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the good cause damn all kings: damn the constitution." If the witness were now to swear this, into gaol I must and if my go; client is in danger from what has been sworn against him, what safety would there be for me?-The evidence would be equally positive, and I am equally an object of suspicion as Mr Walker. It is said of him that he has been a member of a society for the reform of Parliament; so have I, and so am I at this moment, and so at all hazards I will continue to be: and I will tell you why, gentlemen, because I hold it to be essential to the preservation of all the ranks and orders of the state,-alike essential to the prince and to the people. I have the honour to be allied to his Majesty in blood, and my family has been for centuries a part of what is now called the aristocracy of the country; I can therefore have no interest in the destruction of the constitution.

In pursuing the probability of this story (since it must be pursued), let us next advert to whether anything appears to have been done in other places which might have been exposed by this man's information. The whole kingdom is under the eye and dominion of magistracy, awakened at that time to an extraordinary vigilance; yet has any one man been arrested even upon the suspicion of any correspondence with the societies of Manchester, good, bad, or indifferent? or has any person within the four seas come to swear that any such correspondence existed? So that you are desired to believe, upon Mr Dunn's single declaration, that gentlemen of the description I am representing, without any end or object, or concert with others, were resolved to put their lives into the hands of any miscreant who might be disposed to swear them away, by holding public meetings of conspiracy with open doors, and in the presence of all mankind, liable to be handed over to justice every moment of their lives, since every tap at the door might have introduced a constable as readily as a member; and, to finish the absurdity, these gentlemen are made to discourse in a manner that would disgrace the lowest, and most uninformed classes of the community.

Let us next see what interest Mr Walker has in the proposed invasion of this peaceable country. Has Mr Law proved that Mr Walker had any reason to expect protection from the French, from any secret correspondence or communication, more than you or I have, or that he had prepared any means of resisting the troops of this country? How was he to have welcomed these strangers into our land? What! with this dozen of rusty muskets, or with those conspirators whom he exercised? But who are they? They are, it seems, "to the jurors unknown," as my learned friend has called them, who drew this indictment, and he might have added, who will ever remain unknown to them. But has Mr Walker nothing to lose, like other men who dread an invasion? He has long had the acquaintance and friendship of some of the best men in this

kingdom, who would be destroyed if such an invasion should take place. Has he, like other men, no ties of a nearer description ? Alas! gentlemen, I feel at this moment that he has many. Mr Dunn told you that I was with Mr Walker at Manchester; and it enables me to say, of my own knowledge, that it is impossible he could have had the designs imputed to him. I have been under his roof, where I have seen him the husband of an amiable and affectionate woman, and the happy parent of six engaging children; and it hurts me not a little to think what they must feel at this moment. Before prosecutions are set on foot, those things ought to be considered; we ought not, like the fool in the Proverbs, to scatter firebrands and death, and say, "Am I not in sport?" Could we look at this moment into the dwelling of this unfortunate gentleman, for so I must call him, I am persuaded the scene would distress us; his family cannot but be unhappy; they have seen prosecutions, equally unjust as even this is, attended with a success of equal injustice; and we have seen those proceedings, I am afraid by those who are at the bottom of this indictment, put forward for your imitation. I saw to my astonishment, at Preston, where, as a traveller, I called for a newspaper, that this immaculate society (the Manchester Church-and-King Club) had a meeting lately, and had published to the world the toasts and sentiments which they drank; some of them I like, some of them deserve reprobation: "The Church and King;" very well. "The Queen and Royal Family;" be it so. "The Duke of York and the Army;" be it so. But what do you think came next?

[Here Mr Justice Heath interrupted Mr Erskine by saying, "We are not to go into this, of which you cannot give evidence."]

Mr ERSKINE. I don't know what effect these publications may have upon the administration of justice. Why drink "The Lord Advocate and the Court of Justiciary in Scotland," just when your Lordship is called upon to administer justice according to the laws of England? If I had seen the King and his judges upon the Northern Circuit published as a toast

Mr JUSTICE HEATH. You know you cannot give this in evidence.

Mr ERSKINE. Gentlemen, considering the situation in which my client stands at this moment, I expressed the idea which occurred to me, and which I thought it right not to suppress; but let it pass -this is not the moment for controversy. It is my interest to submit to any course his Lordship may think proper to dictate; the evidence is more than enough for my purpose-so mainly improbable, so contrary to everything in the course of human affairs, that I know you will reject it, even if it stood unanswered. What then will you say, when I shall prove to you, by the oaths of the various persons who attended these societies, that no propositions of the sort insinuated by this witness ever existed-that no hint, directly or

indirectly, of any illegal tendency, was ever whispered-that their real objects were just what were openly professed, be they right or wrong, be they wise or mistaken, namely, reformation in the constitution of the House of Commons, which my learned friend admitted they had a right by constitutional means to promote. This was their object. They neither desired to touch the King's authority, nor the existence or privileges of the House of Lords; but they wished that those numerous classes of the community who (by the law as it now stands) are excluded from any share in the choice of members to the Parliament, should have an equal right with others in concerns where their interests are equal. Gentlemen, this very county furnishes a familiar instance. There are, I believe, at least thirty thousand freeholders in Lancashire, each of whom has a vote for two members of Parliament; and there are two boroughs within it (if I mistake not), Clithero and Newton, containing a handful of men who are at the beck of two individuals, yet these two little places send for themselves, or rather for these two persons, two members each, which makes four against the whole power and interest of this county in Parliament, touching any measure, how deeply soever it may concern their prosperity. Can there be any offence in meeting together to consider of a representation to Parliament suggesting the wisdom of alteration and amendment in such a system?

Mr JUSTICE HEATH. There can be no doubt but that a petition to Parliament, for reform or anything else, can be no offence.

Mr ERSKINE. Gentlemen, I expected this interruption from the learning of the Judge; certainly it can be no offence, and consequently my clients can be no offenders.

Having now exposed the weakness of Dunn's evidence from its own intrinsic defects, and from the positive contradiction every part of it is to receive from many witnesses, I shall conclude with the still more positive and unequivocal contradiction which the whole of it has received from Dunn himself. You remember that I repeatedly asked him whether he had not confessed that the whole he had sworn to-day was utterly false, whether he had not confessed it to be so with tears of contrition, and whether he had not kneeled down before Mr Walker to implore his forgiveness. My learned friend, knowing that this would be proved upon him, made a shrewd and artful observation to avoid the effects of it. He said that such things had fallen often under the observation of the Court upon the circuit, where witnesses had been drawn into similar snares by artful people to invalidate their testimony. This may be true, but the answer to its application is, that not only the witness himself has positively denied that any such snare was laid for him, but the witnesses I have to call, both in respect of number and credit, will put a total end to such a suggestion. If I had indeed but one witness, my friend the Attorney-General might undoubtedly

put it to you in reply whether his or mine was to be believed; but I will call to you not one but four or five, or, if necessary, six witnesses, ABOVE ALL SUSPICION, in whose presence Dunn voluntarily confessed the falsehood of his testimony, and, with tears of apparent repentance, offered to make any reparation to these injured and unfortunate defendants. This I pledge myself to prove to your satisfaction.

Gentlemen, the object of all public trial and punishment is the security of mankind in social life. We are not assembled here for the purposes of vengeance, but for the ends of justice to give tranquillity to human life, which is the scope of all government and law. You will take care, therefore, how, in the very administration of justice, you disappoint that which is the very foundation of its institution you will take care that, in the very moment you are trying a man as a disturber of the public happiness, you do not violate the rules which secure it.


The last evidence I have been stating ought by itself to put an instant end to this cause. I remember a case very lately which was so brought to its conclusion, where, upon a trial for perjury of a witness who had sworn against a captain of a vessel in the African trade, it appeared that the witnesses who swore to the perjury against the defendants had themselves made deliberate declarations which materially clashed with the testimony they were giving. Lord Kenyon, who tried the cause, would after this proceed no further, and asked me, who was counsel for the prosecution, whether I would urge it further, saying emphatically, what I hope every judge under similar circumstances will think it his duty to say also, "No man ought or can be convicted in England unless the judge and the jury have a firm assurance that innocence cannot by any possibility be the victim of conviction and sentence.' And how can the jury or his Lordship have that assurance here, when the only source of it is brought into such serious doubt and question? Upon the whole, then, I cannot help hoping that my friend the Attorney-General, when he shall hear my proofs, will feel that a prosecution like this ought not to be offered for the seal and sanction of your verdict. Unjust prosecutions lead to the ruin of all governments. Whoever will look back to the history of the world in general, and of our own particular country, will be convinced that exactly as prosecutions have been cruel and oppressive, and maintained by inadequate and unrighteous evidence, in the same proportion, and by the same means, their authors have been destroyed instead of being supported by them; as often as the principles of our ancient laws have been departed from in weak and wicked times, so often the governments that have violated them have been suddenly crumbled into dust; and therefore, wishing as I sincerely do the preservation and prosperity of our happy constitution, I desire to enter my protest against its being supported by

means that are likely to destroy it. Violent proceedings bring on the bitterness of retaliation, until all justice and moderation are trampled down and subverted. Witness those sanguinary prosecutions previous to the awful period in the last century when Charles the First fell. That unfortunate prince lived to lament those vindictive judgments by which his impolitic, infatuated followers imagined they were supporting his throne-he lived to see how they destroyed it; his throne, undermined by violence, sunk under him, and those who shook it were guilty in their turn (such is the natural order of injustice) not only of similar but of worse and more violent wrongs; witness the fate of the unhappy Earl of Strafford, who, when he could not be reached by the ordinary laws, was impeached in the House of Commons, and who, when still beyond the consequences of that judicial proceeding, was at last destroyed by the arbitrary wicked mandate of the Legislature. James the Second lived to ask assistance in the hour of his distress from those who had been cut off from the means of giving it by unjust prosecutions; he lived to ask support from the Earl of Bedford, after his son the unfortunate Lord Russell had fallen under the axe of injustice. "I once had a son," said that noble person, "who could have served your Majesty upon this occasion," but there was then none to assist him.

I cannot possibly tell how others feel upon these subjects, but I do know how it is their interest to feel concerning them. We ought to be persuaded that the only way by which Government can be honourably or safely supported, is by cultivating the love and affection of the people,-by showing them the value of the constitution by its protection,-by making them understand its principles by the practical benefits derived from them; and, above all, by letting them feel their security in the administration of law and justice. What is it, in the present state of that unhappy kingdom, the contagion of which fills us with such alarm, that is the just object of terror? What, but that accusation and conviction are the same, and that a false witness or power without evidence is a warrant for death! Not so here! Long may the countries differ! And I am asking for nothing more than that you should decide according to our own wholesome rules, by which our Government was established, and by which it has been ever protected. Put yourselves, gentlemen, in the place of the defendants, and let me ask, If you were brought before your country upon a charge supported by no other evidence than that which you have heard to-day, and encountered by that which I have stated to you, what would you say, or your children after you, if you were touched in your persons or your properties by a conviction? May you never be put to such reflections, nor the country to such disgrace! The best service we can render to the public is, that we should live like one harmonious family, that we should banish all animosities, jealousies, and sus

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