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" Jones. I cannot expect one witness alone, urcons
firmed, to stand against the testimony of all these “ witnesses ; I ought not to desire it." To which just declaration, which ended the trial, Mr. Justice Heath said, “ You act very properly, Mr. Law."
The Jury found Mr. Walker Not Guilty ; and the witness was immediately committed, indicted for perjury, and convicted at the same assizes.
We have printed Mr. Law's able and manly Speech to the Jury, which contains the whole case, afterwards proved by the witness who was disbelieved. The Speech of Mr. Erskine in answer to it states the evidence afterwards given to contradict him.
Mr. Walker was an eminent merchant at Man. chester, and a truly honest and respectable man; and nothing can show the fever of those times, more than the alarming prosecution of such a person upon such evidence. It is not to every Attorney General, that such a case could have been safely trusted. The conduct of Mr. Law was highly to his honour, and a prognostic of his future character as a Judge.
The Indictment having been opened by Mr. JAMES,
Mr. Law addressed the Jury as follows:
GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY,
The Indictment which has been read to you, imputes to the Defendants a species of treasonable misdemeanor, second only in degree, and inferior only in malignity, to the criine of high treason itself. It imputes to them a conspiracy for the purpose of adhering with effect to the King's enemies, in case the calamity of foreign invasion or of internal and domestic tumult should afford them the desired opportunity of so doing--a conspiracy for the purpose of employing against our country those arms which should be devoted to its defence; and of overthrowing a constitution, the work of long-continued wisdom and virtue in the ages that have gone
before us, and which, I trust, the sober-minded virtue and wisdom of the present age will transmit unimpaired to ages that are yet to succeed us. It imputes to them a conspiracy, not indeed levelled at the person and life of our Sovereign, but at that constitution at the head of which he is placed, and at that system of beneficial laws which it is his pride and his duty to administer ;-at that constitution which makes us what we are, a great, free, and, I trust, with a few exceptions only, a happy and united people. Gentlemen, a conspiracy formed for these purposes, and to be effected eventually by means of arms ;-a conspiracy which had either for its immediate aim orprobable consequence, the introduction into this country, upon the model of France, of all the miseries that disgrace and desolate that unhappy land, is the crime for which the Defendants stand arraigned before
you this day; and it is for you to say, in the first instance, and for my Lord hereafter, what shall, be the result and effect in respect to persons, against whom a conspiracy of such enormous magnitude and mischief shall be substantiated in evidence.
Gentlemen, whatever subjects of political differ-ence may subsist amongst us, I trust we are in general agreed in venerating the great principles of our constitution, and in wishing to sustain and render them permanent. Whatever toleration and indul. gence we may be willing to allow to differences in matters of less importance, upon some subjects we can allow none;malo the friends of France, leagued in unity of council, inclination, and interest with France, against the arms and interests of our country, however tolerant in other respects, we can afford no grains of allowance,-no sentiments of indulgence, or toleration whatsoever ; to do so, at a time when those arms and councils are directed against our political and civil, against not our national only, but natural existence (and at such a period you will find that the very conspiracy now under considera
tion was formed), would be equally inconsistent with every rule of law and every principle of self-preservation :-it would be at once to authorize every description of mischievous persons to carry their destructive principles into immediate and fatal effect in other words, it would be to sign the doom and downfall of that constitution which protects us all.
I am sure, therefore, that for the crime, such as I have represented it to be, my learned friend will not, in the exercise of his own good sense, choose to offer any defence or apology ; but he will endeavour to make the evidence I shall lay before you, appear in another point of view :- he will endeavour to conceal and soften much of that malignity which I impute, and I think justly, to the intentions and actings of these Defendants.
It was about the close of the year 1792, that the French nation thought fit to hold out to all the nations on the globe, or rather, I should say, to the discontented subjects of all those nations, an encouragement to confederate and combine together, for the
purpose of subverting all regular established authority amongst them, by a decree of the 19th of November 1792, which I consider as the immediate source and origin of this and other mischievous societies. That nation, in convention, pledged to the discontented inhabitants of other countries, its protection and assistance, in case they should be disposed to innovate and change the form of government under which they had heretofore lived. Under the
influence of this fostering encouragement, and mean: ing, I must suppose, to avail themselves of the protection and assistance thus held out to them, this and other dangerous societies sprang up and spread themselves within the bosom of this realm.
Gentlemen, it was about the period I mentioned, or shortly after, I mean in the month of December, which followed close upon the promulgation of this detestable decree, that the society on which I am about to comment, --- ten members of which are now presented in trial before you was formed *, The vigilance of those to whom the administration of justice and the immediate care of the police of the country is primarily entrusted, had already pre, vented or dispersed every numerous assembly of persons which resorted to public-houses for such pur, poses ;
it therefore became necessary for persons thus disposed, to assemble themselves, if at all, within the walls of some private mansion. The president and head of this society, Mr. Thomas Walker, raised to that bad eminence by a species of merit which will not meet with much favour or encouragement here, opened his doors to receive a society of this sort at Manchester, miscalled the Reformation Society : the name may, in soine senses, indeed import and be understood to mean a society formed for the purpose of beneficial reform ; but what the real
* The Manchester Constitutional Society was instituted in October 1790; the Reformation Society, in March 1792 ; the Patriotic Society, in April 1792.