Page images

deed, does any part of the evidence go back beyond this time, when Mr Walker's house was thus surrounded and attacked by a riotous and disorderly mob. He was aware of the probable consequences of such an attack; he knew, by the recent example of Birmingham, what he and others professing sentiments of freedom had to expect; he therefore got together a few firearms which he had long had publicly by him, and an inventory of which, with the rest of his furniture at Barlow Hall, had been taken by a sworn appraiser long before anything connected with this indictment had an existence; and with these, and the assistance of a few steady friends, he stood upon his defence. He was advised, indeed, to retire for safety; but knowing his own innocence, and recollecting the duty he owed to himself, his family, and the public, he declared he would remain there to support the laws, and to defend his property; and that he would perish rather than surrender those privileges which every member of the community is bound, both from interest and duty, to maintain. To alarm the multitude, he fired from the windows over their heads, and dispersed them; but when, the next morning, they assembled in very great numbers before his house, and when a man got upon the churchyard wall, and read a most violent and inflammatory paper, inciting the populace to pull the house down, Mr Walker went out amongst them, and expostulated with them, and asked why they had disgraced themselves so much by attacking him the night before, adding that if he had done any of them, or any person whom they knew, any injury, he was, upon proof of it, ready to make them every satisfaction in his power. He also told them that he had fired upon them the night before because they were mad, as well as drunk; that if they attacked him again, he would, under the same circumstances, act as he had done before; but that he was then alone and unarmed in the midst of them, and if he had done anything wrong, they were then sober, and had him completely in their power.

Gentlemen, this was most meritorious conduct. You all live at a distance from the metropolis, and were probably, therefore, fortunate enough neither to be within or near it in 1780, when, from beginnings smaller than those which exhibited themselves at Birmingham, or even at Manchester, the metropolis of the country, and with it the country itself, had nearly been undone. The beginning of these things is the season for exertion. I shall never indeed forget what I have heard the late mild and venerable magistrate, Lord Mansfield, say upon this subject, whose house was one of the first attacked in London. I have more than once heard him say that perhaps some blame might have attached upon himself and others in authority for their forbearance in not having directed force to have been at the first moment repelled by force, it being the highest humanity to check the infancy of tumults.

Gentlemen, Mr Walker's conduct had the desired effect; he

watched again on the 13th of December, but the mob returned no more, and the next morning the arms were locked up in a bedchamber in his house, where they have remained ever since, and where, of course, they never could have been seen by the witness, whose whole evidence commences above a week subsequent to the 11th of December, when they were finally put aside. This is the genuine history of the business; and it must therefore not a little surprise you that when the charge is wholly confined to the use of arms, Mr Law should not even have hinted to you that Mr Walker's house had been attacked, and that he was driven to stand upon his defence, as if such a thing had never had an existence; indeed, the armoury, which must have been exhibited in such a statement, would have but ill suited the indictment or the evidence, and I must therefore undertake the description of it myself.

The arms having been locked up, as I told you, in the bedchamber, I was shown last week into this house of conspiracy, treason, and death, and saw exposed to view the mighty armoury which was to level the beautiful fabric of our constitution, and to destroy the lives and properties of ten millions of people. It consisted, first, of six little swivels, purchased two years ago at the sale of Livesey, Hargrave, & Co. (of whom we have all heard so much), by Mr Jackson, a gentleman of Manchester, who is also one of the defendants, and who gave them to Master Walker, a boy about ten years of age. Swivels, you know, are guns so called because they turn upon a pivot; but these were taken off their props, were painted, and put upon blocks resembling carriages of heavy cannon, and in that shape may be fairly called children's toys; you frequently see them in the neighbourhood of London adorning the houses of sober citizens, who, strangers to Mr Brown and his improvements, and preferring grandeur to taste, place them upon their ramparts at Mile-End or Islington. Having, like Mr Dunn (I hope I resemble him in nothing else)-having, like him, served his Majesty as a soldier (and I am ready to serve again if my country's safety should require it), I took a closer review of all I saw, and observing that the muzzle of one of them was broke off, I was curious to know how far this famous conspiracy had proceeded, and whether they had come into action, when I found the accident had happened on firing a feu-de-joie upon his Majesty's happy recovery, and that they had been afterwards fired upon the Prince of Wales' birthday. These are the only times that, in the hands of these conspirators, these cannon, big with destruction, had opened their little mouths-once to commemorate the indulgent and benign favour of Providence in the recovery of the Sovereign, and once as a congratulation to the heir-apparent of his crown on the anniversary of his birth.

I went next, under the protection of the master-general of this ordnance (Mr Walker's chambermaid), to visit the rest of this for

midable array of death, and found a little musketoon, about so high [describing it]; I put my thumb upon it, when out started a little bayonet like the Jack-in-a-box which we buy for children at a fair. In short, not to weary you, gentlemen, there was just such a parcel of arms of different sorts and sizes as a man collecting amongst his friends, for his defence against the sudden violence of a riotous multitude, might be expected to have collected. Here lay three or four rusty guns of different dimensions, and here and there a bayonet or broadsword covered over with dust and rust, so as to be almost undistinguishable; for, notwithstanding what this infamous wretch has sworn, we will prove by witness after witness, till you desire us to finish, that they were principally collected on the 11th of December, the day of the riot; and that from the 12th in the evening, or the 13th in the morning, they have lain untouched as I have described them; that their use began and ended with the necessity; and that, from that time to the present, there never has been a firearm in the warehouse of any sort or description. This is the whole on which has been built a proceeding that might have brought the defendants to the punishment of death, for both the charge and the evidence amount to high treason-high treason, indeed, under almost every branch of the statute, since the facts amount to levying war against the King, by a conspiracy to wrest by force the government out of his hands, to an adherence to the King's enemies, and to a compassing of his death, which is a necessary consequence of an invading army of republicans, or of any other enemies of the State; yet, notwithstanding the notoriety of these facts, the unnamed prosecutors (and, indeed, I am afraid to slander any man, or body of men, by even a guess upon the subject) have been beating up, as for volunteers, to procure another witness to destroy the lives of the gentlemen before you, against many of whom warrants for high treason were issued to apprehend them. Mr Walker, among the rest, was the subject of such a warrant; and as soon as he knew it, he behaved (as he has throughout) like a man and an Englishman. He wrote immediately to the Secretary of State, who was summoned here to-day, and whose absence I do not complain of, because we have, by consent, the benefit of his testimony. He wrote three letters to Mr Dundas, one of which was delivered by Mr Wharton, informing him that he was in London on his business as a merchant; that if any warrant had been issued against him, he was ready to meet it, and for that purpose delivered his address where it might be executed. This Mr Walker did when the prosecutors were in search of another witness, and when this Mr Dunn was walking like a tame sparrow through the New Bailey, fed at the public or some other expense, and suffered to go at large, though arrested upon a criminal charge, and sent into custody under it.

And to what other circumstances need I appeal for the purity of

the defendants than that, under the charge of a conspiracy, extensive enough to comprehend in its transactions (if any existed) the whole compass of England, the tour of which was to have been made by Mr Yorke, there has not been one man found to utter a syllable about them, no, not one man, thanks be to God, who has so framed. the characteristics of Englishmen,-except the solitary infamous witness before you, who, from what I heard since I began to address you, may have spoken the truth when he claimed my acquaintance, as I have reason to think he has seen me before in a criminal court of justice.

Having now, for the satisfaction of the defendants, rather than from the necessity of the case, given you an account of their whole proceedings as I shall establish them by proof, let us examine the evidence that has been given against them, and see how the truth of it could stand with reason or probability, supposing it to have been sworn to by a witness the most respectable.

According to Dunn's own account, Mr Walker had not been at the first meeting, so that when he first saw Dunn he did not know either his person or his name; he might have been a spy (God knows there are enow of them), and at that season in particular informers were to be expected. Mr Walker is supposed to have said to him, "What is your business here ?" to which he answered, "I am going to the society," which entitled him at once to admission without further ceremony; there was nobody to stop him. Was he asked his name ?-was he balloted for ?-was he questioned as to his principles? No, he walked in at once; but first, it seems, Mr Walker, who had never before seen him, inquired of him the news from Ireland (observing by his voice that he was an Irishman), and asked what the volunteers were about, as if Mr Walker could possibly suppose that such a person was likely to have been in a correspondence with Ireland which told him more than report must have told everybody else. Mr Dunn tells you indeed he was no such person; he was a friend, as he says, to the King and constitution, which Mr Walker would have found by asking another question; but, without further inquiry, he is supposed to have said to him at once, "We shall overthrow the constitution by and by;" which the moment Dunn had heard, up walked that affectionate subject of our Sovereign Lord the King into Mr Walker's house, where the constitution was to be so overthrown. But then he tells you he thought there was no harm to be done, that it was only for the benefit of the poor and the public good. But how could he think so after what he had that moment heard? But he did not know, it seems, what Mr Walker meant. Gentlemen, do you collect, from Mr Dunn's discourse and deportment to-day that he could not tell but that a man meant good when he had heard even him express a wish to overthrow the Government? Would you pull a feather out of a sparrow's wing


2 G

upon the oath of a man who swears that he believed a person to have been a good subject in the very moment he was telling him of an intended rebellion? But why should I fight a phantom with argument? Could any man but a driveller have possibly given such an answer as is put into Mr Walker's mouth to a man he had never seen in his life? However many may differ from Mr Walker in opinion, everybody, I believe, will admit that he is an acute, intelligent man, with an extensive knowledge of the world, and not at all likely to have conducted himself like an idiot. What follows next? Another night he went into the warehouse, where he saw Mr Yorke called to the chair, who said he was going the tour of the kingdom, in order to try the strength of the different societies, to join fifty thousand men that were expected to land from France in this country; and that Mr Walker then said, "Damn all kingsI know our King has seventeen millions of money in the Bank of Vienna, although he won't afford any of it to the poor." Gentlemen, is this the language of a man of sense and education? If Mr Walker had the malignity of a demon, would he think of giving effect to it by such a senseless lie? When we know that, from the immense expense attending his Majesty's numerous and illustrious family, and the great necessities of the state, he has been obliged over and over again to have recourse to the generosity and justice of Parliament to maintain the dignity of the Crown, could Mr Walker ever have thought of inventing this nonsense about the Bank of Vienna, when there is a bank too in our own country where he might legally invest his property for himself and his heirs? But Mr Walker did not stop there; he went on and said, "I should think no more of taking off the King's head than I should of tearing this piece of paper." All this happened soon after his admission; yet this man, who represents himself to you upon his oath this day as having been uniformly a friend to the constitution as far as he understood it,-as having left the society as soon as he saw their mischievous inclinations, and as having voluntarily informed against them,-I say this same friend of the constitution tells you, almost in the same breath, that he continued to attend their meetings from thirty to forty times, where high treason was committing with open doors; and that, instead of giving information of his own free choice, he was arrested in the very act of distributing some seditious publication.

Gentlemen, it is really a serious consideration that upon such testimony a man should even be put upon his defence in the courts of this country. Upon such principles what man is safe? I was indeed but ill at ease myself when Mr Dunn told me he knew me better than I supposed. What security have I at this moment that he should not swear that he had met me under some gateway in Lancaster, and that I had said to him, "Well, Dunn, I hope you will not swear against Mr Walker, but that you will stick to

« PreviousContinue »