HC Deb 09 May 1821 vol 5 cc589-97

On the motion of Mr. Bennet, the order of the day for the attendance of R. T. Weaver was read; whereupon he was called in and examined as follows:

By Mr. Speaker.

—What is your name?—Robert Thomas Weaver.

Are you the R. T. Weaver whose name is placed at the end of that paper [a copy of the "John Bull" is of Sunday last was here put into his hand by the clerk] as its printer and publisher?—I am.

Look at the paragraph which is marked, and inform the House whence, and from whom you received that paragraph?—I beg to state to this honourable House, that I am occupied on Saturdays as the printer and publisher of the paper; but that the literary part of it is not entirely under my superintendance. Many articles I do not see before the paper goes to the press. That was the case with the one in question. I never saw it until it was pointed out to me as having given offence to this honourable House. I am extremely sorry that I have given offence to this honourable House, or to any of its members. Such was never my intention, nor that of any person connected with the paper [a laugh], I am extremely sorry that any thing has appeared in the paper offensive to the Houses and I am anxious to make every reparation in my power.

By Mr. Bennet.

—Who was the person who gave you that paragraph?—that paragraph was not given to me.

Do you know to whom it was given?—I am not aware. I did not see it until it was in print.

Who is charged in your absence with the management of the press?—The editor.

What is the name of the editor?—Mr. Henry Cooper.

Is he the sole editor?—I cannot answer J that; all newspapers are in the habit of receiving communications from other parties; it is so with this. I cannot say, therefore, that Mr. Cooper is the sole editor.

Where does Mr. Cooper live?—Somewhere in the neighbourhood of Blackfriars' road.

Is the House to understand that you do not know exactly where Mr. Cooper lives?—I do not exactly know, but I believe it is somewhere in Blackfriars'-road.

When does Mr. Cooper come to the office of the paper?—He is generally there every day.

How long has he been editor?—For some time past; I cannot exactly say how long.

If you wish to communicate with the editor when he is absent from the office, where do you send?—I never have any occasion to communicate with him/ Heat-tends regularly every day.

At what hour? Generally from ten till half-past seven or eight.

When did you see him last?—About three o'clock.

Did you communicate to him, that you were ordered to attend this House?—I did not, because he was engaged with a gentleman; but of course he cannot be ignorant of it.

Are you the printer, publisher, arid sole proprietor of this newspaper?—I am.

How long have you been the printer, publisher, and sole proprietor?—I cannot actly state the time;

How long have you been the printer, publisher, and sole proprietor?—I do not exactly recollect; a considerable time; since Christmas.

Were you the printer; publisher, and, sole proprietor from the beginning?—I was printer and publisher from the beginning Who was the proprietor at the beginning?—I think Messrs. Shackle and Arrowsmith. I think their names were at the Stamp-office.

Did you purchase the paper; and if you did, of whom?—I purchased it of Messrs. Shackle and Arrowsmith.

Is not the house in which the paper is printed, that in which Mr. Arrowsmith lives?—Yes, for the purpose of carrying on his business.

In fact, are you not a journeyman of Mr. Arrowsmith, receiving a salary of three guineas a week?—I have an engagement with Mr. Arrowsmith; but as to the three guineas a week, I am concerned in other parts of his business.

Is the House to understand that you are not the sole proprietor, but that you share the paper with Mr. Arrowsmith?—I have other arrangements with him, but not as to the paper.

Then you persist that you are the sole proprietor of the paper, and that Mr. Arrowsmith has no connexion with it?—As to that, some arrangements have been making for my purchase of the paper, but as they are not entirely concluded yet, I cannot be said to be wholly the proprietor.

Did you not swear at the Stamp office, on the 10th and 24th of Feb. that you were the printer, publisher, and sole proprietor of the paper?—Yes.

What price did you pay Mr. Arrow-smith for his giving up into your hands his share of the profits of the paper?—As to that, there have been a number of transactions between us, and it has not been finally determined.

How, under those circumstances could you swear that you were the sole proprietor of the paper?—Because I conceived that I became the sole proprietor by his agreeing to give up the profits to me, although the price was not finally settled.

Was that agreement in writing; and if so, where is it?—It was not in writing.

Was there no memorandum of it? Of what nature was it? Was it merely verbal?—It was verbal.

What was the nature of it?—The nature of it was, that I was to become the sole proprietor on my giving a certain sum of money, which sum has not yet been fixed on.

Had any prosecution been commenced against the paper when the arrangement between you and Mr. Arrowsmith was made?—Yes, one.

Who receives the profits of the paper now?—I do.

Do you keep them to yourself, or do you account to any one for them?—I account various ways for the proceeds of the paper.

Is the House to understand that you account to Mr. Arrowsmith for the proceeds of the paper?—No.

With whom do you account?—Since I became proprietor I have not accounted at all. The purchase money has not been exactly settled.

Do you receive the whole profits and keep them?—The proceeds go to discharge the various accounts of the paper, and some of them have not yet been received.

But such surplus proceeds as have been received, you keep?—Yes.

Was there any witness present at the verbal agreement between you and Mr. Arrowsmith?—No.

What do you pay the editor?—Three guineas a week.

Do you keep the manuscripts of the articles which are sent you for insertion?—I do not. I suppose the editor does.

Do you know if they are in the possession of the editor, from your knowledge of his practice to keep them?—It is impossible for me to say so to a certainty.

By Mr. M. A. Taylor.

—In whose name is the house hired which serves as the office of the paper?—The principal office is that of Messrs. Shackle and Arrowsmith, but since the commencement of the paper an adjoining house has been taken.

To whom was the lease given of the House where the paper was first published? Who rents it?—Messrs. Shackle and Arrowsmith.

Who is the landlord?—I cannot exactly say. I believe a widow lady.

Then the House is to understand that the original house where the paper was set up is the house of Messrs. Shackle and Arrowsmith?—It was their's originally as a printing office.

Who took the house? In whose name does the house stand? Who pays the rent?—Mr. Shackle himself.

Have you any banker?—I am sorry to say I am not so rich as to require one.

By Mr. Bennet

—You have stated that you receive the profits to account hereafter to Mr. Arrowsmith, what is the na- ture of the agreement into which you entered on that subject?—There was an" agreement; but the precise terms, and the time of accounting were not mentioned.

Was any sum mentioned which you were to give for the purchase of the paper?—No precise sum; time was to be allowed to see what the profits would be.

Did you not swear on the 10th of Feb. that the printing of the paper was carried on at your residence, at No. 9, Dyer's buildings, Holborn?—J believe I did.

Was the paper ever printed there? Was it not always printed at Mr. Arrow-smith's, in Johnson's-court?—It is no unusual thing for a printer to put down his address, although he carries on the printing elsewhere. The paper was composed by me, but the forms were carried elsewhere to be printed by steam. It was composed but not printed at the office. The residence of the printer is the principal thing to put down.

Were you at the office on the day on which the paper was printed in which the paragraph in question appeared?—I was.

Did you see the paragraph in question?—I did not see it. It is not unusual for copy to be given into the hands of the compositors after I leave the office.

Is the compositor in the habit of printing any thing without consulting his superiors?—Occasionally.

Do you mean to say, that you do not know who brought the manuscript in question, or who received it?—I do mean to state so.

What is the name of the compositor?—There are five or six.

Do they all print what they like without consulting their superiors?—Certainly Mot. But some small paragraphs are occasionally brought to be composed after the editor and I have left the office.

By Mr. Wynn.

—Did you ever inquire of any of the compositors from whom he received the paragraph in question?—I did not.

Do you know from any compositor by whom he was directed to insert the paragraph in did not.

Do you know from any compositor by whom he was directed to insert the paragraph?—I do not.

Do you mean to say that you never made inquiry how this paragraph came into the paper, or on whose authority? I do. I beg leave to say, that the printer of a newspaper relies with implicit confidence on the editor. I am not capable myself of superintending the whole of a paper; and I depend on the editors. I can have no doubt that the-paragraph is, a falsehood; but I beg to add, that if I knew; the man capable of writing and sending me a direct falsehood, no power on earth should induce me to conceal his name.

Did you never inquire how this paragraph came into the paper, and on what authority?;—I did not.

By Mr. Scarlett.

—Was any money received for the printing of that paragraph?—As far as I am concerned, I can say not.

Do you mean to say that you believe no money was paid?—I believe none was paid.

Do you mean to say that you do not know the name of the compositor who introduced the paragraph in question?—It is impossible for me to say which compositor it was.

The question is not what is possible or impossible, but whether you mean to; say that you do not know the compositor?—I cannot say who it was.

What are the names of the compostors?—The witness repeated four names.

You have repeated but four names. Who is the fifth compositor?—I believe there is some mistake. I meant that there were five or six compositors, including extra hands.

Who pays the extra hands?—I do.

Were any extra hands employed in, the publication of the last paper? I believe there were. The employment of extra; hands depends on the press of matter.

The time at which that paper went to press is not so far distant, as to; prevent you from recollecting the names of the extra hands you paid? Sometimes we employ one, sometimes another. I do not recollect.

Was the editor in the office when the last paper went to press?—I think he was.

By Lord Nugent.

—You have spoken, of an agreement between Mr. Arrowsmith and yourself. Do you recollect at what time and where that agreement was concluded?—About seven weeks, ago a£ the office. I cannot exactly say.

Was it as long ago as seven, weeks?—I am not quite sure.

Was it not nearer one month ago than two months?—It, was nearer two months ago than one month.

Where was the agreement made?—At the office.

At Mr. Arrowsmith's office?—Yes.

Who appointed Mr. Cooper the editor of the paper?—He was appointed previously to ray going to the paper.

That is not an answer. Who appointed Mr. Cooper the editor of the paper?—I do not know; I believe Mr. Shackle.

Who pays Mr. Cooper as the editor?—There being other money transactions, sometimes I pay him, sometimes Mr. Arrowsmith.

Is the editor paid more frequently by Mr. Arrowsmith, or by yourself?—More frequently by Mr. Arrowsmith.

Did you ever pay him?—Yes.

How often has Mr. Cooper received his payment as editor from you?—I cannot exactly say; once or twice.

By whom are the current expenses and outgoings of the paper paid?—The Stamp office accounts are paid by me.

Who pays the other expenses?—Mostly Mr. Arrowsmith, some by me.

Who pays the wages of the workmen?—The establishment are mostly paid by Mr. Arrowsmith.

By Sir R. Wilson.

—Do you keep any clerk?—I do not.

By Mr. M. A. Taylor.

—Who examines the proof sheets?—Sometimes I do: sometimes the reader.

What is the name of the reader?—Duckworth.

Do you keep any regular books, in which are entered the money paid for the insertion of advertisements, and the weekly sale of the paper?—Yes, there are some books.

Who receives the money for the insertion of advertisements and for the weekly sale of the paper?—Principally into the hands of Mr. Arrowsmith.

Is the House then to understand that Mr. Arrowsmith receives the weekly proceeds of the paper?—Yes, principally.

Do you not know that Mr. Arrowsmith receives the weekly profits, and if he does not, who does?—I never said that Mr. Arrowsmith received all the proceeds of the paper.

Who makes those entries in the book of receipts, and to whom is the money paid?—Sometimes I do, and sometimes Mr. Arrowsmith.

By Lord Nugent.

—Is there any person in the office authorised to give insertion to such paragraphs as may arrive after you and the editor have left it?—There is no person so authorized, but it is done sometimes when we are out of the way.

Is that suffered to be done at the discre- tion of any of the compositors?—Occasionally.

Are there any private marks by which the compositors are instructed to give insertion to any paragraphs which may arrive after you and the editor have left the office?—Not to my knowledge.

Did you ever before belong to the Office of a daily or weekly journal?—To "The Traveller," and some other papers occasionally.

For what paper were you employed immediately before you went to the office of "John Bull?"—I was engaged on "The Traveller."

By Dr. Phillimore.

—Did the extra hands whom you have mentioned ever insert a paragraph without your permission or that of the editor?—It is possible they may have done so.

Do you mean to say that it ever came to your knowledge that they had done so?—I cannot exactly say.

Would you not have dismissed any of those compositors whom you had found so acting?—It is probable I should.

Have you reason to believe that it has ever been done?—-So far that in reading the paper afterwards, I have sometimes found paragraphs which I had never seen before.

Did you make any inquiry into such circumstances?—I left it to the editor.

Do you mean to say that such paragraphs were ever inserted without the knowledge of the editor?—I cannot say.

By Mr. Scarlett.

—You have said that Mr. Cooper is the editor—doyou mean to say that he is the exclusive editor, or that he divides the duty with you?—I take no part as editor.

Is Mr. Cooper then the sole editor?— As far as I know, unless he employs assistants.

Do you pay Mr. Cooper his salary?—Once or twice I have paid him. Mr. Arrowsmith pays him generally.

And you do not know where Mr. Cooper lives?—He never told me, positively.

That is an ambiguous reply. Do you not know where he lives?—I asked him one night how far he had to go home.; he said, to the neighbourhood of Black-friars-road.

Do you mean to say that you do not know where Mr. Cooper lives?—Yes.

By Mr. Bernal.

—Is the gentleman who was with Mr. Cooper to-day, and who prevented your communicating to Mr. Cooper that you were ordered to attend this House, connected with the paper?—No. A number of persons call on the editor who are not connected with the paper.

Do you know the name of that gentleman?—No.

By a Member.

—Is it part of the reader's duty to examine the proof sheet; and if so did he not read the paragraph in question?—The reading boy reads the manuscript, and the reader examines the proof.

By Mr. W. Smith.

—By whom is the manuscript put into the hands of the reading boy?—By the compositor.

And by whom is it given to the compositor?—Generally by the editor.

If not given by the editor, by whom is it given?—Generally by myself.

If not given either by the editor or by you, by whom is it given?—As I before observed, I cannot say, after I leave the office from whom any communications are received.

I ask whether, to the best of your knowledge, any one of the four compositors whose names you have mentioned, or any of the other occasional compositors, would dare to print any paragraph except of the commonest nature, unless he received it either from the editor or from yourself?—I do not think he would.

Do you believe that the paragraph complained of was printed by any one of those compositors on his own authority?—I should think not.

By Lord Nugent.

—Do you mean to say that you never communicated with the editor by letter or note?—All my communications with the editor have been verbal.

The Witness was directed to withdraw.

Mr. Bennet

said, that as no evidence bad been obtained from this man as to the author of the paragraph, and as that was the object of his inquiry, he must move that other evidence be brought to the bar. He did not think the witness entitled to much lenience from the evidence he had given, but he wished to do no more than detain him until those persons had been called from whom more satisfactory information might be derived. He would therefore move, "That Thomas Arrow-smith, William Shackle, and Henry Cooper do attend this House forthwith."

The motion was agreed to.