May 26 1812: A Pillory and a Very German Lecture

On May 26, 1812, Henry Crabb Robinson goes to the Old Bailey to see Daniel Isaac Eaton in the pillory. Eaton had been convicted for publishing the third part of Thomas Paine's Age of Reason. On 15 May 1812, Lord Ellenborough had sentenced him to eighteen months in Newgate Prison and a monthly pillorying for the entire period of his sentence. From the pillory, Crabb Robinson next describes hearing Coleridge's third lecture. He seems rather bored though he writes the "lecture itself excellent and very German". His diary entry for May 26 includes the following:
May 26th. — Walked to the Old Bailey to see D. I. Eaton in the pillory, As I expected, his punishment of shame was his glory. The mob was not numerous, but decidedly friendly to him. His having published Paine's " Age of Reason " was not an intelligible offence to them. I heard such exclamations as the following: " Pillory a man for publishing a book — shame ! " — " I wish old Sir Wicary was there, my pockets should not be empty." — "Religious liberty!" — "Liberty of conscience !" Some avowed their willingness to stand in the pillory for a dollar. " This a punishment .- this is no disgrace ! " As his position changed, and fresh partisans were blessed by a sight of his round, grinning face, shouts of "bravo !" arose from a new quarter. His trial was sold on the spot. The whole affair was an additional proof of the folly of the Ministers, who ought to have known that such an exhibition would be a triumph to the cause they meant to render infamous.

Heard Coleridge's third lecture. It was wholly on the Greek drama, though he had promised that he would to-day proceed to the modern drama. The lecture itself excellent and very German.

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