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writer must say that it was wise and Now for another view of the matter ; meritorious to do all the things that I now for another danger; now for anhave mentioned. This is the only way other of the numerous hooks by which of clearing himself from the inference you may catch us, you being, apparently, mentioned under the second head of a tremendous angler, catching by the your doctrine : to state the facts, and mouth, the gills, the fins, or the tail. not to praise the parties, is to leave the If it be libellous to print and publish facts to produce their natural effect ; to any thing having a tendency to bring produce the contempt inseparable from the Government and Parliament into the statement, and the intention being, contempt, amongst what according to you, deducible from the ploughshares walk the men who print words themselves, nothing short of posi- and publish parliamentary debates of tive praise of the actors can save the all the publications in the world, those devoted victim, who, blind-folded, has are the best calculated to bring the Gorun into the ingenious whig trap of you vernment and Parliament into contempt, and Mr. BROUGHAM.
not only by implication, but positively. Let us, before we quit this view of the One member accuses the Ministry of watter, take the case of GOULBOURN, folly, of stupidity, of waste of the pubwhom I always call the sensible ; lic resources ; of all sorts of imbecility though, perhaps, that will not save me. and all sorts of profligacy. Another When the Scotch Small-note Bill was accuses the House of peglecting its before the House of Commons, Govl- duty; of sanctioning a' waste of the Kuex stated distinctly that the aboli- people's money; of, in short, passing tion of the small notes would not have foolish and unjust laws. Now, is not
tendency to lessen the circulating the publisher of these speeches fairly medium; because, said he, the bankers, caught upon your hooks? The words having got rid of the ones, will be have a manifest tendency to bring the MORE LIBERAL IN ISSUING Parliament into contempt; no man can THEIR FIVES! This was enough to deny that; and, according to your docimmortalize any man. I told Goul- trine, the publisher of the report is liaBOURN, in a few days afterwards, that ble to punishment. The law makes no the ones were the legs that the fives exception in favour of reports of dewalked upon : that the bankers would bates: they stand upon exactly the discount no more after the ones were same ground with other publications ; gone, except upon a very limited scale, and, to maintain any distinction here, and for some special purposes ; and that you must deem the debates a sort of the fives never could circulate to more farce, and contend that a thing so farcithao a distance of ten miles from home ; cal is incapable of tending to excite that the quantity of circulating medium contempt. would be prodigiously reduced ; and To come closer home, suppose I were that, unless a large part of the taxes were to say that the Six Acts, and particutaken off
, terrible must be the sufferings larly one of them, relative to the press, throughout the whole country.
was opposed by LAWYER SCARLETT, The suffering is come, and Goul- when he sat on the Whig side of the bourn's opinion is laughed at even by House ; and that, he having been made boys: and, when all this mischief has Attorney General, and removed to the arisen out of this staring blunder, which other side of the House, and a motion was exposed at the time upon the spot; having been made to repeal that very and after the Government ana the Par- act, he opposed that repeal, and was biament have persevered in producing joined in that opposition by his present the mischief, am I to hold my tongue? coadjutor, Mr. Brougham, who also Am I not even to state the facts, the had opposed the act with all his might, bare facts, because the statement has a when it was passed; aòd suppose I were tendency to bring the sensible Goul- to cap the climax by observing, that WoueX into contempt?
your prosecutions against Mr. ALEXAN
DER and Mr. Bell have been carried on publishing it, and thus would the door upon the new principles of the law con. be eternally closed against all petitions; tained in that
because, to petition is to pray that the Suppose I were to say all this, and Parliament will do something ; to pray that all this were true, as it is true, am it to do something, is to intend to acI, therefore, to be prosecuted, harassed, cuse it either of having done something torn to pieces, broken up in my affairs, wrong, or of neglecting to do something crammed into a jail amongst felons, right; is to accuse it of a fault either treated like a malefactor, merely for of commission or of omission; and to stating the facts ? Better at once have accuse it of a fault, is to have a tendency a licenser ; ten thousand times better to bring it into contempt. Then, as the have a licenser, than carry on a system Parliamentary printer prints and publike this, and call it liberty of the press. lishes all the petitions, and all the votes,
And, who is to petition, I want to and all the resolutions of the House, he know, without being caught upon one is the greatest libeller of us all, and of your hooks? How many hundreds ought to be caught by the belly with of petitions have stated that the people one of your tremendously sharp hooks. suffered from the acts of the Gurern If your law be law, and if it be acted ment and the Parliament; how many upon ; if juries adopt your doctrine, and have complained, in the bitterest terms, if the bench, by its sentences, sanction of the corruption and bribery by which that doctrine, the words “ liberty of the the seats are filled ! Yet, it has not press” are expressive of the most miseoccurred to any Attorney General hi- rable mockery that ever disgraced law therto to prosecute the parties petition- or language; and you will have iming The Houses both require that proved upon every severity that ever the Petitions should be "respectfully was yet heard of in England with reworded"; and they are said to be re- gard to the press. If your doctrine be spectfully worded, and they are, in fact, adopted, who is to dare to propose any respectfully worded, though they com- changes in the measures of the Governplain of the doings of the Parliament, ment? Who, above all things, is to and though the facts they contain, and speak of the unfitness of a Ministry? the assertions they make, cannot do Who, unless he has got an assurance of otherwise than have a tendency to bring his life from Providence itself, is to dare the Parliament into contempt. I peti- to question the moderation, the mildness, tioned the House of Commons last year, the humanity, of an attorney-general or in which I represented that the officers a judge? Who is to dure to state any of the Government, and the pensioners fact, however notorious, that has a and sinecurists sitting in Parliament, tendency to bring parties like these into had, in fact, doubled the amount of contempt ? To remonstrate with these their own places, pensions, and sine parties; to discuss their conduct; barely cures, by Acts of their own passing, to state facts, and to leave the public to and by which same Acts the people decide, comes within your capacious purhave been reduced to misery. The ten. view ; and, with juries to act upon the dency of this statement was so mani. doctrine, the destruction of the victim fest, that nobody could miss seeing it. is certain. So long as twenty-five years There was not a juryman in England ago, I printed and published, even in the who would not say that it had a ten- time of little sharp Percival, that the dency to bring the Parliament into con- Pitr sinking fund was a “ SPLENDID tempt. But, my county member, Mr. HUMBUG.” The scribes of the GoDENNISON, hesitated not one moment vernment abused me; SHERIDAN (a about presenting the petition, and the thig) suggested, that. I ought to be House hesitated not a moment in caus- dealt with by the law; but all men of ing it to be printed. According to your sense ; all men who had any regard for doctrine, I was punishable for writing the liberty of the press; all inen who the petition, and Mr. DENNISON for had not liberty upon their lips and ty
ranny in their hearts; all men, indeed, cordially united; all ready to forget throughout the country, thought me in former divisions and animosities, and to error, but revolted at the Whig idea of beseech the Government and Parliasuppressing me by force.
ment to take our case into consideraYet, if I were now to call the project tion, and to save us, and the state along of the new police a humbug, and a most with us. This, until your “ campaign expensive humbug; if I were to call commenced, was the feeling of the the miserable patch-work with regard country; I trust that that campaign to Ireland, by the same name; if I were will not disturb such a feeling ; I trust, to call many other things, that I could above all things, that the victims will now name, humbugs, I should be safely not be made such an example of as to within the purview of your law; ap terrify us out of our senses, and to reyou would pull me by the gills, or by duce us to the state of the most abject the "paunch,” or something ; and negro-driven slaves; and, in that hope, there would be the end of all printing I lay down my pen for the present. and publishing, except tracts on re
WM. COBBETT. ligion, or essays on the best mode of saving from starvation this industrious but ingenious people, who have been brought to their present state of misery, by the acts of this present Ministry and Parliament.
READERS OF THE REGISTER. The time, too, for conjuring up this new and severe doctrine, seems to me
Manchester, 5th January, 1830. to be the very worst that ever was MY FRIENDS, selected for such an enterprise by mor
or- We have just had the first lecture in tal man. You are not a far-seeing this place. It is now ten o'clock at gentleman, your eye, cunning as it is, night, and the post goes off early in the extends not very far beyond the surface morning. I never saw an audience that of your briefs : if it did, you would I liked better than that which I have know and consider these facts; that the addressed this evening. All old griev. country is in distress, and deep distress, ances seem to be forgotten on both from one extremity of it to the other ; sides. For my part, I shall take care that the rich see that they are losing not to revive them. The Mechanics' their fortunes ; that the middle class Institution, which appears to be rather feel that they are fast going to decay, larger than that in London, and much and that the poor are in want of a suf- finer, was crowded to excess; and with ficiency even of bread ; that, notwith regard to my reception, it was as good standing all this suffering, there is no as I could possibly wish. I trust I merit . where a desire evinced to make an op- something, but the applause was cerposition to the laws; that the people tainly beyond the merits of any man. are patiently waiting for some allevia Hark ve! if we had a wise Governtion to their sufferings; that the press, ment and Parliament, would not they, generally speaking, and, indeed, alınost being acquainted with this strange and universally speaking, is participating in wonderful change ; recollecting, that ten feeling with the people, and is the years ago, the authorities of this very organ remonstrating for them with the town, in violation of Magna Chartă, in Government and the Parliament. Re- violation of every principle of law, did, monstrate it cannot, without imputing in fact, forbid me to pass through the blame ; to impate blame is to intend to town, or to enter it ; would not a wise bring the Government and Parliament Government perceive in this change, into contempt ; and thus your doctrine, an indubitable proof of the prevalence of making short work with the nation, my principles; and would not they see commands it to hold its tongue, and the necessity of a reduction of taxes ; suffer in silence. We all seemed to be and would they not, IN TIME, make
that reduction? I have maintained the only by venality and corruption. Serwisdom of returning to the currency of vants of this description ought to be our fathers; I have called upon my driven away from the Throne : but how hearers (all the rich, and all the deeply- can this he done, or how can Ministers interested men) to stand by the Duke be made responsible, unless their Miin carrying through the present law; nisterial acts can be laid as open as the and I have every where found them re- light of the sun at noon-day? Juries, solved to stand by him, if he flinch not, who have the law of libel in their own and if he make that reduction in the hands, should laugh at the idea of Gotaxes which this new state of things vernment being degraded, or its intewill demand. Good night.
rests affected, except for good, by the I am your faithful friend, truth and the wliole truth, being told of and most obedient servant,
the official acts of all or any of those
who are concerned in the administration. WM. COBBETT. They are called upon, by all the great
principles of the Constitution and GoŃ. B. I wish I had had Huskisson vernment of their country, to protect here to defend himself upon these every one in the exercise of this right, boards this evening, or to attempt such in the performance of this duty, of free defence.
and full examination.
We regret deeply, therefore, that Sir
James Scarlett should have mixed up STATE PROSECUTIONS. these prosecutions for personal calumny,
for imputing dishonourable and crimi(From the Scotsman.)
nal acts falsely, with charges of degradA Good Government cannot be de- ing the Government and bringing it into graded or brought into contempt. Go- contempt. It might be necessary to do vernment is impersonal. It consists of this in the writ of information, in cominstitutions, rules, and principles. A pliance with the requisitions of form, in Government is not free if these cannot order to obviate objections of a technical be subjected to the test of reason ; and nature which a special pleading brother it would be insulting to common sense of the law might otherwise have started to maintain that freedom ean exist with against his proceedings; but it was not out the privilege of proclaiming, exa- necessary to resort to such topics in armining, and characterising, all the offi- gument. His ease ought to have been cial and public acts of all the functiona- rested entirely on the falsehood and ries engaged in administering the Go- malice of the libels. It is lamentable, vernment. We confine our position ex- certainly, that some minds cannot disa clusively to public and official acts. The tinguish betwixt the discussion of prinprivate life of such functionaries is sacred. ciples, or the examination of publie It is not public property. Their official measures and personal abuse. It is still proceedings, however, belong to the worse when the discussion of public public; and of these, truth cannot be a measures is only sought as u pretext for libel; and such truths, instead of de- assailing individuals by personal cagrading or tending to degrade the Go- lumny, invading the sanctuaries of privernment, must akvays tend to purify vate life, or artfully mixing up what is and protect it. If the public measures false with what is true. And we do not of public men be bad, the publication know a graver offence against the body of what is true respecting them may ex- politic than that of attempting to gratify pose, degrade, and bring into hatred the mulice against individuals under cover administering officials, but it is for the of maintaining the liberty of the press. interest of Government as well as of the The injury done is not confined to the public, that this should be só. No Go- reproach which is thus brought upon vernment can be secure when it is mal- the press itself ; to the suspicion which administered; when it is surrounded is cast over it; but if those in power
happen to be its enemies, as they often facts relating to public or official are, a door is thus opened to them for proceedings. The jurors, in each case, taking measures against the press gene- are both legislators and judges; they rally, or, at the least, for establishing at once declare and apply the law precedents that may be wrested to the and supposing that juries are chosen in: disadvantage of all covnected with it. discriminately, and in such a way that A more effectual method could not be power can neither exclude nor adınit derised of playing the game of those individual jurors, we do not see how, in who meditate the establishinent of ab- relation to questions of a political na. solute authority. The press is discre. ture, betwixt the Crown and the peodited, men of character are driven from ple, the law could possibly be placed on it, and if it fall into the hands of des- a better footing. Under such a state of peraloes only, the law may then, prac- things, foolish verdicts will no doubt be tically, do what it pleases with the pronounced, injustice will occasionally press.
de done ; but it is a state which (throwIt is amusing to find writers of this ing the rules of evidence and the forms desperate and unprincipled character, of procedure out of view) can be imcomplaining that there is no law with proved only by increasing the intelliregard to libel. The less that exists, gence and strengthening the virtues of either of law or justice, the better it is the people. It would be better, cerfor them; and if we cease to have either, tainly, if juries could, at present, he noit will be chiefly through ther miscon-minated 'so ás to consist only of the duet. The state of the law, as a whole, wisest, best, and most independent memis, no doubt, utterly indefensible. As bers of society ; but as the office of disit has often been laid down by the criminating would go to the side of bench, as we find it advocated in law power, and might be turned against books and from the lips of lawyers, it is the people, it is safer to adhere inflexibly adverse to reason, and irreconcilable to to the principle of impartial rotation. all justice. It is fettered and impeded Educate the people; confer knowledge by many of the existing rules for the upon all in the middle ranks of society; admission, or rather non-admission of implant integrity, increase the influence erittence. It is thus uncertain in its of mural feelings, and the law of libel tesalt, and always oppressively expen- will cease to be an evil. Judges, even sive. But, thanks to Mr. Fox, the ad- in political cases, would be impartial, tónistration of this law of libel is because juries would be firm and indeplaced in hands by which every fair and pendent; and for the same reason, from bonourable writer may be protected. the discrimination and wisdom of juries, Libiet is nowhere defined; we bave no the press would attain its true elevaa codification on the subject. But still tion. Bad men would no longer derive We have law. And the law declares profit or acquire importance from tradthat it is the province of the jury to ing in abuse, while thé enlightened and say, in each particular case, whether gifted, the wise and good, would feel the writing charged as such be or be not themselves honoured in avowing their 1 libel. This is the true and only pal- connexion with the press. hdium of British liberty. Let the judge state his opinion, and let that opinion be what it may, the jury may
(From the Kent Herald.) disregard the charge; it is binding The present law of libel is a foul Reither on their understandings nor con- blot upon our boasted free institutions. sciences. They are entitled to think Public opinion is not directed, purified, and aet for themselves ; and it is our and existing healthily by it, but exists opinion, that if they acted rightly, they in spite of it. The public mind is fed would refuse to establish guilt wherever and enlightened; the whole framework evidence was excluded, and acquit all of political knowledge is sustained, by who merely related and commented on writers, speakers, and publishers, at the