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impotence under the mask of lenity. He preaches the moderation of the Laws, as in his hands he sees them baffled and despised.".
This melancholy picture has lost, none of its truth: it may rather be said that its resemblance to the origial becomes every year more and more striking. Those who have, of late, attentively observed the internal affairs of England, cannot mistake a single trait, and must be able to add many equally distressing. Even since the restoration of peace, this unnatural state of things, this disgraceful and daily contest, between boundless audacity on the one side, and powerless resistance on the other, has not merely been continued, but has even made a most alarming progress. A well-informed writer of the present day, observes that compared with this one monstrous evil, all other causes of dissatisfaction are trifling, and can scarcely be taken into account."
The vilest libellers have, with unexampled, effrontery, erected their standards in opposition to the Government, not merely
in the streets of London, but in every city great and sinall, in every town and village. COBBETT, still more licentious than Junius, without possessing a spark of his superior mind, publicly boasts of having sold, in the space of six months, one million copies of his unstamped two-penny invectives, and of having circulated them through the hands of two millions of readers! The public authorities are assailed by masses of calumny, falsehood, and odium, which thens are no longer capable of examining, far less of repressing. Occa* sionally, and, as it were, in order that the very existence of Penal Law, as applicable to the Press, may not be forgotten, one individual, from among thousands who daily insult the Government is seized, and its scoffing opponents are presented with the spectacle of a public trial. For some time past, every experiment of this kind has been attended by a humiliating defeat. The case of Hone, the bookseller, in which all that could, in former scenes of the same sort, be regarded as mortifying to the Government, and encouraging to those who wish to disparage it, was concentrated in one focus, has, at length, made manifest the long since decided victory of the Press of the populace over the State, and exhibited that victory in features só gigantic, that, if the Ministry do not devise some new remedies, or call some new forms to their aid, perhaps the wisest determination would be to renounce entirely those criminal prosecutions, and to abandon the Press to its own delirium.
• Quarterly Review, January, 1817.
After CODBETT's fight from England, Hone declared himself to be the continuer of the political paper published by the former. Nothing more is requisite to characterise him. He commenced his career by parodying va. rious forms of public worship: in which the Regent, the Ministers, the *. Vain would be the attempt to deny the facts we have stated. The friends of an unlimited extension of the Freedom of the Press, guard themselves, however, against the consequences to be deduced from these facts by a kind of two-fold argument; as they either acknowledge the full extent of the evils arising from the abuse of the Press, but maintain that they are more than counter-balanced by the advantages connected with its freedom; or they regard those evils, the reality of which cannot be disputed, as insignificant, and in no way detrimental to the interests of the State. * The supporters of the first view, who are the most powerful and consistent advocates of the Liberty of the Press, say We confess that the present situation of the British Press, is neither more nor less than a state of absolute anarchy, occasionally interrupted by the feeble checks of an arbitrary discretion, accidentally toused. We admit also that this state is productive immediately of great evils, and its consequences of still greater.-Immediately, because it converts into poison the noblest nutriment of the human mind, and delivers up the people a prey to the influence of the most worthless seducers. - In its consequences, because by relaxing the ties which bind the individual citizen to the State, it gives rise to dangerous disorders in the social economy, and leaves still greater dangers to be apprehended. But the Liberty of the Press is, notwithstanding, a superlative good, which we do not think too dearly purchased, even at this high price.
Scelera ipsa nefasque
Hac mercede placentBetter walk boldly amidst storms and hurricanes than languish in a stagnant morass! If the dangers of the Liberty of the Press can be averted by measures which do not compromise its essence, such measures are welcome to us. If, on the contrary, these meäsures be unattainable; or, if national customs 'and national characters
Members of Parliament, the Laws, and even the Constitution, were satyrised in the most outrageous manner. There was scarcely a single line in these Parodies, which, if treated as a political offence, by any ordinary Judicial Tribunal, would not have been sufficient to send him to prison of the pillory. But the sad experience of similar cases, in which Juries had proiected the most atrocious libellers, seemed to have completely discouraged the Ministers. Other expedients were meditated; but a year of hesitation passed away: miissabat tacito medicina timore. At lengih it was resolved to overlook the political contents of the libel, and merely to prosecute the blasphemous forni of the publication. But even this course, which was resorted to in consideration of a certain mechanical respect for religion, which the English people, amidst all their demoralisation, still presurve, produced, after three days of unexampled contests, before three successive duries, only three similar verdicts of acquiital.
oppose insurmountable obstacles to its introduction, our choice is decided. Rather than the Liberty of the Press should suffer any material restriction, we will take it with all its deformities, disor ders, and excrescences.
This language is at least open and manly. Freedom, and Rules, or Law, are the two elements of civil life. To unite both, so that the law shall not destroy freedom, nor freedom make encroachments on the law, is the duty of those to whom the maintenance and government of States is entrusted. The mass of mankind feels the necessity of this, union obscurely, and, as it were, by instinct. Among the individuals who are capable of reflecting on the subject, and whose number must always increase with the progress of society, however near they may gradually approximate to the central point of the balance, it must always hap, pen, that either the impulşe towards freedom, or the predilection for the law, will obtain the preponderance. Personal interests, education, external circumstances, and the rank, which each indivi. dual fills in the State, determine him to the one or the other side. These are the two natural parties, into which the well-informed part of the world is necessarily divided, and must ever be divided under the most perfect constitution, and whose reciprocal disputes and contests never can overthrow the State, if the legislative and governing authorities are raised to that due degree of elevation by which alone the union of conflicting principles and the tranquillity of the whole society, can be attained and insured. We do not, therefore, mean to reproach those individuals who, though favorable to the restraints of law, set a still higher value on liberty, who, were a sacrifice to be made, would rather make it at the hazard of tranquillity than at the expense of freedom-who, without directly approving the anarchy of the British Press, or attempting to dissemble its injurious effects, regard that anarchy as an unavoidable evil, and the inconvenient concomitant of a preponderating benefit. Let them, however, be candid enough not to condemn as slavish spirits, and the tools of tyranny, those who, regarding the subject under the other point of view, are more apprehensive of danger to order than to freedom.
But there is a second class of admirers of the British Freedom of the Press, who, if not in opposition to their better conviction, from mere ignorance, or perversity, assert that the abuse of the Press in England, with all its undeniable consequences, is a slight, nay, even an imaginary evil, which can never injure a firmly established and
" It is, of course, evident that the extremes of both parties, namely, ttie blind enthusiasts of freedom, who are regardless as to tbe gırarantees of public order, and the partial advocates of power,'who entertain no respect for individual liberty, are not here taken into account.
well governed State: Every thing in that country, it is pretended, proceeds in the most perfect order and harmony, undisturbed by any abuse of the Press, there the people are happy the respect for the laws undiminished; the dignity of the Government sufficiently protected; and its power, not only great enough for all just objects, but in many respects, greater than is consistent with the general welfare. --This, which is totally a different view of the subject from that previously stated, is, for evident reasons, the favorite in England, and at present also, the general and prevailing view in France, Germany, and all countries where questions of this kind are sub mitted to the deliberation of public bodies, or are discussed by the pens Resting on these arguments, a great majority of the oppor stents of all restrictions of the Press, appeal to the example of Englaod, and allege that what is innocent and harmless in that highly extolled country; must operate advantageously in others, and can never be attended by essential danger. :'eaol 06 (182233411
We hold this latter view to be absolutely false for it is not, the the formet, founded on an exaggerated or misunderstood application of a principle, but on an actual error. It is not true, that the abuse of the Press, in England, is to be regarded as a mere harmless sport or a pardonable indecorum. It is, on the contrary, a severe, enot mous, and overwhelming malady, only capable of being withstood bräbody, which, if not perfectly sound in all its vital parts, is still strong and vigorous. It is not the immediate operation of respect for the Government, (which has long since been violated by the licentiousness of the Press,) but, the remedies supplied by the con> stitution by the reciprocal attitude of the various classes of society and political parties by the rights and privileges of particular or dered by the resistance which constitutional forms have well secured and confirmed, of the great tranquil mass to the popular excesses, distractions, and innovations,w.by all the various counterpoises to the destructive action of a licentious Press, that have hitherto maintaited England in an upright position. The antiquity of her instia tutions, the character of the better portion of the nation, and the imience of distinguished statesmen and philosophers; have also, in no small degree, contributed to her security. A state, less fully armed and prepared, would long since have undergone the most dreadful convulsions, in consequence of the unpunished licentiousness of great and petty libellers, under a legislation and judicial authority which no longer overawes them. Quite contrary to what many suppose, the British constitution is as little indebted to the freedom of the Press, for its origin, as for its maintenance." Theo constitution produced the Freedom of the Press, but it did not overlook the abuses and the dangers of that
Freedom it has, duritig a whole century, prosecuted them by inadequate Penal Laws and
impoten: forms;--it has, at length, been compelled to abandon the field to them, and if it still subsist, it is because it has maintained itself, not by but in spite of the degenerate Liberty of the Press 4.
But why should a question of this kind be driven to its utmost extremity? Why calculate how large a dose of corrupting and deu stroying matter, a state may receive without accomplishing its dew struction? If the licentiousness of the Press do not actually threaten the existence of England, is it no evil to poison all the sources both public and private of her moral life? The disorganising principles which the periodical pamphleteers, particularly those of the com mon order, instil into the lower classes of the people, are truly alarming in their nature ; but still more alarming, when it is considered that the men who promulgate them, exercise an unbounded control over the opinion of millions of readers, who cannot procure the antidote of better writings. Those perfidious demagogues incessantly address the people, in declamations on violated rights, deluded hopes, and real or imaginary sufferings. Every burthen which may fall heavy on individuals, every accidental difficulty,l. every inconvenience, produced by the change of times and circumi stances, is represented as the immediate effect of the incapability, selfishness, and culpable blundering of the administration. The most criminal and absurd designs are imputed to the Ministers; and lest the oppressed should delay to seek redress at their own handsys the future is painted to them in blacker colors than the present; thus, a thick cloud of dejection, bitterness, and discontent is spread? over the nation; men's minds are filled with hostile aversions and gloomy anxieties; and the poor man is at last deprived of comfort cheerfulness, and all enjoyment of life. Every feeling of satisface . tion and security, and of confidence in the Government, the tranquil and willing obedience of the People, their steady resignation." under unavoidable sacrifices, and all the fruits and ornaments of a good.constitution, are falsifiedz perverted, and discouraged by the harpy hands of these iniquitous scribblers. That neither the intele lectual nor moral cuitivation of the people can prosper in such a state of political corruption is self-evident... Is this then a trifling evil?
D. But the mischief does not end here. The inevitable re-action of .. the enormous abuse of the Press, on the spirit and measures of the Government, must be taken into account. Though no statesmans ought to yield to feelings of personal displeasure or animosity Alu though a British statesman must necessarily acquire more than anys: other an indifference to hostile insinuations, and personal slanders: and calumnieß; and though most British Ministers are evidently as: great proficients in the art of toleration and endurance, as buntar nature will permiç them to be; yet it can scarcely be supposed that