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guilty of the charge. If, on the other hand, led to expect from a jury of your respectability, you are of opinion that there is seditious matter after the unwearied attention you have bem in the speech and publication, and that the stowed upon the whole of the trial. I am charge of criminal intention imputed to them confident that this verdict, while it is satisin the indictment has not been done away by factory to your own minds, will be of great the general conduct of the prisoners, you will service to your country; and I have only to not, I am confident, shrink from your duty, add, that the recommendation with which you but will find them guilty of the crime of sedi- have accompanied the verdict, and which, tion libelled in the indictment. And, if you under all the circumstances of the case, is so think that the scales hang doubtful, and that it proper, will meet from the Court with all the is difficult to say whether the prisoners were attention it deserves. guilty or not, the former good charaeter and
Lord Advocate.-It only remains for me now conduct of these men are entitled to favourable consideration. I leave the case in your hands,
to crave the judgment of the Court. being confident that you have paid most par Lord Justice Clerk.- Have the counsel for ticular attention to all that has passed, and the prisoners any thing to say on this verdict ? can have no object in view but to return a conscientious verdict. Whatever you may do,
Mr. Jeffrey.-In stating to your lordships, I trust your verdict will be satisfactory to your in one or two words, what has occurred to uś own minds, and equally so to the public.
on the verdict, I hope I am not doing more than my duty. It appears to us, that though,
its general meaning is impossible to be misApril 7th, 1817.
taken, there is an inaccuracy in one point, Lord Justice Clerk.--Gentlemen of the jury, prisoners are ebarged with sedition and with no
which is worthy of consideration. Both the who is your chancellor ?
other crime, and the verdict has found them Jury.-Mr. M'Kinlay.
both guilty of the crimes libelled, using the
plural and not the singular number. There (Mr. M‘Kinlay gave the verdict into court.)
may be many facts charged in the minor proLord Justice Clerk. — Alexander MʻLaren position of the indictment, but there is only and Thomas Baird, attend to the verdict of one crime charged in the major proposition in the jury on your case.
this case; and you are aware that the verdict At Edinburgh, the 6th of April, 1817 yeurs. minor proposition. Logical accuracy is always
is an answer to the major, and not to the The above assize having inclosed, made required on these occasions, and this, therechoice of the said Archibald Mackinlay fore, is not a verdict on which the Court to be their chancellor, and of the said should proceed to inflict punishment. There John Baxter to be their clerk; and having is only one crime charged in the major propoconsidered the criminal indictment, raised sition, and the minor contains different acts at the instance of his majesty's advocate libelled on ir. proof of the crime stated in the for his majesty's interest against Alex- major proposition, and yet the verdict finds ander MʻLaren and Thomas Baird, panels, the panels guilty of the crimes libelled on. I the interlocutor of relevancy pronounced thereon by the Court, the evidence ad
am now arguing to a court of law, and not to
a court of equity. The verdict, in finding the duced in proof of the indictment, and the prisoners guilty of the crimes libelled, has found evidence adduced in exculpation, they, them guiliy of something not charged against by a plurality of voices, find Alexander them. M‘Laren guilty of the crimes libelled in
There is another circumstance which it is the indictment; and Thomas Baird, all in one voice find him guilty of the crimes my duty to mention, that this verdict appears
to be dated on Sunday. I believe this oblibelled in the indictment. But, in conjection has occurred in other cases, but has sideration of their former good character, never hitherto been seriously argued. unanimously recommend them both to the clemency of the Court. In witness Lord Justice Clerk.-Mr. Jeffrey is only whereof, their said chancellor and clerk | doing his duty in stating any objections that have subscribed these presents, consist- occurred to him. But I apprehend there is ing of this and the preceding two pages, nothing in the objections which have been in their names and by their appointment, offered. The mere slip of a letter cannot be place and date aforesaid.
considered as a substantial objection in this (Signed) A. MacKINLAY, chancellor. case. If two crimes had been charged in the J. Baxter, clerk.
major proposition, and the verdict had only Lord Justice Clerk-Gentlemen of the jury, it might have been difficult to say which of the
found the prisoners guilty of the crime libelled, you are now discharged from the very fatiguing crimes was meant. But here there can be no and painful duty which you have had to per-doubt of the meaning of the verdict. form; and I feel it incumbent on me to state to you, that the verdict which you bave re Lord Hermandad remember in a trial at turned, is, in its general result, such as I was Ayr, of one Lowtie, or a charge of theft and
reset of theft, the jury found the panel guilty | mutes should not be garbled. Is not that eviof the crime libelled. I pleaded that the dence that these were the words uttered in the verdict was void, as being uncertain, at least speech? But it is unnecessary to go through that the mitior poena should be inflicted. Lord the evidence. It appears to me, that it was Justice Clerk Miller adopted the latter alter- not the ministers of the day, but the constitu native, and imposed an arbitrary punishment. tion that was attacked. But I need not go A similar circumstance occurred in a question into that. All that remains for us is, to conbefore the Court of Admiralty, about a wreck sider the amount of the punishment to be inon the coast of Orkney.
ficted on the prisoners. In this case the word crimes is not improper. The milder the punishment can be made, if Sedition is the general character of the charge; it be such as may deter others from committing but there are two species of sedition libelled the like crimes 'in time coming, that is the one the making a speech, another the publish- punishment that will meet my wish and that ing a book.
of your lordships. This case is different from
those tried in 1793 and 1794. I looked into Lord Hermand.--I concur in the observations them last night. They are extremely different which your lordship addressed to the jury. I from the present case. There the punishment think this jury deserves the thauks of the awarded was transportation. None of your Court; and, what is more, the thanks of the lordships can be of opinion we can here go country. I think they deserve the thanks of that length; and, considering the recomanother class of men, of whom I know little mendation of the jury, I think we shall satisfy but by report—of those who are considering our own conscience and the justice of the case, how far they may go in opposition to the con- by inflicting six months' imprisonment on the stitution with safety to their lives.
panels. At the same time, they should be It was said by counsel, that the present was obliged to find security to keep ihe peace for far from being an aggravated species of sedi- the period of three years; Mr. Baird, who tion. I like it the better for that. It is more appears to be a man of opulence, under the agreeable to my feelings—to the feelings of penalty of 2001., and the other under that of every jury, and of every judge--lo have more 401., which I think is not unreasonable. moderate crimes to try, than to be obliged to inflict transportation, or death.
Lord Gillies.-Both of the unfortunate panels I am the more impressed with a sense of the at the bar stand accused of sedition. Or that merits of this verdict, that when in groping crime, after a long trial, conducted with infic my way about 11 o'clock at night, in the dark pite ability on both sides, the unhappy persons streets of this city, and reflecting with myself have been found guilty by a jury. "Under what verdict I should have given, had I been these circumstances, nothing remains for us a juryman in this case, such was the effect of but to give effect to the verdict by inflicting a blaze of eloquence, that I cannot say whether such punishment as it appears to us their case I would have said yes or no, if I had been at deserves. Taking all the circumstances into that time obliged to give an opinion, whether consideration, and among others the recomjury I should have wished to have been inclosed that they should be imprisoned for six months, or not the prisoners were guilty. Like the mendation of the jury, I concur in opinion as
to the punishment which has been proposed for consideration. But, having bestowed it, any doubt disappeared, and I came to the and find security for good behaviour. opinion, that the relevancy of the indictment Lord Pitmilly. In considering the judgment was clear and the facts completely proved. which should be pronounced on this occasion,
Every word-every letter of this indictment we naturally look to the judgments which have has now been found proved. The jury have been pronounced in similar cases, and partifound it proved, that after speaking of the cularly to those which have been referred to Regent with due respect (whether seriously or by lord Hermand. For, in every branch of not I do not koow), they go on to state, “ But judicial procedure, and in nothing more that should he be so infatuated as to turn a deaf in pronouncing judgment on a verdict inferring ear to their just petition, be has forfeited their an arbitrary punishment, it is desirable to be allegiance ; yes; my fellow-countrymen, in guided by precedents. If this case had rew such a case, to hell with our allegiance." sembled the case of Fyshe Palmer,* to which
It is not the time now to inquire into the it has been assimilated by counsel, I should evidence ; though, were that competent, I have given it as my opinion that the punishshould be clear that this very expression is ment should be the same as in that case. And proved against the panels. And it has thus if, unhappily for this country, such cases of happened, as often occurs, that the strongest real and aggravated sedition shall come before circumstances come out in the evidence of the this Court-cases little to be distinguished: exculpatory witnesses. What I allude to is, from treason--jt will be my opinion, after a the deposition of Brown, who says there was full consideration of the law, and of the whole a vote pat in the committee with regard to of the former cases, that transportation is the pripting the above passage; that some objected proper punishment. But I agree in the opinion to it being printed; and that another said it ought to be pablished in order that the mi • 2 How. Mod. St. Tr. 337.
which has been expressed, that this is a case , phlet can hesitate to say, thai in such a case very different from the others alluded to, and the country would have been filled with the that it has a nearer resemblance to that of Ro- most combustible materials, and that a slight bertson and Berry,* than to any others which spark would have lighted up rebellion from occurred at that time; and I therefore think one end of the island to the other. that imprisonment is the appropriate punish I shall only add, that if the prisoners and ment in this case, and that which is pointed their associates will not learn wisdom from the out by precedent. As to the duration of the verdict, and the opinion of the Court, I trust confinement, I am always averse to long im- they will learn it from what was uttered by prisonment; and considering the recommend their own counsel, with a force of eloquence ation of the jury, I concur in the limited time which, I trust, has made a lasting impression proposed in this case.
on them. Mr. Jeffrey told them that they Having said thus much, I must express my were treading on delicate ground, that the hopes, that this verdict will put down the expressions they used were most improper, crime of sedition at the present juncture in indecorous, and absurd, and that what they this country. It was urged in defence of the said only betrayed an iguorance of the subject prisoners, that the culpable expressions were on which they spoke. I trust they will reemployed when the persons were met, in a member this lesson, and that all others will season of distress, to petition the King and learn to profit by their example. both Houses of Parliament. But surely the right of petitioning may be exercised without with the judges who have spoken regarding
Lord Reston.-I am of the same opinion making ihe speeches and resolutions, at such this verdict, and I particularly agree with the meetings, vehicles for sedition and treason. words which have fallen from the last judge What was said in a former case as to the liberty of the press and of speech, may be further observe, that while I concur most cor
who delivered his sentiments. I shall only applied to the right of petitioning. As every dially as to the punishment proposed to be man may print or may speak what he pleases, awarded in this case, I have no doubt either so may he use what language he thinks fit in of the right or the duty of the Court to inflict his petition, or in the speeches and resolutions
a higher punishment when required; and esaccompanying the petition : But under this condition, that if in his petition, or in the pecially to award the punishment of transspeeches and resolutions accompanying it, he portation in a case of aggravated sedition. is guilty of treason, sedition or scandal, he prisonment which has been suggested, is, I
In the present case, the short period of immust be answerable for the consequences, just think, sufficient, all circumstances being conas he would be answerable for those crimes if
sidered. committed by him in exercising the liberty of the press, or the liberty of speech. Why Lord Justice Clerk.-I am extremely happy, should it be otherwise ? I cannot believe that that, under the whole circumstances of this this necessary restraint on the right of peti- case, and particularly the recommendation tioning will be any obstruction to the right which has been given to your lordships by the itself. If the real object of the petition be to very respectable jury who had to try it, I am obtain its prayer, why should it be couched in enabled, in the discharge of my duty, to conoffensive terms ?' Is that the way to attain its cur in the proposition now made as to the object? It is the very reverse. It is the way punishment which should follow upon this to get it refused. Such a course can be fol- | verdict. For I have, upon the most mature lowed only for the purpose of getting a refusal, reflection, and the most deliberate considerand at the same time spreading alarm through ation I have been able to bestow upon the law the country. To check such conduct, as the of the case, formed a clear and unalterable verdict of the jury tends to do, instead of opinion, that, for cases of aggravated sedition, injuring the right of petitioning, is the method such as those which have been alluded to by of securing it, and rendering it truly valuable some of your lordships, the proper, the legito the country.
timate, the necessary punishment for this · I have read the whole of the pamphlet from Court to award, is, the highest short of a which extracts are made in the indictment, capital one. and I am sorry to say I have formed a much I take this opportunity, however, of stating worse opinion of the intentions of all the par- as I before did to the jury, that, notwithstandties than I had by reading the indictmeni, oring the particular circumstances and aspects by any thing that passed on the trial. It may of this case, it does not appear to be one of have done little injury, for the range of its that highly aggravated class. Bnt I should be circulation was limited; but let any intelligent guilty of a dereliction of my duty if I did man consider what would have been the con- not take this opportunity of distinctly stating, sequences, if this pamphlet had passed un- that, though not one in the highest class of noticed, and if similar publications had been sedition, the offence of which these prisoners circulated in every village and populous town have been convicted, upon evidence, clear, in the country. No man who reads this pam- satisfactory, and convincing, is a species of
sedition attended with circumstances of con• 2 How. Mod. St. Tr. 79,
siderable aggravation. I allude, in particular,
to the case of the prisoner, Thomas Baird. go-by to this passage, what could be the true For, though I did not think it necessary or meaning of those who were accessory to this proper in me to dwell on that circumstance in most scandalous libel on the clergy of Scotmy observations to the jury when I summed land. I have asked myself, whether it was up the evidence to them, I do now think it meant to be applied to the Established Clergy, my duty to state, that the situation in which who are thus branded with being “Reverend that gentleman stood,- the rank of life in hirelings, who would convince the people that which he formerly moved, the character he they are suffering under the visitation of the possessed, -the influence he had,-and, above Almighty, and therefore ought to be submisall, the commission which he had lately held sive under the chastening stroke.” Is there as an officer, do, in relation to this offence, any thing in their character to warrant such and to the circumstances in which it was com- imputations against them? Did not all those mitted, render his case of greater aggravation who attended that meeting know, that there is than that of the other prisoner.
not one of the Established Clergy who is not This gentleman, although moving in an completely independent of the crown itself, elevated sphere in the town of Kilmarnock, and that they hold their situations as securely and selected by its inhabitants to be a com as any persons whatever do their property? missioner of police, is proved, by incontro What is there then in the conduct and characvertible evidence, to have associated for days ter of the Established Clergy which could with persons, some of them of the very lowest render them liable to the shameful imputation, rank" (for M‘Laren is only an operative wea- that, as hirelings, they could be guilty of ver), forming a deliberate plan for the meeting inculcating any particular doctrines? And which has brought him into his unfortunate what is the foundation of this charge? It is, situation. I should have conceived Mr. Baird that they are guilty of having endeavoured to would have much better discharged his duty impress on their hearers, that the distress of to his country,—would have shown a much the couutry is to be viewed as the dispensation better attention to the general distress, of Providence. Is there any man, with the (for which I greatly feel, but trust it is now slightest impression of religion on his mind, in a way to be alleviated), had he confined who will deny, that the severity of a bad his exertions to contributing, according to his season, the pressure of a bad harvest, proceeds means, for the mitigation of that distress, from the will of Providence ? Or was it instead of taking those active measures which meant to be impressed on the deluded and it is proved he did take, in preparing the ignorant hearers at that meeting, that the business,-in meetings,—in concocting the Government, or any portion of the people, measures of the day, and, above all, in were responsible for the distress prevalent in actually putting in the mouth of the automaton the country, which had been occasioned by a who appeared in that box, a speech, which, bad harvest, that had doubled the price of the when it is examined, will be found to contain necessaries of life? And yet because resignthe most scandalous and seditious matter. ation to the Divine Will had been recomFor the contents of that speech, whether Burt mended by the Clergy, they are branded as was the real or pretended author of it, Mr. hirelings. Baird rendered himself responsible. I must On the other hand, I have asked myself therefore say, that, considering Mr. Baird had whether this charge was meant to be imputed filled the honourable situation of Captain in a to the respectable body of dissenting clergyvolunteer corps, he had altogether forgotten men, who, almost without a solitary exception, his duty in ever lending himself as a party to have shown themselves to be attached to the any such proceedings, the guilt of which is best interests of the country, and have been Dow attached to him by the verdict of the distinguished for their loyalty and steady jury.
allegiance? Is it this class that was meant to With regard to Alexander MʻLaren, I have be so branded? If so, they have to thank only to say, that he has been found guilty of those of their flocks who could give countenance delivering a speech which answers for itself, to the publication of such scandal against and I shall add nothing more on the subject. them. This passage appears to me to desig
But there is one observation which, in my date the true character of the publication as former remarks, I omitted to state to the Jury, most objectionable and inflammatory. It was and therefore now think it my duty to make, intended to weaken the affections of the peoupon the passage in the indictment taken ple to the government and established constitufrom one of the speeches, in reference to the tion of the country, while the character of the conduct of the clergy of Scotland. Your ministers of religion was likewise to be delordships know well to what I allude. The graded. I ask, what would be the consequences passage is, “Their Reverend hirelings would if such proceedings were unchecked ? convince you that you are suffering under the Notwithstanding this circumstance, however, visitation of the Almighty, and therefore ought which it was my duty not to omit to notice, I 10 be submissive under the chastening stroke." am happy, that in reference to the strong I have asked myself this question, after pay- testimony borne to their good characters in ing every attention to the ingenious and elo- times past, backed by the recommendation of quent observations made in order to give the the jury, we are justified in the discharge of
our sacred duty, in pronouncing the mild While the subjects of this country are ensentence for the sentence certainly is extremely titled to state their grievances to the legislature, mild) which has been proposed, viz. that they they must be careful, that neither in the preshall be imprisoned for six months within the vious proceedings, the speeches and resolutions, Tolbooth of the Canongate of Edinburgh (thus nor in the petitions themselves, they insert making the punishment of imprisonment as matter which is clearly of a criminal nature, light as can be done), and that Thomas Baird seditious in its tendency, and likely to produce shall find security to keep the peace for three lasting mischief to their country. It will teach years under the penalty of 2001.; and that them, that although entitled to exercise that Alexander M‘Laren, in reference to his cir- right, they must not, in its exercise, be guilty cumstances, shall only find security for the of a violation of law. I therefore trust that same period under the penalty of 401. the result of this trial will be of important
Alexander M‘Laren and Thomas Baird : benefit to you in the course of your future after a most careful and attentive consideration lives, and that this Court shall not, with regard of the whole circumstances of the case that to you or others, have soon occasion again to was exhibited against you, a jury of your animadvert on the crime of sedition. I likecountry bas found both and each of you, the wise trust, that considering the recommendaone by a plurality of voices, and the other, all tion of the jury, and the lenient punishment in one voice, guilty of the crime of Sedition, which, under all the circumstances, is about to as charged in the indictment. It is, I can be awarded against you, you will firmly reassure both of you, a painful duty for me to solve, that, when you again return to society, announce to you, in reference to this verdict, in which you formerly moved in a respectable the judgment which the Court has found it line, you will be sincerely loyal in your hearts, necessary to award against you. I say, I do and attached to the true interests of your it with sincere regret, when I reflect on country and the constitution under which you the strong testimony that was borne to your have the happiness to live. former good characters. I lament that you bad permitted yourselves to be misled on this
SENTENCE. unfortunate day of the 7th of December, the
The Lord Justice Clerk and Lords Comone to utter, and the other afterwards to give missioners of Justiciary having considered circulation to what a jury has pronounced to the verdict above recorded, in respect thereof be sedition. I do trust and hope that the decern and adjudge the said Alexander N'Laren result of this verdict, and of the opinions you and Thomas Baird to be carried from the bar have heard pronounced by the whole Court, will have its due effect on both of you; that it therein to be detained for six months from
to the Tolbooth of Canongate of Edinburgh, will teach you, that however apparently inno- this date, and thereafter until they shall and cent your proceedings may have been, they sufficient caution and surety, acted in the did result in crime, and might have been, if books of Adjournal, for their good behaviour the example had been generally followed, pro- for the space of three years from and after the ductive of mischief to the interests of your expiration of the said period of imprisonment, country. I trust also, the salutary check given and that under the respective penalties folto proceedings of this description, will have lowing: viz. The said Thomas Baird under an important effect on the public mind, by the penalty of 2001, sterling, and the said showing, that sacred as the right of petition is, Alexander M‘Laren under the penalty of 401.; entitled as the people of this free country and upon the lapse of the said period of imare to state their grievances to government and the legislature, and to point out what may
prisonment, and finding caution as aforesaid, appear to them as remedies, that right afford's grant warrant to and ordain the magistrates of no screen or protection to those, who, in the Canongate and keepers of their
Tolbooth to prosecution of that lawful object, lose sight of set the said. Thomas Baird and Alexander
MʻLaren at liberty. their duty, and are guilty of the crime of udition.
(Signed) D. BOYLE, I. P.