“King Killing” (1795)

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Shall Kings alone claim an exemption from Law, an impunity of Wickedness? Shall our idolatrous and servile spirit set up for worship a golden Image, like that of Nebuchadnezzar—a piece of metal, which neither hopes for Reward, nor fears Punishment? Shall Vice and Villainy, whom accident may have encircled with the diadem, be deified and worshipped by uncomplaining impotence and servile fear? What reader, of whatever party or principle, is shocked, when he reads in ancient history, that the Roman Senate voted Nero

Their Sovereign to be a Public Enemy;

And even without trial condemned him to the severest and most ignominious punishment? It is a prejudice to confider the persons of Princes alone as sacred: the infliction of TERRIBLE JUSTICE BY THE PEOPLE, when the people have it in their power, is alone capable of checking the career of tyranny. If an individual believes, that an act of seasonable violence on his part will operate as a salutary example to his countrymen, and awaken them to the energy and dignity of their characters, by breaking the wand whose magic power lulled them into sloth and inaction; does he not, in committing that act of violence, perform his duty as a member of the community, whose interests are closely connected with his own? To a certain degree even despotism may be tolerated; but when oppression knows no limit—when it feels no shame—when its spirit for carnage and desolation is insatiate, the arm that is not uplifted against it as against


Ravaging our fields and devouring our children, we should not wonder to see blasted and withered by the avenging stroke of heaven itself! If a man were to be born, physically possessed of those powers which tyrants assume and exercise; if nature had given him the power of consigning thousands of his fellow creatures to misery—of empurpling hundreds of fields with the blood—or of whitening them for ages with the bones of their fellow men; if he were able to convert the whole country into a charnel-house, simply by willing it; if, like the baleful Upas, he spread death, and destruction, and solitude, all around him, all mankind would rise up in arms against him, and he would be hunted down as a beast of prey.


Alas! they are all alike; their fraternity consists in a partnership of prey and rapine—their bond of union is the fellowship of the Furies united, to torment and to destroy mankind: desolation, and famine, and slaughter, stalk in their train: they are at war with the system of benevolence instituted by providence: they create a manicheism in nature: they are the evil principle proceeding from darkness, and therefore enemies to light. Let us destroy this huge Colossus, under which the tall aspiring head of Liberty cannot pass!!!


Sold by CITIZEN LEE, at the British Tree of Liberty, No. 98, Berwick-street, Soho.

[A handbill published by Richard Lee in 1795.]


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.