« PrécédentContinuer »
PREFACE TO THE TRIAL
FOR A LIBEL.
THOMAS Paine's work, entitled, The Rights of Man, is so justly odious in England, from the scurrility and indecency' with which it reviles and ridi, cules the principles whiçli have for so many years supported and illustrated the excellent form of government established in this country,--that the Editor has been induced to vary from his former plan; and, instead of selecting the passages contained in the Information, has prefaced the following Speech of Mr. Erskine for the Defendant with a copy of the Information itself, including the charges of their evil tendency, which were confirmed by the verdict of the Jury ;—and with the Speech of the Attorney General in condemnation of the work, which contain in fact all the proceedings material to the cause :-the proof of publication, and the reading of the passages selected
in the Information, being all the evidence adduced at the trial ;--and the Jury having convicted the Defendant, without calling for any reply on the part of the Crown or any summing up from the Judge.
It ought, however, to be noticed, that the letter from Thomas Paine to the Attorney General, part of which was read by the Attorney General in the course of his address to the Jury, was read in evidence ;-the objections taken to it by Mr. Erskine having been overruled by the Court. This letter, in addition to those inserted in the argument for the Crown, contained passages replete with most scurrilous matter against the King and Prince of Wales, which we have purposely avoided printing, as they formed no part of the charge which the Jury had to try.
The effect of the following trial upon every enlightened mind, must be an increased admiration of that free constitution, which permitted such a man and such a work to be so defendedo
Of Easter Term, in the 32d Year of King George the
London, (to wit.) Be it remembered, that Sir Archibald Macdonald, Knight, Attorney General of our present Sovereign Lord King George the Third, who, for our present Sovereign Lord the King, prosecutes in this behalf in his own proper person, comes into the Court of our said present Sovereign Lord the King, before the King himself, at Westminster, in the county of Middlesex, on Friday next after one month from the feast-day of Easter in this same term; and for our said Lord the King giveth the Court here to understand and be informed, that THOMAS PAINE, late of London, gentleman, being a wicked, malicious, seditious, and ill-disposed person, and being greatly disaffected to our said Sovereign Lord the now King, and to the happy constitution and government of this kingdom, and most unlawfully, wickedly, seditiously, and maliciously devising, contriving, and intending to scandalize, traduce, and vilify the late happy Revolution, providentially brought about and effected under the wise and prudent conduct of His Highness William, heretofore Prince of Orange, and afterwards King of England, France, and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging ; and the acceptance of the crown and royal dignity of King and Queen of England, France, and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging, by His said Highness William, and Her Highness Mary, heretofore Prince and Princess of Orange ; and the means by which the same Revolution was accomplished to the happiness and welfare of this realm ; and to scandalize, traduce, and vilify the Convention of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, at whose request, and by whose advice, Their said Majesties did accept the said crown and royal dignity; and to scandalize, traduce, and vilify the act of the Parliament holden at Westminster in the first year of the reign of Their said Majesties King William and Queen Mary, intituled, “ An Act, declaring the Rights and Liberties
of the Subject, and settling the Succession of the “ Crown," and the declaration of rights and liberties in the said act contained ; and also the limitations and settlements of the crown and regal government of the said kingdoms and dominions as by law established ; and also by most wicked, cunning, and artful insinuations to represent, suggest, and cause it to be believed, that the said Revolution, and the said settlements and limitations of the crown and regal government of the said kingdoms and dominions, and the said declaration of the rights and liberties of the subject, were contrary to the right and interest of the subjects of this kingdom in general ; and that the hereditary regal government of this kingdom was a tyranny. And also by. most wicked, cun