Case Of Rev John Smith
The London Missionary Chronicle for March contains a statement
respecting Mr. Smith's case, occupying, with accompanying documents
nearly twelve pages, which confirms the impression that Mr. Smith was
innocent. The Directors of the London Missionary Society, after stating
some circumstances relative to his trial, says.
The Directors having stated these points of serious objection (and more
might easily be
found,) to the proceedings on the trial, conclude that
the members of the society, and the candid beyond its circle, will
approve of their declaring that they retain the conviction formerly
expressed, of the moral and legal innocence of their missionary, Smith;
that they do not withdraw from him their confidence; and that they are
"not ashamed of his bonds." They regard him as an unmerited sufferer, in
the diligent and faithful, and it may be added, useful discharge of his
duties, as a missionary; and they earnestly wish the Divine forgiveness
may be extended to those who may have been instrumental in causing his
The Rev. Mr. Austin, a clergyman of the church of England, and Chaplain
of the Colony, thus expresses his opinion in a private letter.
"I feel no hesitation in declaring, from the intimate knowledge which my
most anxious inquiries have obtained, that in the late scourge which the
hand of an all-wise Creator has inflicted on this ill-fated country,
nothing but those religious impressions which, under Providence, Mr.
Smith has been instrumental in fixing--nothing but those principles of
the gospel of peace which he has been proclaiming--could have prevented
a dreadful effusion of blood here, and saved the lives of these very
persons who are now (I shudder to write it,) seeking his."
The following extract of a letter from William Arrindell, Esq. of
Demerara, Mr. Smith's counsel, addressed to Mrs. Smith, after the trial,
is also inserted.
"It is almost presumptuous in me to differ from the sentence of a Court,
but, before God, I do believe Mr. Smith to be innocent; nay, I will go
further, and defy any minister, of any sect whatever, to have shewn a
more faithful attention to his sacred duties, than he has been proved,
by the evidence on his trial, to have done."
The Directors had resolved to take further measures for obtaining, in
England the reversal of his sentence.
This subject was brought before the English parliament, and after a full
and fair discussion, the innocence of Mr. Smith was established beyond a
question. The following from the London Christian Observer gives an
account of the proceedings in Parliament.
A debate of two days' continuance on the case of the missionary Smith
has taken place in the House of Commons. A motion was made by Mr.
Brougham, to express the serious alarm and deep sorrow with which the
house contemplated the violation of law and justice, manifested in the
unexampled proceedings against Mr. Smith in Demerara, and their sense of
the necessity of adopting measures to secure a just and humane
administration of law in that colony, and to protect the voluntary
instruction of the negroes, as well as the negroes themselves, and the
rest of his Majesty's subjects from oppression. This motion was
supported by Mr. Brougham with a power of argument and eloquence which
has seldom been equalled; and he was followed on the same side by Sir
James Mackintosh, Dr. Lushington, Mr. J Williams, Mr. Wilberforce, Mr.
Denman, and Sir Joseph Yorke. The motion was opposed by Mr. Horton, Mr.
Scarlett, Mr. Tindal, the Attorney General, and Mr. Canning, on the
ground, not of the legality of the proceedings, or of the justice of the
sentence, but that the motion went to condemn unheard the governor of
Demerara, and the court that tried Mr. Smith. On this ground the
previous question was moved and carried by 193 to 146, the largest
minority in the present session. The division, under all the
circumstances of the case may be considered as a triumph. Not an
individual attempted to defend the proceedings. In short, nothing could
have been more decisive of the innocence of Mr. Smith, and the injustice
of his condemnation.