LAW AND JOURNALISM
A month before the passage of the Licensing Act, Fielding intimated in his dedication to "The Historical Register" that, should his theatre be suppressed, he would carry the war against "vice and imposture" over into the newspapers. A week later it was in his mind that he might establish a new organ of the Opposition, as is evident from an introductory note to his Pasquin letter to "Common Sense" for May 21, 1737. "As I have yet no vehicle of my own, I shall be obliged to you," he writes to the editor, "if you will give the following a place in the next stage." But on further consideration Fielding must have seen that it was not an opportune moment to carry out his design. There were already half a dozen anti-ministerial newspapers in London, the best of which--"Common Sense"-- had been running only a few months, and they were all being watched closely by a Government determined to enforce the laws against libel. During June several men connected with a most violent Opposition journal called "The Alchymist," were arrested, and one of the writers was sent to Newgate. The next month various contributors to "The Craftsman" and the printer and publisher of "Fog's Weekly Journal" were taken into custody. On these occasions, it was usual for the King's messenger to search all papers in the office of a newspaper and to break up the printing press. It was a time of fear and trembling.