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to death, were, in confideration of count of the whole procedure. It their good intentions to the quiet was filled with expressions of huof the state, amply rewarded for manity and piety, which fort of their fidelity. A manifesto ap- language seems to be the office stile peared, by authority, giving an ac- of the court of Petersburgh.
Parliament meets.' State of parties, Wilkes's affair. Message to the
house. Both houses address. North Briton censured, and burnt by the hands of the common hangman. Question of privilege; debates thereupon. Wilkes retires to France. He is expelled. AVING taken notice of the thought themselves obliged, after
internal state of the other a long forbearance, in vindication great powers of Europe, it is now of injuries offered to the throne time to say fomething of our own itself, to take up the author. The country. The three factions, which process for tặis purpose was a loose we described in the close of our office form, which had been conhiftory of last year, still continued ; stantly practised from the Revolu. though in their visible operations tion, and never in any instance they seemed reduced to two only; censured during that period. But those who supported the admini- the present times were more critistration as it was then settled, and cal. As a cry had been raised those who opposed it.
that the administration was During the summer, the light ducted upon arbitrary principles, a troops of party, the pamphleteers severe fcrutiny was made into all and news-writers, kept skirmish- the actions of the ministry, with a ing with great alacrity, in verse view of pursuing them to extremity and in profe. The libellous spirit, if they were found to deviate from which animated those productions, the exact principles of the most was raised to the highest pitch of rigid law. audacity and infolence. Character The warrant used on this occano longer depended upon the tenor fion was general; to take up the of a man's life and actions; it authors, printers, and publishers of was entirely determined by the a seditious and treasonable paper, party he had taken. Neither in- . called the North Briton, No. 45, nocence, nor dignity were a pro- together with their
out otherwise than by the desigThe peace, to which fo triling nation of the crime) specially naman opposition had been made in ing or describing the criminals. parliament, either in debate or di- This loose method of vifion, was the principal topic. process was still more
1703. It was agitated with great heat by loosely executed, and all'; but by one writer with such upon a much greater number of remarkable indecency and bold- persons, and of a quality much nets, that the secretaries of state Îower, than was any way requifite for the purposes of preven- ever he went. With very mode, tion or punishment. But this pro- rate sufferings, he was considered cedure had been usual ; and, the as the martyr of liberty ; and his treatment of such persons being al. discharge, on account of privilege; ways mild and indulgent, and their was supposed a point gained to the danger from profecution great, hap- freedom of every individual. py to escape, they never thought This popular beat was kept of revenge, and, therefore, had alive with great art and indukry, not hitherto very critically scru- The persons who were taken up tinized the legality of the pro- by the warrants, which we havé cess by which they were appre- just mentioned, upon various comhended.
plaints, fought redress at law, and The proceeding, too, against the obtained (such was the temper, perfon principally concerned (Mr. which, by being diffused amongst Wilkes) was attended with some the people, was thought to have circumstances of rigour, which influenced the jury) damages great were not called for by the occafion ; ly beyond their real sufferings, and, close imprisonment was directed, poffibly, beyond their most fanguine and the use of pen, ink, and paper expectations. forbidden. But the usual unexa- These actions were prosecuted mined course of the secretaries of- in such a manner, that the public fice, and the zeal and indignation of attention to them was kept conthe noble persons who filled it, tinually alive. It seemed as if against so great an offence, may freedom had every day a well excuse that irregularity in conflict to undergo, and obtained the proceeding. When people every day a new victory. Admi. began to cool, the fault appear- nistration, on the other hand, oped, almost to all, to be nothing posed them by all the advantages worse than an irregularity; at which the law allows to those who that time it was very differently act on the defensive ; and fomeconsidered. Even the committal times by the interposal of privi. to the Tower, which was chosen lege kept this matter ftill longer from respect to the person of a in agitation ; infomuch that, unmember of parliament, was em- til the meeting of parlia
Nov. ployed to excite terror, and to ment, scarcely anything
15th. swell the popular alarm.
else could enter into the May
Mr. Wilkes, on bringing thoughts or conversation of the
his Habeas Corpus, was re- people. On this point, therefore, Oth.
leased, without bail, by the it was expected the great trial of court of common pleas. The judges ftrength and skill in the ensuing of that court were unanimously of session would be made. opinion, that privilege of parlia. Neither party seemed willing to ment extended to the case for decline this combat. which he was committed.
pared with a complaint of the abuse Beyond all measure was the po- of the liberty of the press, and of pular party elated by this success. the privilege of parliament; the Mobs attended the prisoner with other of the violation of that lipraises and acclamations where. berty and that privilege, and the
blow aimed at the freedom of every nal prosecution ; or to limit that subject by the process of the secre- privilege of parliament, which fo taries office.
lately was confirmed, not by their In this contest, administration own votes, but by the strict rules had the advantage of the first blow., of a court of justice, was an át• In the speech from the throne tempt of some spirit. it was contrived, that mention On the other hand, the party should be made of the peace, in in opposition, besides the benefit order to draw from parliament a which they derived from these cirteiterated approbation to that mea- cumstances, whilst they acted on fure; and to signalize the tri- the defensive, had several advanumph of the ministry upon that tages from them, if they chose to very point on which the oppo- proceed offensively. They had befition had been most successful fides one capital charge of illeduring the adjournment of the gality, which they might, with
houses. There was no doubt great plausibility, make upon the of their success. The parliament secretaries warrants. could not refuse to justify its own But, however violently these afact ; and this would not, indeed, fairs were agitated before the meetnecessarily, but naturally enough, ing of parliament, when they came lead them to the censure of those to be examined in the house, the writings which had involved men fervour of the
fervour of the party seemed greatof all parties, and the whole legif- ly to decline. The speech from lature, in one accusation.
the throne spoke as strongly as It was in the same spirit they possible of the attempts which had resolved on a stroke against that been made to divide the people. privilege on which their prose- Both houses made as full a return cution had been eluded during the as could be wished upon this arsummer, in order to defeat the ticle, as well as upon the peace, adversary in all his strong holds. which they connected with it. Possibly, some friends of the mi- But, before these addresses could nistry might also think by this be formed, a complaint was
Nov. means to cast a sort of oblique re- laid before the commons,
15th, flection on the respectable person, according to the usual whose judgment on this point had course, where any criminal process given their enemies so great an ad- has been issued against a member, vantage over them.
in a message from government, in- As their success in these matters forming them of the supposed ofmuft give the ministry the most fence of Mr. Wilkes, and of the signal advantage, and impress the proceeding against him. The expublic with the highest ideas of ceptionable paper was then laid their power and stability, so the before the house, attempt was bold, and not unat- A very long and warm debate tended with difficulties. To per
ensued. But the spirit, which suade parliament to cenfure a a seemed to animate the argument, piece actually under legal exami- had not a proportionable influence nation ; to proceed against their on the opinion of the members ; member, who was under a crimi- the division against the question 23d,
was inconsiderable ; though the re- the resolution, they proceeded withsolution was couched in very strong out delay to their next measure, terms, and could not fail of lying which was much more difficult, as heavy upon all the opposition which well as important, the privilege. might be raised to the subsequent On this, indeed, as on a much prosecution of the person of the better ground, opposition made a offender. It even affected the vigorous stand in both houses. For guard of privilege, which was pro- the question being put, that
Nov. posed to be taken from the offence privilege of parliament does itself.
not extend to the case of The resolution was, “ that the writing and publishing seditious' Nov. paper, intituled,
the lilels, nor ought to be allowed to 15th.
« North Briton, No. 45, obstruct the ordinary course of the
" is a false, scandalous, and laws, in the speedy and effectual " feditious libel, containing ex- prosecution of so heinous and dan“pressions of the most unexam- gerous an offence, they said, that “pled infolence and contumely the proposition itself was made with“ towards his majesty, the groffest out any sufficient reason, and that " afperfions upon both houses of the doctrine, by which it was sup
parliament, and the most auda- ported, was new, dangerous, and “cious defiance of the authority unwarrantable, viz. “ that the per« of the whole legislature, and “sonal privilege of both houses of “most manifestly tending to ali- parliament has never held, and senate the affections of the peo-, ought not to hold, in the case of “ ple from his majesty, to with “any criminal prosecution whatfo“ draw them from their obedience ever ;" by which all the records “ to the laws of the realm, and to of parliament, all history, all the “excite them to traitorous insur- authorities of the graveft and fo«rections."
berest judges, are entirely rescinded; Then they resolved, by a majo- and the fundamental principles of rity equally clear, that the paper the constitution, with regard to the should be burnt by the hands of the independencies of parliament, torn 'common hangman; and, on a con- up and buried under its most estaference, the lords having agreed blished rights. to the resolution on the libel, con- That the very question itself, curred in the sentence upon it. from the letter spirit of it, Nov. They afterwards joined in contradicts this assertion ;
an address, expressing their whilst it only narrows privilege in
indignation for the con- criminal matters, it establifhes the tumely with which his majesty was principle. treated in that libel, and for the They maintained ftrenuously, outrage which had been offered to that, by the reason of the thing, every, branch of the legislature. by many authorities in law, by
Administration continued to the late , determination of the ftrike this matter whilst it was court of common pleas, and by warm, and capable of being beat two plain resolutions of the house into the form they desired. Hav- of peers (so far as the question ing succeeded in the address and concerned their particular privi
lege) that the privilege of parlia- . the peace ; and that this argument, ment does extend to all cases therefore, proves too much. But whatsoever, except treason, felony, the best answer (because it removes and those offences in which sure- all pretence of grievance) is thiş : ties of the peace may be demands that the two houses, upon comed. If privilege will not hold plaint made, have the power throughout in the case of a libel, (which they will exert in favour of it is because it is such an offence. justice) to deliver up the offender to
ever fureties of the prosecution. For it is a dishonourpeace demanded in case of a li- able and an undeserved imputation bel? Libels are breaches of the upon them, to suppose, even in are peace only by inference and by gument, that they would nourish construction, and not actually and an impious criminal in their boin their own nature. They are soms, against the call of offended not included in any definition justice, and the demand of their given of a breach of the peace country. in any writer of approyed autho- Such were some of the argu.
nor is the case of a libel ments which, with great vehe. by any such writers enumerated mence, and no small appearance of amongst the breaches of peace. reason, were urged against the reOn the contrary, it is always de- solution. It was supported by scribed as an act tending to excite, expatiating on the dangerous naprovokes or produce breaches of the ture of the offence of a libel, fol. peace, and not as that offence lowed not only with consequences itself; and though a secretary of injurious to the peace of indiviftate may be pleased to add the duals, but pregnant in many enflaming epithets of treasonable, cases with danger to the fafety, traitorous, op feditious, to a par- and perhaps to the being of the ticular paper, yet no words are commonwealth ; that, therefore, ftrong enough to alter the nature a libel, which in fome cases might of things.
possibly be considered as an affair They expatiated further on the. of no great magnitude, might also, method of relaxing the rule of according to its object, be a crime privilege case by case, as of the of a much higher order, not only greatest inconvenience, by ren- than many of those flight offences dering the rule itself precarious for which fureties of the peace are and uncertain ; in consequence of demanded, but greater than sevewhich, the judges will neither ral species of felony (all of which know how to decide with cer- are allowed to be out of privi. tainty, nor the subject to pro- lege), and bordering on treason ceed with safety, in this perilous itself. business.
The distinction, said they, of Lastly, they answered to the sup- actual and constructive breaches of posed inconvenience, that would the peace is trifling and sophifattend this preservation of privilege tical. The question is concernin the case now before them, by fay- ing the nature and weight of the ing, that it would equally hold in offence, and not of the name by all other constructive breaches of which it is called. That it would,