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Can he know, when he sees Mr. I may think tending to bring the Hone acquitted for first publishi- Parliament into contempt. There ing certain parodies; and when may be men to think, that what I he sees many poor men, in differ- am now writing has such tendenent parts of the country, convict. cy. To dispute any point with ed, and most severely punished the Parliament; and, especially, for selling those very same puro to dispute it with success ; dies? Can he know, when the pecially to show that the Parlia. law does not tell him what blas. ment has done wrong, or fallen phemy is; when the dictionary into error. May there not be men tells him, that it is' “ the offering to think, that all such writing has " of on indignity unto God him- a tendency to bring the Parlia
self;" and when he sees nyen ment into contempt? Is not the convicted of blasphemy, and most writer of every petition, which tremendously punished, though shall complain of any law; is not they have been most strenuous, every such
66 seditious eloquent and fervent in extolling libeller"? And, the Parliament the praise and glory of God, and having resolved and enacted, that have only expressed their disbe- the Bank shall pay in specie, must lief in the Christian Faith? Can nit he be a seditious libeller, who he know, when the law (as it now proves lo demonstration, that the stands) makes any thing a sediti- Bank never can pay in specie! ous libel, which has a TENDEN. Praise, then, is all we have left to CY to bring either House of Par- bestow. We may praise as long liament into contempt? Can he as we please, but, according to tell what shall have that ten- this law, we are free to do no. dency? Can he know when thing but that. If we write at any Judge, or any twelve men, all, we must take care not to be or any one man,
will think silent ; for silence is one of the
writing will have most efficacious ways of showing such tendency? And yet, mon contempt. “ Better be damned strous to reiate, such writer, than not be named at all." Praise, bounden, is compared, as to his praise, and that only is our safe state of restraint, to the ship course. And, even here we must owner, who gives bonds, that he take care of ourselves ; for, as the will not take smuggled goods on same poet informs us, we may board his ship!
- damn with faint praise," more It is manifest to the plain un. effectually, perhaps, than with derstanding of every man, that censure. Unqualified and loud such a writer must be constantly praise is, therefore, now the only under restraint. He vever can thing that can insure our safety. know when lie is endangering his Such is the state, in wbich friends, unless he continually writes every writer is placed by the prein favour of the Ministers and the vious restraint imposed upon him. Parliament, and this is a pretty But, far more powerful is another state of degradation; this is a means of restraint iniposed by pretty thing to be called liberty of this same Act of Parliament. the press ! It is impossible for any A writer (or a printer or pubwriter to know what others (and lisher, which latter includes all especially after every thing has sellers) may now, if any man, upon been done to stretch his meaning) oath, inform a Justice of the
FEBRUARY 19, 1820. Peace, that the writer, for in- ances for his innocence! Nay, he stance, has written what the Jus may be punished for his innotice may deem a seditious libel ; cence; he may be legally punisha writer may instantly be held to ed on a charge proved to be fulse bail, with sureties, to appear and before a Grand Jury, by even a answer the charge at the next shorter process than that of obquarter session. But, this is not taining a conviction for a second all, the bords are to include a libel. A writer, bound over on a condition to be of good behaviour charge, which a Grand Jury dein the meanwhile !
clares to be false, may, before the Now, then, what is the state of meeting of the Sessions, commit this famously free John Bull an assault; may be engaged in with a pen in his hand! Any Jus- riotous conduct; may be guilty of tice can have a publication brought profane swearing. These are all to him and sworn to. And, if he breaches of the recognizances : and thinks it a seditious libel, he can, thus, though he had published no at once, bind the writer over, as libel; though a Grand Jury had above mentioned, or plunge him declared the charge, on which lie into a jail at once, upon his own was bound over, to be false ; still authority and in consequence of he might be punished and even his own uncontrouled opinion as ruined, for the publication ! to the tendency of the publication! To say, that the Parliament has
Pretty well so far; but we passed such a law as this, may, must not stop here : if we do, we perhaps, be thought to have a sball not do a hundredth part of tendency to bring it into “hatred justice to this act of parlianent. or contempt.”. But, must I, then, The Quarter Sessions arrive. A not say, that it has pass:d such a Bill of indictment is presented law? Or, must! praise such a law against this safety and firmly to the skies ? Must I be a liar, or bounden writer. The Grand hold my tongue, lest I should be Jury throw out the Bill. They fined, imprisoned, or banished? differ in opinion from the bind Let those who have words to ex. ing justice. They do not think press their feelings here,, express the publication a seditious libel. ihem: I have not. The whole But, the writer is not, perhaps, to vocabulary of our language af. go unpunished, merely because he fords not epithets and terms was innocent. He was bound wherein justly to describe my feelover, we will say, a month before ings with regard to this law. the Sessions. A week before the Yet, there are men, who have Sessions he is bound over again assurance enough to assert, that for a second libel, upon which a even this; aye This, is consonant bill is found; and he is convicted with the spirit of the laws of Engon this second libel. Having been land! Nay; they have said, that so convicted, he has forfeited his is law, and always was law. I have first recognizances, he and his heard knavish, petty tyrants, in a sureties are sued for them, and Republic, assert the same thing. with a certainty of the crown's re- But (reserving this latter to be covering. So that, he is punished spoken of fully when I meet with with fine or imprisonment, or any Reformer who shall have both, for his guilt ; and he is been misled into a love of repub. punished with forfeited recogniz-! licanism), I dety the most
dustrious rummager into the re- could be legally demanded before cords of misrule to find any de 1808, wby did Sir Vicary bring in cision, in the English Courts, this Bill? Observe, too, that ihis (except that of Star-Chamber) Bill gave no one but a Judge this giving countenance to such an power of holding to bail, before assertion; an assertion which is trial, for misdemeanouri And, in itself, the foulest libel, on the not even to a Judge, unless in law.
very urgent cases, and with very WILKEs was prosecuted for an pointed affidavits' before him. It obscene and blasphemous libel. He the present law were always the was held to be bail (before convic law, what was the sense of this tion) to be of good behaviour. He Bill? Lord Sidmouth's Circuapplied to the Court of King's LAR first broached the doctrine Bench to release him from the bail, of a power in Justices of the. on the express ground, that bail Peace to hold to bail, on charges could not legally be taken in case of libel, eren to answer the charge ; of libel, before conviction. LORD and this Act, which we have now CAMDEN was the Chief Justice; under examination, has comand he delivered the opinion of the pleted the subjection and degradaCourt, which opinion was, that it tion of the press. For, according was not lawful:io demand bail for to this Act, every, public writer, good behaviour, in cases of libel, every printer, and every publisher, before conviction! and that, there may now legally be held to bail, fore the bail must be discharged during the whole of his life, and And it was discharged accordingly. may be punished many, many. There is but one case, that I have times in every year, by the forfeiever heard of, in which bail, in tore of recognizances, given on case of libel, was insisted on. It charges of libel, though it may, at was that of the Seven Bishops, in the same time, be legally proved, the reign of James the Second. tlrat not one of them has ever pubThey refused to give bail; they lished any libel at all! Can an were sent to the Tower; three of Imprimatur; can, a Censorship : the Judges were corrupt and de- can any thing short of a haller accided against them; they were tually, tied round our necks, be afterwards tried, and acquitted ; a greater restruint than this law ? and their acquittal was the signal It was my intention to pursue for the overthrow of the base and the subject into the other Acts, tyrannical king and councillors, providing for confiscation of prowho had thus stretched and vio-perty and for banishment of person. lated the law. This precedent, But what is the value of any other therefore, is, one would think, a property compared with the prothing to be shunned and not to be perty, which men have in the use followed.
of their talents, the thoughts of But, if this binding over, in their mind, and the feelings of cases of libel, was always law, why their hearts? And, as to banishdid Sır VICKARY GIBBS bring ment, where is the man, who would in a bill, in 1808 (I think it was) not regard it as, a blessed escape, to authorize the holding to bail to from this state of everlasting re: answer the charge, in cases of straint ? misdemecamour? Libel is a misde. And why have these laws been meanour; if bail, in such cases, passad? Could not the press,
FEBRUARY 19, 1820.
ninety-nine hundredths of which cultivating lands. completely bar. M
is absolutely devoted to the Go- ren. These projects are so nuvernment and the Church : could merous, that to promise to notice
not the press have been left to every one separately (especially Ex correct itself? Could not the when we consider the new ones.
ninety-nine writers, have been that may spring forth) is much P: trusted to for a refutation of the more than I dare venture. But,
hundredth ; backed, as the former in the course of these papers, I were, by the pulpit (sectarian as shall certainly notice such of them
well as orthodox) and by the whole as appear to have attracted public wybody of livers on the taxes ? attention and to have been able
The fact is, the Ministry finds to produce any considerable por-, in itself surrounded with all sorts of tion of public delusion. 2 difficulties; difficulties so great,
W». COBBETT. so nuinerous, so complicated in To their nature, and demanding in Till the way of remedy, measures so CURIOUS HISTORY OF A CACo far beyond the scope and compass LUMNY ON PAINE:
of its mind, and especially of any thing that it feels itself able to It is a part of the business of a press,
propose or support, that it is, like sold to the Cause of CORRUPTION, to Sel a strongman in a state of delirium, calumniate those, dead or alive, who i laying about it, back stroke and have most effectually laboured against
fore stroke, not knowing or caring that cause; and, as Paine was the what class it destroys, or what most powerful and effectual of those wounds it inflicts upon the cha- been an object of their peculiar atten.
labourers, so to, calumniate him has (racter of the country:
tion and care. Amongst other things This has been the true cause of said against this famous man, is, that the late month of angry legislation. he recanted before he died; and, bo Let us liope, that the six weeks, as that, in his last illness, he discovered a2 it were taken to cool, will have horrible fears of death. This is, to be
produced a change of tone and a sure, a very good answer to what
change of temper. The general these same persons say about his be disease of the country, is, a want hardened infidelity. But, it is a pure,
of reform; the immediately press- unadulterated falshood. This falskood; ing complaint, the misérý of the which I shall presently trace to its people ; of the whole of the origin (the heart of a profound hypopeople, the very rich and those crile) was cried about the streets of who live upon the taxes excepted. Liverpool
, when I landed there in C
To remove this distress, and 10 November last. Thence it found its restore tie nation to prosperity, tributor of falshood and calumny, the , require measures, which, thus far; London préss, which has sent it all in either house, has had
over this kingdom. One Country pa. the courage to propose. We have projects enough, high and low, is feul and meun, affects to possess
per, however, pre-eminent in all that from the seizure of the estates of originul matter and authentic infor, the
e great down to the allotment mation on the subject; and, indeed of plots of ground to the poor : it pledges itself for the character of from the scheine for diminishing the gentleman” from whom it says the quantity of food by Corn Bills it has received the pretended authentic down to the augmenting of it by account. The Country-paper I ala
lude to is, the Norwich- Mercury, I principal visitor, said," you see what miserprioted and published by one BURKs ; 1 who had accompanied him from frunce, la
able comforters I have." An unhappy fernale, and the article on Paine is as fol. mented lier sud case, observing, “ for this man lows:
I lave given up my family and friends-my • The following statement has been handed property and iny religion ; judge then of my to us by a Gentleman, whose character is a distress, when he tells me that the principles sufficient pleuge that he would not put forth he has taught me will not bear me out." any article which he had not the best reason to believe to be true:
The Norwich Mercury did not ima" Thomas Paine.-The following is an gine, that any one would take the extract of an American letter, the writer of pajus to expose this tissue of falshoods. which is of the most unquestionable respectu, in the first place, why does he not bility, and appears recently to have obtained the information it contains from authority name his “gentleman” of such excelequally entitled to credit :-The latter had re- lent character ? How these informers sided in a family in the neighbourhood of the skulk ! Mr. Burks can pledge him. celebated Thomas Paine, which, during his self for the character of the “ gentelast illness, had contributed to his comfort by occasionally preparing and sending in food man” informer ; but, where are we to and refreshment better adapted to his situa- get a pledge for the character of Mr. tion than he usually enjoyed.--of these the Burks, who, if we are to judge from informant chose to be the bearer to his bed this act of his, stands io need of very side, although his personal circumstances
good sponsors. were so deplorable that the air of his chamber could scarcely be endured, and in per
Let us look, a little, at the interforming this humane office had the opportuni- nal evidence of the falshood of this ties of conversation with him, which autho- story. Mr. Paine possessed, at his rized the writer's belief, that he exbibited death, an upencumbered estate of two another proof of Dr. Young's assertion, hundred and fifty acres of land, not “that men may live fools, but fools they cannot die.” The letter proceeds to say, that more than twenty miles from New she found him frequently writing, and be York. He possessed a considerable lieved, from what she saw and heard, that
sum besides. These he left by will. when his pains permitted he was always so employed, or in pruyer, in the attitude of Will any one believe, that he was, on which she more than once saw him when he his dying bed, in want of proper thought himself alone. One day he enquired nourishment, and that he was in a deof her if she had ever read the Age of Rea- plorable state as to apartments and neson ;” and on being answered in the affirmative, desired to know her opinion of that cessaries? Then, was it likely, that book.--She replied that she was but a child when a neighbour's maid servant went when she read it, and that he probably to carry him a little present of sweetwould not like to know what she thought meats, or the like, that he would beof it; upon which he said, if old enough to read, she was capable of forming some
gin a conversation on theology with opinion, and that from her he expected a
her? And, is it not monstrous to supcandid statement of what that opinion had pose, that he would call himself the been. She then said, she thought it the devil's agent to HER, and not leave most dangerous insinuating book she had behind him any recantation at all, ever read; that the more she read the more she wished to read, and the more she found though he had such ample time for doher mind estranged from all that is good; ing it; and thought his confidant was and that from a conviction of its evil ten
so ready to receive it and take care of dency she had burnt it, without knowing to it! The story is false upon the face whom it belonged.-Paine replied to this, that he wished ull who had read it had been as of it; and, nothing but a simpleton, wise us she; and added, ". if ever the Devil had or something a great deal worse, an agent on earth, I have been one.” At would have given it circulation and another time, when she was in his chamber, affected to believe it to be true. and the master of her family was sitting by his bed side, one of Paine's former com
I happen to koow the origin of this panions came in ; but seeing them, hastily story; and I possess the real, original went out, drawing the door after him with document, whence have proceeded the violence, avd saying, “ Mr. Paine, you have divers editions of the falshood, of the lived like a man hope you will die like one." Upon which, Paine, turning to his very invention of which I was, per
haps, myself, the innocent cause!