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The King v. Spence

Morning Post, 22 June 1801

The defendant, Thomas Spence, was brought into Court to receive judgement, for having published a seditious libel, called "Spence's Reformer of Society."

Mr. Justice GROSE addressed the defendant upon the enormity of the publication, of which he had been found guilty. It was a libel directed against the existence of the government of the country, and recommended the subversion of those laws on which private property was founded, and, by the operation of which, the industry, trade, commerce and wealth of the country, had arrived at so high a pitch. It was calculated to level all distinctions in society, and make the weak and helpless a prey to the strong and ferocious; it promoted a system of rapine and murder, to which the defendant, whose wickedness was only equalled by his weakness and imbecility, must inevitably have been one of the very first sacrifices. Such a plan of equalization could only have the effect of making the people all equally poor and wretched. For this offence, the Court directed that he should be fined the sum of 20l. be imprisoned twelve months in the gaol of Salop, and, at the expiration of that period, enter into a recognisance in the sum of 500l. to keep the peace for five years, and, further, be imprisoned till such fine was paid and recognisances entered into. The defendant was accordingly reconducted to prison.