THE most remarkable feature in the late illuminations, is the de- termined attempt of the 'Tory journals to make the disorders of a
few idle boys and a few well-dressed scoundrels subservient to the .
cause of a political faction. The charges that have been heaped on the Lord Mayor, because, when a general Wish was expressed that the metropolis should be illuminated, he wisely endeavoured so to regulate the ebullition of popular sentiment as to prevent it from being converted into an instrument of popular disturbance, have been as persevering and atrocious as they are ridiculous. Nor has -the Home Secretary any more than the Mayor escaped the notice of those zealous advocates of the cause of the few against the many: The Mayor has been charged, not only with compromising the public peace by the illumination, but with exhorting the black- guards of the metropolis to a breach of it, by the orders which he issued on the occasion. In the Morning Post of Saturday, the following paragraph appeared.
" The following iniquitous notice was extensively circulated in the City previously to the illumination:-
" The Lord Mayor gives notice that on the present occasion of general rejoicing, the City Police have orders to confine their care to keeping the carriage-ways free, and that therefore they cannot be expected to pro- tect the premises of such persons as shall be so disrespectful to public opinion as to form an exception to the general conduct expected from free citizens.
' N.B. The county police have the same orders. " Bourne, Printer, Clerkenwell Green' " Was this, or was this not, we ask, a direct encouragement and incite- ment to every description of outrage and destruction ? Let the Lord Mayor give an answer. Had thousands of lives been sacrificed, where would the moral guilt have rested ? On whose head would that blood have cried out for vengeance ? "
In the leading article, of the previous day, the Post had attacked the Mayor in a strain of virulence which leaves the journalism of which Sir ROBERT PEEL has such a horror immeasurably be- hind. The following are a few of our contemporary's flowers of rhetoric.
" On Wednesday night, bands of the lowest ruffians, with the connivance of our liberal Mnistry, and under the authority of their still more liberal Lord Maybr, paraded the principal streets of the metropolis, destroying the pro- perty of its most peaceful inhabitants." " The Chief Magistrate of the City—but yesterday the whining deprecator of the people's indignation— now, by the peopies'grace, the lordly arbiter of our lives and property, thinks proper to ordain a general illumination, and;-with the permission or the tacit acquiescence of the Noble' Secretary,' places in imminent peril the lives and property of those who are not content to obey his shameful edict." "The criminal conduct of the Lord Mayor, in causing the peace of theme- tropolis to be disturbed, and property tebedemolished.to the amount of. thou- sands, by hikatrcicious order to illuminate on Wednesday, will not, we hope and trust, be suffered to pass unnoticed or unpunished." "So far from making any attempt to protect the peaceable citizens against out- rage, the order issued on the occasion had a tendency directly the reverse ; for the Police were forbidden otherwise to. interfere on the occasion, than to keep the way clear for carriages. Was such conduct on the part of a Chief Magistrate ever before witnessed in this or any other country ? and shall such unprecedented criminals be suffered to go unpunished ?"
The present Ministry not having, like the last, the benefit of Sir JAMES SC ARLETT as a coadjutor, do not appear prepared to take any step for the purpose of freeing the Home Secretary from the charges lieaped_ upon him ; but the Lord Mayor has deter- mined to vindicate his character by a criminal information. The
conditional rule was applied for, and granted, on Wednesday. . . The Lord Mayor makes affidavit— •
" That he gave no such order for the illumination as he is alleged to have given ; nor did he give any encouragement whatever to any impro- priety, although he expressed his concurrence in the great principle on which his Majesty had dissolved the last Parliament. He heard on Mon- day that there was to be an illumination, and, although he had not ordered it, yet he did commence some preparations to illuminate the Mansion- house. He was then waited upon by several respectable citizens, who stated that they had no time to make preparations, and they requested that it might he postponed till Wednesday, and be accordingly gave no- tice to that effect ; and he, at the same time, gave strict orders to the police to protect the persons and properties of the citizens, in case there should appear any disposition to injure them ; and he himself paraded the streets, and did not leave them till between two and three o'clock in the morning, when the crowd had wholly dispersed. As to the notice, mentioned in the Post, he utterly denies having issued it, or having any connexion with, or knowledge of it whatever. He has caused every' in- quiry to be made that possibly could he made, and has been utterly un- able to discover that any such notice or hand-bill had been circulated or stuck upon any wall, or published in. any other way. He never saw nor heard of such a notice, till be saw it in the columns of the Morning Post ; and he is verily persuaded that it is an atrocious forgery, got up for the purpose of calumniating him. Lastly, he has caused inquiry to be made at Clerkenwell Green, in order to discover the person of the name of Bourne, whose name appears in the placard as printer ; but that no such
printer Can be discovered there." .
We are not of the number of those who hold that the Press, any snore than the Boroughmongers, ought to be allowed to do as it pleases. The weapon which journalists wield is a heavy and a sharp one, and asks • cautious handling. If, instead of dealing their blows on the guilty, they will fell the innocent, it is most just that they be made amenable for their blundering or wickedness. We object to all vague charges, such as that shade against.the Morning Journal for a libel on the King's Ministers--to all mo- rally incompetent tribunals, such as the House of Lords in the late attempt against the Times; but where the charge id definite, where the tribunal is unimpeachable, let the presS, when it dews wrong, answer for its conduct. We fight at an advantage. Our persons are commonly unknown and unapproachable ; we are practised in our fence. An individual has small chance with us. As we are powerful, we ought to be merciful. Charges against a party, whether in power or out of it, are perhaps justified by the motive; charges against private persons ought not only to be nio= tived in good; but the grounds of charge ought to be well and truly considered. In the attacks on the Lord Mayor, in respect of the illumination, we can see nothing but an attempt to perpetrate an individual outrage with a view to effect a general wrong—to injure the reputation of one man in power, in order to bring into contempt the whole of his Majesty's Goyernment.
That any one in his senses should fancy that the disorders which took place on Wednesday sennight, proceeded from or were coun- tenanced by authority, or that every person in .authority did not exert to the utmost his power and his influence to prevent and suppress them, we hold to be impossible. When a man seriously assures us that the moon is made of new cheese, we are not posed at once to set him down as a conscious deceiver,— there is at least a shape and colour in his delusion ; but when our Tory contemporaries assure us that the appointed keeper's of the peace of the country and of the town have colleagues) together with a view to break it, the charge is so devoid of all likelihood, that in our conscience as honest men, we cannot for a moment suppose that the propagators of the scandal believe one word of what they circulate. We are placed in a- strait between two diffiL cidties,—we must either give these best public instructors credit for a heat of imagination, which would inevitably consign them, in due couileito the guardianship of Dr. BURROWS, or to a lack 'of honesty, which must, in due course, send them to the tread-mill; and, looking on the discipline at Brixton as preferable to that at Clapton, we charitably incline to the inference of knavery rather than of madness. If we had any doubt before, the forged pro- clamation has ended it.