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Now these proofs are drawn from their manner of proceeding in framing the charge ; for they have prosecuted me for remonstrating against a duty which, abstractedly from the nature of the service, I did not remonstrate against ; and they have not dared to prosecute me for the very things I did remonstrate against; thereby justifying the remonstrance.
The conduct of my superiors, in not finding any fault with my remonstrances for three months, as shewed in evidence, proves they felt, and were convinced, the acts were illegal which I had objected to.
Thus from their own acts I substantiate, that my remonstrance is justifiable, and that the charge cannot be proved : besides, I may justly appeal to the sense of truth and honour, in the breasts of the Court, that the letters produced, in the prosecution, furnish my full acquittal. They cannot read those documents without being indignant at the charge, from its want of truth; for they must say, from their own evidence, in the letters alone, Capt. Atchison did not remonstrate against the salutes, as set forth in the charge, but he remonstrated against being a party in the service for which the salutes with their accompaniments were fired, as set forth in Mr. Greig's letter.
The evidence thus falsifying the charges, it must appear first, from the Prosecutor's retiring from the ground disputed, and not being authorized officially to prosecute me for what I really remonstrated against ;secondly, from the delay in not noticing the alleged offence;—and, thirdly, from the Prosecutor's own evidence, as contained in the letters he has produced in Court;—that I stand justified in having made my remonstrance, and that the real truth of the case completely and perfectly falsifies the second Count in the charge.
Now, the proof of the order being illegal, with the justification of my remonstrance, mentioned in the second Count, would in themselves clear me from the blame laid against me in the first Count; for I cannot be blamed for not doing an illegal act, and I cannot be blamed for a legal remonstrance.
But I do not stand acquitted on this ground alone; the Prosecutor stands my friend on the first Count, as well as on the second, by his own evidence.
As to the first Count of the charge, viz. disobedience, the Prosecutor's own evidence, intended to be against me, turns against himself, and acquits me.
Observe,-My Commanding Officer orders me to go, and fire certain salutes ; after doing this, he comes and receives my request to be exonerated from this illegal duty. He gives me instructions to execute, and takes (by request) my instructions from me, and executes them himself: one part of the instructions he executes in person, at the time; the other by order, as in evidence. Was there ever then a more complete COUNTER
MAND, than these facts in evidence before you ; strengthened as they are by the other circumstances of no blame being laid on me for what I did, either by my immediate Commanding Officer, or the Commanding General, when he became acquainted with this affair.
Let me here assert, that I hold the principles of prompt, unhesitating, implicit obedience to military orders, as high as any man ; and if I had had the slightest doubt of the illegality of the order, I should never have remonstrated; or, having fallen into such an error, I would not be wasting the time and patience of the Court by any defence in extenuation of it.
And now that I consider myself fully acquitted, through the illegality of the order, being made evident, and admitted by my Prosecutor, and therefore my just claim to remonstrate fully shewn; and my complete justification proved by the countermand of my commanding officer; I feel that I stand justified, in all my conduct, by the position in which Mr. Greig's letter of instructions placed me; and also, that I had a just precedent for petitioning in the known compliance with Lieut. Dawson's request.
I well know how much the good of His Majesty's Service must be affected by this question, and the good or evil which will arise from it; and I trust there is not a member of this Court who will think I would willingly have injured the King's Service, which, besides its vital importance to the welfare of my country, has educated and supported me in comfort and happiness for more than twenty-one years; and to which, whatever may be the issue of this trial, nature, even without any higher principle, must always draw my feelings and best wishes; and I trust that all my known temper and conduct verifies what I have here asserted.
My conscience can bear me witness, that in what I have done in this affair, an insubordinate feeling towards the service, has not passed through my bosom; and that I consider those who have opposed my views, as acting according to their views of the service, however mistaken.
To the shame of those who, without ground, would intimate a conspiracy, let me mention the fact, that my Commanding Officer knew from me the state of my mind, and my intention to remonstrate on the subject of the Church Salutes, before Lieut. Dawson did ; and, that I do not remember to have spoken 'to him on the subject since we have been in Malta, until after he had written his first letter to Major Addams.
I wish I could have as good a conscience towards my God in this affair, as I have towards the service, in that I would on no account willingly have injured it; and I trust I shall make it appear, that my actions were not such as to wound that service, which I profess to esteem, and to promote, by every means in my power; and I also trust it will appear, that my military principles are as correct and pure as those which have actuated the other part of my conduct.
I therefore can enter on the other ground of my defence with a light heart, and encouraged with a good conscience, and by the kindness and consideration I have experienced from the Court, which I trust it will not find abused.
But I have respectfully to ask the Court's patient and kind attention to my defence; and to beg they will pardon me, in asking them to hear it with unprejudiced minds, when they reflect on the well-known influence which public authority in England, as well as at Malta, must have over men in whom it is a virtue to obey : and when they consider the overwhelming force of general opinion, the love of which, with its attending principle, the fear of opposing it, often constrains the will against the influence of a new and better conviction.
Yet, Mr. President and Gentlemen, I would that you be very jealous of established principles, and of every thing which may tend to compromise the discipline of the Army; for all its character and efficiency to the good of our nation, and all personal comfort and happiness to the individuals who have devoted their lives to it, depend on this one thing,-Discipline.
I only would plead, that if I am enabled to expose errors, by whatever authority they may be supported, you will allow real military principles, and not confidently advanced and wrong opinions to prevail, in guiding you to your decision in this novel case.
Having failed in the cross-examination to obtain evidence to a part of my conduct, shewing that I was throughout acting in the present affair under a strong seose that the orders for Church salutes could not be lawfully given to an English Protestant, and my conduct through the crossexamination appearing in an improper light; it is necessary for me to state to the Court, what I did on the 7th and 9th August; and I trust that this confession (making as it will against me, if the orders objected to are legal) will be considered by the Court, a more satisfactory account of what has taken place than the confused and imperfect evidence before it.
I think it was on the 7th that I first heard that Lieut. Dawson had sent a letter representing his objection to fire these salutes. I saw my Commanding Officer the same day. He mentioned to me the subject of Lieut. Dawson's letter with some expression of disapprobation at it. With the knowledge and feelings I had on the subject, I thought it right, both as it regarded the service and myself, to state to him, that I entertained similar objections; and mentioned, that when I was quartered at Fort St. Angelo twelve months before, an order for these salutes came and was executed without any reflections on my part : when the next order came, I felt their objectional nature in a great degree, but not to the full
extent; and I considered I ought to make a representation respecting them; but some particular reasons not necessary to be stated, operating with the serious consequences which would attend the step, prevented me. I was removed from Fort St. Angelo immediately after these salutes were fired. My reflections on this subject led me to enquire more particularly into the sinful nature of these services in which I had assisted, not as a principal, it is true, but as an accessory; and the result was, that I felt I had a share in the guilt of all that was committed, whether through man's ignorance or not, my better knowledge only adding to the stigma of my share of the guilt. I was utterly dissatisfied with myself, and with the reasons which had led me not to remonstrate. I also saw more fully that I had a right, from my privileges as an English Protestant, to remonstrate; and I came to a resolution to remonstrate against performing any such service, whenever it should be required from me.
I respectfully mentioned these circumstances 'to my Commanding Officer, saying, I had kept these thoughts to myself; only that as the matter was in agitation, it was right he should know that another officer felt as Lieut. Dawson did. I think I mentioned the respect that his Majesty had ordered to be paid * to the scruples of Roman Catholic soldiers, who are not to be compelled to attend our Protestant worship, much less to be made to act in it, as we are in theirs, as a ground for thinking his request allowable. I think my Commanding Officer replied, It was nonsense for a military man to make such objections, as we must obey all orders.
I had no right to consider, from any thing that passed at this interview, that my Commanding Officer was displeased at my acquainting him with my objections.
On the morning of the 9th of August, I happened to be in Fort St. Elmo, when the order before the Court was put in my hands; and knowing the time was limited, and seeing my Commanding Officer in the gallery, I went to him, and reminded him that he knew my feelings respecting the salutes ; and said, I was about to proceed to Fort St. Angelo, according to the Adjutant's letter; and begged to acquaint him, that as soon as I officially knew the nature of the service, by the instructions being put in my hands, I should write to beg he would exonerate me from this duty, as it appeared Lieut. Dawson's request had been granted. That my object in coming up to him was to request he would tell me where my messenger would be sure to find him, that I might be certain of
* Regulations for the Army, page 198. “ Commanding Officers of Regiments are to be particularly careful that no soldier “ professing the Roman Catholic Religion shall be compelled to attend the divine
worship of the Church of England."
having my request considered, before the time for firing the salutes arrived. He told me he would be found at his own house, in Strada Mezzodi. All the other essential particulars are in evidence.
These were all the particulars of my conduct in this affair; and I mention them, for this sole reason, to shew I was actuated by a very strong persuasion that the duties were illegal; and that, when petitioning for my right, I was anxious to avoid any breach of military discipline.
I proceed now to shew, First, from the letter of Instructions, that I was not sent to perform a military service; but that I had been applied for, and in consequence I had been sent, to execute a religious service.
Secondly, that in the religious service which I was ordered to assist, there were acts to be committed in co-operation with rites, for commemoration of an object most repugnant to my feelings and principles as a Protestant Christian, which I assert would have been violated; and that these are not mere private fancies, but the acknowledged principles of my national church :-forming, and acknowledged also, as integral parts of the English constitution.
Thirdly, that if I had taken any part in the sinful acts, to which I objected, I must have been accounted an accessory and participator in the crime in the sight of the Almighty with aggravated guilt; also in the sight of every well informed Protestant Christian. · Fourthly, that from my known religious profession as an English Protestant Christian, and the sacred personal rights which belong to me as such, in the eyes of the British Constitution and laws; it is decidedly illegal for any civil or military officer to give me such an order to execute as the one I received ; and, therefore, I was entitled to remonstrate the moment the order was put into my hands. I have acted only according to my rights; and, having done so, I am in no sense culpable, and therefore must be acquitted.
In reference to the second step in this argument, in which it is stated that there were objects to be commemorated most repugnant to my feelings and principles; I beg to mention, that besides its necessity in leading to the ultimate conviction, which I hope to impress on the minds of the Court, it answers for me another very important purpose, viz. that of convincing the Court, and whoever may have to judge of my conduct, that I have not been actuated by a spirit of bigotry or obstinacy; but that my conduct has arisen from a rational and conscientious view of the things to which I objected ; and that the sentiments I entertain are sufficient to account for what I have done.
It appearing in my letter in evidence (marked No. III.) that it was my request to have my Protestant principles respected, which has caused