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Defendant- Nothing that I can say can benefit me.
Recorder - You may take an objection to the indictment probably? Defendant-I shall take no legal objections.
The Recorder proceeded to pass the sentence of the Court.Prisoner, you have been convicted of an atrocious offence--the publishing of a most wicked libel, blaspheming the Holy Bible and the Christian religion, and you have had the hardihood to take upon yourself the defence of the publication. You knew it was contrary to law to sell a work of that description, for you could not be ignorant that the same work had already been prosecuted, and adjudged in the Court of King's Bench to be an abominable libel. In spite of this warning you repeat the offence-you glory in your crime, and assert that your object was to do good to your fellow-countrymen. If you are so blindly infatuated, and bent upon violating the law of this land by propagating works denying the truth of the established religion, you must take the consequences of such obstinacy. It is the duty of the Court to pass such a sentence as will be the means of putting an end to the unlawful traffic you have been for some months concerned in. The rising generation are interested in the suppression of such abominable publications, which tend to destroy the seeds of religion, which had been implanted in their juvenile minds, and induce them to believe that there is no such thing as revealed religion. For the purpose of preventing you from continuing a practice which is a violation of the law, tending to subvert the established religion, and to debase and corrupt the morals of society, the Court sentences you, William Campion, to three years' imprisonment in his Majesty's Gaol of Newgate, and at the termination of that period to enter into your own recognizances in the sum of £100. to keep the peace for the term of your natural life.
The prisoner seemed surprised, as did also the majority of the spectators, at the extent of punishment to which he had been sentenced. There were three other indictments against him, which were withdrawn.
TRIAL OF THOMAS JEFFERIES,
For publishing Paine's “ Age of Reason,” before Newman Knowlys,
the Recorder, and a common Jury, being the same which gave the verdict of “ Guilty,” against William Campion, at the Old Bailey, New Court, June 8.
Mr. Baruard opened the pleadings, and Mr. Bolland stated the case.
The publication was proved, and the defendant's Counsel (Mr. French) was going to cross examine the witness; but the defendant, from the bar, told bim he did not wish to have him asked any questions as he was willing to admit the publication.
The case here closed for the prosecution.
Mr. French then rose to address the Jury on behalf of the defendant, he said, that it was only within the last few hours he received a brief, or the least instruction to act for the defendant-he was afraid too laie to answer his expectations; and in considering the critical situation in which his unfortunate client stood, he deeply regretted that his notice had been so short, being thereby prevented from giving the case that solemu attention and deep study which its great importance required: he should, however under all those disadvantages, say a few words for his client. God forbid that he should, in his professional character, stand by and allow the liberty of the subject to be trifled with.
He described the defendant as a young man whose principles bad been early subverted by his becoming associated with Unitarians. He entered one of their schools, and sucked in the poison which had eradicated that belief wbich he formerly had in the Divinity of Christ. There was a time when this was truly a Christian country; but now the laws were altered, and the denial of the divinity of Christ was permitted in the Unitarian Chapels, and many were there now holding high rauk in the Bar and in the Senate -aye, and in the Church too, who denied the Trinity. Why were not the rich--the affluent attacked for propagating anti-Christian doctrines? The Unitarian was the real blasphemer, and yet he escaped prosecution. What was there, as the law now stood, he asked, to prevent a Jury of twelve Unitarians from trying the defendant?-Nothing. What was the state of the law, when twelve Blasphemers could be put in that box to try one Blasphemer? Was it not well known that, by the present laws of the countryand he defied the Learned Judge on the Bench to deny ittwelve Unitarians (he might say twelve blasphemers) could sit in that box and try another blasphemer—even try the very person at the bar, who had been when young seduced from religion, and made to imbibe their own vile doctrines? It was to this that might be attributed the situation in which his client now stood, he having learned at their place of worship to consider Christ but a man, and not a God. Was this not blasphemy-the grossest of blasphemy? And still they were not prosecuted, but tolerated. He knew there were men of great eminence at the bar who professed these doctrines, and were Unitarians. ---- Nay, there were men in the very seat of Government, wbo professed them. Why were they not prosecuted? was it because one man was poor and the other rich and high in station, that he was to be screened? Was this justice? Nothing but respect to the learned Judge on the Bench, and not through any delicacy towards them, that made him refrain from giving their names. There were the blasphemous writings of Lord Byron, which were accompanied with all the blandishments that his fine genius could bestow; these works were spread widely throughout the kingdom; but still neither the Noble Lord, in his life time, nor the publishers of his works, were ever prosecuted, so that the title of Noble Lord carried with it its own protection; but the poor ignorant man, who had been misled by one set of blasphemers, is brought to the bar to stand his trial for blasphemy. He would ask, were there ever a rich man, or a man in power, brought to the bar of the Old Bailey for blasphemy? He would say that those men in power, who professed the doctrines of the Unitarians, deserved to be brought to that bar for blasphemy, as well as the poor man who then stood at it. Why was the poor unprotected defendant laid bold of by the Solicitor of the Treasury, Mr. Maule, and men of influence in the country, suffered to blaspheme with impunity without any attempt being made to bring them to trial? For bis part, be thought it was a mockery of justice to pick out a poor fellow like the defendant, when higher game presented itself to the view of the prosecutors. Why did not the prosecutors gointo the Unitarian Chapels, where they might hear the arch blasphemers declaiming against the Cbristian religion, though they called themselves Christian ministers: which hypocrisy was as disgusting as the opinions they held ? The law had been changed in this country, for it was well known there was a time in England when no one would have dared to openly deny the divinity of Christ. The law had, as he had said, been altered, and instead of Christianity being now generally believed throughout the land, it was permitted to be openly promulgated that Christ was not God. The propagators of this doctrine, wbich had eradicated from the mind of the defendant at the bar, bis belief in the divinity of Christ, were the insidious Unitarians, and so long as the law tolerated Unitarianism, it was scandalous and unjust for men like his client to be prosecuted for promulgating their opinions. He called upon the Jury, who as Christians, would think it very intolerant if they should be assailed by any power, and punished, for giving currency to their opinions, not to do that to others which they would not like to be done unto themselves. The Christian Religion was founded on too firmi a basis to require prosecution to uphold it, and he trusted the Jury would not sanction the proceedings against the defendant, but with true Christian feelings say, we will not persecute our brother; if bis opinious are erroneous he is answerable to his Creator, we will, therefore, pronounce bim Not Guilty.
The Recorder summed up, as in the former case, and the Jury found the defendant Guilty. He was sentenced to 18 montbs' imprisonment, and to find sureties to keep the peace for life, in the sum of one hundred pounds, and to be confined till the recognizance was entered into.
The Recorder told the defendant that a second offence rendered him liable to the forfeiture of the recognizance, which would become a debt to the crown, and he would be subject to banishment; and if he returned to this country before the term expired, be would be subject to transportation for fourteen years.
John Christopher then pleaded to three different indictments.
Mr. Phillips, for the defendant, said that he should claim a new Jury, as the present one had already given an opinion upon the work for which the defendant stood indicted.
The Recorder did not see the force of the objection; the publication would have to be proved, and the Jury were bound to receive the law from him.
Mr. Phillips claimed a fresh Jury as a matter of right.
Recorder: Do the officers of the crown accede to your application?
Mr. Bolland said they did not object to it.
Mr. Phillips then went to bis client, and conversed with him for some time; and then informed the Court that the defendant wished to withdraw his plea of Not Guilty, and plead Guilty to the indictment against him.
Recorder: Do the officers of the Crown object to that course?
Mr. Bolland: No, my Lord.
The defendant then pleaded Guilty, and the Court said be had acted wisely, and sentenced hiin to two months' imprisonment on each indictment, and to find sureties in the sum of £ 100., to keep the peace for the term of his natural life.
NOTE ON JOHN CHRISTOPHER'S PLEA OF
“ GUILTY,” BY R. CARLILE. It was a matter of regret to me, that any one should have voluntarily entered my shop with a certainty of prosecution, and then have gone into Court to plead Guilty. I was surprised on bearing it; though neither of the men who did so had ever read any of my publications before they entered the shop; and, consequently, they must have entered under some other impressions than those wbich have actuated every other man who has hitherto connected bimself with me.
Michael John O'Connor, the reputed thief, was one of them; and I verily think, that he was sent to the shop by the 'enemy, with a bope of disgracing us. His whole conduct warrants the conclusion. It was he who seduced Hassell to sell the Age of Reason to the Police Officer; for Hassel's instructions from me were to reserve bimself, until I could get some steady hand in the directing part of the business, or until we had a supply of country friends ready to come forward. He was altogether seduced into the sale of the book, as be bad refused many applications of the kind on two former days. As soon as O'Connor got to the Compter, he said, that be would see Carlile damned before he would suffer two year's imprisonment for him, and immediately stated bis determination to recant, as he called it; saying, that Humphreys, the Solicitor to the fraternity of thieves in London, had assured him, that he would be let off on bis own recognizances, if he would so recant. The fellow was