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Court here in the premises, and that due process of law may be awarded against him the said Thomas Paine in this behalf, to make him answer to our said Lord the King touching and concerning the premises aforesaid.
(The Information was opened by Mr. PERCEVAL.)
Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL
then proceeded as
GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY,
You will permit me to solicit, and for • no long space of time, in the present stage of this business, somewhat of your attention to a cause which, considering it on its own merits only, is, in my humble judgment, a plain, a clear, a short, and indisputable case. Were it not, Gentlemen, that certain circumstances have rendered it a case of more expectation than ordinary, I do assure you that I should literally have contented myself this day with conducting myself in the manner that I did upon the last occasion that I was called upon to address a Jury upon this sort of subject, namely, by simply reading to you the passages which I have selected, and leaving it entirely to your judgment. But, Gentlemen, it so happens that the accumulated mischief which has arisen from the particular book that is now before you, and the consequences, which every body is acquainted with, which have followed from this publication, have rendered it necessary, perhaps, that I should say a few words more in the opening than it would have been my intention to have done, had it not been for those circumstances.
Gentlemen, in the first place, you will permit me, without the imputation, I think, of speaking of myself (a very trifling subject, and always a disgusting one to others), to obviate a rumour which I have heard, namely, that this prosecution does not correspond with my private judgment ; that has been said, and has reached my ears from various quarters. The refutation that I shall give to it is this : that I should think I deserved to be with disgrace expelled from the situation with which His Majesty has honoured me in your service, and that of all my
fellowsubjects, had I, as far as my private judgment goes, hesitated for one instant to bring this enormous offender, as I consider him, before a Jury of his country
Gentlemen, the publication in question was not the first of its kind which this Defendant sent forth into the world. This particular publication was preceded by one upon the same subjects, and handling, in some measure, the same topics. That publication, although extremely reprehensible, and such as, perhaps, I was not entirely warranted in overlooking, I did overlook, upon this principle, that it may not be fitting and prudent at all times, for a public prosecutor to be sharp in his prosecutions, or to have it said that he is instrumental in preventing any manner of discussion coming under the public eye, although, in his own estimation, it
may far indeed from that which is legitimate and proper discussion. Reprehensible as that book was, ex
tremely so, in my opinion, yet it was ushered into the world under circumstances that led me to conceive that it would be confined to the judicious reader, and when confined to the judicious reader, it appeared to me that such a inan would refute as he went along.
But, Gentlemen, when I found that another publication was ushered into the world still more reprehensible than the former; that in all shapes, in all sizes, with an industry incredible, it was either totally or partially thrust into the hands of all persons in this country, of subjects of every description; when I found that even children's sweetmeats were wrapped up with parts of this, and delivered into their hands, in the hope that they would read it; when all industry was used, such as I describe to you, in order to obtrude and force this upon that part of the public whose minds cannot be supposed to be conversant with subjects of this sort, and who cannot therefore correct as they go along, I thought it behoved me upon the earliest occasion, which was the first day of the term succeeding this publication, to put a charge upon record against its author.
Now, Gentlemen, permit me to state to you what it is that I impute to this book, and what is the intention that I impute to the writer of this book. Try it by every test that the human mind can possibly suggest, and see whether, when tried by all the variety of those tests, you will not be satis
fied, in the long run, that it does deserve that description which my duty obliges me to give of it.
Gentlemen, in the first place I impute to it a wilful, deliberate intention to vilify and degrade, and thereby to bring into abhorrence and contempt the whole constitution of the government of this country; not as introduced, that I will never admit, but as explained and restored at the Revolution :that system of government under which we this day live, and if it shall be attacked by contemptuous expressions,— if by dogmatical dicta,-if by readymade propositions, offered to the understandings of men solicitous about the nature of their constitution, properly so (God forbid they ever should be otherwise), but who, at the same time, may be easily imposed upon to their own destruction, they may be brought to have diffidence and even abhorrence (for this book goes all that length) of that, which is the salvation of the public, and every thing that is dear to them.
I impute then to this book a deliberate design to eradicate from the minds of the people of this coun. try that enthusiastic loye which they have hitherto had for that constitution, and thereby to do the utmost work of mischief that any human being can do in this society.
Gentlemen, further I impute to it that, in terms, the regal part of the government of this country, bounded and limited as it is, is represented as an oppressive and an abominable tyranny.