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THE TRIAL OF WILLIAM HALEY,
For publishing No. 21, Vol. 9, of The Republican, before the Recorder and a Common Jury, at the Old Bailey Sessions.
THIS case was called at half past eleven o'clock on Friday morning the 11th of June. The Jury being called and having entered the box, the Recorder told the Defendant, that now was his time to ask the Jury any question, relative to their having ever been on a similar case.
Defendant-I will not occupy unnecessarily the time of the Gentlemen of the Jury, by putting the question to them individually—but shall ask generally, whether any gentleman in the box has ever served on a trial of a similar nature, trusting to the candour of the Gentlemen.
A Juror rose and said, that he had been a Juror on the trial of the King v. Carlile.
Defendant-Then, my Lord, I object to that Gentleman. Recorder-How long is it since you were on a trial of this
Juror-Four or five years.
Recorder I cannot see, then, Defendant, what objection you can have.
Defendant-My Lord I do object to that person?
Recorder-In a case of felony, the prisoner may PEREMPTORILY challenge twenty Jurors, but you are only charged with a misdemeanour*, therefore, you must give a reason. The trial on which that Gentleman sat as a Juror, was not for the same publication.
Defendant-My lord, it is absurd to tell a prisoner that now is his time to challenge the Jury, and on his doing so, to endeavour to evade his challenge. I challenge that Juror on the ground that he is not unprejudiced.
Here some conversation took place between the Recorder and the counsel for the prosecution, (Barnard) but it was inaudible, beyond the table at which the counsel, &c., were sitting.
Recorder-Defendant, you cannot on this ground challenge the Gentleman as a matter of right; but if the gentleman who is engaged for the Crown does not object to the gentleman leaving the box, he may do so.
Defendant-I claim it as a matter of right.
Mr. Barnard here rose and said, that the Defendant was mis
*Which is only punished by three years' imprisonment.
taken if he imagined he had a right to any such indulgence; but that the prosecutors wished to afford every reasonable advantage tothe prisoners and they had already proved their disposition to do so, by their conduct towards the former defendants.
Defendant-The learned gentleman has stated that the former defendants had every reasonable advantage given them. I must be allowed to except the very reasonable request of Mr. Clarke, that he might be allowed five minutes to refresh himself, which was refused him, though it was at the time evident he was nearly fainting. I challenged the Juror as a matter of right; but as the Court has decided that it is not matter of right, I will trust to the honor of the Juror, who, is in all probability, prejudiced against me, rather than cóndescend to accept his expulsion as a favour at the hands of my Christian persecutors..
Recorder-Do you decline then accepting the offer of the gentleman for the prosecution?
The jury having been sworn-Mr. Barnard opened the case. He said this prosecution like the preceding ones had been instituted at the instance of the Solicitor to the Treasury. It was not an attack on the liberty of the subject, every man was at liberty to worship God in any manner he thought proper; but no man would be allowed with impunity to attack the Holy Scriptures or to ridicule the established faith. He should not say much upon the subject, as he was perfectly convinced that the Jury, as men of sense, would, on hearing the passages read, be convinced of its blasphemous nature. One observation more however he must make. If works of this nature were to be suffered to stalk forth, every tie that rendered life worth preserving, would be broken. He conjured the Jury therefore to give such a verdict as would satisfy their own consciences, they having been warned before-hand of the danger to be apprehended from the free publication of such works, as the one for selling which the defendant was then indicted. George Leadbetter was then called and sworn.
Barnard-Do you know No. 84, Fleet Street?
Barnard Is it in the City?
Barnard-Whose name is over the door?
Barnard-Did you go there on the 21st of May?
Barnard-Who did you see in the shop?
Witness-The Defendant at the bar.
you ask him for any book?
Witness-I did. I asked him for the Republican, he handed it to me, and I paid him sixpence.
Barnard Did you mark it previous to having let it go out of your possession?
Recorder-You are now at liberty to ask the witness any questions.
Defendant-You have stated that you asked me for the Republican, pray was that the first book you asked me for?
Witness: It was.
Defendant: On your oath, did you ask me for no other book? Witness: No other book.
Defendant: I speak plain English, Sir, but to assist your memory, did you ask me for Paine's Age of Reason, or Palmer's Principles of Nature?
Witness (hesitating) No.
Defendant: Now, Sir, be careful what answers you give, I repeat the question, did you not ask me for those books, and on my refusal did you not tell me you were going into the country? Witness: No.
Defendant: Did you not tell me you were going into the country?
Witness: I did.
Defendant: And do you remember that on your telling me that falsehood, I detected you, and told you that I knew your purpose?
Witness: You said you knew me.
Defendant: Very well, you found I was not to be gulled into the sale of the prohibited works, so your worthy compeer (pointing to Raven who sat by the counsel) thought fit to prosecute this work. But I think you said, just now, that you did not ask me for any other work, pray did you not buy a number of the Moralist?
Witness: (starting) oh yes, I remember, I did buy a number of the Moralist.
Defendant: Oh you did, pray did Mr. Raven employ you to buy it, or was it an adventure of your own?
Witness: I bought it for myself.
Defendant: Oh you did, did you read any of it?
Defendant: Oh I forgot, your morals being under Mr. Raven's superintendence, you do not of course want the aid of books.
Recorder: Defendant you are not to comment at present on the evidence of the witness, your time will be presently.
Defendant: Really my lord, the evidence creates so many ideas in my mind, that I must give some of them vent
(Here his Lordship frowned direfully.)
Defendant: Pray, Sir, who pays you for this job, and what is the sum you are paid?
Witness: I am not paid any thing.
Defendant: Are you allowed your expences?
Defendant: No evasion Sir: do you intend to apply for them? Witness: I do not know that I shall.
Defendant: If you do apply, at what rate per diem do you mean to charge for your expences?
Witness: I never make any charge.
Defendant: Oh, you don't; you see, Gentlemen of the Jury, the witness leaves these little matters to the generosity of my Christian persecutors, who no doubt pay him according to his success in these cases. Then you come here, actuated simply by a love of religion and a detestation of blasphemy.
Witness: I do.
Defendant: That answer is amply sufficient to convince me of your love of religion and the scrupulous honour of your mind, you may go down, Sir,
Recorder: Mr. Raven's name is at the back of the Indictment have you any questions to ask him?
Defendant: I shall not unnecessarily take up the time of the Court, the last witness has said quite enough to prove the animus in which these prosecutions are carried on.
Recorder: Then now is your time to offer any defence you may think fit.
MY LORD, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY,
I AM indicted for having published a false, malicious and scandalous libel, tending to bring into contempt the Christian religion, as by law established. But, Gentlemen of the Jury, I trust that I shall be able to prove to you, that the passage, on which the indictment is founded, is not false, not malicious, not scandalous; but that it is true in every part, that it is published not with malicious intentions, but for the good of mankind. Gentlemen of the Jury, allow me to ask, each of you, were some furious animal about to trample upon your favourite child, did its death seem inevitable, would you call him malicious, who, at the risk of his own life, should throw himself in the brute's passage and sacrifice him to secure your infant's safety? No, you could not be so unjust. The already bloated demon of clerical avarice, foams with rage, the liberty of man lay prostrate at its feet, wide gaped its voracious jaws; but a saviour appeared; the writings of Thomas Paine, which had been but imperfectly understood, were given to the world by a man worthy of the action. The faction imprisoned him, and loudly o'er their goblets did they shout with joy; for their enemy was in a dungeon's gloom. But short was their triumph; great was their consternation, when the voice of their brave opponent was heard from his prison; "vox et præterea nihil," shouted a few, more besotted than their fellows. But soon did they find that the voice was amply sufficient to render comfortless their beds of down, and insecure their boasted rights divine. New oppressions were heaped on
the gallant prisoner of Dorchester, still he manfully resisted, humanity saw his sufferings and blushed; zealots in defence of Old Mother Church became converts to his writings, and even turtle-fed bishops lamented the severity of his treatment. But the active enemies of freedom were still pursuing their righteous occupation. No one could enter the shop but with the certainty of being immured in a gaol. Men, nay women also were found, bold enough to dare all; at length tired out, the hydra-headed monster sought repose, publication was free, men read and their minds were improved: for twelve months this course was pursued and all good men hoped that it would be perpetuated. But of a sudden all these hopes were annihilated, the work of oppression recommenced, and the gallant Campion was the first victim: but did his apprehension intimidate others from following his glorious example? Oh, no, in a wonderfully short space of time, the Solicitor to the Treasury had apprehended seven persons more, and for the satisfaction of George Maule, Esq., and all others whom it may concern, I thus publicly tell him, he has but commenced a task, which his whole life will not be long enough to complete. I perceive a gentleman smile and shake his head; I am not very intelligent at interpreting signs; the gentleman appears to me, to intimate that they will redouble their efforts, let them apprehend twenty men weekly, and they will be as far from their object as
Previous to entering fully on my defence, I must remark on the conduct of that part of the press, styling itself liberal, and more particularly on that particular journal, the soi disant, "leading Journal." It has been stated, in the very impartial and consistent leading Journal, that the defendant in the first of this series of trials, "was evidently ignorant of the nature of the defence which had been composed for him, by some person, who had imposed on him by representing it as likely to serve him." If there be a reporter present connected with this veracious Journal, I beg to inform him, that all those who have preceded me in defending their principles were not only fully aware of the consequences that such a style of defence was likely to draw upon them; but are equally acquainted with what must be the result of a war of persecution and priestcraft, opposed to undaunted courage and useful literature, and that there is no person in the back ground as has been insinuated. As far as I am individually concerned, I beg to say, that, whether my defence tends to injure or serve me, I only am answerable for it; I say this much, because I would not have it go forth to the world, that designing men engage unlettered individuals to expose themselves to the danger; while cowards reap the profit. We are not ignorant, we are not driven by frantic poverty to engage in the sale of these works, far otherwise; we know that we cannot reasonably expect to continue more than a day or two in the employment, and we have every