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"When the glorious and disastrous intelligence of the victory of Trafalgar “ reached this country, a one-act piece was produced at Covent Garden Theatre, " under the title of Nelson's Glory,' in three days after the news was announced. “ Surely the same licenser who did not then disapprove one day's notice (which " was all he had) ought not now object to four days opportunity, scrutinizing an "effort of similar length, the intent of which was equally directed to aid the com" mon cause and common feelings of the country.
“Many instances can be produced of licenses granted to theatrical pieces on “ less notice than that given in the present case, and where the urgency of im"mediate production could not be pleaded.
“A proof also exists, that a farce, after being some time in rehearsal at “ Covent-Garden Theatre, under the title of 'The Two Farmers,' was sup"pressed by Mr. Larpent, in his official capacity, because it attenipted to “ draw a line between monopoly and honest dealing; and because, as Mr. Lar. “pent personally informed the author, it was highly improper to give a dishonestly speculating farmer the name of Locust.
« The Liberty of the Press most happily and properly interests every thinking indi. “ vidual of these realms ; and, next to the liberty of the press (if not immediately “connected with it), is the freedom of echoing on the British stage the genuine, “praiseworthy, and allow me to say, the providential feelings which have pre. “ vented this great, enviable, and commanding country from becoming a province “ of France, and its inhabitants from degenerating into vassals of the would. “ be Emperor of the Universe.
“Whatever your critical strictures on the suppressed piece might have been, “ you would, at least have given credit to the propriety of its intention, and, had "it been unworthy of repetition, had rather seen it fairly condemned by a jury “ of its author's countrymen, than denied a trial on so futile a plea as that which put a veto on
ORANGE BOVEN." Now, let us, if you please, not pester ourselves about the one day's notice and the four days' notice, and about who this Mr. Larpent is, or about what miserable trash he may now have put a stop to. Let us, sir, leave all this aside, and pin our attention to this simple fact : to wit; that there actually is a person appointed by the Government, and, I suppose, removable at its pleasure, whose license must be obtained to every theatrical piece, before the actors dare to perform it. Now, then, if your pupils should become readers of plays, here, at any rate, they will not read a word but what the Government has previously granted them permis. sion to read. Here there is no pretence of freedom of the press. Here the writing is first examined; and if the agent of the Government does not approve of it, it is suppressed. This is what Napoleon does with regard to all writings; and, really, I think it much better for the
managers of play-houses to be subject to this sort of control, than to be left free to act and liable to punishment for acting. Here the law is plain ; it is here a safe guide: no man can here incur ruin from his ignorance of how far he may go. Here is a person appointed by the Government, to pre. vent the poor writer from exposing himself to a punishment heavier ihan that of a great part of the felons. He is not here told, that he has freedom to write; he is not here told that he enjoys that precious liberty: he is told that he is to cause to be read upon the stage just as much as the Government agent pleases, and no more.
This “Orange Boven," as he calls himself, says that, “the Liberty of “ the Press most happily and properly interests every THINKING indi“ vidual of these realms,” of whom, I suppose, he regards himself as one; and, indeed, his remarks do seem to discover no common reach of thought. But, with due submission to this profound gentleman, who, in all probability, ought to thank Mr. Larpent for keeping his balderdash from the public, I would ask, what is the difference, the real difference, betk een the state of the stage and that of the press ? On the stage you must utter nothing which an agent of the Government has not previously examined and approved of; for if you do, you subject yourself to punistament. Very well; and what can you do in the other case? Why, through the press you can utter nothing which the Attorney. General does not approve of, whether it be false or true, without exposing yourself to a state prosecution, which may bring on you a punishment more severe than that inflicted on a great part of the felons. You are held responsible for all that you publish, and it belongs, and solely belongs, to an otticer appointed by the Government, and removable at its pleasure, to call upon you for that responsibility; to choose his time when to commence proceedings against you ; to choose, afterwards, the time for bringing you to trial; to suspend bis criminal charge over your head as long as he pleases; and, if he choose, and whenever he may choose, to drop his charge against you, and to relieve you and your halldead family from your fears. “Orange Boven" may say what he pleases of Mr. Larpent; but, really, I think that that gentleman fills a very friendly and amiable office
Here, Sir, I close this part of my subject; and I think that, in what. ever light the matter is viewed, it is impossible to deny that the teaching of the children of the poor to read is more likely to do harm than good, if by good we mean the enlightening of their minds and making them friends to the rights and liberties of men in society.
I remain, with unfeigned respect, your most obedient and most humble servant,
TO MR. CANNING'S LIVERPOOL SPEECH.
(Political Register, February, 1814.)
It appears, from a Liverpool newspaper, that, a few days back, this gentleman was treated to a dinner by his partisans at Liverpool, at which, it is said, nearly 400 of them attended. At this meeting he is said to have made a Speech, which, as published in the Liverpool Mercury, though full of offensive matter : though full of sophistry, and falsehood, and impudence, has on its side, the circumstance of its being uttered in a place, which does not afford it the iron shield of privilege, but leaves it open to be commented on by those, who may think it their duty to deny its statements and controvert its doctrines.
After having dispatched the local topics, Mr. Canning proceeds, in this Speech, to those of a public nature, beginning with congratulating his hearers on the happy change in the situation of Europe, and here he observes, that he and those who think with him, that is to say, the AntiFreedom party, have a right to exult; that there is nothing improper, nothing unbecoming, nothing base and cowardly in their exultation now;
because they formerly had to endure similar erultation on the side of
This is not true. The friends of freedom were not at liberty to exult; they dared not openly rejoice at those events, which gave pain to the sons and daughters of corruption; they were charged, as with a crime, of rejoicing inwardly. So that there is no reciprocity in the case. It is not turn and turn about. The liberty to exult is all on one side ; and, therefore, the exultation of Mr. Canning, at this time, is as cowardly as the conduct of a man, who makes an attack upon another, while he knows that the law shuts the mouth of the party so attacked.
Nay, even this speech, though delivered at a tavern, and not shielded from being commented on, he knows cannot be freely answered; he knows, that there are many of his positions, which, though wholly false, no man will dare to deny in print. He knows, that he has introduced characters and institutions, which he has eulogized, and which might easily be shown to be detestable ; but, he also knows, that he is safe here, for that the man who should dare to exhibit them in a true light, would expose himself to utter ruin, and to probable death.
Therefore, such a speech is a cowardly speech; it is the act of a man, who is bold behind a wall of brass; it is the bravery of a man who fights only because the hands of his adversary are tied.
If the people of France, assuming the attitude and actuated by the principles of 1792, were to drive the enemy from their territory, or slaughter them on that territory, and were to pursue them to the midst of their own dominions; would any man dare, in England, openly to express, in print, his exultation at the change ? Mr. Canning knows that no man would dare do this; and, therefore, is his present exultation cowardly and contemptible.
His next topic is, the cause of the recent change in the affairs of Europe, and of the reverses of Napoleon. These, he says, and I agree with him perfectly, have not been produced by any change in the principles of the war.
He alludes here the observations of Mr. Whitbread, that the allied sovereigns have now got their people with them ; that the war has become a war of the people and not a war of Courts; and that, therefore, it is that the Allies have been successful. The same sentiments are daily rung in our ears by the MORNING CHRONICLE, who is not willing to allow the Ministers the merit of success, but wishes to attribute it to the “Whiy principles." When shall we see an end of this superannuated folly!
Mr. Canning says, and very truly, that the principles of the war have undergone no change; that no change has taken place in the motives of our Government or its supporters ; that the sovereigns of the Continent are actuated by the same principles that actuated them at the beginning of the war against the Republicans ; that, in short, the motives of 1814 are those of 1792.
I perfectly agree with him here, and join him in his protest against the claims of the old dotard Whigs to a share in the honour of having so far restored the good old order of things, the regular government of 1792.
But, if I agree with him here, he ought to agree with me, that it is extremely unjust to blame the friends of freedom for appearing to give their good wishes to all the successive governments in France. This has been charged upon them, and particularly on the Americans, as a most glaring trait of inconsistency. It has been said, that this their adherence to all the different governments in France, not excepting that of Napoleon, shows that it is the enemy of England, and not the cause of freedom, that they are attached to. But, if the principles of the war have not changed; if they have continued the same from 1792 until this day; if the same principles led to war against the limited French monarchy; against the Republic ; and against a despotic Emperor ; if the principles were so steady, was it not natural and necessary, that those who opposed these principles at first should continue to oppose them ? The friends of freedom, the American government, for instance, could not fail to per. ceive, and to regret, that the French nation had lost under Napoleon much of what it had gained of freedom; but, that Government perceiv. ing, that the principles of English warfare had not changed; that those principles still continued the same, could not but still lean, in consistency, towards that, with which those principles were at war.
Mr. Canning's assertion completely clears all those who have continued, since 1792, steady in their attachment to the cause of France. He, at any rate, ought to reproach no one for adhering to Buonaparte as firmly as to the Republic; for, if the principles of the war, on our part, have never changed, that adherence, to be consistent, must bave been as strong towards the one as towards the other.
If I am to judge from the tavern speeches of Mr. Canning, he, and all those who are with him, are the bitterest enemies of freedom. To them we may add a herd innumerable of writers in newspapers and other pub. lications, the mere corrupt mouth-pieces of others. Every principle of liberty they are continually at war against. They are the supporters of every thing, of every act, be it what it may, in any part of the world, hostile to freedom. And, when we hear these men, at the same time, railing, in such terms of bitterness, against the present government of France, is it not enough to make us suspect, that, at the bottom, that government is not so very despotic ? At any rate, is it not enough to make us suspect, that the destruction of that government, and the substituting in its place a something, no matter what, which these known mortal enemies of freedom desire, would not be likely to benefit the cause of freedom ?
And, if a man entertain this reasonable, this just suspicion, or, rather, if he be convinced of this truth, can it be expected, that he will wish for the overthrow of the government of France, unless he be well assured, that a government more hated by these men, that is to say, a government more free, will be established in its stead ? In short, this is the way that the friends of freedom reason.
" That “person, no matter who, that is most hated and dreaded by our worst
enemies, is not a person for whose annihilation we ought to wish."
What has here been said will serve as a preface to the next topic of the speech; namely, the instruments by which Napoleon has been defeated.
Upon this point we will take the gentleman's very words:
“ Gentlemen, there is another question to be asked. By what power, in what “ part of the world, has that final blow been struck which has smitten the tyrant
to the ground ? I suppose by some enlightened republic. I suppose by some “ nation which, in the excess of popular freedom, considers even a representative
system as defective, unless each individual interferes directly in the government “ of the national concerns. I suppose by some nation of enlightened patriots,
“every man of whom is a politician in the coffee house as well as in the Senate. " I suppose it is from such government as this that the conqueror of despots, " the enemy of monarchical England, has met his doom. I look through the “ European world, Gentlemen, in vain ; I find there no such government: but “ in another hemisphere I do find such a one, which, no doubt, must be the
political David by whom the Goliah of Europe has been brought down. What " is the name of that glorious republic to which the gratitude of Europe is eter
nally due; which, from its hatred to tyranny, has so perseveringly exerted " itself to liberate the world, and at last has successfully closed the contest? “ Alas! Gentlemen, such a republic I do indeed find; but I find it enlisted, and “ God be thanked, enlisted alone, under the banner of the despot. (Applause.)
“ But where was the blow struck? Where? Alas, for theory! The blow was "given in the wilds of despotic Russia. It was followed up on the plains of Leipzig-by Russian, Prussian, and Austrian arms."
Now, this is all mere Alippancy; for, why should any “ enlightened republic;" why should any nation loving " popular freedom;" why
nation of patriots," have been expected to strike the blow, or to wish to see the blow stricken, if, as Mr. Canning himself asserts, the principles of the war have not changed ; if those principles are the same that they were at the outset of the war? Why should any “enlightened republic" have been expected to join in the war against Na. poleon, if the war against him be the same in principle as was the war in 1792 against the Republic of France ?
Mr. Canning thanks God, that he finds the American Republic enlisted under the banners of the despot. Suppose this to be as true as it is false, where would be the wonder, if the American Republic were to be enlisted on the side of him, against whom war was carried on upon the same principles as it was carried on against the Republic of France ?
But this is not all. America, though enlisted, as he calls it, has sent neither ships nor men to his assistance, while we know, that the Emperor of Russia, the King of Prussia, and the Emperor of Austria, have been in alliance with him, offensive and defensive ; that the two latter, withiu a few short months, have aided him with their armies to combat and invade the former ; and that the latter of the three has even given Napoleon his daughter in marriage. This was something like being enlisted under him ; nor did the military engagements of the two latter cease, till Napoleon met with reverses of fortune. Amongst the rest of the Allies the sovereigns of Bavaria and Wurtemberg were made kings by him, and accepted of his protectorship; and, the Crown Prince of Sweden, a Frenchman, and formerly a private soldier in the revolutionary army, was by Napoleon made heir to the throne of Sweden,
If, therefore, it were as true as it is false, that America were enlisted under his banners, would she find no apology in the example of all these our Allies ? No, not in the eyes of the friends of freedom, with whom such an example would be no justification ; but, one would imagine, that the eulogists of those Allies ought to hold their tongues, while that example is before the eyes of all the world.
There is not one of those Allies, except the Crown Prince, who has not been an ally of Napoleon against us; and, therefore, if the fact had been true instead of false, what ground of reproach would it have been to America to have acted in the same way ; unless we also make it a ground of reproach to the Allies ?
The truth, however, is, that America has fought, and is fighting, her own buttles, with her own means. She has made no treaty, she has sought no treaty, she has desired no treaty, with France, for the pur