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be collected chiefly from the evidence of SUUMING UP.
Johnstone, Weddel, and Freeland. You will The Lord Justice Clerk.- This indictment, observe particularly how he ran a parallel gentlemen, is the longest I have ever seen, between the French and English constitutions, since I had the honour to sit in this court; and talked of their respective taxes, and their and is to be tried by a great number of cir- causes, and how he gave a preference to the cumstances. It shall be my business to sim- French. You are to judge of the tendency plify it as much as I can.
of such harangues. With respect to circulatA relevant charge, gentlemen, may be con- ing Paine's book, Mr. Muir has said that it tained in a few lines; but the humane prin- has never been condemned. But, gentleciple on which the practice is carried on, is to men, Mr. Muir should recollect, and you state the facts at some length, for the benefit must be sensible, that a judgment of a of the prisoner; and on this principle the court of law is by no means necessary to lord advocate has acted in the present case.
make it seditious. It is in itself most sediBut, gentlemen, although the facts are tous, treasonable, and dangerous. Sedition thus fully stated; it is by no ineans absolutely in England, gentlemen, must be sedition necessary to prove the whole, in order to es- here; and sedition here must be sedition in tablish the guilt of the prisoner. You have England; and it would be right in forming only to look at the concluding sentence of your opinion to have an eye upon the judgthe indictment, which runs thus, “ all which, ments of the English courts, who have conor part thereof being found proven,” &c. from demned the publication of that work. The which you clearly perceive that you are to other writings mentioned in the indictment consider if as many of the facts libelled are are much of the same stamp. I agree in proved to your satisfaction as will establish the idea that the passages should be taken the general charge.
with their context. You will do this when The question, then, gentlemen, for your you look over them, and have only to recolconsideration is simply this: On the whole lect a simple proposition, that to render a of the proof led, when taken in connexion, do book seditious, it is not necessary it be all you think the panel guilty of sedition or not?
sedition. Now in examining this question, there are Now, gentlemen, the fact is clearly proven, two things which you should attend to, which of his having circulated some of these books; require no proof. The first is, that the Bri. it is for you to draw the consequence. tish constitution is the best in the world ;
An attack has been made on the young for the truth of this, gentlemen, I need only woman, Fisher. But I must confess I never appeal to your own feelings. Is not every heard a more distinct evidence; and no man secure in his life, liberty, and property? grudge between her and the family has been Is not happiness in the power of every man, condescended on. On the contrary, from her except those perhaps, who, from disappoint answer to a very proper question put to her ment in their schemes of advancement are by one of yourselves, she appears to have left discontented ? Does not every man enjoy the family on very good terms. unmolested the fruits of his industry? And
Gentlemen, the only wish of the prosecutor does not every man sit safely under his own can be to bring offenders to justice; and he vine and his own fig-tree, and none shall must make use of such evidence as the case make him afraid? The other circumstance, admits. Her testimony, however, in several gentlemen, which you have to attend to, is material facts bas been supported. the state of this country during last winter.
You will next attend to Mr. Muir's behaThere was a spirit of sedítion and revolt going viour in the convention, when he read the abroad which made every good subject se
Irish Address. Instead of denying this fact, riously uneasy. I observed the reflection of Mr. Muir has asserted the innocence of it, the master of the grammer school of Glasgow, and enlarged upon its merits. Gentlemen, I who told Mr. Muir, he conceived that propos cannot help saying, I think it a most sediing reform then was very ill-timed; I coin- tious and inflammatory paper. You will take cide in that opinion, and † leave it for you to it with you and judge of it. judge, whether it was perfectly innocent or You have next to turn your attention to bot in Mr. Muir, at such a time, to go about the outlawry. Running away from justice, among ignorant country people, and among gentlemen, must always be considered an evithe lower classes of the people, making them dence of guilt. * Mr. Muir has attempted to leave off their work, and inducing them to set up an apology for his non appearance; believe that a reform was absolutely necessary but I would ask, why, at such a crisis, he to preserve their safety and their liberty, should go to France ? Independently of that, which had it not been for him, they never
he should have recollected that an embassy would have suspected to have been in danger. to a foreign country, without proper authority, You will keep this in remembrance, and is a species of rebellion. This proves, howjudge whether it appears to you, as to me, to be sedition.
* See the observations of Mr. Justice Day You will next attend, gentlemen, to Mr. on the case of Judge Johnson, in the court of Muir's conduct at Kirkintilloch, which is to King's-bench of Ireland, A. D. 1805, post,
ever, that he was supposed to have conside- , their clerk; and having considered the crimirable influence with those wretches, the lead. nal libel, raised and pursued, at the instance ing man there, and establishes his connexion of his majesty's advocate for his majesty's with them. And what characters are these? | interest, against Thomas Muir panel, the I never was an admirer of the French; but I interlocutor of relevancy pronounced thereon can now only consider them as monsters of by the Court, the evidence adduced in proof human nature.
of the libel, and the evidence in exculpation; As Mr. Muir has brought many witnesses they are all, in one voice, finding the panel, to prove his general good behaviour, and his Thomas Muir, Guilty of the crimes libelled recommending peaceable measures and peti- in witness thereof their said chancellor and tions to parliarnent, it is your business to clerk have subscribed these presents, conjudge how far this should operate in his fa- sisting of this and the preceding page, in their vour, in opposition to the evidence on the names and by their appointment, place, and other side.
date aforesaid. Mr, Muir might have known that no at- (Signed) GILBERT INNES, Chan. tention could be paid to such a rabble. What
Joun Balfour, Clerk. right had they to representation? He could have told them that the parliament would never The verdict being recorded, the Lord Juslisten to their petition. How could they think tice Clerk addressed the Jury, and said, That of it? A government in every country should this trial had been of the greatest importance. be just like a corporation; and, in this coun- He was happy that they had bestowed so try, it is made up of the landed interest, which much attention upon it, and informed them, alone has a right to be represented; as for that the Court highly approved of the verdict the rabble, who have nothing but personal they had given. "He then asked their lordproperty, what hold has the nation of them ** ships severally their opinion upon this verdict, What security for the payment of their taxes? and what punishment should be inflicted. they may pack up all their property on their They delivered their opinions as follows:backs, and leave the country in the twinkling Lord Henderland observed, that the alarmof an eye, but landed property cannot be re- ing situation in which this country was during moved.
the course of last winter, gave uneasiness to The tendency of such a conduct was cer- all thinking men: his lordship said, that he tainly to promote a spirit of revolt; and if had now arrived at the most disagreeable part what was demanded should be refused, to of the duty incumbent upon him, which was take it by force.
to fix the punishment due to the crime, of Mr. Muir's plan of discouraging revolt, and which the panel was found guilty. The all sort of tumult was certainly political for indictment charges him with sedition, with until every thing was ripe for a general insur- exciting a spirit of discontent among the rection, any tímult or disorder could only inferior classes of people, and with an attack tend, as he himself said, to ruin his cause; against the glorious constitution of this he was in the mean time, however, evidently country; the jury, by the verdict which they poisoning the minds of the common people, had returned, and to which the Court had and preparing thein for rebellion.
alone recourse, had found the panel guilty ; Gentlemen, you will take the whole into and it was their lordships only duty, now to your consideration. I now leave it with you, fix the punishment due to he offence. His and have no doubt of your returning such a lordship said, that he would not dwell upon verdict as will do you honour.
the evil consequences of the crimes committed The Lord Justice Clerk having finished his by the prisoner. The melancholy example of address about half past one o'clock in the
a neighbouring country, which would for ever morning of Saturday, the Court was adjourned staiņ the page of history, rendered it unneuntil 12 o'clock of that day, and the jury were cessary for him to recapitulate the circumimmediately enclosed.
stances of the case. In that country, the conse
quences of such measures have produced every Saturday, August 31st.
kind of violence, rapine, and murder. There The Court again met according to adjourn- appeared, he said, to have been in this country ment, when the jury returned the following a regular plan of seditious measures. The
indecent applause which was given to Mr.
Muir, last night, at the conclusion of his Edinburgh, August 31st, 1793. defence, within these walls, unknown in that The above assize having enclosed, made high court, and inconsistent with the solemchoice of the said Gilbert Innes to be their nity which ought to pervade the administrachancellor, and the said John Balfour to be tion of justice, and which was insulting to the
laws and dignity of that Court, proved to * These expressions were animadverted him, that the spirit of sedition had not as yet upon with much severity by Mr. Fox in the subsided. He would not, he said, seek to House of Commons. See in the New Parl. aggravate the offence committed by the History, Vol. 30, his speech on Mr. Adam's panel, by the misconduct of his deluded tnotion, March 10th 170 4.
friends, in order to increase the punishment.
The punishment to be inflicted is arbitrary, of liberty, the worst sort of tyranny was estawhich there is a variety, and we have our blished, and all the legal and moral ties which choice of banishment, fine, whipping, impri-bind mankind were broken. Nay, shameful sonment, and transportation. Banishment, to tell, even religion itself was laid aside, and he observed, would be improper, as it would publicly disavowed in their National Convenonly be sending to another country, a man tion. dangerous to any, where he inight have the Certain wicked persons have set on foot in opportunity of exciting the same spirit of dis- this happy kingdom, the first steps of the content, and sowing with a plentiful hand, se same plan under the specious pretences of dition ; fine would only fall upon his parents liberty and equality; assuming to themselves, who had
already suffered too much by the for- most falsely and insidiously, the respectable feiture of his bail; whipping was too severe and names of Friends of the People, and of Redisgraceful, the more especially to a man who form, although they deserve the very oppohad bore his character and rank in life; and site denomination, by which means they imprisonment, he considered, would be but a have misled, and drawn after them, a great temporary punishment, when the criminal number of well-meaning, though simple and would be again let loose, and so again disturb unwary people. the happiness of the people. There remains A most respectable jury has found the pribut one punishment in our law, transporta. soner guilty of endeavouring to excite this tion. It was a duty he considered he owed sort of sedition :-and how did he attempt to to his countrymen to pronounce it, in the explain and justify himself?—By denying sesituation in which he sat, as the punishment ditious intent, and alleging his motives were due to his crimes. His lordship said, I am a desire of reformation, and that the mode sorry, it wrings my very heart to think that a he proposed for obtaining it, was a legal, gentleman of his description, of his profes- peaceable, and constitutional petition to the sion, and of the talents he possesses, should House of Commons. But how were these be guilty of a crime deserving such a punish- motives reconcileable with the principles in ment, but I see no alternative. For what se- the writings and pamphlets which he justified curity could we have against his future opera and circulated ? 'The fundamental doctrine tions, but his removal from this country, to a of these books is, that the whole people are place where he could do no farther harm? in effect to judge of, and direct in every thing, His lordship was therefore of opinion, that and that to obtain their end, they have only the panel should be recommitted to prison, to will it. Is not such a reformation a subthere to remain, till a proper opportunity version of our wise and happy government? should occur for transporting him, to such and is a petition of millions of people who place as his majesty, with the advice of his have willed to have what they pray, a legal, privy council might appoint, for the space of peaceable, and constitutional petition? fourteen years from the date of the sentence; With regard to the punishment, I observe, with certification that if he return within that the maxim, that the severity of punishthat time, he shall suffer death.
ment ought to be in proportion to the atrocity Lord Swinton.--The crime with which the of the crime, does not hold in our law; for panel is, by the jury of his country, found that, with us, punishment is not revenge nor guilty, is sedition. It is a generic crime, and atonement. If punishment adequate to the which is defined by our lawyers to be “a crime of sedition were to be sought for, it commotion of the people without authority, could not be found in our law, now that toror the exciting of such commotion, to the dis- ture is happily abolished. The sole object of turbance of the public peace.” This crime, punishment among us is only to deter others he observed, consisted of many gradations, from committing like crimes in time coming. and might have run from a petty mob about In this view I concur in the proposal that wages, even to high treason. He thought the has been made of transportation for fourteen punishment should be adapted to the crime. years, which is a mild punishment, considerThe question, he said, was then, What was ing the offence, and considering the danger the degree of the crime the panel had been of the times. guilty of? That was to be discovered from the By the Roman law, which is held to be our libel, of which he has been found guilty by common law where there is no statute, the the unanimous verdict of a respectable jury of punishment was various, and transportation his country. It appeared to him to be a was among the mildest mentioned.' Paulus, crime of the most heinous kind, and there L. 58. Dig. de Pænis writes, “ Actores sediwas scarcely a distinction between it and high tionis et tumultûs, populo concitato, pro treason. As by the dissolution of the social qualitate dignitatis, aut in furcam tolluntur, compact it made way for, so it might be said to aut bestiis objiciuntur, aut in insulam deinclude every sort of crime, murder, robbery, portantur.'—We have chosen the mildest of rapine, fire-raising, in short
, every species of these punishments.* By the Codex, lib. 9, wrong, public and private. This was theoretical reasoning, for we had it exempli
* See Mr. Fox's remarks on this
in fied before our eyes, in the present state of his speech in the House of Commons, March Prance, where, under the pretence of asserting 10th, 1794. New Parl. Hist., vol. 30.
t. 30. ' de seditiosis et his qui plebem contra | the indecent applause which was given the
rempublicam audent collegere,' l. 1 and 2., panel last night, convinced him, that a spirit such persons are subjected ad mulctam gra- of discontent still lurked in the minds of the
vissimam.' —Baldus writes, “Provocans tu- people, and that it would be dangerous to multum et clamorem in populo, debet mori allow him to remain in this country. His
pæna seditionis.'-And by a constitution of lordship said, this circumstance had no little the emperor Leo: Subdandos autem pænis weight with him, when considering of the pu
eis quas de seditionis et tumultùs auctoribus nishment Mr. Muir deserved. He never had vetustissima decreta sanxerint.'
a doubt but transportation was the proper The crime here, though very near to trea- punishment for such a crime, but he only heson, does not amount to it. The mildest of sitated whether it should be for life or for the the punishments for the sedition of which the term of fourteen years—the latter he preprisoner has been found guilty is transporta- ferred, and he hoped the panel would reflect tion; and I think it is the punishment in this on his past conduct, and see the impropriety
which he had committed, and that if he should Lord Dunsinnan.-His lordship spoke in so be again restored to his country, he might low a tone of voice that we had not an oppor- still have an opportunity of showing himself tunity of following him throughout the whole to be a good member of that constitution of his opinion. He, however, agreed, with the which he seemed to despise so much. rest of their lordships, in the punishment After his lordship had delivered his opinion, which they said Mr. Muir deserved, viz. trans- and during the time the sentence was reportation for fourteen years, with the usual cording, Mr. Muir rose and said :certification, &c.
My lord justice clerk, I have only a few Lord Abercromby. I think it by no means words to say. I shall not animadvert upon necessary to say much of the enormity of this the severity or the leniency of my sentence. crime, after what has been already said. By Were I to be led this moment from the bar to our old law it would have amounted to trea- the scaffold, I should feel the same calmness son; and even by the statute of Edward it and serenity which I now do. My mind tells comes very near it.
me, that I have acted agreeably to my conHad the panel's speeches produced any riots science, and that I have engaged in a good, a or tumults, it might have involved him in just, and a glorious cause--a cause which high treason. This rendered him cautious; sooner or later must and will prevail; and, by for otherwise he might this day have received a timely reform, save this country from desentence to suffer the punishment due to struction. traitors.
The clerk then read the sentence. Another reason why he avoided tumults was mentioned in his speech, that a revolusioners of justiciary, having considered the
The lord justice clerk, and lords commistion could only be effected by an insurrection foregoing verdict, whereby the assize, all of the general mass of the people; trifling in one voice, find the panel Guilty of the tumults would not answer.
crimes libelled: the said lords, in respect of [Here Mr. Muir rose and said " I deny the said verdict, in terms of an act passed in
lord; it is totally false."] If any thing could add to the improper na
the 25th year of his present majesty, intituled, ture of the panel's defence, it was his pre- of felons and other offenders in that part of
“ An act for the more effectual transportation tended mission to France, and the happiness Great Britain called Scotland,” ordain and he expressed in the circle of acquaintance adjudge that the said Thomas Muir be transmonsters. His lordship coincided with the shall declare and appoint; and that for the did too much accord with the feelings of those ported beyond seas, to such place as his ma
jesty, with the advice of his privy council, rest of their lordships, in regard to the punish- space of fourteen years from this date ; with ment, which, they had given as their opinion, certification to him, if after being so transMr. Muir deserved. was considerably affected to see the panel the said fourteen years, without some lawful Lord Justice Clerk.-His lordship said, he ported, he shall return to, and he found at
large, within any part of Great Britain, during stand trial for sedition, a man who had received a liberal education, was meinber of a
cause, and be thereof lawfully convicted, he respectable society, possessed considerable out benefit of clergy, by the law of England:
shall suffer death as in cases of felony, withtalents, and had sustained a respectable cha- and ordain the said Thomas Muir
to be carracter.' The lowest species of this crime is ried back to the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, heinous; but when aggravated by creating therein to be detained till he is delivered over disloyalty and disaffection to government, it amounts to the highest sort of sedition. It be to all concerned, a sufficient warrant.
for being so transported, for which this shall borders on treason; and perhaps it is owing to the humanity of the lord advocate, that the
(Signed) ROBERT M'QUEEN. panel had not to stand trial for his life.
His lordship agreed in the propriety of the “ In the library of the Antonian monks at proposed punishment, and he observed, that St. Sebastian, Rio Janeiro, we were shewn an
English book, presented by Thomas Muir, “We have endeavoured to correct the false with the following lines in a blank leaf : Latin which our copyist has made in several Bibliotheca
instances, but must refer him back to some Ordinis Sancti Antonii fratrum better copy; and we should have liked to Observantia sua
have known the name of the book pre Thomas Muir, de Hunters hill, sented.”—Review of an Account of a Voyage Gente Scotus, Animá orbis terrarum civis to establish a Colony at Fort St. Philip in Obtulit.
New South Wales, by J. H. Tuckey; GentleO Scotia, O longum felir longumque superba man's Magazine, April 1805, pp. 337–9. Ante alias patria, Heroum sanctissima tellus, Dives орит,.
, fecunda viris, lætissima campis, Ærumnas memorare tuas summamque malorum Respecting this case, see in the New ParUberibus (qu. verbis].
liamentary History the debates in the House Quis queat et dictis nostra [qu. nostros] æquare of Lords, January 29th, 1794 ; in the House dolores
of Commons, March 10th, 1794; and in the Et turpes ignominias et barbara jussa. House of Lords, April 25th, 1794. See also Et nos patria fines et dulcia linquimus arva, in this volume the cases of Palmer, Skirving, Et cras ingens iterabimus aquor.
Margarot, Sinclair, and Gerrald, particularly Civitate Sancti Sebastiani, 23 Julii, 1794. the last.
594. Proceedings on the Trial of the Rev. Thomas Fyshe PALMER,
on an Indictment charging him with Seditious Practices. Tried before the Circuit Court of Justiciary, held at Perth, on the 12th and 13th September: 33 George III. A. D. 1793. *
Thursday, September 12, 1793. of the people, against the present happy con
stitution and government of this country, The Court met at eight o'clock in the morning. and to rouse them up to acts of outrage and
violence, by insidiously calumniating and MR. BURNETT (advocate depute for the misrepresenting the measures of government, Crown)-the next case I mean to bring before and falsely and seditiously justifying and vinyour lordship is that of Thomas Fische Pal- dicating the enemies of our country, with mer, for seditious practices.
whom we are at open war: as also the wickMr. Haggart (counsel for the panel).- edly and feloniously distributing and circuMy lords, the panel at the bar is Thomas lating, or the causing to be distributed and Fyshe Palmer, but the indictment does not circulated, any seditious and inflammatory apply to that gentleman.
writing, are crimes of an hein
nature, Lord Eskgrove-We must hear first, whe- dangerous to the public peace, and severely ther he pleads guilty, or not guilty.
punishable: yet true it is, and of verity, Mr. Haggart. He is not the person, my that the said Thomas Fische Palmer, above lord.
complained upon, is guilty actor or art and Lord Abercrombie. In point of form, the part, of all and each, or one or other of the indictment must be read first.
foresaid crimes; in so far as, sometime dur[The Indictment read as follows:] ing the month of July 1793, or of June preGeorge, &c. Whereas, it is humbly meant ceding, or of August following, the said Thoand complained to us by our right trusty mas Fische Palmer, having been present at Robert Dundas, esq., of Årniston, our advo- a meeting held at Dundee, and county of cate for our interest, upon Thomas Fische Forfar, which meeting, denominated itself
, Palmer, clergyman, sometime residing in “ A Society of the Friends of Liberty," or bore Dundee, and commonly designed Unitarian some such name, and of which meeting or minister : that, by the laws of this, and of society, the said Thomas Fische Paliner is every other well governed realm, the wick- or was a member; he did then and there edly and feloniously writing or printing, or put into the hands of George Mealmaker, the causing to be written and printed, any weaver in Dundee, a manuscript or writing, seditious or inflammatory writing, calculated of a wicked and seditious import, in the form to produce a spirit of discontent in the minds of an Address to their Friends and Fellow
Citizens; which manuscript or writing, was * of this trial there are two printed ac sometime during the months aforesaid, at counts; these I have carefully compared, and Dundee aforesaid, or at some other place from them, the report here given is compiled to the public prosecutor unknown, wickedly