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PREFACE.

THE

HE encouragement given to a multitude of spurious, mangled publications of the “ Letters of Junius,” persuades me, that a complete edition, corrected and improved by the author, will be favourably received. The printer will readily acquit me of any view to my own profit. I undertake this troublesome task, merely to serve a man who has deserved well of me, and of the public; and who, on my account, has been exposed to an expensive, tyrannical prosecution. For these reasons, I give to Mr. Henry Sampson Woodfall, and to him alone, my right, interest, and property, in these letters, as fully and completely, to all intents and purposes, as an author can possibly convey his property in his own works to another.

This edition contains all the letters of Junius, Philo Junius, and of Sir William Draper and Mr. Horne to Junius, with their respective dates, and according to the order in which they appeared in the “ Public Advertiser.” The auxiliary part of Philo Junius was indispensably necessary to defend, or explain, particular passages

in Junius, in answer to plausible objections; but 7 the subordinate character is never guilty of the

indecorum of praising his principal. The fraud was innocent, and I always intended to explain it. The Notes will be found not only useful, but necessary. References to facts not generally known, or allusions to the current report, or opinion, of the day, are, in a little time, unintelligible. Yet the reader will not find himself overloaded with explanations. I was not born to be a commentator, even upon my own works.

It remains to say a few words upon the liberty of the press. The daring spirit, by which these letters are supposed to be distinguished, seems to require, that something serious should be said in their defence. I am no lawyer by profession, nor do I pretend to be more deeply read than every English gentleman should be in the laws

of his country. If, therefore, the principles In maintain are truly constitutional, I shall not think myself answered, though I should be convicted of a mistake in terms, or of misapplying the language of the law. I speak to the plain . understanding of the people, and appeal to their honest, liberal construction of me.

Good men, to whom alone I address myself, appear to me to consult their piety as little as their judgment and experience, when they admit the great and essential advantages accruing to society from the freedom of the press, yet indulge themselves in peevish, or passionate, exclamations against the abuses of it. Betraying an unreasonable expectation of benefits, pure and entire, from any human institution, they in effect arraign the goodness of Providence, and confess that they are dissatisfied with the common lot of humanity. In the present. instance, they really create to their own minds, or greatly exaggerate, the evil they complain of. The laws of England provide as effectually as any human laws can do, for the protection of the subject, in his reputation, as well as in his person and property. If the characters of private men are insulted, or injured, a double remedy is open to them, by action and indictment. If, through

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indolence, false shame, or indifference, they will. not appeal to the laws of their country, they fail in their duty to society, and are unjust to themselves. If, from an unwarrantable distrust of the integrity of juries, they would wish to obtain justice by any mode of proceeding more summary than a trial by their peers, I do not scruple to affirm, that they are in effect greater enemies to themselves than to the libeller they prosecute,

With regard to strictures upon the characters of men in office, and the measures of government, the case is a little different. A considerable latitude must be allowed in the discussion of public affairs, or the liberty of the press will be of no benefit to society. As the indulgence of private malice and personal slander should be checked

and resisted by every legal means, so a constant 7 examination into the characters and conduct of

ministers and magistrates should be equally promoted and encouraged. They, who conceive that our newspapers are no restraint upon bad men, or impediment to the execution of bad measures, know nothing of this country. In that state of abandoned servility and prostitution, to which the undue influence of the crown has reduced the other branches of the legislature, our

minister and magistrates have in reality little punishment to fear, and few difficulties to con tend with, beyond the censure of the press, and the spirit of resistance which it excites among the people. While this censorial power is maintained, to speak in the words of a most ingenious foreigner, both minister and magistrate is compelled, in almost every instance, to choose betweeen his duty and his reputation. A dilemma of this kind perpetually before him, will not indeed work a miracle upon his heart, but it will assuredly, operate, in some degree, upon his conduct, At all events, these are not times to admit of any relaxation in the little discipline we have left.

But it is alleged, that the licentiousness of the press is carried beyond all bounds of decency and truth; that our excellent ministers are continually exposed to the public hatred or derision; that, in prosecutions for libels on government, juries are partial to the popular side; and that, in the most flagrant cases, a verdict cannot be obtained for the king. If the premises were admitted, I should deny the conclusion. It is not true, that the temper of the times has in general an undue influence over the conduct of juries. On the contrary, many signal instances may be produced of verdicts returned for the king,

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