Imatges de pÓgina

mult and insurrection, and to excite ants, amounting nearly to ten thou. hatred and contempt against the go. sand, assembled ; and it would be vernment.

found, that, previous to that meeting, Mr Benyon rose on the part of the Sir Charles Wolseley and Mr Harriprosecution. No doubt, the learned son had been known to each other, gentleman said, the Jury were already and that they had corresponded ; and aware that the present prosecution it would be shewn, that, upon the 28th arose out of one of those dangerous July, they were in intimate conversameetings which had been held in Che- tion for at least an hour before the shire, and in the adjacent counties, assembly took place. It would be during the last summer--meetings seen, therefore, that these defendants which were calculated to terrify the were not persons accidentally coming peaceable subjects of the realm, and together in consequence of the handwhich had been headed, and princi. bills which had announced the meetpally promoted, by itinerant orators. ing, but that they came there togeThe Jury, however, were called upon ther in consequence of a preconcerted -and from the knowledge which he scheme. The meeting was numerous, (Mr Benyon) had of many of them, and was attended by men who had he doubted not that they would fulfil bludgeons in their hands ; those bludtheir duty—they were called upon by geons were not merely carried for their oaths to dismiss from their minds shew, or for intimidation, but a conevery circumstance which they had stable, whom they were pleased to call previously heard upon the subject, a spy, was nearly put to death by some and to try the case upon the evidence, persons in the crowd. The meeting and only upon the evidence, which in question, the learned counsel would would be adduced before them. The shew, had not been a peaceable meettwo defendants, Sir Charles Wolseleying for the purpose of petition. It and Mr Harrison, were well known: had been attended by persons carrying the first was a gentleman of estate in banners, inscribed with the common the county of Stafford, and had inhe. cant terms of “no corn laws,” “ unirited a considerable paternal property, versal suffrage,” “annual parliaments," together with the rank and title of and “ voting by ballot.” At a partiBaronet, which had been conferred cular house a platform had been erectupon one of his ancestors in the reigned, upon which the leaders mounted; of Charles the First: the second de- and the Jury would find the two defendant, Mr Harrison, had been, until fendants taking a leading part in the lately, a stranger in the county of ensuing transactions. It having been Chester ; he was, the learned counsel previously agreed that Sir Charles believed, a dissenting minister and a Wolseley, as a gentleman of rank and schoolmaster. Upon the 28th of July property, should be called to the chair, last a public meeting had been announ- that individual took the chair amidst ced at Stockport, and, previous to that the acclamations of the crowd: be day, the residents in the neighbour. then opened the meeting, and used the hood had been advised that a meeting seditious words imputed to him by the was to take place for the real or pre- present indictment. Sir Charles Wolsetended purpose of petitioning for re- ley had said, “ that he was in Paris form in parliament. Upon the day at the beginning of the French revoappointed a number of persons, not lution : that he was the first man who less than five thousand, and, according made a kick at the Bastile ; and he to the statement of one of the defend. expressed his hopes," and the Jury would hear in what direction he then stated by Mr Pearson, the learned pointed, “ that he should be present Counsel for the defendant, that the at the demolition of another Bastile.” meeting in question was a peaceable He then abused the Ministers of the meeting for the purpose of petition, Crown, and said that he could not find but it would be shewn to the Jury terms in which to speak with sufficient that Mr Harrison had expressly disadetestation of them. He spoke of vowed any intention to petition. The spies, and said that he detested their right of peaceably meeting together employers, Sidmouth and Castlereagh. for the purpose of petitioning the He said, that where the people were Sovereign or the Legislature against not represented, no allegiance was due; grievances, either real or supposed, taxation was a robbery ; and resistance was the right, the birthright, of Engto the government justifiable. A great lishmen, and Heaven forbid that he deal more had been said ; but those (Mr Benyon) should stand before the were the principal points upon which Jury to deny that right. There was he (the learned counsel) charged the no impropriety in a peaceable meeting defendant, Sir Charles Wolseley, with for the purpose of seeking reform in having used seditious speeches at this parliament, but the meeting at Stockillegal meeting, with a view to bring port had not been a meeting of that into hatred and contempt the govern- character. The language, the conment and constitution of the country; duct, the whole insignia of that meet. language more calculated to produce ing, shewed that the purpose was not that effect could scarcely be conceived. petition, but intimidation. The conMr Harrison, the second defendant, duct of the meeting on the 28th July followed Sir Charles Wolseley. He had been calculated, not for the reform declared against “ petitioning any of the British constitution, but for the more, which he considered degrading subversion of it. and humiliating. There would be a John Kenyon Winterbottom, exameeting," he said, “ of delegates at mined by Serjeant Cross, said he was Oldham, on the Monday following, at a solicitor in Stockport. He saw a the Union-room, for the purpose of public meeting in the town of Stockestablishing a National Convention; and port, between one and two o'clock on it would also be one of its duties to the 28th July last. He attended in a devise farther means for extending building (a Sunday-school), near the and consolidating the national union,” meeting. The place is called Sandy How far the evidence would bring Brow. He should think there were home to the defendants, or either of 4000 or 5000 assembled.

He was them—indeed, if it did to one, it not so near as to observe whether they must to both the charge which was were strangers or inhabitants. They alleged against them, it would be for were quiet at first. Most of them had the Jury to determine. As to the se- sticks, which appeared to have been ditious language, there could be no newly cut from hedges. They were doubt ; the Jury would judge of the not walking-sticks. The population intention and of the tumultuous meet. is upwards of 20,000. There were ing. If any words more strongly hustings or a scaffold. Several per. tending to bring the government and sons were on the scaffold. Sir Charles the constitution into contempt and was pointed out to him as one: he hatred could be used, he (Mr Benyon knew Mr Harrison, and saw him there. was at a loss to know what those He heard Harrison say, “ The House words were. ,

It would, perhaps, be of Commons was the people's servants; that it was as absurd to petition them tile in France-he shonld be happy to as it would be for a master to petition be at the taking of a Bastile in Eng. his groom for his horse. He said that land.” (He saw nothing but the action there was a barrier between the throne of speaking with force and energy.) and the people, which must be remo- “ And were all hearts but as firm in ved either by force from heaven or the cause as his own, they would soon hell

, in order that they might see whe- put an end to the present tyranny and ther a man or a pig was upon the corruption.” He heard Mr Harrison, throne.” He thought there was laugh- but took no note of it, and now recolter. The expression of derision was lected nothing of it. general. Harrison said, “ The united Joseph Johnson, surveyor at Stockwill of the people was sure to prevail. port, gave similar evidence relative to It was an axiom that could not be con- Sir Charles, Mr Harrison, &c. Mr futed. It might be necessary in some Harrison stood next to Sir Charles, cases to petition the House of Lords, and spoke, and said they wanted to who were, by the constitution, placed get to the throne in order to see whe. in a different situation to the House of ther there was a pig or a man on it; Commons; but in the present corrupt and if there were 10,000 walls betwixt state of things it was useless, and he them, they would blow them up either would not recommend it.”

to heaven or to hell. The expression Thomas Bolton lived in Stockport. about the pig, and that of the walls, Great numbers of the people were was received by acclamations, townsmen : he saw no unusual sticks : Thomas Welsh, a clerk to Mr Har. they were not more numerous about rop, in Manchester, said that Mr Harthe hustings than he should have ex. rison had read from a letter that the pected. He stood amongst the crowd, Deity had intended man for happiness, and gained high ground when he could. and provided a sufficiency of all good He saw no chair. The first attention things to make him so ; but as the he paid was to Sir Charles : he heard majority of that meeting was extreme. what he said. He made a minute ly unhappy and miserable, and renderabout an hour after, and could state ed so by their rulers, the intentions of that Sir Charles had said what he had the Deity had been frustrated, and rethere noted. [He was allowed to read bellion against that government became it.] “ He was happy in addressing almost a duty. Sir Charles read the the people of Stockport from Sandy resolutions, and put them to the meet. Brow ; it was a place consecrated to ing. One of the resolutions was, that liberty, by the absence of friends he Lord Sidmouth had been guilty of would have been happy to meet there; high treason. Another was, that a and he trusted Sandy Brow would be general meeting of delegates should be more famed in history than the field of held at Oldham, or other places, as Waterloo. Was there a peace-officer might be agreed upon. Another represent, he trusted they came to keep solution was, that a subscription should the peace, and not to break it. But be entered into to defray the expense was there any of your spies, your note- of prosecuting his Majesty's ministers. taking, or black-book gentry, tell your The resolutions were put separately. employers, the tools of a Castlereagh He did not recollect who read them. and Sidmouth, that I hate them, that All the resolutions were agreed to. I detest them—that I eternally exe. Mr Harrison recapitulated the speeches, crate them. He was proud to say, and said a deputation from the dele. that he was at the taking of the Bas- gates should present their petition to

the throne, and to remove all impedi- tended that meeting were wholly unment, for they did not know whether important ; and he (the learned counthere was a man or pig there. As sel), would go at once to the conduct ministers, Mr Harrison added, had and to the language employed by that screened themselves with a bill of in- meeting. What then were the resoludemnity, that this meeting do indem- tions which had been passed at that nify the speakers, in case any thing meeting ? He (Mr Pearson) would seditious had been said. This was

venture to declare, that even from the carried with cries of “ We do, we partial detail of those resolutions which do."

had been given by the witnesses for Mr Pearson said, that it was now his the prosecution, nothing would appear duty to address the Jury on behalf of by which his client could be affected. Sir Charles Wolseley, and on behalf of of reform, whatever might be his opiSir Charles only. The question be- nion, he would here say nothing. It fore the Jury was not a political ques- was a legitimate topic of discussion. tion, nor was a political dissertation It had formed a material topic of pofrom him (Mr Pearson) to be expect. litical writers at various periods, ever ed. In a court of justice, in the sanc- since the Revolution, and the wisest tuary of the law, the voice of party and best statesmen had endeavoured to should be for ever silent ; and he con effect it. Need he refer to Locke and jured the Jury to consider, that, if it Bolingbroke, to Fox and Pit? It was was incumbent upon him (the learned surely too late of the day to make it counsel) to abstain from obtruding necessary to argue that reform was a upon the Jury any political discussion, legitimate object of meeting and petiit was still more incumbent upon the tioning. Universal suffrage certainJury to guard their minds from the ly seemed of all chimerical projects slightest shade of political bias. The the most chimerical; but still it was charge of conspiracy, the learned coun- not unlawful to discuss it and to peti. sel thought, scarce deserved an argu. tion either House of Parliament, or the ment; it had been, by the evidence Sovereign, or, if the petition was refor the prosecution, completely dis- fused, to remonstrate boldly and manproved ; and he was only astonished fully, but respectfully. Where was the that his learned friend had not long limit to petitioning ? Whatever Parliasince abandoned that charge, and con- ment could grant, the people could fessed that his ground had mouldered petition, and they had a right to give beneath his feet. A conspiracy, for- force to their individual opinions by sooth, between two men who had not meeting and uniting their wishes. He been proved to have met until a few could not think of wasting their time moments before the time at which their by remarking upon the absurd evidence offence was alleged to have been com- that all the people of this great emmitted! The whole charge of conspi- pire were to be assembled at Oldham. racy was gone; and it would be was. That it had been seriously urged for ting the time of the Jury to argue it the prosecution was singular in judifarther. The other part of the indict. cial proceedings. It was beyond every ment would depend entirely upon the thing in real life,-beyond every thing question whether the meeting of the in comic fiction. The wildest of wild 28th was a legal or an illegal meeting; romances had nothing like it. The and to such a question the learned coun- flappers of memory and mathematical sel felt assured the Jury could return carving of meat in Gulliver's Travels but one answer. The numbers who at. were not comparable to this ; and the alarm of the inhabitants of the Flying count, similar to what they were try. Island, that this earth would be de- ing at present. Here he read the count stroyed by the tail of a comet, was as on which Mr Hunt had been convict. reasonable as any alarm for this wild ed, and called the attention of their speculation of a national meeting at Lordships particularly to it. Perhaps Oldham. Say that they were to be the cap of liberty was a bauble unwordelegates who met. He needed not thy of the attention of men of sense ; to tell them that that would not be un- but the multitude, men as well as childlawful. Needed he to remind them ren, valued the symbol more than the that a meeting of delegates was held thing signifiedin London, among whom was Dr Jebb,

« Pleased with this bauble still as that before." Sir William Jones, Mr Pitt, Mr Fox, the Lennoxes, the Cavendishes, and of the rattles, tittles, rosaries, or garthe Howards ? They were not prose. ters, mentioned by the poet, were there cuted by the Attorney-General. Why any more harmless than the cap of li. then should a meeting in Cheshire beberty, originally emblematical of the thus visited ? But such a meeting would manumission of a slave, in England not have been illegal. But if they had the symbol of liberty? It had been the dictum of a Judge, which they had used and abused in France, so had li. not, that it was illegal ; still, in the berty. He could not suppose the conpresent case, it had, according to the stitution of this country could be deevidence, been only proposed. Then stroyed like a necromancer's spell, by there was a subscription proposed for a breath, a hiss, or a shout. ' If the the prosecution of Ministers who had meeting was not illegal, the speeches violated the law: but to the law, and could not make it the meeting descrithe law only, they applied. How could bed in the indictment. Seditious words this be a violation of the public peace ? might form a substantive crime, but it Next, as to the conduct of the parties was not the crime before them. If at the meeting, there was nothing il- others used seditious words, Sir Charles legal in mere numbers. The acts of Wolseley was answerable only for his the last Parliament were a distinct ad. own words. Here he felt peculiar dife mission that meetings of that kind were ficulty. Sir Charles Wolseley was a legal before. It had been laid down person of the highest honour and re. by that upright and impartial Judge, spectability, and would not separate Mr Justice Bayley, that if there were himself from a fellow-sufferer ; but he 60,000, it was not, therefore, an un. could not suffer considerations of that lawful assembly. If a constable was kind to influence bisconduct as his counhurt, it was before Sir Charles came; sel. Let Mr Harrison deny, or explain, even if it were not, how could he be

or prove to be an idle joke, the allu. answerable for that more than for a sion to an illustrious person. Such ex. pickpocket who might steal property pressions were improper, disgraceful, in that crowd ? Sticks for convenience, indecent, mischievous. But Sir Charles or even parade, were not unlawful. If Wolseley was not answerable for every they were held up, so were hats. But absurd remark made by others. The in no shape were they connected with Bastile, it was evident, and he would his client. As to the cap of liberty prove, had been mentioned only hypoand the flag, they were aware that at thetically ; and Sir Charles Wolseley York, where such things were proved took no greater liberty in this respect to have existed to a much greater ex- than Mr Burke had done on the other tent, Mr Hunt was acquitted in every side. Sir Charles, in saying that he

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