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It is curious to mark how with the great
strife for liberty the era of newspapers
commences; and how his sacred Majesty himself
was compelled by the force of public opinion
to publish a journal at Oxford. During the
Protectorate, newspapers were abundant; but
at the happy Restoration they dwindled down
to the royally-appointed Gazette.

It is curious to look over these Gazettes.
All the time the plague was extending its
fearful ravages, we find not a word!—during
the week that London was burning, there
is not a line noting the ruin of the first
city of the realm, but merely, a week or two
after, a remark that orders had been given
to clear away the rubbish! Little foreign
news; but we are duly informed where the
court is. No domestic news, except when his
sacred Majesty's whereabout is carefully
indicated. Here is an edifying notice in sixteen
hundred and sixty-nine:

April twelfth, his Majesty is pleased to declare that
by reason of the approaching heat of summer, he shall
continue to touch for the evil only till the end of this
present month; after then, not till October.

But, miserable as this dearth of news must
have been to men who had been, under the
Protectorate, accustomed to their many
newspapers, none were suffered; or, at most,
but one or two occasionally and furtively
appeared until the reaction consequent on
eighteen years of misrule commenced, when
the spirit of hostility to a prince whose after
conduct showed how well merited that
hostility had been, burst forth so fiercely,
that Charles, who, with Vicar of Bray feelings,
had declared that he would not be sent
on his travels again, was compelled to pause,
and allow the act for restraining the liberty
of the press to be repealed. "Hereupon,"
says Roger Norton, "the press became very
licentious against the court and clergy." No
doubt it would be, if truth were licence; and
forthwith appeared some score Intelligencers,
all professing to give full, true, and particular
accounts of passing events,

And on the wings of mighty winds
Came flying all abroad.

Here is the account of the first attempt
to establish a penny-post:

March 27, 1679.—On Saturday the projectors for
conveying letters to any part of the city or suburbs for
a penny a letter, opened their offices in Lime Street,
at Charing Cross, and Temple Bar, beside several
inferior offices, at which they have hung out tables to
advertise people of the thing; but the porters, not
without good reason, supposing there will be a great
diminution, if not absolute ruin of their employment,
have shown their resentment by taking down and
tearing the said tables wherever they met with them.

This violent maintenance of their vested
interests on the part of the London porters is
recommended to the notice of all who think the
working classes were more obedient and tractable
in the times of the line old English gentleman
the palmy days of Toryism. In subsequent
numbers we find that some of the ring-leaders
were punished; but, on the whole,
public opinion seems to have palliated their
offence; so when, some time after, "Dr. Titus
Oates, 'tis said, saith this [the letter-carrying]
is a project of the Papists," an effectual
extinguisher was put upon the whole plan, and the
penny-post postponed for at least twenty
years.

We may smile at the continual allusions to
popish plots, which we meet in almost every
number of our Domestic Intelligence, but we
must bear in mind that much was the natural
result of preceding misrule; and when, as Mr.
Macaulay remarks, society was one mass of
combustible matter, no wonder materials for
igniting it were readily found. Thus, news
from Bristol relates that many sheep have been
found killed in the adjacent fields, and nothing
but the fat taken; also twenty cows milked
of a night by some unknown personspart,
as the editor remarks, of some bad mysterious
plot of the Papists. A gentleman finds a
parcel of sky-rockets in Smithfield; a
maid-servant in the Borough discovers fire-balls in
the cellaranother part of the plot. A
flaming sword had been seen in Oxfordshire;
a shower of blood had frightenedas well it
mighta woman in Wales, while milking her
cow; Mrs. Sheeres and her family, living
near the Red Lion, Drury Lane, were
eye-witnesses of a blazing starall warnings
against the popish plot. The papers during
the summer abound indeed with these
marvels. The following is worth
transcribing:

A carrier near Cirencester saw near Abingdon,
just after sun-rising, the perfect similitude of a tall
man in a sad-coloured habit, brandishing a broadsword;
he disappeared, and then there appeared a village and
woods.

As might be expected, there were plenty of
robberies, both on the highway and in private
dwellings. The highwaymen were most
audacious, stopping travellers though in large
companies. Robberies in private houses were
conducted much in the usual way, but some
of the accounts are very suggestive. A house
in Moorfields was robbed by two men getting
over the garden paling, and breaking the
casement. They carried off three flowered
petticoats and a Farendon gown, altogether
worth ten pounds. A maid-servant coming
over Red Lion fields in the dusk is robbed of
a basket of linen worth seven or eight pounds.
Red Lion fields? Moorfields? Where are
they? Some young gentlemen seem to have
anticipated the doings of the Waltham
Blacks, for we find that a gentleman living
at a place called Dulwich, having had many
deer stolen from his park, kept watch, and
found the deer stealers were no common men,
but some of his neighbours. We have
accounts of many serious duels, in which
mostly one is killed. As these are always
represented as resulting from sudden quarrels,
mostly at taverns, over wine, or dice,

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