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that sueh a destructive power in the managers 1 table, it passed in the negative." And anof paper money, would ever have existed, if other from the inhabitants of Delph was prethe members of the House of Commons had sented ; [reads] “ Aud a motion being made, been the real representatives of the people, and the question being put, that the said petiinstead of being, as they notoriously are, the tion do lie upon the table, it passed in the mere tools of an ever-grasping and tyrannical negative." Oligarchy of boroughmongers; that it is in On the 31st January, a petition from the vain to liope for any real remedy, for any solid town of Halifax was presented and read, settand substantial relief, except through the means ing forth, [reads] "It is now notorious that of such a reform in the Commons or people's the people of this kingdom do experience House of Parliament as shall ensure to the Aagrant wrongs and great misfortunes, bepeople the speaking of their will through the cause their birthright of making their own laws means of representatives, annually chosen by has, through the decay of ancient boroughs, as all men who have attained the age of twenty- well as through fraud and usurpation, been one years, seeing that all men pay taxes, and taken from them; for it is universally known that all men have lives and liberties to pro- that the nation are not represented in the tect-Ordered that the said petition do lie on House; in this complication of decay, injustice, the table."
and wrong, in this ruin of the constitution, On the same day, a petition from the town- whereby the people have been defrauded of ship of Quick was presented and read, but it the self-preserving power of making, through appears to have contained expressions which real representatives, their own laws, the were deemed offensive, for [reads from the House must see the causes of which all the Votes] “a motion being made, and the ques- present calamities of our country' are the eftion being put, that the said petition do lie fects : here, and here only, the cause of war, upon the table, it passed in the negative." here the cause of public debt, here the cause
On the same day, the address and petition of an intolerable taxation.—The law, through of the town of Oldham was presented and read, the resistless power of those who have usurped in which are the following expressions : [reads] the seats in the House, assumes a severity re" In the midst of all these calamities, the mi-volting to humanity, and is carried into exenisters, in conjunction with an unconstitutional cution by the bayonet; wherefore the petiand corrupt House of Commons, have pro- tioners feel it to be their duty to protest against ceeded to vote away a great part of the public that corrupt and factious usurpation of seats in money to superfluous and unnecessary pur: the House, by which all freedom is destroyed, poses, the whole of which evils the petitioners and our unhappy country is threatened with ascribe to the want of a real, unbiassed, free, convulsión, slavery, or subjugation; for in a lawful, and annual election of the members of usurpation which inflicts on the whole comthe Commons House of Parliament; instead munity taxation without representation, nought of which, the petitioners see, in that House; but despotism can be discovered." by peers and other boroughmongers, hundreds “ A petition of the there-undersigned inhaof its seats usurped; that numbers more of bitants of the town and neighbourhood of those seats, through the gross venality of mo- Halifax, in Yorkshire, was also presented and nopolizing corporators, are notoriously bought read; containing the same allegations and and sold, and a large portion of the members prayer as the last preceding petition.-And the of that House, who ought only to sit there as said petitions were ordered to lie upon the representatives of the people, are, nevertheless, table." placemen and pensioners of the crown, and There are many other petitions which I may receive, in salaries and emoluments, upwards read couched in equally strong language. of 200,0001. a-year out of the taxes; wherefore the petitioners feel it to be their duty to
Mr. Clerk.- I think enough has been read, protest against that corrupt and factious usurp- and we need not fatigue the Court and the ation of seats in that House, by which freedom jury. is destroyed, and our once happy country threatened with slavery, starvation, convul- March I see there are several petitions received
Mr. Grant.-Particularly on the 12th of sions, and ruin; for, in an usurpation which in the same terms with the petition from itifficts on the whole community taxation with
Halifax. out representation, nought but despotism can be discovered, nought but ruin can proceed. Mr. Clerk.-This is but a specimen of the And the said petitions were ordered to lie petitions which have been sent to, and received upon the table."
by parliament. Such
are not, indeed, petitions Immediately after which, it appears that which the House of Commons is disposed to (reads] "A petition from Ashton-under-Line grant. But the privilege to think and talk on was presented and read, containing the same these matters, to take advice about them, to allegations and prayer as the petition of the hold meetings about them, and to make them inhabitants of the township of Quick, which the subjects of speeches, resolutions, and pewas this day presented to the House. And a titions, unquestionably belongs to the people motion being made, and the question being of this country. The right of petitioning is so put, that the said petition do lie upon the sacred, that the most overbearing and arbi
trary administrations have never proposed to friend of order, and a habitual respecter restrict it altogether. You will pause, then, of authority. before you pronounce a verdict, which, as thé
John STRATHERN, wright. public prosecutor demands it, would, in terms
JAMES ALEXANDER, sen. weaver: almost direct, be a verdict against the right of
Join Buntin, weaver. petitioning: for the same argument that has
Wm. Howie, builder. been urged against the panel would apply
Geo. Suti, grocer. against speeches relative to petitions com
John PAXTON, brewer. plaining of any other public abuses, if the
JAMES CRAIG, weaver. distresses of the people should be never so
James Buntin, shoemaker. great-abuses against which no remedy could be looked for but by petitioning the legislature, Mr. Jeffrey.-You are aware, gentlemen, and stating the grievances in the language of that it is now my duty to address you on the truth. Were such a pestilence to be intro part of the other panel; and, after what you duced in this part of the island, as prosecu- have already heard, and the ample opportunity tions to subvert the right of petitioning, the you have had to consider the whole of the eviconsequences would indeed be calamitous. dence during the trial, I flatter myself I shall The right of petitioning, so tenaciously held be able to discharge this duty without enby our ancestors, may be still more necessary croaching much longer on your time. I wish, to our posterity. The present case ought not first, to address a word or two to you on the to have been prosecuted, even if the words | facts of the case, and to lay before you, in had been more ioflammatory than they are. a detached form, those that relate to this It has no resemblance to a case of sedition. panel, Thomas Baird-after which I must In the case of Muir,* and a variety of others, irouble you with a few words on what I conin which men were tried and punished for ceive to be their reasonable and legal import. sedition, a wicked purpose was always clearly It is one comfort in this case, surrounded as established, and the accused had no pretence it is with discomforts and anxieties, that with for saying that they looked toward the legis- regard to the facts, there can be no reasonable lature for the accomplishment of their objects. doubt in your minds; nor am I aware, indeed, The moment that such a bona fide purpose is that upon this part of the subject there is any in view, tabe subject has a right to express bis great contradiction between the opposite sides opinion, and he cannot be subjected to punish of the bar. And, therefore, I shall give buta ment for it. If he could be punished, the slight abridgement of the facts, separating right of petition would be at an end.
those which apply to this individual, the truth Gentlemen, the panel is a person of irre- and import of which I do not conceive liable proachable character, and his former history, to any question. and in particular the loyalty and public spirit You will remember, it has been put in evi. of his conduct on all occasions, leave no room dence before you, that he is a man in a good for any presumption that be would be inclined condition in life, which is denoted, indeed, by 10 seditious practices.
his appearance. lle is in reality a most re
spectable person, who had long resided in the [Mr. Clerk then read the following certi- town, among whose citizens he had taken an ficates :)
active part on this occasion ; and, even in the Kilmarnock, 2nd April, 1817.
judgment of those who differed from him in This is to certify, that Alexander their official situation, had the power and the
opinion on political subjects, and who, from M‘Laren has resided in my house as a lodger for the space of seven years against wrong, he was universally esteemed incapable
duty to prevent him from committing any May next, behaving himself soberly and of harbouring evil intentions against the con. honestly, free from wrangling or quarrel- stitution. He was entrusted with military and ling, and as a loyal subject, speaking civil offices, which are only committed to respectfully of government, and all other known and tried hands. He is past the early rulers in their different stations, so far as
period of youth, when great imprudence may is known to me. JOHN STRATHERN, wright.
take place, notwithstanding principles gene
rally correct. He has a young family deKilmarnock, 2nd April, 1817.
pendent on him for their subsistence; and This is to certify, ihat Mr. Alexander for its success on his good character and
earns his livelihood by a trade which depends MʻLaren has resided in Kilmarnock for conduct. It has been proved that his general upwards of eight years, and has been several years in habits of intimacy with the that he has been in the habit of communicating
conduct is not only correct but exemplary, and undersigners; and during that time, to the utmost of our knowledge, has behaved and discussing his opinions on politics with a in a sober and peaceable manner; at all variety of persons who did not concur in those times has been a loyal subject, a firm from being less known in the town, could not
opinions; and therefore, while the other panel,
have his character so generally spoken to, we 2 How. Mod. St. Tr. 117.
who have been entrusled with the defence of
Baird, and who being less circumscribed in unless criminal intention be clearly and unthis respect, could afford to make a selection answerably established against him. The legal of our witnesses, have purposely abstained presumption of innocence, in such a ease, from taking the evidence of those who con- amounts almost to a moral certainty. curred in his political sentiments, or bringing In this situation, Mr. Baird, placed as he one reformer to testify in favour of another, was in the heart of a manufacturing district, and have thought it better to take the evidence could not fail to be a spectator of very general of those only who were naturally ivfluenced and very deplorable misery. A sharer in it he by opposite motives and principles.
must also have been in some degree, as all You heard from them that this person has persons must be who are connected with the always been remarkable for the frankness with sale of commodities from which purchasers are which he delivered his opinions; and that, gradually withdrawing. Although the causes even when expressing them with the heat and of the general distress did not so immediately exaggeration inseparable from such discussions or directly affect him, yet he heard and witamong parties who do not agree, they always nessed those clamours and complaints, which appeared to them perfectly innocent and fair. certainly, in this part of the island, have not Browne, Wyllie, and Miller, from profession hitherto broken out into those rather compasand situation the most figuring men in the sionable than criminal excesses, to which the town, and the most notoriously adverse to any infirmity of human nature, rather than the machange in the established order of things, all | lignity of individuals, or of any class of the say he uniformly maintained such language as people, may be hurried in seasons of such unimpressed their minds with a conviction that precedented calamity. He could not help he was strongly and decidedly attached to the hearing those complaints, and listening to the constitution of this empire, though he wished remedies which were proposed for those evils; for a reform in the Commons House of Parlia- and it appears, that he concurred in the opiment: that he was a mild person, and of a nion which some persons have held - and he character incapable of exciting, in any way, confessed it to all with whom he had occasion any degree of disorder or discontent against to converse-that a great part of the evils arose government.
from a defect in one of the great bodies of the I am aware, that a good moral character is legislature—from want of due communion of not in general an answer to a charge of crime, sentiment between the body of the people, and if there is distinct proof of its having been those whose function it is to express their committed on any particular occasion; and sentiments, and watch over their interests. that an allegation by the prosecutor of a wrong That he entertained such an opinion, there is committed by a person whose moral character no doubt. Not going so far, perhaps, as thinkpreviously stood uptainted, will, if supported ing that a reform in the representation of the by positive evidence, lead to the punishment people would remove the evils then existing, of that person, notwithstanding such previous he, in common with many persons, was of good character. But I submit to you, that in opinion, that it might tend at least to prevent a trial like this, depending mainly on the their recurrence. He certainly did favour the question, whether the panel harboured a professed object of the meeting, and in this, wicked, felonious, and seditious purpose, if his guilt began, it also ended. He undisor, if he did not barbour such purpose in its guisedly gave his countenance to a general obvious and naked form, whether he was meeting for petitioning the three branches of chargeable with that disregard of the safety of the legislature, for redress of grievances, and his neighbour, or that recklessness as to con reform of the Commons House of Parliament. sequences, which, in the eye of law, is consi- His conduct in this particular was worthy of dered a moral wrong, and punished as wicked the sincerity with which it was dictated. Asand felonious :-I say, in a case in which every sociated with some others whom you have thing depends on this; where the matter is in- seen, they agreed as to the propriety or extrinsically of a doubtful nature ; where it is a pediency of encouraging this method of proquestion whether a person has gone beyond a ceeding; and at the same time, they deterpardonable vivacity of discussion, and ven mined not to take this step of calling a meeting tured to use language which the law holds to for petitioning the legislature, if it was opbe demonstrative evidence of improper pur- posed, or likely to produce any opposition, in pose--if, in these circumstances, you find a an official form, on the part of the local maman standing in such a situation as the panel gistrates. Accordingly Mr. Baird, as one of --not templed to expose himself to public the most respectable of the committee (all of view-not gifted with powers of eloquence-whom seem to have been cool persons enough no way accustomed or inclined to try his when the heat of the action was over, and the talents in that way—carrying on a thriving field deserted), waited on the proyost; and trade, which he has no disposition to leave the provost told you, that though he disapand standing comparatively uninjured, while proved of the meeting, he did not think he others around him were on the verge of ruin had power to prevent it. He seems actually -of peaceable habits—of moderate political, to have gone out of town when it took place : principles--under such circumstances, I say, so far was he from thinking there was apy, you are bound to presume for his innocence; danger to be apprehended : and he was justis
fied in his opinion from the result--there was, is not the least vestige of any desire to have vo tendency to tumult or disorder.
the work read or admired, either for mischief . At that meeting, Mr. Baird, no doubt, at- or glory. The only object was to get a small tended. He was there and heard the speeches number sold ; and accordingly they seem all that were delivered ; some of which, undoubt- to have been sold — without so much as a edly, contain very indecorous and improper single copy having been given away. Mr. expressions -expressions which it may have Baird, into whose hands, as one of the combeen preposterous to utter at a meeting con- mittee of the petitioners, a number of the vened for lawful and constitutional purposes. copies were impressed, got rid of them, it is But if persons go to such a meeting at all, they true, with more facility iban another man who may expect that preposterous expressions will was examined to-day did of his copies. But be used, on both sides, perhaps, of the ques. this was merely because he keeps a well-fretion. But is a man to be punished for sedi- quented shop, not because he was in any way tion, if he accidentally hear seditious language zealous for their circulation. The nature of employed by another person? Not only was Mr. Baird's trust and management in the the measure of calling a meeting for petitioning business were proved to you by his own shopperfectly lawful in itself, but the behaviour of man, and his own declaration; and it has those who attended seems to have been orderly, been proved, that if he got rid of every one decent and exemplary. I do not know whether copy he was possessed of, shopmanlike he your views concur with those of Mr. Baird, exacted his groat for every one of them which but thinking as he did on the subject, he acted he sold. The printer said that about 400 properly. It is to be taken for granted, copies were printed. Some remained in the that the petitioners were sincere in their opi- hands of members of the committee who did nion, and that in taking those measures, they not get them sold. They were not sold to thought they would be of great effect in pro- booksellers; because the petitioners could not ducing good.
afford to pay booksellers' commission : they At that meeting, then, Mr. Baird did not were sold for a particular purpose, which I speak. He heard the speeches in question,- have specified, and were sold in the cheapest but as that could not, of course, taint him with way. Some of them were sold in a grocer's guilt, I am sure you will go along with me in shop, where they might be of use to wrap up thinking, that up to this point there was no goods that were purchased; other members of thing culpable in his conduct; and therefore the committee, however, could not sell their the very beginning and ending of the crimi- copies, because they could not, perhaps, be of nality imputed to him consists in his having such immediate use to the purchasers. afterwards (I cannot say, concurred, but) sub You see the nature of this transaction, then, mitted to a resolution forced on him by the and you must now be aware that it is conmajority of those persons, with whom he was formable to the statement which was given of associated, in an application to parliament, for it at the beginning. Mr. Baird took do step having these orations printed, 'in a full, true disconformable to his general character of a and particular account of the whole proceed- quiet, modest, honest, well-disposed, good ings. This we stated in the outset; and it man; he made no speeches, but disapproved has been proved, without contradiction, by of various speeches and passages in speeches the testimony of a variety of witnesses. In (which fact has been fully made out), as harsh the examination of the several witnesses, no and offensive; and these are considerations indication ever appeared,—00 hint, even in which certainly are of importance in determinthe most distant manner, ever presented it. | ing whether he is guilty or not of sedition, as self,--that the publication of the speeches was charged against him in this indictment. made with a view that seditious doctrines These are the whole of the facts of this case; should be propagated, or that the contents of and you will be pleased to add to these facts the work should be studied by persons at a what is proved to you by the evidence, and distance. The publication is clearly proved which the dates and the documents themselves not to have had any such ambitious object; instruct, viz. that all this took place publicly. but to have been made in the humble view of It was known to his majesty's advocate, and securing a little paltry gain,-to defray the all the lieges, that this was done so long back expense of nailing up a few boards for the ac as December 1816; and you have seen that commodation of the orators, and providing a 400 copies of the publication were all that few sheets of gilt paper for three or four peti- were printed. I do not think you will imagine tions to be transmitted to the Prince Regent it is very likely the authors and printers exand the Houses of Parliament.
pected a great sale. None of the authors were It occurred to the petitioners, that the only much known in the literary world, and none of means for defraying this heavy expense was to them, I think, professed themselves to be print an account of their proceedings,—that politicians. The object was to sell copies to among their neighbours, whether those who the curious country gentlemen and the gossips agreed with them, or were opposed to them in the neighbourhood. It was reasonable to in political opinions, they might sell as many think, too, that some people might have this copies as might raise the sum which was curiosity, who were prevented by the weather wanted. Through the whole transaction there from gratifying it, by attending at the meeting;
for you will recollect, that the speeches were must be imputed to a man of sense and eha.
the offence for which it threatens the accused
party, the temptations to which he was exWe come now to consider what is the im- posed,his whole conduct before and after the port of the facts in this case, and what is the time he committed the acts,—the general and verdict
, you ought this night to pronounce on well-known complexion of the times when the the person, whose character through life, and acts were done, are to be taken into considerwhose conduct upon one occasion, have been ation, in forming a judgment as to the intena detailed to you in evidence to-day: The Lion with which the acts were performed.question is, Whether the evidence to which I Such considerations cannot but afford evidence have referred is such as to compel you, con- of the purpose and intention, and in questrary to that general presumption of innocence tions with regard to almost all other crimes, wbich law establishes for every accused per- this inference is generally so plain and neces-son,-contrary to that special presumption of sary as to make the task of the Jury compainnocence which the whole tenor of the de- ratively easy. If a man aim a blow at another; fendant's life and conduct morally establishes and knock out his brains,-if a person break in bis favourg-whether that evidence, I say, in at night and rob a house, or if he forge a be such as to constrain you to pronounce that bill, and draw money for it from-a bank, it is his conduct upon this occasion originated in vain to say there is a necessity to bring evimalignant and diabolical purposes,-purposes, dence beyond the fact itself, to prove a maliga from the success of which he had everything nant purpose in the one case, or a purpose of to lose and nothing to gain, but was to be fraud in the other. But observe the charac merely an inglorious -stirrer up of sedition in ter of sedition as defined, or attempted to be the first instance, and a victim to its guilt and defined, by my learned friend, and, indeed, by insanity in the second. The question I say is, all the lawyers. I am not finding fault with Whether the evidence, goes to shew that sach my Lord Advocate for not properly defining is the character of his offence,--that such folly sedition, because it is one of the disadvaprages
attending such a case, that a sufficient and * Sec James Watson's Case, Vol. xxxii. p. 1. satisfactory definition is not to be easily found;