Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/54

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

Grub Street of this period. The street, which not long ago exchanged its ill-omened name for Milton Street, had become famous in the days of the Civil War, when the abolition of the Star Chamber gave a chance to unlicensed printers, and the appetite for news was naturally at its keenest. When order was restored it was put under restraint, and languished dismally through the Restoration period. Roger Lestrange was intrusted, not only with the superintending of the one official organ, but with power of suppressing every rival. He acted as a kind of detective, and he declares that he spent £500 a year in maintaining 'spies for information.' One night in 1663 he showed his zeal by arresting a wretched printer called Twyn. Twyn, whose only excuse was that he was the father of three poor children, was caught in the act of printing what he called 'some mettlesome stuff.' Though the stuff was too outrageous to be fully quoted even in the reports of his trial, it appears to have asserted that even kings should be responsible to their people, a doctrine which might be taken to hint at a popular rising. Twyn was sent to the gallows to clear his views of the law of libel. That law, so Scroggs declared in 1680, was that to 'publish