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I can bear punishment ": Daniel Isaac Eaton radical culture and the rule of law 1793-1812"

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posted on 2023-05-26, 10:34 authored by Davis, MT
In writing the preface to his novel Caleb Williams in 1794, William Godwin observed that Terror was the order of the day"" Political radicals of the late eighteenth century in fact believed they were experiencing what was later called the "English Reign of Terror " as the British government supported by loyalist associations and militant Church and King mobs mounted an official counter offensive against the burgeoning reform movement. In the years between 1792 and 1800 no fewer than thirteen repressive measures were enacted to suppress radical enthusiasms which for E.P. Thompson exposed a government taking "halting steps " away from legitimate control and venturing toward a regime that would "dispense with the rule of law dismantle their elaborate constitutional structures countermand their own rhetoric and exercise power by force"" Indeed political trials showed a marked increase during the 1790s with Lord Eldon commenting in 1795 "that there had been more prosecutions for libel within the last two years than there had been for twenty years before"" One scholar has recently shown that the Court of King's Bench had conducted an average of just over two libel trials per year for most of the eighteenth century; in the decade after the French Revolution however this average figure increased fivefold. Moreover Clive Emsley has counted some two hundred prosecutions for sedition from this period although he contends that this number "pales into insignificance beside the number of prosecutions for sedition during the Jacobite emergencies of 1715 to 1716 and 1745 to 1746"""


Publication title

Criminal Justice History







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