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ject of Parliamentary Reform. The am not aware that the evidence of eyethird objection was to the reception of witnesses as to flags exposed to public that evidence which regarded the train. view was ever called in question until ing and drilling, and the assault at now. Inscriptions, under such circumWhite-moss. The question submitted stances, are public expressions of the to the Jury upon this head presented sentiments of those persons who bear two points : first, the general charac- or who adopt them. If it were to be ter of the assembly; and, second, the held that words so exhibited could not particular case of each individual char. be proved unless by the actual producged, as connected with that general tion of the flags, why should the witcharacter. Now it was proved by the ness be allowed to state the colour of evidence, that a very considerable part the flag, or even to say that he saw the of the persons assembled, and indeed flag at all? because, according to Me all who came from a distance, came to Hunt's argument upon each of those the meeting in large bodies, in organic points, the production would be the zed bodies, and with a military step best evidence; and if parole evidence and movement. The conclusion which under any circumstances ought to be would naturally be drawn from such received, I think it was good evidence appearances was a point for the consi- in the present case, not withstanding deration of the Jury ; and no reason, the assertion that some of the banners able person will say that that point were at the time of the trial in the was left to the Jury in a manner more custody of a constable at York ; beunfavourable to the defendants than cause, even taking this to be the fact, was warranted by the circumstances. if the flags had been produced, then It is also proper to state, that at the the prosecutors might have been callparticular place from which one of ed upon to prove that the flags produthese large bodies came, persons had ced were the same flags taken at the been formed and trained to marching meeting ; to deduce them from hand and military movements; and that these to hand ; and, in case one step should same persons had violently ill-treated fail, the evidence must be rejected alcertain individuals, whom they called together. To require such proof would spies, and had made one of those indi- be unreasonable, and to give it, in many viduals take an oath that he never cases, impossible. Having now diswould be a King's man or name the posed of these objections to the law King again ; and that some of the per- laid down in the case, I shall take no sons who composed the Manchester notice of what has been called misdirecmeeting expressed their hatred to this tion as to this or that particular point; man, by hissing and hooting as they I shall only say, generally, that the passed his house. There can be no whole effect of the evidence appears to doubt, I think, that this evidence form- me to have been left most properly to ed matter for the consideration of the the Jury: that the Jury were not diJury. With respect to the last point- rected to presume against the defendthe reception of evidence as to the in- ants any thing which was not well scription upon the flags or banners~I warranted by the evidence ; and that think it was not necessary eitherto pro- they have not come to any conclusion duce those flags, or to give notice to the which the nature of that evidence did defendants to produce them. Those not fully justify. I therefore think that cases in which the actual production this is not a case in which a rule to shew of writings has been required, are wide- cause should be granted. ly different from the present case. I On the 15th May, the defendants were called up to receive judgment. Mr Hunt wished to know whether Affidavits were put in, and a speech of his confinement was to be solitary conconsiderable length made by Mr Hunt finement. in mitigation of punishment.
Mr Justice BAYLEY replied, that Mr Justice BAYLEY, in pronouncing the Court made no such order. He the judgment of the Court, went at had no doubt that every proper attengreat length into the detail of the case. tion would be paid to the convenienee From the great number of persons who of the defendants; and, if cause of attended the meeting of the 16th Au- complaint should arise, that complaint gust, that meeting could scarcely be would be attended to. considered a deliberative assembly. The probability was, that, in a meeting of such magnitude, individuals would ra- Sir FRANCIS BURDETT, FOR LIBEL, ther be taught their grievances by the CONTAINED IN A LETTER TO HIS persons who presided than state the ConstituENTS, ON THE MANCHESgrievances which they actually endu- TER PROCEEDINGS. red, and that the remedies resolved upon would be provided in the same man. Leicester, March 23d. ner. His lordship then adverted to the question as to the resolutions. If the The Jury being impanelled, Mr resolutions to be passed at the Man- BALGUY opened the proceeding. He chester meeting were the Smithfield re. stated, that this was an information solutions, no one could entertain any filed by his Majesty's Attorney-Genedoubt of the effect which such propo. ral against the defendant, Sir Francis sals were calculated to produce upon Burdett, for a libel. The first count such an assembly. If it was intend- charged, that the defendant, being an ed to pass different resolutions, it had ill-disposed person, and intending to been competent to the defendants to excite hatred and contempt of his Mashew, by evidence or by affidavits, jesty's Government, and particularly what these resolutions were. The among the soldiers of the King, and learned Judge concluded his address wishing to have it believed that cerby observing that the Court had not tain troops of the King, on the 16th been inattentive to the affidavits of of August, 1819, wantonly and cruel. the defendants, and proceeded to pass ly cut down certain of his Majesty's sentence.
subjects, did, on the 22d of the same The sentence of the Court was, that month of August, publish a certain Mr Hunt should be imprisoned in Il. libel. The count then set out the libel chester gaol for the term of two years verbatim, which was in these words :and six months. At the expiration of that time to find sureties for his good “ To the Electors of Westminster. behaviour during a further term of five years, himself in 10001. and two other “Gentlemen-On reading the newspersons in 500l.each. Johnston, Healy, paper this morning, having arrived and Bamford, to be imprisoned in Lin. late yesterday evening, I was filled with coln-goal for the period of one year, shame, grief, and indignation, at the and, at the expiration of that time, each account of the blood spilt at Manchesto enter into sureties for his good be- This, then, is the answer of the haviour during five years, himself in boroughmongers to the petitioning 2001. and two other persons in 1001. people—this is the practical proof of each,
our standing in no need of reform
these the practical blessings of our glo- self in readiness to attend. Whether rious boroughmonger domination-- the penalty of our meeting will be this the use of a standing army in time death, by military execution, I know of peace. It seems our fathers were not; but this I know, a man can die not such fools as some would make us but once ; and never better than in believe, in opposing the establishment vindicating the laws and liberties of his of a standing army, and sending King country. William's Dutch Guards out of the “ Excuse this hasty address. I can country. Yet, would to Heaven they scarcely tell what I have written. It had been Dutchmen, or Switzers, or may be a libel ; or the Attorney-GeHessians, or Hanoverians, or any thing neral may call it so—just as he pleases. rather than Englishmen, who have done When the seven bishops were tried for such deeds. What! kill men unarm- a libel, the army of James II., then ed, unresisting !-and, gracious God! encamped on Hounslow-heath, for women, too, disfigured, maimed, cut supporting arbitrary power, gave three down, and trampled upon by dragoons! cheers on hearing of their acquittal : Is this England ? This a Christian the King, startled at the noise, asked, land ? A land of freedom? Can such What's that ?'— Nothing, sir,' was things be, and pass us by like a sum- the answer,.but the soldiers shouting mer cloud unheeded ?-Forbid it every at the acquittal of the seven bishops.' drop of English blood, in every vein, Do ye call that nothing ? replied the that does not proclaim its owner bas. misgiving tyrant; and shortly after tard ! Will the gentlemen of England abdicated the government. 'Tis true, support or wink at such proceedings ? James could not inflict the torture on They have a great stake in their coun- his soldiers!--could not tear the living try. They hold great estates, and they flesh from their bones with a cat-ofare bound in duty, and in honour, to nine-tails !- could not flay them alive ! consider them as retaining fees on -Be this as it may, our duty is to the part of their country for uphold. meet! and England expects every ing its rights and liberties. Surely they man to do his duty!' will at length awake, and find they “ I remain, Gentleman, have other duties to perform besides Most truly and faithfully, fattening bullocks and planting cab- Your most obedient servant, bages. They never can stand tamely
F. BURDETT. by, as lookers on, while bloody Neroes Kirby-park, Aug. 22. 1819.” rip open their mothers' wombs! They must join the general voice, loudly de- The learned Counsel said, that the manding justice and redress; and head information contained other counts, public meetings throughout the United laying the charge in a different manKingdom, to put a stop, in its com
ner. mencement, to a reign of terror and of Mr Serjeant VAUGHAN then addressblood,--to afford consolation, as far ed the Jury.-Considering with whom as it can be afforded, and legal redress, this prosecution originated, and against to the widows and orphans and muti- whom it was levelled, he was not surlated victims of this unparalleled and prised that it had excited the curiosity barbarous outrage. For this purpose, and interest which appeared in the I propose that a meeting should be court. A great law.officer of the called in Westminster, which the gen- Crown had thought it necessary to tlemen of the committee will arrange, bring before a Jury of his country a and whose summons I will hold my gentleman of ancient family, of great fortune, and of splendid talents, and charge. He came now to the letter who was now, he believed, the favour- itself. ite candidate for representing in par.
The learned Counsel then went over liament one of the principal cities in the different paragraphs of the letter, the empire. The information charged, and endeavoured to shew their seditious that the defendant being an ill.disposed tendency. He finally observed, it was person, and intending to excite his impossible that any reasonable man Majesty's subjects, and particularly the could read this letter, and say that it soldiers, to sedition, and wishing and in- was not calculated to inflame the sol. tending to have it believed that certain diers. He said that “ James II. could troops of the King killed certain sub- not inflict the torture on his soldiersjects of the King, did publish the letter could not tear the living flesh from in question. They must thereforetry this their bones with a cat-of-nine.tailsquestion—whether there was this in- could not flay them alive" - by which tention to excite hatred and contempt he meant that the soldiers of the pre. of the Government, and to excite the sent day lived under greater tyranny soldiers against it? With respect to than in the reign of James the Second. motives, we could only judge of them Was this, or not, the language of es. by the acts or declarations of men ; citement? Wat it not intended to and taking that rule, it was not un- make the soldiers believe that they charitable to suppose that the writer were cruelly treated, and that their of this letter meant that which appear- condition ought to be ameliorated? ed on the face of this information. If This was the libel. It was for the Jary they thought it was his intention to to say, under the circumstances, whedo that which was charged against ther the defendant was guilty or not. him, it was their duty to find him He had not read to them one or two guilty. Every man was supposed to passages only, upon which a greater be acquainted with the consequences stress might be laid-he had read the of his own act, and for his own act he whole of the letter. Some passages must be responsible. The letter re- were expressed in such terms, that no lated to certain transactions at Man- one would have instituted a prosecuchester, which were now under dis- tion against the writer ; but others cussion in another county. They were were so violent, and, taking the whole not now to make up their minds whe- of it together, it appeared to him to ther the meeting at Manchester on the be so highly seditious, that if the great 16th of August was a legal or an ille. law-officers of the Crown, who had gal meeting ; but no reasonable man, instituted this prosecution, had failed he thought, could say that it was not to notice it, they would have been an illegal meeting. But if the meeting guilty of a great dereliction of duty. of the 16th of August had been a legal Indeed, the writer had thrown out a assembly, and had been illegally dis- challenge to the Attorney-General to persed, and if the soldiers had commit- prosecute; andif he had not prosecuted ted those excesses and cruelties that the defendant for this publication, it were charged against them, a person might have been said, that, in an age was not justified in writing such a let. like this, when, unfortunately, so many ter as the one in question. Was this, persons were brought before the trior was it not, a libel upon the govern. bunals of their country for libelling ment and the soldiery? The truth of the Government, the humble and igaothe libel was no answer to any such rant were visited with the penalties of the laws, while the rich and enlighten- ing, as mere surplusage or ornament? ed were suffered to escape with impu- Supposing that the question of truth nity.
or falsehood was in itself of no legal Evidence was called to prove that importance, still it was worth inquiring the letter in Sir Francis's hand-writing into, as affording evidence of the crihad been received in London, and sent minal intention with which a publicato the newspapers for publication. It tion was made. He should be glad to was also proved, that on the day when know how an indictment would read, the letter was written, Sir Francis was if it were alleged in it that the defendat his house in Leicestershire. ant had truly, instead of falsely, set
Mr Deoman objected that there was forth the matter of his complaint. no proof of publication in Leicester- Now, the information in question was shire. It was supposed that the letter as bare as Æsop's crow-it had not must have been put into the post-office upon it a single feather. It meant, if in that county ; but there were many it meant any thing, that he was desuppositions which might obviate such sirous of exciting disaffection, and had a conclusion. Mr Justice Best, how- an interest in producing disorder. He ever, conceived that the mere circum- would, however, assert, that it was stance of its being written and signed impossible to impute to him, with any in Leicestershire.
colour of probability, any motive to Sir Francis, in entering on his de- commit bad acts of this kind. The fence, made a long exposition of the Attorney-General had stronger mohardships which he endured in being tives than he could have for doing prosecuted on an ex officio information, what was wrong, inasmuch as the and in not having the benefit of a learned gentleman had his fortune to Grand Jury. He then proceeded to jus- make, while he (Sir F. Burdett) was tify himself on the particular charge. satisfied with what he was already in Nothing could be more vague or inde- possession of. As an English gentlefinite than the charge against him ; he man, he conceived himself bound to did not believe a precedent for it could assist in upholding the rights of his be found upon the files of the Court. countrymen ; and he could shew that It used to be the practice in indict- this had ever been the prevailing bent ments to use the words vi et armis, and disposition of his mind. On all and to allege that force had been used. occasions he had endeavoured to imIn an action, he might justify by pro. press on the minds of other indepenving the truth of what he had written; dent gentlemen, that the greatest danbut under the circumstances in which ger arose from the want of union behe was now placed, it was impossible tween the more powerful classes and for him to make any defence. He was the people. It was absurd to suppose left utterly bare and unprotected. The that his finding fault with what had circumstance of his being tried by been done at Manchester could excite a special jury, was in itself evidence disaffection to the government amongst that the offence with which he was the soldiers. It must excite disaffection charged was not of a very heinous to himself, if it provoked any senticharacter. Falsehood, which was in ment of that nature. But were solordinary cases the gravamen of the diers, because they had served credicomplaint, was omitted altogether in tably abroad, to be sanctioned in cutthe information against him. How ting down their countrymen at home? could the allegation of falsehood ever There was no calumny in reprobating be looked upon in a criminal proceed- conduct of this kind; for nothing but