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man, or surrendering their own rights for ever,--had he, with. al, expressed the strongest reprobation of the man's profligacy, and deplored this wretched necessity of “ rallying round” so worthless a principal. But instead of such a proceeding, we behold this austere censor flinging away with scorn a grave indictment which proved the incurable depravity and worthlessness of the person in question, and railing at the equal folly and malice that could pretend to make the man's personal vices a disqualification for the office of champion of public jus. tice.
The whole correspondence between Horne and Junius is inserted, though it is to be found in every copy of Junius, that is, in the hands of almost every reading person in the country. This is a glaring specimen of book-making assurance.
There is, we suppose, a general agreement of opinion with the biographer, that Horne had decidedly the advantage in the substantial matters in dispute, that is, the merits of himself and Wilkes ; while as to Junius, there could not well be a stronger testimony to his powers, than to say that in the gene. ral force of writing he as decidedly appears the superior man. One or two of his retorts, particularly, are deadly and irre. sistible.
About the time of Horne's public quarrel with Wilkes, and in the interval between that and his combat with Junius, he was rendering considerable service in matters of national right and privilege ; first in resisting what, if quietly suffered, might soon have grown to a most iniquitous and star-chamber practice, the attempt to compel a man arraigned as a culprit to answer interrogatories tending to make him criminate him. self. This attempt was made by Lord Mansfield in the case of Bingley, a printer, who was prosecuted for a libel, and whom the evidence was not sufficient to convict. Horne at once continued to excite the national attention to this alarm. ing innovation and its natural consequences, and confirmed, and procured to be ultimately rewarded, the courageous obstinacy of the printer in refusing to answer the interrogatories. The haughty judge had the mortification of discharging at last the man whom a considerable length of imprisonment had not in the smallest degree intimidated from defying him. Horne was extremely and very justly zealous and anxious that this man should, for the sake of example, receive the most marked tokens of public favour.
His next effort was to maintain the right of the nation to be made acquainted with the proceedings of the legislature. By many of those who can never hear his name without some reproach of his factious spirit, it would nevertheless be deem. ed a great violation of public rights, if the debates in parliament were to be suddenly forbidden, by authority, to be published. They are probably but little aware, how much the nation, in obtaining the practical concession of this as a right, is indebted to him. No such thing, except under some fictitious form, of little real use to the public, had been allowed before the period of his political activity. The House of Commons indignantly and pertinaciously resisted the attempts to assume it as a right : and though the prohibition must have been taken off some time, it was owing very much to his management and
energy that it was effectually broken through about forty years
appears to have been, in a considerable measure, in consequence and in execution of a plan laid by him, that several spirited printers dared, nearly at the same time, to bring the question to issue by boldly publishing some of the debates : and in consequence of his influence with the city magistrates, that these delinquents were enabled to brave or elude the utmost exertions of the House to punish them. And ever since, that liberty has been held by the people so much in the form and spirit of an absolute right, that there has been no material effort to take it from them.
Mr. Stephens informs us that, at length, at the age of thirtyseven, Horne “resigned his gown ;” which we can well be. lieve he had for a good while worn with sensations but little more enviable than those inflicted on Hercules by the Cen. taur's shirt. In throwing it off he assured and congratulated himself that he was escaping into an unlimited freedom, the first luxury of which would be to adopt, without further interference, a profession congenial to his taste and ambition, and in which he had apparently very good reason to flatter himself he should attain the highest distinction and emolument. The latter of these, indeed, was very far from being an object of eagerness in any part of his life ; but so many expenses incurred in prosecuting public objects, and in resisting or sustaining the effects of political and legal revenge, often gave him cause to feel the narrowness of his pecuniary
We have a somewhat entertaining account of his frugal domestic economy, while preparing himself for the bar, after the resignation of his vicarage of New Brentford—the highest ground in official rank, strictly so denominated, which was destined to be attained by one of the strongest and most ambitious spirits of the age, whose juvenile and inferior associates were seen scaling, and taking a firm position on the heights of ecclesiastical and legal dignities and wealth. In this state of seclusion and severe study he was, nevertheless, always ready at a moment’s warning, to spring like a royal tiger from his thicket, on the agents and abettors of any public delinquency. Mr. Tooke, a moderate wealthy political friend, whose name he was afterwards authorized to assume, sought his advice in a case that appeared desperate. In consequence of purchasing an estate called Purley, (from which Horne's great philological work took its title) he had been involved in a vexatious litigation about manorial rights with a neighbouring gentleman of great influence, who had betaken himself at last to the decisive expedient of an act of parliament. The bill which was in progress was highly unjust; but through some such fatality, as would never have happened before or since in such a place, it was going forward with the most perfect success, in contempt of every effort made to place the mat. ter in its true light; and appeared certain of the final sanction of the House of Commons on the third reading-appointed for the very next day to that in which the case was despondingly stated to Horne. His answer was, “If the facts be as you represent them, the House shall not pass that bill.” He immediately suggested an expedient which would perhaps have occurred to no other man in England, and took on himself the execution at a hazard which very few would have been willing, for the sake of either friendship or public justice, to share. He immediately wrote, in language the most pointedly offensive, an attack on the Speaker of the House of Commons, the noted Sir Fletcher Norton, with reference to the bill in question ; and obtained its insertion in the newspaper, rendered so popular by the letters of Junius, on the condition, of course, that the printer, when summoned to account, should produce the author. The object of this proceeding was, to compel the House to a much more full and formal attention to the subject of the bill, than it had previously been induced to give ; and at the same time, as an equally necessary thing, to
give its virtue the benefit of having the censorial attention of the public strongly fixed on its conduct. He was confident that by doing this he should frustrate the parliamentary measure, and then, for the consequences to himself, he had courage enough to take his chance. The next day a great sensation was manifest in what might be called the political public; and, as he had foreseen, the attention of a full House was called, in precedence to all other business, to the flagrant outrage on its dignity—a dignity so vulnerable by a plain charge of misconduct, though it had not been injured in the least by the misconduct itself. After a fine display of generous indignation, a summons was sent for the instant appearance of the printer. He obeyed, and, as he had been directed, immediately gave up the name of the criminal in chief, who had taken care to be already in the House, prepared to confront, probably with very little trepidation, the whole anger of the august assembly. A momentary silence of surprise and confusion followed the announcement of his name, which was come to be almost synonymous with that expression of recognizance, “the ene. my.”
On being called forth, he disavowed all disrespect to the Speaker whom he had libelled, calmly explained the motives of the proceeding, and then made such a luminous statement of the case of his friend, that the schemers and advocates of the injustice were baffled, the obnoxious parts of the bill were immediately thrown out, and, several resolutions were moved and carried “to prevent all such precipitate proceedings for the future.”
There is no punishing conquerors, however of. fensive may have been their conduct. After a very slight formality of detention in custody, he was set at liberty, on some pretended inconclusiveness of proof against him.
The next thing that brought him out again conspicuously before the public, was an advertisement in the newspapers, signed with his name, proposing a subscription for the families of the Americans who were slain at Lexington, a fact which he pronounced, in the most explicit language possible, (and which he repeated in a second publication,) a murder committed by the king's troops. He wished and hoped by some such act of daring and notoriety, to rouse the attention of the nation to the infatuated proceedings of the government with respect to the American colonies. For a good while no vindictive notice was taken of this wicked libel, as it was found to be when the minister was become stronger in the parliament. In the second year after its publication, the writer suddenly and unexpectedly found himself within the iron grasp of the attorney-general, Thurlow, with his information ex-officio, and had another opportunity of evincing his courage and resources in a trial before Lord Mansfield, and a personal contest with him. The speeches in defence are given, and characters of the judge and attorney-general.
There could be no manner of uncertainty as to the result of such a prosecution against Horne. Though he was, it seems, the only man in the country that incurred any punishment on account of opinions avowed against the American war, he could not in the least wonder that in his case they were to be expiated by a fine and twelve months residence in the King's Bench prison. He might however, notwithstanding all he had seen of the management of public concerns, feel some de. gree of surprise, as we suppose most of the readers of the description will, at the benevolent care which had been taken that the imprisonment should not involve a complication of evils unknown to the laws, and beyond the purposes of justice.
“Conversant as he was in the ordinary transactions of human life, his surprise cannot be supposed trifling, when, after being consigned to this jail, by the special command of the Chief Justice of England, he had still a habitation to seek; for, after stopping a few minutes in the lodge, he was conducted to a vacant space within the walls, and there left, in utter ignorance of his future fate, and an entire stranger to all around him! It may be supposed, perhaps, by the sons and daughters of affluence, who reside in splendid apartments, and repose every night on beds of down, that even for the most wretched prisoner there is due provision in respect to a decent lodging ; where poverty, sorrow, or misfortunes may be secluded from the gaze of mankind, and find an asylum at least, if comfort be denied them. But this would prove a grand mistake, for the captives being generally more numerous than the apartments, it is by seniority alone that the unhappy inmates succeed to the occupancy of a small bed.chamber, totally devoid of any furniture or conveniency what. ever. All this, as Mr. Horne solemnly assured me, he learned, for the first time, on the parade, whither he proceeded in charge of two tipstaves, who took their leave without condescending to give him any information what. ever. On his distress being made known to the spectators, a person, who proved to be a Jew, offered, for a sum of money, to accommodate him imme. dately. Ten guineas were accordingly deposited in his hands; but it was speedily discovered that this son of Israel had not any apartment at his command, being only the joint-tenant of a miserable little room, in common with four or five other debtors. To the honour of the prisoners, however, they immediately interposed, and obliged him to restore the money to the stranger, who, being charmed with their love of justice, and deter. mined not to be outdone by them in point of generosity, divided the sum