Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, Accompanying the Annual Message of the President to the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Congress
Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward
Sir: The case of Captain P. S. Corbett, who stands charged with having enlisted certain of her Majesty’s subjects on board the Sea King, alias Shenandoah, in violation of the foreign enlistment act, came up in the court of Queen’s bench on Wednesday. I have the honor to enclose copies of the Times, of to-day and yesterday, containing a report of the proceedings.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
Court of Queen’s bench—Westminster, November 29.
Sittings at Nisi Prius, before the Lord Chief Justice and a special jury.
The Queen vs. Corbett.
This was an indictment against Captain Corbett, for alleged infringements of the foreign enlistment act in the enlisting of men for the Sea King, which afterwards became the celebrated Shenandoah. There were fifty-eight counts in the indictment, varying the charge both as to the names of the men enlisted and as to the particular act of enlistment or attempted enlistment alleged. Thus, the first set of counts relating to a man named Ellison: That Peter Suther Corbett, being a natural born subject of our lady the Queen, on the 19th day of October, A. D. 1864, upon the high seas, to wit, in and on board of a certain British ship called the Sea King, did unlawfully counsel and incite one John Ellison, then being a natural born subject of our lady the Queen, without the leave or license of her Majesty for that purpose, first had and obtained, to enter himself to serve as a sailor in and on board a certain ship or vessel intended to be used for warlike purposes in the service of, and for, under, and in aid of a certain foreign power, that is to say, a foreign power, commonly called the Confederate States of America. Second count, same, except in the service of and for, under, and in aid of certain persons assuming to exercise the powers of government in a foreign country, commonly called the Confederate States of America. Third count, same, except counsel and incite to enter himself “to be employed and engaged in and on board,” &c., ending same as first count. Fourth count, same as third, except ending same as second count. Fifth count, same as first, except counsel and incite, &c., “to agree to enter himself to serve,” &c. Sixth count, same as last, except the ending, which same as second count, beginning in the service, &c. Seventh count, same as first count, except counsel and incite “to agree to enter himself to be employed and engaged in and on board,” &c. Eighth count, same as last, except the ending, which same as in second count, beginning in the service, &c. Ninth count, same as in first count, except counsel and incite “to serve in and on board,” &c. Tenth count, same as last, except ending as in second count. There were other counts making similar charges as to the other men, Allen, Ellis, &c. And then, the thirty-seventh count Stated that the said Peter Suther Corbett, on the 25th day of September, A. D. 1864, within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and within the jurisdiction of the said court, to wit, at the East India docks, in the parish of All Saints, Poplar, in the county of Middlesex, unlawfully and wilfully did endeavor to procure one John Ellison, without the leave or license of her Majesty for that purpose first had and obtained, to serve and be employed as a sailor in sea service and on board a ship or vessel intended to be used for warlike purposes in the service of and for, under, and in aid of a certain foreign power, that is to say, a certain foreign power commonly called the Confederate States of America, against the form of the statute in that case made and provided. Several other counts raised the charge as to the act alleged, and then the fortieth count was the same as the thirty-seventh, except in the service of and for, under, and in aid of certain persons assuming to exercise the powers of government in a foreign country, that is to say, the Confederate States of America, against the form of the statute in that case made and provided. The forty-third count, that the said Peter S. Corbett, on the 19th of October, A, D. 1864, in a certain place subject to her Majesty, to wit, on board a British ship on the high seas, unlawfully and wilfully did attempt and endeavor to procure one John Ellison, without the leave or license of her Majesty for that purpose first had and obtained, to enter and engage to enlist and serve as a sailor in sea service in and on board a ship or vessel intended to be used for warlike purposes, in the service of and for, under, and in aid of a certain foreign power, that is to say, a foreign power commonly called the Confederate States of America, against the form of the statute in that case made and provided. The forty-sixth count same as forty-third, except ending, which same as fortieth count. The forty-ninth count same as forty-third, except “to serve and be employed as a sailor,” &c. The fifty-second count same as forty-ninth, except ending, which same as fortieth. And the remaining counts still further varied the charge.
The defendant pleaded “not guilty.”
The solicitor general, Mr. Gifiard, Q. C., and Mr. Hannen appeared for the Crown; Mr. E. James, Q. C., Mr. Milward, Q. C., Mr. Sleigh, Mr. Kemplay, and Mr. Witt for the defendant.
The Solicitor General, in opening the case, said: This is a prosecution for a breach of the foreign enlistment act, and without now referring in detail to its provisions it may be enough for me to describe it in the words of its title, as “An act to prevent the enlisting or engagement of her Majesty’s subjects to serve in foreign service, and the fitting out or equipping in her Majesty’s dominions vessels for warlike purposes without her Majesty’s license.” That is, the act was passed for the purpose of better enabling us to preserve our neutrality between foreign belligerents, and to prevent our being embroiled in foreign wars with which we had no concern. The learned solicitor general then proceeded to state the circumstances out of which the present charge had arisen. On the 8th of October, 1864, he said, a vessel [Page 14] left London called the Sea King, but the name of which was subsequently changed to the Shenandoah a name which has since become but too well known. She was a screw steamer, clipper built, and was built at Glasgow in 1863. She was 790 tons register, and had made hut one voyage previously, and that was to China. Her registered owners then were Messrs. Wallace & Co. At the time she sailed from London last October her registered owner was a Mr. Richard Wright. On the 7th of October there is an entry on the register empowering P. S. Corbett, the captain and present defendant, to sell the ship at any port out of the United Kingdom, for not less than £40,000. The voyage was nominally to Bombay, and the crew were engaged for that voyage. The captain engaged some of them himself, and when engaging them asked this significant question, “Whether they were single men?” The ship’s cargo professed to be coals and provisions. On the 8th of October she sailed for Madeira, where she joined another vessel, and they sailed together to arocky island near, called the Deserters. That other vessel was the Laurel, from Liverpool, and was laden with arms and ammunition, which were transferred to the Sea King, which vessel was next morning completely armed. Some persons came on board from the Laurel describing themselves as confederate officers, and one was Captain Waddel, who proceeded to take charge of the Sea King, and altered her name to the Shenandoah. Captain Corbett called the men aft and told them that he had sold the ship, that she would be a confederate cruiser, and that they would do well to enlist, and then told Waddel, “I got as many single men as I could.” The men were then offered £7 a month and £14 bounty. A few enlisted, but most of them refused. Captain Corbett then took the rest with him on board the Laurel to Teneriffe, and then asked them to say they were wrecked men, to account for their appearance on board the Laurel. The consul, however, arrested Corbett and sent him to England. After thus stating the facts of the case, the learned solicitor general proceeded to say that the indictment contained a number of counts, stating the charge in different ways, for the purpose of meeting every form of legal objection which may be made on the part of the defendant. He is charged in some of the counts with having committed an offence in this country by inciting men to enlist in England in the confederate service; and upon these counts, if you should think that he enlisted men in this country, ostensibly for a voyage, say to Bombay, but really for the purpose of putting a pressure upon them when they might be on the high seas to enter the confederate service, then (under the correction of his lordship) the offence would have been committed in this country. This is the same point, indeed, which was so ruled by his lordship at the Liverpool assizes, in the case of “the Queen v. Highatt and another,” (reported in 3 Foster and Finlason’s Reports;) and, assuming that you should be satisfied that he was aware of the ultimate destination of the vessel, he would, under such circumstances, according to that ruling, be guilty of the offence which is charged in these counts of the indictment. But, further, the defendant is charged in another set of counts with having committed an offence against the act, by enlisting men upon the high seas for the confederate service; and if you should believe upon the evidence that he endeavored to induce any of the men to enlist in the confederate service, on board the Sea King, which at that time was a British vessel, although intended to be used in the confederate service, then he would be guilty of a common law offence of inciting men to commit a breach of an act of Parliament—i. e., of the foreign enlistment act—on the high seas, by enlisting in a vessel which (according to the words of the act,) was intended to be used for warlike purposes in the service of a foreign belligerent. In another set of counts the defendant is charged with having committed the offence in a “place subject to her Majesty,” (according to the words of the act,) on board a British vessel; and to this set of counts similar observations would apply. Having thus stated the circumstances of the case, and the law applicable to it, the learned solicitor general concluded his address in these terms: The case, gentlemen, is one of great importance. It is of importance to the prisoner, who is very ably defended, and who, of course, you will not convict unless the offence is satisfactorily established. It is of importance, on the other hand, to the public; for it deeply concerns us all that the Queen’s subjects should not be permitted to engage in foreign wars without her consent, a practice which, if permitted, would be alike derogatory to the dignity and injurious to the prerogative of the crown, and, in the Words of the act, “dangerous to the peace and tranquillity of the country.” The facts of the case having been thus stated, the learned counsel for the Crown proceeded to call evidence.
The first witness called was the first man mentioned in the indictment, the man Ellison, who said that he was an able-bodied seaman; that in October last he went to Green’s Home to sign articles for the Sea King. He saw the defendant there and signed as quartermaster. He was to have £3 a month, and went on board on October 8, 1864. The Sea King was then alongside the dummy at Blackwall. They started on the 8th, and got off Madeira in seven or eight days, and then sighted a vessel which turned out to be the Laurel. They signalled her, and then went to an island called the Deserters, to which the Laurel followed them. When within speaking distance of the Laurel the men of the Sea King were ordered to reeve purchases to the main yard-arm, to hoist in goods strong enough to carry three tons. A number of cases were then unloaded from the Laurel into the Sea King. They were very heavy, and some of them broke with the rolling of the vessel, and he saw that they contained shot, shell, small-arms, and ship’s guns. The witness swore that when the vessel was off Madeira a gentleman in gray came on board, and that the defendant, standing by the side of [Page 15] him, said, “I have sold the ship; any of you who wish to join, the captain will give good wages and bounty,” and that the other gentleman, the “gentleman in gray,” said that he had taken charge of the ship as a privateer for the confederate government, and that he would give the wages Captain Corbett had stated. The witness stated that the defendant spoke to him and Allen—both of whom were naval reserve men—to induce them to join, but they declined, and came home in the Laurel. Three or four, however, remained in the Sea King.
The witness was severely cross-examined by Mr. James, and it was elicited that he had been convicted of some trifling offence, and sentenced to a month’s imprisonment. It was also elicited that he had for some time past done no work, and was staying in Ratcliffe, receiving 25s. a week, as he believed, from the Crown.
The solicitor general avowed that in this, as in other similar cases, the Crown had paid the wages of seamen who were asked to remain in this country as witnesses, because otherwise they could not be expected to remain.
Mr. James said he did not make any imputation on that ground.
In further cross-examination of the witness it was elicited that he had had a quarrel with the defendant at Teneriffe, and he could not give the names of the men who had remained. It was further elicited that when examined at Teneriffe he said that Allen told him that the defendant had said what he now stated he himself had heard him say, and he now professed to forget what he had told the consul.
The next witness was the man Allen, who also was a royal naval reserve man. He confirmed Ellison’s evidence as to the engagement at Blackwall, and as to what took place up to the time the ship got to Madeira, where, he said, the captain “dodged about” a good deal at night. Next morning they saw the vessel called the Laurel at anchor, and they signalled her and stood off to her. The Laurel then came out, and the Sea King followed her, until they came to a little island called the Desert island—a bare rock, where they both came to anchor; the captain of the Laurel came on board, and heavy cases were slung on board from the Laurel, which, becoming accidentally opened, were found to contain guns. There were also, he said, barrels of gunpowder, and casks or cases which burst, and disclosed shot and shell. This went on all night, and the defendant was “as busy as any one else” in getting these things in. The loading was not completed until next morning, when the “hands” were “piped aft,” and Captain Corbett, the defendant, was heard to say, “Well, men, I’ve sold the ship. This is the gentleman who has got the command of her, (pointing to the ‘gentleman in gray,’) and if you like to join her you’ll be very well paid for it.” The “gentleman in gray” said he would give £10 bounty, and £7 to £10 a month wages. The men, however, refused. Another effort was afterwards made by the gentleman in gray to induce the witness to enlist, but the witness said he refused to join. The gentleman in gray said he would give better wages than could be got in the English fleet, and would give him as much as £14 a month to go as gunner’s mate; but the witness refused. Shortly afterward, he said, Captain Corbett came up to him and took him into the cabin, and said it was a very good offer, and they had better take it. At the time of this conversation the other men were standing round the cabin door, which was open, and Ellison, among others, was there. Finally, however, the witness and most of the other men refused the offer and left with the defendant in the Laurel. Until they left Madeira the English flag was flying, but then it was struck, and when they left there was another flag, white, with a blue cross and “a lot of stars.” Nothing which appeared to be material was elicited from this witness in cross-examination, and his evidence did not seem to be shaken in any way.
Nurcus, another of the men named in the indictment, was next called, and confirmed the above evidence. He said that after the defendant saw the Laurel he gave orders to have the “purchases” made ready to raise weights, and then the hoisting of arms on board took place as described by the other witnesses. The witness further stated that the defendant had said, in the presence of the men, that he had “sold the ship to the confederate government,” and he then (the witness said) introduced the American officer, (that is “the gentleman in gray” alluded to by the other witnesses,) who would say what wages would be given. The American officer said the name was to be the Shenandoah. After they left, the vessel hoisted a white flag, with blue cross, and several stars upon it. Being shown a representation of a flag, he said that was the flag, and he believed it to be the confederate flag. The “gentleman in gray”—the American gentleman—went away with the Sea King.
It was elicited from this witness that Captain Corbett had to put some of them into the charge of the police for disorderly conduct at Teneriffe. The “gentleman in gray” was near the defendant when he spoke and said the ship was not going to fight, but to cruise against merchantmen, like the Alabama, and that the men would “make a good thing of it if they would go.” It was the American gentleman who kept making offers of money and increasing the offers until he offered £16 bounty and £7 10s. a month wages. The witness said that just before he left the Sea King he saw inside the cabin a “bucket full of gold.” This was at the time the “American officer” was tempting the men to go into his service. He was quite confident that the defendant said out loud that he “had sold the ship to the confederate government.”
In cross-examination it was elicited from the witness that he had been taken to the American consul’s at Liverpool, and a great many questions were asked as to what then took [Page 16] place, and it appeared that he had been asked what he saw and heard on board the Sea King, and that he told what he knew, and made a deposition before Mr. Raffles, the magistrate.
A man named Sell gave similar evidence, stating that the defendant told the “gentleman in gray,” at Deserter’s island, that he had obtained as many single men as he could; and that the defendant then advised the men to join the American privateer, saying that it would be a good thing for them, and that the vessel was not going to fight, but to take prizes, as the Alabama had done.
This witness, in cross-examination, said he had seen the bucket of gold on board, and that the American captain, or “the gentleman in gray,” advised the men to join, saying that the vessel was not going to fight, but to cruise and take prizes, as the Alabama had done. The defendant, the witness said, repeated what the American captain said, and said, “You hear what the captain says.”
A man named Webster, a fireman, gave similar evidence, stating that the defendant said, “I sway (i. e., persuade) you men to go in the ship; it is a good thing for you;” and he pointed out the “gentleman in gray” as the captain. When the defendant got to Teneriffe with the Laurel, the witness said, he told the men to say they were shipwrecked seamen being taken home.
In cross-examination this witness, as well as the last, said that what the defendant said was that he had sold the vessel, and that those who did not like to join must go back with him in the Laurel.
The Lord Chief Justice. Did he say that all at once or at different times?
Witness. No; he didn’t say it all at once, but he said it at different times.
In further cross-examination, however, it was elicited that the witness had said before the magistrates that the defendant had said it all at the same time, though not in the same breath; and the witness, being further pressed, said that the defendant said it all while the men were in a group and before he left the group of men, as they were standing together; the case, as suggested for the prosecution, being that the defendant first tried to get the men to enlist, and then afterwards, finding that they would not, said that if they would not they must go back with him in the Laurel.
This witness, as well as the last, stated that the “gentleman in gray” said that “he should not fight unless driven into a corner,” as he was going to cruise for prizes.
This witness, like the others, was pressed a good deal about offering evidence to the police and applying for subsistence money, but it all appeared to come to no more than this—which the solicitor-general had already avowed—that the Crown had allowed the seamen subsistence money to retain them in this country for the purpose of securing their evidence at the trial.
The next witness was Benjamin Sell, the boatswain, who had piped “all hands aft” on board the Sea King, to hear what the defendant had to say. When he had got the “hands” together the defendant came and stood by the “gentleman in gray,” to whom this witness for the first time gave the name of Captain Waddell, and then the defendant said, “Well, men, I’ve sold the ship, and those who like to join her may, and those who don’t may go back with me in the Laurel.” “I,” said the witness, “made answer, ‘That won’t do for me; the flag is the wrong flag; the old flag for me,’ and with that,” said he, “I went to get my box, as I wanted to be off, for they were a very vicious lot, the men who came on board, and I didn’t like the looks of them.” (Laughter.)
This man was pressed a good deal in cross-examination as to something suggested to have passed between him and one Hensman as to something that was to be got, as it was suggested, for giving testimony; but as there appeared great obscurity as to what it was, and the witness wanted to explain what it was, the jury said they desired to hear him tell his own story about it, and the witness then said that he and the other men wanted to know what it was they were to have for having been taken to Madeira on an abortive voyage, and the answer not being, as he thought, satisfactory, he got angry and said it was all a “——catch,” and a “lot of lies.” He was pressed a good deal with a view to show that this meant that the statement the witnesses had made was “a lot of lies,” but he said that this alluded to a supposed promise of two years’ pay. He was pressed very strongly about this, but with every appearance of truthfulness adhered to his story. Being asked in re-examination, on the part of the Crown, what had passed between him and Hensman, and what Hensman wanted with him, he said that Hensman seemed a “sort of loafer,” and wanted to know what he had to say, and used soft language to him, and told him that he (Hensman) had been on Captain Corbett’s side, &c.
It was then proved that the flag which had been spoken of was the confederate flag.
This closed the case for the Crown.
Mr. James, on the part of the defendant, demanded to know upon what counts the Crown intended to rely, as the indictment was so long and the counts so numerous.
The Solicitor General said he had distinctly stated in his opening. Some of the courts charged that the defendant in this country incited certain persons (Ellison, Allen, &c.) to enlist in the confederate service, and he relied upon these. There was another set of counts, charging the offence to have been committed on the high seas, and he mainly relied upon these. There was another set of counts, charging the offence to have been committed in a certain place abroad, i. e., a British vessel.[Page 17]
The Lord Chief Justice. As to that set of counts there is this difficulty, that the vessel appears not to have been a British vessel, but a confederate vessel.
The Solicitor General said he thought the character of the vessel had hot been changed at the time these attempts were made, for the confederate flag had not been hoisted.
The Lord Chief Justice. But it can hardly be doubted what her real character was. However, probably it would be equally an offence whether on board a British vessel or not. Perhaps, continued the Lord Chief Justice, the counsel on both sides may be relieved from discussing the questions of law, for I shall pursue in this case the same course as was pursued in the case referred to—”The Queen v. Highatt and Jones”—that is, I shall ask the jury whether, in point of fact, the defendant did attempt to enlist or procure the men to enlist, and, if so, then all questions of law will be reserved, Whether as to the place where the acts were committed, or otherwise.
The Solicitor General said it would be a common law offence to incite the parties to enlist, and thus to contravene a statute.
Mr. James said that was true if the men were British subjects and the men actually enlisted; but these men had not enlisted; they had refused.
The Solicitor General said he quite dissented from this view of the law, and contended that if the act of incitement or the attempt to enlist was committed, then it was an offence.
Mr. James. A statutable offence, but not a common law offence. The first thirty-six counts are at common law.
The Solicitor General again dissented from his learned friend’s view of the law.
The Lord Chief Justice said he did not think it necessary to discuss the law further, because he should reserve the questions of law. The question now was as to the facts.
Mr. James desired to postpone till to-day his address to the jury.
The case was then adjourned.
Court of Queen’s bench—Westminster, November 30.
Sittings at Nisi Prius before the Lord Chief Justice and a special jury.
The Queen vs.Corbett.
The trial of this case was continued. It is an indictment against Captain Corbett for an alleged infringement of the foreign enlistment act, in enlisting, or attempting to enlist, seamen for the Sea King, afterwards the Shenandoah. The indictment contained fifty-eight counts, some charging the act or the attempt as made in this country, and others charging it as committed on the high seas:
The Solicitor General, Mr. Giffard, Q. C., and Mr. Hannen were for the Crown; Mr. E. James, Q. C., Mr. Milward, Q. C., Mr. Sleigh, Mr. Kemplay, and Mr. Witt were for the defendant.
The case for the Crown, which was closed yesterday and reported in our columns to-day, came in substance to this: That the defendant engaged men at Blackwall for the vessel, in which he sailed to Madeira, where another vessel, the Laurel, was signalled, and then the two together went to the Desertas island and anchored, and a large quantity of guns, &c., were then loaded on board the Sea King, which soon afterwards hoisted the confederate flag, and was called the Shenandoah, and beyond all doubt was then in the confederate service. And further, that a “gentleman in gray,” an “American gentleman,” (who turned out to be Captain Waddell,) came on board the Sea King, and he and the defendant together tried to induce the crew to enlist in the new service, (which was distinctly avowed,) a large bounty being offered to them to induce them to do so. It was attempted to elicit from the witnesses for the Crown what Captain Corbett, the defendant, said, which was, “I’ve sold the ship to the confederates, and those who like may join, and those who don’t may go back with me in the Laurel,” and that all the inducements and persuasions came from the “American gentleman,” who, it was admittee, did use great endeavors to induce the men to enlist. Three of the men did join, and the rest came home. It further appeared that there was some “young gentleman” on board who took a prominent part in the direction of the vessel on her voyage out from London to Madeira.
At the sitting of the court this morning—
Mr. James addressed the jury on the part of the defendant. He quite concurred with the solicitor general, he said, as to the importance of the case. It was most important, beyond all doubt, that the laws of the land should be vindicated by the executive government, as regarded the violation by citizens or subjects of this country among themselves, and more especially in regard to laws enacted for the purpose of securing the peace and welfare of the country with respect to foreign nations. It was also of great importance to Captain Corbett that he should not be convicted unless the facts proved clearly brought the case within the [Page 18] law. They had all heard a good deal within the last three or four years of the foreign enlistment act, the object of which was to enable the government faithfully to fulfil all the duties of a neutral state towards other countries, with whom we were at peace, but who were, unhappily, at war. That act, however, had reference to different things—to equipment and to enlistment—and it was of; importance not to confound them. It was one thing to be concerned in the equipment of a ship to prey upon the merchant service, of one of the belligerents, and quite another thing to be engaged in endeavoring to procure men for either of the belligerents. There were some matters which might raise a prejudice against the defendant, but which were not at all relevant to the real question at issue. It did not follow that because at one period or point of time the defendant was aware of the destination of the vessel, that, therefore, he was so from the beginning, or that even if he were so he had tried to induce any of the men to enlist. That the vessel did in the result enter into the confederate service was too clear to admit of doubt. Who were the persons by whom the ship was destined for the service was not known. At all events the defendant was not charged with it. If he had been supposed to know of it he could have been indicted for it. And it was fair to assume that he did not know of it, and had no part in it. Whoever it was who had destined and provided the vessel for the service would probably keep it a secret from every one else. It was probable that the young gentleman on board might have been in the secret, and not the defendant. It was proved that he said after reaching Madeira, “I’ve sold the vessel to the confederates,” and more than one witness for the Crown stated that what he added was only this, “Those who like to join may do so; those who don’t may return.” The question for the jury would be—are you satisfied that he made use of any persuasions or inducements to procure these men to enlist in the service? That would in a great degree depend upon whether he knew from the first the real destination of the vessel. But what was there to show that he did? And what was there then to show that when he engaged the men in London he meant that they should enter into the confederate service? Why, there was nothing to show that at that time he knew the destination of the vessel. Very likely he was ready to sell it to some one, and did not know for what purpose. And it would be unfair to infer, from his subsequent knowledge of it, a previous knowledge of it on his part. And even if he had such knowledge and intention on his part, was it not necessary that there should be the same knowledge and intention on the part of the seaman engaged? The indictment had been framed, no doubt, with great ingenuity to avoid this and other legal objections on the part of the defendant. No one could say that the government of this country had not done their best to preserve its neutrality in the late war. They had instituted several prosecutions; whether they had failed or succeeded depended upon the juries who tried the cases, not on the government. They, at all events, had done their duty in the matter. They had done their best in this and in other cases to convict. In this, as in other cases, they had the assistance of able and skilful law officers, who had framed an indictment containing a variety of counts, shaping the offence in every possible way so as to meet or avoid all legal objections, as far as possible, on the part of the defendant. The main question, however, would be, did the defendant anywhere do anything in violation of the act? There were subordinate points of law or fact arising out of that main question, but the points of law are to be reserved.
The Lord Chief Justice. There is the question of fact, whether or not the ship, at the time of the alleged attempt, was a British vessel, or whether she had not already become really a confederate vessel.
Mr. James. No doubt. The main question, however, will be as to the defendant’s acts, and whether he did really, in any place, attempt to induce the men to enlist, or whether the real attempts were not made by the American officers.
The Lord Chief Justice. It is of course impossible to exclude the question whether the attempts were not made by the American officers, who certainly were very active and energetic in their endeavors.
Mr. James, Just so. That will be one of the grounds of defence. The evidence for the prosecution has shown that the American officers were very energetic in their endeavors to induce the men to, enlist. And taking the version of the defendant’s words, which more than one of the crown witnesses gave, was it not more probable that all he said was to state the option which the men had, and that all the attempts to induce the men to enlist were really, made by the American officers? At all events, this was the main question of fact. Did the defendant endeavor to induce the men to enlist in the confederate service, or did he engage men with a view to their being thus enlisted? He contended that even in the case for the Crown this was far from being established, but that, on the contrary, there was much in it to raise a probability that the case was otherwise, and he should now supplement this evidence by calling witnesses on the part of the defendant, who, he believed, would show beyond a doubt the defendant had not known of the ultimate destination of the vessel when he engaged the men for the vessel in this country, and that he had not used any attempts of endeavors; abroad to induce the men to enlist in the confederate service.
Evidence was then, gone into for the defence.
The first witness called was Hensman, who had been alluded to repeatedly in the cross-examination of the witnesses for the Crown as having engaged them in conversation with regard to the evidence they might give. Having given the particulars of some previous voyages [Page 19] in the vessel, winch, appeared to have been purely mercantile, he proceeded to state his engagement for the voyage now in question, which he said was to Bombay, as first mate, and his sailing to Madeira, where the Laurel was signalled. Being asked when he first heard of the sale of the vessel, he said that about an hour after he left Madeira in company of the Laurel he heard from the purser that he expected it to be sold. The captain of the Laurel (Captain Ramsay) told the defendant where to anchor at the Desertas island. When the two vessels were alongside, Captain Waddell came on board in plain clothes. After this Captain Corbett came and said he had sold the ship.
The Solicitor General submitted whether this sort of evidence would be admissible; that is, evidence on behalf of the defendant of things said by himself. In that way it was manifest that any amount of evidence might be made on his behalf.
The Lord Chief Justice said he doubted whether strictly the evidence would be admissible; but he thought it would be only right to hear all that the defendant, was stated to have said.
The Solicitor General said that this being his lordship’s opinion, as he did not desire to put the case upon strict technical grounds, he should not press his objection.
The examination of the witness was then resumed, and he stated that the defendant told him that some time before he had orders from the owners to sell the vessel, and that he had now found a market for her, and that the crew should be told that they might go home in the Laurel, and their luggage had better be removed into that vessel. This was before the preparations were made for loading, and it was after this that some men came from the Laurel to make those preparations. The witness then produced and identified the log-book, in which was the entry signed by himself, by the defendant, by James Smith, second mate, and by J. Elliott, first engineer:
“October 18. The screw steamer Sea King has this day been sold and handed over to James Waddell, her present master.
The witness further stated that just after the conversation with the defendant he told the crew what he had heard, and desired them to assist in getting the luggage in, in order to get home sooner. The men worked (he said) until near one in the morning.
The Lord Chief Justice. With what object?
The witness said it was to get the deck clear as soon as they could; he had no express orders as to the hours of work, and gave none; but the general orders from the captain were to get it over as soon as possible. In the morning the defendant told him to see that, the men packed up quickly and got on board the Laurel. He accordingly told the men so, but they seemed reluctant to leave the ship until they had some explanation from the captain, i. e., the defendant, and witness reported this to the defendant, who then ordered them to be called together.
The Solicitor General observed that the Crown witnesses had not been asked anything as to all this.
The Lord Chief Justice said he should allow them to be recalled to be asked about it, but this was a most inconvenient course.
The witness’s examination was continued. He said when the men were together the defendant said, “I told the mate to tell you all to go on board the Laurel;” then he said something about their wanting an explanation, and then went on to say, “I’ve sold the ship, and there’s a steamer alongside in which I’ll take you all home.” Some of the men asked for three months’ pay. The defendant said he had no money to pay them with there, but be would take them home, and pay them all off at home. This was all the defendant said then, but then Captain Waddell came up and said, “Now, men, give me your attention. I’ve bought this ship, and I hold in my hand a commission as lieutenant in the confederate service. I am going to put the vessel in commission for a cruise for fifteen months as a vessel of the Confederate States navy, and I’m in want of men. If any of you prefer to remain with me, instead of going home with Captain Corbett, I’ll give you double the wages you had from him.” There was then a confusion among the men, who said they had had quite enough of her; and they reproached Captain Corbett with having brought them out there on false pretences. The defendant (Captain Corbett) endeavored to pacify them, saying there was a steamer waiting alongside of them, in which he would take them home and pay them off when he got home again. Then he said, (turning to go away,) “If you won’t go when you’re told you must follow me.” He stood a little longer by the gangway with some of the men round him, and then Captain Waddell said he was not going to lose his ship as the Alabama was lost, but only to cruise against the commerce of the United States. “I don’t intend to fight,” he said, “unless we get into a corner, and then we shall have to fight our way out and he added that he would give the men 10l. bounty and 5l. a month wages. The defendant might or might not have heard this. Some of the men then went to get their baggage, and Captain Ramsey, of the Laurel, said he should not wait for them much longer. The purser stopped in the Sea King, and one of the American officers said some of the men would remain. For these releases or discharges were required from their service under the defendant, and a written discharge was signed by the defendant and the witness as mate. The witness went on to state that in his hearing the defendant did not say anything to induce the men to remain; and he denied that the defendant had used the words sworn to by the Crown witnesses—that he had sold the ship to the confederate government, and that the [Page 20] men had better join her, &c.; or that if they liked to join her they would make a fine thing of it, or get good wages, &c., or anything of that kind. The witness said he heard nothing of the sort said by the defendant, though he stood by him all the while and heard all he said to the men. He denied the whole story as to the bucket of sovereigns spoken to by the Crown witnesses; that is, he declared he saw nothing of it, although he was in and out of the cabin, and was close to and among the men the whole time. He told the defendant that an attempt had been made to induce him to stay, and the defendant said, Don’t you think of it; come home with me.” After this the Laurel signalled to go, and the Shenandoah signalled, “Wait for despatches,” and despatches were sent in a boat, the officer of which told the defendant that two of the men had joined the Shenandoah.
It was here proposed to prove a statement to the defendant as to some others of the crew desiring to go to the Shenandoah, with a view to show that he refused to let them go; but this was objected to on the part of the Crown, and
The Lord Chief Justice said it did not follow that because at a later stage the defendant refused to let men go, therefore, previously he had not tried to induce them to go, as the Crown witnesses had alleged.
It was insisted on the part of the defendant’s counsel that, at all events, they were entitled to ask as to acts done, or proposed to be done, by the defendant; and, as
The Solicitor General, on the part of the Crown, said he would not press any objection too strictly, but there must be some limit.
The examination of the witness was proceeded with on that point, and he stated that an officer told the defendant one of the men had asked for a boat to go to the Shenandoah, and that the defendant said he “would have nothing to do with it,” and so the boat was not sent. The captain of the Laurel afterwards said, in order to get out of quarantine, that he had a shipwrecked crew, and so got a clean bill of health.
The Lord Chief Justice. That would not give the ship a clean bill of health.
The witness said the sanitary officer asked the defendant where he was from, and defendant said from London, and that he had a bill of health from London. Witness did not hear what was said, but the ship was admitted to pratique. After this some of the men got ashore and got into a row, and were given in charge of the police and put into prison. The men ultimately got their wages for three months beyond what was due. The witness was then asked as to certain statements to him which the witnesses for the Crown had denied—that the American consul would get them two months’ pay, &c.
The Lord Chief Justice intimated that these matters were very remote from the issue, and accordingly they were not pursued further. The witness, however, was asked as to a statement to him which the Witness Benjamin Sells had made, that he had been taken to a police office and got to put his name to a statement about the Shenandoah which was all a lot of lies. The witness declared that Sells had so said, and this closed his direct examination.
In cross-examination by the solicitor general, the witness, said that one White, a merchant of Liverpool, was owner of the vessel. When, half a mile from Madeira he “ran a signal up” by the orders of the captain or purser, he did not know which. Asked if it was the purser’s duty to give orders; he said, “No.” Being asked who gave the order, he said he heard none. He knew no order, but he helped to hoist the signal.
The Lord Chief Justice. What put it into your head to put up the signal?
The witness hesitated.
The Lord Chief Justice repeated the question more peremptorily.
The witness still paused.
The Lord Chief Justice. What put it into your head to run up that signal? You may as well give me an answer, for I will have one.
The witness still hesitated, and at last said, “I did not know what it was for.”
The Lord Chief Justice. That is not the question. How came you to hoist that signal?
Witness. I did not do it.
The Lord Chief Justice. You have said you did.
The jury said he certainly had so said.
Witness. I assisted to run it up.
The Lord Chief Justice. Well, how came you to do so?
The witness paused, and was silent some seconds.
The Lord Chief Justice. Now, did you not know that the ship was going to be given up to the people who had the Laurel?
Witness. No, I did not.
The Lord Chief Justice. Upon your oath?
Witness. Upon my oath I did not.
The Lord Chief Justice. Then how came you to help to hoist that signal?
The Lord Chief Justice. Now, do you mean to tell us on your oath that when you left England you thought you were going to Bombay?
Witness. I do.
The Solicitor General. Did you not tell Benjamin Sell, (the Crown witness before [Page 21] referred to,) that you knew as well as Captain Corbett, when you left England, where the destination of the vessel was?
Witness. Since I came home—yes; because I firmly believe that the captain knew nothing about it more than I did.
The Solicitor General. You believed you were going to India?
The Solicitor General. But you see my question was not whether you said you were as ignorant as Captain Corbett of the destination of the ship, but quite the contrary—whether you did not say you knew it from the first as well as he did. Did you not say that?
The witness paused.
The defendant’s counsel said, “Did you use those words?”
Witness. No, I did not.
The Solicitor General then pursued his cross-examination as to whether the witness had not offered to give evidence for the Treasury. He denied it, but at, last admitted that he had been to the police station and asked for the inspector, Clark. He was asked as to what then took place, and he said he had asked after Hurcus, one of the Crown witnesses examined yesterday. He was pressed as to whether he had not then said the owners had disappointed him, &c. He hesitated, and said he might have said it, but did not remember. He was asked as to whether he had not then said something about going to the Treasury to give evidence, and he admitted that he had, but on a former occasion; on the present occasion his object was to find Hurcus.
The Solicitor General. Tospeak to him about his evidence in this case?
Witness, after a long pause. Yes.
The Solicitor General. Now, let me take you back to the former question, which you have not answered. Did you have any order to hoist that signal?
Witness said he did not know.
The Solicitor General. Whom did you assist in doing it?
The witness said, the captain.
The Solicitor General. No one else?
The Lord Chief Justice. You said the purser.
Witness said, “Yes,” and being asked further, said he believed this person was an American, and that he and this person and the captain had been together.
The Lord Chief Justice. How came you to know that the Laurel was lying off Madeira?
Witness. I did not know it. But seeing the signal, I looked at the book, and saw it was the signal of the Laurel.
The Solicitor General. Did you ask any explanation of the captain—the defendant?
Witness. Not then.
The Lord Chief Justice. When?
The Witness. I did not ask; he told me at the Desertas island that he had sold the ship.
The Lord Chief Justice. How came you to find the number of the Laurel?
The Witness. Every ship has its number.
The Solicitor General. You said that Captain Corbett said he had orders to sell and had found a market for her. Where did you suppose he had found a market? Did you not think it strange that he should find a market for her on the high seas?
Witness. I thought it rather strange.
Solicitor General. Did you tell the captain so?
Witness. No, I did not; but I thought it strange to find a market on the high seas.
The Lord Chief Justice. “Market overt.” (Laughter.)
The Solicitor General. You thought it strange? Had you no idea whether the market was peaceful or warlike?
Witness. I had my suspicions.
The Solicitor General. Why? What made you suspicious?
Witness, hesitating. Well, I don’t know. I was a little suspicious.
The Solicitor General. Had you no idea what the “luggage” was which you were loading all night?
Witness. No; not at first.
The Solicitor General. You mean to say that it was not until the shot and shell tumbled out that you had any idea that the “luggage” was warlike? (A laugh.)
The Solicitor General. Well, you say you told the men the captain said the ship was sold. Which of them did you tell that to?
The Lord Chief Justice. He says he told them all.
Witness. “Yes, I told them all.” He went on to repeat that he had told the men to go on board the Laurel. He was pressed as to whether after this, when Captain Waddell said he would give the men double pay to stay with him, the defendant was not close by, and he said he could not say he was not.
In re-examination it came out that the defendant had taken the signal-book, and “migh [Page 22] have said something about the numbers” but he declared that he did not know until he saw the flag what the number was. He knew it meant a ship’s name, but he did not know until he looked to the book what the name was, and he found it was the Laurel. He assisted in running up the signal.
Being asked to repeat what had passed between himself and Benjamin Sells as to the defendant knowing all about it, he said that Sells said that he was sure Captain Corbett knew all about it when he left England; and be answered that he knew as much about it as Captain Corbett, and that he firmly believed that the captain knew nothing about it, and was a perfect dupe in the matter.
Mr. Vanzeller, Portuguese consul, was called to prove that the Madeiras and the Desertas islands were part of the domains of Portugal; as to which, however,
The Lord Chief Justice said this was admitted, and it was hardly necessary to offer formal proof of it.
The next witness was Elliott, who had been engineer on board the Sea King. On reaching Madeira, he said, they saw the Laurel, and signals were exchanged, after which the Sea King followed the Laurel to the Desertas islands. On the 18th of October, he said, the captain (the defendant) on reaching the Desertas islands, said that the engines might stop and the vessel anchor. Witness said, “This is not Bombay” (a laugh); to which the defendant answered, “That he had sold the ship to Captain Waddell, (who was standing by,) and got the price.” Witness observed that it was very strange that the men should be left there; to which the defendant replied that he was as ignorant of this when he left England as he was, and that the Laurel was alongside, and that they must prepare to go home in that vessel. Witness told this to the firemen, and next morning there was a disturbance among the men, and they were called aft, and the defendant and Captain Waddell were present, and the defendant said, “I’ve sold the ship, and I’ve a steamer alongside to take you all home.” That, the witness said, was all the defendant said, though Captain Waddell spoke for about a quarter of an hour to induce the men to enlist. He denied that he heard the defendant use the words ascribed to him by the Crown witnesses, or that he saw any “bucket full of sovereigns” which had been spoken of by them; and he declared he must have seen and heard such things if they had taken place.
In cross-examination the witness admitted that he had talked a good deal to the American gentleman, the purser, and they and the defendant were together a good deal.
The Solicitor General. Now, tell me, did you know where the vessel was going?
Witness. Not more than the “man in the moon.” (Laughter.)
The Solicitor General. The “man in the moon” is said to know a great deal sometimes. (Laughter.) But did not the captain and the purser know?
Witness. Not the captain. The purser might.
The Solicitor General. O, you’ve suspicions of the purser, eh? (A laugh.)
Witness. No, I’ve no suspicions. (Laughter.)
The Solicitor General. Well, you said “this is not like Bombay.” Why?
The Lord Chief Justice. It was rather out of the track. (Laughter.)
The Solicitor General. What did the captain refer to when he said that he was ignorant of it when he left? Ignorant of what?
Witness said he did not know.
The Solicitor General. You thought it strange selling a vessel at the Desertas islands. Did you know it was to be a confederate cruiser?
The Solicitor General. Did you not suspect it? Upon your oath.
Witness. Not then.
The Solicitor General. When did you first suspect it?
Witness. When I saw a shot roll on deck out of one of the cases shipped.
The Solicitor General. Not till then? Now, tell me, (you are not bound to answer,) did you not say to one of the men that it would be a good thing for them if they were to remain?
Witness. No, I did not.
The Solicitor General. Did you not ask whether they would go or stay?
The Lord Chief Justice. What made you say that?
Witness. Because they were told that if they wanted to go home the vessel was alongside.
The Lord Chief Justice. How did you know they would be allowed to stay?
Witness. That I did not know.
The Solicitor General. Had not you inquired?
The witness went on to say that the defendant introduced him to Captain Waddell, but he did not know then that he was a confederate officer until next morning, when he saw him in uniform. He denied that he had asked the defendant who he was when he had been introduced to him; or what the vessel was to be sold for; or to whom, or what its destination was to be. He kept his curiosity to himself, he said. In re-examination he said he had signed the entry in the log as to the sale of the vessel on the evening of the 18th of October.
A man named Sutton, who had been steward on board the Sea King, (Shenandoah,) was next called in confirmation. He said the defendant said, “I have sold the ship; I had a bill [Page 23] of sale to sell her in any port I pleased; so I’ve broken my contract with yon, but I’ve a steamer alongside to take you home.” Then he introduced Captain Corbett as the person he had sold the ship to, and who came forward to address the men, but they grumbled out something about what pay they were to have. The defendant went to speak to them as to the money they were to get for their disappointment. Then Captain Waddel began to speak, and pulling out a paper said it was a commission from the confederate government, and that he wanted men and would give £ 15 bounty and £7 a month as wages. He added that he was not going to fight, if he could possibly avoid it, but only to cruise upon American commerce. Witness said he did not hear the defendant say anything to induce or incite the men to enlist in the Sea King or Shenandoah. Witness said that Captain Waddell pressed him very much to stay, and he told the defendant so, and asked his advice as to what he should do, and whether he should go or stay; and the defendant said, “Well, please yourself; I won’t influence you one way or the other.” And afterwards, when one or two of the men wanted to go from the Laurel to the Shenandoah, the defendant refused to let them have the boat to go. Finally, the witness declared that though he was constantly in the cabin he saw no “bucket of gold,” and he never saw there the man Allen, one of the Crown witnesses, who had said he was there and saw the “bucket of gold.” He must have “tumbled on it,” he said, “if there was any such thing there.”
On cross-examination, lie admitted that he saw a bag of gold on the table. He was under the purser, he said, but denied that the purser gave him orders, though he asked him questions.
The Solicitor General. Pray, when did you first know the ship was to be a confederate vessel?
Witness said he did not know. Even when told it was sold, he did not know it. He did not know it until he saw the cases of shot and shell coming from the Laurel. He knew there was such a cargo, for “every one was talking of it.” He had thought, he said, when he shipped that he was going to Bombay. The two captains were close together when the conversation with the men was going on, It was elicited that this witness, Hensman, Elliott, and the defendant had come home together, and had talked about this matter a little, although (the witness said) he did not think much about it, as he knew it was all over. (A laugh.) He admitted that the witness Hensman had been at his house sometimes, and was there on Sunday, and he admitted saying that he “hoped the case would go on all right.” He said he had known him for years, and gone several voyages with him.
The next witness was one Allcott, who said he was a native of Charleston, United States, and had seen the Alabama, He embarked on board the Laurel in October at Liverpool, and sailed to Madeira, his passage being taken to Nassau. (A laugh.) At Madeira he saw the Shenandoah, and most of the men and officers went on board of her. Next morning the men were mustered, and he stood near the defendant, and heard what he said. The defendant had a paper in his hand, and addressed the men as follows:
“Men: When we left London we left on a voyage to Bombay; but, on leaving England, I held a power of attorney to sell my ship when and where I could get my price. I have sold the ship to this gentleman (pointing to Captain Waddell.) The voyage is broken, and if you men sign clear of me I’ll give you two months’ pay, in addition to what you have had in London. If not, there is a passage provided for you in the steamer alongside.”
One of the men was almost mutinous, and said he wanted his three months down; that he had joined the ship, and that he would fight like damnation. (Laughter.) This man was Ellison, the first witness for the Crown yesterday. Then Captain Waddell came forward and said:
“Men, I’ve a word or two to say to you. You are doubtlèss aware that there is war between the northern and southern States. (A laugh.) I hold a commission from the president of the southern States as lieutenant. I have bought this ship, and am going to put her into commission for fifteen months. I want men, and will give you £15 bounty and two months’ pay. I am going to cruise against the American commerce—to sink, burn, and destroy. I am not going to fight; but if we are driven into a corner you may depend upon it we’ll fight our way out.” (A laugh.)
The men refused to go in the ship, however. Witness said he did not hear the defendant say anything to induce the men to stay. He himself staid, as he was then a southerner.
Crosse-examined by the Solicitor General: You shipped for Nassau, you say. How came you to find yourself at Madeira?
Witness. That was secrecy on the part of our commander.
Q. When did you first know there was to be a vessel to meet you? A. When we signalled her next morning.
Q. Did you know the cargo on board? A. No; it was no concern of ours.
Q. Do you mean to say you did not know what was your destination? A. I knew that; we were to run the blockade; that is, in the Laurel. ,
Q. When did you know so many of your men were to go on board the Shenandoah? A. Not until 10 minutes before we went.
Q. You knew Captain Waddel was on board? A. Yes; I knew he was a confederate officer.
The witness stated that the purser spoken of, who gave the name of Forester, but whose real name was Whitter, became first lieutenant on the Shenandoah. He admited that he [Page 24] had been on board the Alabama, and that he was “picked up” at Liverpool. In re-examination, he declared that he had no idea until the signalling what was to take place. It was elicited also that the witness received a paper signed by one Captain Bullock, of the confederate navy, dated on the 4th of October, at Liverpool, which was in these terms: “Report to Lieutenant James Waddell, for duty on board the Confederate States vessel the Shenandoah.” This written order, he said, he received ten minutes before he went on board the Shenandoah at Madeira.
The next witness was one Crauford, who had been gunner’s mate on board the Laurel, and was picked up at Liverpool. He thought she was bound for Nassau, he said, and had no idea of meeting any other ship until they reached the Desertas. He declared that he had gone on board the Shenandoah and had not heard the defendant say anything to induce the men to enlist, though he heard the American captain speak to the men. He himself staid in the Shenandoah.
This witness was not cross-examined.
The next witness was a man named Griffiths, who said he was a native of the southern States, and he was on board the Laurel, and went into the Shenandoah and heard the defendant address the men and say that he had sold the ship to Captain Waddell (who stood by) and got his price. Captain Waddell said, “This vessel belongs to the Confederate States. We are at war with the northerners, and those who like to join can do so,” and then he spoke about bounty, &c. But the defendant said nothing to induce the men to enlist. Being asked to state more particularly what defendant said, he stated that he began by saying, “Men, I signed articles with you for Bombay, but I’ve sold the ship,” &c. He did not say anything as to wages or bounty on board the Shenandoah, nor about going in pursuit of American commerce.
The next witness, a man named Marshall, said he was a native of the southern States, and shipped in the Laurel at Liverpool. He thought she was going to Nassau, and had no idea that she was to meet another vessel at Madeira. He had been on board the Shenandoah when the defendant spoke to the men, and said that he had signed articles for Bombay, but that as the voyage was broken he had no further control over the men, and that he had sold the ship to Captain Waddell. Some of the men asked what they were to do, and the defendant said, “Well, there is a steamer alongside, if you want to go home; if not, sign clear of me, and you shall have two months’ wages.” One of the men said he would not take two months, and would have three months down. (This man was so described that it seemed he was Ellison.) The defendant said when he got home if the law required six months he would pay it. Then Captain Waddell came forward to address the men. The defendant said nothing to induce the men to stay. The witness said he had gone in the Shenandoah himself.
The Solicitor General. Well, you’ve had rather an exciting time of it since then, eh? You’ve done a good deal of business, haven’t you? You can hardly recollect exactly what was said a year ago?
Witness said he did not know, perhaps not “to a word.” There was a great deal of confusion at the time.
The Solicitor General. When was your attention first drawn to the matter? You have had a good many things to attend to, you know, since these things occurred. When was your recollection first refreshed about it?
Witness said at Melbourne, in February, when he saw Captain Corbett’s case in the papers—the examination before the magistrates. He said he had “talked it over” since then with Captain Corbett and Mr. Allcott.
The next witness was a man named Hall, who shipped on board the Laurel, and had gone on board the Shenandoah and heard the captain (the defendant) say he had shipped the men for Bombay, but had a bill of sale to sell the ship when he could, and then Captain Waddell said he was going to cruise against northern commerce, hut Captain Corbett said nothing to induce the men to join.
Mr. Brown, a master-stevedore, one who had “stored” the ship (the Sea King) on this voyage, said he saw nothing unusual in a ship bound for the East Indies going out without cargo.
In cross-examination it appeared that the vessel had 700 or 800 tons of coal, which was pretty well as much as she could carry. This, however, he said, was not at all unusual. Nor was it unusual to send a vessel out with a power of sale.
This closed the case for the defence.
It was now nearly 5 o’clock, and the trial was about to be adjourned, when the foreman of the jury, after a brief conference with his fellows, intimated that they should like to know what was the principal (question, as they thought they were agreed upon it in favor of the defendant.
The Lord Chief Justice. The first question, gentlemen, is, whether you believe the statement that Captain Corbett, when he announced that he had sold the vessel, said anything to induce the men to join. Upon that there is a conflict of evidence, and it is for you to make up you minds upon it.
The Solicitor General said there was the question as to what was proved to have passed between Captain Corbett and the witness Allen in the cabin.[Page 25]
The Lord Chief Justice. No doubt. But if the jury don’t believe one part of the story, probably they would not believe the rest. That is, if they think the Crown witnesses were mistaken, and have been putting into the mouth of Captain Corbett what was really said by Captain Waddell, probably they would think so of the whole.
The foreman intimated that this was the view he had intended to convey, and they presumed that their opinion upon that point would decide the others.
The Lord Chief Justice. Suppose you thought that Captain Corbett did use the language ascribed to him, then other questions would arise, and points of law upon them. But the first question, no doubt, is, whether the language described was really used by Captain Corbett.
The Foreman. That is, at the Desertas?
The Lord Chief Justice. The act of Parliament makes it an offence to induce or attempt to induce a British subject to enlist if it is in the Queen’s dominions. But the Desertas are clearly not a place within her Majesty’s dominions. A British ship, however, (in my opinion,) for this purpose clearly is so. And there would bea question (supposing you were satisfied that the words were used by the defendant) whether this was, at the time, a British vessel. And then would come the further and more in a portant question whether Captain Corbett, the dependant, when engaging these men at Liverpool, did so with a purpose beyond that of having the ship navigated to a place where she should be given up, and with the intention of the men being induced to enlist in the service. These questions, however, would not arise unless you should believe that Captain Corbett did use the languge ascribed to him. That is certainly entirely for you. But it is a case of such importance that perhaps it would be better that you should not form a decided opinion upon it until you have heard the solicitor general, unless, indeed, your opinion upon it isso strong that it cannot be shaken. ,
The Solicitor General said he certainly desired to address the jury;
The jury appeared to hesitate.
The Lord Chief Justice. It is desirable that every possible consideration should be given to the case; and I am sure that you will give it your best and fullest consideration.
The jury, upon this appeal, consulted together and said that such being his lordship’s opinion (and it was also their own) they were ready to hear the solicitor general.
The case was then adjourned.