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Mr. Vaughan. I said no such thing—that is your interpretation. Mr. Silvester. It is my interpretation. Gentlemen, he justifies at this moment the meeting at Briellat's and says he had a right to call any number of people he pleased together, for the purpose of amending the constitution. He says, the first charge is not proved, because, though it states that this man has said, that “a reformation could not be effected without a revolution,” he says, the meaning of the word revolution is, to go back to a former state Where are we to draw the line? Are we to go back to the late revolution in this country, to the state of the savages of America, or to the present state of the people in France, who are without either law or religion; but we thank God we have both laws and religion. Gentlemen, it has been told you, that the courts of justice have in these times inflicted more severe punishments than have ever been done since the revolution. It does not become us practisers at the bar to find fault with those judgments, which have been given by men of the first character, by men who consider well and judge right what punishments men deserve, nor is this or any other court to be intimidated, and told that these punishments are too severe; it is with the court to punish the offender according to the crime, and to hold him up as an example to deter others from committing the like of. fences. Gentlemen, it is told you, and made a kind of triumph, that formerly the system of reform was supported by our virtuous and immaculate prime minister, as if to be immaculate and virtuous were in these times a subject of reproach. But, gentlemen, we are now trying a plain fact, which, I think, is brought home to your satisfaction. My learned friend, called upon you to consider your wives and children. I, in my turn, also claim your protection for your wives and children; the only way to protect them is by supporting the constitution and the government under which we all live; for when this is overturned there is an end of all our property, and every thing becomes anarchy and confusion. Gentlemen, it has been told you, that I ersonally, having practised a long time at the ar, am possessed of some art, some contrivance. I don't know that any man need to be ashamed of conducting this or any cause to the best of his ability. I don't know that it is a reproach to that gentleman for exerting his abilities in a bad cause, which his certainly is, neither is it a reproach to me that I have had the honour of practising in this court, and before a man who understands law as well as any of the judges. It is the pride of my heart to attend before such a bench, from whence you will hear the law laid down as it ought to be laid down. The learned gentleman has quoted Black
stone to you, who says, that juries are judges of the law as well as judges of the fact. So they are, and you are the persons to determine the fact, having received your information from the court of what the law of the case is.
Gentlemen, it is told you, that the best evidence that the nature of the case will admit of ought always to be produced and an author is quoted for it. But, gentlemen, it is likewise, by the same author, said, that one witness, if believed, is fully sufficient. So it is; we all know, that in many transactions that pass one good credible witness is suffcient. But it is said, that it is necessary, that every witness should be called. Why so? is the gentleman thought it was law that he was stating to the jury, and did not mean to mislead them, why did he not call all the persons who were present? But as the gentleman perfectly well knows that some persons might hear the whole and others not the whole of it, you are to impute perjury to that boy, who can have no interest, who tells yon a plain fact, whose character they have not touched, because they knew they could not affect it; he tells you a plain natural story, that they were conversing about the news, about the duke of York being taken and the army; and then he states, that there was a book, which Briellat had in his custody, and which he read, wishing that all kings should be abolished from the face of the earth. Gentlemen, I don't know whether it has hapdened to you, but it strikes me, that it is a book purporting to be a discourse upon the Revelations, in which the fali of monarchy is predicted to happen in the year 1792, and as people have supposed is applicable to France. Gentlemen, it is said, that we ought to produce this book. Is it so * Who has the book? Briellat himself, for he put it in his pocket: he might therefore have produced it, but he has not produced it.
Gentlemen, two witnesses are called to contradict this boy, and upon whose testimony you are to impute perjury to him. One of them tells you, he does not recollect whether the boy was there, therefore his testimony is not material. The first witness tells you, that Briellat seldom read a book but what he finished, and when he had finished reading, without saying a single word, he put it in his pocket and went away. Is that probable? Is it likely He takes out a book and reads about the tenth part of a city falling by an earthquake, and not a single observation follows it, not even that it was wonderful that in the year 1747 this should have been predicted, but not a single observation was made. Gentlemen, it is possible that the witnesses may be speaking of different times; for the last witness does not recollect whether the boy was there or not, and yet we are to be told that we are a nation of informers, and that we shall all become informers, which is a disgrace to us.
Gentlemen, the boy, in my mind, acted wisely, he acted prudently in not talking of this to any body, but going with an officer to a magistrate and telling the story. Some of my witnesses have been asked about being alarmed. Why, gentlemen, one is to be alarmed when seditious men are planting themselves from east to west in various parts of the town.. I say, gentlemen, when one sees that, it is high time for every honest man to join to put a stop to it, when persons are collected together thus in every part of the town. When you hear one man speakin seditious words in one part of the town, an another in another, you have reason for fear and for alarm; and a great deal of praise is due to those who o forward as your defenders. Then the only attack is upon this boy, whose testimony, in my mind, remains unshaken; but what do they say to the evidence of all the other witnesses? Here is Goodman, who tells you that he is a publican, that he heard aconversation,in which this man stated that there should be a revolution, and that nothing would do good but a revolution. His fears are not alarmed till a meeting is to be held at this man's house, at which all the persons in that neighbourhood are called togcther. Is this a legal meeting Have we no other mode, or could they apply to none of their law friends to know how they were to be assembled P. Have we no sheriffs whose business it is to call a meeting Have we not two worthy representatives who might have assembled them? But Mr. Briellat is to assemble, in the neighbourhood of Spitalfields, all the men who were out of work, and harangue them upon a table. I don't impute what he said upon the table but to show the disposition of that man's mind.
Gentlemen, it has been stated to you that application was made to two magistrates. Have we any evidence of that None at all; the fact is not true, and it is not their interruption now that will prove it. They knew the fact would not bear them out, and they, as lawyers, ought to know that that is not the way to call a meeting of the county, the only legal meeting of the county is called by the sheriff.
Gentlemen, have they attempted to show any animosity in this man, Goodman, or is it any imputation upon him that he is a constable? many of you, I dare say, have served the office of constable with credit to yourselves; and whether a man is appointed by the court leet or by the magistrates, does it follow that he is to be a subject of reproach, that he has forgotten everything that is just and honourable, and that he is for a paltry expectancy to perjure himself? But does it stand upon his evidence alone? No, a very respectable tradesman, Mr. Alport, confirms his testimony in every respect, and then Mr. Adams does the same; he fixes it in the very words of the indictment, he tells you that he said, no good would be done in this country till a
reformation took place, and that could not be done without a revolution. Now, gentlemen, really I ought to make an apology to you for taking up so much of your time upon so plain a question, after the long speech you have heard; in which you have had ministers attacked, the bar attacked, the whole nation attacked, in short every body, that could be lugged in, has been attacked in this business. The gentleman has told you that if you give a verdict improperly you are forsworn; Gentlemen, he does not know you, if he supposes you could give a verdict improperly; he does not know me, if he thinks I could ask you so to do. I wish nothing but a verdict consistent with your oaths, consistent with your consciences. I know you well, you are respectable men in your situation, and you will give a just verdict; whatever that yerdict is, I, for one, shall be satisfied. The law has made you the guardians of our liberty, our properly and our lives from the highest to the lowest;-the highest cannot do injustice, nor the lowest be oppressed with impunity, and therefore you are to disregard every thing of that kind, on the one side as well as on the other; it is not because Briellat, as has been stated to you, is a man of property, not because he is a man of fortune, or has had the honour to sit in that box, that shall screen him to day—I only wish that persons in higher situations, who are guilty of like offences, were also brought to this bar. Here you have not a low man, it is acknowledged that he is a man of É. erty, that he is in a good situation in life, .. he is your equal, and therefore becomes the more an object of danger. It is said this is an improper prosecution. I should be glad to know if you were in the situation .# the attorney-general, and a person were to come to you, and lay information that a man had been speaking seditious words, for the purpose of exciting a disturbance in this country; and that afterwards he was about to hold a meeting at his house and in his field, whether you would not think it your duty to bring forward such a man? He hears what the witnesses have to say, and he says it ought to be inquired into ; then let a jury of the country inquire whether these facts are true, if true he incurs the punishment due to them; if they are not true the magistrate has been imposed upon, but that is no disgrace to him; for it is the duty of every man concerned in the administration of justice to lay facts of a heinous nature before a court and jury for them to determine whether they are or are not true, and that is the simple question for you to try. I shall not go through the whole of the case about a reform in parliament, for it has nothing to do with it, it is only made use of as an argument on the part of the counsel for the defendant to captivate your understanding, and if possible to prejudice your minds; you are to suppose that all these notable reformers are persons who are your friends, and who will ease you of taxes.
may be so in France, which is now the most unfortunate country in the world, without laws, religion or government, and yet you are told that taxation is a burthen which you ought not to bear. I can only say you bear it in common with the rest of your fellow citi. zens; here the taxes are proportioned to your property, it does not fall upon the person, but upon the property; it was not so in France, and yet that is made use of as an argument
to throw a prejudice upon a prosecution of
this kind. And then you are told that there are some rotten boroughs which ought not to be represented in parliament; but whether they ought or ought not is not for us to discuss in a court of justice, nor is it for Briellat to discuss at the head of his weavers near Spitalfields. I say, gentlemen, I ought to make an apology for detaining you so long.— All you have heard has been a declamation and an attack upon the government, and upon those who are administrators of the government of this country, without giving an answer to a single observation; the only point of evidence has been to discredit that witness, and instead of discrediting him, I am of opinion he is confirmed, Gentlemen, having said so much, I shall sit down perfectly satisfied on which side your verdict will be, because I know you are men of sense, I know you are men of integrity.
Mr. Mainwaring. Gentlemen of the Jury; This is an indictment against the defendant, Thomas Briellat, charging him with certain misdemeanors, in unlawfully and seditiously uttering, publishing and declaring in a certain conversation which he then and there held concerning the constitution, the words following, that is to say, a reformation cannot be effected without a revolution; and then there is another count follows in this indictment, charging him with the same, that we, meaning the people of this realm, have no occasion for any kings; and then there is a third charge in the indictment, stating him to have said, that there will never be any }. or good times until all kings are aboished from the face of the earth. Then there are other counts mentioning these words, and then comes a seventh count, which charges the defendant to have said, it is my wish that there were no kings at all; and the ninth count, charges the defendant to have said, I wish the French would land 100,000 men in England to fight against all the government party.
Gentlemen, these are the charges laid against the defendant as words spoken by him with a seditious and a malicious design.
Gentlemen, it appears to me that upon this occasion your duty and your province lie in a very narrow compass indeed, that you have no occasion to be perplexed or entangled with history or politics; if you will
only impress upon your minds one or two
short principles, in my opinion, it will carry you through this business as fair, honest, upright men, discharging that duty which } i. owe your country. Certainly we cannot ut admit that no man is punishable for the discontent and dissatisfaction of his own mind; men have a right to their own opnions, and I should be sorry to see a man stand at this or any other bar in any criminal court of judicature, because he had in an unguarded manner delivered sentiments not strictly legal, or which, if construed too strictly, might be considered as seditious: but, gentlemen, no man in a discontented state of mind is to infuse that discontent into the minds of others, by which he disturbs the public tranquillity, and becomes a very capital offender against the iaws of his country; because, whatever disturbs the tranquillity of the kingdom is a general detriment to us all : therefore it appears to me that the question here for your consideration is, whether this man comes within that latter description; if he does not, I think you ought to acquit him; , but it, upon the whole of this business, you think he is of that disposition, why then certainly you can have no doubt in your minds, and you will find him guilty. Gentlemen, in this case I would have you go rather farther than what you usually take upon you, to be judges of the fact; but I would have you in some degree be judges of the law also : you will take into your consideration, not merely whether he said the words, but you will consider also the intent with which he uttered them. Gentlemen, it has been said by the learned counsel for the defendant, that a reform is necessary, and that he thinks so ; he has a right so to think; but the question is, what method is to be taken to obtain it : a man wishing to bring about a reform has no right to enforce it by violence, by force of arms, that is no less an offence than high treason. Gentlemen, in observing upon one of the counts in this indictment, where it is stated, that the defendant said a reformation cannot be effected without a revolution, it is asked, what is a revolution ?—a revolution does not mean a subversion of government, it means a revolving of things. It may have that meaning in some cases; but you must take the subject matter; if it is applied to the government of this country, it is a subversion, a total change in the government of the country; there cannot be two opinions about it. Gentlemen, I need not trouble you with any farther observations before I state the evidence that has been given to you upon this occasion, and you will be to consider how far the defendant is guilty or not, according to the circumstances which I shall shortly lay before you. [Here Mr. Mainwaring, summed up the evidence on both sides to the jury, and then proceeded as follows.] .
953) Proceedings against John Lambert, and others. A. D. 1793.
Now, gentlemen, the evidence on the part of the defendant contradicts that on the part of the prosecution, and it is for you to determine which speaks the truth; and of course you will not judge from the number of wit: nesses, but from the whole circumstances of the case; you will consider it; I believe you are thoroughly possessed of the sense of the obligation you are under to do justly.
Gentlemen, I should have told you, that there is no evidence at all of any criminal act done at Hackney, and therefore you must acquit him upon the two last counts. There is no evidence to prove that any such thing was said at Hackney, and therefore you will find him not guilty of those counts.
The Jury retired, and in about three hours returned a verdict, finding the defendant GUILTY.
Mr. Mainwaring. Do you mean to find him guilty of all the counts in the indictment?
Foreman. Yes, except the two last counts. At the same time it is the desire of the gentlemen of the jury that I recommend him to mercy.
The Court sentenced Mr. Briellat to twelve months imprisonment, 190l. fine, and security for his o behaviour for three years, himself in 500l., and two sureties for 250l. each.
582. Proceedings on the Trial of an Information, filed Ex-Officio by his Majesty's Attorney General, against John LAMBERT, JAMES PERRY,” and JAMEs GRAY, for a Seditious Libel.
Tried by a Special Jury
in the Court of King's Bench,
before the Right Hon. Lloyd Lord Kenyon, on Monday the 9th of December : 34 GEORGE III. A. D. 1793.
To the original report of this trial, published by Debrett, Mr. Perry, one of the defendants, prefixed the following
In presenting the following trial to the public, at a period, the most critical, perhaps, with respect to prosecutions, that ever occurred in the annals of this country, the editor was chiefly influenced by two considerations:
First, the question, which arose in an early stage of the proceedings, with respect to juries, determined a very important rule of practice, namely, that the first special jury struck and reduced according to law, must try the issue joined between parties. This decision of a controverted point, in the manmer most consistent with common sense, and, as appeared from the pleadings, agreeable to the ancient practice of the courts, and founded upon the statute law of the realm, is certainly to be estimated as an acquisition of no common magnitude to the subject.
Secondly, this is the first trial, since the libel bill passed into a law, completely con: ducted upon the principles of that bill, and may serve as the best illustration of the wise ...}excellent provisions of the law, as it now
* See in this collection the cases of Messrs. Lambert and Perry, on a commitment by the House of Lords for a breach of privilege, a. d. 1798; and in the court of King's-bench for a libel on the King, A. D. 1810.
stands, with respect to libel; a law admirably calculated to remove obscurity, to defeat iniproper influence, to facilitate the ends of justice, by simplifying its operations, and to afford additional security for the full enjoyment of the most valuable privilege of Englishmen. Impressed then with the view of this trial, as connected with great principles, and involving consequences the most important, both to the present age and to posterity, I have been anxious to render the following statement of the proceedings as full and correct as possible. Fidelity and accuracy are the only merits of a reporter; these I have carefully studied; it is not allowed to him who transmits the sentiments of others, to boast of his labours, or to claim the reward of public approbation: in this instance, I find myself sufficiently repaid, with the pleasing reflection that I have been called, in an age of prosecutions, to record one verdict gained to the cause of freedom.
On Tuesday, the 25th of December, 1792, the following paper appeared as an advertisement in the Morning Chronicle:
At a meeting of the society for political information, held at the Talbot-inn, in Derby, July 16, 1792, the following address, declaratory of their principles, &c. was unanimously agreed to, and ordered to be printed:
“To the Friends of Free Inquiry and the General Good.
“Fellow citizens;–Claiming it as our indefeasible right to associate together, in a peaceable and friendly manner, for the communication of thoughts, the formation of opinions, and to promote the general happiness, we think it unnecessary to offer any apology for inviting you to join in this many and benevolent pursuit : the necessity of the inhabitants of every community endeavouring to procure a true knowledge of their rights, their duties, and their interests, will not be denied, except by those who are the slaves of prejudice, or the interested in the continuation of abuses. As men who wish to aspire to the title of freemen, we totally deny the wisdom and the humanity of the advice to approach the defects of government with pious awe * and trembling solicitude.” What better doctrine could the pope, or the tyrants of Europe desire? We think, therefore, that the cause of truth and justice can never be hurt by temperate and honest discussions; and that cause which will not bear such a scrutiny, must be systematically or practically bad. We are sensible that those who are not friends to the general good, have attempted to inflame the of: mind with the cry of ‘ danger, whenever men have associated for discussing the principles of government; and we have fittie doubt but such conduct will be pursued in this place; we would, therefore, caution every honest man, who has really the welfare of the nation at heart, to avoid being led away by the prostituted clamours of those who live on the sources of corruption. We pity the fears of the timorous, and we are totally unconcerned respecting the false alarms of the venal. We are in the pursuit of truth, in a peaceable, calin, and unbiassed manner; and wherever we recognize her features, we will embrace her as the companion of happiness, of wisdom, and of peace. This is the mode of our conduct; the reasons for it will be found in the following declaration of our opinions, to the whole of which each member gives his hearty assent.
1. “That all true government is instituted for the general good, is legalized by the general will, and all its actions are, or ought to be, directed for the general happiness and prosperity of all honest citizens.
2. “That we feel too much not to believe, that deep and alarming abuses exist in the British government; yet we are at the same time fully sensible, that our situation is comfortable, compared with that of the people of many European kingdoms; and that as the times are in some degree moderate, they ought to be free from riot and confusion.
3. “Yet we think there is sufficient cause to inquire into the necessity of the payment of seventeen millions of annual taxes, exclusive of poor-rates, county rates, expences of collection, &c., by seven millions of people; we think that these expences may be reduced,
without lessening rhe true dignity of the notion or the government: and therefore wish for satisfaction in this important matter. 4. “We view with concern the frequency of wars. We are persuaded that the interests of the poor can never be promoted by accesion of territory, when bought at the expense of their labour and blood, and we must say, in the language of a celebrated author, “We, “who are only the people but who pay for wars ‘with our substance and our blood, will not cease ‘to tell kings, or governments, “that to then ‘ alone wars are profitable: that the true and ‘just conquests are those which each makes “at home, by comforting the peasantry, by ‘promoting agriculture and manufactories; ‘by multiplying men, and the other produc‘tions of nature; that then it is that kins “may call themselves the image of God, who ‘will is perpetually directed to the creation of * new beings. If they continue to make us ‘fight and Rillone another in uniform, we will “continue to write and speak, until nations “shall be cured of this folly.” We are certain our present heavy burthens are owing, in a great measure, to cruel and impolitic wars, and therefore we will do all on our as peaceable citizens, who have the ... community at heart, to enlighten each other, and protest against them. 5. “The present state of the representation of the people calls for the particular attention of every man, who has humanity sufficient to feel for the honour and happiness of his country; to the defects and corruptions of which we are inclined to attribute unnecessary wars, &c. &c. We think it a deplorable case when the poor must support a corruptica which is calculated to oppress them; when the labourer must give his money to afford the means of preventing him having a voice in its disposal; when the lower classes may say, “We give you our money, for which we ‘have toiled and sweat, and which would save “our families from cold and hunger; but we “think it more hard that there is nobody whom “we have delegated, to see that it is not im‘properly spent; we have none to watch over “our interests; the rich only are represented." “The form of government since the revolu‘tion, is in some respects changed for the “worse : by the triennial and septennial acts “we lost annual parliaments: besides which, ‘the wholesome provisions for obliging privy “counsellors to subscribe their advice with their “names, and against placemen and pensioners ‘ sitting in parliament have been re ed.' It is said, that the voice of the people is the constitutional control of parliament; but what is this but saying, that the representtives are naturally inclined to support wrong measures, and that the people must be cott stantly assembling to oblige them to do their duty : An equal and uncorrupt representation would, we are persuaded, save us from heavy expenses, and deliver us from many oppres. sions; we will therefore do our duty to pro