« AnteriorContinuar »
to the further execution of the project, there would have been a 'large importation of these pikes into this part of the kingdom. • Geritlemen, you will find that this idea of arms was carried further ; you will find that, for the use of this Society, a plate with figures, showing the manner of learning the military exercise, was engraved by a Mr. Worship, a member of this Society. You will find that there was a military Society in Lambeth, and another in Turnstile, Holborn ; they were small in their beginnings, I admit; but these things must be so in their beginnings; and you will find, that the Prisoner at the bar gave to a witness of the name of Edwards, a direction of whom to obtain pikes at Sheffield. Mr. Williams, another witness, who will be called to you, who is a gun-engraver in the Tower, inade muskets for the use of these societies in Lambeth, and in Turnstile, with an express protest that he should not be employed, unless he hiinself became a member of the societies. You will find accordingly that he did become a member of them. You will find that they drilled at particular places. Gentlemen, I give you this outline of this part of the evidence, because I do not wish to enter more into the particulars, than to give you a general impression of the nature of the case which I have to lay before you. - You will likewise see, what is natural enough to Happens, when you find in the book of the Society for Constitutional Information, that Mr. Horne Tooke
could think of giving notice, that he would move * « that two books should be opened, one of them
(bound in black) in which should be entered all “ the enormities of those who deserve the censure ; " and in the other, the merits of those who deserve “ the gratitude of the Society.” You will not be surprised, if
you should find persons in these affiliated societies, of lower descriptions, holding conversations about seizing the most august persons in the nation ; if you should hcar of their holding conversations about the situation of persons in the House of Commons, and the means by which they could kuow their persons.
Upon the whole, Gentlemen of the Jury, I shall now lay the testimony before you, submitting this written evidence to you, calling witnesses, above all exception, to a great part of the case ; calling some witnesses, whom I now avow to you, you will find, were persons employed by Government to watch over the proceedings of these Societies, and who therefore became informed, in consequence of such employment, of some of their transactions; and Government would have been wanting to itself, and would have been wanting to a degree of criminality, which no man can describe, if this country had at this moment been in the state in which it would have been, if these pikes had been brought into actual exertion.
At Sheffield, indeed, I am told they had got to the length of forming iron instruments, which were to disable horse, which they called night-cats, and
which would immediately insert themselves into the hoofs of horses' feet. “I say, if, with these projects going on in the country, a Secretary of State, or any other person in the executive government, had hesitated a moment to procure information, these parties might have been able to put into execution the projects they were meditating, and he would have been answerable for it. . .
Gentlemen, it is the great province of a British Jury, and God forbid these Prisoners, should not have the benefit of the reflection, that British Juries are able to protect us all--are able to sift the characters of witnesses to determine what credit is due to them-listening to men of good character without any impression against their evidence listening to men, such as I have stated, with a strong impression against their evidence ; that impression, however, to be beat down by the concurrent unsuspicious testimony arising out of the rest of the case, if, upon the whole, you should find the case to be made out as I have stated it to you.
Gentlemen, I forgot to mention to you, that you will likewise find, about the time that this Convention was talked of, that there was a new constitution framed for the Corresponding Society, in which they speak of a royalist as an enemy to the liberties of his country—of a democrate, as a friend to the liberties of his country; and you will find, that, in a constitution again revised, the whole was thrown into a scheme, and into a system, which was to add phy
sical strength to the purposes of that Convention, which was, I submit to you, to assume all civil and political authority.
If you find all these things, and, if under the di. rection of that' wisdom that presides here, with respect to which, Gentlemen, let me say again, that the situation of this country is indeed reduced to a most miserable one, if the respect which is due to the administration of the law, is suffered to be weakened in any manner, if the respect which is due to the administration of the law, that administration, which perhaps is the best feature of the constitution under which we live, is destroyed, miserable indeed must be the situation of your country! If you find under that direction that the case, being proved in fact, is also made out in law, you will do that on behalf of the public which is due to yourselves, to the public, to your posterity, and theirs. H is
But on the other hand, if, after hearing this case fully stated, and attempted to be fully proved, you should be of opinion that it is not proved, or you should be finally of opinion that the offence is not made out, according to the hallowed interpretation of the statute of Edward III. ; I say, then, in the conclusion, I join, from my heart, in the prayer which the law makes on behalf of the Prisoner, God send the Prisoner a safe deliverance! .
Before Mr. Erskine's Speech for the Prisoner, we think it right to introduce a remarkable circumstance that attended this Trial, namely, that, it being impracticable to bring the evidence within the coinpass of the longest possible sitting, it became necessary, from day to day, to adjourn the Court; and the following extract from the proceedings will show to what disadvantages, even with the indulgence of the Courtand Jury, the Prisoners' Counsel were subjected. The trial began on Tuesday, the 28th of October, and the Court sat till a late hour on that day, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, assembling at nine every morning. It is plain, that not a moment's time was afforded for considering and arranging the various matters to be observed upon in the defence. When the Court, therefore, was about to adjourn at two in the morning of Saturday (being the fourth day of the trial), and the evidence for the Crown being about to close, which would have rendered it necessary for Mr. Erskine to open the case of the Prisoner at nine the same morning, the following dialogue took place : . ..
Mr. Erskine. My Lords, this is the fourth day that my friend Mr. Gibbs and myself have stood in a very anxious situation ;-there has been a 'most voluminous body of written evidence, all of which has not been printed ;-copies of that part which is unprinted, have not as yet reached me :-there have been two days spent in hearing parol evidence ; and we (being but two) assigned as Counsel for the Pri