THIS unfortunate gentleman was a scholar and a clergyman. For many years he was head of a seminary where some of the brightest characters of the day had received the rudiments of a classical education. Yet this venerable preceptor, in the winter of life, was transported to Botany Bay for seven years -- a punishment which some Of our readers will doubtless think disproportioned to his offence, when they hear that his crime was that of having forged the frank of a letter whereby he defrauded the Post-office of tenpence.
When placed at the bar of the Old Bailey, September the 9th, 1818, and asked the usual question by the clerk, he addressed the Court as follows:--
'My lord, owing to the long period of my confinement on this charge, upwards of twenty months, the death during that period of the only witness who could substantiate my innocence, the exhaustion of my pecuniary resources, and my consequent inability to employ counsel, or have the advantage of professional advice, I have no alternative left me but to plead guilty to the offence with which I am charged.'
Mr. Baron Graham advised him to consider well the effect of his plea.
He replied: 'My lord, I have no alternative; I stand here unarmed and defenceless against a phalanx of powerful opponents arrayed against me, and determined to prosecute. It would be a waste of your lordship's time to plead not guilty. I must persist in my plea.'
His plea was then recorded, and he was ordered from the bar.
September the 30th be was brought up to receive sentence, when he addressed the Court at considerable length, reflecting severely on the motives which influenced the prosecution, and urging the improbability that a man not in s state of actual infatuation would voluntarily commit such en offence as that laid to his charge for the sake of tenpence, and that not to pass into his own pockets, but into that of the promoter of the prosecution.
He was then sentenced to seven years' transportation.