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charge him with being actuated by factious disloyalty; to represent Junius with a visor of iron rivetted round his forehead, shrinking from the eye of the King: these are the blasphemies which pervade the Vision of Judgment, these are the impieties which have escaped the vengeance of the Attorney-General and the Vice Society, whose holy zeal for social order and morality, however it may incite them to harass the poor libeller with the vexations of the law, totally disappears when the sanctity of religion is abused by a Ministerial hireling, and the Deity enlisted into the cause of Toryism
We shall give one more extract from this section, and leave the reader to decide whether we are not justified in saying that the work of Doctor Southey is as fit a subject: for prosecur tion as the Age of Reason, the Principles of Nature, or Queen Mab. Wilkes and Junius are brought to the Judgment Seat, and they are described not only as being unable to meet the eye of the monarch, but to be so completely overpowered by a consciousness of their own guilt, as to be incapable of uttering a single word in extenuation of their conduct. This silence is interpreted into an acknowledgment of their crimes, and they are instantly consigned to hell. I shall quote the passage which contains their sentence at full length, in order that the friends of "morality and decency, and social order," may be enabled justly to appreciate the truly Christian piety and benevolence of the Laureat:—
'Caitiffs, are ye dumb? cried the multifaced demon in anger; Think ye then by shame to shorten the terms of your penance? Back to your penal dens! and with horrible grasp gigantic, Seizing the guilty pair, he swung them aloft, and with vengeance, Hurl'd them all abroad, far into the sulphurous darkness. Sons of faction, be warned! and ye, ye slanderers, learn ye Justice, and bear in mind, that after death there is judgment. Whirling away they flew. Nor long himself did he tarry, Ere from the ground where he stood, caught by a violent
whirlwind, He too was hurried away; and the blast with lightning and
thunder, Vollying a-right and a-left amid the accumulate blackness. Scattered its inmates accurst and beyond the limits of ether, Drove the hircine host obscene; they howling and groaning, Fell precipitate, down to their dolorous places of endurance.'
The poem of Lord Byron, which was written for the express purpose of satyrizing the hexameters of Mr. Southey, was selected for prosecution, while the original production was unnoticed. We have shown sufficient grounds for prosecuting the Laureat, and the fact of his having escaped, justifies us in saying, that this indulgence was extended to him on account of his political sentiments, So true it is, that one man may steal a goose, while another must not ruffle his feathers. The publisher of Lord Byron's Poem was the conductor of the Examiner, a journal which has been devoted to the popular party. Malice, and a desire of revenge, were both gratified in fining and imprisoning a man who scorned to imitate the disgraceful example of the renegade Laureat; but, true to his principles, preserved a consistent and honourable character. Here, then, is an instance, in which the danger of discretionary authority is apparent. Ex uno disce omnes. Let no man imagine that we desire the punishment of Dr. Southey, or that we should be satisfied with entrusting a Whig censorship with the management of the press. We have just as low an opinion of one party as of the other. Give us securities against bad government : let the laws be so framed that no Minister, however black his heart, or fruitful his invention, shall have it in his power to act in opposition to the general will. If the securities against misrule are so strong, that honesty becomes the best policy, public interests will be sufficiently guarded; if not, we are left at the mercy of frail fallible beings, and the laws become mere cobwebs, which catch the feeble, but suffer the powerful to escape.
The arguments adduced in the present section against drawing a distinction between free and forbidden discussion, appear to warrant the following conclusions.
First, since every member of a Protestant country is entitled to exercise the rights of private judgment in matters of religion, it is utterly impracticable to appoint any umpires, whose decisions shall be universally acknowledged as just and impartial. For, as every sect is in its own opinion orthodox, it involves a contradiction of ideas to suppose, that any class of religionists would acknowledge the decrees, or submit to the authority of any council, convocation, or assembly, the dominant members of which belonged to a persuasion differing from their own,
• Secondly, that the trial by jury does not afford a fair or impartial trial to a Dissenter, because the Judge is always, and the panel, most frequently, of the Established Church.
Thirdly, that the prohibitions of books, on account of their immoral or irreligious tendency, must always create considerable alarm and discontent; for, if the system were impartially-acted upon, it would destroy the works
of some of the ablest writers, which are at present in the libraries of every man of education, not excepting the clergy. And if the alleged grievances were only partially removed, those who were selected for punishment, would have just grounds of complaint. Upon these three grounds we maintain, that in a Protestant country, it is highly inexpedient to attempt to controul the freedom of inquiry, by erecting a standard of orthodoxy, and drawing a line be tween free and forbidden discussion.