« НазадПродовжити »
Expunged. responsibility for our deeds, He declares,—“If the blind follow the 66 blind, Both shall fall into the ditch.” And again, the Almighty says, by His prophet Isaiah, chap. ix. 16., “ The leaders of my people cause 1“ them to err, and they who are led of them are destroyed.”
That the law of England does not admit the doctrine of superiors being alone responsible for what they may induce their inferiors to commit against law, or the doctrine of irresponsible agency, is at once shewn by what is laid down on the subject of principals and accessories ; it exactly applies to my situation on the 9th of August, as I was required to be aiding and assisting in the object to which I have objected, and · had to command others to be aiding and assisting in a great crime. The law on these points well fixes the nature and extent of wbat my guilt would have been.
“ A man may be a principal in an offence in two degrees ;-a principal “ in the first degree is he that is the actor or absolute perpetrator of the “crime, and in the second degree, he who is present aiding and abetting “ the fact to be done, which presence need not always be an actual im6 mediate standing by, within sight or hearing of the fact. (4 Blackst. 37.) “ It is likewise a rule, that he who in any way counsels another to com“ mit an unlawful act is accessary to all that ensues upon that unlawful " act," p. 38. The point of enquiry how accessories are to be treated, distinct from principals, is this,—" That accessories shall suffer the " same punishment as their principals.” Burns lays it down, “ that in “the highest capital offence, high treason,” (and the offence against God under contemplation is one of a like degree and parallel in its nature) “ there are no accessories either before or after; for all the consenters, “ aiders, abettors, and knowing receivers and comforters of traitors, are “ all principals.”
From these high authorities we see that God is no Respecter of persons ; His laws are addressed to every man alike; that He will judge us according to our doings, and according to the fruit, or after consequences, of them; and that if we do wrong in deference to the will of our earthly superiors, foolishly imagining that they only will bear the punishment, He teaches us we shall fall with them. By the laws of our country we learn, that the actor, so far from being considered irresponsible by the orders of a superior, is invariably stated to be the principal in a crime ; and that principals in the second degree, or accessories to an offence, in the relation I should have been to the sin I objected to join in, are always considered equal in guilt, and deserve the same punishment as the principals, and that an accessory to a crime is accessary to all that ensucs upon his unlawful act.
Having thas shewn, Mr. President and Gentlemen,
1. That the service I was sent to execute was not a military, but entirely a religious service.
2. That the objects in the order which I had to assist in commemorating were most repugnant to my principles and feelings, and also most repugnant to the principles of the Established Church of my country. Expunged.
3. Having shewn that a government order has no power in saving me from the guilt which may attend any unlawful act it may order, and that I should have stood personally committed in the sinfulness of the facts I was ordered to assist in according to the laws of my God and the flaws of my country. Having also shewn that the principles which are opposed to me on the subject of our military obligation and responsibility serve to debase our profession, while those which I maintain are in accordance with the principles of our nature, the laws of God, and those of our country, and are essentially necessary to give to the service its efficiency and spirit, I have to proceed to the last head of my argument.
4. Namely, That from my known religious profession as an English Protestant Christian, and the sacred personal rights which belong to me as such under the eye of our constitution and laws, it is decidedly illegal for any civil or military officer to give me such an order to execute as the one with the instructions I received on the 9th of August; and therefore I was legally entitled to remonstrate the moment such an order was put into my hand ; and having done so with all possible respect to the ser|vice, I am in no sense culpable, and therefore must be acquitted. .
On this subject it would be insulting to my own feelings to attempt to prove by arguments those rights which I have asserted in the head of this part of my Defence: I might as well think it necessary to prove my right to the use of any other private property, as to attempt to prove my right to the exercise of my conscience towards my God, so long as it is regulated by His own holy word.
But in pleading before the Court for this personal right, which Ilis Majesty, the Parliament, and all officers of state, are bound to protect, and claiming right of conscience only as far as it is warranted by the principles of the church and laws of my country, I shall content myself with laying before the Court-1. The Bill of Rights ;—2. His Most Gracious Majesty's Oath, taken at his coronation ;-3. The Oath and Declaration against Popery, which his MAJESTY and EVERY MEMBER of the British Legislature are under an obligation to take ;—4. A statute law declaring how all kings of England must govern, and how all his officers and ministers must serve him. | These documents will shew how firmly our rights are asserted; how
E.tpunged. solemnly they are acknowledged, and the enjoyment of them promised to us; also how clearly the objects in the order against which I remonstrated are defined and denounced by His Majesty when he first sits on his throne, and also by every member of the British Legislalure.
I lay a Copy of the Bill of Rights, passed on the 13th W. and M. on the table. | The Coronation Oath is in the following terms :
Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this kingdom of England and the dominions thereto belonging according to the statutes in Parliament agreed on, and the laws and customs of the same?
The King or Queen shall say, I solemnly promise so to do.
Will you to your power cause law and justice in mercy to be executed in all your judgments ?
The King or Queen shall say, I will. Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant reformed Religion established by law ?
And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of this Realm, and to the churches committed to their charge, all such Rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain unto them ?- All this I promise to do.
It is also required by the Bill of Rights that every King or Queen, on the first day of the first Parliament upon the Throne, in the House of Peers, shall repeat and subscribe the declaration against Popery :
I, A. B. do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe, that in the sacraments of the Lord's supper there is not any transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, at or after the consecration thereof, by any person whatever; and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary, or ANY OTHER SAINT, and the sacrifice OF THE MAss as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superIstitious and idolatrous.
In the Statute 12 and 13 of William III. it is laid down—“ The laws of England are the birthright of the people thereof, and all the kings and queens who shall ascend the throne of this realm ought to administer the government of the same according to the said laws; and all their officers and ministers ought to serve them respectively, according to the same; and therefore, all the laws and statutes of this realm, for securing the established religion, and the rights and liberties of the people thereof, and all laws and statutes of the same now in force, are ratified and confirmed accordingly."
Mr. President and Gentlemen, I feel that any remark of mine must weaken the impressions which these solemn safeguards and acknowledgments of our religious and other rights should make upon the heart of every British subject who hears them.
Under such impressions I naturally would wish this question may be decided : but waving my first Defence, substantiated through the mistakes of my Prosecutor, I call your attention to the ground and principles from which I have acted.
And I ask you solemnly to weigh, whether the service on which I was sent was a military service, and whether the order against the execution of which I remonstrated was not decidedly of a nature to call for a compromise of principles which every authority in the state is bound to reverence and protect, and cannot, dare not, violate. And as I trust I have in all this affair shewed the utmost respect to the military service, that you will see that the military principles that support my claim are as clear, firm, and unanswerable, as the right for which you have seen I am ready to sacrifice all my present means of support. I would not, from my heart, believe that you, Gentlemen, can consider me as others have, (from mistake I trust) without any claim to the privileges of my nation; as if I had no religion, no law, in common with my countrymen ; or, as if I were an alien to all those glorious rights which are the security of our persons, homes, and every thing that is dear to us.—Let me only but ask, can any one touch my property or my children ;-how then can they make an attempt on my religious conscience, which is a thing more properly my own than any thing I possess in the world besides? You see by what I have just read, that our Protestant religion is the most prominent object of our Nation's care ; and well it may be. If the lesser things may not be violated, surely the greater must be safe. As these thoughts hang about my heart, so I do not fear to utter them. And while I may justly and highly esteem the situation of an officer in His Majesty's service, I yet feel it is the real principles and spirit of British citizens, which gives the commission its intrinsic value, both in the sight of the King our master, and in the sight of all those subjects who have confided us to his government and care.
If I thought my principles and privileges as a British Protestant Christian Officer might with impunity be violated, I durst not honour the commission ; I durst not honour what God would not honour; and you may judge whether you would be inclined to honour what your fellow-subjects and friends would really despise.
I feel a most happy anticipation that when the just particulars of this affair shall be laid before our Sovereign, that I shall have his thanks, and not his censures, for the remonstrance I sent in on the 9th of August. I trust also, that he can appreciate both the religious and military principles I have advanced. He knows that, to fear God and honour the King, is not only in one precept; but that there is one spirit in it as in all God's commands; and that firmness in the first part of that precept is the only security for maintaining the last.
I am sure, Mr. President and Gentlemen, you will not be led away with my feelings on these subjects; but that you will exercise your best judgments on all I have submitted to your notice, and decide with an honest conscience according to your oaths.
(Signed) THOMAS ATCHISON,
2nd. Capt. Royal Regt. of Artillery.
to subvert ihis kingdom, by us, with
[The official copy of the proceedings does not contain the copy of the Bill of Rights which I laid before the Court.]
Copy of the Bill of Rights. Whereas the late King James the Second, by the assistance of divers evil Counsellors, Judges, and Ministers employed by him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant Religion, and the laws and liberties of this kingdom, by assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws, without consent of Parliament; by committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates, for humbly petitioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed power ; by issuing and. causing to be executed a commission under the great seal, for erecting a Court, called the Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes, by levying money for and to the use of the Crown, by pretence of prerogative for other time, and in other manner, than the same was granted by Parliament; by raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace, without consent of Parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law. By causing divers good subjects, Protestants, to be disarmed, at the same time when Papists were both armed and employed contrary to law ; by violating the freedom of election of members to serve in Parliament: by prosecutions in the Court of King's Bench for matters and causes cognizable only in Parliament; and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses. And whereas, of late years, partial, corrupt, and unqualified persons have been returned and served on juries in trials, and particularly divers jurors in trials for high treason, which were not freeholders ; and excessive bail have been required of persons committed in criminal cases, to elude the benefit of the laws made for the liberty of the subjects; and excessive fines have been