Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

alter the law : and shall cheerfully consent to exchange my liberty of abusing others, for the privilege of not being abused myself. By whom this court is commiffioned or constituted,

It is not any commission from the supreme executive council, who might previoully judge the abilities, integrity, knowlidge, &c. of the persons to be appointed to this great trust of deciding upon the characters and good fame the citizens : for this court is above that council, and may accuse, judge, and condemn it at pleasure. Nor is it hereditary, as is the court of dernier resort in the peerage of England. But any man who can procure pen, ink, and paper, with a a prefs, a few types, and a huge pair of blacking balls, may commissionate himself, and his court is immediately established in the plenary possession and exercise of its rights. For if you make the least complaint of the judge's conduct, he daubs his blacking balls in your face wherever he meets you, and besides tearing your private character to splinters, marks you out of the odium of the public, as an enemy to the liberty of the press.

Of the natural support of this court. Its support is founded in the depravity of such minds as have not been mended by religion, nor improved by good education.

There is a lust in man no charm can tame,

Of loudly publishing his neighbour's fame.
Hence,

On eagles' wings, immortal, scandals fly
While virtuous actions are but born to die.

DRYDEN Whoever feels pain in hearing a good character of his neighbour, will feel a pleasure in the reverle. And of those who, despairing to rise to distinction by their virtues, are happy if others can be depressed to a level with themselves, there are a number sufficient in every great town to maintain one of these courts by their subscription. A shrewd observer once faid, that in walking in the Atreets of a slippry morning, one might see where the good natured people lived, by the ashes thrown on the ice before the doors ; probably he would have formed a different conjec

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

none.

ture of the temper of those whom he might find engaged in
such subscriptions.
Of the checks proper to be established against the

abuses of power in those courts.
Hitherto there are But fince so much has been,
written and published on the federal conftitution ; and the
Receility of checks, in all other parts of good government,
has been so clearly and learnedly explained, I find myself
so far enlighiened as to suspect some check may be propor
in this part also : but I have been at a loss to imagine any
that may not be construed an infringement of the sacred li-
berty of the press. At length, however, I think I have
found one, that instead of diminishing general liberty, shall
augment it which is, by restoring to the people a species o
liberty of which they have been deprived by our laws, I
mean the liberty of the cudgel! In the rude state of society
prior to the existence of laws, if one man gave another ill
language, the affronted person might return it by a box on
the ear ; and if repeated by a good drubbing ; and this
without offending against any law : but now the right of
inaking such returns is denied, and they are punished as
breaches of the peace, while the right of abusing keems to
remain in full force ; tlie laws made against it being ren-
dered ineffcctual by the liberty of the press.

My proposal then is, to leave the liberty of the press uncouched to be exercised in its full extent, force, and vigour, bụt to permit the liberty of the cudgel to go with it, jari palie. Thus, my fellow citizens, if an impudent writer attacks your reputation--dearer perhaps to you than your life, and puts his name to the charge, you may go to him as openly and break his head. If he conceals himself behind the printers, and you can nevertheless discover who he is, you may in like mannor, waylay him in the night, attack him behind, and give him a good drubbing. If your adversary hires beiter writers than himself, to abuse you more effectually, you may hire brawny porters, itranger than yourself, to assuit you, in giving him a more effeciual drubbing. Thus far goes my project, as 10 private refent. incnt and retribution. But if the publie shonia happen to be aironion, as it ought to be, with the corduet of fusil

[merged small][ocr errors]

writers, I would not advise proceeding immediately to these extremities, but that we should in moderation content ourselves with tarring and feathering, and tossing them in a blanket.

If, however, it should be thought that this proposal of mine may disturb the public peace, I would then humbly recommend to our legislators to take up the consideration of both liberties, that of the press, and that of the cudgel ; and by an explicit law mark their extent and limits: and at the same time that they secure the person of a citizen from assults, they would likewise provide for the security of his reputation.

4.* *>........

PAPER: A POEM.
Some wit of old-fuch wits of old there were
Whose hints show'd meaning whose allusions care,
By one brave stroke to mark all human kind,
Calld clear blank paper ev'ry infant mind :
When still, as op'ning sense her dictates wrote,
Fair Virtue put a seal, or Vice a blot,

The thought was happy, pertinent, and true ;
Methinks a genious might a plan pursue.
1, (can you pardon my presumption ? 1–)
No wit, no genius, yet for once I try.

Various the papers various wants produce,
The wants of fashion, clėgance, aud use.
Men are as various : and, if right I scan,
Each sort of paper represents some man.

Pray note the fop-half powder and half lace-
Nice, as a band-box were his dwelling place ,
He's the gilt-paper, which apart you store,
And lock from vulgar hands in the 'scrutoire.

Mechanics, servants, farmers and so forth,
Are copy p.per, of inferiof worth :
Less priz'd, more useful, for your desk decreed,
Tree to all pens, and prompt at ev'ry need.

[ocr errors]

The wretch whom av’rice bids to pinch and spare,
Starve, cheat, and pilfer, to enrich an heir.
Is coarse brown taber ; such as pedlars choose
To wrap up wares, which better men will use.

Take next the Miser's contrast, who destroys
Health, fame, and fortune, in a round of joys.
Will any paper match him ? Yes, thro’ out,
He's a true sinking faper, past all doubt.

The retail politician's anxious thought
Deems this side always right, and that stark nought;
He foams with sensure ; with applause he raves-
A dupe to rumours, and a tool of knaves ;
He'll want no type his weakness to proclaim,
While such a thing as fools-cap has a name.

The hasty, gentleman, whose blood runs high,
Who picks a quarrel, if you step awry,
Who can't a jest, or hinc, or look endure :
What's he ? What ? Touch-paper to be sure.

What are our poets, take them as they fall,
Good, bad, rich, poor, much read, not read at all ?
Them and their works in the same class you'll find ;
They are the mere wasle-paper of mankind.

Observe the maiden, innocent!y sweet,
She's fair white-paper an unsullied sheet ;
On which the happy man whom fate ordains,
May write his name, and take her for his pains.

One instance more, and only one I'll bring ;
'Tis the Great-Man who scorns a little thing,
Whose thoghts, whose deeds, whose maxims are his own,
Form'd on the feelings of his heart alone ;
True genuine royal-paper is his breast ;
Of all the kinds most precious, purest, best.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE GENERALLY PREVAIL

ING DOCTRINES OF LIFE AND DEATH. Your

OUR observations on the causes of death, and the experiments which you propose for recalling to life those who appear to be killed by lightning, demonstrate equally your sagacity and humanity. It appears that the doctrines of life and death, in general, are yet but little understood.

A toad, buried in fand, will live, it is faid, until the sand becomes petrified ; and then, being inclosed in the stone it may still live for we know not how many ages. The facts which are cited in support of this opinion, are too numerous and too circumftantial not to deserve a certain degree of credit. As we are accustomed to see all the animals with which we are acquainted eat and drink, it appears to us difficult to canceive how a toad can be supported in such a dungeon. But if we reflect, that the necessity of nourisha' ment, which animals experience in their ordinary state, proceeds from the continual waste of their substance by perspiration : it will appear less incredible that some animals in a torpid state, perspire less because they use no exercise, should have less need of alement; and that others, which are covered with scales or shells, which stop perspiration, such as land and sea turtles, serpents, and some species of fish, should be able to subsist a considerable time without any nourishment whatever.-A plant, with its flowers, fades and dies immediately, if exposed to the air without having its roots immersed in a humid soil, from which it may draw a sufficient quantity of moisture, to supply that which exhales from its fubstance, and is carried off continually by the air. Perhaps, however, if it were buried in quicksilver, it might preserve, for a considerable space of time, its vegetable life, its smell and colour. If this be the case, it might prove a commodious inethod of transporting from diftant countries those delicate plants which are unable to fuftain the inclemency of the weather at fea, and which Boure particular care and attention.

I have seen an intance of common flies preserved in a manner somewhat fimilar. They had been drowned in Madeira wire, apparently about the time when it was

« ElőzőTovább »