« ZurückWeiter »
the people was ignorant and credulous; and for that very reason, restless and often savage. In what are called the crimes of liberty, I can only see the offspring of arbitrary power.
In the extended state of society in our modern times, the freedom of the press being the only means of general communication, consequently, whatever may be the structure of the administration, it is the only safeguard of the citizens.
Collatinus could expose in a public square the dead body of Lucretia, and all the people learnt the injury he had suffered. Then also the plebeian debtor could come forward and display to his indignant messmates the stripes inflicted upon him by the greedy patrician, his usurious creditor. But in our times the immense extent of empires does not allow of this mode of complaint. Individual acts of injustice are always unknown to most of the inhabitants of our great kingdoms : And if the fleeting administrations which have worried France for some years, have incurred the public detestation, it is by what they have owned themselves; they boasted of their cruel injustice, they proclaimed it in their own journals.
At last Bonaparte came forth; he acted at first with more caution and dexterity: he for a long time kept us under a silent oppression; and for a long time also the public opinion, which only caught uncertain and dark rumors, irregularly propagated and seldom ascertained, was also fluctuating and undecided.
In fact, all civil, political and legal barriers are imaginary and deceitful, without the liberty of the press. Bonaparte has often violated the independence of courts of justice, but a deep veil was thrown over his aggression. The usual forms were suppressed; but how can legal forms be secured, but by the notoriety of the proceedings ? Innocence was in captivity; and no appeal could warn the other citizens of the danger which hung over all their heads. An universal silence prevailed, and dungeons in the mean time were filled with victims, without hopes of relief. The national representation was curtailed, enslaved, calumniated: and the press being only an engine of power, the whole Empire resounded with falsehood, and there was not a voice raised in behalf of truth.
The present Government no doubt is under every aspect a contrast to that of Bonaparte: but though the restraint of the press, cannot under a mild prince, have the same bad effect, as under a tyrannic usurper ; it brings on other evils injurious to the prince and the people. By checking the thoughts of timid and scrupulous citizens, by clogging their complaints with impediments authority wraps itself
in darkness, suffers abuses to grow inveterate, sanctions the tyrannical power of its lowest agents. For one of the dangers attending such restraint is that those entrusted with the highest powers of Government, the ministers themselves, may often be ignorant of the misdemeanors of their substitutes. And that ignorance is sometimes convenient.
The liberty of the press is the true remedy to both evils. It informs authority when it has been deceived, and besides keeps it from ever shutting its eyes.
Besides, those who now propose measures against the liberty of the press, forget the present state of Europe. It is no longer in a state of slavery, and France is no longer like Japan, an island which an iron sceptre secludes from the rest of the world. Can an inquisitive nation, by any means, be kept from information, which the industry of other nations offers on every side? The closer they are fettered, the more will curiosity and industry be put in action. The one
will be fed by difficulties, the other kept up by success. Does not every body know that prohibitions hold out a premium to smuggling. Bonaparte could only stifle the liberty of the press; by raising a wall of brass between us and England, by uniting Holland to France, by enslaving Switzerland and Italy, by shooting German booksellers and printers. These are not fit measures for an equitable Government. Montesquieu has said that despotism ought to be surrounded by desarts. Bonaparte, to fetter thought, surrounded our beautiful country with an intellectual wilderness.
The principles which ought to direct a just Government on this important question, are clear and simple, let authors be answerable for what they publish, as every man is liable for words spoken, and for actions performed. A public orator ,who would recommend theft, murder, and peculation, would be punished for such discourses, but you would not forbid the use of speech altogether for fear that some man should counsel such crimes. A man who availed himself of his natural powers, to break into the house of his neighbours, would not be suffered to claim the right of going about without restraint : but you would not enact a law to forbid walking in the streets, lest our houses should be exposed to intrusion.
MOST REVEREND, AND HONORABLE
LORD PRIMATE OF ALL IRELAND,
RECOMMENDATORY OF SOME
COMMUTATION, OR MODIFICATION
The Tythes of that Country;
WITH A FEW
PRESENT STATE OF THE IRISH CHURCH.
BY THE REV. SIR H. BATE DUDLEY, BART.
CHANCELLOR AND PREBENDARY OF FERNS, &c.
« I beseech you
THOSE who expect to find in the few following pages, what may
favor the prejudices of any particular sect, or system, will experience a disappointment. The object of this address, is to draw the attention of those on whom it has devolved as a great moral and political duty, to a dispassionate inquiry into the existing state of Tythes in Ireland, and to recommend such an immediate change, or modification of them, as may be most likely to administer the necessary relief. It is more particularly directed to the liberal consideration of the professional members of the Established Church, who have interests interwoven in this complicated question, far more valuable than those of pecuniary loss or gain.
The writer (as it is well known to many of the most respectable inhabitants of the county in which he long resided as a beneficed clergyman,) intended, many years since, to have offered some similar observations in favor of a modification in England ; but the disturbed temper of those times prevented it. Possessing a considerable portion of Tythe property in both countries, he feels disposed, in common