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[From the Times, November 30, 1865.]
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 : l'hat 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 boru subject of our lady the Queen, without the leave or license of her Majesty for that purpose, first bad 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 Middleses, 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 Lade and provided. Several other counts i aised 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 mode 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 sbip 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, w enter and engage to enlist and serve as a sailor in sea service in and on board a ship or Tessel 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 fortyLintb count same as forty-third, except to serve and be employed as a sailor,” &c. The fifty-second count same as forty-nintb, except ending, which same as fortieth. And the remaining counts still further varied the charge.
The defendant pleaded “not guilty.”
The solicitor general, Mr. Giffard, 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 ealistment 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 equip. ping in her Majesty's dominions vessels for warlike purposes without her Majesty's license." I sat is, the act was passed for the purpose of better enabling us to preserve our neutrality berween foreign belligerents, and to prevent our being embroiled in foreign wars with which He 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
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 but 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 a rocky
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 Eng. land. 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 o. Highatt and another,” (reported in 3 Foster and Finlason's Reports ;) 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 & 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 defend. ant 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 sereu 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 of Madeira a gentleman in gray came on board, and that the defendant, standing by the side o
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 trifting 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, re. ceiving 258. 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 ať 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 sigBalled her and stood off to her. The Laurel then came out, and the Sea King followed her, lantil 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 sbot 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 **bands were "piped aft," and Captain Corbett, the defendant, was heard to say, “Well, mea, I've sold the ship. This is the gentleman who has got the command of Ler, (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 ben, however, refused. Another effort was afterwards made by the gentleman in gray to indoce 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 3 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 fag, white, with a blue cross and “a lot of stars." Nothing which appeared to be material was elicited from this witness in crossexamination, and his evidence did not seem to be shaken in any way.
Nureus, another of the men named in the indictment, was next called, and confirmed the sbove 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 pace 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 be than (the witness said) introduced the American officer, (that is "the gentleman in gruy” alluded to by the other witnesses,) who would say what wages would be given. The Anerican officer said the name was to be the Shenandoab. After they left, the vessel hoisted a white flag, with blue cross, and several stars upon it. Being shown a representation of a fizg, be 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 ebarge of the police for disorderly conduct at Teneriffe. The gentleman in gray" was Dear the defendant when he spoke and said the ship was not going to fight, bnt 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 inecasing the offers until he offered £ 16 bounty and £7 103. 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 contederate 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
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 ?
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 wlile the men were in a group and before he left the group of men, as they were standiug 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 att" 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-examina. tion, 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.
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.
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 not been changed at the time these attempts were made, for the confederate flag had not been hoisted.
The LORD CAIEF 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 o. 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.
[From the Times, December 1, 1865.]
COURT OF QUEEN'S BENCH-WESTMINSTER, NOVEMBER 30.
THE QUEEN Ds. CORBETT. The trial of this case was continued. It is an indictment against Captain Corbett for an aüeged 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 Cousis, some charging the act or the attempt as made in this country, and others charging it as conmitted 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 defeodunt.
The case for the Crown, which was closed yesterday and reported in our columns to-day, care in substance to this: That the defendant engaged men at Blackwall for the vessel, in alich be sailed to Madeira, where another vessel, the Laurel, was signalled, and then the two togeher went to the Desertas island and anchored, and a large quantity of guns, &c., were then oaded 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 iulace the crew to enlist in the new service, (which was distinctly avowed,) a large bounty beag offered to them to induce them to do so. It was attempted to elicit from the witnesses fur ide Crowo 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 then 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 royage out from London to Madeira.
At the sitting of the court this morningMr. 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 al dubt, 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 be should not be convicted unless the facts proved clearly brought the case within the