INHABITANTS OF THE SISTER COUNTIES
WESTMORELAND AND CUMBERLAND
(From The Kendal Chronicle)
The Paper entitled "The Law Upon Riots and Seditious Meetings," by
Professor Christian, which appeared in the Courier of the 15th September, was
republished in the Kendal Gazette on the 25th of the same month; it has indeed
met with a welcome reception in every point devoted to the Ministry and their
minions, and is deserving of notice. I wish any sound constitutional Lawman had
taken it under consideration, and, I trust it's contents will be analyzed by
some one qualified to investigate and comment upon the different authorities
therein quoted, I am nothing more than what I subscribe myself.
"A Westmoreland Yeoman," or "Grey Coat," if you please so to designate
me -- having obtained some knowledge of Greek and Latin at Hawks Head
Free-School, and afterwards a smattering of French from a loyal emigrant who had
been obliged to quit his country. In my retired situation, I think I have
discovered something in the learned professor's publication, which appears to me
intended to deceive the good people of this Kingdom, respecting the character and
legality of the Meetings which have taken, and are daily taking place
throughout the country; and to throw an unmerited and unfounded odium upon that part
of his Majesty's liege subjects, that, in my humble opinion are only exercising
those rights which the Constitution has given them?
As the Champion of Westmoreland is now at his paternal inheritance, I
hope, "The Law upon Riots and Seditious Meetings" will catch this Lynxean eye,
and that the good People of England will have the benefit of his commentary
upon a subject which at present engages the deep attention of the whole
community; so that this Agis will protect me in my humble but hazardous attempt.
The learned Author, after an extract from one of his charges to the
Grand Jury of the Isle of Ely, proceeds to quote the authority of many writers
of great weight in Jurisprudence - among others, the Lord Chief Justice HALE
and Judge FOSTER - and makes the latter impugn the opinions of both Lord HALE
and Lord COKE. * When these great lawyers differ, a Westmoreland Yeoman cannot
pretend to decide. The Chief Justice of Ely then quotes Lord HALE as reciting
a Statute which passed in the first year of Queen MARY and which expired at
the death of Queen ELIZABETH.
A dead statute made in the worst of times against the liberties of the
subject! And if other statutes of a similar nature remain on our books, are
they not gone (according to the Scotch phrase, into desuetude) (sp.) Why, then,
does the Chief Justice of Ely quote statutes, whether defunct or not, which
were enacted at a time when the liberties of the subject were both
ill-understood and ill-defined.
The follow DALTON, CROMPTON, HAWKINS, and others, but I shall confine
myself to the learned Professor's observations upon a paragraph of CROMPTON
- "Home," &c. only stopping just to ask him - what is the weight of the
opinion of Master MARROW, "whose lectures in manuscript," he adds "are of the
highest authority upon these subjects?"
The learned Professor renders the paragraph - "A man comes to the
sessions or the Market with his servants in armour, although his intent is not to
make any riot by the manner of their coming." Then the Chief Justice of Ely
adds - "This is surely good sense and good law, which I should recommend to the
consideration of all magistrates, and which, as long as I live, I shall adopt
myself where I have the authority to act as a Magistrate. Wherever a meeting
is convened for the discussion either of a private or public subject, and any
one or more persons come to it with banners, caps of liberty, drums or military
music, or any stick or staff, which they would not use in going to church, to
a court of Justice, to market, meeting house, to any place of divine worship,
to a friendly society, or to any pacific or sociable congregation of persons
of either sex, I should treat such persons, and all who encourage them, as
rioters; and if the meetings were to take into consideration a proposed change in
the laws and the Government of the country, I should consider them more
dangerous rioters, than if the subject had been of a private nature."
What does my Lord Chief Justice of Ely do next?
Why by bold and scandalous anachronism he makes CROMPTON and DALTON
confirm his very statement and opinion! Proh Pudor ! Chief Justice of Ely!!!
But I wish to ask the learned Professor's explanation of the
expression "in Armour" - in harneis" - as quoted from CROMPTON. Does not the expression
mean an arrayment in the dress, habiliments, and arms made use of at the time
that COMPTON wrote? Coats of Mail? Helmets? Habergeons? Shields? Spears?
Lances &c.? Is this expression applicable to any of the emblems used by an
assembly of people crowding to a wake or fair? by a procession of free masons? by
sick societies parading the streets in going to or returning from church? or by a
meeting of Reformers? Do caps of Liberty - drums or music- stick or staff - a
sheap's or a calf's head on a poll - placards or banners inscribed with
"Death or Liberty," "Bill of Rights" "Magna Charta," &c. come under CROMPTON's
definition of in harneis? or of the explicata vexilla of Lord HALE quoted before?
A set of Morris Dancers with their insignia are equally, if not more liable to
punishment if the Chief Justice of Ely's explanation be just. No other reason
can be given for such a translation of in harneis, than my Lord Chief Justice
of Ely's having an ardent desire of a translation from his present office for
one of greater dignity and profit.
I speak neither of the propriety nor impropriety, of the expediency of
banners, symbols, placards, music, &c. being used at the meetings which have
been lately held, but there is no law against their using them, and
consequently their use or abuse does not detract from the legality of those meetings.
The Yeomanry Cavalry men gave an infamous proof at Manchester of their being
ARMED on the ever to be lamented 16th of August.
* The Summary, p. 13 (Lord HALE) layeth down on a different rule, and so doth
3 Just. 14, (Lord COKE.) "But the law is mistaken in those books," adds the
Chief Justice of Ely.