« PreviousContinue »
lution, instead of weakening the exist- vernment which had won so much ing order of things throughout Eue honour and so gratified his national rope, has had the effect of strengthen- pride, though he felt in every limb ing their stability. In the first rush the weight of the burdens, and the faof the deluge, and blast of the tem- tigue of the toil that had been impopest, the enclosures, the shrubberies, sed upon him in the struggle. He and the pleasant arbours that sure asked for no dissolution of the conserounded the venerable edifice, were crated institutions of his fathers, but swept away; the ivy torn from the only trusted and expected that the walls, and the standard broken on the same ability and wisdom which had tower; but when the storm subsided, made the British 'name the foremost and the devastation was contemplated of all the world, would be earnestly to its whole extent, embankments and speedily directed to lighten the were formed to controul the rise of pressure that was bending him down. future deluges, and new abutments In Scotland, the same feelings were as added where the walls appeared weak- devoutly cherished; but among your est. Mànkind have been taught by wary and prudential countrymen the
the horrors of that period, that the remedy for the public suffering was I only right method for attaining politi- more clearly discerned. The machi
cal improvements, is by the genial in- nery of the revenue is more simple fluence of public opinion upon rulers, among them. You are free from all and that nothing but anarchy can be those vexatious and mortifying specta
expected from any exercise in public cles which the English poor laws bring * affairs, of the brute force and physical home to every man's business and bo
strength of a nation. There are, no som. The Scotch farmers saw that the doubt
, demagogues of a different opi. rents which had been increased in connion, and credulous and ignorant dis- sequence of the inordinate demands of ciples of theirs, who think otherwise; a state of war must be necessarily rebut the great body of the people of duced, and anticipated, from their inathis enlightened country are opposed bility to pay, a consequent reduction to them, not only on theoretical prin- of rent on the part of the landlord. ciple, but by their personal interests, In Scotland, accordingly, there has the criterion, after all, by which thé been none of those shuffing attempts utility or expediency of political chan- among the landlords to deduct from ges are in reality measured.
the poor-rates those abatements in rent On radicalism, I would simply re- which the times required they should mark, that when it was made the sub- make from their own incomes. On the ịject of legislative discussion, it ought contrary, I may venture to assert to have been considered that the num- what will astonish
many of your read ber of persons implicated, could not ers in this part of the kingdom, that possibly be great in a national point of since the Peace, a disposition has acview ; for, in the first place, the dise tually arisen among the gentry of difease was confined to the manufacturing ferent parts of Scotland, to favour the towns, where the suspension of trade, revival of that code of poor-laws which
and the pressure of distress among the has been so long obsolete, in your pa$artizans, though not a legitimate rea- rochial proceedings. With respect,
son for discontent, was a natural then, to the radical epidemic, I think enough cause for insubordination. The you must feel yourself in candour distemper was wholly limited in its obliged to acknowledge, that too much symptoms to the poor operative classes, importance has been attached to it, and to those only who were engaged and that it is now quite ridiculous to in sedentary employments. The mil- suppose a few thousands of pale, lank, lions of the agricultural population and famished weavers, with reeds in were sound and sane in all their feel their feeble and emaciated hands,
the Englishman, on the gene- were ever able to overthrow the conrous soil of England, was uninfected stitution of this great country, defendwith the French philosophy. Proud ed as it was by millions of the sturdy of the renown of his country's battles, sons of the soil, headed by their hea exulting in the demonstration of her reditary and accustomed masters. ancient supremacy over her old and Upon the radical question I conconstant foe, --he never called in ques- ceive the Queen's trial to have been tion the virtues of that system of go- productive of the most important con
sequences. Had it been possible to ment, is the last drivelling of craze devise a plan to bring all the various and dotage. ranks and classes of the discontented But, sir, allow me to inquire why into simultaneous action against the you continue to uphold their degraded state and monarchy, it was the agita- cause? for such I contend is the natution of that most inexpedient measure. ral consequence of representing the Nothing could be more complete and multitudes, who, either from persuaperfect than the demonstration which sion, or a generous delusion, took the it has produced of the insignificance Queen's part. That the radicals did all
, both as to talent and number of thera- in their puny and contemptible power, dical faction. For even with all the aids to make her å handle for their own misof those who took the Queen's part, chievous purposes, is without doubt; from mere sympathy at the sublime but that all those who took an interest spectacle of a weak, poor, and despised adverse to the persecution to which old woman contending with the most she was subjected, are to be considerpowerful government on earth-with ed as radicals, is manifestly absurd, if all the encouragement of those who, founded on any process of persuasion, like myself, condemned the proceed- and wicked, if made with a view to ings against her, both in principle represent the opponents of her trial, and effect with all the artifices of as actuated by disloyal principles, the Whigs, to convert that public The trial was a measure which rested disgrace to their own private advan- on special grounds, and some of the tage with all the energies of despe- best and wisest friends not only of the rate characters, that looked to public King personally, but of the ministers commotions as the only means of re- politically, as well as personally, have pairing their ruined fortunes—with not scrupled openly to express their all the exhortations of vain and inso- sorrow that a question so pregnant lent demagogues—with all the coun- with mischief to public morals, and tenance of corporations in Common with evil to the monarchy, should ever Council openly assembled, boldly de- have been agitated. But where now claring their abhorrence of a persecu- is the wisdom of keeping alive the tion that no man could justify, and divisions to which it gave rise, by with the example of all those proud insulting the public principles of ma. and brave processions, whose innu- ny, who in all other things have, permerable banners insulted the faces of haps, too liberally approved of the the very sentinels at the palace gates present administration? Wherein conthe mean, wretched, starvling, and sists the truth or the justice of reprepusillanimous radicals, did not ven- senting the evanescent apparition of a ture to make one single demonstra- resistance to some score or two of soltion of manly hostility to that go- diers, on the part of those who had vernment which they had proscribed cheered the Queen in her difficulties
, in so many resolutions, and at such and who had, with true English con
numerous meetings,” as one too in- stancy, assembled to pay the generous tolerable to be longer endured, and homage of their respect to her remains, which, by something that may now wherein consists the truth or jusbe almost described as a fortunate tice of representing such an accidental fatality, had embarked in an under- incident as the manifestation of some taking which set at nought the laws concentrated and organized system of God, and the opinions of man. The of defiance, having rebellion for its peaceable termination of the Queen's means and the overthrow of the state business settled the radical question. for its object? Sir, in that business The miserable creatures will never every friend of the ministers who will again be of any political importance in frankly speak his sentiments, must our time. They may vamp up grie confess that the order of the funeral vances, and disseminate their * two- was essentially absurd, and the repenny trash," as long as there are ears sult was exactly what ought to bave to be annoyed, or they can find means been foreseen, and what ministers to pay for paper and printing ; but from the first ought to have allowed their power is departed, the frauds of it to be. But it partook of the chatheir mysteries are exposed to deri- racter of the whole course of the prosion, and their penny tricks, to buy ceedings to which the ill-fated Princess seats for Hunt and Cobbet in Parlia- had been subjected. It is a maxim of
expediency, 'never to risk any under- all the inestimable benefits which the taking except with the hope of advan- free circulation of the daily press contagem-no advantage was proposed to fers on the country, it is one of the be obtained by the trial of the Queen, greatest sources of popular delusion. and none could be gained by opposing Not that I think the newspapers are the popular affections at her funeral. conducted on any principle of decepTo do so, was an act of singular poli- tion,-I merely regard them as influtical folly, and only to be equalled by enced by the feelings of self-interest, to the inadequacy of the means employ- render their columns as attractive as ed to carry it into effect. But to sup- possible; and I daresay it will be alpose, because the inadequacy of those lowed, that there is no readier access means enabled the populace to carry to circulation among a numerous and
their point, that the strength of the sensitive class of politicians, than by af government has been in any degree cherishing the apprehensions of po
weakened in the estimation of the peo- pular dangers. No doubt, in the apple in general, is to ascribe effects to pearance of a London mob, there is a cause which it is incapable of pro- much that justifies those enormous
ducing. The whole affair cannot and raw-head-and-bloody-bones stories of si never will be regarded as any thing the newspapers, which so afflict and
else than as an incident arising from alarm honest John Bull at his couna temporary cause, and consequently try fire-side; but the vital part, the temporary in its effects. It had no- stirring energies of the multitude, the thing to do either with radicalism, or ignitious nucleus of the mass, bears rebellion, or discontent; it belonged to no proportion to the magnitude of the a series of fatalities in the history of whole. A London mob is naturally an individual, whom many strange greater than a mob in any other town and impressive circumstances had ren- of the kingdom, merely owing to the dered a remarkable object of popular greater population there congregated. interest and commiseration, and the Independent, however, of that, many whole impression and impulse which circumstances peculiar to the metro it produced must perish, as the heat polis, tend to swell the numerical apwhich her case had excited gradually pearance, without adding to the vio, passes away.
lence; on the contrary, perhaps they But as the Queen's trial served to have the effect to lessen it. In the demonstrate the strength with which first place, there is always in London the frame of the government is upheld a prodigious floating multitude of cue by the great masses of the people, rious strangers; and the Londoners notwithstanding
the political blunder themselves are remarkably under theinwhich it was throughout, so her fu- fluence of curiosity. And, in the second neral contributes to prove the little place, there is a nefarious and unknown importance that should be attached to number of miscreants, ever ready to the sentiments of the mob of London, profit by tumults, and who, in all aseven when it may be said they are in semblages of the populace, strenuousthe right, and the government in the ly exert themselves to produce turbuwrong. It cannot, I think, be ques- lence, purely as such, without any retioned, that the public funeral, which ference to what may be the objects of was got up for the men accidentally the meeting: slain in the scuffle with the soldiers,
Owing to these circumstances, to the was a guilty device, contrived for the vastness of the multitude, consisting, express purpose of bringing the popu- for the major part, of persons brought lace and the military into open hosti- together by motives of curiosity, and lity. Yet what was the result ? to the turbulence produced by disA little hooting and a few peltings orderly characters, the appearance of at the gates of the barracks, a London mob is much more tremen
row," not half so outrageous dous than of mobs in general elseas hundreds that happen annually in where; but, from the very nature of country towns on market-days; but the same things, it is in fact much which the daily newspapers, who more pusillanimous. Strangers are more have an interest in the exaggeration of apt than the townsmen to the impresevery political occurrence, endeavour- sions of fear; and curiosity, of all moods ed to swell into the most alarming of the mind, is the least calculated to consequence. The fact is, that, with withstand the influence of panic de
linquents, still more than even stran- tent; and the Whigs tell, as that gers or the curious, are liable to give these are entirely owing to a Tory adway at alarms. The flight of a detect- ministration, and only to be removed ed pickpocket in the crisis of a tumult by a reform in the representation. in London, is sufficient to occasion the Any reform is a good thing; and cerdissolution of a mob. You are not, tainly the representation might be therefore, to believe, when you read in improved ; for it cannot be questioned the newspapers of the prodigious thou- that by commerce and manufactures, sands assembled on occasions of popu- a vast mass of unrepresented wealth lar interest, that it either indicates the has accumulated in the country. But strength or the popularity of the cause. itis, I think, not very clearly made out, I have myself, more than once, seen that by any change in the representambassadors among crowds assembled ation, by any extension of the elective
for radical purposes; but it might as franchise, our existing burdens and truly and as justly be said, that the difficulties would be more speedily represence of such personages on such lieved, than by the system which it is occasions, was in consequence of some the interest of Government to adopt, dark and dreadful machination of fo- and which, it appears, ministers are reign policy, as that the thousands, steadily pursuing. I do not think, for whom any fantastical and poverty- 'example, that Mr Lambton or bis stricken orator of sedition may, at any friends have yet shewn that any
altertime, assemble, meet for the purpose of ation in the construction of the House tearing down the government. I re- of Commons would have the effect of member a meeting in Westminster- increasing the income of landlords, or Hall about the Duke of York's affair of lessening the difficulties of tenants with MIrs Clarke, to which I accompa- -of procuring better markets for our nied a friend from the country, agen- merchants abroad, or more lucrative tleman of great learning and high ac- employment for our artizans at home knowledged talents, but who had never the evils with which the kingdom, seen any thing of the kind before. at the present time, is most deeply afThe snuff-man Wishart played a dis- flicted.” On the contrary, that prostinguished part, and the speeches spo- perous state, from which landlords, ken on the occasion, were as bold and tenants, merchants, and manufactuseditious as any thing of the kind that rers have declined, was produced uneither the Whigs or the Radicals have der the existing systein of the represince attempted—and they were, of sentation, and has been blighted by course, most vehemently applauded. causes altogether independent of any My friend was petrified, and expected thing in the frame of the legislature, nothing less than an immediate re- and the principles upon which the govolution-all the afternoon he was vernment is administered, and can onthoughtful and sentimental. He had ly be renovated by the application of brand no appetite for his dinner, and at his adequate remedies—remedies which it wine after, rapped his snuff-box with is less in the power of Government more than common emphasis, and pro- than of the people themselves, to apphecied about the axe and scaffold, ply. and all the other et ceteras of anarchy, The prodigious expenditure of the with the accents of a seer, and the sa- war, the circulation of the trade of gacity of a sybil. But here we are ; the world through this country, like the Duke's case was soon forgotten; the the blood through the heart, the enQueen's is fast following; and even Sir ergy of successful speculations, and Robert Wilson's, that is but bursting the superiority which our manufacthe bud, will perish, and like every tures had acquired in every market, other, from the triumph of Dr Sache- had introduced into every family haverel, in Queen Anne's time, to that bits of luxury and expence, which the of Hunt, in our own, will only serve more limited channels of profit, in a toswell the catalogue of innocuous mas sober state of peace, could never supnifestations of popular feeling in a ply. Things have fallen back to their free country.
old level, but these habits have not But independent of the Queen's case been changed; and the adversaries of and radicalism, it is supposed and al- Government dexterously ascribe the leged, that there are serious and deep- difference between our means and our ly-seated causes of national discona wants, entirely to the operation of :
mal-administration, although perfect- thing so delicate in the management ly aware that retrenchment and re- of public affairs, as the disbanding of duction in our family establishments an army, and the reduction of national are as requisite as in those of the establishments. Nothing, certainly, State. Indeed, without a co-operation could have been easier, than immediin private life, along with the econo- ately, on the signature of the treaty of my which the Government is gradual- peace, to have paid off the army and ly'introducing, and introducing quite navy, the clerks in the offices, and the as rapidly as the circumstances of the labourers in the arsenals. But what country will allow, all the frugality was to become of the men? Would that any set of ministers might prace they have been less a burden to the tice, would be of very little effect on country, on the poor-rates of their rethe aggregate of those burdens which spective parishes, than on the general our habits, more than the taxes, make revenue of the kingdom ? And I would us suffer.
therefore ask if it was not a wiser poThere is, perhaps, no popular error licy on the part of governments to go more flagrant than that which is so on with the reductions gradually, preconstantly preached by the Opposition, paring the minds of the men for the that ministers are the patrons of cor- change, and allowing the demand for ruption, and are, from the possession labourers to absorb from time to time of place and power, the enemies of the one portion of the disbanded, before people. The mere statement of the another was sent in quest of employdogma in this form shews its absurdi- ment? Has the policy of government, ty; for, to every man who reflects in this respect, been fairly appreciafor one moment, it must be evident ted; on the contrary, are not all the that ministers themselves, having a opponents of ministers constantly enlarge stake in the country personally, deavouring to make it appear, that cannot but have a deep interest in every reduction in the national expenevery plan for alleviating the public diture, is a boon obtained by them? burdens, which bear as hard upon How much, for example, is said by them as upon the other classes of the them of Mr Hume's industry? No community. In addition to this, in person can be more impressed with order to preserve their official superio- the extent of that gentleman's merits: rity, they have the strongest motives than I am; and considering that he to cultivate the good will of the peo- is not in office, and obliged to seek his ple, which can only be done by a sincere details from indirect sources, I confess and practical enmity to corruptions. that his perseverance, and the degree To this, however, it may be said, that of his accuracy, are quite wonderful. although the case should be so, yet But does it therefore follow that behistory and experience instruct us of cause Mr Hume has made himself the contrary, and that the possessors master of the public accounts, in a of place and power have in all ages manner which no man in Opposition conceived themselves, as it were, in ever before could pretend to, that we hostility with the people. It cannot are to ascribe to his representations be denied, that it is natural to mạn, those abridgments of the war esta when dressed in authority, to play blishments, which the crown is carrymany fantastic tricks. But then it is ing into effect? In truth, even his always shewn by the means which he friends must allow that his exertions, employs; and the spirit of the Bri- meritorious as they undoubtedly are, tish constitution so works upon our have not been conducted in the most. rulers, as to abridge the power of do- judicious spirit, and that he has too ing mischief, while it compels an en
often considered the necessary protecdeavour to do good. Were the minis- tion which ministers are obliged to ters for the benefit of their own par- extend over office, as proceeding from tizans, at the present 'time, so mad as a personal regard for official corrupto persist in maintaining the establish- tion—just as if men in such conspicuments which the war obliged them to
ous stations, were less sensible to the form, the force of public opinion would feelings of honour than others of the soon shake them from their places, same rank in life, or that their responand were they to reduce them as rashly sibility should
make them less awake as the impatience of popular orators to the consequences of malversations, would require, they would not be less injurious to their personal conforts. blameable. There is, in truth, no- and honest fame.