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man who was just struggling with the world, and la. bouring to obtain an independent subsistence for a wife and infant family. To the last unfortunate occurrence we need not advert ; except to say, that on the part of the survivor it was a matter of absolute necessity. The attack upon him was of that nature, which it is impossible to endure without being disgraced; his character as a man and a gentleman was at stake; he was accused of cowardice; he could not live under the imputation ; and no alternative was left him but to wash off the stain from his own injured honour in the blood of the first calumniator, whom he could discover, of sufficient rank and esteem in society to entitle him to a chaļlenge. And the same causes must always produce the same effects. Is it possible to doubt, that if the system continues, other privileged murders will follow the deaths of Mr. Scott and Sir Alexander Boswell. We do not stand forth as the champions or eulogists of duelling in general ; but we believe, that in cases similar to the late transactions, there is no other practice by which libellers and slanderers can be kept in awe, and the peace of society can be adequately preserved ; and if a man who has long suffered from anonymous insults and abuse, can at last ascertain the lurking assailant by whom his repose has been disturbed, and his reputation endangered, we think, with Sir William Draper, that even the meekness of Christianity might pardon him for the vengeance which he takes, in consideration of the injury which he has sustained. At least, if the individual is wrong the public is benefited.
A third consequence must be, that political discussion will be turned from principles to persons, from the interests of the community to the private lives of individuals. Thus much good will be omitted, and much evil will be done. The writers of Journals and Magazines will indulge in the grossest personalities, not from a sense of public duty, but from the low emotions of personal animosity. Yet “personal enmity,” as Horne Tooke said, “ is a motive fit only for the devil.” They surely, who, like ourselves, may feel it incumbent upon them to animadvert severely upon the personal conduct of a public man, ought at least to perform the task in the spirit of fair and open sincerity ;
And carve him as a dish fit for the gods
Not hew him as a carcasc fit for hounds. The last, and, perhaps, the worst consequence, is one at which we have already hinted, but which, from its serious nature and the certainty of its occurrence, we cannot pass without a more distinct notice. The moral sense of the English nation will be blunted-the instinctive feeling of honour will be weakened--the generous and high-minded notions of a brave people will evaporate. Anonymous slanders will be things of course: private libels will become habituated to our thoughts. Calumny will be considered as a venial transgression, or even encouraged as a species of composition well-calculated for the public amusement. Custom and example will produce indifference and callousness in the very atmosphere of moral pollution : as men who have lived long in a tainted and unwholesome air become insensible by degrees to the contagion which they imbibe. These consequences, indeed, as we know from lamentable experience, are beginning to be felt.
The number of anonymous libels already penned, and the facility with which their number may be augmented, have proved opportunities and temptations for the diffusion of slander too strong for human passions to resist. Virtuous feelings have been overborne by the ease and safety with which offences against honour and morality could be perpetrated. The very man, who would shudder at the idea of publishing a nameless calumny against a political antagonist in a separate shape, may have been induced, on the spur of some unlucky moment, by the secrecy and security which such a system promises, to club his contribution to a Journal, already established, for the purpose of defamation. Of the prevalence of this system Sir Alexander Boswell appears to have been the victim : he found too ready a repository for the idle ebullitions of his spleen, too near reservoir for the bitter effusions of his unfortunate muse: the error, for which his death was the atonement, might have been committed on some instantaneous impulse of impatient anger, and made irreparable before his feelings had time to cool ;-the infamous paper was at hand, the mischief was done, and the consequences were fatal.
Shall we be accused, then, of speaking concerning the present method of political writing, in terms of too unmeasured reprehension ? Have we done so ? or is it possible to do so ? We have presented no inflamed, or overstrained, or exaggerated statement : we have advanced nothing, but what we pledge ourselves to prove. All that we have hitherto said is lenity and forbearance to the terms which we may hereafter find it necessary to employ. We shall here only declare, by way of recapitulation, that we believe the system to be as unprecedented as it is atrocious, as completely without example as without excuse. We affirm it in the face of the country, and we challenge contradiction and refutation to be a combination and conspi. racy against all manly and honourable dealing, the interests of virtue, and the repose of society; to be subversive of public morality; destructive of domestic happiness ; fatal to all the decencies, and charities, and sanctities, of life; a moral upas-tree, which sheds on all within its influence poison and death. We repeat, as most appalling circumstances connected with it, that the man who ought to have been the guardian of peace and good order, has been instrumental through its means, involuntarily perhaps, in disturbing and violating them; that the highest legal functionary in Scotland, invested with an almost unlimited authority, has mixed himself up, it may be without design, with shameful intrigues and scurrilous personalities; that the subordinate law-officers of that kingdom have been made tools and accomplices in forwarding the diabolical machinations of hireling scribblers; and that persons who, from their fortunes and their station, ought to be gentlemen, have undertaken the performance of tasks which would dishonour the very dregs and scum of the community.
We might proceed to shew, how the various journals which have been the chief organs and principal supports of this abominable system, have all assisted each other, bepraised each other, furnished each other with hints and
whispers, and played into each other's hands; we might shew how the same characters have been compelled to run the gauntlet through the whole line of calumnious publications; we might shew how the same game has been pursued, and the same methods employed, by the conductors of Blackwood's Magazine, the god-fathers, or rather parents, of this dishonest traffic in slander and defamation; or by the editors and writers of the - John Bull,” the “ Beacon," the “ Sentinel,” the “ Correspondent," and the “ Clydesdale Journal;" we might shew how this system has exhibited its horrid features in the midst of religion as well as law, and disgraced the pulpit as well as the bar. But it is time to draw our remarks upon the general question to a close; we must reserve part of our matter for the future occasions, when our interference may be required.
We now proceed to the second branch of this discussion ;-a consideration of the conduct of that notorious paper, to which we have already alluded at the beginning of our inquiry.
* CONDUCT OF THE “JOHN BULL."
We deliberated for some time among ourselves whether we should not do too much honour to this paper by making it the subject of distinct notice, and especial condemnation. But our own minds were at length satisfied by the following considerations: We wanted some text on which to suspend our farther and more particular commentaries upon a system, which we have already reprobated as fraught with infinite disgrace and gigantic mischief. And the “ John Bull” newspaper appeared the publication best adapted to our purpose. The Scotch journals are covered with the odium which they merit; and sinking under the weight of their own infamy. The very patrons are ashamed of their patronage; the very encouragers blush for their encouragement. But with regard to the “ John Bull” some strange infatuation still exists in the public mind. The sun of national favour has shone upon it and fostered it, until the reptile, which was weak and despicable at its birth, has grown or rather been transformed, into a hideous monster, formidable for its size and strength. The nuisance is become too glaring for passive acquiescence, too pernicious for silent comtempt. The editors of this unmanly production, the highpriests who officiate in the horrid rites of slander and defamation and private libels, still dare to urge their impudent pretensions, as the friends and benefactors of their fellow-citizens; as men who have assisted the government, who have advocated the cause of morality, order, and religion; who have disabused and undeceived the people; who have done good service to the state. Here, therefore, the castigation is most required, and will have most effect. They have no long time to live and fatten on public estimation; so let them make the most of it. They, too, shall be exposed and put down. Let them look at the fate of their colleagues and fellow-labourers, and tremble for their own.
Another reason for our interference is, that although this journal has been often and deservedly attacked, yet these attacks have either been directed with so little force, and so little judgment, that the darts in some instances have missed their aim, in others have fallen short of their object, and dropped pointless to the ground; or, the publications in which they have been commenced, were themselves sore and vulnerable on those very points where they attempted to inflict the deepest and most fatal stroke upon their antagonist. Unconnected as we are with any party or with any paper, we shall enter upon the contest under better auspices; and we desire it to be plainly and unequivocally understood, that we pass our censure upon the “ John Bull” without defending the opinions, or justifying the conduct, of its political opponents. Our course is entirely our own shall be always our own unto the end of our career.
We must clear the ground by a few remarks on the common vindication which is urged in defence of all the libels which have been published, all the literary atrocities which have been perpetrated, within the last two years on the side of Toryism. It is said, that at the period of their establishment the press was swarming with a deadly