“This right of self defence carries with it all the means necessary for its exercise. It must be used cautiously, but it gives me the right to beat, maim, or kill my opponent, not only to save my own life, but to save a limb, or any serious injury, whether it be actual or apparent. That life is not worth possessing that I have not the right to defend. If I had not this right, I would raise my own arm, take my own life, and hurl it back into the face of high heaven — a despised and worthless gift.
“As to the amount of force I have a right to use, necessity is the only measure. If Matt. Ward should undertake to whip me, and I should kill him, I should be guilty of murder, for I could hold him with one hand. But there are other men that might undertake to beat me. Suppose a stout man should attack me, I strike him, and he would lick me five times worse. If I had a bludgeon, I might use it; but I have none. Must I stand and be beaten? Will any Kentucky man tell me to stand thaw? No; If I had no other weapon, I would out with my knife and cut his throat from ear to ear. The right of self-defence is nugatory, unless it carries with it all the means necessary for its exercise. Read your old musty law books! This is the criminal law in Kentucky; so acknowledged, and so administered. I have defended many criminals in my life, and this is the law wherever I have practiced.
“Now take this law and apply it to this case. The law as I have declared it is the law of the land. Apply this law to the facts as I have adduced them from the evidence, and see if this can be called a crime of murder; and if it is not murder, it is not anything. The difference between murder and manslaughter is very slight, as shown by the books. When a man is driven as far as he can be, and then slays his adversary, it is self-defence. In this instance one of these men was powerful, very powerful, neighing one hundred and thirty-five pounds. I have seen such whip men of twice their weight. The other is a feeble invalid, in no condition to fight, goes expecting to ask a civil question and receive a civil answer, is refused an explanation, resents it in words, is seized, bent, pushed back, and at last, fainting and falling, he rids himself of his adversary, fires his pistol, and most unfortunately, the shot is fatal....”