« AnteriorContinuar »
this evil and partiality was to be found in the thinking, reflecting, and conscientious minds of a British Jury. He had often been tempted by some of his Learned Friends, to go and hear, as they said, the learned and eloquent discourses at the Unitarian Chapels, although his curiosity and the cbarms of eloquence would have induced bim; but his scruples of conscience to be present at the proclaiming of blasphemy always recalled him to his duty, and he desisted. This metropolis contained in the Unitarians a collection of serpents, who be predicted would one day bring this country to infidelity. It was an admirable answer which our late revered Sovereign gave to the Queen and Princesses when they supplicated his Majesty for Dr. Dodd to remit his sentence, which, although bis crime deserved bis fate, still it excited our sympathy, considering the former character of the man. “If," said his Majesty, “ I forgive Dr. Dodd, I have murdered the Perreaus.” Therefore, Gentlemen, are you to murder that man at the bar, and allow the Unitarians to go unpunished. It was preposterous to suppose that there was justice in popishing a poor illiterate man, who was obliged to do something for the support of his family. He did not wish that the Unitarians sbould be persecuted for their opinions, but that they should keep such dangerous opinions locked up in their own bosoms. The great question in this case was, did his client know that the book contained a blasphemous libel? Although at first the witness staggered him a little when he said that the defendant told him that the work was prohibited—but it was by his master that they were prohibited—when the Bow Street officers were prowling about like roaring lions, seeking whom they could devour. How did he know it to be a libel? He is an ignorant and an unlettered man, he went there for his bread. There were books of all sorts there, how was he to know the difference of what was, or was not, blasphemy? Was it defined by the law ? and what he was now going to say was on record. He was the counsel for a young man of the name of Trust, who was brought up before the King's Beuch for judgment in a case of this kind. Trust asked the Chief Justice to define blasphemy? The Chief Justice said he did not sit there to define blasphemy. If he was to ask the wortby Dr. Cotton, the chaplain of Newgate what Popery was, he would say it consisted of mild doctrines and true wisdom; but if he had to ask one of his predecessors, he meant Dr. Coetlegan the same question, he could anticipate bis answer: for his answer to a similar question some years since was on record, when he pronounced Popery
to be a horrid and blasphemous doctrine, and only fit for the meridian of hell. All Protestants did not entertain such sentiments; but there were some who were still prejudiced, and within the last two years there were Bishops who presented works to the throne, therein saying that Catholicity was blasphemous. But he would here pay that compliment to his present excellent Majesty, who was so distinguished for his liberality and his generous feelings, for he wished to see all his subject equally free and equally governed. He scorned to compliment Monarchy at the expense of his oonscience; but with regard to bis present Majesty, there could not be any compromise of bis conscience in that respect. They were not told that the defendant had been some time about town seeking for a place to shelter bis head under; they were not even told that he was not even acquainted with Carlile. But he was sure that a British Jury would copsider, that a man who could not read, could not know that a book was blasphemous. If therefore they agreed with him in thinking the doctrines of that favoured class the Unitarians, were blasphemous, let them say therefore that they would not concur in this most abominable injustice in bringing forward this small selected portion of blasphemers, and pass by the bulk of that class. He appealed to them if this was not a most appalling injustice. With these sentiments, which were the last he would address to a Court upon such a subject, he would leave it to their humanity and generous hearts to decide.
The Recorder then summed up, and complimented the Learned counsel upon his eloquent and ingenious defence; but, he said, he should tell the Jury that it did not, or could not bear upon the offence of the prisoner.
The Jury then turned round in their box to deliberate; wben, after a few minutes, one of them told the Recorder, that there were some of the Jury who were not agreed upon the point of the defendant having a knowledge of the contents of the book when he sold it.
The Recorder-All that I can say is, that I have laid you down the law; the question is a point of fact for you to decide upon.
Juryman—Perbaps, if your Lordship will read the law again, it may convince the otber Gentlemen.
Another Juryman—We don't want to have the law read again.
The Recorder then told Jury that they had better retire, as they would then have an opportunity of discussing the subject.
They then retired, and returned in an hour, and found the defendaut Guilty.
The Recorder then told the prisoner, that his case bad not those aggravating circumstances which characterized some which had come before the court. Besides, he had the able support of bis Counsel, which helped not a little to elucidate his case.
Under these circumstances, the Court would mitigate bis sentence to six months imprisonment in Newgate, and to find £100. security for bis behaviour for life.
TRIAL OF THOMAS RILEY PERRY.
Old Bailey New Court, Monday July 19.
THOMAS RILEY PERRY, who had traversed from the last Sessions, was this morning put to the bar, charged with having, on the 31st of May, published a false, scandalous, blasphemous, and profane libel, of and concerning the Holy Scriptures and the Christian religion.
The Clerk of the Court, as usual, previous to the swearing the Jury, observed, that if the prisoner had any objection to make on the ground of challenge, now was the proper time.
Defendant- 1. wish to be certified of the fact, if any of you, Gentlemen, have served on a case of this nature before, that is to say a case of blasphemy?
Each replied in the negative.
Mr. Bolland stated the case. The libel, he said, consisted of different passages contained in a work entitled “ Palmer's Principles of Nature,” which he should shew bad been purchased from the prisoner. The Learned Gentlemen then read the libel, which contained strictures on the character of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, Moses, and other personages, designating them as impostors, either in fact or in principle, and in allusion to the conception of the Virgin Mary, stating that Jesus Christ was nothing more or less than an illegitimate Jew, &c. If be proved these facts, be should, under his Lordship's direction, be entitled to the verdict of the Jury.
The first witness called was William Wilson, who said, I am a Bow Street patrol; I know 84, Fleet Street; I went there on the morning of the 31st of May, and saw the prisoner in the shop; I went away and returned between twelve and one o'clock. I went into the shop, and asked the prisoner
for “ Palmer's Principles of Nature;" the prisoner said the price of it was a sovereign; I told him I understood the price of it was 4s.; he said the regular price of it was 2s., but that they would not sell it for less, unless to Mr. Carlile's particular friends, or to those belonging to the concern, as there were so many Bow Street officers about; I said I hoped he did not think I was going to lay an information against him; he said he did not suppose I was; I told him it was a commission wbich I had from the country; he asked me what part of the country I came from? and I answered Lincolnshire; he said he had come from Splalding a few days before; I told him that I came from Market Rising; he then said, I suppose I must let you have this book, I suppose I must risk it; he took down the book, and I gave 2s.; he said, if an information be laid on this book it will raise its price to £5.; I wrote my name on the book before I parted with it; I am perfectly satisfied as to the prisoner's person; I can't be mistaken.
Cross-examined by Defeudant.
Defendant--Look at me well: Did you ever see me before?
Witness--- Never, until I saw you in Carlile's shop on the 31st of May. Defendant--Are Fou
certain that I am the man?
Defendant-You do not know my twin brother, wbo, in Lincolnshire, is not known separate from me?
Witness-No, I do not.
Defendant-Now on your oath will you swear that I resemble no other person you ever saw in your life, so that you would positively assert you could not be mistaken.
Witness—I do not think I ever saw any person like you.
The Recorder--You must answer the question.
Witness: Never to my knowledge.
Defendant: Did the person who sold you the book ever injure you? Witness: Never. Defendant: How much are you to have for this job?
Witness: I don't know that I am to have any thing for it; I was sent for the book by Mr. Stafford the Chief Clerk of Bow Street, and I should have been suspended, or perhaps discharged, if I refused to do it.
Defendant: What has been your profession before this ? Witness: I was a linen draper.
Defendant: Should you not like some more honourable employment than that which you now hold?
Witoess: I am perfectly satisfied with my present employment.
Defendant: Oh, you are, are you?
The Recorder here interrupted the Defendant and said he thought that question was not necessary,
Defendant: pardon me, my Lord, if I shew these Gentlemen that the wituess is an unprincipled, and worthless informer hired by his honourable masters to do this DIRTY WORK, the Jury will consider his evidence as it ought to be considered-Do evidence at all.
Recorder: I cannot see what ground you have for calling the witness worthless or unprincipled, that is for the Jury to decide by the evidence adduced.
Defendant to Witness: Did you read this book yourself?
Defendant: Did it make any evil impression on your mind ?
Witness: I cannot say, I did not hear it distinctly?
The Recorder: It is immaterial whether it did or not, the charge is, tbat the work has a tendency to produce bad impressions and injure the cause of religion.
The Defendant: I cannot, my Lord, sell my chance of redemption from the horrors of a prison, for the sake of a mere compliment. (to the witness.) Did you not swear a