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Counsel for the prosecution. But the question which you are about to decide is of much greater importance than as it affects my personal interests; the question is not whether I shall be sent back to prison or not, but whether the Liberty of the Press shall be sacrificed for ever by your assistance. The precedent which your decision will form will stamp the fate of hundreds who are, or who are intended to be in the same situation as myself; and the object that is now contemplated by the English Ministry is the total annibilation of the Liberty of the Press. In defending myself from the charges which have been preferred against me, I trust you will consider the difficulties I have had to encounter, and the infinite advantages enjoyed by the conductors of the prosecution. I have already suffered an imprisonment of five months, and if you should return a verdict of Guilty, I have fortitude enough to meet the merciless sentence which will follow,with perfect indifference. But, Gentlemen of the Jury, you cannot so far forget your duty as to surrender the right of the Nation to discuss and attend to its own interests into the hands of a wicked and corrupt prosecuting Association? If you convict me, you give up your own right to express an opinion on politics; for the object of the Ministry, and their tools in this Association, is nothing short of the absolute destruction of the Liberty of the Press. I appeal to you as men, as members of civil society; I appeal to you as fathers, that you will not suffer your verdict to be an instrument for rivetting those chains upon your children which are now attempted to be fastened on the present race of Englishmen; and having done this, I fearlessly leave my own future comfort in your hands, in the full confidence that you will rescue me from the fangs of this despotic and blood-thirsty Administration, and discourage the wicked efforts of this exposed, scorned, and detested gang of robbers, the managers of the selfstyled Constitutional Association.
The Common Serjeant then summed up the evidence to the Jury, and observed upon the nature of the Defence which the Prisoner had thought proper to pursue, saying he at least had had the merit of having made a very bold defence. It was said that this was nothing but a conspiracy to prosecute opinions, and that the only question was as to the malicious intention of the publisher. The Jury would not be influenced by such a course of argument. The only questions were, first, whether there was a publication; and, secondly, whether the passages selected were blasphemous and seditious ? The third question as to the agreement of the Prisoner in the doctrines he had thus disseminated, had been entirely put out of consideration by the manner in which the Prisoner had shaped his Defence, for he professed to advocate every principle the pamphlet might contain. It could not be for the Jury to consider whether the party writing these Libels might intend some good at some distant period, but the tendency of the doctrines delivered must be considered, and the manner in which they were put forth to the public. With respect to the Prisoner's declining to give his name, no difficulty mould arise from it. The individual had pleaded to the Indictment, and he had been completely identified by the witness Smith. With regard to that part of the Prisoner's Defence in which he endeavoured to prove what he termed the abscenities of the Bible, it was indeed most painful to hear it; but however offensive and shocking to the ears it might be, it was right that both a Judge and a Jury should listen to it. The Prisoner would take the chaạce of exciting a stronger feeling than might otherwise be entertained. It is certainly a misfortune, in this age of refined language, that the obscene parts of the Bible were not omitted.
After having read the passages in the Indictment at length, he left it to the Jury to decide whether they had any doubt as to their blasphemous and seditious nature.
The Jury, without hesitation, found a verdict of Guilty!
The Prisoner was called up for judgment. Being asked in the usual form what he had to say why judgment should not be passed upon him, as in cases
of misdemeanor, he answered, “ I consider that I have done my duty. The pamphlet contained my, views and principles, and I published them. I have no hesitation in saying, that I will continue to publish my opinions in every possible shape that I am able.”
The Common Serjeant then prefaced his sentence with the following words : “ I regret to say, that the Court finds itself absolutely called upon, in consequence of the Defence the Prisoner has read, and the expressions which have now fallen froin him, to pass a much more severe sentence than he would otherwise have received. The Court would have been willing to have recollected that the Prisoner had already endured a considerable imprisonment (although it was wholly his own fault that he was so confined): but it would be wanting in its duty to the public if it did not pass such a sentence as would tend to deter others from publishing such blasphemous works. (Addressing himself to the undismayed and undaunted Prisoner) Your mind is neither unenlightened nor uninstructed, and you will see that the views you now entertain can only be hostile to the general objects you have in tiew—the amelioration of your fellowo creatures. It is impossible that such publications should be suffi red to erist.”
“ The sentence of the Court is, that you be imprisoned in the House of Correction for the term of eighteen months, and at the end of that period to find sureties for five years, yourself in £100, and two others in £40 each."
Prisoner.-I have a mind, my Lord, that can bear such a sentence with fortitude.
On March the 5th, Joseph Rhodes, who had been improperly drawn into a plea to the name of William Holmes, was but to the bar for trial, having traversed from the January sessions. The pamphlet and the Indictment were the same as in the case of Humphrey Boyle.
Mr. Adolphus addressed the Jury for the prosecution in his usual manner, and observed, that, to prove that the publications similar to that before the Court had done mischief, he had need only to notice a motto on the last page of the pamphlet, connected with the subscription : which was as follows:
“ From four Scotch Weavers, who once believed their Grandmother's word that there were three Gods ; silly old women whom the Priests had crammed.”.
Superstition is on her death bed, her Doctors, the Priests, attend on her anxious for her recovery, Hark! the “ Age of Reason” is ringing her dying knell ! the hag distorts herself-she cries for blood-for imprisonment-she is dead! The Sun of Reason Shines.
“ Virtue is truth,
The Bible shall die.”
Purton was sworn, and stated, that he purchased the pamphlet from the Defendant in the shop of Carlile.
Cross-examined by Mr. Prendergast. How long have you been in the employ of the Constitutional Association ?
Purton.-I am not bound to answer that question.
Purton. I certainly was employed by those Gentlemen.
Mr. Prendergast.-Is not Mr. Sharpe a member of the Constitutional Association ?
Purton. I have heard and believe that he is.
Mr. Prendergast.--I am aware of that, my Lord; but it is prima facie, perfectly clear that Mr. Sharpe is connected with the Association.
The Common Sergeant.-Well, we shall see that bye and bye.
Mr. Prendergast.— I contend, my Lord, that it is perfectly apparent now that Mr. Sharpe is a member of the Association in question.
The Common Sergeant.--Well it may be so—but that does not alter the case.
We have no proof whatever that he is a member, and if he is it will not alter the case.
The Clerk of the Arraigns then read the parts of the pamphlet set forth in the Indictment, which ciosed the case for the prosecution.
Mr. Prendergast addressed the Jury for the Defendant, and dwelt with much force on the conduct of the Society, in prosecuting, rather than contending against the opinions which were broached by the writer of the pamphlet in question. He stated that the Prisoner was an inbabitant of a remote part of the country, and had not been in the service of Carlile more than a few hours previously to his being taken into custody: Had that not been the case, he should have been able to have called witnesses, to prove that his client had been a dutiful child, a beloved husband, and a valued parent, and had borne that character which would reflect the highest honour on him in the sphere of life in which he moved. After making some observations on the composition of the Constitutional Association, and observing that it was notorious that even those who sat on the bench had subscribed to it; the Common Sergeant interfered and complained of the harshness of the remarks, which gave rise to some warm discussion. Mr. Prendergast insisting that such an association was illegal, as it could not be known whether even the Jurors in the box were or were not members of it, and that it was notorious that some of the Judges had subscribed to it. The Common Sergeant decided that the Counsel for the Defendant had no right to make such remarks or suppositions: and after having called forth the interference of the Court on some remarks upon the case of David Ridgeway, Mr. Prendergast sat down condemnilig the whole proceedings.'
At the opening of the case, the Defendant had expressed a wish to withdraw bis plea, by saying, that, he had been falsely sworn to by Cooper the Officer, and that his name, was not William Holmes. He now asked the Common Sergeant if he might make his objection to the procedings. No answer was returned, but that Cooper the Officer was not present. He then observed that, he would bring forward evidence to shew that Purton the officer had said that he the Defendant was not the man who had sold him the pamphlet.
This was denied by the officer.
The Defendant begged that bis fellow Prisoner (the man whose name is unknown) might be called in proof of what he had stated.
The Common Sergeant said, he was certainly at liberty to call any person whose evidence was admissible, and if he named him he should be called.
Defendant.--The person I mean is the man whose name is unknown.
The Common Sergeant.--The Court will not take the cvidence of any man who will not give his name. If he likes to state his name his evidence will be received.
Mr. Brown, the Keeper of Newgate, after a few minutes absence said the man whose name was unknown, was present, but that he refused to give his name.
The Common Sergeant.—Then the Court cannot hear him: we cannot hear a man without a name.
The Defendant then said he would call a Mrs. Wright to prove what he said to be true.
Susannah Wright was called and sworn.
Witness.— I was Housekeeper to Mr. Carlile and was just come down stairs to prepare dinner for the men, when I saw a suspicious looking person lift the flap of the Counter, walk inside and look' round. I demanded his business. He turned round contemptously and made no answer. I pressed him for an answer, and he turned round to Joseph Rhodes, the person at the Bar, and said I have a warrant for you. I then said to Rhodes, “If it be a warrant read it yourself and see that it is in your name.”
Common Sergeant.-Was any other person in the shop with him at the time?
Witness.-Yes, there was Purton the spy who came with the City officer.
Common Sergeant,—What do you mean by a spy?
Witness.-A person who goes about purchasing pamphlets to entrap men, by swearing they are blasphemous or seditious.
Common Sergeant.-Have you got witness to that effect?
Witness. I have no evidence but his own actions, as far as I have seen them, and his own reported words in “ The Times Newspaper.” (A bystander observed it was so reported in the “ Times.”
Common Sergeant.-What did Purton say?
Witness.-Purton said that is not the man,” and something I did not hear, to the officer who had the warrant: but the officer turned to Rhodes and said "you must go with me." I asked the officer to let him take his dinner first; but he would not.
Common Sergeant.- Did you advise the men not to give up their names?
Witness.--I never advise any one.
Common Sergeant.—Yes you did, you say you advised him to read the warrant.
Witness. That was not deliberate advise.
Cross-examined by Mr. Adolphus. Mr. Adolphus (pointing to Purton) Is that the person you call a spy? Witness.—Yes.
Mr. Adolphus then pointed to Harrison, the City Marshalman and asked which of them she meant.
Witness.- I mean Purton.
Mr. Adolphus.-Pray Mrs. Wright are you a married or a single woman?
Witness. I am a married woman.
Mr. Adolphus.--Have you not the misfortune to have many indictments against you?
Witness.—I have two Indictments against me, but if you consider it a misfortune, I do not.
Mr. Adolphus.- I called it a misfortune as the mildest term I could apply to it. Is it for the same pamphlet ?