Friday, 20 March 2015

20th March 1815: Charles Sutton's prosecution at Nottingham Assizes is postponed

On the morning of Monday 20th March 1815 Charles Sutton, the owner of the Nottingham Review, faced a trial at Nottingham Lent Assizes for the publication of a political libel. An editorial in the 24th March edition of the paper recounted what happened that morning:


It is impossible for the Proprietor of the Review to express his grateful feelings, excited by the anxiety which has been displayed among every class of his Fellow Townsmen and Neighbours, on the subject of the prosecution instituted against him, for having exercised a privilege long enjoyed, and still maintained, by Englishmen; that of commenting upon the measures of national policy, which give scope to a difference of sentiment, and which sometimes unavoidably excite a degree of severity from an independent mind. For though the alleged libel in question, was contained in a letter addressed to the Editor, the Proprietor is not less liable on that account.

The Cause was expected to have been tried on Monday Morning, and, with this expectation, Mr. SUTTON attended with his Counsel and Solicitor. On calling over the names of the twenty-four Gentlemen who had been summoned as Special Jurors, only three appeared! and the Counsel for the Crown refused to pray a Tales out of a most respectable Common Jury, although they had a Special Licence from the Attorney-General for that purpose: it therefore stands over, as a matter of course, to a future day.

As we have before pledged ourselves, so we renew that pledge, that should any thing further transpire on this business, which can be at all interesting to our readers, we shall not fail to give the earliest intelligence thereof. This we here beg leave to state, that we have sacrificed no dignity, no privilege which it is the boast of Englishmen to enjoy, no political sentiment; nor shall we ever do this for any earthly consideration whatever.

It may be necessary to add, that this extraordinary prosecution was provoked by the urgent application of a few individuals, chiefly of Nottingham; and while we cannot express the gratitude we feel towards our friends, we will not indulge any feelings of malevolence towards our enemies; we know most of them, and we shall leave them to the enjoyment of their own reflections. We call to mind the words of a great man (Lord Bacon), "By taking revenge, and man is even with his enemies; but in passing over it, he is superior."

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