Imatges de pÓgina

present, if they believed the account fendant spoke with great severity of given by one of the defendants. Ma- the corruption of the House of Com. jor Cartwright, who was somewhat in- moos. On these passages the learned firm, was lifted out of the carriage Serjeant commented with much force, and placed on the hustings, which was contending that they were evidently the rallying point. The defendants, intended to inflame and irritate the who had previously concerted their passions of the people.] The defend. proceedings in secret, came to the spot ant inveighed against a borough oliwith resolutions ready prepared for garchy, who were deaf to the petition the occasion, some of which resolu- of a million of men, and who had the tions he would read. Mr Edmonds, audacity to suspend the Habeas Corwho was denominated “ the fearless pus Act, and to pass a corn-bill. Was champion of the people, and the un- this language fit to be addressed to daunted assertor of their rights," was one of the Houses of Parliament ? He called to the chair on this occasion, had never heard that the House of which was to give to Birmingham, for Commons had treated with disdain the the first time, a representative in Pare prayers of a million of their fellow. liament, and to hold out an example subjects. He was sure such an asserto all the other populous districts in tion was not founded in fact. They the empire. They would recollect, might reject a petition that was meant that at the same time a similar meets to taunt and insult the House, but ing was convened at Stockport, ano- under no other circumstance did they ther at Manchester, and others in va- refuse to receive it. " The effect to rious quarters of the kingdom. Now be produced was not in the House of he conceived that these simultaneous Commons, but upon the country and meetings, all for one and the same public opinion.” Thus spoke the depurpose, and using the same language, fendant, and here he avowed his sen. proved that the conspiracy was not timents openly. He had no hope, no confined to Birmingham, but that a wish, to reform Parliament: he depend. general intention existed, he could al- ed not on that ; he looked to the counmost say, to overturn the Constitution, try ; and for what purpose ? That the but, at all events, to new-model it. people might act on the opinions he Edmonds, being called to the chair, entertained, and set about that work addressed the meeting ; and from his which he called reforming the House speech, which had been published in of Commons, but which was, in fact, his own pamphlet, he would read a subverting it. “ It was very diffi. few extracts

. He charged that that cult,” he observed, “ to reason upon speech, as well as the others, were an abstract question ; but the present calculated to produce the effect stated proceeding supplied a fact. We have on the record-namely, to excite dis- been long talking about the right of affection in the minds of the people, the people to representation ; we are and to bring the Government of the now about to exercise that right. This country into hatred and contempt. is doing something." The defendant They did not meet to state opinions asked, “ Who has drained the counthat were afterwards to be laid before try of its circulating medium of gold, Parliament for their decision. No, to carry on expensive and unnecessary their object was to create an impres- wars? The misrepresentatives of the sion out of doors. [The learned Ser- people."--" There will be laid before jeant here read several extracts from you," continued the defendant, “ the Edmonds's speech, in which the de. plans of gentlemen near me-plans

which I am sure will meet with gene- could be used for no other purpose ral concurrence.” These plans were but to excite disaffection, and incite formed at the lodgings of Major Cart- the people to use external force in or. wright, and were brought, ready writ- der to effect an illegal object. As to ten, to the hustings. This was a the conspiracy, he would show that specimen of the conduct of one there was a criminal co-operation, a of the defendants, and that pursued criminal union, between the parties. by the others was equally violent. He If they acted in concert together, the could not read all their speeches, but language of one was, in the eye of the he begged their attention to an extract law, the language of all ; and the from the address of the defendant Mad. speech of Maddocks was as much the docks, by whom the first four resoluc speech of Major Cartwright, or of tions were moved. The 5th, 6th, and Mr Wooler, as if either of them 8th resolutions, were moved by Mr had spoken it. When it was shewn Wooler, so that each of the defend that such a conspiracy existed, the ants took a share in the labour of the acts, and speeches, and resolutions of vineyard. Maddocks said, “ I consi. one, became the acts, and speeches, der, sir, the source of all our calami. and resolutions of all.

He now ties, and of a great part of those which came to the resolutions, which were afflict the world, to be the corrupt equally inflammatory. One of them state of the representation of the peo. was ple in Parliament, and every English- That by putting on a new and man, who deserves the name, ought equitable issue their just and undenito unite, heart and hand, to expose to able right to a full enjoyment of the the world that system under which we sacred laws, liberties, and free customs are treated like the slaves of the despot of their country, as largely and wholly of Spain, or those of the Dey of Al- as they ought to be enjoyed, the said giers." This individual also denied inhabitants of Birmingham will now the existence of the House of Com- forthwith proceed to elect one gentle. mons. He spoke of them as a body man in whom they can confide as their that did not represent the people, and legislatorial attorney and representadeclared it was a mockery and a delu. tive, in whose person they will try the sion to call them the Commons House question of their right of parliamentof Parliament. To fortify this opinion ary representation, and who shall be he quoted a speech of Sir F. Burdett, instructed to claim on their behalf adand declared that the corruption of mission into the Commons House, as the House had been proved by Major member thereof; and in the event of his Cartwright, who had shewn that, out being acknowledged and received as of 658 members, no fewer than 637 their representative, accordingly then obtained their seats by open bribery and there to use his utmost endeavours and corruption, or some other illegal towards obtaining equal and complete means. This defendant also advised justice to the commons of the realm, the people “to call the House of universally securing to them an annual Commons the Mock Parliament, or the election of legislatorial representation, usurpers of the people's rights. Why to be elected by ballot.” should they receive any other designa- By the seventh resolution, it was tion, when they had passed a Corn- determinedLaw, and suspended the Habeas Core

« That Sir Charles Wolseley, of the pus Act? Why should those sham county of Stafford, Bart., be elected Abrahams be called the House of legislatorial attorney and representaCommons ?” Language like this tive of the inhabitants of Birmingham, instructed to claim on their behalf, by was no longer a duty, and that resista letter to the Right Hon. the Speaker ance became a matter of necessity? of the House of Commons, admission On the following day the deputation into that House as a member thereof, was formed, and Edmonds and Major as well as to communicate on the oc. Cartwright went in a post-chaise to casion the present and the foregoing Sir C. Wolseley, to ask him whether resolve of this meeting, to be by the he would undertake the duty of legis. Speaker laid before the House."

latorial attorney. Here, then, was a Mr Wooler addressed the assembly complete chain of circumstances; and with considerable talent. He, how. he asked whether there was not, in all ever, certainly held language which the defendants' proceedings, evident must have had a great tendency to ex- proofs of union, concert, and co-opecite the minds of the people to resist ration, by which they had made themthe government, and to overthrow the selves obnoxious to the law ? constitution, by the means of external Mr DENMAN spoke in favour of pressure and violence. He spoke of Maddocks and Edmonds. After ani. the people as struggling against cor- madverting on the detail of the eviruption; and he illustrated his argu- dence, as it applied to the defendants ment by a reference to different parts individually, he proceeded to consider of our history. “ The great did not," the general nature of the offence charhe observed, “ at a remote period, feel ged against the parties now at the bar. it improper to have recourse to the The alleged offences were, first, that people, in arms, when they wished to they had met without the King's writ; secure the charter of our' liberties and, secondly, that, by so doing, they when they were determined to extort had been guilty of an assumption of from the fears of a reluctant monarch sovereign power. Now, he would conthose rights which he had usurped." tend, in opposition to both these obWho could doubt the meaning and in- jections, that the people had a right to tent of this language? “ Among the meet without the King's authority, other refinements of the age,” conti- and that, therefore, they had not asnued the defendant, “ British gentle. sumed to themselves any privilege men cannot bear the idea of mixing which they did not at that time poswith the people. What have we al. sess. His learned friend had likelowed ourselves to be reduced to ? Did wise said, as well as he could recollect the barons disdain to appear at the the words, which he had taken dowa head of the people, when the energies at the time, that though he declined of that people were wanted to extort entering into the subject of reform, he the great charter from King John? was ready to admit that, in the silent Did the individuals who opposed lapse of time, some abuses might have Charles, and hurled him fron. his crept into the constitution ; in which throne-did they disdain the assist- he concurred, for he did believe, that, ance of the people ?-Why, then, whatever abuses the people might have should gentlemen at the present day to complain of, they lived under a conbe ashamed to place themselves at the stitution which, not only in theory, head of the people to combat corrup- but in practice, gave a more sure protion? I am sure, when Sir C. Wolseley tection to their persons and their prois at your head, you will not allow him perty than was given under any other to be removed - where you place him, constitution in the world: and he therethere you will protect him." Was not fore put it boldly to the Jury, whether this to tell the people that obedience any subject could be more important to the inhabitants of England than to crime of which the legislature itself preserve their constitution in all its was also guilty,—scarcely a year passnative and original purity? Were they ed withouc some measure being enactto be told that abuses had crept into ed to exclude pensioners and placeit owing to the silent lapse of time, men from seats in the House of Comand to be prevented from endeavour


This question, which was so ing to remedy them ? or were they to well supported in 1733, had ever since be told that those abuses were only been the watch-word for the motions a slight declension in it, which was which were almost annually made on not visible unless a spying-glass was the subject of parliamentary reform. brought forward to magnify the de. To the want of that reform, and to cay? Were the abuses of which the the corruption of the House of Compeople complained only like the cloud, mons as at present constituted, all the which was the size of a man's hand evils under which the country had or were they like the dark thunder- been long labouring had been attribucloud, which enveloped the whole con. ted; and that, too, not by wild enthucave of heaven, and threatened all the siasts or idle speculators, but by the ruin and destruction attendant on a great Lord Chatham, the great Lord mighty tempest? If those abuses were Camden, and even by William Pitt, only trifling, then the best men who the greatest enemy of reform. Wherehad lived amongst us, the most wise ever abuses existed, the subject had a and illustrious of our judges, the most right to petition against them; and if brave and experienced of our heroes, his clients had, in discussing those and almost all who had dignified and abuses, called the House of Commons exalted our country, had been labour- corrupt, they had only attached to it ing for years in vain, and had produced that epithet which Mr Pitt himself, no other effect than to bring the con- and others equally illustrious, had constitution into contempt, as was now fessed that it richly deserved ; and he charged against his two unfortunate therefore could not help impressing on clients. They had met, with several the minds of the Jury, that they ought others, to consider on the best means not to punish his clients for only doing of effecting a reform of existing, and a that which the greatest men in the means of preventing future, abuses : country had done before them. He and if the people had not been allowed had before told them that the people to meet, if they met peaceably, to pe- of England had a right, at the time tition for the removal of existing, and when this meeting was held, to assemagainst the advance of future, grievan. ble, if they assembled peaceably; and ces and evils, be knew nothing of the the real question, therefore, for them history of England-or the history of to decide was, whether the meeting England which he had read was only was peaceable or not. They had not a wild dream and an idle fallacy. They heard a word said in his learned had that day heard something about friend's opening speech of any riot, tie crime of attacking places and pen- of any intimidation, of any force, of sions : if it were a crime, he asked for any violence; they had not heard a the privilege of being considered as word of the kind said by any of the one of the first of criminals-it was a evidence, but quite the reverse there crime which he should always be proud was not even a common count for a to commit, and which could never call riot in any part of the indictment. But up a blush into the cheek of an honest in the great case of the King v. Hunt, man. But if it were a crime, it was a which was lately tried at York, the parties were all tried for crimes of ral to proceed against a quiet meeting which not one occurred in the present for going through the farce of electindictment. At Manchester there were ing one. If such proceedings were to many flags, with different devices ; here be put down, the Mayor of Garratt, there are only two, which had been Sir Geoffrey Dunstan, who is elected mentioned with an uncharitableness of annually mayor of that ancient boinference which he had not expected rough, because he promises to establish from his learned friend. They ought there'a manufacture of asparagus, must not to have had on them “ The Bill also be indicted, as he is chosen withof Rights and Liberties ?" What ! out any King's writ being issued for was it become a crime to talk of rights his election. So, too, in the borough and liberties ?-had we so far degene- of Eye, in Suffolk, where two members rated from all the noble spirit which of parliament are annually chosen by animated our forefathers, that we were the burgesses ; but their election, unno longer to boast of the Bill of Rights like this at Birmingham, has always and Liberties ?—had we so far forgot. been conducted without any watchten all their principles as to forget that man, or indeed any Attorney-General, it was the seal which the illustrious taking notice of it. They had been William set upon our great deliver told that the proceeding at Birming: ance? Then, too, “the sovereignty ham was quite unparalleled; he had of the people” was to be attacked. shewn that it was not 80 ; and they The sovereignty of the people!-Why, must therefore be upon the watch to it is a doctrine that we all profess—we discover in what manner the Attorney. all allow that the people are the sole General would proceed against the legitimate source of power; and the electors of the two places which be power which does not emanate from, had just mentioned, and whether be and rest upon it, ought to be destroy. would attack those of them that ened. But here was no proof that this gaged in these ludicrous undertakings. meeting had any intention or any wish He begged them to consider the vast to subvert the present constitution of importance of the case. If they gave the country ; every proceeding which a verdict against his clients, they would it had taken had a reference to the deprive the country of any opportucontinuance and maintenance of the nity of discussing the abuses under House of Commons. Did their reso- which it either did now or might herelutions prove that they intended Sir after suffer. The purity of the repreC. Wolesley should attempt to intimi- sentation was of indescribable importdate the House of Commons, and force ance, and a charge so vague and ill. himself into a seat upon its benches ? - defined had never been previously Quite the reverse. He was to write to brought before the consideration of a the Speaker, and to ask for admission ; jury; and if, by any construction of if he was elected, he was to support misdemeanour, they were to bring the Major Cartwright's bill; but if he was subjects of the land under pains and excluded, he was to request some other penalties-if, when there was no exmember of parliament to lay it before press act of parliament defining the the House. With regard to the elec. nature of the crime, they were to ren, tion of a legislatorial attorney, he must der them liable to arbitrary fine and say, after all the serious consideration imprisonment, they would be establishwhich he ad given to this subject, ing a new era in British jurisprudence. that he could not conceive what had There were facts in this case which induced his Majesty's Attorney-Gene- convinced him that the government

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