S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
If it was a new thing, it may be I should not be displeased with the suppression of the first libel that should abuse me; but, since there are enough of them to make a small library, I am secretly pleased to see the number increased, and take delight in raising a heap of stones that envy has cast at me without doing me any harm.
Undoubtedly the good fame of every man ought to be under the protection of the laws, as well as his life and liberty and property. Good fame is an outwork that defends them all and renders them all valuable. The law forbids you to revenge; when it ties up the hands of some, it ought to restrain the tongues of others.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Powers of Juries in Prosecutions for Libels, March 7, 1771.
You may see by [libels] how the wind sits: as, take a straw and throw it up into the air, you shall see by that which way the wind is, which you shall not do by casting up a stone. More solid things do not show the complexion of the times so well as ballads and libels.
We reject many eminent virtues, if they are accompanied with one apparent weakness. The reflecting after this manner made me account for the strange delight men take in reading lampoons and scandal, with which the age abounds, and of which I receive frequent complaints. Upon mature consideration, I find it is principally for this reason that the worst of mankind, the libellers, receive so much encouragement in the world. The low race of men take a secret pleasure in finding an eminent character levelled to their condition by a report of its defects; and keep themselves in countenance, though they are excelled in a thousand virtues, if they believe they have in common with a great person any one fault. The libeller falls in with this humour, and gratifies the baseness of temper which is naturally an enemy to extraordinary merit.