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men. He asked you, whether you would have no regard to the charac, ters of men in this case. You said, that you would rather have to do with all men of good character ; but that, as thieves and robbers and swindlers were sent on board of ship to fight the foreign enemy of the country, so you saw no reason why you should be so very scrupulous in the materials of which the ranks were composed, which were to fight against its enemies at home. Though I have a right, a perfect right, to presume every thing that is base in the character of this Mr. Wooler, I do not so presume. His conduct has been base towards me ; but, I am even willing to hope, that want of experience, want of time for reflection, extreme anxiety for the success of the cause, some misrepresentation, perhaps, and (a weakness too common amongst literary men) an eagerness to obtain fame, which rendered him too impatient to confine himself to efforts to rise, without endeavouring, at the same time, to pull others down; I am willing to liope that his malignity has been thus engendered, as it were, without his own wish; and that a little more time would have made him act towards me with more generosity and less injustice. At any rate, upon your old principle, I take the assistance of bis pen as far as it is calculated to aid the cause of our country; and I do most sincerely rejoice at his acquittal on his trials for libel, the statements in both of which were as true as bis statements with regard to me were false. His defence, which I have read in the English papers, was not only bold and maply, but it was full of talent; and though the Attorney-General made a great mistake, when he said, that it was a proof of facility of composition, that a man was able to put his thoughts together by the means of types, without manuscript, the fact being that many men can write as much in a day as six or seven compositors can print ; still, it was a most interesting fact that this was done by Mr. WoOLER, and it was a proof, amongst thousands of others that might be produced, of the great stock of talent now possessed by the people of England.
To go into all the particulars of the trials would be useless; but, I cannot help observing, that, in one part of Mr. WOOLER's defence he complains what a hardship it was to have been dragged all of a sudden from his affuirs; and he adds, that, if he had had a wife and family. the consequences must have been dreadful. Mr. WOOLER is too sincere a man, I dare say, to have feigned this, in order to move compassion; therefore one may perhaps be permitted to ask Mr. Wooler, whether he did not happen to know that I had a wife and family; and whether, when he was calling me a coward, he did not happen to know that that wife and all the feeble part, and only the feeble part, of that family were in London, at the very time that he was aiming his malignant shafts against the head of that family? I observe, too, that Mr. WOOLER expresses a wish not to be found guilty ; that is to say, not to be imprisoned and fined! Bless me! Wish not to be imprisoned ! Beg not to be imprisoned and fined! Why, one would have supposed, that this gentleman, who, by implication, accuses Ludlow, SIDNEY, and PAINE, of cowardice, would have courted imprisonment as the greatest of favours, like the methodist parson, or like Jack in the Tale of a Tub, who cried out, “Another box in the ear, good folks, for the Lord's sake!” I, indeed, as you remember very well, suffered two years' imprisonment and paid a thousand pounds fine, without liking it at all. But this gentleman's taste appeared to be so very different, that one might naturally have been surprised not to hear him beg to be sent to prison ; instead of which he
makes most strenuous efforts to save himself from it; and, from present appearances, I have very great pleasure in believing that those efforts are likely, in the present case at any rate, to be successful. If they should not, and if he should have two years' imprisonment to suffer, a fine of a thousand pounds to pay, and be compelled to give bail in a five thousand pound bond, to be of good behaviour for seven years aftewards ; when he comes out of prison and has paid his fine and given his bail, he will be better able to judge than he is at present, of the manner in which he ought to talk of the step which I have taken. But as Mr. Wooler has ventured upon predictions with respect to what I should do, be will excuse me if I hazard a prediction with respect to him, especially as it shall be wholly divested of malignity. I predict, then, that he, Thomas Jonathan Wooler, will be silenced by some means or other, before next Christmas-day ; or, that he will write in a very measured style, and be very mannerly towards the Ministers; or, that he will come to America himself, and that, if he does come to America, he will be a printer and not a writer. I most sincerely desire, that a state of things will arise such as will enable him to continue to write boldly in England ; but, if he must follow the example of Mr. Paine, I must confess, that I am ill. natured enough to wish to have an opportunity of calling upon him in New York or Philadelphia, between one of which and an English jail, his choice, if he has a choice left, appears to me to lie.
But, be Mr. WOOLER's destiny what it may, the result of the trials, as far as they went up to the 9th of June, is not only pleasing in itself, and honourable to the jurors, who made such a glorious stand for the Liberty of the Press, but it is of the greatest importance, considered as a symptom of the public feeling and of the spirit of the people. There were no such juries when I was sent to prison; if there had, I never should have gone there. But, this is the natural effect of the terrible laws which have recently been passed. The people now see no hope but in them: selves. They see everything in authority so decidedly hostile to liberty, that, when any portion of power happens to fall into their own hands, as in the case of a jury, they feel that they ought to exercise this power so as to favour liberty as much as they possibly can. They, therefore, while they are listening to the case before them, bear in their minds all the parts of the present system of restraint and of force, and they lean, as much as their oaths will permit them, towards the side of the accused. If they could be told with truth, that the press was free, and that men were only rendered answerable for the real abuses of that freedom, then they would naturally be less inclined to view the matter charged with a lenient eye; but, when they take into view the efforts which are now made to stifle publications, which even the Libel-law does not deem libellous; when they see the magistrates authorized to shut up readingrooms, circulating libraries, debating societies, and in effect to select the newspapers for public-houses; when they see a new and unwarrantable construction given to the Hawkers' and Pedlars' Act; when they see, in short, everything, except a direct censorship, put in motion to prevent the publication of that which displeases the Boroughmongers ; when they hear the Secretary of State declare in his place in the House of Lords, that he wants Gagging Bills, not because the cheap publications are contrary to law, but precisely because the law-officers can find nothing in those publications to prosecute ; and when they see the most popular of all the writers, against whom the laws were particularly aimed, crossing
the sea for the purpose of being in safety and to continue his writings ; when they see and hear all this, and see themselves impannelled to sit in judgment upon one of these writers, they feel, they must feel, they must have hearts of iron not to feel, leniently towards the accused; and, I am persuaded, that, if the present system go on for any length of time, this feeling will become more and more prevalent, and more and more powerful.
It appears to me, therefore, that, if the present system go on, juries must be wholly left aside in all cases where the Government is the prosecutor ; and that it must rely upon the powers with which the Ministers are now vested. They can now imprison for any length of time ihat they choose ; in any jail that they choose; in any dungeon that they choose; and they can deprive the prisoner of all communication with friends or relations; of all knowledge of what is going on in the country; and all this they can do without alleging any crime, and without giving the prisoner any hearing even from themselves. But, they want still to have the appearance of law for punishment in cases of libel. They take a man up at once upon a charge of libel before any guilt be proved. They put him in prison or hold him to bail. All this is new to the country. But still, long imprisonment, heavy punishment, upon a charge of libel, requires the consent of a jury; and though they can imprison and punish without it, they would rather not. They would rather have a “jury of his country to fling in the face of the victim. But, if juries of the country are not to be found to convict men of crimes for publishing truth; if juries take it into their heads, that to publish truth is not a crime ; if out of all this discussion, and all these terrible measures, there should arise a general persuasion, that it is a fear of the truth being known which has given rise to all these measures; if this persuasion should become general, juries will not convict; and then one of two things must take place : either the present imprisoning system must be put an end to, and a reform must be adopted at once; or, juries must be dispensed with and wholly set aside, in all cases of prosecution by the Government. This can take place without the passing of any additional Act of Parliament; because, in place of trying a man for a libel, and imprisoning him in virtue of a sentence of the Court of King's Bench, the Ministers can, whenever they please, send a King's Messenger, take the offensive writer and put him in a dungeon; and there's an end, at once, of him and of his writings. But, as I said before, this is what they would rather not do. They would rather have the countenance and the active concurrence of a jury. But, be you assured, Sir, that they will not have this long ; for if they wait for this concurrence, they will find themselves hampered at every turn. One acquittal will produce ten thousand of those things which they call libels; that is to say, a mass of truth and argument levelled against their acts. They want to carry on their system of dungeons and gags hand in hand with the juries and the law. But, I imagine, that this they will find too difficult. Indeed, what can be more difficult than to mix up arbitrary power with legal proceedings ? It cannot be done. The juries must go next; and then the thing will stand upon its fair foundation. There will be no masked battery left at any rate. Every one will see what the thing really is, and every one will call it by its right name.
Nor, is this to be dreaded at all. The strength of the Boroughmongering system has consisted principally in its powers of deceiving.
To be seen in its true colours is all that is necessary. It would bave been annihilated long and long enough ago, and the people and the king would have had their rights, if both could have seen the system in its true colours.
Therefore, everything that tends to exhibit it fairly and truly, tends to its overthrow, to the restoration of the people's rights and happiness, and to the dignity and stability of the throne.
Such is my reasoning upon the result of the trials of Mr. WOOLER, whose conduct as to these trials, I highly applaud, and to whom I wish all the success that he himself can desire in every undertaking where the good of his country is not made to yield to the gratification of selfish and base desires and propensities.
It is with no small pleasure, that I see from the London papers, that the worthy and most excellent LORD Mayor has been proposed as Member for the City in the place of Mr. ALDERMAN COMBE. What has been the termination of the contest, or, whether there has been any contest at all, I cannot, of course, know as yet, seeing that my latest papers are to the ninth of June. But, there were some circumstances attending the cause of the vacancy, which I cannot overlook here, being extremely material in an estimate, which it is very necessary now to form of the conduct of a man, who has acted a great part in the City; namely, Mr. Walthman. It appears, that, on the 30th of May, the Common Hall being met to petition Parliament against the renewal of the Absolute-Powerof-Imprisonment Act, Mr. ALDERMAN Combe, who has been a long time ill, sent a letter to the Lord Mayor, which his Lordship read, stating Mr. Combe's inability to attend the House from ill health, hoping that his absence from the Parliament would be excused, and declaring his opinions on the question of Parliamentary Reform and his ardour in the cause of Liberty, remained what they always had been. Upon the reading of this letter, the most curious occurrence arose. Mr. Hunt, who is a Liveryman of the City of London, and who, in presence of mind, in a Public Meeting, yields to very few persons that I have ever seen, caught hold of this opportunity to do that which has given me, as I am sure it has given you, the greatest satisfaction; and a better blow to the Ministers and to the system could not, perhaps, have been given.
“ Mr. Hunt thought it of great importance that the City should have
some person in Parliament in the place of the worthy Alderman whose “ letter had just been read, at a crisis like the present. He moved, that " the thanks of the Hall should be given to Mr. ALDERMAN Combe for “ his long and faithful services, and that while they lamented his inability
to attend to his Parliamentary duties, he should be requested to resign “his seat, that some other person might be elected to waich over the • interests of the City of London in the House of Commons at the pre“ sent momentous crisis."
Nothing could be better timed, nothing more reasonable, nothing more just than this proposition. Yet, Mr. Waithman resisted the motion, “ as he considered it to be disrespectful to Mr. ALDERMAN COMBE, who “had for twenty years been virtually the only representative of the City " in Parliament.”
This was a strange ohjection to make! How could it be disrespectful to Mr. Comee, when it had embodied in it a vote of thanks for his long an:1 faithful services, and an expressioa of lamentation at his inability to attend to his Parliamentary duties? Mr. Hunt answered Mr. WAITHman by saying "that no man had a higher respect for the character of
" Mr. Combe than himself; but expressed a determination to press his " motion.” Mr. WAITHMAN, being now hard pushed, cried aloud for help. “He thought it highly improper to introduce matter so irrelevant " to the requisition without notice, and in so thin a Hall. He called " upon the Lord Mayor to interpose his authority upon the occasion." This was being hard pressed indeed! The Lord Mayor, who was not hypocrite enough, who did not give enough into shuffles and shams to cry Nolo EPISCOPARI, as some other longing politicians have done; the Lord Mayor, who did not wish to act the part of a maiden so tender and coy, “ was of opinion, that the motion bad arisen out of the letter that "bad been read ; that the question ought to be put; and that he was " surprised that it should be objected to as irrelevant by a gentleman " from whom so much irrelevant matter had so frequently proceeded." " Mr. WAITHMAN denied that he had been in the habit of introducing “ irrelevant matter. He moved, as an amendment, a vote of censure " on Sir William Curtis and Alderman Atkins!”
Now, my dear Sir, you, I dare say, in spite of all the dreadful scenes before your eyes, and in spite of all your feeling for the numerous sufferers, have been utterly unable to prevent repeated fits of laughter at this tour de main of our friend the SIGNOR! This beats the “black cat of Kater. felto," and even the “black fox of the Signor." Suppose, now, being in the company of a set of men coming in piping hot from work in the fields, I was to make a motion for a gallon of strong beer, and another was to get up and move, as an amendment, a deliberate and very bitter curse upon sour cider. What would you think of this fellow? I know what my companions would say. They would say, “Curse the sour “ cider as long as you please; but, for God's sake, let us have the strong " beer." So said the Common Hall; for Mr. Hunt's motion was put and carried, to the great, and I am very sure, lasting mortification of Mr. WAITHMAN, who hates the Lord Mayor more than he ever hated the Boroughmongers, if, indeed, he ever sincerely hated them at all.
Such was his eagerness to get rid of this dreadful proposition, that he forgot that the motion contained a vote of thanks and a very high compliment to Mr. Alderman COMBE; or, if he did not forget it, he was willing to sweep every thing away rather than that proposition should be adopted, which was likely to open the way for the Lord Mayor's Elec. tion at this time.
In the Morning Chronicle of the 31st of May, there is subjoined to a report of this transaction, an assertion, " that before the violent com " motion produced by Mr. Hunt, about one-half of the Meeting had dis" persed; and, we believe, that there were not a hundred Livery present " at the time of the commotion, the rest being composed of a promis. " cuous crowd of the lowest class. The resolution, therefore, of this “ gentleman, is certainly not the sentiment of the Livery.".
How do you make that out, Signor? The Livery who were present had not been culled out for the occasion. It was not a packed Hall, such as you know are sometimes contrived. The doors had not been shut to keep out the Livery, as you remember was the case, when you produced, out of pure opposition to Mr. Hunt, a vote in that Hall, calculated to damp and destroy the cause of Reform; and when you, with the word Union upon your lips, endeavoured to produce a total disunion, and to separate London from all the rest of the kingdom. No, there could be no packing. Mr. Hunt has no runners to work for him in the City.