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of guilt, and in consigning them to cumstances which could have led å punishment, they have not only com- Jury of our day to interpose
between mitted themselves and the Unitarian Christ and his persecutors. The same cause, but have excited feelings of influence and the same apprehensions sincere regret in every inheritor of the would have operated and induced those mild virtues of their great Master. who do not hesitate to contravene his No sooner, it will be do Unita- direct precepts now, to have convicted rians breathe the air of religious free. the vilified Author of Christianity himdom than they forget their long and self then, as an innovator and disardnous struggle with intolerance for turber of the public peace; for those their own emancipation, and take a they have condemned under laws proready part in riveting the chains of fessedly Christian, have been accused such as have still to contend for the only of decrying one set of opinions same privileges.
and upholding others; in fact, of fol. Conscious as I am, however, that lowing his example. an unqualified desire to put down opi “But what could we do and how nions by force, (be they what they could we act otherwise," they exclaim, may,) is a charge which these very in- “bound as we were to be ruled by the dividuals would blush to have imputed law as it stands, and sworn to return to them, it would be unjust to impugn a verdict according to evidence? We their motives. No; the bugbear that readily subscribe to the arguments has alarmed and influenced them and used for the defence, and should reother good men in times of persecu- joice if these prosecutions and retion, has been a superstitious venera- straints upon discussion were abantion for legal forms, and a dread of doned; but if persons will be so imgiving offence to intolerant oppressors prudent as to incur the penalties, we, and instigators. The spirit of the as Jurymen, cannot be expected to laws, therefore, which are asserted to follow the dictates of our feelings at be founded upon principles of Chris. the expense of our oaths.". 'tian charity, is absorbed in technicali This is the kind of justification ties through a slavish subserviency to which has made many a worthy man the sinister perversions and sophistries lend himself to the vilest conspiracies of religious and legal bigots; for against liberty, virtue and the religion whatever intimate connexion the legis- of Christ; scarcely conscious that he lature intended to establish between is supporting a spurious Christianity Christianity and the laws, and how firm- by means the most unchristian. But ly soever they would have grafted their the answer is plain. There is no inreligious enactments upon its princi- consistency in adhering to the Jurors' ples, where are we to discover any oath, and construing the laws reasontraces of the humane liberality which ably and justly as the laws of Chrisis its true character, in their adminis- tians. Be guided by your own under. tration ? Let conscientious Jurors standing of the evidence, instead of ask themselves if Christ and his apos- allowing assumed tendencies and legal tles ever instituted or enforced penal mysteries to distract and bewilder. laws, or would have sheltered their Interpret the motives of the accused doctrines under them. So completely liberally and fairly. In short, do as at variance with these prosecutions you would be done unto; and whether were their doctrines and conduct, that the blasphemer be Jew or Pagan, deal they claimed to be subverters of the with him as you would have those otestablishments of their day, which ganized, systematic blasphemers, the stood in need of such support. Ju- Christian Missionaries, treated by the daism was part and parcel of the law true believers of another faith. Try of their land, as Christianity is said to them by their motives, and let the be of ours, yet he did not scruple to malice charged against them appear expose its absurdities and to promul. incontestably, instead of convicting by gate opposite opinions. True, he fell inference and upon the judgment and a victim to intolerant charges of blas- injunctions of other men.
Where phemy, such as now prevail; and, re- there is not the most satisfactory volting as it may appear to those con- proof of moral guilt, it is impossible cerned in more recent condemnations, a truly conscientious Juror can assent I can discover no difference in the cir- to a verdict of guilty.
But I will detain you no longer, to find a verdict of Guilty, and that having subjoined a paper which, al we are sworn to do. though on a subject foreign to reli. The Judge did indeed say, that if gious persecution, may claim some we believed the witnesses, our verdict consideration from Jurors who are must be Guilty, but I confess I am not called upon to put a criminal con- quite satisfied that this is really our struction upon conduct which may duty, notwithstanding he took upon possibly, at least, have proceeded him so to direct us. If the lad infrom innocent, and even laudable mo- tended no harm and was unconscious tives. It is founded upon the notes of the mischief he had done, why of a Juryman on a late trial, but is not punish him? pretended to state the conversation Intend it he certainly did not; in verbatim, or in the exact order in that we are all agreed. which the sentiments of the different Then it appears to me we cannot individuals were advanced.
return a verdict of Guilty. It is conS. C.
trary to common sense that a person should be pronounced guilty who is
not culpable, or that he should be puConsultation of a Jury, on a charge have blown up houses by gunpowder,
nished for an accident. Persons who of Manslaughter against a lad who accidentally,
are not accounted crimicaused the death of a man by firing nal, although many deaths are the a ball at a board fence, through which it penetrated at a distance of
consequence. 60 yards, the man who was killed
Well, but here one man loses his being 70 yards from the fence on manslaughter, is it not? So the Judge
life by the act of another, and that is the other side, and hid from view.
says, at least, and the king's subjects Well, Gentlemen, what think you must be protected. of this case ?
If you mean that the terms killing I think he is guilty: Several —So and slaughtering are the same in fact, do I; it does not admit of a ques- I admit it for argument's sake; but the tion.
term manslaughter implies (according No doubt he was the cause of the to any reasonable construction of law) man's death of that we are all satis- a criminal killing, although short of fied.
that degree which constitutes murder; Well, then, I don't see what we and as you all agree, and the evidencé have to do but return a verdict of proved, that this lad was wholly ignoguilty accordingly, for although it was rant of his misadventure until some an accident which he could not fore- time after it happened, how can crime see, it is our duty to abide by the be imputed to him, and how can he law.
deserve punishment? Yes, certainly, that is our duty, and He committed the act, he discharged I fear we can't do otherwise than find the gun, and the ball killed the man, hiin guilty. Yet it is a hard case, and therefore the Judge has laid it down I really can't help feeling sorry that that he is guilty in law, and we are the lad should be punished.
not to concern ourselves with the conBut why shonld you feel sorry if sequences. you are convinced he is guilty? You Then allow me to say, you appear know the guilty should be punished. to mistake the office of Juror. If we
Because this was entirely acci- were merely called upon to say whedental; and it is certainly very unfor- ther the act of discharging the piece tunate for the prisoner.
was committed by the prisoner, the Yes; and hard upon us too, be- terms of our verdict would be simply canse we have no option. Our duty Yes or No to that question of fact; but is imperative.
you will recollect the very terms Guilty No doubt our duty is imperative; and Not Guilty shew that the question the only question is, What is our of fact is not the only subject of inquiduty ?
ry. Every legal offence must partake Why, the Judge tells us that. He of moral turpitude-laws being only says the law is clear, and our duty is moral regulations; to pronounce a man
guilty, therefore, of an accident or the Judge's direction is to govern the misadventure would be absurd, and to verdict, for there can be no other mopunish him for happening to be the tive than deference to the Judge for innocent, unintentional and uncon- giving this boy over to be punished, scious means of evil to another, the while we are all convinced he does not height of injustice.
deserve it. But the Judge quoted an Act of Besides, I have always understood Parliament, and instanced the case of the laws to be founded in reason, and a brick falling on a man's head from intended to afford protection as well the hand of a bricklayer, to shew that as to inflict punishment; but if subhe thereby incurred the guilt of man- stantial justice and the spirit of the slaughter.
laws are to be made subservient to He did so; at the same time ours technical constructions, then the Jury may or may not be a parallel case, and should consist of lawyers. the use and office of a Jury is to dis You are quite right: it is not necriminate in these matters between cessary that Jurors should be lawyers good and bad intentions, and between to enable them to form a correct esticrime and accident. A brick may be mate of evidence, or to come at the thrown with an intention to kill, which true intent and meaning of a plain would be murder; with a degree of Act of Parliament; they are, therecarelessness for the safety of others, fore, taken promiscuously from the which would properly constitute man mass of citizens, on the reasonable slaughter, and call for punishment. presumption that twelve men, so ipOn the other hand, the brick might pannelled, must be a fair sample of drop from the labourer's hod by mere the intellect and probity belonging to accident; or, by rebounding from a the community; and all that is respot of apparent safety, and, aying in quired of them is, that the guilty conpieces, reach a person coming in the duct of an accused person shall apway unexpectedly. In either of these pear from the evidence so plain, as io latter cases I should acquit
, and I, leave no doubt in the mind of any one therefore, cannot conscientiously do of the twelve before they venture to otherwise in the case before iis. pronounce him guilty.
Well, I should like to bring in a But admitting that the Judge, from verdict that will satisfy the court. his greater experience, may occasion
I trust we shall first think of satis- ally throw light upon any part of the fying ourselves.
evidence that may seem obscure, you But you know the Judge said the would not reject his explanations, law is clear, and that our verdict must merely because they came from the be Guilty.
bench. He did so; but I trust there are not Certainly not; but I should always many of us disposed to defer quite so guard against being influenced by his inuch to his Lordship's directions as or any other opinion when opposed to to forget the purpose for which we my own, and should value his explaare appointed ; viz. to determine for nations of evidence, and quotations of ourselves this the prisoner has a law, only so far as I myself might be right to expect of us.
convinced of the correctness of the There is no need, however, to run. one, and of the reasonable application counter to the Judge's opinion; for of the other. he tells us that all the circumstances What makes the Judge's directions shall be taken into account, and that at present so extraordinary too, is, the punishment will be lenient. that he himself allows that no one can
Very true; and I am glad of this impute any criminal design to the opportunity of discussing the duties lad, and the witnesses give him so and asserting the rights of Juries in a excellent a character, that really I for case where the result is not of suffi- one should be very glad to save him cient importance to influence our de- from prison if it can be done. cision, and particularly as no political Well, he is in your hands, and if or party feeling is involved in the this be your impression, what should question, which, with us, seems to be hinder you from acting upon it? It is merely whether our own opinion or wholly our affair, and surely we who
are appointed to try the accusation the indictment, always keeping in view should feel no difficulty in saying must that it is malicious intention which not, when it is dictated by our delibe- constitutes crime in law, as well as rate judgment ?
in morals and common sense. I see that is our proper course—the True; and I am quite of opinion Jury, and the Jury only, are the per- that neither the Act quoted by the sons to decide the question of guilt, Judge, nor the punishment annexed and had we exercised our own judg- to the crime of manslaughter, can ment upon the evidence from the first, apply to this boy's case, which is one we should not have hesitated about of accident and not of crime. The acquitting him; but the Judge's charge indictment charges him with feloniconfounded us.
ously killing, to which the Act and. The boy thought no more of doing the Indictment relate ; now the evimischief, than as though his piece had dence proves that it was purely accibeen pointed against a rock. His friends dent, which I think you, Gentlemen, should not have entrusted fire-arins in will not call felony, however the lawthe hands of one with so little expe- yers may construe the word. rience; and I am persuaded, that if I agree with you, and I think it punishment is due any where, it is to would be doing an injustice to the boy them.
to convict him; he is a well-disposed I cannot help remarking, that if pre- boy now, but we all know he would meditation is necessary to crime, that get no good in prison. it was completely disproved in this But the law is answerable for that; instance by the witnesses themselves, and, as I said before, we have nothing who proved the fact; and the impres- to do with the consequences. sion upon my mind, when the evi So unreasonable a construction of dence closed, was, that we must acquit the law and of the duties of Jurors, him ; but when the Judge laid it down cannot excuse us all for subjecting a as the law, and charged us so posi- well-disposed lad (which every witness tively to bring him in guilty, I thought allowed him to be) to the contaminawe could not otherwise.
tion of a prison, satisfied as we are, Well, I confess my impression was that he is not deserving of punishthe same throughout the trial, and ment. the Judge's charge really surprised Well, as so many are for an acquitme; but being in possession of his ex- tal, I will consent to a verdict of Not position of the law, I am still not Guilty ; but I am afraid the Judge will satisfied about acquitting him. not approve of it.
Then, Gentlemen, what is the use He may not; and it would be cerof our hearing evidence? If that is not tainly more pleasant if we could perto guide us, we may as well wait here form what we conceive to be our duty during the next trial, and let the Judge without differing in opinion with the send us directions for our verdict when Judge or any one, because his and it is over. I would really advise those our motives may be equally good ; but who are
so anxious to please the I cannot avoid expressing a hope, that Judge, to take their hats, tell him they this determination to think and act are content to leave all to him, and for ourselves will lead him to dispense are satisfied he can do quite as well with the word must in his future adwithout a Jury.
dresses to Juries, although the law But are we not to attend to the and the evidence may appear perfectly Judge's construction of the laws ? clear to him; because we are the per
When the Judge quotes an Act of sons to try, and there are generally inParliament which he considers appli- dividuals in every pannel who will concable to any class of crimes, he ad- sider such positive language from the dresses himself to the Jury for their bench as derogating from the true information; he being more conver character of Juries, and interfering sant with the laws of course than we with their province. can be, but it is the Jury who are to Viewing the matter in this light, apply it practically and specifically, there appears to me an impropriety in and their verdict is to be founded upon the application of the term directions their own construction and applica- to a Jury. tion of the law to the charge laid in In my opinion there is. As the word
is generally understood, nothing is so rapidly becoming worse ; paying the degrading to a Jury as to have it sup- interest of the debt on their church posed they are acting under, or that became oppressive to them, and they ihey yield their conscientious judge could offer nothing towards the supment to, any directions whatever. port of a new minister, when one
whose merits we can never too highly Bristol,
appreciate, was raised up from amongst
themselves. Mr. John Ashworth, a Sir, July 10, 1822.
woollen-manufacturer, undertook the TILL
you allow ine room in office without a prospect of pecuniary
your valuable publication, to recompence. How well qualified he bring to the recollection of your was for the undertaking, the general readers, the very praiseworthy and good conduct, the increase, and the interesting congregation who assem- regular attendance of the congregable to worship one God in one Person, tion, together with the high estimaat Newchurch, Rossendale, in Lan- tion in which he is held wherever cashire, and to set before them some known, will best testify. When he particulars of their present situation? and his people became known to the
It must be fresh in the remembrance late excellent Dr. Thomson of Leeds, of many, that within the last twenty an annual stipend of 121. was by that years they were all Wesleian Metho- gentleman obtained for him,' from dists; but, under the guidance of their that is termed “Lady Hewley's honest and inquiring minister Mr. Fund;" but with a disinterested libeCooke, were step by step, without be- rality not often equalled, he declared ing themselves aware of it, led on to his determination regularly to appromore rational, and, as we esteem them, priate the money to the necessary exmore scriptural doctrines. Though penses of the chapel, or the gradual dependent upon his profession for a extinction of the debt. maintenance, this lover of truth per When this “little ffock” of wor. severed in a careful examination of shipers of Him who is One and his the sacred writings ; and zealously in- Name One, was made known through structing his hearers according to his the medium of the Repository to the own convictions, was far on his way Unitarian public, much interest was towards Unitarianism, though he had excited, and a subscription raised not reached it, when called to a severe which reduced their debt to less than account, and dismissed from the Me- 2001. Had the times been less unfathodist connexion.
vourable, it would, no doubt, ere now A large number of his flock were have been done away. But, notwithattached to him, and to the doctrines standing the good management of they had heard him deliver, and these, their pastor, the necessary repairs and separating themselves from the rest, regular expenses attendant upon carchiefly with borrowed money, erected rying on worship, and providing for the chapel at Newchurch.
the early instruction of the young, has The painful struggle which he had hitherto prevented its being brought gone through, and the harsh usage he under half the above-mentioned sum. had received, was more than the ten The case of this exemplary congreder frame of Mr. Cooke could sustain, gation was, in the course of the last
- he fell into a decline, and died soon year, laid before the members of the after ; bearing witness to the last, in Bristol Fellowship Fund, and in addithe cause for which he had sacrificed tion to the particulars just related, his little share of this world's goods, they were informed that a Sundaybelieving it to be the cause of Chris- school, consisting of 200 children, who tian truth; and in full confidence were taught reading, writing and accommitting his widow and helpless counts, was carried on in the body of infants to the Almighty Protector, the chapel ; that not only all things who never forsaketh those who trust necessary for this were furnished free in him.
of expense to the parents, but a liThe congregation then, as it now brary of well-selected tracts, &c., was does, consisted entirely of persons added for the use of the scholars, getting their living by hard labour. many of whom took great delight in Trade, in consequence of the war, was reading. Some of the oldest of these