Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

1

evidence with the attention which becomes men who are deciding on the fate of others. If these. Dar

Dera fendants be innocent, and my learned friend is able to substantiate their innocence, to your satisfaction, for God's sake let them be acquitted, but if that, innocence cannot be clearly and satisfactorily estan i blished, I stand here interested as I am in common with him in the acquittal of innocence, at the same time however demanding the rights of public justice against the guilty. It imports the safety of yourselves,- it imports the safety of our country,--it imports the existence and security of every thing that is dear to us, if these men be not innocent, that no considerations of tenderness and humanity, -no coulsiderations of any sort short of what the actual abstract justice of the case may require, should prevent the hand of punishment from falling heavy on them,

Having, therefore, Gentlemen, given you this short detail and explanation of the principal facts which are about to be laid before you in evidence, I will now close the first part of the trouble I must give you. I shall by and by, when my learned friend has adduced that evidence by which he will attempt to assail the character and credit of the principal witness for the prosecution, have an opportunity of addressing you again ; and, I trust, in the mean time, whatever attention you may be disposed to pay to the exertions of those who will labour to establish the innocence of the persons now arraigned before

you will, at the same time, steadily

you, that

bear in mind the duties which you owe to yourselves and to your country ;-recollecting, as I am sure you will, that we all look up to your firmness and integrity at this moment, for the protection of that constitution from which we derive every blessing we individually or collectively enjoy.

MR. ERSKINE.

GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY,

I LISTEN€D 'with the greatest attention (and in honour of my learned friend I must say with the greatest approbation) to much of his address to you in the opening of this cause ;-it was candid and manly, and contained many truths which I have no interest to deny; one in particular which involves in it indeed the very principle of the defence, the value of that happy constitution of government which has so long existed in this island. I hope that none of us will ever forget the gratitude which wę owe to the Divine Providence, and, under its bless. ing, to the wisdom of our forefathers, for the happy establishment of law and justice under which we live; and under which, thank God, my Clients are this day to be judged: great indeed will be the condemnation of any man who does not feel and act as he ought to do upon this subject ; for surely if there be one privilege greater than another which the benevolent Author of our being has been pleased to dispense to his creatures since the existence of the earth which we inhabit, it is to have cast our lots in this age and country :-for myself, I would in spirit prostrate myself daily and hourly before

[blocks in formation]

Heaven to acknowledge it, and instead of coming from the house of Mr. Walker, and accompanying him at Preston (the only truths which the witness has uttered since he came into Court), if I believed him capable of committing the crimes he is charged with, I would rather have

gone
into

my grave than have been found as a friend under his roof.

Gentlemen, the crime imputed to the Defendant is a serious one indeed :-Mr. Law has told

you, and told you truly, that this Indictment has not at all for its object to condemn or to question the particular opinions which Mr. Walker and the other Defendants may entertain concerning the principles of this government, or the reforms which the wisest governments may from time to time require : he is indeed a man of too enlarged a mind to think for a moment that his country can be served by interrupto ing the current of liberal opinion, or overawing the legal freedom of English sentiment by the terrors of criminal prosecution: he openly disavows such a system, and has, I think, even more than hinted to us that there may be seasons when an attention to reform may be salutary, and that every individual under our happy establishment has a right upon this important subject to think for himself.

The Defendants therefore are not arraigned before you, nor even censured in observation, for having associated at Manchester to promote what they felt to be the cause of religious and civil liberty ;-nor åre they arraigned or censured for seeking to collect

the sentiments of their neighbours and the public concerning the necessity of a reform in the constitution of Parliament; these sentiments and objects are wholly out of the question: but they are charged with having unlawfully confederated and conspired to destroy and overthrow the government of the kingdom by OPEN FORCE AND REBELLION, and that to effect this wicked purpose they exercised the King's subjects with arms, perverting that which is our birthright, for the protection of our lives and property, to the malignant purpose of supporting the enemies of this kingdom in case of an invasion : įn order, as my friend has truly said (for I admit the consequence if the fact be established), in order to make our country that scene of confusion and desolation which fills every man's heart with dismay and horror, when he only reads or thinks of what is transacting at a distance upon the bloody theatre of the war that is now desolating the world. This, and nothing different or less than this, is the charge which is made upon the Defendants, at the head of whom stands before you a merchant of honour, property, character, and respect;-who has long enjoyed the countenance and friendship of many of the worthiest and most illustrious persons in the kingdom, and whose principles and conduct have more than once been publicly and gratefully acknowledged by the community of which he is a member, as the friend of their commerce and li. berties, and the protector of the most essential

« ZurückWeiter »