Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

fatal error in the reduction of that quantity of the circulating medium due to the state of property and the necessities of the country, in the attempt to force this return of Cash Payments; which I not only (for the reasons herein stated) do not conceive essential to our welfare, but the operations of which, I think, in the present state of things, may be beller performed by an artificial currency, under the guarantee, and

But wherefore all this anxiety for the Resumption of Cash Payments in the present moment ? I must confess I am at a loss to account for this scramble, as it were, for gold and silver ; as if we were on the eve of a general bankruptcy, or were bent on universal emigration. That our debt amounts to a very large sum, is true; but all quantities are only great or small by comparison. With an income of upwards of iwo hundred millions, a debt of eight hundred millions is but the arrear of four years of that income. A private family would not be considered in very desperate circumstances, which might be so in debt, even to strangers.

In the case of the nation, therefore, which is that of a large family, where the debt is due only from one branch of that family to another, such an incumbrance can produce no serious evil while, the family remains, united. With moderate economy, and proper coufidence, such an arrear will liquidate itself without inconvenience, if we check not the industry and energy of the country by unfounded alarm, and by ill-timed interference!

111 UT CIK903 jIJA

RALL",7,19

JT I AIMIMATTA

- T3 * 1 1

кои і

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

“ FRAGMENTS ON THE BALANCE OF POWER IN EUROPE," ETC.

LONDON

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

REFLECTIONS Esq.3901

117'13 191478

V550w "3"ON THE

u'll 11'.

-- plygtem

de son viivades LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, 11-23

to adgit cashe ylbo to

9:00. 2-999 9813 &c.

496 WHAT

111, 7107 of darn riqor 5

chatron ad

995 morts Tife Liberty of the Press is a theme ori which the English News papers and Political Journals often comment, and to which the higher class of periodical works also sometimes advert ; but it is long since any treatise of importance, on this subject, has been published in England. In its practical relations the question is decided, and its consideration, with respect to theory, appears to be deemed superfluous.

In treating of the freedom of the press it is necessary, in order to be intelligible to one's-self and to others, to pay particular attention to the extent of the signification affixed to the term, by the prevailing usage of the language of the age, and to consider how far the ideas presented by that signification may or may not be admissible, or capable of practical application.

An unlimited freedom of the press would be a situation wherein every individual would have the right of diffusing, by means of the art of printing, his thoughts, opinions and judgments, on all persons and things, without being, before publication, restricted by any law, or becoming afterwards responsible to any law, for that act. Those who assume that certain rights existed previously to the formation of civil society and independently of it, or who set up a claim to pretended natural rights, cannot have a definition of what they call the natural right of the liberty of the press more favorable to their views.

It is, however, self-evident, that without the union of men in society, there could be no regular communication of ideas, nor'any demand for writing, presses or books. But were even all these things riot actually indebted

to society for their origin, still would

.9007

they be not the less bound by its regulations. The moment that social order is established, there can no longer be any question as to natural rights. Whether such rights previously existed is a metaphysical

proposition which evety one may, according to his system, affirm or deny, or leave unresolved. Every right, from whatever source it may take its rise, is, or becomes a social right.

A social right, unaccompanied by restriction, is indeed a thing scarcely conceivable, for the mere idea of any such right must necessarily be derived from reciprocal limitations of freedom. The right of circulating our thoughts, through the medium of the press, has therefore, like every other right, its boundaries. In the social or only admissible sense of the phrase, the unlimited freedom of the press is consequently a nonentity.

Thus far are nearly agreed, at least in theory, all who might wish to come to one opinion on a subject of this kind. It must be confessed, however, that there exists in human nature an aspiration after freedom beyond these legitimate bounds. Limitations, of the necessity of which we have never entertained a doubt, often become odious to us, when they present obstacles to our pursuits ; and, when animated by a great interest, or an important justification, what author may not, for a moment, have wished every extraneous tie and obligation removed, in order that he might be at liberty to obey the dictates of his own immediate feelings, without considering whether his internal impulse would carry him to a good or a bad result? But, when fundamental maxims and the public profession of principles are at stake, no man who possesses self-respect will manifest such a disposition ; and the liberty of the

a. press, in the unlimited sense of the term, though it should have some secret friends, still would not easily find an open defender.

The main difference of opinion, however, at once arises on pro. pounding the question, what kind of legal restrictions on the enployment of the press, may be best calculated to protect the interests of the community without infringing individual liberty? The con. test to which this question has given birth has had for its consequences that freedom of the press has sometimes received á very, narrow, sometimes a large, and at other times an entirely arbitrary construction, and that those, who would consent to legal limitations of that freedom, under one form only, finally condemn every other modification as mental tyranny, oppression and servi. tude.

It is well known that there are two different methods by which the abuse of the liberty of communicating ideas may bé guarded against: namely, either by regulations, formed for the prevention of that abuse, or by measures which render it, after the fact, the object of legal punishment. The former belong to the class of POLICE LAWS,

and in the present case may be denominated CENSORSHIP WORDTNANCES. The latter must be penal laws, as no action can regularly be brought before a tribunal which has not, on some ground or other, been made punishable by a previously existing law.q oy bill

In all European States, England alone excepted, the press has, until, very recently, been constantly regulated by measures of police. The privileges possessed by the English writers were not, in former times, regarded as subjects of censure or reproach for other governments. It was readily perceived that they were intimately interwoven with all the remaining peculiarities of the British Constitution, and that, were they detached from it, or removed to another soil, where they would be in contradiction with the form of government, the legislation, the administration of fustice, and the national manners, they could not berexpected to thrive. But as the human

mind, along with the actual possession of a higher cultivation, and the chimerical notion of more extended faculties has become accustomed to see in ancient regulations nothing but ancient fetters, the wish to emancipate the press from the dominion of the police, has been actively and strongly expressed throughout all Europe. The measures adopted in France and the Netherlands have also served to administer fresh food to this desire so that a determination, grown progressively general, has been formed both by authors and readers, to regard freedom of the press and police legislation as things perfectly irreconcilable ; and accordingly, this conclusion has been gradually adopted, that by the liberty of the press, nothing less is to be understood than the right of addressing the public, without being subjects to any previous inspection or controleros se entoe bern abian y este 02 esiqisaga taseerd is duidw 22974 This construction, which

is now generally adopted, we shall not immediately contesti; though we are far from believing it eapable of withstanding tabrigid examinationzowe may, however, tobserve that, as often as the freedom of the press is defined in this manner, seither in public documents, or in the writings of individuals the definition is generally accompanied by the restricting clause - It being well understood that this freedom cannot be used in contradiction to the dawsolut Now an right, for the exercise of which the possessor is responsible to existing laws, and these laws, as in this instance, penal, certainly is not unlimited. It follows therefore pdizolsonlig somato logitsargob yd qastaya, nadto sdi 17o ano.

It is true that in the 17th and 18th centuries there prevailed in Holland, some parts of Switzerland, and in the territories of a fewo inconsiderable princes of the German Empire, and free Imperial Cities, a silently authorised liberty of the press, of which the laws took no notice, and which was only occasionally checked, when serious complaints were made against it. These examples which had theirs origin reither in the republican spirit) or smallness of the respective states, or in their political relations can no longer be taken into consideration, in the altered state of the

European system.

[graphic]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »