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of a slippery morning, one might see where the good-natured people lived, by the ashes thrown on the ice before the doors : probably he would have formed a different conjecture of the temper of those whom he might find engaged in such subscriptions.
Of the checks proper to be established against
the abuses of power in those courts. Hitherto there are none. But since so much has been written and published on the federal constitution ; and the necessity of checks, in all other parts of good government, has been so clearly and learnedly explained, I find myself so far enlightened as to suspect some check may be proper in this part also : but I have been at a loss to imagine any that may not be construed an infringement of the sacred liberty of the press. At length, however, I think I Vol. I. H
. have found one, that, instead of diminishing general liberty, shall augment it; which is, by restoring to the people a species of liberty of which they have been deprived by our laws, I mean the liberty of the cudgel ! In the rude state of society, prior to the existence of laws, if one man gave another ill-language, the affronted person might return it by a box on the ear ; and if repeated, by a good drubbing ; and this without offending against any law : but now the right of making such returns is denied, and they are punished as breaches of the peace, while the right of abusing seems to remain in full force ; the laws made against it being rendered ineffectual by the liberty of the press.
My proposal then is, to leave the liberty of the press untouched, to be ex. ercised in its full extent, force, and vi. gour, but to permit the liberty of the cudgel to go with it, pari pafsu. Thus,
my my fellow citizens, if an impudent writer attacks your reputation--dearer perhaps to you than your life, and puts his name to the charge, you may go to him as openly, and break his head. If he conceals himself behind the printer, and you can nevertheless discover who he is, you may, in like manner way-lay him in the night, attack him behind, and give him a good drubbing, If your adversary hires better writers than himself, to abuse you more effectually, you may hire brawny porters, stronger than yourself, to assist you in giving him a more effectual drubbing. Thus far goes my project, as to private resentment and retribution. But if the public should ever happen to be affronted, as it ought to be, with the conduct of such writers, I would not advise proceeding immediately to these extremities, but that we should in moderation content ourselves H2
with tarring and feathering, and tossing them in a blanket.
If, however, it should be thought that this proposal of mine may disturb the public peace, I would then humbly recommend to our legislators to take up the consideration of both liberties, that of the press, and that of the cudgel; and by an explicit law mark their extent and limits : and at the same time that they secure the person of a citizen from arsaults, they would likewise provide for the security us his .opulation,
PAPER: A POEM
O ME wit of old-such wits of old there
wereWhose hints show'd meaning, whose allusions
care, By one brave stroke to mark all human-kind, Call'd clear blank paper ev'ry infant mind; When still, as opening sense her dictates wrote, Fair virtue put a seal, or vice a blot.
The thought was happy, pertinent, and true ; Methinks a genius might the plan pursue.
I (can you pardon my presumption), I· No wit, no genius, yet for once will try.
Various the papers various wants produce, The wants of fashion, elegance, and use. Men are as various : and, if right I scan, Each sort of paper represents some man.