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muskets, pikes, and axes, therewith to levy and wage war, insurrection, and rebellion against our said Lord the King within this kingdom, against the duty of their allegiance, against the peace of our said Lord the now King, his crown and dignity, and against the form of the statute in that case made and provided.
Mr. Attorney General stated to the Court, that he had been informed by the Counsel for the Prisoners, it was their wish the Prisoners should be tried separately. It was therefore his intention to proceed first on the trial of Thomas Hardy.
At the request of the Prisoners' Counsel, the Court adjourned to Tuesday, October the 28th.
On Tuesday the 28th of October, the Atiorney General opened the case for the Crown against the Prisoner Thomas Hardy, in the following Speech.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR LORDSHIP AND
CENTLEMEN OF THE JURY,
In the course of stating what I have to offer to your most serious attention in this great and weighty cause, affecting, as it certainly does, the dearest interests of the community, affecting, as you will remember throughout this business, every interest which can be valuable to the Prisoner at the bar, I shall have frequent occasion to call that anxious attention to the
different parts of the Indictment which has just .. been opened to you.
I forbear to do so at this moment, because I think that attention will be more usefully, both with respect to the public, and to the Prisoner, given and required in another part of what I am to address to you.
Gentlemen, the Prisoner, who is before you, stands charged (to state the Indictment generally) with the offence of compassing His Majesty's death ; he was committed, upon that charge, by His Majesty's Privy Council : I will explain to you presently why I state this and the following facts. In consequence of the apprehension of this Prisoner, of several others charged by this Indictment, and of others, whose names do not occur in this Indictment, proceedings of some notoriety were had in Parliament, and an Act passed, empowering His Majesty to detain such persons as he suspected were conspiring against his government. That Act has asserted, that a traitorous and detestable conspiracy had been formed for subverting the existing laws and government of the country, and for introducing that system of anarchy and confusion, which had so fatally prevailed in France ; the Act, upon the spur of the emergency, which it contemplated, authorized the detention without bail, mainprize, or discharge, of the persons then in prison for high treason, or treasonable practices, or who should afterwards be committed, for high treason or treasonable practices, by warrants from the Privy Council or Secretary of State, until the first of February 1795.
Gentlemen, this measure, which did not suspend the operation of the Habeas Corpus Act, that great palladium of English liberty, but with reference to particular persons, tnder particular commitments, for particular offences, is a measure never adopted in this country by Parliament but in cases, in which it is understood, after giving all possible attention to secure the right of the subject from being broken in upon, to be of the last possible necessity, and which has been repeatedly put in force, in the best of times, in such cases, where the wisdom of Parliament apprehended that it was matter of their duty to provide that the nation should part with its liberty for a while, that it might not lose it for ever.
Gentlemen, appearing before you this day in discharge of that duty, which I have been commanded to execute, and the execution of which appears to me to be absolutely necessary, you will collect from the fact that I do appear here this day, that, according to the true constitutional meaning of such an Act of Parliament, it is not that the trial of such persons shall be delayed during the period of the suspension of the Act, but that the Act shall, with reference to the time of trial, be allowed, in the right execution of it, an operation only to that extent, in which the due consideration of the public safety, tempered with a due attention to the liberty of the individual subject, may require.
Gentlemen, the proceedings of the Legislature having been such as I have stated to you, His Ma
jesty, constitutionally advised in the exercise of his duty, as the great conservator of the public peace, directed a commission to issue to inquire whether any such treasons, as the presumption of such a traitorous conspiracy must necessarily suppose to have existed, had been committed by any persons, and by whom. In the execution of the duties of that commission, a Grand Jury of this county, upon their oaths, have declared that there is ground of charge against the person at the bar, and against others, sufficient to call upon them, in a trial to be had before you, their country, to answer to an accusation of high treason, in compassing His Majesty's death.
Gentlemen, I have stated these circumstances, that I may convey to you, in as strong terms as I can express it, this observation, that, as the proceedings of Parliament ought to have had (and I am persuaded, from the deliberation which they gave the subject, that they had) no influence upon the judicial mind of the Grand Inquest, neither ought these proceedings to affect your inquiries, or to induce you to any determination, which you are to make upon the issue, which you are now sworn to try.
Gentlemen, there is no one circumstance of any proceedings before Parliament, with reference to which
you ought to suffer yourselves to be influenced in the trial of this issue. It is obvious that such proceedings, as were had in Parliament, providing for great emergencies, may be required and autho
in full pos
rized by the genuine spirit of the constitution, even iu cases in which a Grand Jury Inight not, upon any thing that could be offered to their consideration, be justified in finding a bill : it is much more ob. vious, that, in a proceeding before you, a consideration of the wisdom and propriety of the acts of the Legislature is not called for.
You therefore, Gentlemen of the Jury, will consider the Prisoner as standing before you session of an absolute right to the presumption of innocence, notwithstanding he is charged with guilt by this Indictment, as you will hear, except so far as that presumption is met by the single simple fact, that he has been accused by a Grand Jury of his country
Gentlemen, before I conclude these general observations, you will permit me to say, on the other hand, that, if there has been any thing that has fallen under your observation, by act or publication-any attempt to make any impression upon the minds of those who are this day impannelled to try this great causė, to disparage that advice, which, under the most responsible sanction, may be given you in matter of law, to work in your minds any prejudice either against the Prisoner, or on the Prisoner's behalf; on the one hand I am perfectly sure that your integrity will be security to the public, that you will not permit any attempt of that kind to have any operation : on the other hand, Gentlemen of the Jury, I am equally sure that I need not ask from an English Jury,