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the witnesses on both sides, there are some charges made out against the panel, which render his conduct highly criminal—which establish against him a very great malversation of duty, and which bring home to him a crimimality not to be distinguished from sedition. It is proved by all the witnesses for the Crown—it is proved by those witnesses for the panel to whom any credit is due—it is [. by his own declarations, which cannot e heard without pity for his folly, and indignation for his impiety, that he is a political preacher. To all who have paid attention to the progress of the trial, it must be clear that he has been in the habit of arraigning, in his discourses, the measures of government, and of infusing among his hearers political dissatisfaction. I say, that this general conduct is most dangerous, criminal, and seditious, whether occurring in a sectarian like the panel, or in a minister of the establishment. In a sectarian like the panel, it is more dangerous, because he is liable to no ecclesiastical superintendance and jurisdiction. Such conduct, indeed, might lead to doubts as to the expedience of that unlimited toleration which the benignity of our constitution confers. In the one case or the other, I repeat it, it is a prostitution and malversation of one of the most important duties of civil society. That the panel and all Christian pastors ought to pray for the prosperity of the land in which he lives—that he should pray for tranquillity and good order—that he should pray for all sorts and conditions of men—that he should pray for his majesty, as the first and highest personage in the land—that, above all, he should earnestly pray, that this venerated person, who is followed into his retirement by the reverential sympathy and tenderness of all his subjects, should be relieved from the calamity with which he is afflicted, are essential arts of his duty. But, beyond this, all is for§. ; and the arraignment of present public measures, and the discussion of daily politics, is equally a criminal departure from his duty as a Christian pastor, and from his duty as a British subject. That a general criminality characterises his conduct in these respects, no man can doubt. But, besides all this, the evidence of particular offence is not slight. That he did presume to draw a parallel between Nebuchadnezzar and our sacred sovereign, admits not of a doubt. Such a parallel was most criminally imprudent and indiscreet. Of this fact there can be no dispute; but there does exist some obscurity as to the extent to which that parallel was drawn. The witnesses for the Crown prove that it was drawn to the utmost length of the Scripture history. The witnesses for the panel say that it was not drawn to any improper effect—some of them say that it was drawn partially—some of them say that it was onl drawn as to the duration of the infirmity . which the Babylonish king was by the special visitation of Heaven afflicted. But I do affirm,
that it was impossible to draw any parallel– it was impossible to allege a single point of resemblance, between his most sacred majesty and the personage mentioned in Scripture, without seditious criminality. Whether the cause, nature, or duration of that awful infirmity be referred to, it was impossible, without criminality, even in the most remote degree, to insinuate the resemblance or parallel. If the resemblance was placed on the duration of the infirmity, what was it? It was till his heart returned to his God—it was till “he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men.” Who is there with the heart of a Christian, or with the loyalty of a British subject, that can dare to impute the resemblance? With regard to the libel against the House of Commons, there is some contradiction in the evidence. The witnesses for the Crown do certainly say that the panel did use, towards that branch of the constitution, the expressions charged in the indictment, or something of similar meaning. It is proved by his own declaration that he discussed the merits of that Ilouse in a way not favourable to its character; and the witnesses whom he has adduced in defence do not give such an explanation as to exculpate him. They say that he mentioned the expressions narrated in the indictment as having been uttered in that House by some of its members, in stating the manner in which seats in it were acquired. There are many things, however, reported to be declaimed within the walls of parliament, which would be sedition if uttered any where else; and the most wicked and seditious libels might in this manner be disseminated with impunity, if such a justification were sufficient. t is impossible, therefore, to hold the panel as guiltless. Even if he had been a layman, he would have been criminal, and much more is he culpable as a clergyman, enjoying the free exercise of teaching religion to his fellowsubjects, and professing to teach a religion of which the characteristic is charity. Notwithstanding these circumstances, however, I am satisfied that the proof has fallen short of what I expected at the institution of this trial. In some part of the charge the evidence is not sufficiently certain and explicit: in some part of the charge there is room to doubt if i. be not some misunderstanding in the witnesses for the Crown; and in one Fo of the charge there is no evidence at all. n one particular, perhaps, the evidence for the panel has afforded something like an explanation of a suspicious circumstance, although the greater part of the evidence led in his behalf exhibits a degree of tutoring and j. not in favour of its credibility. ut, on the whole, I am clear that the evidence is not such as to be pressed on a jury, and in this opinion my inclination and official duty coincide. I submit to you, that while a verdict of Not Guilty cannot be reconciled with the evidence, the proper return for you to give is that of Not Provem.
Mr. Jeffrey. —After what you have now heard, I should think myself greatly to blame if I were to detain you with many words. Now that the prisoner at the bar is safe, unquestionably my great anxiety is removed. At the same time, I cannot help regretting, that my learned and honourable friend, who has made, on the whole, such an use of the evidence as is to the credit of his sagacity and candour, did not carry his liberality a little further; for had he only said, as I think he must have felt, that you should find a verdict of Not Guilty, instead of a verdict of Not Proven, I should not have been called on to address you at all. But, feeling that the prisoner is entitled to be freed altogether from the grievous charges in the indictment, I must trouble you with a very few remarks. No doubt there is some contrariety on the face of the evidence. The witnesses for the Crown, you will recollect, said, but with the utmost hesitation, that their impression was, that certain words were used, which, if you could fully believe to have been used, would undoubtedly have attached blame—and blame of considerable magnitude—to the prisoner. But even if that evidence had stood uncontradicted, the singular hesitation and uncertainty of their statements, and the manifest bias which some of them had obviously received from the character of their employment, do so affect their testimony, that you could never, upon the strength of it, think for a moment of touching the liberty of a fellow subject. But, when you take into consideration the facts disclosed in the evidence for the prisoner, it appears to me that you can have no hesitation in finding him not guilty of the charges preferred against him. In saying this, I am free to state, that I have no inclination, and I feel great satisfaction that I am not obliged, to impeach the veracity of any of the witnesses you have heard this day. But the witnesses for the Crown were one and all substantially strangers to the preacher, and altogether unaccustomed to his manner, which, as you have heard, is so rapid and peculiar, as to render him nearly unintelligible to those to whom it is not familiar. Our witnesses, on the other hand, were all persons who were in the habit of attending his ministry. Some of them had been many months his hearers, and were quite familiar with the general strain of his remarks; and passages difficult to be followed by others, on account of the preacher's peculiarity of style, or infirmity of organs, were to them perfectly plain and intelligible. If, then, there had been any discrepancy in the evidence as to what he said on the occasion in question, those who understood the language he employed were, beyond all doubt, the best judges of what was meant by him when he may have been obscure and unintelligible to, or misunderstood by strangers. But independently of this altogether, it is a circumstance, in this case, quite overwhelming and decisive, that the persons whom we ad
duced as witnesses knew perfectly what was
the general strain and tone of this gentleman's olitical observations. All of them were his earers the whole time libelled on, and for many months before and afterwards, down to the period when he was apprehended. They were all familiar with the character of his topics, and the tone, temper, and import of his observations. Can you, then, hesitate to believe this set of witnesses in preference to the other? Can you hesitate to believe those who heard and understood all he said, and who swear positively to the words he employed 2–and that too when their statement is precisely conformable to the strain that he had uniformly maintained for months and for years before? To hesitate between these two classes of witnesses would be to hesitate between the report of persons who understood a language, and persons who had but a smattering of it; or to construe an ambiguous expression without any reference to the general scope of the composition in which it occurred. Some of the witnesses for the Crown went to Mr. Douglas's church in order to discover whether he uttered any thing improper or seditious; and is it to be supposed that for them he abandoned his usual course? It is proved that he had been accustomed to pray for, and to speak in favour of, the prince regent, and the royal family, for a long time before; and the persons who were quite aware, by previous experience, of the nature of his sentiments, language, and delivery, all speak positively as to what took place on that occasion, and on all other occasions. Their evidence, therefore, must completely annihilate and swallow up the contrary evidence; and that without supposing any malice or intentional mis-statement on the part of the witnesses for the Crown, some of whom were perfect strangers to Mr. Douglas, and others were sent to hear him with their minds biassed by the magistrates. I am not saying that it was improper to send them, but the errand upon which they were sent was an unpleasant one,
and must naturally have biassed their minds.
The subject at which Mr. Douglas had arrived, in the course of his lectures, was the mental derangement and subsequent restoration of Nebuchadnezzar, and the incurable E. of his successor. Could any thing e more natural than for my client, when talking of the unhappy malady of that ancient sovereign, to be struck with what had happened to our own sovereign, and at one and the same time to draw a parallel between their situations, and a contrast between their characters—between the infidelity of Nebuchadnezzar and the piety of our king? He thought it fair and reasonable to point out what was similar in their situations and different in their characters. Is it necessary to suppose that, because he remarked a conformity in one point between Nebuchadnezzar and our sovereign, he maintained that this conformity. existed as to all points? You have it proved, by abundance of testimony that Mr. Douglas ontertained the most loyal sentiments towards his sovereign, and that he fervently prayed for him three times a-day—that he expressed loyal sentiments in loyal language. It is proved he expressed a wish that our sovereign, Iike Nebuchadnezzar, might be relieved from his sufferings, and that the glories of his closing life might be greater than those of his early days. Is it in any respect unusual or improper, that a minister of the gospel should make such an improvement and application of these remarkable events? But, at the same time, is there anything more likely than that persons coming with a prepossession that they were to hear sedition, and finding a parallel drawn between Nebuchadnezzar and the sovereign of this country, should fall into the mistake of thinking, that the parallel extended to the whole history, and that when the preacher represented Nebuchadnezzar as cast down from the throne on account of his infidelity and sins, he made the same statement with regard to our king ! The witnesses do not even pretend to remember the words which he used; and they plainly have no right to give their impressions instead of his words. They have an impression; but they did not remark, or do not recollect what was said. It is evident, therefore, that they are not giving testimony as to facts, but pronouncing judgment upon facts which they do not know. They are usurping your province, without any evidence before them; and even if they were entitled to go upon vague impressions without any distinct recollection, they should have been aware that it was impossible not to commit mistakes, prepossessed as they were, and exposed to the incalculable disadvantage of not hearing distinctly the words which were uttered. The same observations apply to all the other parts of the case. As to the House of Commons.—This gentleman's sentiments are no doubt in favour of reform in the Commons' House of Parliament. But he thought this reform should be set about only by constitutional means; and he had frequently taken occasion to exhort his hearers to abstain from violence. He was a friend to petitioning; but he stated that a prayer to God would have more effect than a body of armed men. I really cannot think that persons who advocate the cause of reform by such instruments and such means, are very dangerous reformers — or very fit objects for prosecution. The whole strain of the evidence for the Crown is of the same nature upon that part of the indictment which relates to the administration of the law. The witnesses may have supposed he was talking of the administration of the law of this country, when he was speaking of other countries where it is notorious that men have been treated with injustice, and have been judicially murdered. One memo
rable proof of his sentiments in regard to the teristic of a good citizen.
administration of the law in this country was
detailed to you in evidence. This reverend person was afflicted in his old age, by the misconduct and public arraignment of his son at this bar. He went, for the first time in his life, into a court of justice, to support his unhappy boy on that occasion; and coming home with lacerated feelings upon the event of the trial, he showed the healing effect of religion and patriotism; and, bowing under the dispensation of God, kissed the rod of divine chastisement, and next paid a tribute to the justice of the country, by which the liberties and lives of his majesty's subjects are guarded, and by which no person can be convicted without convincing proof of his guilt. In the course of that trial, being impressed with the solemnity and cautiousness of the proceedings, and with the impartiality and mercy with which the criminal law is administered in this tribunal, he took the earliest opportunity of delivering an encomium upon that law, under which he was then suffering in his feelings as a parent, on account of the ignominy and disgrace of his unhappy child. In these circumstances, I say, he is entitled to a complete verdict of not guilty under this . indictment: and I am persuaded, and think you must feel, that no issue can be attended with such good effects, or can be so likely to promote love of the constitution,-love of the law,-and duty to the sovereign, as that which shall send him home again to testify in favour of that law under which his son fell, and by which he is saved. It will be your duty to send him back with his character untainted, and his voice unimpaired, to praise more loudly than ever the blessings of that constitution under which he lives, and to inspire worthy and favourable sentiments on this subject into his hearers, who are stated to form a pretty numerous congregation. And here I must take leave to intimate my dissent from what was said as to the duties of the clergy of this country. It is their first and appropriate office, no doubt, to teach the doctrines of religion and morality; but it is their privilege and function also to allude to our duties to government, as well as to those we owe our neighbours. In those cases especially, in which the hearers are indebted for all the information they receive to their attendance in church, there would be something wanting, if, besides the exhortations and spiritual advice which are afforded, allusions were not occasionally made to the public duties of the people, as well as to their other moral and religious obligations. In the political sentiments of the defendant, affection for the constitution has always been the leading feature; and it is clear, from his whole discourses and character, that he was not given to disguise or concealment of any kind. The whole of his discourses have been remarkable for their loyalty, and respect for the constitution as by law established, and were such indeed as to be in all points charac
You have no ground for hesitation, therefore, I conceive, in your verdict; and you will not do justice, if you do not send Mr. Douglas home with his reputation altogether unstained: which you can do in no other way than by a verdict acquitting him entirely of the charges, and pronouncing him not guilty.
Lord Justice Clerk.-I am extremely happy, that from the course this trial has taken, you are relieved from all anxiety with regard to the result. The Solicitor-general has stated, that he cannot ask you to find a verdict of guilty against the panel as to any part of the charges contained in the indictment. The only question for you to decide, on considering all that has taken place, is, whether you are entitled to express in the verdict your opinion that the prisoner is not guilty of the charges, by which you will free him from all blame, or whether you must limit yourselves to finding that the charges are not proven. In such a case, I should deviate from my duty, were I to say more than that the issue is in your hands, and that you will return that verdict which in your consciences you think right.
The jury retired; and, after a few minutes consideration, they returned an unanimous verdict of Not Guilty.
Lord Justice Clerk.-Gentlemen, I am happy to relieve you of any further attendance.
Neil Douglas, in consequence of the verdict which a jury of your country has returned, pronounoing you not guilty of the crime of sedition charged against you in this indictment, it is now the duty of the Court to assoilzie you simpliciter, and to dismiss you from the bar.
It must always be a satisfaction to the Court, when the circumstances of any case are such as to warrant a verdict of not guilty. I congratulate you upon that verdict; but, at the same time, I feel it my duty to state to you, that, if you consider your interest in future, you will, in the discharge of your sacred functions, be careful in the selection of your topics. Notwithstanding the verdict which ...”. returned, I cannot at all commend the taste which you have shewn in selecting the subjects upon which you have been accustomed to dilate. I trust and hope, however, that you will see the propriety in future of selecting only those passages in Holy Writ, which, while they enable you to discharge your sacred functions to your God, may not give rise to comments susceptible of such a construction, as to lead hearers, even by mistake, to suppose that you utter or inculcate seditious sentiments.
Neil Douglas, attend to the interlocutor of the Court upon the verdict now to be read.
“The Jury, by the mouth of James Dundas their chancellor, find the said Neil Douglas, panel, Not Guilty.
“The Lord Justice Clerk and Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, in respect of the verdict above recorded, assoilzie the panel simpliciter, and dismiss him from the bar. “D. Borle, I. P. D.”
Neil Douglas.-I cannot refrain from declaring, before I leave this Court, that I have a high regard for his majesty and for the royal family, and I pray that every Briton may have the same. I return you and the whole Court and Jury cordial thanks for this decision.
702. The whole Proceedings on the Trial of ARTHUR THISTLEwood", for High Treason, before the Court holden under a Special Commission, for the Trial of certain Offences therein
James Gordon, esq. J. W. Horsley, esq. W. Anderson, esq. W. Venning, gent. William Parry, esq. Stephen Taylor, esq. John Booth, esq.
Lord Chief Justice Abbott.—Gentlemen of the Grand Inquest; we are assembled in this place under the authority of his majesty's special commission, issued for the purpose of inquiring into and hearing and determining certain offences therein particularly mentioned: These offences are, First, all High Treasons, except such as relate to the coin : Secondly, Misprisions of Treason : Thirdly, The murder of one Richard Smithers, deceased, and any other crime or offence touching the death of that person: Fourthly, All offences against the persons of Frederick Fitz-Clarence, William Legg, James Ellis. John Surman, William Westcoatt, William Charles Brooks, John Muddock, and Benjamin Gill, or any of them, contrary to the form of an Act passed in the 43rd year of the reign of his late majesty, for (amongst other things) the further prevention of malicious shooting and attempting to discharge loaded firearms, stabbing, cutting, and wounding. It is my present duty to offer to your consideration some remarks upon each of these subjects, for your assistance in the exercise of the important functions that will presently devolve upon you, when bills of indictment shall be laid before you. The particular kinds of Treason, to which it may be proper for me to call your attention, are in part to be found in the ancient Statute of the 25th year of the reign of King Edward the Third, and in part in a Statute, passed for very wise purposes, in the reign of his late majesty." By the former of these Statutes, it is declared to be Treason, if a man do com}. or imagine the death of our lord the ing; or if a man do levy war against our lord the King in his realm. By the latter Statute it is enacted, That if any person shall, within the realm or without, comass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend, eath or destruction, or any bodily harm tending to death or destruction, maim or wounding, imprisonment or restraint of the person of our lord the King ; or to deprive or depose him from the style, honour, or kingly name of the imperial crown of this realm, or of any other his majesty's dominions or countries; or to levy war against his majesty within this realm, in order by force or constraint to compel him to change his measures or counsels; or in order to put any force or constraint upon or overawe both Houses
* Stat. 36. G. 3rd, c. 7.
or either House of Parliament; every person so offending shall be deemed and adjudged to be a Traitor. You will have observed that in the several descriptions of offence which I have enumerated (except the levying war mentioned in the ancient Statute) the crime is made to consist in the compassing, imagination, or intention (which are all words of the same import) to perpetrate the acts, and not in the actual perpetration of them. But it is further required, by the ancient Statute, that the party accused of high Treason shall be thereof proveably attainted of open deed; and by the modern Statute, that the party shall express, utter, or declare his intention, by publishing some printing or writing, or by some overt act or deed. The law has thus wisely provided (because the public safety requires it), that in cases of this kind, which manifestly tend to the most extensive public evil, the intention shall constitute the crime; but the law has at the same time with equal wisdom provided (because the safety of individuals requires it), that the intention shall be manifested by some act tending towards the accomplishment of the criminal object. Before the passing of the late Statute it had been settled, by several cases actually adjudged, and by the opinions of the textwriters on this branch of the law, that all attempts to depose the King from his royal state and title, to restrain his person, or to levy war against him, and all conspiracies, consultations and agreements for the accomplishment of these objects, were overt acts of compassing and imagining the death of the King. By this Statute, the compassing or intending to commit these acts—that is, to depose his majesty, to restrain his person, or to levy war against him for the purposes that I have mentioned —is made a substantive treason; and thereby the law is rendered more clear and plain, both to those who are bound to obey it, and to those who are engaged in the administration of it. It may be proper for me to add, that it has been established, in the like manner, that the pomp and circumstances of military array, such as usually attend regular warfare, are by no means necessary to constitute an actual levying of war, within the true meaning of the ancient Statute. Insurrections and risings for the purpose of effecting, by force and numbers—however ill-arranged, provided or organized—any innovation of a public nature, or redress of supposed public grievances, in which the parties had no special or particular interest or concern, have been deemed instances of the actual levying of war; and, consequently, to compass or imagine such an insurrection, in order, by force and numbers, to compel his majesty to