Legal drama set in the late 18th century. A vicious riot erupts on polling day in Westminster. As the crowd parts, an old man lies on the ground, brutally clubbed to death.
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-This importunate person is with you?
-George Pinnock, sir.
I hope I will be allowed to remind you of the place for me,
at the Admiralty.
You will not be forgotten.
I will use my influence with Hill to get him to give over Samuel.
So Melville wills and Garrow acts.
What can I do?
Your son...Take him.
I've come for my son.
Let it be known that the candidates for the seat of Westminster
are Sir Cecil Wray and Sir Charles Fox.
I hereby declare this place of voting now open.
ALL: Fox, Fox, Fox, Fox, Fox!
GRUNTS AND SCREAMS
KNOCK AT THE DOOR
Mr Garrow, forgive me.
I know there are things to contrive.
I would take that burden from you and from Lady Sarah if you wish it.
For the laying to rest.
Sarah's not at home.
She may not be so for some time.
-But I will see to those matters.
-I would take it...
I will see to it.
Then I shall be about my business.
Oh, see who comes.
A man who would rule the world
if only he could stay out of the courts long enough.
Oh, God. What now?
Who gave you this? Who gave you this?
Cannot the man have one day without incident?
Scuppered by the foy madness of a woman in the...
Sir, there is such wickedness as hell cannot conceive
in this vile place.
Sir, I am the man to find a barrister
to represent your case in court.
But you must help me with answers.
I walked from Ludgate Hill to Covent Garden
to place my vote at the election.
And came upon a most uproarious scene
where constables obstructed my effort to vote for Mr Fox.
-And blows were exchanged?
-To my discredit...
-Whereupon I was taken in.
-And were to be charged with the breaking of the peace.
I was told it would be so.
But as I stood before the magistrate I heard the charge as murder.
Such was the haste of that dialogue that I only now know,
because you tell me, who it is I am said to have murdered!
Mr Joseph Casson. Who you neither knew, saw, nor struck down that day?
On my oath.
Well, if that is so we shall bring it out.
And I hope we shall have the best man to argue it.
I have money.
Oh! I fear money alone may not lay hold of this man's interest, sir.
I may have to recruit Mr Southouse, God rest his soul, to our cause.
Good day, sir.
Ah, Sir Arthur, how splendid!
My Lord Melville.
I noted you with a messenger just now.
Not troubling news, I hope?
It need not detain us, my Lord.
You know well your troubles are mine.
All too often, perhaps.
The news was of my son.
(I fear the boy is abducted by its mother.)
The boy is abducted by its mother?!
My Lord, please.
Should you not now scurry away and take care of that trouble?
It will, I think, keep.
At least until we have discussed other matters.
I am here, as arranged, to learn news of my new post.
I gave Prime Minister Pitt a true appraisal of your qualities.
And I trust you will not be disappointed with
Second Under Secretary to his Ministry for Harbours and Landings.
Harbours and Landings?
By far the most prestigious position on,
ahem, the Yorkshire coastline.
You expected more?
My Lord, I feel...for the service I gave I am owed more than that!
Yes, sir. Owed, sir.
Then I must put plain what I have long wished to report.
Gentlemen, look upon Sir Arthur Hill,
whose extravagant self-pity is out-weighed only by his vanity.
And his vanity is often bested by an ignorance of the most crude
He is of no use.
None at all.
-Good day, sir.
Go now and see to your ridiculous wife and her paramour.
It is a murder, Mr Garrow,
of a gentleman struck down on voting day for the Westminster seat...
You will see here that, although constables were sent in
to keep the peace at election that day, that they themselves
lay into the crowd of voters with their batons.
Mr Pinnock, did I not make myself plain?
I did not ask for your service in preparing this brief.
Indeed, I have not asked for the brief at all.
I see your humour, Mr Garrow, and accept that you did not.
But I thought you knew...
Mr Southouse did.
You will explain yourself.
He had me set the case aside and mark the date of its beginning.
He spoke of it...
as a nonsense that you might enjoy being appalled by.
We begin, Miss Casson.
knew you a good servant to Mr Fox and his kind, but I thought
the sad business of Mr Southouse would have kept you from this place.
It seems it is Mr Southouse himself who will not let me.
My Lord, gentlemen.
Amid the noise and clamour of an election for that very important seat
of Westminster, a great body of men, friends and supporters
of that radical Mr Fox,
did attack local constables sent to keep the peace.
I will show by evidence that this fellow Nicholson
did knock the aged and innocent Joseph Casson to the ground...
..rained down violent blows upon his head
and, in doing so, took his life.
I call the witness, Thomas Davy.
I came upon a sight of great spectacle.
Supporters of Mr Fox and Sir Cecil Wray crying out for and against.
The butchers, as tradition demands,
clacking together their marrowbones and cleavers.
And the whole scene...
Might you leave off these dazzling depictions
to those of the press paid to do it?
The matter here is murder.
I ask your pardon, my Lord.
Indeed, the mood then did darken.
As Fox's ruffians, armed with bludgeons, sought to
satisfy their violent appetites.
And in the ensuing melee,
you saw Joseph Casson struck and fall?
I saw this man, as clear as you see him now, with arm raised high.
And I saw the man I know now to be Joseph Casson fallen to the ground.
I see here, in the margin
of the magistrate's record of your statement, there is a note added.
Added by a very fine attorney.
Tell me if it is, as he puts it here, that you are the man,
"Who passes his days abusing with fine language
"those gentlemen associated with Mr Fox
"and did once throw dirt at the person of Mr Fox himself."
-Do you question my honour, sir?
-Were you not also paid, sir,
paid to rally against all those who stood for Mr Fox?
In fact, is not your performance here a continuation of that employment?
How dare you that?
Who but a Fox man such as you, sir,
would defend this other Fox man?
Mr Davy, we are not voting here today.
We are about a man's life.
Do you claim you saw the blow struck, sir, that murdered Mr Casson?
I saw the tableau of that tragic death most vivid.
Answer the question, Mr Davy.
Did you see this "Fox man" strike Joseph Casson?
I will confess it.
I did not.
You cannot say that this man struck the blow.
Your prejudice is clear. This prosecution is fantastical.
Uh, Mr Garrow...
Where is Lady Sarah?
To answer plainly, I do not know.
I wish most sincerely that I did.
You would have me believe you played no part in her abduction of my son?
I know nothing of this, sir.
But if it be true...
I know nothing of where she or they might be.
And you will believe this.
Your sour inamorata has once again sabotaged my career
and my prospects.
Such scandal in the hands of Lord Melville
is a poison to my endeavour.
Are you not Faust to his devil, sir?
And even if Sarah is run off to France with the boy,
I will pursue her.
And I will bring an end to this.
Sir Sampson Wright, there is a problem at the Bailey,
-with the witness.
I call Joshua Gilmore.
I do not see this man on the indictment.
With your permission, my Lord.
The man I would call is a new discovery.
I will allow it.
Mr Silvester, continue.
Mr Gilmore, you were at the Covent Garden on May the 10th
and saw the fracas involving this man Nicholson?
I did, sir.
And saw Joseph Casson struck by that man in the blood red coat,
Hubert Nicholson, with a large stick with a nub to the end of it.
Are you sure that that man was the man struck the deceased?
I'm sure of it. Upon my word, upon my honour and upon my oath.
Sir, you appear nowhere in the coroner or magistrate's account of this matter.
Why did you not go before the coroner to report any of this?
My reason was this, sir.
I, er, came up to the Bailey yesterday about a little
business I have of my own
and saw from the notices displayed that this matter was to be tried.
You came here by chance yesterday?
Do you not agree, although I myself believe every
breath of your testimony, that for the gentlemen of the jury,
there might be some small room for speculation?
That the first you heard of this business was today in some small coffee house off Silver Street?
Where certain officers of the law gave you this speech to learn by heart?
They would scapegoat this man and corrupt this court.
I have objection, my Lord.
Once again, he all but lectures the jurymen.
Mr Silvester, whilst I abhor Mr Garrow's habit
of gossiping with my jury,
I feel I can only agree with his concerns.
I've heard enough.
Gentlemen, even supposing you can possibly credit the witnesses
examined for the prosecution, you will find nowhere, I regret,
a reliable account so to connect Nicholson to the death of Casson.
But it is for you to determine whether you will not acquit the prisoner.
My Lord, we find not guilty.
Court shall rise.
KNOCK AT THE DOOR
Forgive my calling at your home.
But I am occupied by a question and have need of your help.
I regret I am unable to give it.
Being concerned at present with other things.
I confess I was bewildered by what I saw pass for justice in court yesterday.
Madam, justice was hardly present,
and little of what you saw was concerned with
the death of your dear father.
I saw the trial was, in great part, politics.
And I am at most naive in matters political but...
Madam, forgive me, but for the sake of your own peace,
you might let go of the cold mechanisms
of your father's passing and...
allow instead the fonder memories of his living to replace them.
If you ask that of me,
then you do not understand grief at all, sir.
Madam, I promise I do.
You enter a room...
expecting him there and he is not.
You smile at some small thing and anticipate recounting it to him
but you cannot.
You chase a painful idea...
around in your head that,
"If only I had done or not done this or that thing...
"..he would still be standing beside me now."
But you cannot.
And he is not.
..you have the shape of my grief.
I wonder, then, how you refuse a service which might,
in some degree, abate it.
Is it not your profession?
But forgive me, I am taken up by a disquietude of spirit
and by my own sorrows.
I fear you will discover that this inaction
shall only compound your distress.
You say you are occupied by a question?
A simple one.
If Mr Nicholson did not kill my father, I would know who did.
It is far from orthodox, Pinnock,
and I am sure that your uncle Mr Southouse would
protest at this being your first lesson in the business of attorney.
However, a double crime has been committed.
One against a free man who wished only to vote.
The other, the murder of a decent man.
We will act for Miss Casson, first as investigator, then as prosecutor.
We will find the guilty party by first finding witnesses to
the events at Covent Garden.
Mrs Jacob of St. Martin's Lane. Mr Abbott, Beadle of St. Paul's.
William Foskett of Beech Street.
Mr Nicholson gave up this information.
And you would trust Mr Nicholson impartial?
I spoke to Foskett and Abbott and they both, to my ear, sound true.
Yet they were invisible in Nicholson's defence.
Well, both claim they were turned away from the magistrates
by police constables.
Ha! I see you are well suited to espying things well hidden, sir.
Perhaps we will exchange roles.
I would have you find Lady Sarah.
I will see to it.
And I will see the man who commands these constables.
Sir Sampson Wright passes his regrets, sir.
He is detained with matters of...
I see you would be Nero, sir, as London burns with your injustices.
And I see you are vexed, sir.
Is your objection to my playing?
Or to some small matter of law?
Here listed, are my objections.
You, sir, are directed to protect the free citizens of this society
and yet you made war against a gathering of its people.
You, sir, are a mechanism of justice
and yet when a man was killed in your unjust war,
you twisted your efforts
so an innocent man would hang for it.
You, sir, are charged with safeguarding a frail democracy
and yet, because you fear that Mr Fox will win the Westminster seat,
and from there challenge this illegitimate government, you had
your men steal the right to do so from those who would vote for him.
You do not deny this last?
Or any of it.
And do the heavens shake?
But you've made your brave liberal speech. Bravo.
Although I fear the world outside this window is not changed.
Have you no deeds in you or just more clacking?
HE RESUMES PLAYING
Indeed, no more clacking!
-He will regret this provocation!
Mr Garrow, I've got news on the other matter.
So soon, how?
Sir Arthur Hill cast a wide net for information.
So I merely diverted the fish into me own hands.
And is she in this country still?
She is. You'll find her at this place.
I'd thought you in France.
Sir Arthur is wild at you for this outrage.
And also finds himself out of favour which angers him still more.
-I fear that he will...
..bring this anger to your door.
I have acted wrongly, Sarah.
We have both acted on inescapable need.
Yours to be bound by principle.
And mine to be with my son.
We have tried always to change our circumstance,
by law, by pleas, by threats.
Yet I cannot turn and walk away from here.
I would so have you stay.
You would scarce believe how empty our small rooms are without you.
My small bed is too large and too desolate.
I cannot look back at what I have left behind.
Mr Jenner, William Jenner, reported,
"And there came a head constable with silver-tipped bludgeon striking most violently."
The military fellow, Garston?
Captain Garston, "The general cry was very strong that Mr Casson
"was knocked down by a constable.
"This man, a long-faced fellow, with a scar...here, was very busy
"and struck away very violently."
As the Fox supporters waited to gain entry to the vote,
the constables on the steps did push 'em back, raining blows on all who made to come forward.
You would have given such evidence had you not been prevented by the magistrate?
I would. And told the court I saw what man it was
-struck down the old fellow Casson.
-You saw who struck the blow?
The fellow made a blow at me.
He wore a two-curled wig.
There was about him something devilish,
and just here, a vivid scar.
Will you help us identify him?
Constable, I am William Garrow, barrister. What is your name?
I know you, sir.
I'm Richard Lucas.
Constable Lucas. As a free citizen, I make here an arrest...
-Damn you, barrister!
-..for charges of the murder of Joseph Casson!
THEY SHOUT OVER EACH OTHER
Let him have his say.
I will not stop him.
You seek to bring charges, sir, against this constable?
I do. And act on behalf of Miss Emeline Casson, daughter of a murdered father.
For which murder I charge Richard Lucas.
Order is given, the charge be examined.
I thought myself dead and visited by a vision.
Guardian angel, perhaps.
I fear you have need of one, William.
What brought you back?
I have thought on what I comprehend of my husband.
His weakness is power.
That is what we must feed.
And, by some fashion, convince him to give up Samuel voluntarily,
we must bargain him into agreement.
What goods have we to sell, Sarah?
His hunger for power has put him the wrong side of Lord Melville.
He now stands in great need of influence.
We must exploit that need.
Perhaps Melville is the goods.
Think on this, that Melville did expose an unguarded flank.
He was most keen I should not explore his interests in the colonies.
We will search Lord Melville's pockets...
..and we will find his transgression.
Mr Garrow. What is this rough treatment?
Sir, I am no fist-fighting man,
but neither am I a man whose obligations
can be deflected by blows or threats.
I trust a hot head will not cloud your attempts to prosecute Mr Lucas?
It will not.
And rest assured that I aim an axe not at the branch but at the tree.
My Lord. Gentlemen.
Another jury on another day, in this court...
..has made judgment already that the supposed guardians of the peace...
..did falsely accuse an innocent of murder.
This jury will judge if it be true or not...
..that this constable, a peace officer,
a man in whose hands the good order of society is held,
did commit the act that brought the death of Joseph Casson.
If this be true, as I will seek to prove, gentlemen,
there must be great concern to limit the power of those
who command this constabulary, this standing army...
..who act against the good of all, and for their own ends.
My Lord, I call Mrs Jacob.
Did you see a patrol of constables strike with cudgels
those gathered at Covent Garden on May 10th?
-I did, sir.
-And did you see who struck Joseph Casson?
I did. That fellow, Lucas.
-And struck him where, Mrs Jacob?
-On the left side, on the temple.
Madam, how many do you judge crowded outside the election place at this time?
Close to 100 constables
and 500 to vote for Fox or for Wray.
And, betwixt yourself and the tragic moment,
a tableau of shifting, animated life, full of noise and haste.
I saw what I saw, sir.
You seem of great conviction to not even question your own certainty.
-I have questioned my memory of the event...
-Ah, you have questioned it?
You have doubted it was Mr Lucas you saw?
That is not what I meant, sir.
I think the jury have heard you.
Mrs Jacob, for clarity.
Have you doubt that it was Lucas you saw make the blow that killed Joseph Casson?
I have not.
My Lord, I would question the defendant, Richard Lucas.
Mr Lucas. Before your present post as constable,
you were a soldiering man?
I was, for ten years.
Served in the American War under Sir Hector Monroe,
fighting for the East India Company.
Now you are captain of constables in your own patrol?
And during your years as a soldier, did you often disobey a command?
You think that impertinent of me?
I do! It's against all I know.
The chain of command is a strength.
It is the heart and power of the regiment.
-And of a patrol?
-I do not follow you, sir.
Instructed in its duties by whom?
Given orders by who, sir?
Chief Magistrate Sir Sampson Wright.
My Lord, I call Sir Sampson Wright.
Did you command constables from the Tower Hamlets to go to
Covent Garden election ballot on May 10th?
-They were to...
-And did it not fall to you to brief them on the detail of their task?
My Lord. Yet again, we follow a line of such tremendous irrelevance.
Mr Garrow, what is your purpose here?
My Lord, it is my intention to show that the death of Joseph Casson
came in the course of another criminal act,
that of perverting the democratic process.
My Lord, where an accomplice is involved, it matters not
if this accomplice struck no blow or was not close by the scene.
And you wish to extend the charge to other constables?
Not to other constables, my Lord.
Mr Garrow, Mr Silvester, I will see you in my chambers. We adjourn!
Explain yourself, Mr Garrow.
If Sampson Wright sent the constables into Covent Garden
with the express intention of preventing supporters of Mr Fox from casting their vote,
then he set in motion a crime that led to the death of Joseph Casson.
And if you prove that to have been his aim,
you would make a case to prosecute the chief magistrate?
I would, my Lord. Charged with constructive murder.
I hardly believe this. Sampson Wright! Peer of His Majesty's Government?
What we consider in this place, Mr Silvester, is a man's deeds,
not his title.
My Lord, surely you cannot give this idea light?
Cannot? Mr Silvester, you are not yet made judge.
I will allow that you follow this line.
You may have your duel with Sampson Wright.
We will adjourn until tomorrow.
Sarah? Have you informed Mr Pinnock that you have eyes on his position?
William, all of these papers chart the business of Lord Melville's Admiralty.
They record the flow of goods and the funds for purchase of those goods.
Somewhere here, we will find Lord Melville's transgressions exposed.
And how are you so sure?
Because he's a politician, and they're unable to handle
the public purse without emptying some into their own.
I had not known that you esteemed them so high.
You forget, sir, I married one.
-An exceptional thing, Mr Garrow.
The fellow you prosecute, Mr Lucas.
He's asked to speak with you this hour in his cell, at Bow Street.
Is it not custom for a man charged as you are, sir,
to seek out the barrister for him, rather than the man opposed?
There'll be time enough for Mr Silvester's counsel.
He will tell it, I shall not hang.
I will tell it, I know I shall.
That will end our business.
But I wish to hear, in plain words, your business.
You must know you will put no noose around Sampson Wright's neck.
There is no man, and surely a constable must agree, who stands above the law.
As a man with little time left to him, I welcome your straightness.
Then give me some straight speaking in return, sir.
Are you minded to defend Sampson Wright?
What you said in the courtroom was more than true.
What applies to a regiment, applies also to a patrol of constables.
A man must follow orders...
..and hold his tongue.
There is a "but" at the back of your tongue, sir.
You would do well to speak out.
All manner of merchandise.
Indigo dye, saltpetre, tea, opium.
Nothing damning carries Lord Melville's signature on it.
Nothing to stain his character.
-He takes great caution...
Relating to speculation in land...
We mustered at the Wood Street Hotel to have the names called over.
The 30 I captained, any recruiting sergeant would turn away.
Many fresh from a Newgate cell.
Most held a constable's bludgeon in his hand for the first time.
And all the while, the clamour outside tightening our nerves.
We waited on instruction.
-Instruction from Sampson Wright?
He took it on himself. He was Henry at Agincourt, such was his oratory.
He called the day the last to save the soul of a nation.
Fox was the enemy. Fox was a devil.
His supporters would have us live like Frenchmen in our own land.
We must swing out with fervour.
And they were won over by all of this?
Every one of them.
And God forgive me, I was the same.
My blood and nerves filled up by the glory of battle recalled.
30,000 of us
against Washington's raw troops.
British ships in New York Harbour,
shaking the ground beneath your feet with cannon fire.
Shattered men screaming in the blind, choking smoke.
And above all of this, the one purpose.
To seek out and put down your enemy.
Those men at Covent Garden were not your enemy, sir.
As the fog dispersed, I saw they were not.
They were men like Joseph Casson.
He was under my cudgel before I could hold back this...
..drummed up anger.
Mr Lucas, unless I am sufficient as your confessor, you would do well to testify this in court.
And Sampson Wright will be revealed.
Unless, of course, it is some other arrangement that you seek?
I fear there's no pardon to be had for me from this.
No, sir. Not in this life.
Then the next one?
I am not the judge of that.
Then I will say my piece...
in this one.
Mr Lucas is to be moved.
I have had word he is for Newgate.
I believe, unless his philosophy is entirely altered,
Sir Arthur will wrench this evidence from your hand.
Indeed, this will do it.
Well hidden, in plainest sight.
But no less explosive for that.
I shall take my leave.
And I shall take this to the man who will best use it.
I am to have your child.
-Comedy or a tragedy?
I had a three-shilling ticket to a box at Sadler's Wells.
This performance is worth foregoing that. But is it a tragedy of vaulting ambition denied,
or a comedy full of fools and mismatched love?
I suppose you as weary of this extended skirmish we conduct, as I am myself.
So be it. If I hurry I still make the second half. Good evening, sir.
But you will miss the opportunity to avenge Lord Melville.
If you have the means, I would have you share it, sir.
There is a price on it.
No sharp words for me this fine day, sir?
There will be opportunity to converse with me from the witness stand, sir.
I am unsure whether to admire your optimism or mock it.
What could bring you here this day?
Why, YOU do, sir.
There is a matter I've struggled much with.
I hand this to you, for my client.
I fear Mr Lucas will not be with us today.
-We cannot continue.
-My Lord Buller, this is a barbarity!
Consequent upon the death in confinement of the accused, Richard Lucas...
You will not silence anyone with this treachery, sir! I have here a man's statement!
..I am required to dismiss the gentlemen of the jury...
"I, Richard Lucas, fearing I will not survive this night
and that my death will cheat both jury and hangman's noose..."
-..and bring this trial to its end.
-Jury is dismissed!
"..will have it known by what agency the men of my patrol were
"sent to lay violence upon those minded to
"vote against the Government and to Mr Charles Fox."
CHANTING: Fox, Fox, Fox, Fox!
"Chief Magistrate Sir Sampson Wright, by his own impassioned appeal to our baser selves
"and demands for blood,
"did stoke up the fury of those constables
"and did so fierce set my own savagery that I did strike out
"and take the life of the innocent Joseph Casson.
"May God have mercy on my soul."
They fear us, Mr Garrow.
We kick at the tent poles.
We do not fit and we will not change...
..and so we irk them.
Our enemies, our detractors.
My apologies to you, sir. You did not come here to see a trial lost.
No, I came to support a man who toils
because he recognises a fellow innocent unless shown otherwise.
And because he aches for change.
And you have not lost.
Your prey has only gone to ground.
We will flush him out, and others like him.
And I hope that your conscience will be my light...
..and that my influence can be yours.
By God, sir! I have no more time for your whining!
Did I not speak my mind plain enough?
My Lord, such is my humour today
I might suffer the very worst of your bombardments and yet smile.
See? Like so.
Now I fear you are mad from your continuing wife troubles, no doubt.
Not mad, sir, but elevated, by a secret revealed.
And expressed in just three plain words.
Aye, sir. Mister. William. Garrow.
No, sir. He is the source, but the secret lies in three more words.
The Trinidad Treasury.
Ah, my Lord Melville.
I see the cogs in your noggin turning fit to smoke on their pins.
Did I not say, since last we spoke, that I have been with the Prime Minister once again?
See the pitiful architect left now among his ruins.
And he did ask after you.
I fear, sir, I have you so in my grip I might command you strip to your skin
and climb the chandeliers like a baboon.
And we spoke most warmly of you. Indeed...
Shut up your mouth! And listen now to this, you addled bag of stench.
You burnt all bridges with me when last we met.
In front of those cronies who, you shall see,
will turn their backs on you most instantly.
Sir Arthur, I ask you first to think how we might contrive to resolve this...
Oh, but I have. And I think such sport deserves an audience.
Do you not find?
Now, these fine fellows carry a notice of impeachment...
..with your name upon it.
For misappropriation of Treasury funds.
Make way there!
Make way for yesterday's man!
You did journey well here?
Yes. Fair well. Though I took the road through Knightsbridge village,
which, as ever, is in such poor condition.
It betters, for convenience, the way by Vauxhall.
And here is the document. That seals the thing.
Fine boy, Samuel.
And recall what I have said about not following your "new father" into law!
I cannot believe this trial of ours is now ended.
And I cannot yet believe what we together have started.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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A vicious riot erupts on polling day in the Westminster constituency. As the crowd parts, an old man lies on the ground, brutally clubbed to death. Garrow, alone and grieving, gets pulled into a complex web of conspiracy and cover-up, of political double-dealing and the abuse of power.