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“THE Mutiny amongst the LOCAL MILITIA, which broke out at Ely, was fortunately suppressed on Wednesday, by the arrival of four squadrons of the GERMAN LEGION CAVALRY from Bury, under the command of General Auckland. Court-Martial, and sentenced to receive 500 lashes each, part of which punishment they received on Wednesday, and a part was remitted. A stoppage for their knapsacks was the ground of the complaint that excited this mutinous spirit, which occasioned the men to surround their officers, and demand what they deemed their arrears. The first division of the German Legion halted yester
Five of the ringleaders were tried by a
“...day at Newmarket on their return to Bury.”—Courier (ministerial) newspaper, saturday,
24th June, 1809.
Look at the Motto! English reader, Look at the Motto' For making remarks upon the contents of that Motto; for expressing, or endeavouring to express, my feelings upon the subject of it; for this I was sentenced to endure (if I lived so long) two years’ imprisonment in Newgate; to pay, if I should live out the time, a thousand pounds TO THE KING; and to enter into bonds, with two sureties, to pay FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS more, is, in the course of seven years, I did what the law might, in any case, denominate bad behaviour. The sentence has been executed; the two years I have passed in Newgate, in spite of foul air and jail-distempers; and, having had health and strength sufficient for that, I have been called upon by the Officers of the Prince Regent, in the name and behalf of the King, to pay the thousand pounds, which I have paid accordingly; and I have, by the same authority, been called upon for my bonds and my sureties, which have also been given. The transaction being, therefore, now pretty complete, this appears to me to be the proper time for giving the world a history of; or, at least, such an account of it as may serve to give to all persons who read the English language a pretty correct idea of what the Liberty of the Press, in England, really is. This account naturally divides itself into four parts: First,
an account of what took place previously to the trial; Second, the trial ind its result; Third, the nature and effect of the imprisonment; and, Fourth, what took place at the expiration thereof, to the time so arrival at Botley, where I now am. First, as to what took place previously to the trial, the article, for which I was prosecuted, was published on the 1st of July, 1809, and I was not brought to trial till nearly a year afterwards. The proceeding was by way of Information ExOfficio by the Attorney General ; and, as it may be useful to the people of this country, and, indeed, of other countries too, to know what an Information Ex-Officio really means, I will here endeavour to give a faint sketch of its nature and extent. And this is the more necessary, seeing that there are new governments now forming in the world. Our “great law-characters” tell us, that this power of the Attorney General is one of the main features in the English constitution; and, therefore, it is right that the Lawgivers of other countries should know something about it. At the outset of the French Revolution many persons in this country were angry with the people of France, expressed great resentment against them, and, finally, became their settled enemies, because they did not make a government like ours. It is, therefore, right, now, when some other countries are about to form new governments, to furnish their Lawgivers with the means of judging of that, under which we live. To go into all the branches of our constitution, as now practised; to point out all its effects upon the people, would require much more time than I have, or ever shall have, to spare. But, as to EX-OFFICIO INFORMATIONS and SPECIAL JURIES, they are thiugs which I understand, and of then I .#. for the use of the world. If the C
reader finds me, in some instances, doing little more than repeat what I have, at different times, before said, I beg him to bear in mind, that what may not be new to some may be new to others; and that, besides, the present is a suitable occasion for spreading through the whole world, and for putting upon record, in a compact form, for the use of posterity, not only all the facts relating to my prosecution and punishment, but an account of all the means which have been therein made use of. Having, therefore, stated the nature of the charge against me, the next thing to be done is to explain the mode of proceeding.
—I was, as I said before, prosecuted by the ATTORNEY GENERAL, that is to say, by a person who performs the office of government accuser, or prosecutor, and whose accusations are generally made in the form of what is called an Information ExOfficio; a thing, the nature of which I am now about to explain for the benefit of the world. Er Officio are two Latin words, and in this respect, amongst many others, the use of the “Learned Languages,” as they are called, is found to be of great service. These two words mean By Office, or, perhaps, more fully, by privilege, or in virtue, of office. So that, an Informalion ExOfficio is an Information laid by the Attorney General in virtue, or by the privilege, of his Office. Aye, but what is an informalion ? When any man has committed what is called, by our laws, a crime, and he is prosecuted for it, there must be an accusation preferred against him, and this accusation, when drawn up, is called a bill of INDICTMENT, which indictment, before the party accused can be put upon his trial, is presented to a Grand Jury, who, if they see no cause for prosecution, throw out the bill of indictment, or, if they see cause for prosecution, find the bill, as it is called; that is to say, they carry it in to the Judge, and tell him, that it is a true Bill. But, observe, that, before they can find the bill true, there must be witnesses examined by the Grand Jury upon oath, the Grand Jury being also upon their oaths; and thus, in this case, in this usual course of the law of the land, every accused person has the double security of oaths taken by those who judge of the matter alleged against him, and also by the witnesses to the facts of which he is accused. An INFORMA
tions, must be produced in support of the motion, and the accused party must have time and opportunity to be heard by himself, or counsel, before the Information is received by the Judges, and, of course, before the accused party can be put upon his trial. Here again, though there is no Grand Jury to stand between the accused and the prosecutor, there are the oaths of credible witnesses, and, which is of full as much
importance as the oaths of witnesses, there
is a hearing of the party accused, before he can be put upon his trial, and subjected to all the inconvenience and expense of a trial, which must always be heavy, and, sometimes, enormous. But, in the case of Informations Ex-Officio, there is no Grand Jury, no witnesses, no previous hearing, no oaths, no, nor even any motion to the Court. Here the Attorney General, without any previous notice whatever, accuses any man whom he thinks proper to accuse, and brings him to trial in consequence of an Information, which he himself lays against him. All that he has to do is to make out his Information, put it upon the file, or list, of the Court, and to send the accused party a little slip of paper, called a Subpoena, to come and answer to certain charges preserred against him. This is an Information Ex Officio. Well, the party comes and goes at once upon his trial; and, if he be acquitted, what then? Why, he has good luck; but he has all his harass of mind, all his loss of time, and all the heavy expenses of the law to sustain ; for, he gets no costs; no, nor any compensation of any sort. Suppose, that, after laying the information, the Attorney General does not choose to proceed? Why he does not choose it, that's all. Oh! I had like to have forgotten; the party has to sustain all his expenses of preparation for trial. Besides this, the Attorney General has a new power given him by an Act of Parliament brought in by the late Attorney General (now Puisne Judge) Gibbs, and which was passed in the 48th year of the King's reign. By this Act the Attorney General is empowered to hold to bail, and, if bail be not sound, to imprison, at once, by the consent of any single Judge, any man against whom he mily choose to lay an information. See, then, what his powers amount to: he can, by his sole will, without the intervention of a Grand Jury, and without a rule moved for in Court; he can pitch upon any man that he chooses, and, without any oath made against such man, by any body, he may put such man upon the list of criminals to be tried; and, to trial he may bring him, without any other ceremony than that of sending him a slip of paper, commanding him to appear on such a day, to be dealt with as the Court shall direct. This is pretty well for a beginning. But, if he chooses, he may now, by the new Act brought in by this late Attorney General, have the man taken up like a thief or a highwayman, and make him give bail, or, if he has not bail ready, he may, by consent of a Judge, send him to jail at once; and this, you will observe, without there being any oath made as to the man's having done anything wrong; all that is required to be proved, in order to send such a man to jail, is, that the Attorney General has laid an information against him Now, such being the case, it is clear, that the Attorney General has, with the consent of any one Judge, the power of holding any man in England to bail, be he who or what he may. He has the power of causing any man to be seized by a Tipstaff, and to be kept in custody till he has found bail, and that, too, without being obliged to surnish the party so taken up and held to bail with any copy or statement of the charge against him. The Attorney General may do this to any man. There is no man that is not exposed to the operation of this power. Well, having accused a man, having laid his Information against him; having sent him a command to come and be tried, and having, perhaps, held him to bail; having done this, he does not bring him to trial until he chooses. The Englishman who is thus hooked, must wait till the Attorney General pleases to have him tried. His command to come and be dealt with stands good. His bail holds him on. And, if he cannot get bail, there he is in jail, as long as the Attorney
General pleases; for, the latter may put off
the trial for any length of time. This is quite comfortable : The Attorney General may put off the trial, if he likes, during the whole of a man's life time. He may lay his information when the man is single, as Mr. Horne Tooke observed, and he may bring him to trial after he is married and has half a dozen children. He may inform against him while he is following one profession, and may fall on upon him with his trial when he is about to enter, or has entered, upon another. He may forgive, too, of himself, after he has laid the Information, after he has put a man upon the list of criminals to be tried, after he has commanded him to come to be dealt with, after he has held him to bail, nay, after he has
put him in jail for want of bail; after all this he may forgive the man, of his own head, without bringing him before the Court at all. Is it necessary to say any more about his powers? Is not this enough? Well, suppose he chooses to try the man that he has informed against 2 What, then, Why, then, the first step he takes, is, to demand a Special Jury, that is to say, twelve men, out of sorty-eight men, ALL APPOINTED BY THE MASTER OF THE CROWN OFFICE. The man who is to be tried may strike out 12 from the 48, and so may the prosecutor; but, the whole 48 are appointed by the Master of the Crown Office. Well. The Jury, thus appointed, does not appear; or, only part of them come. The Attorney General has the power to put off the trial; to say simply, I do not choose to try you now; and you shall not be tried now, because I do not choose it. His will here is absolute. The Judges themselves have no power to force the trial on. Whether his Special Jury come, or not, he can put off the trial. And, on the contrary, if the Special Jury do not come, or only a part of them come, he can demand, if he pleases, to have a Jury made up from the Common Jurors. Then, at the trial, he begins and speaks against the accused, and he has as many more as he pleases, at the public expense, to speak on the same side. When that is done, the accused has to speak in his defence. And there, one would think, the thing would end. Oh! no; for, though in all cases between man and man, this is the practice, the Attorney General has the privilege of another speech after the defence is over; and into this speech he may bring whatever new matter he pleases. He may, indeed, reserve all the weighty part of his allegations for this speech, and thus leave the defendant without, in reality, any opportunity at all to defend himself. If the man be found guilty, he may, or may not, be brought up for judgment, just as the Attorney General pleases. The man may be brought up and sentenced at the next term, or many years afterwards, during all which time, the liability to be brought up for judgment hangs over his head. If he be brought up, he may speak, or offer affidavits; but, aster that the Attorney General and his coadjutors claim the right, and exercise it, of SPEAKING AGAIN, before the judgment is passed. This they always do; especially in cases of libel. Suppose the prosecuted man is acquitled; then he has all his costs to pay; for the Crown
pays no costs. The same is the case if the man be never brought to trial. Still he has costs, and heavy costs too. He is obliged to pay for a copy of the accusation against him. Poor Gilbert WAKE Field (whose case we must take care not to forget) had to pay, he states, several pounds, in order to get at a knowledge of what he was accused of; for, unless he paid this money, he would not have known what his alleged crime was, till he actually came to the place of trial and heard the charge read against him. It is the same with every other man, who is prosecuted in this way. He may be, as we have seen, brought to court after court, and not tried for years, and, perhaps, not tried at all; and, besides the harassing of this, he has to meet and support all the expenses. There may be just as many Informations laid against any man as the Attorney chooses to lay against him; he may be compelled to give bail upon every one of them, or he may be sent to jail; and, aster all, he may, if the Attorney General chooses, never be brought to trial at all; and he has, for all this, no mode whatever of obtaining compensation or redress. Such are the powers of the Attorney General; such is the nature of an Information Ex-Officio; such is the nature of a Special Jury; such was the mode in which I was accused and brought to trial, nearly one whole year after the publication of the article for the publishing of which I was tried ? SEcos p, the trial and its result. At the trial I spoke in my own defence; and, while the judge said, that, by my defence I had added to my crime, while the Attorney General insisted on the same in his speech, and demanded additional punishment on that account; while they were saying this of my defence, there were not wanting others to assert, that I had, in my defence, abandoned the cause. The truth is, that I not only asserted, that my publication was true : but, that it was right to make it. I insisted, that I had a right to complain of the acts performed at Ely. I reprobated those acts in the most severe terms; and said, that, as far as I was able I would go in endeavouring to put an end to the flogging of Englishmen and to the employing of German troops. This was the substance of what I said in the Court; and I should certainly have said a great deal more if I had been suffered to reply to the Attorney General. What took place after the trial, and until I was lodged in Newgate, I stated at the
time, in an article, part of which I will here, with very little abridgment, insert. It was written in my then new habitation, on the 14th of July, 1810, the anniversary of the destruction of the Bastile ; and it was as follows: “After having published seventeen volumes of this Work, embracing the period of eight years and a half, during which time I have written with my own hand nearly two thousand articles upon various subjects, without having, except in oue single instance, incurred even the threats of the law, I begin the Eighteenth Volume in a prison. In this respect, however, I only share the lot of many men, who have inhabited this very prison before me; nor have I the smallest doubt, that I shall hereafter be enabled to follow the example of those men. On the triumphing, the boundless joy, the feasting and shouting, of the Peculators, or Public Robbers, and of all those, whether profligate or hypocritical villains, of whom I have been the scourge, I look with contempt, knowing very well, feeling in my heart, that my situation, even at this time, is infinitely preferable to theirs; and, as to the future, I can reasonably promise myself days of peace and happiness, while continual dread must haunt their guilty minds; while every stir, and every sound must make them quake for fear. Their day is yet to come. Before I renew my usual intercourse with my Readers, and offer to them, as heretofore, Iny remarks upon political subjects, and subjects connected with politics, I think it necessary to say something, relative to the proceedings in the Court of King's Bench, the end of which proceedings has been my imprisonment here. It is not my intention to publish a full report of the Trial: that would be unnecessary; but on many accounts, it may be useful merely to record the transaction, previously to any remarks upon any part of it. First, then, I was prosecuted by way of Information of the Attorney General, for an article, published in the Political Register of the 1st of July, 1809, respecting the flogging of certain men in the Local Militia, in the town of Ely, and also respecting the use made, upon that occasion, of a corps of foreign soldiers, called the King's German Legion. Secondly, the Trial took place on Friday, the 15th of June, 1810, when I was found guilly, by a Special Jury. Thirdly, on Wednesday, the 20th, I was compelled to give bail for my appearance in court to receive judgment, and, as I came up from Botley (to which place I had returned on the evening of the 15th) a Tip-Staff went down in order to seize me personally, and to bring me up to London to give bail. Fourthly, I was brought up to receive judgment on Thursday the 5th of July, when, after the Attorney General had made the speech, which I shall notice by-and-by, I was sent to the King's Bench Prison, and ordered to be brought up again on Monday the 9th of July. Firth LY, on this last mentioned day, I was sentenced to be imprisoned in this prison for Two Years, to pay a fine of a Thousand Pounds to the KING, and, at the expiration of the Two Years, to give bail, myself to the amount of Three Thousand Pounds, with two sureties to the amount of One Thousand Pounds each for my keeping the peace for Seven Years.--—The Attorney General was Sir Vicary Gibbs,” who was assisted by Mr. Garrow ; the Judge, who sat at the Trial, was Lord Ellenborough; the four Judges who sat when the Sentence was pronounced were Lord Ellenborough and Judges Grose, Le Blanc, and Bailey; the Sentence was pronounced by Judge Grose; and the persons' composing the Jury were as follows: Thomas Rhodes, Hampstead Road John Davis, Southampton Place James Ellis, Tottenham Ct. Road John Richards, Bayswater Thomas Marsham, Baker Street Rob. Heathcote, High St. Marylebone John Maud, York Pl. Marylebone George Baxter, Church Ter. Pancras Thomas Taylor, Red Lion Square David Deane, St. John Street Wm. Palmer, Upper St. Islington Henry Favre, Pall Mall.
So much for the mere names and dates belonging to the transaction. Now, as to the publication itself; as to the sort of prosecution and the manner of conducting it : as to the charge of the Judge: as to the verdict of the Jury; as to the nature and amount of the Sentence: these are all before the public, whose attention to them has been very great, and to the judgment of the public I leave them. But, on the last of the Attorney General's three speeches (for he had three to my one) I cannot refrain from making some observations, and I think myself fully justified in doing this, because I was told, that I could not be permitted to answer him
* Now a Puisné Judge.
verbally. The speech, to which I here allude, was made on Thursday, the 5th of July, when I was called up for judgment; and, that no one may say, that I do not treat even this Attorney General fairly, I will first insert here the whole of his speech, as it stands reported in the Morning Chronicle of the 6th of July, that report being the most correct that I have seen. In the charge of Lord Ellenborough and in the Sentence-Speech of Judge Grose, there were some passages relating to questions appertaining to general and foreign politics and to the profounder departments of political acconomy. On these I shall hereafter have occasion to offer some observations; but, for the present, I shall confine myself to the Speech of the Attorney General, which is reported in the following words: “The Attor“ney General agreed in all that had been “ said by his Learned Friends, in behalf “of the three Defendants, for whom they “appeared, as to the distinction between “their guilt and that of Mr. Cobbett, as “to whom he should speak by and by. “They had allowed judgment to go “against them by default; they had “never denied that the publication was “a libel; nor that they themselves, in “ their concern in it, had acted a criminal “ part. They had not made their defence “a vehicle for other calumnies and slan“ders, almost as bad as the original libel. “In all these respects, their case stood “contradistinguished from that of Mr. “Cobbett. There was also another distinc“tion between their case and that of most “printers and publishers. They had not “employed the author, as some printers “ and publishers did, but the author had “employed them. Yet these Defendants, “ and every other person who might “chance to stand in the character of “printer or publisher, must understand, “ that these circumstances could never ex“culpate them. All who lend themselves “to the publication of any work or “writing whatever, must know that they “ become responsible for all the conse“quences thence arising.—He now came “ to the case of Mr. Cobbett. The Court “would observe that from him the publi“cation proceeded, and to him, as the “author, all the profits, if any, apper“tained. Whatever of malignity resulted “ from the publication, to him was it at“ tributable; and whatever there arose “ from it of base lucre and gain accrued “to him alone. The Court had heard the