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complaining of this way of making the statement, he were answered after Mr. Buckle's fashion?"Every word of this is literally and strictly true. Mr. Buckle did write the libellous essay; he and Mr. Parker did perform their parts with zeal, and successfully; and Sir John Coleridge was libelled in consequence of the writing and publishing the essay in Fraser.” It seems to us strange that Mr. Buckle professes not to see the effect of the statement we are referring to, and the necessary innuendo it contains, and still stranger that he should defend himself by saying—“It is the simple and literal truth.” Such literal truths mislead the reader. When, for example, a person declared that he knew “there had been, some time since, a secret connection between a certain gentleman and a pickpocket,” and being called on for an explanation, replied that it was “literally true;" for he had once seen the thief with his hand in the gentleman's pocket, his literalness was held to be more ingenious than candid.
Mr. Coleridge, in our opinion, could not pass over the improper passage in question, and his interpretation of it is not unnatural, while Mr. Buckle’s explanation is unsatisfactory. But as Mr. Buckle seems now to indicate that he did not, and does not, impute to this gentleman (as ordinary readers might have presumed) immoral and unprofessional conduct, this branch of his rhetorical indictment” is withdrawn. It is not now a reckless charge made, but reckless language indulged in, against which we have to protest. But the legal profession is so extensive, and its division so various, that some may well hear of the rumour of an offensive charge made against Mr. Coleridge, who have no means of knowing what manner of man Mr. Coleridge is. For this reason chiefly, we feel bound to take the unusual course of referring personally to the professional character and reputation of the gentleman believed to have been thus assailed. There are men doubtless at the bar, who in pushing themselves risk character and bring discredit on the profession. There are those who resolve, per fas et nefas, to achieve success, and stick at nothing which interferes therewith. With these honour is only a useful phrase, and etiquette a system much prized, inasmuch as it shackles scrupulous men whilst it leaves themselves free. There may be men, moreover, who will truckle to a judge, deceive the court, and take any unfair advantage of any person, be he judge, opponent, client, or even a helpless prisoner in the dock.
1P. 7 of his " Letter to a Gentleman,” &c.
Every profession and trade may have some members adhering to it, who are dirty, dishonourable, underhand, and self-seeking, and who would never forego a personal profit if it merely clashed with a professional or moral duty. Such an one might Mr. Coleridge probably be, if he had been guilty of the conduct which it appears was not imputed to him; but such an one he is not. It would have been difficult for a son of Mr. Justice Coleridge to forget the first principles of professional duty in a foolish attempt to carry out a personal predilection for persecution. It would have been strange, indeed, if he were not as honourable and high-minded as he is an able and rising lawyer.
If we were to speculate upon how it came to pass, that Mr. Buckle came thus unnecessarily to introduce the name of the son of Sir John Coleridge into the discussion, we should undoubtedly suggest that it arose from precipitately following the example (as he does in some instances closely) of Mr. Holyoake, who in his pamphlet has been guilty of the vulgar folly of an allusion to “the Coleridges," as "one to prosecute and the other to sentence.” This is a curious coincidence, unless indeed it is simply the simple repetition by one writer of the idea of the other. It would be still more remarkable, however, if Mr. Holyoake were to defend himself by saying "But the two Coleridges were there, and one did prosecute, and the other did sentence.”
We have said thus much upon the personal part of the question which Mr. Buckle has made so prominent; we will now refer to certain facts not presented by Mr. Buckle in the passages we have cited; but which will be found in the letter by Mr. J. 1). Coleridge to the editor of Fraser's Magazine for June, and in an account of Pooley's case by Mr. Holyoake.
And first, if the publication of words, offensive and horrible to the ears and eyes of the community, ought ever to be made cognizable by the criminal law (as to which we now say nothing), then (supposing Pooley to have been sane) the prosecution in question at Bodmin was certainly justifiable.
2ndly, We have Mr. Coleridge's statement, that no suggestion was made to him as counsel for the prosecution, and no notion, either by the judge or himself, was entertained of the deranged mental condition of the prisoner being such as we have no doubt it then was, and had been for years.
3rdly, That Sir John Coleridge recommended Pooley for pardon so soon as he discovered there was true ground to believe that Pooley was diseased in his brain. The letter of the judge to the Home Secretary ought to be read by those who have perused Mr. Buckle's personal attacks. It is as follows :
"26, Park Crescent, Dec. 2, 1857. “SIR-Thomas Pooley was convicted before me on three charges of blasphemy of a very offensive character. There was not the slightest suggestion made to me of his being other than perfectly sane, nor was there any thing in his demeanour at the trial, or in the conduct of his defence by himself, which indicated it; nor did I collect it from the manner in which he, as it seerned, habitually committed the offence. But I see no reason whatever why he should not receive a free pardon under the circumstances stated in your letter. Had I been informed of any thing which had led me to inquire into his sanity during the trial, it is probable I might have discovered enough to have led to an acquittal on the ground of insanity, which on such a charge I should have been very glad to have arrived at.--I have the honour to remain, sir, your obedient servant,
" JOHN T. COLERIDGE. “Horace Waddington, Esq.”
This letter is a sufficient assurance to us that Sir John Coleridge, at least, was not anxious for the continued imprisonment of Pooley to gratify his Christian spleen.
But in point of fact Pooley was insane-notoriously so for fifteen years before the trial--obviously so on the trial itself-proved to be so when in jail-so admitted when in the lunatic asylum. Further, the judge himself acquiesced in his being so considered when the facts were laid before him. We do not for one moment doubt Mr. Coleridge's statement, that neither he nor the judge were cognizant of the fact on the trial, and we should be ashamed of insinuating that it was bigotry which blinded them to the fact. But it appears to us that they to whom the fact was known, ought not (especially as the man was poor and undefended) to have shut out the information from the counsel or the court. The counsel may well have thought that, if there was any ground for this opinion, the prosecutors would surely have been honest enough to insert it in the brief. And the judge would assume tbat every thing connected with the prosecution being so "respectable,” the criminal law would not have been set in operation unfairly. The impropriety of the prosecution on the ground of the obvious mental alienation of the prisoner was, we may observe, pointed out immediately by the press. The Spectator newspaper (Aug. 8, 1857) especially, with its usual accuracy and acuteness, drew the attention of the public to the trial, and passed very apposite strictures thereon. It was too striking a fact to escape disinterested observation. The habit of incontinently scribbling up every where phrases referring to the delusion from which the patient is suffering, is a well-known and common phase of mania. The absurd and incoherent character of the language employed by Pooley_his remarkable appearance and gestures would all have contributed to confirm the impression of his being mad, if the idea had been once suggested. And we do not hesitate to say, that there must have been evidence abundant to shew those who instituted the proceedings, that Pooley was not a proper subject of prosecution. Mr. Coleridge, in his reply to Mr. Buckle, cites Mr. Grylls (the attorney for the prosecution), and the clerk to the magistrates. The result of reading what Mr. Grylls has communicated to Mr. Coleridge, has, we regret to
say, convinced us that this attorney does not or will not understand the mischief to which he has been party. He assures us that Pooley is “perfectly rational on all points but religion," and adds, as a sequitur we presume," the attempt to shew he is insane is absurd." This is either absolute stupidity on Mr. Grylls' part, or, having conducted the prosecution, and being, with the aid of the reverend gentlemen, the moving cause of the unfortunate trial and its consequences, he obdurately sticks to what would appear to any candid mind utterly untenable. Mr. Grylls knows, it would seem, Pooley's earlier history-heknows, moreover, that the poor man was transferred from prison to the lunatic asylum. He might (and possibly does) know what Pooley's mental condition was in both places; and he knows that Pooley was proved to be insane to the satisfaction of the Home Office; yet this ingenuous attorney for the prosecution cannot persuade himself that it was not a very just and proper prosecution, and that it has not done Pooley a great deal of good. Mr. Coleridge has been frank enough to publish (though it would have been better omitted, if he had wished to defend at all hazards the whole proceedings) what Mr. Grylls has said on the subject ; but there is something about this person's communication which, we confess, seems to arise from a desire to justify conduct, of which we assure him he need not be, either on his or on his client's account, at all proud.
“The case of Thomas Pooley,” by G. J. Holyoake, although vulgar in tone, and in his comments evincing prejudice and bitterness in the writer, still relates certain circumstances in the history of Pooley and his case which are interesting, and indeed very touching, and the general accuracy of which we see no reason to suspect. Mr. Buckle has obviously either drawn his information from the pamphlet and Mr. Holyoake, or they have had common sources of intelligence. Mr. Holyoake, however, went down to the spot, and has given certain details of what he saw and heard, which throw some light on the transactions we have been referring to, and which must have been notorious in the neighbour
VOL. VII. NO. XIV.