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CAPTAIN THOMAS ATCHISON,
OF THE ROYAL ARTILLERY,
GENERAL COURT MARTIAL,
IN CONSEQUENCE OF
TOLLING A ROMAN CATHOLIC BELL,
FOR THE CHURCH AND IMAGE RITES OF ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS.
DESCRIBING THOSE RITES OF THE ROMISH AND GREEK CHURCHES WHICH BRITISH PROTESTANT TROOPS, INFANTRY AS WELL AS ARTILLERY,
WERE REQUIRED BY THE PRIESTS TO ATTEND AND ASSIST ;
THE NATURE OF THE ATTENDANCE AND ASSISTANCE CONSEQUENTLY
ORDERED TO BE GIVEN.
PRINTED FOR HATCHARD AND SON, PICCADILLY; AND SOLD BY SEELEY, FLEET-STREET; EEdes, NEWGATE-STREET: RICHARDSON,
CORNHILL; DEIGHTON AND SON, AND STEVENSON, CAMBRIDGE; PARKER, OXFORD; BULGIN, BRISTOL; WILSON, AND CRAGGS, HULL; WAUGH AND INNES, EDINBURGH ; CHALMERS AND COLLINS, GLASGOW; TIMMS, AND CURRY AND CO., DUBLIN ; AND BOLSTER, CORK.
SUBSTANTTAL reasons may be required for the publication of my Trial at Malta, when that of Lieut. Dawson, arising out of the same transaction, is already before the Public.
My reasons are these :-Lieut. Dawson's Trial does not furnish the particulars of my conduct,-neither do the official statements which have been published, give those circumstances, brought forward in evidence, which are necessary to be known before a just opinion of my conduct can be formed. I also find that many individuals in England entertain an opinion of my conduct, (exceedingly to my injury,) in direct opposition to principal facts established in evidence before the Court Martial ; an opinion which, I have ground for thinking, will be altogether changed by a consideration of these facts.
In justice to myself, therefore, I have found it necessary to lay these Proceedings before my friends, and others interested in the case.
So important a transaction has occurred since the Trial, and throwing such light on the nature of the orders which led to my dismissal, that it is just to mention it in this place :--the salutes to which I objected have been abandoned. An order, not issued through the usual public channels, but privately, through the Commanding Officer of Artillery, was given before I left Malta, by which the priests had their patteraroes returned to them, they were supplied with powder, and free access was given to them to the great bell of Fort St. Angelo, that they might fire their salutes, and toll their bell, in honour of their tutelar saints and images as their own clerical functions demand in other places.
For a SIMPLE REQUEST to have those principles respected, on which the churches of England and Scotland and all the Reformed churches are founded, and which form the very foundation and bond of our national compact, I have been pronounced guilty of “ direct disobedience to orders,” and “ of a conduct and example “ destructive to the character and interests of my profession, irre“concileable to the interests and security of my country, and with “ the true principles of the Christian religion.”
Dismissed thus from the profession for which I was educated, and which I have endeavoured faithfully and zealously to serve during the best twenty years of my life ;-deprived of a commission which gave me an honourable support, and which led by good conduct, without further patronage, to the highest ranks of my regiment and the army ;-saffering also under stiginas which seriously affect my character and means of obtaining future employment, unless they are examined into ;-under such circumstances, I trust I shall not be thought to have obtruded this Trial unnecessarily on the attention of the Public.
The following Proceedings of the Court Martial are printed from the official copy which I have obtained from the Office of the Judge Advocate General. They give the evidence, and the essential features of the case as urged on both sides of the question ;and will enable any one acquainted with the most common principles of the British constitution, and of the army, to judge the rights of the question at issue.
It will be interesting for my own connexions and others acquainted with my half-brother, the late Rev. W. G. Judgson, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, to know, that when he first heard of my conduct, he wrote to tell me he thought I had committed a most serious offence, and represented to me most strongly, how he considered the discipline and welfare of the army must be injured by what I had done, and gave me very forcible reasons why compliance was necessary; urging me to reconsider the subject, and make every concession, which a sense of duty would allow, to my offended superiors. No military man had a clearer view on these points, or urged them in a stronger manner on me, while he thought I was under a military obligation to obey such orders. But when he received a copy of the proceedings on my trial, and was convinced that the legislature had not decreed such services for the army, and that no Protestant subject contemplates such in his engagements, on entering the army; and saw that I was required, most unequivocally, to promote, and participate in, idolatrous rites; he instantly wrote to me as follows:-“ For myself, I freely say that “ I no longer think as I did on the subject. As the circumstances “ have opened on me, (and what is a case of this kind without the “ circumstances in which it is arrayed and presents itself to the “ senses and consciences of men on the spot) I see it under a “ very different aspect. You would see, I trust, that I always felt “ strongly with you on the main point. That there was a great “ wrong I had no doubt ;--at whose door it lay was the question ; “ -and on the general view I thought you might have submitted “ to orders.—I should have great difficulty in giving that opinion “ now. Thinking as you did, you have unquestionably acted << right; and if there had been only considerable doubts on your “ mind, you took indisputably the safer side. If any remain on “ mine, they go to minor and comparatively unimportant circum“ stances.” Those who knew him may form an opinion from this extract, how important a due consideration of all the circumstances of the case must be, to obtain a correct judgment of my conduct.