Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 14.djvu/370

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which was carried by thirty-nine to twenty-eight. On 17 Feb. 1840 he introduced a bill, afterwards passed, to deprive a plaintiff in an action for libel or slander of costs upon a verdict of less than forty shillings, and spoke (1 June) in favour of the bill for the better administration of justice in chancery, advocating the appointment of more judges. On 29 March 1841 he made a personal explanation in the House of Lords, successfully clearing himself of the charge which the newspapers had brought against him of having ordered the prosecution of Lord Waldegrave and Captain Duff Gordon to be bought off. On 2 June he reintroduced his bill to substitute an affirmation for the oath, but withdrew it on 27 June. His speech of this date in moving the second reading was published in 1842. On 1 April 1844 he spoke on the third reading of Lyndhurst's Ecclesiastical Courts Bill, on 13 May in favour of Brougham's bill for the consolidation of the criminal law, and on 17 and 23 June upon Graham's conduct in opening Mazzini's letters in the post office. He doubted whether as an individual minister the home secretary had any right to do so on his own responsibility, and on 30 May 1845 he supported Lord Radnor's bill limiting the right, but it was thrown out.

His name is connected during these years with several great trials. The chancellor being ill, he presided, at Lord Melbourne's request, as lord high steward on the trial of Lord Cardigan [see Brudenell, James Thomas] before the House of Lords, 16 Feb. 1841. In the same year he tried the prosecution of Moxon for blasphemy, committed in publishing a complete edition of Shelley, including ‘Queen Mab.’ Moxon was convicted, but was never called up for judgment. In 1842 Denman tried at the summer assizes at York the chartist rioters, whose riots are described in ‘Sybil’ and ‘Shirley.’ The task was exceedingly laborious, and the assizes lasted half through the long vacation. He pronounced an exceedingly elaborate judgment on the validity of a presbyterian marriage in the House of Lords, 11 Aug. 1843, in the case of Regina v. Millis (Clark and Finelly's Reports, vol. x.). Judgment was given in the House of Lords on 4 Sept. 1844 in favour of O'Connell upon his appeal from his conviction in Dublin in February 1844. It was in his speech on this occasion that Denman, speaking of the effect upon trial by jury, if such proceedings should be upheld, fell upon the since proverbial phrase, ‘a mockery, a delusion, and a snare.’ ‘Ah!’ he said afterwards, ‘I am sorry I used those words; they were not judicial.’

But his energies were from 1843 chiefly occupied with the extinction of the slave trade, as to which he thought he saw in the public mind a growing levity and indifference. His efforts undermined his health. He published anonymously in 1847 a pamphlet called ‘The Slave Trade and the Press,’ and in 1848 and 1849 two ‘Letters to Lord Brougham on the Extinction of the Trade.’ In August 1846 he opposed Lord John Russell's Sugar Duties Bill, which proposed to equalise the duties on colonial and foreign sugar, on the ground that it would tend to encourage slave labour in the Brazils. He spoke, 22 Feb. 1848, on Lord Aberdeen's motion for a return of the number of slaves intercepted by British cruisers between 1845 and 1847, and in a speech, the finest he ever delivered in parliament, gave notice of a motion for 22 Aug. for an address to the crown praying that the slave squadron might be retained on the west coast of Africa. This speech turned the tide of public opinion, which had been much influenced by the report of a committee of the House of Commons that the slave trade never could be extinguished, and secured the retention of the squadron. Meantime, on 1 Feb. 1848, he had given judgment discharging the rule for a mandamus which had been applied for by those who opposed the appointment of Bishop Hampden, to enable them to resist his confirmation. On 13 April he spoke on the government's Removal of Aliens Bill, and on 19 April on the bill for the security of the crown and government.

His strength was being sapped by all these efforts. The heavy work and frequent twelve-hour sittings of the spring assizes, 1849, on the western circuit tried him severely. On 14 April, the day before Easter term, he had a stroke of paralysis, and before long another. His cousin, Sir Benjamin Brodie, ordered rest, but he insisted on continuing to work. He sat all through Trinity term, 22 May to 13 June, spoke on 13 June on the suppression of the slave trade, and again on 22 June moved the second reading of the bill to allow affirmations in lieu of the oath. It was rejected by thirty-four to ten, but was embodied in the Common Law Procedure Act of 1854. He could now barely sign his name, and by Christmas his doctors, Brodie and Watson, and his friends from Brougham downwards, urged resignation. But he found that if he did so, Campbell, whose attacks on him he resented, would be his successor, and he was loth to resign. A newspaper controversy now began, very painful to Campbell, comparing the merits of the two men, much to Denman's advantage. The ‘Spectator’ accused Campbell of trying to ‘assassinate’ the