1850 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Thelwall

John Britton, in Autobiography (1850) 1:144n.



At the memorable trial in the old Bailey, when Tooke, Hardy, Godwin, Holcroft, Thelwall, &c. were impeached for high treason, the eloquent Erskine was counsel for the defendants, and was materially instrumental in obtaining their acquittal. During his own trial, Thelwall handed a pencilled note to the counsel, saying it was his "wish to plead his own cause;" to which Erskine replied, "If you do you will be hung." Thelwall immediately returned the rejoinder, "Then I'll be hanged if I do."