Digital Paxton: Digital Collection, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform

The Conduct of the Paxton Men Impartially Represented - 15

But in the Name of Wonder? What could be meant by all these warlike Preparations? Surely the Quakers did not intend to make Use of Musquetry and Cannon too, in case the Rioters had proceeded! If they did, they must either be very ignorant or very desperate and cruel-----It has often been declared in Parliament, That ‘the Liberty of Firing at Random, upon any Multitude of his Majesty’s Subjects, is a Liberty which ought to be the most cautiously granted; and never made use of but in Cases of the most absolute Necessity----And in this Way of thinking (says one of the great Speakers upon the Subject) I am supported by the whole Tenor of the Laws of England----It is now 2 or 300 Years since Fire-Arms came in Use amongst Us, yet the Law has never suffered them to be made Use of by the common Officers of Justice-----Pikes, Halberts, Battle-Axes, and such like, are the only Weapons that can be made Use of according to Law by such Officers.------It is well known that by a late Statute, which is in Force in Scotland as well as in England; the power of the Civil Magistrate, in the Cases of any Mob or riotous Assembly, is fully and distinctly regulated; yet even by that Law (which I have often heard complained of as a Law not tolerable in a free Country) there is no express Order given to the Magistrate or his Assistants, to make Use of Fire-Arms; so cautious was the Legislature of giving a legal Authority for making Use of such Weapons.

‘I know it will be said that Officers of Justice and their Assistants, especially his Majesty’s Troops, when they happened to be called to the Assistance of the Civil Magistrate, are in a very unlucky Situation, if they are not allowed to make use of the Arms in their Hands to prevent their being knocked on the Head----Their Situation, I shall readily grant, may be unlucky enough; but we are to consider the Law as it stands; and as the Law stands in England as well as in Scotland, if a Person suffers Death by firing, the Person that fired, and he who gave him Orders to fire, might both be prosecuted for Murder; and I am afraid neither of them would have any Resourse, but in the King’s Mercy.-----The Soldiers may upon such Occasions make use of their screw’d Bayonets, for dispersing or seiz-

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