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But to go on. It was an article of impeachment against Scroggs, chief justice of the King's Bench, “ That whereas one Henry Carr had, for some time before, published every week a certain book, intituled, The weekly packet of Advice from Rome; or, The History of Popery :" wherein the superstitions and cheats of the church of Rome were, from time to time, exposed; he, the said Scroggs, together with the other judges of the said court, before any legal conviction of the said Carr of any crime, did, in a most illegal and arbitrary manner, make and cause to be entered a certain rule of that court, against the printing of the said book, in hæc terba. Ordinatum est quod liber intitulat. The weekly packet of Advice from Rome; or, The History of Popery:' non ulterius imprimatur vel publicetur per aliquam personam quamcumque.
And did cause the said Carr, and divers printers, and other persons, to be served with the same; which said rule, and other proceedings, were most apparently contrary to all justice, in condemning, not only what had been written, without hearing the parties, but also all that might for the future be written on that subject; a manifest countenancing of popery, and discouragement of protestants; an open invasion upon the right of the subject, and an encroaching and assuming to themselves a legislative power and authority":
a” There wanted not ground for this accusation. For Scroggs had given out warrants to one Stephens, a messenger of the press, to seize all books unlicensed; together with the authors, printers, and publishers of them. -As a curiosity, I will here transcribe one of them, “ Whereas the kings majesty hath lately
issued out his proclamation for suppressing the print ing and publishing unlicensed news-books, and pamphlets of news: notwithstanding which, there are divers persons who do daily print and publish such unlicensed books and pamphlets. These are therefore to will and require you, and in his majesty's name to charge and command you, and every of you, from time to time, and at all times, so often as you shall thereunto be required, to be aiding and assisting to Robert Stephens, messenger of the press, in the seizing all such books and pamphlets as aforesaid, as he shall be informed of, in any booksellers shop, or printers shop or warehouses, or elsewhere whatsoever, to the end they may be disposed of as to law shall appertain. Likewise, if you shall be informed of the authors, printers, or publishers of such books and pamphlets, you are to apprehend them, and have them before me, or one of his majesty's justices of the peace, to be proceeded against as to law shall appertain. Dated this 28th day of May, Anno Dom. 1680.
“ To all mayors, sheriffs,
What treatment this man gave to such as were had before him, on account of these kind of transgressions ; will best appear from the report of the committee of the commons, appointed to examine the proceedings of the judges. In this report, we find, “That the committee were informed, by Francis Smith, bookseller, that he was brought before the chief justice by
his warrant, and charged by the messenger, Robert Stephens, that he had seen some parcels of a pamphlet, called, 'Observations on Sir George Wakemans Tryal, in his shop: upon which the chief justice told him, he would make him an example; use him like a bore in France; and pile him and all the booksellers and printers up in prison, like faggots; and so committed him to the kings-bench: swearing and cursing at him in great fury. And when he tendred three sufficient citizens of London for his bail, alledging imprisonment in his circumstances would be his utter ruin; the chief justice replyed, the citizens looked like sufficient persons, but he would take no bail: and so he was forced. to come out by Habeas Corpus, and was afterwards informed against for the same matter, to his great charge and vexation.
“ And a while after, Francis (the son of the said Francis Smith) was committed by the said chief justice, and bail refused, for selling a pamphlet, called,
A New Years Gift, for the said Chief Justice,' to a coffee-house; and he declared to them, he would take no bail, for he would ruin them all. And further it appeared to the committee, that the said chief justice committed, in like manner, Jane Curtis, she having a husband and children, for selling a book, called, 'A Satyr against Injustice,' which his lordship called a libel against him; and her friends tendring sufficient bail, and desiring him to have mercy on her poverty and condition ; be swore, by the name of God, she should go to prison, and he would shew no more mercy than they could expect from a wolf that came to devour them; and she might bring her Habeas Corpus, and come out so: which she was forced to do; and after informed against and prosecuted, to her utter ruin, four or five terms after.
“ In like manner it appeared to this committee, that, about that time also, Edward Berry (stationer, of Greys Inn) was committed, by the said chief justice, being accused of selling, the 'Observations on Sir George Wakemans Tryal;' and though he tendered 10001. bail; yet the chief justice said, he would take no bail; he should go to prison, and come out according to law. And after he, with much trouble and charge, got out by Habeas Corpus, he was forced by himself, or his attorney, to attend five terms before he could be discharged, though no information was exhibited against him in all that time a.”—Possibly Scroggs was of Wolsey's mind; who publicly forewarned the clergy, " that if they did not destroy the press, the press would destroy them.”—It is, indeed, a bitter enemy to tyranny of every kind.-Mr. Johnson, for writing Julian the Apostate, in opposition to the succession of the duke of York, was condemned, by the infamous Jefferies, in a fine of five hundred marks, and committed prisoner to the King's Bench till he should pay it, which was the same as perpetual imprisonment, since he was not able to raise that sum,I will only just mention one fact more, and it shall be that of the immortal Algernon Sidney; who being obnoxious to the court, on account of his principles and his virtue, had his closet searched by a warrant from Jenkins, secretary of state, and his papers carried away. Among these were found a manuscript of the admirable book of Government, which was given in as evidence on his trial, and made an instrument of his destruction - Such a hatred and dread had the mo
a Journal, 23 Dec. 1680.
It should be observed, that the act, for regulating printers and printing-presses, though twice renewed, was now expired ; and, consequently, all these proceedings were illegal.
See Johnson's Life, prefixed to his works. d See Sidney's Trial.
proclamations against coffee-houses “, as they
narch, and his ministers, of every thing which had a tendency to revive the spirit of liberty! But, thanks be to God! all their efforts were vain. Sidney's and Johnson's writings live: and will live, while there is any such thing as sense or virtue in the world.
25 Proclamations were issued for suppressing coffeehouses.] At the Restoration, Charles was very popular ; and his measures, how weak soever, were applauded. But time began to open men's eyes ; and they saw clearly enough into his designs. This set men on talking, and communicating their fears and apprehensions. On this, the court was alarmed: and, “one day, his majesty called the chancellor [Hyde] to him, and complained very much of the licence that was assumed in the coffee-houses; which were the places where the boldest calumnies and scandals were raised, and discoursed amongst people who knew not each other, and came together only for that communication, and from thence were propagated over the kingdom: and mentioned some particular rumours which had been lately dispersed from the fountains, which, on his own behalf, he was enough displeased with; and asked him what was to be done in it. The chancellor concurred with him in the sense of the scandal, and the mischief that must attend the impunity of such places, where the foulest imputations were laid upon the government, which were held lawful to be reported and divulged to every body but to the magistrates, who might examine and punish them; of which there having yet been no precedent, people generally believed that those houses had a charter of privilege to speak what they would