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if not so devout as former ages , it however paid the greatest attention to the outward forms and decorums of religion ; and perhaps it was for this very reason that parodies , which appeared so innocent to our forefathers , were so shocking and offensive in our eyes . ( Hear , hear . ) But a jury to whom it was put as Mr . Hone
put it , whether they could think he had a design of reviling or degrading the Christian religion , by doing that which bishops and ministers of state had done before him , or whether they thought that his object was purely political , could not
in their conscience convict him of the former offence ; and as to the latter , the Attorney-General , though certainly not deficient in courage , had not ventured to appeal to the jury for a political verdict . ( Hear . )
Mr . R . Martin supported the bill , on the ground that it was necessary , by more severe enactments , to check the streams of sedition and blasphemy which had inundated the land . Mr . Bankes believed that abuses of the press existed to such a degree as required the interference of Parliament . It had
been urged by one honourable gentleman ( Mr . Bennet ) that he ( Mr . Bankes ) , in expressing a doubt regarding the policy of extending education on the plan at present pursued , had opposed the spread of morality and religion . No- man , he was convinced , could suspect him of such a design , and he thought it beneath him to answer such an insinuation . A man
must in the House stand on his general character and habitual conduct , and if that did not protect him from such a charge , it would be vain to disclaim it in words . He had never declared education an evil . He had merely expressed a
doubt on the policy and expediency , in the present condition of society , of carrying the system of educating the poor to the extent recommended by some of his friends , and with the rapidity with which the well-meant zeal of those who
encouraged it , pressed it forward . His reasoning was the following : — We put the people in a new situation by this general diffusion of education , and we are not perhaps aware of the effects to which this change may lead . This new condition which is created may lead to evils which additional restrictions on the press maybe required t 6 Correct , as with the
capacity of reading , facilities are afforded for spreading . mischievous as well as moral arid * religious principles . If he was asked generally , whether education was a good , he should be a savage to deny it ; but if interrogated further , whether he thought it should be spread so extensively aatircB& . ratriaty afc Vras the
wish of many benevolent persons whom he highly valued , he would beg leave to express a doubt ; but because he did so , he ought not to be pointed out as a marked man , and accused of opposing the
diffusion of morality and religion . During the progress of teaching , we <* ould see what books were put into the hands of the young , but we could not regulate their subsequent studies , or determine the kind of food which their minds should receive .
Intelligence .---Parliamentary . ~ 61
Monday , Dec . 27 . Neiespaper Stamp Duties Bill . Lord Sidmouth . —The bills which had already become laws had , as he had already observed , produced the best effects . With regard to the measure under
consideration , whatever tended to affect the press , even in the way of regulation , was a subject which called for great attention and caution . This their lordships would find had been observed in proposing this measure . What the danger to be guarded against was , their
lordships would see from the preamble of the bill , which stated , that pamphlets and printed papers containing observations on public events and occurrences , tending to excite hatred and contempt of the government and constitution of these realms as by law established , and also
vilifying our holy religion , had lately been published in great numbers , and at very small prices ; and that it was expedient that the same should be restrained . The means by which it was proposed to effect this object he should now shortly explain . The first provision
made all pamphlets and other publications not exceeding two sheets , published within intervals of twenty-six days , and at a price not exceeding sixpence , exclusive of the duty , liable to the same duty as newspapers . Religious tracts and books of instruction were , along with
some other publications , excepted from the operation of the bill . The circulation of blasphemous and seditious libels , which had , during the last few years , the last few months , and even the last few weeks , been pushed into every hamlet and cottage in the kingdom , rendered some measure of this kind indispensable .
The next provision to which he wished to call their lordships' attention wafc that by which any person printing a ^ newspaper , or other political pUbfidation , is required to give a bond to ' the extent of 300 / . in the capital , and 200 /; in the country , with sureties to the same amount . This clause was introduced for the . purpose of securing the payment of any fine which might , ^ on" ( xn ^ ctitovbe
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1820, page 61, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2484/page/61/