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riots : and we do strictly charge and command all our magistrates in and throughout our kingdom of Great Britain, that they do make diligent inquiry, in order to discover the authors and printers of such wicked and seditious writings as aforesaid, and all others who shall disperse the same: and we do further charge and command all our sheriffs, justices of the peace, chief magistrates in our cities, boroughs, and corporations, and all other our officers and magistrates throughout our kingdom of Great Britain, that they do, in their several and respective stations, take the most immediate and effectual care to suppress and prevent all riots, tumults and other disorders, which may be attempted to be raised or made by any person or persons, which, on whatever pretext they may be grounded, are not only contrary to law, but dangerous to the most important interests of this kingdom: and we do further require and command all and every our magistrates aforesaid that they do from time to time transmit to one of our principal secretaries of state due and full information of such persons as shall be found offending as aforesaid, or in any degree aiding or abetting therein: it being our determination, for the preservation of the peace and happiness of our faithful and loving subjects, to carry the laws vigorously into execution against such offenders as aforesaid. Given at our Court at the Queen's House, the twenty-first day of May, One thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, in the thirty-second year of our reign. — God save the king."
Soon after this, his excellent Letters to Lord Onslow, to Mr. Dundas, and the Sheriff of Sussex were published.
Mr. Paine's trial for the second part of ' Rights of Man’ took place on the 18th of December 1792, and he being found guilty the booksellers and publishers who were taken up and imprisoned previously to this trial forebore to stand one themselves, and suffered judgment to go by default; for which they received the sentence of three years imprisonment each. Of these booksellers and publishers I
was one, but by flying to France I eluded this merciful sentence.
On the subject of these prosecutions I wrote to Mr. Fox, whom I well knew; and my intimate friend for years, Lord Stanhope, as I was myself the subject of two of them, and was well acquainted with the party factions of the day, and the iniquitous intrigues of the opposing leaders, in and out of office; for the writings of Mr. Paine which were as broad as the universe, and having nothing to do with impure elections and auger-hole politics, gave equal offence to all sides.
In the course of these letters which are still extant, it was impossible not to dwell on the absurdity of trial by jury in matters of opinion, and the folly of any body of men deciding for others in science and speculative discussion, in politics and religion. Is it not applying the institution of juries to purposes for which they were not intended, to set up twelve men to judge and determine for a whole nation on matters that relate to systems and principles of government? A matter of fact may be cognizable by a jury, and certainly ascertained with respect to offences against common law and in the ordinary intercourses of society; but on matters of political opinion, of taste, of metaphysical enquiry, and of religious belief, every one must be left to decide as his enquiries, his experience, and his conviction impel him.
If the arm of power in every country and on every doctrine could have enforced its tyranny, almost all we now possess, and that is valuable, would have been destroyed; and if all the governments and factions that have made the world miserable could have had their way, everything desirable in art, science, philosophy, literature, politics, and religion, would have been by turns obliterated; and the Bible, the Testament, the Alcoran, the writings of Locke, Erasmus Helvetius, Mercier, Milton, Shakspeare, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Swift, Bolanger, Hume, Penn, Tucker, Paine, Bacon, Bolingbroke, and of thousands of others on all sides, would have been burnt; nor would there be a printing press in the world.
It has happened happily for many years
past, thanks to the art of printing and the means adopted to crush the circulation of knowledge, that the very modes employed to accomplish this end have not only proved abortive, but have given wings to truth, and diffused it into every corner of the uni
The publication of trials containing quotations from the works to be put down have disseminated their contents infinitely wider than they would else have reached, and have excited enquiries that would otherwise have lain dormant.
So ludicrously did this strike Mr, Paine that his frequent toast was,
- The best way of advertising good books,—by prosecution.”
As the attorney-general's attacks upon prosecuted works of a clever and profound description, and the judges' charges upon them contain nothing like argument or refutation, but follow up the criminating and absurd language of the indictment or ex-officio information,* and breathe only declamation and
The reader is referred to these documents as well