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child having been put into her hands. Joseph Martin, an officer, pursued the prisoner to Birmingham in consequence of information he had received. He found her there on the Wednesday, with the child in her arms, at the door of her house: it was dressed very smartly, and she was nursing it. He † not speak to her until the Thursday morning, when the father came ; he told him he thought he had succeeded in finding his child. He then went to the house, which was a bookseller's, and asked for captain Ridding, who was out; he then asked for Mrs. Ridding, who, with her sister-in-law, came down stairs, and he was introduced to them in a back parlour. Witness then said to them, “I am an officer of the police from London, and have a serious charge against you; it is for stealing a child.” She appeared dreadfully agitated at this intimation, and the sister-in-law equally so. The latter said, “What does all this mean, my dear? Speak the truth; what is there about this child?” “I will then," said she (the prisoner); “The captain has been long wishing for a child, and I went to London, determined to take some poor person's child and adopt it as my own; I accordingly walked about and saw this child and some others at play; I offered them money for cakes; the boy who had it said he would fetch the cakes, and he then pushed the child into my arms and ran off for the cakes. I waited for his return some time, but he did not. come, and I then thought Providence had put the
child into my care, and I went away with it, determined to take care of it and apprize its parents of the circumstance as soon as I could ascertain who they were.” On his asking her for the clothes the child had when she took it, she went up stairs and brought them down. [Mrs. Schrier here identified the clothes produced as being those her child had when it was lost.] The officer further said, that when he first saw the child on the Wednesday it was elegantly attired in a lace dress; on the Thursday it had a new and different dress; the lady appeared to treat it tenderly, and offered to send a careful person up with the child to London ; she did not seem to wish to conceal the child at all, and saw her dancing it in her arms at the bookseller's door
on Wednesday. The lady, on being called upon for her defence, said, “I was walking near where the children were playing, and I wished to give them some cakes; I offered . money to them, and the boy pushed the infant into my arms and said he would go for the cakes; I gave him a shilling, and he went to bring the cakes. After staying some time, awaiting his return, he never made his appearance, and at the instant it struck me, that, as I was anxious to adopt a child, it had pleased Providence to put this infant in my way. I then from that moment determined to adopt it as my own; as I had lost my way and knew not where to turn to look for its parents, I went away with it, determined to apprize its parents as soon as I could ascertain who they were; I treated it S 2 whilst
whilst it remained with me with the utmost fondness and maternal tenderness." The Common Serjeant summed up the evidence to the jury, who returned a verdict of Guilty, but strongly recommended the priSoner to mercW. [She was finally sentenced to twelve months imprisonment.]
court of KING's-BENCH, GUILDHALL, OCT. 12. Libel.
The King v. Itichard Carlisle. —This was an action brought by the Attorney-general against the defendant for the republication of Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, formerly adjudged to be a blasphemous libel. The cause excited general interest, and at an early hour the court was crowded to excess.
Mr. Carlisle conducted his own defence without the assistance of counsel; before the cause commenced, he objected to the competency of the tribunal, not being aware, he said, of any law on which the present prosecution could be maintained.
The Attorney-general, in opening the cause, repelled the assertion of the defendant that the present information was founded on no law. Christianity, he said, was a part of the law of the land, and to deny or revile it was punishable both by the common law and by several express statutes; and he cited several cases in supi. of this declaration, particuarly the verdict formerly obtained against one Williams for the publication of the very work now in question.
If the Christian religion were part of the law of the land, the next point was to show that the defendant had violated it by publishing one of the most abominable, disgusting and wicked attacks on religion that had ever appeared in the world; and the learned gentleman proceeded to read passages from the work containing the most open and vehement attacks both on the authenticity and the moral tendency of the Old and New Testament. Mr. Carlisle, in his defence, stated truth to be his only object in the publication; and expressed his conviction that such publication was essential to the interests and welfare of the country. His fellow-citizens, he said, were now fully prepared to discuss the subject; indeed it was only by perusing such works as these that the minds of the public could be perfectly enlightened. The sentiments of his own breast, he should state, were in unison with those of Paine, and his religion consisted in the avowal of them. He then entered into a laboured defence of these sentiments, which he affirmed to be free from any immoraltendency; and he proceeded to read aloud nearly the whole work, accompanying it with his comments. After eleven hours had been occupied in this manner, the Lord Chief Justice at the request of the defendant adjourned the court to the following day. The defendant, on resuming his defence, undertook to prove, by reading passages from the scriptures themselves, that the charges brought against them by Paine were founded in truth; but he he was interrupted by the Chief Justice, who informed him that it was not competent to the Court to try the merits of the Christian religion, and that such a line of defence was utterly inadmissible. He was however permitted to read a variety of extracts from various controversial works for the purpose either of supporting the opinions of Paine, or of showing that similar opinions expressed by others had escaped prosecution. He likewise endeavoured to show that the late act for the relief of Unitarians ought to protect this work from legal cognizance. The Court again adjourned to enable him to conclude his defence.
On the third day of the trial, Mr. Carlisle read a number of passages from various works in favour of the unlimited toleration of religious discussion. He also desired to be permitted to call the Archbishop of Canterbury, the High Priest of the Jews and the
leaders of various sects of Chris
tians, to show the discrepancies of their religious belief. The Chief Justice informed him, that such testimony would be at once inadmissible and unavailing; and in consequence some witnesses to the general character of the defendant were alone summoned. After a reply from the Attorney-general, the Chief Justice summed up. He concluded b saying, that, sitting where he dio, it was his duty to express his opinion to the jury, and that opinion was, that this publication was a work of calumny and scoffing, and therefore an unlawful publication. The jury, after a deli
beration of half an hour, returned a verdict of Guilty.
oCTOBER 15. Ilibel. The King v. Richard Carlisle. —Mr. Carlisle, as on his former trial, protested against the comFo of the Court. Mr. Marryat, for the prosecution, stated that this was an indictment against the defendant for having published a certain, scandalous, impious, blasphemous and profane libel of and concerning the Holy Scriptures and the Christian religion, to which the defendant had pleaded not guilty. Mr. Gurney, on the same side, rose and said, that this was a prosecution instituted by the Society for the Suppression of Vice,—a society which had been of very much benefit to the public on many occasions, by putting down wicked and licentious publications, calculated, like the one now opol of, to injure the morals of the community, and o those of the young. he society conceived that the religion of the country, on which all morality was j WaS not less entitled to the protection of the laws than any other part of their invaluable institutions; and when they saw in one of the most public streets of the metropolis, works exhibited for sale which attacked and reviled the Christian religion, and the Holy Scriptures in which it was contained ;-when they saw such works daringly and ostentatiously sold at the shop of this defendant, which he had been pleased, in the effrontery of his impiety, 262
impiety, to style the “Temple of Reason,” “ The Office of the Republican and Deist;”—when they saw all this, they thought themselves called upon to do their part to put down a class of publications which, were they to succeed in their object, would dissolve all the bonds by which civil society is held together. They had accordingly obtained evidence of the publication of the work in question and submitted a bill of indictment to the grand jury, by whom it had been found. The defendant had been pleased to enter his protest against the competency of this Court to try the question. If such protests as this were to be tolerated, he knew not what offender might not in future unblushingly defy the authority of the courts of his country to take cognizance of any of— fence imputed to him. He supposed that they would be asked to-day, as they had been before, by what law the defendant was to be tried. The answer was, that he was to be tried by the ancient, the well-known, the universally-recognized common law of England;—that law which existed and was reverenced and obeyed before there was any statute on the books;–that law by which their civil rights were regulated, by which their property was protected from the thief by day, by which their houses were protected from the midnight intruder, by which their lives were protected from the knife of the assassin, by which their nature was protected from the violation of unnatural lust. Such were some of those crimes which the
ANNUAL REGISTER, 1819.
common law of this land had denounced;—that law which they had been told was no law; and really the defendant might as well tell them, that not one of all these crimes could be competently tried by any court in the country, as stand there and maintain that it was incompetent for that Court to try him for the equally high and serious crime against common law with which he was now charged. A doctrine such as that maintained by the defendant would, in fact, set all law and order at complete defiance. The book which was imputed as a libel to the defendant was entitled “Principles of Nature; or, a Development of the Moral Causes of Happiness and Misery among the Human Species.” It professed to be by Elihu Palmer, and the imprint stated that it was printed in America, but re-printed and published in London by R. Carlisle, 55, Fleet-street. Whether all these statements were false or true, he knew not;—whether there was any such person as this Elihu Palmer, or whether the book had ever before been printed, he neither knew nor cared. It was enough that he found the defendant openly publishing it with his own hand; and as it would be his business to show to them, publishing it with no other purpose than that charged in the indictment;-the profane and wicked purpose of reviling the Christian religion and Holy Scriptures. It was a painful task to give utterance to such passages as he should be obligedo to read to them in support of his case: it must be as painful for
them to hear as for him to repeat them;—passages so abominable, that, except certain parts of that infamous work with the consideration of which the Court had for these three days past been occupied, he remembered not to have read or heard of any thing so remarkable for wickedness and atrocity. The learned gentleman then proceeded to read various passages reflecting either
upon certain doctrines of Chris
tianity, or upon the character of its founder; and after a number of remarks in reprobation of the work and of the conduct of the defendant, he ended by expressing his confidence that the jury by their verdict of condemnation would contribute to stem that torrent of infidelity which threatened to carry away all our institutions, all our laws, and with them all our happiness. A witness was then brought, who proved the purchase of the work of the defendant in person. Mr. Carlisle afterwards spoke at some length in his own defence. “The learned gentleman, he said, has stated that this was a prosecution instituted by the Society for the Suppression of Vice. Until last night, gentlemen, I never knew who my prosecutors were ; nor do I believe I should then have become acquainted with their name but for the verdict of yesterday. He has told you that the gentlemen of this society have conferred many benefits on the country; and, in some instances, I admit it; but they have carried their inquisitorial conduct too far. In preventing the sale of obscene books and prints, I think the society
has acted laudably, as these are demoralizing to all persons, of all ages, and of both sexes. But are they justified in going so far as to become censors of the press, and to judge of books on matters of opinion? Gentlemen, I am no hypocrite; I avow myself a Deist, believing in one God, independent of books or the opinions of others. This, it must be admitted, is, in the abstract, a matter of opinion only. If, gentlemen, your religious opinions are different from mine, you will doubtless disapprove and condemn them. By the laws of this country, a foreigner is entitled to have one half of the jury his countrymen, or at least of for reigners; but it is not so with me; I am to be tried by a jury of opinions opposite to my own, and I am not allowed to justify mine. How far it is necessar that books should be shielded from examination by law, or that courts of justice should take cognizance of such an examination, and not allow the defendant to state his reasons, I will not pretend to determine. The learned gentleman has attempted to screen the Attorney-general from the charge I made against him of wishing to excite prejudices against me; but he has failed. He has also stated, that the book I am charged with publishing was purchased at the office of The Republican and Deist. Now, gentlemen, this is a falsehood, as my shop bore no such designation until long after this indictment was laid against me. He calls me an offender; this, at least, was not decent in your presence; for although theindictment charges