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had a point in view which had not hi- On the following day, (August 4,) therto been discovered-he meant the Mr Wooler, for himself, addressed the the establishment of the doctrine of Court in a speech of three hours and a constructive misdemeanour. He ex. quarter, of which we can only insert horted them most impressively not to some of the most prominent passages. lend themselves to the introduction of He challenged the learned Serjeantsuch a system. Constructive treason ap- and he knew no man was better acpeared most horrible to the mind of an quainted with the law than the learnEnglishman ; but constructive misde- ed Serjeant was—to point out any meanour, if once established, would be statute, or any part of a statute, which, infinitely more dangerous. Whenever by implication, or by insinuation, could constructive treason was attempted to lead the people to suppose that the be established, an Englishman would meetings which they had been in the feel that a stab was made at his own habit of attending were illegal. It was liberties ; but the evils of constructive the right of every man to hold whatmisdemeanours were not so apparent. soever political opinions he pleased, The punishment awarded to them, and to lay them before the public for when established, many would say, was their ultimate decision. It was not only imprisonment—was only a sepa- sufficient, as the learned Serjeant had ration from a man's family-was only asserted, that individuals should be at a partial loss of his comforts-- was only liberty to maintain what he termed inthe ruin of his business ; or, if it were nocent and harmless opinions. Their a fine, was only a sum of money, which rights and liberties could be traced to his friends might make up for him. a higher and nobler source, and those There could not be a more fatal mis- rights and liberties entitled them to take : if they allowed power to ob- hold whatsoever opinions they thought tain that advantage, it would soon ex. proper. If he stated a political opipand itself to higher crimes; and when. nion, any person who pleased might ever government wished to get rid of attack it for its absurdity or its unan obnoxious individual, they would soundness ; that was a matter of which only have to bring a charge of conspi- posterity were to judge. But the perracy against him. What had the de- son condemning that opinion had no fendants been doing? They met with right to go further and say, “ You are out the King's writ—that was no an evil, malicious, and ill-disposed percrime. If they had said that they had son,” because he thought in a particuthe King's writ, and so imposed a lar manner on a particular subject. member upon the House of Commons, The earliest information which the they would have been guilty of a most people received of there being anything infamous fraud ; but they had no in. wrong or illegal in their assembling tention of doing any thing like that. together, was derived from the London They meant to give a strong indication papers in August last. That informof what Manchester and Birmingham ation appeared in the shape of a prowanted, and which, if they had, he, clamation, which he would read to for one, believed would tend more to them. The proclamation began by the discontinuance of the riotous mobs stating, “Whereas, for some time past, which sometimes disgraced those towns large bodies of people have been illethan any other measure whatsoever. gally assembled together, and at such

Mr Hill spoke in favour of Major meetings endeavours have been made, Cartwright.

by treasonable speeches, to bring the

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government of this country into ha- the Court. It made one wonder that tred and contempt.” This was the the law should give the learned Sere first sentence of a proclamation co- jeant the power or the audacity to ming from the highest authority in call on a jury to find him and his felthe country; and he would maintain low-defendants guilty of all the crimes that a more libellous attack on the contained in this string of absurdity crown and on the government never and nonsense. By the law of Eng. issued from what was termed “the land, every charge ought to be clear seditious press.” Here it was stated, and specific; but the learned Serthat the present careful and vigilant jeant could not point out any thing administration knew that seditious like law, not even the presumption of and treasonable speeches had, for a law, except it was his own presumpconsiderable time, been addressed to tion of the law, that could bear him the passions of the people, and yet out in making this multitude of vague they never once thought of acting on accusations. To read the indictment that knowledge. Were they not here would be a total waste of time—to libelling themselves ? Were they not comprehend it was utterly impossible. accusing themselves of a gross dere. The learned Serjeant had told them liction of duty, in allowing such trea- that the highest class of misdemeansonable and seditious expressions to our consisted in the endeavour to exbe used, without endeavouring to cite disaffection in the minds of the bring the offenders to justice? The people against the government, and proclamation went on thus—"And this, he contended, had been done by at one of the said meetings, the indi- attacking the integrity of the House viduals assembled did attempt to con- of Commons. The integrity of the stitute and appoint a person there no- House of Commons consisted in its minated to sit, in their name and be- pure connexion with the people—in half, in the Commons House of Par- its justice to the interests of the peoliament, contrary to law.” Now, the ple—in its exercise of its controlling conscientious advisers of his Majesty power over every species of public ought, in justice, to point out what corruption. Who had attacked that law was violated on the occasion al integrity ? Was the sale of seats at Juded to; but, notwithstanding all Barnstable, Grampound, and Penthe clamour that had been made about rhyn, any part of that integrity ? Was the law of the case, the learned Ser- the barter of a seat, for a writership jeant had not introduced to their no- by Lord Castlereagh, any part of that tice a single statute, or even the sha- integrity? Was that act a part of the dow of a statute that prohibited such integrity of the House of Commons, meetings. He would now call the at- at which the late Speaker, Mr Abbot, tention of the Jury to the indictment, said, “our ancestors would have and he thought the courts of law started with indignation,” and which ought to be ashamed when they saw a minister of the Crown defended on such a contemptible string of words the principle of the notoriety of the crowded together, without sense or thing? Were those who complained meaning, merely to puzzle the under- of such corruptions attacking the instanding. It was a matter sufficient tegrity of the House of Commons ? to excite a man's indignation, when If complaining of such a state of he considered the contemptible and things was exciting disaffection, it ridiculous heap of nonsense by which was, as Mr Dennan had well said, such prosecutions were introduced to exciting it against that which must

inevitably excite it. No attack was cause he exhibited a claim which he made on the integrity of the House- conceived to be just. Almost every no attack was made on the third session, persons who had been seated branch of the legislature, nor on its in the House of Commons were recontrolling power, nor on the gene- moved by the decision of the comral power which it possessed to form mittees to whom election-petitions laws for the people; but it was directs were referred. What was this but a ed against corrupt acts, which render- trial of right? He recollected one ed the exercise of those powers a case, where four members were reusurpation. The learned Serjeant turned for the same borough. Now had not, he thought, treated the re- there must have been a conspiracy formers fairly. Let him point out amongst the electors to return iwo of how and where they had erred. Let these persons. But the House said him not shoot his arrow in the dark, No ; those people were merely misand say he had struck the deer, when taken in what they have done." Why he had not touched it.-No; let him may not the people of Birmingham come forward, with his target of law say, with equal propriety, “ We are before him, and trace the acts of the not conspirators; we also were misreformers, and point out where they taken with respect to the right ?" have behaved criminally. Had there But he contended that they had not been any indication of an attempt to mistaken their right. They had a force the House of Commons to ad- right to be represented, and to state mit Sir C. Wolseley, then there would their opinions fairly on the subject. be ground for supposing that a sedi. The people of Birmingham had betious conspiracy existed. But what fore petitioned the House of Comsaid the resolution ?-It declared that mons, and their petitions were laid the people of Birmingham had a right on the table unnoticed. They, with reto be represented. How—with force? luctance, proposed to petition again, No; by sending Sir C. Wolseley. And and they took every means to act leunless Sir Charles was a Guy of War- gally; and their complaint, remonwick, capable, by himself, of turning strance, and petition, were now on out 658 members by the shoulders, the table of the House. But, notwithas Mr Hobhouse said, his election standing that circumstance, those who amounted to nothing. He was re- drew up and assented to the matter quested to write a letter to the Speak- of that document were now called seer; and although he knew Sir Charles ditious and disaffected. He doubted had considerable talents—suflicient, much whether, in the present proat least, to enable him to draw up ceeding, this Court was not infringing such a letter-it was impossible for on the privileges of the House of him to write one that would force the Commons, because, if any offence House to admit him to take a seat. were committed, it was committed What was done was done merely to against the privileges of that House, try the right. In the same way a man and not against the law of the land. might make a claim to an estate. If Therefore, the authorities in the he established it, the estate became Court were liable to be committed his; if he could not, he must, of for a contempt of those privileges, in course, withdraw it; but it would be daring to try the cause. But the very unjust if the unsuccessful claim- people of Birmingham had not comant were indicted for a conspiracy to mitted any breach of those privileges. injure the person in possession, be- They had not called Sir C. Wolseley

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a member of parliament-no, they scription was, “ The Sovereignty of made him their representative, as the People.” Did not the learned they were competent to do, for a va- Serjeant know that this was the standriety of purposes. Were not the de. ing toast of the Whigs? Had he not legates of 1793, who took up the heard that it was proposed at their great case of reform, and to whom dinners, even antecedently to the definite duties were entrusted-were health of the King? If the people not they representatives ? Sir Charles were the source of power if they Wolseley was called “legislatorial at- were the basis of authority—if they torney." Were members of parlia- were so recognised by the greatest ment so denominated ? If they were, characters this country ever proit was a very new designation. They duced, why should it be considered did not elect him to a seat in the improper for them to re-echo the senHouse, but merely appointed him to timents of their leaders, and to inask for that which they conceived scribe it on a banner? The English to be their due. The learned Ser- people had frequently exercised the jeant had informed him, that a con- rights of sovereignty. Who gave to spiracy to affect "a legal purpose" King William the Crown? who placed was odious in the eye of the law. A the dynasty of the Brunswick Family conspiracy against the state was un- on the throne ? who fought their doubtedly a crime, because it threat- battles, and supported their claims? ened mischief to the state; but to — The people. "Did they not act, on conspire to serve the state could not those occasions, not only as the posbe criminal. To constitute a conspi- sessors of sovereign authority, but as racy, it should have a tendency to the dispensers of power? The third oppose or subvert some law, with the inscription was, “Sir C. Wolesley, and knowledge of the persons concerned. no Corn-Laws." What was there imThat was the legal and rational ac- proper in this inscription? Was it not ceptation of the word. If men united known that the manufacturing interest, together to do acts mischievous and and various other interests, disliked prejudicial to others, that constituted that measure? It did not follow that conspiracy; and therefore he inferred, those who marched under this banner that such an offence could not, from would go to the House of Commons, the evidence, be fairly imputed to the and compel them to repeal this law. defendants. He proceeded to expa- No such thing; but, whether they tiate on the mottos that were inscribed were right or wrong, they were juson the flags. The first was, “ Major tified in expressing their dissatistacCartwright, and the Bill of Rights tion at the measure. The last inscripand Liberties.” After paying a high tion was, “ T.J. Wooler, and the Licompliment to the Major's character, berty of the Press.In descanting he argued, that any man had a right, on this motto, Mr Wooler strenuously if he pleased, to inscribe his name on repelled the insinuation that he was the collar of his dog, or to paint it on one of those who abused the liberty his door ; and he conceived, when the of the press. If the Attorney-Genelearned Serjeant adverted to the Ma- ral were present, and denied the truth jor's Bill of Rights, that he ought to of this statement, he would say, that have pointed out sume defect in it, he wrote his own unworthiness. If he ought to have shewn that it con- he bad abused the liberty of the press, tained some poisonous principle that he was not concealed, but was amenrendered it dangerous. The next in- able to the law. Two prosecutions

had been instituted against him ; on were the guardians of the rights and one he received a verdict of acquittal, privileges of Englishmen, and that on and on the other a special verdict was their verdict depended the security of returned, which was much more gra- all they held dear. tifying to his feelings. That verdict Mr C. Pearson read an address by was, “Guilty, if truth be a libel by Major Cartwright in his own defence, the law of the land.” Guilty of tell- which occupied four hours and a half. ing the truth! Could any thing more Mr Lewis spoke in his own defence. honourable be said of him? could a Mr Vaughan replied. more flattering epitaph be placed on The Lord Chief Baron summed

his tomb-stone? He was, before the up, and charged the Jury, who, after { public, a mark too conspicuous to be retiring for twenty minutes, brought

neglected or overlooked if he abused in a verdict of Guilty, against all the the liberty of the press. He wrote defendants. strongly, because he felt strongly; Bills of exceptions were taken against but he would cease to write, if any in the manner in which the Jury had been dividual could convict him of dealing in struck, and were argued in the Court private slander, or of publishing opini. of King's Bench; but as the ons which he did not conscientiously upon them was not given during the hold. The Jury were now about to try present year, we shall reserve till next a right which they might themselves Volume our report of the proceedbe shortly called on to exercise. He ings. besought them to recollect that they



STIRLING, 230 June, 1820.

As cases of treason are tried by delivered to them a Charge, illustraEnglish law, and cannot be brought tive of their duties, and of the law of before the ordinary Scottish Courts, a treason. The following are the prinSpecial Commission was appointed by cipal heads :the crown, consisting of all the mem- Trials for treason have been of very bers of the Scottish Court of Justic rare occurrence in this country. Not ciary, with the addition of Sir Samuel that we have been without materials in Shepherd, Chief Baron of Exchequer; Scotland ; for the two rebellions in and Mr Adam, Lord Commissioner of 1715 and 1745 furnished a numerous the Jury Court.

list of traitors ; but, by special staAccording to English law, it was tutes, the trials then all took place in necessary, that the indictment should England. be submitted to a Grand Jury; and as The cases of Watt and Downie, in this body, as well as trial for treason, 1794, are, I believe, the only trials for was new to Scotland, the LORD Pre- treason which have taken place in SIDENT, on the Jury being impanelled, Scotland since the Union,


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