Front Page Titles (by Subject) I.: Nature and Objects of the Inquiry. - Liberty of the Press
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I.: Nature and Objects of the Inquiry. - James Mill, Liberty of the Press 
Supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica (London: J. Innes, 1825).
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Nature and Objects of the Inquiry.
THE task of pointing out which of the acts, capable of being committed by the press, it would be expedient to prohibit under penalties, we trust will be found to be greatly diminished, by what we have already established in the articles Government and Jurisprudence.
There is scarcely a right, for the violation of which, scarcely an operation of government, for the disturbance of which the press may not be employed as an instrument. The offences capable of being committed by the press are indeed nearly co-extensive with the whole field of delinquency.
It is not, however, necessary to give a separate definition of every such violation or disturbance, when committed by the press; for that would be to write the penal code a second time; first describing each offence as it appears in ordinary cases; and then describing it anew for the case in which the press is the particular instrument.
If, for the prevention of the violation of rights, it were necessary to give a separate definition, on account of every instrument which might be employed as a means of producing the several violations, the penal code would be endless. In general, the instrument or means is an immaterial circumstance. The violation itself, and the degree of alarm which may attend it, are the principal objects of consideration. If a man is put in fear of his life, and robbed of his purse, it is of no consequence whether he is threatened with a pistol or with a sword. In the definition of a theft, of a fraud, or a murder, it is not necessary to include an account of all the sorts of means by which these injuries may be perpetrated. It is sufficient if the injury itself is accurately described. The object is to prevent the injury, not merely when produced by one sort of means or another sort of means, but by any means.
From these illustrations, it sufficiently appears, that, if an accurate penal code were composed, defining the violations of rights, and the disturbances of the operations of government, to which penalties were to be annexed, every offence, capable of being committed by the press, would be defined without mentioning the press. It is no less evident, that if we include in the term libel, as, to the great encouragement of confusion, is generally done, all the offences capable of being committed by the press, we include in the definition of libel all the definitions of the penal code.
As far as Persons and Property are concerned, the general definition of the acts by which rights are liable to be violated, has always been held sufficient; and has been regarded as including not less the cases in which the instrumentality of the press has been employed, than those in which any other means have been employed to the same end. Nobody ever thought of a particular law for restraining the press on account of the cases in which it may have been rendered subservient to the perpetration of a murder or a theft. It is enough that a law is made to punish him who has been guilty of the murder or theft, whether he has employed the press or any thing else as the means for accomplishing his end.
There can be no doubt, however, that the press is an instrument peculiarly adapted for the commission of injuries against Reputation, and for effecting disturbance to the operations of Government, while it has no peculiar adaptation for the commission of other offences. Here, too, there is the greatest disposition to restrain the press within improper limits. It is demanded of us, therefore, upon this part of the subject, to enter into greater detail.
We are then to inquire, in the first place, What are the acts of the press with respect to private reputation: and next, What are the acts with respect to government, which it is desirable that punishment should be employed to restrain.