About James Oldham Oldham
St Marys Great Missenden
On a handsome mural monument on the south side of the chancel, is the following singular inscription.
In the vault beneath is deposited the mortal part of France, late wife of James Oldham Oldham, Esq. Patron of this church, who died June 11th A.D. 1790. She was a faithful and obedient wife, a kind and tender mother, most affectionately beloved by her husband, and justly esteemed by all who knew her. It pleases God to visit her with a lingering illness, which she endured with great resignation, firmly trusting in the merits of a crucified saviour. Some little time before her death she was enabled to make these words of Job her own, ch, xix v.25,26,27:
"For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see god: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another"
Here also deposited the Body of Harriet, her daughter, whi died November 15th, A.D. 1789, aged 13 years and 6 months.
It pleased God to enable her to bear testimony to his Grace, selecting her funeral text: Jon, chap iii v. 16
Go, balmy soother of my toiling life, The tender mother, and peerless wife; And though too go, sweet bird of early grace, Till child and parent in the skies embrace.
Below is an open book, on leaves of which is inscribed:
Psala 119 Verse 94 " I am thine Save me"
Above the Inscription these Arms:
Party per pale. Vert. a chevron Arg. Between three owls Proper. On a chief of second, 3 roses Gu seeded Or impaling S. within a bordure per pale and fess Arg. and Erminois; a stag at gaze Arg. attired Or.
In continuation of the inscription: This Tablet also records the departure of Joshua the forth son of the above named James Oldham Oldham and Harriet his wife, who died March 2 1817 aged 31 years and who's remains are deposited in this vault. (NOTE the book author has made a mistake her it should read Frances not Harriet. Joshua was born as Abel Joshua Oldham. ) Lastly, it records the decease of the aforesaid James Oldham Oldham, Esq, who departed this life June 22 1822, aged 71 years. A Monument to whose memory is erected in the chapel attached to Chestnut College, Herts, of which Institution he was a zealous Patron, and where his remains are deposited.
His prayers, are, we trust, now changed into praises, and his faith is lost in sight.
Below, the Arms of Oldham, as before, with this motto: "Christus est Deus" On the dexter side, on a therm "Time how short" Opposite to it: "Eternity how long" In the middle of the floor is a large slab over the vault, which has affixed to it a brass plate thus inscribed:
The Family Vault of James Oldham Oldham, Esq. Patron of the Living, Impropriator of the parish and Lord of this Manor, 1789
source - The history and antiquities of the county of Buckingham, Volume 2 http://books.google.com.au/books?id=zyYgAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA385&dq=joseph+oldham+cheshunt+college&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6P6LUYeBK6juiAflr4GgCQ&ved=0CEsQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=joseph%20oldham%20cheshunt%20college&f=false
Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 07 May 2013), February 1796, trial of MICHAEL ROBINSON (t17960217-71).
MICHAEL ROBINSON, Theft > extortion, 17th February 1796. 225. MICHAEL ROBINSON was indicted for that he, on the 12th of January , knowingly, unlawfully, maliciously, and feloniously, did send a certain letter, in writing, directed to James Oldham Oldham, Esq . therein demanding a certain valuable thing, that is to say, a Bank note, contrary to the statute . (Mr. Knowlys stated the indictment.) Mr. Fielding. May it please your Lordship: Gentlemen of the Jury; I am obliged to my learned friend for putting you so distinctly in possession of the nature of the charge. The crime, in a few words, consists merely in this - in sending a letter, either with a fictitious name, or without a name, demanding money, or other valuable thing; and this offence, for reasonsthat I am sure will start into your mind at once, was thought, so early as the reign of Geo. I. to be a crime deserving of a capital punishment. By that statute, it is enacted, that if a man shall send a letter, in such a way as I have suggested to you, demanding money, or other valuable thing, he shall suffer death. Gentlemen, both from the appearance of the unfortunate man at the bar, and from the character he has assumed as a gentleman, and a literary man, to which, indeed, from his letter, he seems to have a title, it becomes doubly irksome to see a person of his situation and character in the place in which he now stands, for this most obvious reason, that we hope, in proportion as education takes place, and its consequent improvements in society, we hope, and the probability is strong, that offences will not be committed by persons of that description; but, at the same time, knowing as you all do, and as we must all feel, that depravity makes its appearance often about those who have the best education; and that crimes of a particular dye are only committed by men who have had some education: and you will have abundantly to lament the nature of those offences, which are committed not only at this time of day, but also in all ages of the world, by those persons who have affected to be literary characters. Gentlemen, it is necessary that I should now introduce to your acquaintance, Mr. Oldham, the prosecutor of this offence: I dare say, every one of you know the long shop in Holborn, an ironmonger's, where Mr. Oldham lives: about twenty or twenty-two years ago, he was an apprentice to Mr. Dolly, who was then carrying on the same sort of business, to which Mr. Oldham has succeeded, from industry in his employ, and from other circumstances, that I dare say were pleasing, from his attention to Mr. Dolly; when his apprenticeship expired, he was taken into partnership; it unfortunately for Mr. Dolly happened, that he was afficted with very severe disorders, long before his death; and, I believe, for three years, his infirmities were such, as to confine him to his chamber: during this time, the principal business, of course, devolved upon Mr. Oldham. How it was, or how it should have happened, that there was any the least degree of ill-will towards Mr. Oldham, in the mind of a man, whom I shall presently state to you, it is impossible to conceive. Upon Mr. Dolly's death, there was an attorney in the neighbourhood, Mr. Peake, who spread it abroad, that Mr. Dolly had not died a natural death; and he, in the indulgence of his malignity, attributed the cause of his death to Mr. Oldham; luckily for him, the matter was spread abroad before the interment of Mr. Dolly; and, in consequence of that, it became expedient, that every enquiry should be made, even going so far as demanding an inquest of the Coroner upon the body; the inquest took place, and every body was satisfied; every body brought there by Mr. Peake, every soul was satisfied, that the death was natural, occasioned by the visitation of the Almighty. Gentlemen, in consequence of this, Mr. Oldham, pursued as he was, by the bitter malignancy of this man, wished to expostulate with him; and a conversation was had, in which he did not at all recede from the first point of malignaty, telling him that he was a bad man; that he had committed the murder; and he himself would be the hangman. In consequence of this, Mr. Oldham brought his action, and recovered, by the verdict of a jury, in the Common Pleas, five hundred pounds, for the damages of the slander. Gentlemen, this was twenty years ago; after this, every thing that the trick of the law could procure took place; till at last it went to the dernier resorte, into the House of Lords, where the verdict was confirmed; and thus, in the most solemn way, the reputation of Mr. Oldham was rescued from this slander. This story, then, Gentlemen, you will perceive at once, has been at rest for two-and-twenty years; how it came to the knowledge of the prisoner at the bar, I cannot possibly conceive; but from that circumstance has arisen all the motives which have begat the present correspondence, which I will state to you, in hopes that, by working on the mind of Mr. Oldham, he should extort money from him, through the medium of the anguish that he might possibly beget in the mind of Mr. Oldham; not from Mr. Oldham being apprehensive of any retrospect that was at all to alarm his bosom; but having known what malignity at a former time could do, and how apt people are to catch up too greedily any story that is related, he might well apprehend that much inconvenience and much sorrow would attend the revival of such a story that had been so long at rest. Gentlemen, it therefore happened, that upon the 7th of January last, without there being the least degree of acquaintance between Mr. Oldham and the prisoner, he received a letter, in these terms:(Reads the letter, for which see the evidence). This letter inclosed a square; the contents of which I will now read to you, (reads it). This letter was sent to Mr. Oldham; the intimation, you see, was, that a publication was to be expected in the Daily Advertiser; and you will readily believe, upon the receipt of this letter, by Mr. Oldham, that he had immediate recourse to the advice of his friends. An advertisement in the daily paper made its appearance, and in consequence of that, a second letter, the letter upon which the prisoner now stands indicted, was sent to the coffee-house. Gentlemen, therefore, it is the contents of that letter, as they shall apply to the Act of Parliament in question, that, under the direction of his Lordship, will become the matter of your serious investigation; I shall take the liberty, therefore, of suggesting to you, under the direction of his Lordship, how far I think, without much hesitation, there is a clear application of the Act of Parliament to the business in question; and that the words in the letter are nearly conformable to the letter as well as the spirit of that Act of Parliament. Gentlemen, we charge it to be a demand of a valuable thing; first, therefore, let me set that at rest; a Bank note is demanded, and that that is a valuable thing there is no doubt; but whether a Bank note was or was not a valuable thing, at the time of passing of this Act of Parliament, would not be a question of any importance, inasmuch as that clause must of course, according to the common ordinary nature of things, have a prospective operation; and things which might become valuable in process of time, being demanded of another,there could not be any description of value applied to them at that moment; yet, becoming of value in process of time, of course the Act of Parliament would apply to those things, and those things would satisfy, the act. The principal point, then, will be, the consideration of the term demand; you observe in the letter that my learned friend has read to you, and which will be read to you again, that there is this species of request, I will call it so for a moment-"enclose a Bank note." You will have an opportunity of seeing the letter, and you will see in what manner the work enclose begins; and you will judge of the context. Gentlemen, I do not wish to avail myself of any nice comment in this case; but you will see that all the preceding sentences are finished, and it begins after a dash, "enclose a Bank"note." Suppose the letter had begun with that, unquestionably there would have been a positive demand; how it is altered by the context, is for you to consider. Gentlemen, this, therefore, brings me to the consideration and import of the term demand, as it stands in the act, which must receive its construction according to the common apprehension of mankind; a demand is something more than solicitaion; it is something less than a command; you all of you understand what it is when you demand payment of a bill; if a man demands his rent, still where he has a right to have the thing solicited, it is called, in common language, a demand. Why, then, Gentlemen, let this term have its construction according to the common understanding of mankind, giving, if possible, that construction to it that shall be most favourable to the prisoner at the bar; I am sure that will be the direction of the humane Judge who superintends in this case, and it will be equally your inclination, without any direction, upon the subject. Gentlemen, having stated the law, I shall now proceed to state the facts that will be laid before you in evidence. We have since discovered, that the prisoner at the bar, either is, or was, or pretends to be, an attorney; I believe he may be, and that he had chambers in Furnival's-Inn, which is not far from Mr. Oldham's; whether the sight of the house, and the appearance of such a manufactory, or, that the consideration that a manufactory of that sort first be got the story, we cannot say, but it is easy to suppose, that, from the appearance of wealth, something of this sort might have suggested itself to him. Mr. Oldham, in consequence of receiving this second letter, began to be more and more anxious about it; and, as he was advised by his friend to answer these letters, so as to make the person planning the scheme go on in the prosecution of it; Mr. Oldham, by letters first of all, said, he could not conceive to what the letter alluded; and, not with standing, he denied every part of this charge, he wished for an interview; but at last, he was advised, by some gentlemen eminent in the prosession of the law, that the matter was so far compleated, that it became incumbent upon him, for the sake of public justice, to take the first opportunity of apprehending him; and, on the 20th of January, a letter was sent to the Cambridge Coffee-house by Mr. Oldham's clerk; the attorney of Mr. Oldham, assisted by the proper officers, were to be there; they placed themselves in convenient situations, and, in the evening about six o'clock, the letter was put into the bracket; of course, the eyes of those who were to watch, were upon the bracket; in a very few minutes afterwards, the prisoner at the bar got from his seat, went to the bracket, took the letter, returned to his seat, opened it, read it, and put it in his pocket; instantly, upon this strong proof, Mr.Sarel, Mr. Oldham's attorney, told the officers to apprehend Robinson, for that he was the person; he was apprehended; and, immediately upon his apprehension, he said, I suppose it is on account of this letter; they told him it was; upon which he asked Mr. Sarel if he knew Robert Reed? no, says Mr. Sarel, I do not; says he, he is an acquaintance of mine, he desired me to call for this letter, and I have a letter from him desiring me so to do; upon which he produced a letter, purporting to be a letter from Robert Reed , desiring him to call for a letter that would be there left. Gentlemen, what will you say to this contrivance, manifesting such a pre-meditation of scheme, when I tell you, that this letter from Robert Reed was in his own hand-writing, in order to furnish him with a defence; so feeble is the human mind, when in a course of wickedness, and so apt to conceive that that may prevent detection which is to furnish the means of punishment. - Gentlemen, if this is not sufficient, there is another circumstance, which shews the watch of Providence over us, that villainy should not be suffered to execute its schemes; the very letter that he had in his pocket on the 20th, purporting to be written only the day before, had the post mark upon it of the 13th, and in consequence of this, Mr. Robinson was apprehended. Gentlemen, here then you have the nature of the evidence to be produced. Of course it will be incumbent upon me to prove the hand-writing; and if the handwriting were to be the only evidence in the case, of course you would deliberate extremely upon that sort of evidence; although I shall prove it as strongly as it is possible to prove a hand writing; but, after the fact at the Cambridge Coffee-house, it is almost unnecessary, because the proof is so strong as not to require that auxiliary; but when you have the proof of the hand-writing, beyond all possibility of doubt, there can be no pretence, I am afraid, on the part of the prisoner, that can give the least likelihood of his shifting this offence from his own shoulders to another; he being an attorney, and in the situation of life that he is described to be, he was aware, that a more open thing would have exposed him at once to the fang of the law; and to avoid that fang, it was, that all this artful contrivance was made use of; if you see this clearly, you will reject all his pretences. In every case in the world of crime, it becomes the consideration of the Jury, how far the intention is manifested; however it may be surrounded by art; however it may be clogged by those pretences that may for a moment admit of another construction, you will exercise your understanding upon it; I am sure, that understanding will always have a sufficient guidance under the judgment of his Lordship, to give every doubtful matter its proper weight in favour of the prisoner; but if upon the result, there is no doubt, I am sure there is nothing in this case that can be called favourable, the offence being of a nature that I am sure you yourselves must feel.(Evidence for the Crown). JAMES OLDHAM OLDHAM , Esq. sworn. Examined by Mr. Knowlys. Q. Where do you live? - A. The corner of Brook-street, Holborn ; I keep a patent stove-grate warehouse . Q. Does your house go under the name of the London Warehouse? - A. Yes, it is so painted over the door. Q. Did you happen, some considerable time back, to be at all connected in trade with a Mr. Daniel Dolly ? - A. I served an apprenticeship with him, and about the year 1772, he made me an offer of partnership, which I accepted. Q. That gentleman died, I believe, about twenty-two years ago? - A. Yes; two or three years after we had been in partnership. Q. Was there any report raised that you had been the author of his death? - A. Yes; by a neighbour. Q. Did you, in consequence of that, bring an action against Mr. Peake, an attorney for raising that report? - A. I did, and another person both, and had very heavy damages. Court. Don't talk of damages; you obtained judgment. Mr. Knowlys. Q. That report was unfounded? - A. Totally. Q. Be so good as tell us how this transaction first took place, which forms the subject of the present indictment? - A. May I be permitted to look at a memorandum that I made at the time the occurrences happened, to refresh my memory; I only wish to refresh my memory as to dates; I wished to be very correct as to the receipt of the letters, and therefore I made memorandums; I will not deviate a hair's breadth from the fact, you may depend upon it. Q. Is your house, where you received these letters, situated in the city of London? - A. The counting-house where I sit, and where I received these letters, is in the City of London; the manufactories go into the country. On the 7th January, I received a letter, inclosing a kind of frontispiece, with a dismal etching upon it, as he calls it; this is it (producing it,) it came by the penny-post, late in the evening; I saw the post-man lay it down upon the front counter; in consequence of that letter, I went next morning very early to my solicitor; in consequence of which, agreeable to the request made in that letter, an advertisement was inserted in the Daily Advertiser; this is the advertisement, (producing a newspaper). Q. In consequence of having put in that advertisement, did you receive any other letter? - A. I did; I think the next came on the 12th of January, (produces it); this is the letter, it came by the Penny-post, and was delivered at the same place in London; that also was consulted upon by my friends, and it was thought proper to send an answer; in consequence of that, a letter was sent on the 14th to the place appointed in that letter, with an intent to lead to a detection of the writer of them; I thought it my duty so to do: In answer to that, I received a third letter, almost immediately, on the same day; (producing it), I consulted my friends as before, and sent an answer; I then received another letter, making a fourth, which inclosed this paper, (producing them): some gentlemen were waiting, who had bespoke a dinner at the Cambridge Coffee-house, where the answer to that letter was to be directed; there was Mr. Sarel and his clerk, a person of the name of Rivett, from Bow-street, and some others; I did not go myself; they went long before the time that the letter mentioned, to take off all suspicion; I sent the letter between five and six, the time specified in R. R's letter; I was always very punctual; I sent it by my clerk, Evans, who had carried all the others; I saw the prisoner afterwards at Bow-street. Q. Was any thing that was said reduced into writing by the Magistrate? - A. I believe it was; I left it entirely to my attorney. Q. I ask whether, when the prisoner was examined, it was reduced into writing or not? - A. I am not positive. Prisoner. It was not. Prosecutor. I am not certain, one way or the other, but I believe it was. Q. Did you at any time learn where the prisoner lived? - Mr. Jackson. I submit to your Lordship, this gentleman is not competent to relate any thing that fell from the mouth of the prisoner himself, after he has admitted that Mr. Bond's clerk reduced it into writing. Court. He has not said so. Prosecutor. The prisoner said he lived in Furnival's-inn, and he produced, I believe, a direction; in consequence of which, I went to Furnival's-inn to enquire, and they told me he had not been there for many months; at last I discovered that he lived in a court behind my premisses, just within sight of the windows, which commanded a view of my premisses. Mr. Jackson. I shall of course have occasion to Cross-examine Mr. Oldham; with your Lordship's permission, I will wait till after the letters are read. Court. Very well. - SARELL sworn. Examined by Mr. Knowlys. Q. I live in Surry-street, in the Strand; I am attorney to Mr. Oldham; I was present at Bow-street. Q. Was the prisoner's examination reduced into writing? - A. It was not; only the examination of the witnesses.(Mr. Oldham called again.) Mr. Jackson. Q. I believe you are, yourself, a Magistrate? - A. I have that honour for Middlesex and Buckinghamshire. Q. You condescended, I believe, to assist your fellow Magistrates upon that occasion? - A. I sat close to the Magistrates. Q. Did you offer your opinion, upon that occasion, with your Brother Magistrates? - A. When I was asked a question I answered it; I am sure I should bow to their better opinion. Q. Did it happen to yourself, sitting there, to use any kind of threats? - A. I believe, persons now present know that I did not. Q. Did you, or did you not? - A. No; I did not; I said, I would bring him to justice, if I could; that I found it my duty. Q.Did you use something like this emphatic expression, that you would pursue him while you had a shilling? - A. I told him, when he was treating it with trifling and ridicule, I considered the offence of that aggravated kind, that I would have found him out and brought him to justice, if it cost me every shilling I had in the world. Q. Did you say you would take care he should not be at large again? - A. I am sure I had the thanks of the Magistrate for what I did; I would sooner he would have clapped a pistol to my head. Q. Be so good as tell us what was said before the Magistrate? - A. I will: after one letter, or two, had been read, he, in a very insolent manner, said, to me, "why don't you produce all the letters, and your answers; you have received more letters than these; why don't you produce them, and the answers that you have sent." I turned round to him, and said, you could never know this if you had not sent those letters; now I am convinced, and I have not a doubt in my mind; I then produced them immediately, and laid them before Mr. Bond. Court. Q. What did he say to your observation, that you were now convinced, and had not a doubt in your mind? - A. He did not seem to make answer to that; he said, if I could even prove the hand-writing, it was only a mere misdemeanour, and he would bail it; Mr. Bond told him, his opinion differed. Mr. Jackson. Q. Had you not, previous to his saying that you had other letters, intimated that you had received other letters? - A. I don't recollect that I had mentioned it, even to Mr. Bond. Q. Be so good as to recollect yourself? - A. I do not recollect that I had. Q. Will you venture to swear, that before he made that observation, you had not intimated that you had been pestered with those letters, or that you had received others? - A. I made this observation - Court. Q. No, no, the question is, had not you said, before Robinson made that observation, that you had received other letters? - A. I do not recollect that I had; I don't think I said that till he demanded them. Q. Will you swear you had not? - A. I solemnly believe I had not said one word, nor did not mean to bring them forward; I have not put it down in my memorandum; I am very careful about my word, much more about my oath. Q. Had you not said so in the prisoner's hearing? - A. I do not believe I had, because I was surprised when he called for them, and then I was convinced he knew the whole of it. Q. Had you mentioned to your Brother Magistrates, or other persons in the room, that you had received other letters? - A. I had mentioned it to a Magistrate, but he did not attend the examination. Q. Had you mentioned it to a single person then in the room? - A. I don't recollect that I had, except Mr. Sarell. Q. Was it not upon the reading the second letter, which evidently refers to some other, that he said that? - A. I do not recollect whether it was upon the first or second letter. Q. When this letter in question was read, evidently referring to a correspondence, did not he say, produce the whole? - A. He said, produce the verses also; how could he know of the verses? Court. Q. Why will you be arguing; attend to the question, and give an answer to it. Mr. Fielding. Do, Mr. Oldham, attend to the question; I don't at all wonder at your agitation. Mr. Jackson. Q. Did he say, produce the verses, and say nothing of the letters? - A. He said, "why don't you produce the letters and the verses. Q. Are you sure whether it was upon the reading of the first or second letter? - A. I believe it was upon the first; and soon after they began reading of it; I don't wish to go a hair's breadth beyond the truth. Court. Pray don't go on in that way, but answer the question; who is suspecting that you would go beyond the truth? Mr. Knowlys. Q. You say he called for the verses; were those verses at all included in either the first or second letter? - A. Not at all. Court. Q. What was it that he said about the verses? - A. He said, "why don't you produce all the letters that you have received, and the answers that you have sent;" I said, I had received others, and here they were; and then, he said,"why don't you produce the verses, the verses came in the last letter." EDWARD FREDERICK EVANS sworn. Examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. You are clerk to Mr. Oldham? - A. Yes; on the 20th of January, I received a letter from Mr. Oldham, to carry to the Cambridge coffee-house, in Newman-street,(produces it); this is the letter; it is in my own hand-writing; I delivered it, about six o'clock in the evening, to the waiter, James Harris ; I did not see what he did with it. Q. Did you see any thing of the prisoner? - A. Not at that time; the second letter that I delivered, on the 14th, I saw the person who now stands at the bar in the Cambridge coffee-house. Mr. Jackson. Q. There were several other persons in the coffee-room? - A. There were several other persons; it is a public coffee-room. JAMES HARRIS sworn. Examined by Mr. Fielding. I am a waiter at the Cambridge coffee-house; I remember the last witness delivering a letter to me, which I put in the bracker at the corner of the bar, on the right hand coming into the coffee-room. Q. Did you see any person take that letter from the bracket? - A. Yes; the prisoner at the bar; he came from the top of the coffee-room, and took it very soon after. Q.Is it a large room? - A. Yes. Q.How many feet in length? - A. I cannot say. Q. Did he open the letter? - A. Yes; he walked up the room, opened it, and read it. Q. Did you see Mr. Sarell and the other gentlemen there? - A. Yes; they took him into custody. Mr. Sarell called again. Q. You went to the coffee-house that evening? - A. I did, on the 20th of January, in consequence of a letter that Mr. Oldham had received; the letter that has just been given in by Evans, was wrote; and it was agreed, that myself and a clerk of mine, with an officer from Bow-street, and another person, should go to the coffee-house before the hour that the letter was requested to be left; it was proposed that the letter should be brought at six o'clock precisely; at six o'clock Mr. Oldham's clerk brought the letter, and gave it to Harris, the waiter, who put it into the bracket at the right hand of the bar; in about three minutes after, I saw Mr. Robinson, the prisoner; I did not know him at that time, but I saw him come to the bracket and take out the letter with a degree of tremor; as soon as it was taken out of the bracket (his coat was rather loose), and he put the letter down to his right side, as if to conceal it; he then went to the extremity of the coffee-house, and sat down in a box; very soon after he had sat down, he took the letter from his pocket, or from his side, I don't know which, and opened it and read it; whilst he was in the act of reading the letter, I was willing to discover whether it was the real letter he was reading; I saw a news-paper lying upon the table in the box; I went to the table and took the news-paper from thence; when Mr. Robinson saw me come towards the table, he folded up the letter; I had merely an opportunity of seeing that it was that letter; still, however, wishing to be satisfied, I went to the bracket to see whether I might or not be mistaken; I observed that the letter was gone from the bracket; I then seated myself again, and turned towards the prisoner, who was at that time in the act of reading the letter a second time; I then mentioned to the officer, Rivett, that that must be the person we were in pursuit of; and I wished him to be taken into custody; the officer went up to him, I went with him, and I mentioned to Mr. Robinson, that we wanted to speak with him; and we withdrew into a private room; when we were all in the private room, Mr. Robinson, producing the letter, said, I presume you want me upon the subject of this letter, or to that effect; I told him, we did; he then asked me if I knew Mr. Robert Read , I told him I did not; I asked him, who Mr. Read was; he said, Mr. Read was either a friend or acquaintance, I am not sure which word he made use of; he said, it was Mr. Read's request that he had taken that letter; but, he was afraid, that he had gone too far in opening of it; but that he opened it from some desire or curiosity to see its contents; Mr. Robinson then produced a letter from his pocket, which, he said, was his authority for what he had done; which letter, he desired I would read; this is the letter,(producing it). It is read, dated Wednesday morning, ten o'clock, signed R. Read, addressed Mr. Robinson, Attorney at Law, Furnival's-Inn. "DEAR SIR,"I shall esteem it a particular favour, if, in your way to Queen-Ann-street East, to-morrow, you would look in at the Cambridge Coffee-house, in Newman-street, and get a letter, which I expect to be left there, addressed to R.R. it will most likely be there about two or three o'clock in the afternoon; I will call upon you sometime in the evening, and take it; compliments to Mrs. R. "I am, dear Sir, your's, &c. "R. READ." The post mark is, "Two o'clock, 13th Jan. 1796, Afternoon." Q. When this letter was produced, did you make any further enquiry who Mr. Read was? - A. Yes; Mr. Robinson repeated again, that he was either a friend or an acquaintance, I am not sure which was the expression he made use of; I asked him where he lived; he told me, he did not know; he said, he was to meet him that evening, by appointment; and, that if I would let him go, he would bring Mr. Read; I told him, I could not do that; he had, a little before that, taken out his card, and said, he was an attorney, in Furnival's Inn; I told him, I was very sorry to see a man in the profession, in his situation; and wished him to tell me where Mr. Read lived; I defined he would tell mewhere the appointment was, that I might have an opportunity of finding him, that he himself might be liberated, or to that effect; I think, he said, he did not chuse to tell where it was; I think, he afterwards mentioned, that he lived in one of the streets over Blackfriars' Bridge; nothing further then passed; but when Mr. Robinson was before Mr. Bond, I pointed out to him, that the letter which I just now produced, signed Robert Read , was dated, Wednesday morning, and that it had the Penny-post mark of the 13th, upon it; I pointed it out to him as a degree of improbability, of having a letter dated the 13th, requesting that he would call for a letter on the 20th; particularly when the letter states, that he was to call for it on the following day between two and three o'clock; I observed too, that it appeared to apply to the first letter that was sent to the Cambridge coffee-house in answer to R. R.'s letter of the 12th; to that Mr. Robinson made answer, that it did, and that he had taken the first letter; that is, Mr. Oldham's letter to R. R. of the 14th; and, I believe, then the Magistrate took the information of the witnesses, and Mr. Robinson was committed. Q.Rivett, of course, knows nothing more than you have stated? - A. No. Cross-examined by Mr. Jackson. Q. I understand you to say, that when the prisoner took that letter, you thought he shewed some signs of tremor? - A. He did. Q.Notwithstanding that, he read it in the public coffee-room? - A. Yes. Q. You were privy, professionally, to the whole of this correspondence? - A.Yes. Q. This letter, which you saw him take, was the last of the whole correspondence? - A. Yes. Q. Did he not say, that he did not feel himself at liberty to discover who Mr. Read was, from a point of honour? - A. I am sure there was no such word as point of honour; I think he said, he could not tell me where Mr. Read lived; he said, it was an acquaintance. Q. But unless you would enable him to keep his appointment, he could not undertake for the production of Mr. Read? - A. Unless I would permit him to go at large. Q. Did he not say he did not feel himself at liberty to discover who Mr. Read was? - A. He did not, nor to that effect; the answer was, that he could not tell me where he was to meet him, or that he could not say where he lived; he could not produce him, unless I gave him leave to keep the appointment. Q. Did you not learn from him, that he was confidentially employed by Mr. Read? - A. He afterwards mentioned that he was Mr. Read's attorney; but I think that was before the Magistrate, I am not certain. Q. I put it to you again; I ask you if the inference you drew was not that he was confidentially employed by Mr. Read. in this business? - A. I was very sorry to be satisfied in my own mind that Mr. Robinson was the writer of the letters. Q. Whether, on that night, or at any other time, Robinson said he was Mr. Read's attorney, you don't know? - A. No. JAMES CHAPMAN sworn. Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I am an officer of the Excise: the first knowledge I had of the prisoner, was about the middle of July 1794; I have seen him write several times. Q. Look at that letter of the 12th of January; do you believe that to be his hand-writing or not? - A. I do believe it to be his writing. Q. Look at that of the 7th? - A. I believe it is the same. Q. Look at the writing within that black etching, do you believe that to be his hand-writing or not? - A. I really think it is the same. Q. Now look at that letter signed R. Read; does that appear to you to be the prisoner's writing? - A. I really think the inside is. Q. Look at the direction to Mr. Robinson? - A. I cannot swear to that being his writing; I cannot say that I believe it is; it does not seem to be the same. Q. Look at that letter dated the 14th of January? - A. I believe this is his hand-writing. Q.Look at that dated the 19th of January? - A. I really think this is too. Q. Look at those verses? - A. They are his handwriting. Cross-examined by Mr. Jackson. Q. How often may you have seen the prisoner write? - A. I have seen him write oftener than once; I cannot exactly say how often. Q. Do you remember upon what occasion that once was? - A. Yes; I recollect that he has written a note and given it to me immediately. Q. How near were you to him when he endorsed it? - A. I was standing close by. JAMES REEVES sworn. Examined by Mr. Fielding. I have known the prisoner some time; I have seen him write often. Q. Look at that letter of the 12th of January? - A. The body of the letter is his hand-writing; but I think the signature is not. This letter of the 7th, the body of it I think is his too, but I cannot speak to the signature, it seems to be in a different character. This title page,(the etching) I think is not. Q. Look at R. Reed's letter? - A. I think the body of it is the same hand-writing. JOHN TAYLOR sworn. I belong to the Custom-house, I know the prisoner, I have seen him write. This letter of the12th of January, I believe to be Mr. Robinson's writing; and that of the 7th is the same. Letter read, dated January 7, 1796, signed R. R. and addressed J. O. Oldbam, Esq. Corner of Brook-street, Holborn. (Private). "SIR,"It remains with you to judge how far the publication of the piece, to which the enclosed paper refers, can or cannot affect you. Give me leave to observe, that it was put into my hands some months since by a man of genius, a prisoner in the Fleet, who had not himself the power of getting it ushered into the world. Although I am a literary character, and concerned in some of the daily prints, I hesitated at promoting an attack of so serious a nature as this, and resolved to take some time to consider of it. The death of the author, which happened soon afterwards, occasioned the manuscript to be mislaid amongst my papers; but as I have repeatedly been called upon by the widow of the deceased (who has four children with herself entirely destitute) to make some use of the MS. I have rather thought it adviseable to take this step first, supposing, from what I have understood of your character as a gentleman (liberal and open-hearted), that you would sooner administer to the necessiries of this unhappy family, than urge me (or any one else) as their friend, to the publication of a work of this kind to relieve them. "Perhaps, if you were to peruse the MS. It would convince you that the author had, by some means, got possession of circumstances, rather important in their nature - as to what foundation they may rest on, I pretend not to hazard a conjecture - but so it is - and I have only further to observe, that in me, Sir, you will find a gentleman incapable of acting in any manner unbecoming that character. I have reasons (which must, on consideration, be obvious to you) for not chusing to avow myself - but you may be assured that no steps whatever shall be taken in this business for eight days to come; you will therefore have time to deliberate and to determine. "If you take no notice whatever of this letter, I shall conceive myself at full liberty to let the matter take its course. And however I may regret the necessity I am under of so doing, I shall feel a particular satisfaction in knowing that I gave you, in a gentleman-like manner, an opportunity of preventing it. "I have the honour to remain, Sir, &c. "R. R. "London, Jan. 7th, 1796. "P. S. I must beg you to insert a line in the Daily Advertiser of Monday or Tuesday next, from which I may judge of your disposition on this business. You will please to address it to R. R. and may couch it in as general terms as you please, so as to make me understand you." The following was enclosed in the foregoing Letter: On Saturday, the 30th of this inst. January, at Noon, will be published, Handsomely printed in 410. on fine Wove Paper, with a dismal Etching, Price 2s. OLD HAM FRESH DREST , OR Dolly's Ghost cooking up a Black Desert, A mysterious Dish prepared over a slow Fire, on a Patent Stove manufactured on Purpose at the London Warehouse, in Holborn. - Out damned Spot! MACRETH. - I could a Tale unfold! HAMLET. To be had of all Booksellers in Town and Country. Mr. Fielding. We shall now read the advertisement in the Daily Advertiser of Monday, January the 11th.(It is read). "To Mr. R. R. "The letter by the Penny-post, signed R. R. has been received: but as the person to whom it is addressed, is at a loss to guess what is wished, he conceives that, by a personal interview with Mr. R. R. with the manuscript which he mentions, an explanation might tend to a better understanding between the parties; therefore he will meet Mr. R. R. alone, at any time and place he will six (before Friday next, or after the Tuesday following), by a line directed as before." Mr. Jackson. My Lord, I beg that the answers may be read, letters and answers as they were written, that the Court and Jury may be in possession of the whole of the subject. Letter read, dated Tuesday the 12th January, 1796, signed R. R. addressed J. O. Oldbam, Esq, Brook-street, Molborn. "SIR,"I am well pleased to find that I am not likely to be mistaken in the idea I have entertained of you. Amongst men of a proper and liberal way of thinking, an understanding on such a matter as this, is the easiest thing imaginable - and in repeating that you will find me a gentleman, I wish you to be satisfied that I am as incapable of taking any unmanly advantage, as of wantooly sporting with the feelings of any one. I have ever despised and execrated the cowardly assassin who, skulking in obscurity, sends forth his malignant shafts to wound the peace and the character of individuals, and I have therefore uniformly resisted every overture that has been made me for such a purpose. My situation, as a literary character, has teemed with temptations, but a sacred principle of honour has superseded them all. The subject on which I have addressed you, has long lain dormant, and it was because I thought the attack of a most serious complexion, that I hesitated for such a length of time in giving any counternance to it - not that I ever fought for any circumstances to influence my judgement or qualify my opinion - and, for ought that has ever come to my knowledge, it may be allthe "moonshine of"the moment." "I am, therefore, so far candid, and, I trust, not indelicate; and it will be at least a satisfaction to you to be told (with a solemnity becoming the character I have prosessed myself), that not a foul but myself is in possession of a line of the MS. nor has it ever been out of my hands, or perused or heard by any person living since first I had it - so that when it is committed to the flames, all will necessarily die with it. Of this you shall have a testimony so clear and unequivocal, that it will not be possible for you afterwards to doubt. "Thus much I have suggested for your satisfaction. You will now give me leave to say something in behalf of the cause I have engaged in. "I have no objection to an interview, and I readily close with your proposition; but there are a few preliminaries first which I must beg leave to adjust - perhaps I may be more anxious to urge them, in order to have some proof of your sincerity - after which I am at your service. "In order to relieve a destitute and unhappy family, struggling with sickness and with sorrow, will you permit me to be your almoner? will you enable me to dispose of a little of your money as I shall see occasion? It is a duty I owe the cause of humanity to urge it. Remember, Sir, I am now only making my appeal to your benevolence; I am holding out no delusions to exact the involumary tribute; I am asking you as a gentleman, as a man, to give me some earnest of your intentions, to prove what I am so strongly inclined to give you credit for - enclose a Bank-note in a letter, addressed to R. R. and let it be left at the Cambridge Coffee-house, the top of Newman-street, in Goodge-street: on the side of the bar, at the entrance of the coffee-room, is a bracket for letters, let it be placed there between the hours of eleven and one, on Thursday next, and at five o'clock on the same day a line shall be sent porter to your house, to acknowledge the receipt - after which, if you will name any day (Friday excepted) in the following week, on which it will suit you, in the evening, to take a bottle of wine, atthe king's head Tavern, Middle-row, Holhorn, or elsewhere, I will with pleasure attend you; our meeting is, however, to be private and "sete-n-sete," then, possibly, over the ashes of the MS. a phoenix may arise that may prove a forerunner to friendship. "I shall send to the Coffee-house between the hours of one and four; and I will venture to say, that you will have no reason to be dissatisfied with the event of this correspondence. To obtain a confidence, it is necessary, or at least reasonable, to expect that one should be reposed. "I have the honour to remain, "Sir, your obedient humble servant. "R. R." Mr. Jackson. (To Oldham). Q. I believe, you have copies of your answers to R. R. - A. I have. Mr. Fielding. I shall now read Mr. Oldham's answer to the second letter that has just been read of the 12th. Mr. Oldham. This that has now been read, is the answer to the first letter I sent; the first letter I received was answered by the advertisement; it was dictated by my friends and wrote by Evans. It is read, dated the 14th Jan. 1795, no signature, addressed to Mr. R.R. to be left at the Cambridge Coffee-House, top of Newman-street, in Goudge-street. "SIR,"Your letter which I received on Tuesday, signed R.R. has not afforded me that explanation which I expected; and I thought my answer to your former letter in the Daily Advertiser, would have convinced you that I was ignorant of what could be intended by the paper you sent me in the letter, or what MS. you could be possessed of, the publication of which could be of such importance to me, who am not conscious of ever having done any improper act. But, Sir, as you are a gentleman, and a man of honour, assure me that you have seen and read the MS. in question, and that it contains circumstances rather important to me, I will give you credit for the assertion; and, permit me to say, that you will find me deserving of those characters. But in answer to that part of your letter of the 12th. respecting the Bank-note, which you request of me, I must freely confess, that although I am ever happy to administer to the relief of my fellow-creatures in distress; yet, in a case like the present, not knowing any of the parties or their situation, you cannot wonder I should delay sending any thing, being desirous of seeing the MS. Alluded to, before I send you any remittance; and, therefore, I trust, you will not be offended at the trisling delay this occasions; assuring you, that if you will favour me with a sight of it, you may rely on my honour of returning it with a proper acknowledgment; or, if it be more agreeable, I will meet you alone at any time and place after Tuesday next, that you will mention; and I have no objection to have the meeting at the King's head Tavern, Middle-Row, Holborn; but if you have any preference to another house, pray name it, and I will attend you with pleasure." Mr. Jackson. (To Oldham). Q. Did the prisoner call upon you to produce your answers before or after the reading of the letters? - A. It was while the first lotter was reading, I believe. Q. You succeeded your late master in business? - A. Yes. Q. I believe, you were fortunate enough to gain the affections of his widow? - A. I was. Q. How long after the death of your late master? - A. Twelve or fourteen months. Q. Did it not happen, at that time. that some persons amused themselves with writing squibs, and things of that kind upon the occasion? - A. I never saw any nor heard of any. Q. Give me leave to ask you, when you wrote these letters, solemnly pledging your honour, in the way that has been read, and inviting further communication, was it not with a view that this person should produce the manuscript in question, whatever it might be? - A. With this view, and this only, I declare, upon my oath, to bring him to justice. Q. Granted; but when you expressed so much anxiety to see the manuscript, after the contents were thus intimated, did it not arise from a curiosity to see what it might contain? - A. Not any; but merely to bring the man to justice; I would have parted with my heart's blood, before I would have given him any money. Letter read, dated Thursday, half past twelve o'clock, Grecian Coffee-House, Temple. "SIR,"I wish I had said sufficient in my last, to have made any farther explanation unnecessary. I am perfectly satisfied with your attention, and should really feel comfortable, if I could, consistent with circumstances, comply in every respect with your wishes, and unreservedly to place that confidence in you, which, perhaps, you have some right to think yourself entitled to. But this is a very delicate point, a matter of the nicest discrimination, and a very little reflection will convince you, that although I might be justified in producing the MS. at an interview, I could be no means part with it thus hastily, without a manifest breach of confidence and honour. Of me, personally, it is very true, you know nothing, but you have politely given me credit for my assertions. Hence it follows, that I am possessed of something - that something has led us into a correspondence; but whether founded on facts or not, I still repeat, I have no kind of inclination to risque a conjecture. I have assured you (and you seem to take it for granted) that I am a gentleman, and a man of honour - surely then you can commit no great error in confiding to a person of this description, some little earnest of your sincerity. I have not, with bold indecency, presumed to dictate to your liberality. I have reason to know you possess the means, in a very high degree, and to believe that you have a-disposition to be generous, but I have left to yourself to exercise it as you please. I have merely hinted to you, that a Bank-note(without affixing any specific value to it) would pave the way for an interview we might both have reason to be pleased with. And if I am worthy of your confidence in one respect, I cannot be altogether undeserving of it in another. "If it will, in any measure, be satisfactory to you, I will (if you desire it) promise you on my word (and as a pledge of future confidence between us). that I will not part with any note you may send me, until after our interview; nor shall the parties know I have received it; I will myself administer a trifle to their immediate necessities - still reserving the power to do as I please with it after you and I have met. "I shall send to the Cambridge Coffee-house again between eight and ten this evening, when, I trust, you will have considered the matter, and I shall find my request complied with; it may be necessary, however, to add, by way of preventing any further waste of time in epistolary intercourse, that my conduct is generally marked by a firmness and consistency, which I seldom see occasion to depart from; - nor will you, after this declaration, seek to alter my purpose, or in any other respect to urge me (not) to insist on a sacred adherence to this ten or of the letter. I remain, Sir,"Your most obedient, and respectful servant, 14th Jan. 1796."R. R." "P. S. I have not the MS. about me; but, if sending you a page or two of it, will be any kind of satisfaction, I will transcribe the first half dozen stanzas, and send them to your house by twelve to-morrow." J. O. Oldham, Esq. Brook-street, Holborn. (Porter paid). Q. (To Oldham). This is a copy of the answer you sent to that letter. - A. It is. It is read, dated 14th Jan. 1796, addressed to Mr. R. R. Cambridge Coffee-House, Newman-street. "SIR,"Upon my return this instant, I found your note, dated from the Grecian Coffee-house, Temple. I am sorry that I am under the necessity of repeating, that I with to see the MS. or a few pages of it, before I comply with your request of sending a Bank-note, for as I have not the pleasure of knowing you, and am aware that I never injured mankind, I am at a loss to guess the subject upon which the MS. can be written. I have already assured you, that I will act honourably with you; and hope you will place some confidence in that assertion. - I have no with to get the MS. from you, if it will be my breach of confidence in you to part with it. But I with to read it, I own; and, therefore, if you will appoint a meeting after Tuesday, I will wait upon you with pleasure, when I can read it in your presence, and you can take it with you again (not wishing that you should be guilty of any breach of confidence on my account) with any thing that I may think requisite; but before Wednesday I cannot meet, as I am going out of town to-morrow, and shall not return until Tuesday night. You, I trust, know that confidence in me will not be misplaced, and therefore pray give me my own humour for a little while, and you may have no occasion to be dissatisfied." Mr. Jackson. (To Oldham). Q. Whether, in point of fact, it ever afterwards happened to you to receive a manuscript? - A. I received, what he calls a part of one, in a fourth letter. Letter read, dated Tuesday noon, 19th Jan. 1796, signed R. R. and addressed J. O. Oldham, Esq. "SIR, "I have complied so far with your earnest wishes, and with the promise in my last, as to send you enclosed nearly half the MS. I would rather you had suffered me to have my humour, but there seeman ingenuousness in your manner, which I interpret into a sacred principle of honour, and which, I am proud to say, I was never yet mistaken in or deceived by. "In regard to the MS. permit me once more to declare, that I know not the grounds (if any) to which the subject is directed, and I am perfectly disposed to believe, that you speak truth, when you observe, that you are not aware of having ever injured mankind. Animated by that consciousness, no man need shrink from enquiry, and far be it from me to suffer you to be disturbed; I have interested myself merely with a view to serve and to relieve a wretched groups of destitute sufferers, and by delegating me, as your agent, to administer to their distresses, you are certainly securing yourself another source of satisfaction. "Between the hours of five and seven to-morrow evening, I shall look for a letter from you, addressed as before, to the Cambridge Coffee-house. I am thus particular in naming the time, because it gives me an opportunity to ascertain the proper moment for sending, and besides prevents any impertinent hands from getting possession of the letter. I have only to add, that I have not a doubt but your next will contain the expected (and I may say the promised) remittance-after receiving which, if you still desire to see me, I will with pleasure attend you any evening but Friday, and will leave to yourself to determine; I have no partiality for the King's-head, Middle-Row, but I think it better than a coffee-room, as our business would be rather of a private nature. "And now, Sir, I have placed a confidence in you, with the fullest assurance that it will be returned. The MS. enclosed is only a copy, and you may, if you please, keep it; but when we meet, the original shall be destroyed, and I will give you the most solemn unequivocal testimony, that not a line of it is any where extant, and that it has never been out of my possession, or seen or read by any one bet yourself. "I am, Sir, your's, &c." The Poem was then read as follows: OLD HAM FRESH DREST , &c. BOOTED and spurr'd, our gallant wight Returning late one winter's night From toil, hard ware and duty, Took Pancras church-yard in his way; For near that spot, the gossips say, He kept a pamper'd beauty. Darkness and silence reign'd around, When lo! the church-bell gave a found, Such as chill terror brings, When some pale spirit, long since sled, Haunts the black caverns of the dead, To tell of - WICKED THINGS! But left the world should think it strange, A marry'd man shou'd, rake-like, range, This will explain the matter; The WIDOW late had slipt her breath, And even died a nat'ral death! Tho' Justice murmur'd at her! So circumstanc'd, 'tis not uncommon For widowers to keep a woman, Altho' not over chaste: For beauty has a thousand charms To lure to its devoted arms A trading cull of taste. We bards that use familiar rhyme, Never affect a style sublime, Nor heed we little errors; The reader therefore will excuse The lapse of a plain-dealing muse, ALBEIT SHE SINGS OF TERRORS! Involuntary as surprise; Our hero paus'd and rubb'd his eyes, And thought he must be dreaming; When lo! another dismal found, With groans terrisic teeming!"What could possess me," thus he cried,"So late at counting-house to 'bide!"I'd better mend my pace. "It is not that I'm apt to fear;"But none wou'd like this knell to hear"In such a lonely place!" With quicken'd steps he brush'd along, The ling'ring path seem'd length'ning on, For conscience was not stout; Silent the bell - but swift as light A spectre slitted by his sight, And cried, "THE DEED WILL OUT !" If 'midst the busy scenes of life, We seek to calm internal strise And snatch a cheerful hour, The jocund tale, the flowing bowl, Will shed oblivion o'er the foul, And check reflexion's pow'r. But when dark solitude pervades The midnight scene - and silent shades Are wrapt in awful gloom, Where is the mind impair'd by GUILT? Where is the hand that BLOOD has spilt, That shrinks not at its doom? Ah! what avails each grand parade By the proud hand of fashion made, And scenes of splendid riot? What charm can health or wealth impart? What tranquil moment knows the heart When CONSCIENCE is not quiet? What! though a borough could be found, And bought for thirty thousand pound, What comfort would be in it? Altho' to mark a soaring mind, A tradesman tries that way to find A seat in England's f-n-e.
("This stanza appears too personal to be introduced at present") Is there not wrap't in Fate's dark womb, A tale for ages yet to come? A foul, unnat'ral deed? Did not black Avarice conspire With all the rage of lustful fire? DID NOT THE VICTIM BLEED? Oh! that fair Charity, mild maid, Indulgent to the widow's shade, Cou'd check conjecture's course. That busy memory no more Might the mysterious deed explore, Or trace its FATAL SOURCE! But - ! let the muse resume her strain, And to her tale return again; Whilom of ghosts she sung-When a grim spectre struck his sight, Distinguish'd by a glimm'ring light, It seem'd to bear along. "THE DEED WILL OUT ," the phantom cried, And forwards mov'd from side to side, To intercept his rout; Whilst our pale traveller dismay'd, With falt'ring speech address'd the shade, And ask'd, "WHAT DEED WILL OUT?" "Pause thee a while, and lift!" - it said, And sigh'd and shook its aged head.(Our hero trembling stood!)"Why in the early scenes of age,"Didst thou in such a deed engage?"Remember - BLOOD for BLOOD! "Of years, not five times five are past,"Since, circled round thy humble waist,"The dingy apron hung, - "Thy heart then no soul mischief brew'd;"Thy mind a moral track pursu'd;"And guileless was thy tongue: "Till dire ambition, like a fiend,"That hurls destruction, without end,"On each devoted slave,"Burst forth. - Then lust assum'd a name"To hide a secret guilty flame,"And doom me to the grave! "The poison'd chalice (fatal draught!)"To my unconscious lips was brought -
Mr. Jackson. My Lord. It falls to my duty to address to your Lordship certain objections that seem to me to arise upon this cafe, resolving themselves into this main proposition, that the evidence does not meet the charge in the indictment, or satisfy the meaning of the statute on which it is founded. My Lord, however it may be the right of every person, who is brought into the perilous situation of the prisoner, to interpose, before your Lordship, any kind of objection that can technically, or, in point of law, be taken; and however your Lordships' humanity hourly leads you to be the guardians and expositors of that right, I do assure your Lordship, that I should be extremely unwilling to employ that discretion which your Lordship's condescension allows to advocates upon all occasions, to offer to your Lordship any objections that do not appear to my humble capacity to have that weight with them, that such circumstances and such a situation call for. My Lord, the first objection I shall submit to your Lordship is, that the sending, which the Act peremptorily requires, has not been established. It must forcibly have struck the mind of your Lordship, that the only proof of the sending, is derived from an inference which establishes this man to have been the hand receiving the last letter of a long correspondence. My Lord, I submit, that that sending never has, on any occasion, nor would your Lordship now suffer it to be established by mere inference, but it must be a substantive sending; and, your Lordship knows, a common delivery has been held not to be a sending; and, without detaining your Lordship upon this point, I am sure the circumstances of this case have made a greater impression upon your Lordship's mind, than any thing I can say upon the subject. Mr. Justice Lawrence. I don't know what you allude to, by saying a common delivery is not a sending, within the Act of Parliament. Mr. Jackson. My Lord, in Hammond's case, the Judges say, "In all cases so highly penal as the present"case, it is certainly necessary not only to consider the"intention of the Legislature, but to bring the offender"within the words of the Act of Parliament itself."The act of merely writing a threatening letter, will"not constitute this offence; for, unless the writer, or"contriver of such a letter, afterwards sends it to the"party, whole fears, the threat it contains, was calcu-"lated to alarm, it cannot possibly produce the mis-"chief which the Legislature intended alone to suppress." So that it turns upon the fact of delivery and not sending. The next objection I submit to your Lordship is, that this is not a letter without a name signed thereto, with in the meaning of the Act on which it is founded: a letter which contains initials cannot be said to be a letter without a name; and I submit to your Lordship, that though it may not amount to a name, which is said to be the discriminating appellation of an individual, that still it does amount to a designation, that law, reason, and the common intercourse of life has suffered to pass for a name. Bills of Exchange to an immense amount are accepted by initials, and upon these bills, so accepted, an action may be maintained. When the initials of men are forged, they are also of consequence enough to maintain an indictment. And your Lordship knows, that in certain eminent branches, perhaps of our own profession, and in many other circumstances in life, it is some degree of indication of rank and elevation, and is frequently resorted to as a substitute for signing a name. My Lord, I should not trouble your Lordship to hear abstract reasoning, if I was not fortified by the Legislature itself, in the Acts which I am humbly endeavouring to interpret. Your Lordship knows, this Act professes to be explained and amended by the 27th of George II . chap. 15. there it says, "That persons, who shall knowingly send,"without any name subscribed thereto, or signed by a"fictitious name, any letter or letters, threatening to"kill and murder, shall be guilty of felony within the"meaning of that Act." My Lord, Mr. Fielding, in his opening, seemed to think aid could be borrowed from that Act. I submit to your Lordship, no aid can be borrowed from that Act, unless the indictment had brought the offence within the express words of that Act; because, that Act of 9 Geo. I. states only two offences, namely, that of sending a letter without a name, or sending it with a fictitious name. The statute 27 George II . states three offences: sending a letter without a name, sending a letter with a fictitious name, and sending a letter with marks, or fictitious marks. I admit, that if this second statute had been merely intended to explain the order of proceeding upon the first, that concluding - contrary to the form of the statute, would have been perfectly sufficient; but I believe your Lordship will find it laid down, that where, as in the present case, an Act has been continued from time to time, and received considerable additions, and is then rendered perpetual, I contend, that no aid could be derived from it, unless the conclusion had been - contrary to the form of the statutes. My Lord, if it should be contended that this is driving the prosecutor to the 27th of George II. which enacts a punishment for threatening with murder or the burning of houses, although it should not exact money. My Lord, I reply to that, that I shall refer my learned friend to another Act, upon which alone this indictment could be founded, which establishes this offence to be a high misdemeanour, and which Act, I shall beg leave of your Lordship, presently, to advert to. My Lord, the next objection which I submit to your Lordship, is, that this letter does not contain a demand, within the letter, or the meaning of that Act of Parliament; I submit to your Lordship, that the letter must be a threatening letter; that is, that the demand it contains must be a clear and peremptory demand, accompanied with an intimation of bodily harm, in case it be not complied with. My Lord, I feel myself warranted in that proposition, by act 9 George I. to which I contend this indictment must be confined, and beyond which it cannot be extended. Your Lordship will learn from the title of that act, that it is "an act for the more effectually punish-"ing evil and wickedly disposed persons going armed"in disguise, and doing injury and violence to the pro-"perty of his Majesty's servants." Your Lordship well knows, that that act was introduced, in order to correct violences of a nature extremely atrocious, and which obtained at that time; but that nothing could be more distant from its contemplation than that species of offencethis day brought before your Lordship, and which is attempted to be engrasted upon that act. And,my Lord, I conjecture so from the only legal way of making out the meaning of an Act of Parliament, namely, its preamble,which after stating the then predominant evils of breaking into parks, cutting down timber, robbing warrens, and fish-ponds, going armed in disguise, stealing the King's deer, and a number of enumerated violences, goes on to enumerate that among the evils which this act meant to guard against."That whereas such persons"have likewise solicited several of his Majesty's sub-"jects, with promises of money, or other rewards, to"join with them, and have sent letters in fictitious"names to several persons, demanding venison and mo-"ney, and threatening some great violence if such their"unlawful demands should be refused." My Lord, I submit to your Lordship, that the obvious intention of that act was to correct violences of so atrocious a nature, as those to which I am alluding, and I feel myself still further fortified in this conclusion, by the doctrines of your Lordships upon every occasion where this species of offence has been brought before you; that it does happen regularly, and I hope it will turn out providentally for the prisoner, that your Lordships have constantly and invariably attended to the words "threatening letter," and also laid down that it should be that kind of threat that shall be so clear and unambiguous, that it shall be impossible to misunderstand the fort of bodily harm that it meant to convey. In Girdwood's Cafe, in Mr. Leach's Book 143, that impression was strong upon the mind of one of your Lordships; the question that was there left to the Jury was, whether there was a sufficient evidence of its purporting to be a letter threatening to kill and murder. My Lord, I conceive that the constant understanding of threatening letters under this act of George I. which this act professes to amend and explain is, that they threaten bodily harm if its request is not complied with; and what induces me to refer to that case is, that though the letter upon that indictment was nearly as strong a one as could be penned, namely, "I am sorry to find a"gentleman like you, would be guilty of taking Ma-"callester's life away for the sake of two or three gui-"neas; but it will not be forgot by one who is but just"come home to avenge his cause; this you may depend"upon, whenever I meet you, I will lay my life for"him in this cause; I follow the road, though I have"been out of London; but on receiving a letter from"Macallester before he died, for to seek revenge I am"come to town, I remain a true friend to Macallester. "J. W." My Lord,upon this letter, strong, powerful, and atrocious as it seems, the jury find the party guilty; the Judges say, that they thought the construction the Jury had given to that letter was, in their opinions rather trained. I merely mention this to shew your Lordship, that not only the Legislature, but that your Lordships uniformly have interpreted every letter sent under this act,as a letter,not only a threatening letter, but that kind of threat, clearly and expressly containing an intimation to do bodily harm. My Lord, I don't know choosen offence of this description has been brought before your Lordships upon a capital indictment, and put to the awful issue of life and death. This was a negociation to obtain a manuscript, which might well raise the curiosity of the party, a manuscript which I am certainly not called upon to defend; but to satisfy your Lordship that it does not come under this Act of Parliament,but another expressly providing for that species of offence; for however atrocious that manuscript may seem to the moral eye, your Lordship, as long as a subsequent statute, provided for that kind of crime, will govern yourself by the later and more humane statute, which must be understood so far to repeal the operation of the former. My Lord, your Lordship has seen, by the course of the evidence, which has been adduced before you, that I am perfectly warranted in calling it a negociation for the possession of a manuscript; for though Mr. Oldham may assure you, that when he pledged his sacred word of honour, that no harm should arrive to his person, when he produced the most solemn asseverations of how well placed his confidence might be, that at last, all that did but produce the whole object of the negociation; for the letters before your Lordship are nothing more than such a negociation, and the only point of difficulty throughout, seems to be,(each of the parties solemnly pledging their honour, their gentility, and their good faith) whether the manuscript should be first delivered, or the money paid; and, my Lord, however unpleasant that manuscript may appear, it does itself amount to this, that the few pages that have been so earnestly and so anxiously sought for, under an asseveration so solemn, was at last delivered before the money was given. My Lord, the only remaining point that I shall submit to your Lordship, is that the thing here requested, namely, a Bank-note, is not a valuable thing within the meaning of that Act of Parliament. My Lord, it is not necessary for me, upon that, to trouble your Lordship at any length, because I apprehend the proposition is perfectly indisputable, that at the time of passing this Act 9 George 1. neither a Bank-note, or any other chose in action, was within the protection of that act, or even the subject of a larceny. It is true, that by a statute, considerably after that period, the legislature did extend its protection to the Bank-notes and other choses in action, to make it the same degree of felony, as if the larceny had been committed upon effects or goods to the same amount. My Lord, I contend that at the time of passing this Act, the Legislature could have, by no possibility, the contemplation of a Bank-note, being a valuable thing, within its meaning; when speaking of money and venison, I need hardly tell your Lordship, that a Bank note is intrinsically worth nothing, and derives no protection or value, but as derived from the Legislature; and therefore I submit it did not receive that legal value at the time of passing the Act of George II . and that even now the Bank is within the protection of that Act, and therefore protected from larceny, was neither by that nor any subsequent statute, protected from the sort of offence charged to-day, namely, demanding a Bank note through the medium of a letter. My Lord, I apprehend therefore, that your Lordship will not strain it to the extent, that the Legislature has not strained it, namely, to protect Bank notes from this sort of demand.These are the objections which I have thought it my duty to urge to your Lordship, and I am sure they will have their due and proper weight. Court. It appears to me, that the sending is no objection; but it is clear in Hammond's case, that the letter was actually delivered to the person to whom it was addressed. In Girdwood's case, the letter was sent by the Post; and the man was executed. Now, it appears that this letter came to Mr. Oldham by the Post; and it is for the Jury to decide, whether they do not think it was sent by the prisoner. As to the last objection, I think there is no great weight in it; for, though it is not a chose in action, it is a valuable thing, and it would be a threat, within the Black Act. With respect to the other two objections, it seems to me a very difficult thing to say that the two letters of a name to the acceptance of a bill of exchange, is not a name. However, there is something in the argument derived from the act Geo.II. and I think it is a case fit to be considered. Mr. Jackson. I beg your Lordship's pardon; I meant to contend, that this is an offence precisely within the statute 30 Geo.II. Court. I was going to mention that act, as having considerable weight, but these are considerable points upon the subject of an Act of Parliament;I therefore do not feel myself authorized to give a decision upon so considerable a question. I shall sum up the facts to the Jury, hear what their verdict is, and, according to that verdict, judge whether it is necessary to take the opinions of the judges or not. Mr. Fielding.In the case of the acceptance of a bill of exchange, you are immediately led to the knowledge of the place and the person, merely by the initials. As to the letters R.R. they mean nothing; we know F.R.S. thesis for a Fellow of the Royal Society; but when it was proposed to an old gentleman, belonging to a society of that sort, to expound,he said,it certainly meant, a fellow remarkably stupid;so much for initials. And, with respect to the existence of the statute, that statute exists at this moment, and will operate upon every thing valuable at this instant of time. Prisoner's defence. My Lord, my counsel being in possession of all the facts, I have nothing more to say. GUILTY , Of writing and sending a letter to the prosecutor, threatening to publish a libel, imputing to him the murder of his master, for the purpose of extorting money. Death .(Aged 45.) Judgment respited, the case being reserved for the opinion of the Judges. Tried by the London Jury, before Mr. Justice LAWRENCE.
James Oldham Oldham's Timeline
calculated from grave
June 27, 1779
London, Greater London, United Kingdom
December 3, 1780
London, Greater London, United Kingdom
June 22, 1822
taken from grave inscription