Page images

The following were respited upon the report, viz. Joseph Marquis, James Buckley, Win. Avery. Francis Mock ford, Thomas Haycock, John Burgess, and Theophilus Brown.

A reward having been offered by Government for the apprehension and conviction of any rioters, a question arose, Whether persons inttrrftti in the conviction of the criminals were admissible as evidences against them? Which question was submitted to the opinion of the twelve judges, who unanimously agreed, that the testimony of witnesses claiming reward is admissible.

The general rule of law is, not to adroit witnesses to give evidence, who, by the ties of affection, or from the motives of interest, are likely to be under undue influence. But, fay the judges, there are cafes of necessity that require a departure from this rule. Thus, in cafes of robbery, where not only restitution of goods stolen, but the title to the parliamentary reward, depend on the conviction of the criminals, it has never been held that such interest should operate to destroy the competency of the evidence: if it did, hardly My highwayman could ever be convicted. So witnesses entitled to rewards from the bank, die post-offioe, and other offices, have universally been held competent, fcior can any danger be apprehended to the innocent from this P'actice, so long as the jury are allowed to exercise their discretion as to the credibility of witnesses, and may compare their testimony with that of others, or with circtmitances attending almost every

cafe; but it would be dangerous

to overturn this long-established practice.

THE special commission of oyer and tcrniiner and gaol delivery, in and for the county of Surry, for the trial of the rioters, was opened on the ioth of July, at St. Margaret's Hill, before Lord Chief Justice Loughborough, Sir Henry Gould, Sir James Eyre, and Francis Buller, Esq. After the commission was opened,' Lord Loughborough delivered his charge to the grand jury, of which the Hon. George Onflow was foreman.

This charge having ■ been the topic of much conversation, we shall submit it to the judgment of our leaders. The opinions of met* respecting the legal propriety of it have been various: as a piece of oratory it has been admired; but its tendency to influence and dhrect the jury, and inflame their passions against men, who ought all to have been supposed innocent till found guilty by their country, has been generally spoken of in terms of indignation, by those who are jealous of the rights of humanity.

Gcntltmtn of the Grand "Jury,

IF you are come here totally strangers to the transactions which have lately passed in this neighbourhood, or if it were possible for any of yon, who were not witnesses of them, not to have heard of the devastations that have been committed, the lemuants of the flames which have been lately blazing in so many parts of the metropolis, and which must have

[S] 3 presented case under consider

presented themselves to you, in y ur way to this place, will have sufficiently declared the occasion for which you are called together.

His majesty's paternal care for the welfare of all his subject*, would not permit him to suffer offences so daring and so enormous to .remain longer unexamined, than was legally necessary to convene a jury to enter upon the enquiry.

The commission under which you are assembled extends only to crimes of high treason, or of felouy, charged upon persons .now detained in the common gaol of this county, or Who fha;l be detained therein between the (.resent time and the ptriod at which the commission will expire. It was rot thought proper to blend the common business of an assize, and the examination of those offences, to the commission of which, the frailty of human nature is but too liable, with crimes of so deep a guilt, and so much above the ordinary pitch of human wickedness as those which will come under your consideration.

The general circumstances, under which those crimes were committed, are of too great and fliameful notoriety, to require a minute description; but for your information, Gentlemen, whose duty it will be to consider the nature and quality of the charges imputed to such offenders as will be brought before you, it will be necessary to consider the several parts of those charges, and to observe the connection of those pans with the whole, always applying the circumstances to the

particular ation.

I therefore think it an essential part of my duty to lay before you, in one general view, a short account of thole dangers from which this kingdom has been lately delivered. I use this expression, because it will clearly appear that the mischief devised was—not the destruction of the lives or fortunes of individuals, or of any description of men—no partial evil—but that the blow, which it has pleased Providence to avert, was aimed at the credit, the government, and the very being and constitution of this (late.

The first 'remarkable circumstance to be attended to, and which naturally demands our notice earliest o' any, is a vast concourse of persons assembled in St. George's Fields on the 2d of June, called together by a public advertisement, (signed in the name of a person calling himself the President os an association) not only inviting many thousands to attend, but a(ipointing their ensign of distinction, and prescribing the order and distribution of their march in different columns to the place of their destination. Charity induces one to believe, that in such a number, there were ma» ny went unwarily, and unconscious of any evil intended; but credulity in the extreme can scarcely induce any man to doubt, that some there were who foresaw, who intended, and who had practised to accomplish the purposes which ensued.

A very short time disclosed that one os the purposes which this multitude was collected to effectuate,

[merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed]

the booses of two foreign ministers, fisted, but had proceeded witn *

in amity with his majesty, were success which had increased their

attacked, and their chapels plun- impetuosity, thought it necessary

dered and set on fire. to shew that the law should not be

If such an outrage had been exercised with impunity on deliocommitted on one of our public quents like themselves. It was ministers, resident in any of those the business of Monday to destroy countries the most superstitious the houses of the magistrates, and and bigotted to its established other persons who had been inreligion, wh« reproach would it strumental in apprehending them: not have cast upon that country? but these outrages, great as they What indignation and abhorrence were, fell far short of those cornwould it not have justly excited in mitted on the Tuesday and Wcdour breasts? Upon this tolerant nesday, which will ever remain a and enlightened land, has that stain on our annals. Freib. insults reproach been brought! of the most daring and aggra

Upon the 3d of June there was vated nature, were offered to par* a seeming quiet, a very memorable liament, and every one, who was circumstance! for sudden tumults in London at the time, must rewhen they subside are over. To member, that it, bore the appearrevive a tumult, evinces something ance of a town taken by storm; of a settled influence, and some- every quarter was alarmed; nothing so like design, that it is im- ther age, nor sex, nor eminence possible for the most candid mind of station, nor sanctity of chariot to conceive that there lies at raster, nor even an humble though the bottom a preconcerted, fettled honest obscurity, were any proplan of operation'. Sunday, the tection against the malevolent fury jiext day, a day set apart by the and destructive rage of the lowest laws of God and man as a day of and worst of men. rest, and as a day not to be vio- But it was not against indivilated even by the labours of honest' duals alone, that their operations industry ; in broad fun-shine, build- were now directed. What has ings and private houses in Moor- ever been in all ages, and in ail fields were attacked and entered, countries, the last effort of the and the furniture deliberately most desperate conspirators, was brought out and consumed by now their object. The jails were bonfires. And all this was done attacked, the felons released—? in the view of patient ntagi- men whose lives their crimes had firates! forfeited to the justice of tbe law,

S me magistrates and some in- were set loose to join their impious

dividuals had indeed in the be- hands in the work, ginning of the disturbances ex- The city was fired in different

erted themselves, and several who parts. The flames were kindled

had been active in the demolition in the houses most likely- to spread

of the ambasl'ndors houses had the conflagration to distant quar

been committed. On Monday ters, the distillers, and other

the mob, who had not been re- places, where the instruments of

trade upon the premises were fare to afford the largest quantity of combustible matter! And in the midst of this horror and confusion, in order more effectually to prer vent the extinguishing of the flames, an attempt to cut ofF the New River water, and an attack on the credit of the kingdom, by an attempt against the Bank of England, were made, Both these attempts were defeated, providentially defeated; but they were made under circumstances which evince that they were inttnded to be effectual, and which increase the satisfaction and the gratitude to Providence that every man must feel, when he recollects r.he fortunate circumstance of their having been deferred' till that stage of the business.

In four days, by the incredible activity of tnis band of furie6 parking the streets of the metropolis with flaming torches, seventytwo private houses and four public gaols were destroyed, one of them the county gaol, and that built in such a manner as to justify the idea, that it was impregnable to an armed force. Religion, the sacred name of religion, and os that purest and most peaceable system of Christianity, the PROTESTANT CHURCH, was made the profane pretext for, assaulting the government, trampling upon the laws of the country, and violating the first great precept of their duty to God and to

their neighbour, the pretext

only; for there is not, I am sure, in Europe, a man so weak, so uncandid, or so unjust to the charifrer of the reformed church, as to believe, that any religious rno8 *

tive could by any perversion of human reason induce men to attack the magistrates, release felons, destroy the source of public credit, and lay in ashes the capital of the PROTESTANT FAITH!

I have now related to you the rife and progress of that calamity from which, by the blessing of Providence upon his Majesty's efforts for our preservation, this kingdom hath been delivered—a situation unparalleled in the history of our country —no commotion ever having had a more desperate and more fatal intention. It now remains to state to you what parts of this subject will more directly call for your attention; and as it is evident from what 1 have laid, that among the number of persons whose cases will be submitted to your consideration, there may be some who are accused with the guilt of high treason, it will be necessary and proper to state the 1 iw with respect to those species of (reason under which some of the cases may probably fall. There are tivo species of treason applicable. To imagine or compass the death of our love reign lord the king, is high treason. To levy war against the king within the realm, is also high treason. .

The first, that of compassing the death of the king, must be; demot.llrated by some overt act, as the means to effect the purpose of the heart; the fact of levying war is an overt act of this species of treason, but it i& also a distinct spccie3 os treason. And as the present occasion calls more immediately for it, I must state to you more fully, in what that treason may consist,

I ani

« PreviousContinue »