Wednesday, 27 February 2013

27th February 1813: 'A Diligent Enquirer' responds again to 'An Attentive Hearer'

MR. EDITOR—It is much more difficult to silence than to confute “an Attentive Hearer:” but I will make another effort to submit his assertions to a test from which it will not be easy for evasion itself to rescue him. In his last letter he again asserts, that Mellor, at the place of execution, used the expressions “die game” and “us poor murderers.” I say, that neither of these expressions fell from his lips. Here then is an assertion against assertion, only with this important difference, that, to a certain extent, the reverend gentleman who attended the malefactors in their last moments, confirms my declaration, and falsifies that of my opponent. But for the present I will wave Mr. Brown's authority, decisive as it is, and consider the matter as resting merely on the ipse dixit of an anonymous writer. Men whose names have no reason to expect public credence, in any disputed case, except so far as their assertion are supported by the authorities: here then we come to the pinching point—let “an Attentive Hearer” produce his authorities confirmatory of his assertions, and I will produce mine; and by way of a beginning, I will undertake to produce the names of six persons, who were all present at the execution, all men of indisputable character and veracity, and all so situated at the time as to hear distinctly every word that was uttered, and who will one and all declare most positively that the words put into Mellor’s mouth by “an Attentive Hearer,” were not uttered by him; it being understood that an “Attentive Hearer” shall produce an equal number of authorities, of character equally free from suspicion, who will declare that Mellor did use those words; and to avoid further evasion, it shall be at his option whether the names of the authorities be published, or merely handed to the printers of the respective papers, for the the inspection of those that may interest themselves in this wire-drawn dispute. His election on this point he will make in his next letter.

Should he decline this challenge, as he did the wager of charity, he will be truly chargeable with having attempted to practice upon public credulity, and with having, for six weeks, amused the readers of the Intelligencer with unsupported fictions.


This letter was published in the Leeds Mercury of 27th February 1813.

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