good copy.