April 26 1812: Hunt Libel

On April 26 1812, Leigh Hunt publishes in the Examiner an article headed "Charge of Libel for explaining the True Character of the Prince Regent." Leigh and John Hunt  are now aware that they will face charges for libel as a result of their article of  March 22, 1812. That earlier article had been a scathing attack on the Prince Regent. On April 26 1812 [1] they use more moderate language but are still defiant
The readers of this Paper may recollect, that one of the three informations which have been filed against it for Libel, was founded on a passage in which it was observed that 'of all Monarchs since the Revolution the Successor of George the Third would have the finest opportunity of becoming nobly popular;'--so obnoxious a thing was it considered a short time since to suppose that the Prince of Wales might even have a chance of making a fine Sovereign.    HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS has since come to the Throne; and the very men who assaulted us for suggesting that he might become nobly popular, have now resolved upon attacking us for shewing that his conduct is neither noble nor popular....It was as late as Monday last that this notice took place; and in the course of the week we have ascertained that the charge is founded on a passage in the Paper of March the 22d, containing a plain, and, it must be confessed, no very tender refutation of a number of fine epithets bestowed on his ROYAL HIGHNESS by the Morning Post....  
....We shall therefore merely observe, that the real, unaffected, acknowledged intention of the passage in question was partly to bring into merited disgrace vices that are most pernicious to the country, and that are punishable (if punishable at all) by no other means, and chiefly to keep up among our countrymen, and to show that they keep up, that moral and sound English spirit which is superior to bad example however exalted, and upon the strength and survival of which, this nation can alone be saved from the general rum that has followed the debauchery of Courts and the slavish silence of communities. The question that is asked on occasions like the present is, What good will be effected? We have given our answer. The good to be effected is a very general, but a very great one; it is the preservation of this national spirit by individual proofs of it. If the whole nation is silent upon vices of notorious effect, it is not only sure to suffer bitterly from them in the end, but it has the disgrace in the meantime of suffering to a certain extent without daring to complain, and thus becomes accessory to its own destruction. On the other hand, if it speak out boldly, it may prevent the evil from spreading, though it cannot do it away; public opinion will resume its dignity and its effect, and we shall not perish because we shall not deserve to perish." 

1. The above excerpts are combined from the information found here and here.  On the same day, the Examiner carried  following: "The Attorney General moved for a rule to shew cause why a criminal information should not be filed against the Editor of the Brighton newspaper, for a gross libel of Miss Somerset, daughter of Lord George Somerset, Lieut.-General and Commander of the Sussex district." The paper had suggested Miss Somerset was pregnant. The Rule was granted."

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