Okay… let me set the scene: A mass tax resistance campaign, culminating in an
organized run on the Bank of England, finally forced the government’s hand,
and it passed the
Reform Act of
over Tory opposition.
Now, , a radical
newspaper — The True Sun — puts out a new call for
tax resistance. What will the Whig government, which owes so much to the
earlier tax resistance campaign, do about these upstarts?
We learn from the True Sun, that the Government
prosecution against that journal is by ex officio
information, founded on the following passages–
It (meaning the said House of Commons) stands in all its unseemliness before
us — right in our path — shocking us with its disgusting and loathsome
brutality of aspect, and resolved not to crawl an inch out of our way. We
must make it. It must move forward. The hideous thing cannot be suffered to
squat where it does. If we cannot stir it, we must leap over it (meaning the
said House of Commons), at all hazards. We cannot stand here, looking at it
day after day, the sight is too sickening, the creature (meaning the said
House of Commons) is too venomous — its attitude is too revoltingly ugly.
Neither can we descend the precipice which we have scaled, and sink again
into the slough of despond. No, we must go on at any rate, or be starved.
Well, then, we have tried all ordinary means, we have soothed and implored;
we must now employ threats, as we have done before with success, and if
threats operate no better than smiles and fair words, we must put these same
threats into force. But how? We will see how!
The majority of last night has decided that the rich shall not be taxed
according to their means, and that the poor shall continue to be taxed
beyond theirs. It has decided that the amount which every man is called upon
to pay to government shall not be regulated according to his property. What
then remains to be done? The house (meaning the said House of Commons) has
rescinded its own resolution of Friday — the people must rescind the
resolution of the House of — they
must refuse to pay what they can only pay at the expense of their common
ruin. The refusal to pay taxes a few months ago reseated the wretched Whigs
in power; a second refusal will unseat them. The Whig Government has taken
the advantage of such a step, let it take the adverse consequences of
it — let the people, for once, avail themselves of the example of a
lord — let them look for precedents in an emergency even among the
Peerage — let them do as Lord Milton did, and resist the tax gatherer — and
above all things, let the men of the Metropolis be the first to follow the
Aristocratic example, by refusing to submit longer to the infamous
inequality and injustice of the house and window taxes. The Ministers
themselves have denounced these taxes, let the people quietly proceed to
extinguish them (meaning the said taxes) and they will.
Messrs. [Patrick] Grant, [John] Bell, and [John] Ager, the proprietors and
printer of the True Sun, were tried on
, on an ex officio
information filed against them for two libels, published on
, the alleged tendancy of which
was to bring the House of Commons into contempt, and to excite the people to
resist the payment of the Assessed Taxes. Sir John Campbell conducted the
prosecution, and enlarged upon the seditious tendency of the alleged libels;
which, be said, did not exhort the people to endeavour to get rid of the
Assessed Taxes by constitutional means, but by means subversive of all law and
good government. A letter from a Mr. Lorimer, inserted in the
True Sun, was read: it stated that “defiance” must
be the remedy of tax-payers. Two paragraphs were also quoted, in which the
House of Commions was called a loathsome, venomous, sickening, and revoltingly
ugly creature, that ought to be removed out of the way. Refusal to pay taxes
was mentioned as a necessary measure; and the refusal of Lord Milton was
referred to as an example to be followed. Mr. Sergeant Talfourd appeared for
Mr. Grant, Mr. Kelly for Mr. Ager, and Mr. Bell addressed the Jury for
himself. Sir John Campbell replied, and Judge Patteson charged the Jury; who
found all the defendants “guilty.” This verdict excited considerable
disapprobation in court; and several times during the speech of the
Solicitor-General, be was interrupted and hissed by the spectators.
(Take a note here, oh
If history is any guide, the Republicans will stand with you right up to the
moment you help them take power, and then they’ll turn on you if you threaten
to get in their way.)
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