Wednesday, 17 April 2013

17th April 1813: The Leeds Mercury issues another challenge to "An Attentive Hearer"

An “Attentive Hearer" is at his usual work again. He has not, as was required of him, published the words of the person referred to, but he has published expressions foisted into their mouths by others. He had, we know, the testimony of one or more of our witnesses written and signed by themselves, in which it is positively declared that Mellor did not use either of the expressions imputed to him; but this he has suppressed, and substituted in its stead declarations, artfully framed, that they did not write, and that some of them, very prudently, refused to sign! This is what every man of plain dealing, will call a falsification of evidence. He has not, he says, applied to two of the persons we referred him to, because they are parties! What party could the Clergyman who attended the criminals to their last moments be in this dispute? or what possible interest or motive could he have for publicly and positively contradicting an Attentive Hearer, except a wish to prevent the public being imposed upon by fabricated dying speeches? This was, no doubt, the motive that actuated his conduct, and no men of common sense, or of common candour, will attribute to him any other. But the subterfuges of this Attentive Hearer are endless, and if there be a single individual in the county who can still retain a doubt on the subject, we see only one way left to remove such doubt, and to relieve the public from the further annoyance of this uninteresting dispute.

The mode of affecting so desirable a purpose is this:—He shall give up his authorities, and we will give up ours, to two perfectly impartial persons, and they shall, without any leading questions, but in a fair and honourable manner, obtain the testimony of the parties; that testimony, pro and con, with the places the witnesses occupied at the time of the execution, and the official situations they held, if any, shall be published in both the Leeds papers, without "note or comment;" the public will then be able to form an unbiased judgment, and there the matter shall rest. If he accepts this proposal, it will, we are persuaded, appear as we at first stated, that as to one of the expressions an Attentive Hearer was mistaken; and that from a similarity of terms, a few, and only a very few, other spectators, principally standing at a distance of 50 or 60 yards, fell into the same error. But as to the other expression it will be manifest, even on the shewing of his own witnesses, that it is a mere invention. This will appear if he ventures in the way we now propose fairly and finally to commit the point at issue to the decision of the public; but should he shrink from this unexceptionable test, the inference will be obvious, and we shall then feel ourselves absolved from taking any further notice of effusions that affect so much, and exhibit so little of the Gentleman.

On this subject, we last week received a Letter from a Gentleman at York, who was present at the execution, and who heard, distinctly, every word that was uttered, in which the writer says:—"Pray, Sir, who is the Attentive Hearer that has so long insulted the ears of the West-riding with his notorious falsehoods? He is ashamed to sign his name, and well he may; I am astonished at his impudence."

This is from the Leeds Mercury of 17th April 1813.

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