“We have but one regret in the matter, and that is that the case made is one where the party asking his liberty has been driven into our harbor involuntarily. Great Britain, it is true, is the last power which should complain on this account, with her own example in the case of the Enterprise before her eyes; but we do not, we confess, like this feature of the law. We have no doubt, however, that this fact being brought to the notice of the executive, he will interfere promptly to release the individual in the present case, provided the party petitions for the purpose, and engages at once to leave the State. But we shall see nothing of this. Mr. Manuel Pereira, like another John Wilkes, is to have settled in his person great questions of constitutional liberty. The posterity which in after times shall read of his voluntary martyrdom and heroic self-sacrifice in the cause of suffering humanity, must be somewhat better informed than Mr. Pereira himself; for we observe that his clerkly skill did not reach the point of enabling him to subscribe his name to the petition for habeas corpus, which is to figure so conspicuously in future history, it being more primitively witnessed by his ‘mark.’”
An appeal was taken from this refusal, and carried before the appeal court, sitting at Columbia, the capital of the State. How was this treated? Without enlisting common respect, it sustained the opinion of Judge Withers, who was one of its constituted members. Under such a state of things, where all the avenues to right and justice were clogged by a popular will that set itself above law or justice, where is the unprejudiced mind that will charge improper motives in asking justice of the highest judicial tribunal in the country.
In the year 1445, a petition was presented, or entered on the rolls of the British Parliament, from the commons of two neighboring counties, praying the abatement of a nuisance which promised fearful interruptions to the peace and quiet of their hamlets, in consequence of the number of attorneys having increased from eight to twenty-four, setting forth that attorneys were dangerous to the peace and happiness of a community, and praying that there should be no more than six attorneys for each county. The king granted the petition, adding a clause which left it subject to the approval of the judges. Time works mighty contrasts. If those peaceable old commoners could have seen a picture of the nineteenth century, with its judiciary dotted upon the surface, they would certainly have put the world down as a very unhappy place. The people of Charleston might now inquire why they have so much law and so little justice?
The captain’s departure and Manuel’s release.
After remaining nearly three weeks in close confinement in a cell on the third story, Manuel was allowed to come down and resume his position among the stewards, in the “steward’s cell.” There was a sad change of faces. But one of those he left was there; and he, poor fellow, was so changed as to be but a wreck of what he was when Manuel was confined in the cell.