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“Of late years, thepanel, among many others, Defences for Thomas Baird, to the Indictment ‘lamented the distresses of the country, from at the instance of his Majesty's Advocate which he himself had severely suffered in his for the Crime of Sedition. situation and prospects. He therefore approved of the petitions, which were presented in
“ The panel denies that he is guilty of the
He was not a such numbers to his royal highness the Prince speaker at the meeting mentioned in the
crime charged against him. Regent, and the two Houses of parliament, the indictment, and neither spoke nor wrote any object of which was to obtain relief.
of the words there set forth. He also denies "A meeting was held near Kilmarnock in that he printed or published any of the said the month of December last, at which a great words; and if any circumstances shall be multitude of people attended, for the purpose proved tending to connect him with the publiof considering of the expediency of petitioning cation or sale thereof, he has no doubt, both his royal highness the Prince Regent and the from the tenor of the said words and the nature Houses of Parliament, upon the present dis- of his concern with them, that it will be tressed state of the country, and the subject apparent that he is entirely guiltless of the of parliamentary reform. The panel was prescrime bere charged. sent at that meeting, and made a short speech, not in the terms alleged in the libel,
“ Under protestation to add and eik.
“ F. JEFFREY. but in other terms, which appeared to him
« H. COCKBURN, to be warranted by law in such a
“ J. S. STEWART.” The meeting was afterwards addressed hy other persons ; certain resolutions were agreed to;
LIST OF EXCULPATOBY WITNESSES. petitions were drawn out, addressed to the Prince Regent, and to the two Houses of par David Ramsay Andrews, writer there.
John Andrews, chief magistrate of Kilmarnock. liament. These petitions having been signed by a great number of persons, were sent to
Walier Andrews, writer there. London and presented.
The petitions ad- Andrew Finnie, merchant there. dressed to the two Houses of Parliament were
James Johnstone, muslin agent there, presented, read, and ordered to lie on the table John Brown, writer there. of each house. In his speech, the panel did Bailie William Brown, manufacturer there. nothing more than lawfully recommend the John Willie, assessor of taxes there. said petitions: and he denies that he is guilty Robert Honvie
, merchant there. of the crime of sedition.
Thomas Murray, printer there. “The panel took no charge whatever of The Rev. James Kirkwood, relief minister there, printing the pamphlet produced with the libel; residing at Riccarton. and he finds that his own speech is inaccurately Lord Justice Clerk.-Have the counsel for reported. " It is an evident misconception, that such relevancy of this indictment?
state to the
the panels any objections to a speech, spoken at a lawful meeting for lawful purposes, was calculated to degrade and bring
Mr. Campbell.--I appear on behalf of the
It is not my into contempt the government and legisla- panel, Alexander M’Laren. ture, and to withdraw therefrom the confidence intention to state any objections to the relevancy and affections of the people, and fill the realm of the libel, but to explain to the Court and with trouble and dissentions. If there are Jury the nature of the concern which he had grievances or abuses, or such men as bad rulers, in the transactions now, brought before this or bad ministers, those who complain against Court. At the same time, it is proper I should them, or petition against them, do only exer- state, that we who are his counsel hold it to be cise their legal rights. The panel, while he the undoubted law-and law which has never was disposed to petition for redress of griev- been questioned in this part of the country, ances, was filled with the same reverence for that it is the province of the jury to consider the legislature and all its different branches, both the facts and the law of the case–that it and for the government of the country as
is for them to say whether the facts charged in established by law, that is impressed on the the indictment are proved in the course of the mind of every good subject.
trial, and if they find them proved, whether “ Under protestation to add and eik.
these facts do amount to the crime charged.
And that being the case, we hold that we are “ Join CLERK.
not deprived of the benefit of any pleas which “ J. P. GRANT.
we may afterwards maintain, by any interlo“ JAMES CAMPBELL."
cutor of relevancy now to be pronounced.
I conceive also, that in justice to the panel and in justice to the opposite side of the bar,
(who always meet me with liberality, and whom Hugh Wilson, weaver, Kilmarnock.
Ì wish to meet in the same manner), I should Jumes Samson, ditto, ditto.
at once and openly state the nature of the James Johnstone, muslin-agent there.
defence we intend to maintain, and should say John Kennedy, schoolmaster there.
something of the history and character of the John Blackwood, wool-spinner there.
LIST OF EXCULPATORY WITNESSES.
The panel, after learning the trade of a, legal meeting which they were entitled to weaver, in the county of Perth, went to hold : it was for a legal purpose; there was no Glasgow, where he continued a good many harm in going there; and every person was years.
He acted as assistant foreman in a entitled to state the grievances he felt, and in mercantile house, and during the whole of his a manner that might induce the meeting to engagement gave entire satisfaction to his take constitutional measures for what he conemployer. Seventeen years ago he entered ceived would bring them relief. The panel into the Highland corps of volunteers in that did not intend to take any part in the proceedcity, and soon rose to the rank of serjeant, and ings, nor to open the meeting as he did. But continued with the corps till it was disbanded, those persons who were to ha opened the and the volunteer associations were discou- proceedings, were not equal to the task when tinued. He next went to Kilmarnock, where the time came, and he was asked to undertake a great many weavers are occupied in working what was refused by the others. He went into for the manufacturers of Glasgow; and, at the a house in the neighbourhood, and hastily same time, he again gave his services to the threw upon paper some observations which he public, by entering into the local militia corps wished io submit to the meeting. He did adof that district, in which corps he continued dress the meeting, but he did not submit to it, down to 1812, when the period of its service -and there were not contained in that paperexpired. And not only was there no complaint what are cited as offensive expressions in the against him during all these periods, as a man last part of the indictment. either troublesome or quarrelsome, but he As to the passage about a corrupt adminismaintained in Kilmarnock, during the period tration, which is cited in the indictment, it was of nearly eight years during which he lived in the manuscript, but was not spoken in the there, a character remarkable for sober habits, field. I admit that the manuscript afterwards attachment to good order, and to the govern- went into the hands of the committee of the ment of the country; and last harvest, during petitioners, at the request of the committee, in a riot which occurred about a scarcity of meal, order to be printed in an account of the proso far was he from taking any part in the riot, ceedings, but he had no concern in printing that when a house was to be attacked, he put that account. himself forward along with two constables in With regard to the expressions which are order to protect the house. He enjoyed the charged as seditiously directed against the same decent, respectable, and good character, ! legislature, we shall satisfy the jury, and shall till this charge of sedition was brought against show your lordships, that giving them a fair him.
construction, they contain nothing in proper He does not deny that he attended the against any of the orders of the state, against meeting in December. His means of subsist- the King, the House of Lords, or House of ence, and those of his neighbours about him, Commons. In sound construction, the exhad been gradually declining. They had ar- pressions apply only to the administration for rived, before the period I speak of, at, 1 hope, the time, and every person at such a meeting their worst state of distress; for he worked is entitled, if he thinks it right, to attack the fifteen hours a day for 5s. a-week, although he is policy and conduct of ministers. I need not not only one of the best workmen, but so expert enter into the question, whether there has as to be able to execute the best work in the been mal-administration or not; but every shortest time. And I will prove, that other person feeling himself aggrieved is entitled to workmen who could execute as good work, state his grievances, and more particularly at but who were not so expert and expeditious as a meeting convened for the purpose of applymy client, were able to obtain only 38. a-week. ing to the legislature for redress. This will The panel admits that in this distress he began not be denied. And what was done in conseto think of the causes which had reduced his quence of this meeting, and of the speeches neighbours and himself from a condition in which were made there? Every thing was which they were prosperous and happy to a conducted in a regular and orderly manner; state in which they could scarcely gain the no injury was done to any property or to any means of subsistence; he confesses he came person; the only consequence of the meeting to be of opinion, that the evils were partly was, that three petitions were resolved on, one owing to the excessive taxation which had to the Prince Regent, another to the House of been imposed on the country; and he and Lords, and the third to the House of Commons; some others thought it right to call a meeting which last petition, when presented to that of the inhabitants of the place where he resided, House, was ordered to be brought up and to to consider the propriety of a petition to the lie on the table. This is proof that the petilegislature on the subject of their distress, its tions contained nothing that was offensive to causes, and what appeared to them to be the the Prince Regent, nothing seditious, nothing proper remedies.
offensive to the Houses of Parliament. Every They conceived, that to do this was their thing that resulted was legitimate and proper. undoubted right; and it will not be denied on Taking the whole circumstances into consithe opposite side of the bar, that such was deration, it clearly appears, that the first pastheir right. There is no charge in the indict- sage objected to, relates to the measures of ment that the meeting was illegal. It was a ministers; and I will prove even by witnesses
for the crown, that, so far was my client from the satisfaction of your lordships and the jury,
it should be necessary, we shall make out to employing any expressions disrespectful towards the head of the government, that he did that the language, even as stated in the indictquite the reverse, and spoke with the utmost ment, does not amount to sedition. respect of the Prince Regent.
Having stated thus much, I conceive I have This being the situation of the matter, and opened the nature of the defence we mean to my client having done nothing but what he plead, at sufficient length to make the oppowas entitled to do, we shall show that the lan- site side of the bar aware of the nature of our guage he used was no other than what he was defence, and I think it unnecessary to detain completely authorised to use. In numerous your lordships any longer. petitions to parliament, much stronger lan
Lord Justice Clerk.-It is a perfectly fair guage has been used, and found not only to
and distinct statement. be not seditious, but to be not disrespectful to the House. What was the language held when Mr. Jeffrey.-I appear here in behalf of Parliamentary Reform was first talked of at Thomas Baird. I suppose we are all agreed, the Thatched-house-tavern? In the second that it is the right and province of the jury to resolution of that meeting it was said, “ This take into consideration both the facts and the meeting, considering that a general application law of the case; first, to find whether the facts by the collective body to the Commons House libelled are proved; and then to judge of the of Parliament cannot be made before the close import of the facts so proved. We have no of the present session, is of opinion, that the desire to quash the trial in any preliminary sense of the people should be taken at such stage of the proceedings ; and, notwithstandtimes as may be convenient this summer, in ing some incorrect statements in the libel, as order to lay their several petitions before par- we do not wish to shrink from investigation, liament early in the next session, when their we shall not trouble your lordships with any proposition for a Parliamentary Reformation, preliminary objections to the relevancy. without which neither the liberty of the nation can I have little farther to state in addition to be preserved, nor the permanence of a wise and the written defences. Mr. Baird is a mervirtuous administration can be secured, may re- chant in Kilmarnock, and has always mainceive that ample and mature discussion which tained, not only an irreproachable but a reso momentous a question demands.” These spectable character in the estimation of both are strong terms, and imply, that, without re- his superiors and equals. He also has served formation in the representation of the people, his country in a military capacity, and held, the liberty of the subject is in danger; and if successively, commissions in different bodies there is any doubt as to the meaning of the of volunteers. In the last corps to which he passage, look to the letter written by Mr. Pitt was attached, he served down till the dissoluto Mr. Frost, in which it is said, that Reformtion of the volunteer system in 1813, when the " is essentially necessary to the independence allowances which had been given to them of parliament, and the liberty of the people.”+ were taken away; and his conduct, character, Down to this day strong language is always and sentiments, were always considered loyal, used in petitions on that subject and never respectable, and praiseworthy. objected to, except when the House of Com- He also had entertained ideas, the wisdom mons is denied to represent the people, or and propriety of which cannot here be made a matter is introduced against the Ilouse that is subject of discussion : But to what he consinot relevant to the object of the petition. dered as defects in the constitution, he wished
It has been laid down by constitutional to apply none but constitutional remedies. A lawyers and statesmen, by lord Thurlow, by spectator of the general distress around him, Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Fox, that where the language and a participator in it, he believed that the is expressive of the grievance, however strong evil was ascribable, at least in part, to a deit may be, it is justifiable. I therefore submit, fective representation in the Commons House that, as it is competent to put such language of Parliament; and he therefore thought it into a petition to parliament-as such lan- proper to present a respectful petition to the guage has not been held objectionable in the legislature on the subject. He attended the House of Commons, it cannot be considered public meeting which assembled for that puras seditious, or as tending to bring the legisla- pose; but he did not take any part in the disture into contempt. If such language is law- cussion, not being gifted with powers of ful in petitions to parliament, then it must be oratory, nor wishing to obtrude himself on the held lawful in the speeches and resolutions public notice. He did however attend the made at meetings preparatory to such peti- meeting, and he heard the speeches—which tions. For there would be an inconsistency were not so violent as they have been repreand absurdity in saying, that such language sented. might be lawfully used in a petition, which if Some expressions were at the time reproused in discussing whether it should be in- bated by him, as tending to throw an odium serted in the petition would be unlawful. If on the general cause of Reform; and after
wards, when it was determined that some 1 How. Mod. St. Tr. 493, note.
account of the proceedings should be published, + 1 How. Mod. St. Tr. 494, note.
and the orators gave in their speeches to the
committee for publication, he repeated his ob- throne, where sits our august prince, whose jections against printing several passages which gracious nature will incline his ear to listen to appeared to him to be improper ; but he was the cries of his people, which he is bound to overruled by a majority of the committee, who do by the laws of the country.” All this is wished a full pablication of the proceedings. extremely good; but what follows ? “But, As the funds of the petitioners were low, it should he be so infatuatod as to turn a deaf occurred to the committee that some small ear to their just petition, be has forfeited their pittance might be collected from the publica allegiance. Yes, my fellow-townsmen, in such tion, to defray the expenses necessary for the a case, to hell with our allegiance.” Is that not preparation of the petitions. In this way, he sedition? Accompanied with an overt act, consented to the publication, but at the same would it not be high treason? I have no hesitime protested against publishing any improper tation in saying it would. expressions; but not having any idea (as such Things may turn out differently on the proof a discovery indeed had not then been made in from what is represented in the indictment ; any quarter), that the expressions, though and I should rejoice to find it so. But, with ceasurable, were of a nature to infer criminal regard to the speech and the publication, as consequences, he gave no critical attention to here stated, is there not a direct attack on the the minute contents of the publication, nor legislature ? Another passage is: “A House considered himself responsible for them. In of Commons, but the latter is corrupted; it is order to forward the end in view, which was decayed and worn out; it is not really what it not to excite violence or sedition, but merely is called; it is not a House of Commons." to raise money, it was determined that the We are told this is only an attack on the mimembers of the committee should distribute nisters. It is an attack on the House itself. and sell as many copies of the pamphlet as Any petition containing such expressions, I possible; and my client agreed to sell some of always understood, would be rejected by the them.
House of Commons. At present we have These are the facts of the case. As to the no representatives; they are only nominal, not relevancy, much will depend on the interpre- real; active only in prosecuting their own tation to be given to the words libelled on. designs, and at the same time telling us that We do not think it necessary at present to say they are agreeable to our wishes.” Is that not any thing farther on that point, as we shall a broad attack on the legislature! I shall be prove that the expressions used were materially glad if the facts charged are not made out. different from those libelled in the indictment. They clearly amount to sedition as they are When the facts are disclosed in the evidence, stated. we shall have a fitter opportunity for remarking on them.
Lord Gillies.- I concur in the opinion which Lord Advocate.—It is unnecessary for me to I have now heard, so far as to think the indictsay any thing as to the candid' statement ment relevant. I have no doubt that it is which has been made on the other side of the relevant, and that the ordinary interlocutor bar. I admit that it is not only the right of must be pronounced. The indictment states, the jury, but that it is their bounden duty to that at a meeting" attended by a great multisay upon their oaths, whether the matter tude of persons, chiefly of the lower orders," charged is sedition or not. In that I concur
one of the panels delivered a certain speech, with my learned friends, and therefore I need which speech was afterwards circulated by the say nothing more.
other prisoner. Lord Justice Clerk.-Your lordships have
As to the nature and objects of the meeting, heard what has been said on behalf of the pri- must therefore hold it to have been a lawful
no information is given in the indictment; I soners, and what has been said by the lord advocate. I have to ask your lordships, whe- meeting; But the libel goes on to state, that
ther you have any observations to offer on the the panel " wickedly and feloniously delivered , relevancy of this indictment.
a speech containing a number of seditious and
inflammatory remarks and assertions, calcuLord Hermand.—I am of opinion that the lated to degrade and bring into contempt the indictment is relevant; and I think there can government and legislature, and to withdraw be little doubt on the point with those who therefrom the confidence and affections of the hear me. The learned gentleman who opened people, and to fill the realm with trouble and the defence adınitted, that an attack on parlia- dissention." This is certainly a charge of ment constitutes sedition; adding, that his sedition ; and, if the expressions cited in the client did not apply his expressions to the indictment were delivered for the purpose legislature, but to the ministers of the day. It there stated, they must be regarded as sedimay be so, but that is not what is stated in tious. I need deliver no opinion farther at this indictment, to which alone I can attend at present, for the facts charged in the indictpresent. Part of the charge goes very deep. ment, and, still more, the wicked and felonious They met on pretence of a dutiful petition. intentions therein ascribed to them, are denied
Such pretences are always mude. But your by the panels. All these matters remain to be lordships will attend to what we find stated: the subject of proof; and I should be arrogat“Let us lay our petitions at the foot of the ing to myself the province of the jury and of your lordship, if I said any thing farther at there can be no doubt; and there never was this period of the trial; for after the proof only doubt as to it at any period of the history of this cav any satisfactory opinion be given ou the court. The Court, however, in considering of subject.
the relevancy, must determine in the first in
stance whether the expressions complained of Lord Pitmilly.--Soon after the printed copy appear to them to be seditious, and to amount of this indictment was put into my hands, I to the crime of sedition; and on this subject I considered it with a view to the question of cannot entertain the shadow of doubt. relevancy; and although the counsel for the panels have not disputed the relevancy of the
Lord Reston. I have no doubt as to the reindictment, but reserved to themselves the levancy of the indictment. We have nothing liberty of making such observations as may to do at present with the truth of the stateappear to them proper after a proof shall have ments in it. The only question now is, whebeen led, it would have been the province and ther the avesments of the public prosecutor the duty of this court to stop the trial at this are put in proper shape and terms in this stage if it had appeared to us that the indict- charge. The jury will decide not only on the ment is not relevantly laid.
bare facts, bat on the legal import of them, The defence has been very properly explain. and will say whether the panels are guilty or ed by the counsel for the panels; and I shall not of the crime of sedition. be happy if they make out that defence, either I have no doubt of the sufficiency of the in exculpation, or in alleviation of the crime averments made by the public prosecutor. He charged in this indictment. The only question has averred circumstances, which, if proved, at present is as to the relevancy of the indict- amount to sedition. His averments amount to ment; and I have no hesitation in saying, that this, that what was said and published was not in my opinion, it is relevant; and that, there only calculated to produce pernicious consefore, the ordinary interlocutor should be pro- quences affecting the government and legislanounced.
ture, but must have been meant for seditious The major proposition of the indictment purposes. The indictment states, that the purcharges sedition in general terms. This is an pose of the panels was wicked and felonious. unexceptionable charge, which has never been I consider that the speech said to have been objected to, that I know of, but in one case, delivered by one of the panels is seditious in where the question regarding it was argued, all its parts, and tends to excite discontent in and the objection was repelled. I allude to the country. It was delivered in the open air, the case of Sinclair.* It is known to every before a multitude of the lower orders assembled lawyer that sedition is a crime recognised by to hear it. The panel is alleged to have stated the laws of this country. It is a crime, in- that their sufferings were intolerable, and in deed, the trial and punishment of which must coarse and calumnious language to have said, be coeval with government.
“A base oligarchy feed their filthy vermin on It is stated that the one panel made a speech our vitals, and rule us as they will,” I consider which contains inflammatory remarks and se- this expression as tending directly to vilify the ditious expressions, and that the other panel government, and weaken the affections of the circulated a pamphlet containing that and country towards its legislature. In this speech other seditious speeches. Paragraphs of it he talks of successful resistance. He speaks have been read, and I will not consume time of the reformation, and of the resistance made with reading or commenting on any of them to the English when their progress was stopped at present. No person who reads them can at Bannockburn. What were the feelings doubt, that the general nature of them is to meant to be excited in the audience? He was excite commotion, and to prepare the way for attempting to degrade the government, in resistance and for overturning the government. order to stimulate his hearers to resistance ; That this is the general tendency of the facts and, to give them confidence, he mentioned charged, no person can doubt. It would also former instances of successful resistance. No be wasting the time of the Court to read the doubt he proposes that the petition shall be passages of the luminous commentary by Mr. laid at the foot of the throne; and he pays a Hume on the crime of sedition, or to refer to compliment to the Prince Regent. But what the authorities and the precedents which have does he add? “ Should he be so infatuated as occurred in this court.
to turn a deaf ear to their just petition, he has The counsel for the panels are correct in forfeited their allegiance. Yes, my fellowstating, that it is the province of the jury ulti- townsmen, in such a case, to hell with our mately to determine, not only as to the facts of allegiance.” Is there no intimidation—is there the utterance and the publication of the ex- no threat intended by such language? It is pressions mentioned in the libel, but also with true the expression “ just petition" is employregard to the law, whether the expressions are ed; but who is to judge whether the petition to be held seditious or not. On that point is just ? Were those at the meeting to judge ?
It was in effect, saying, if our petition is not See the debate on the Relevancy of the listened to, we are absolved from our alleIndictment in Sinclair's case, 2 How. Mod. St. giance. If the expressions shall be proved,
the language is seditious in a high degree.