trower to ricardo
[Reply to 330.—Answered by 346]
Unsted Wood—Oct. 26—1819
My Dear Ricardo
Many thanks for your last kind letter, which afforded me much pleasure.—I am sensible of the justice of your reproaches; and although I cannot altogether plead guilty to the charge of idleness; yet, I must admit, that my nature is of so mercurial a composition, that I am rather adicted to the active exertions of life, than to its more sedentary and studious pursuits. We are very much the creatures of circumstances; and our lots are greatly influenced by accident.—I have taken up farming, am pursuing it with eagerness, and am endeavouring to improve my little property.—My Magisterial and other local duties occupy some portion of my time, the rest is given to my domestic duties, to an attentive observation of the progress of public events, and to the literature of the day. Thus you see, as a sort of defence, you have drawn from me some account of my proceedings, which, although they may be sufficient to clear me from the charge of idleness, will not, I fear, entitle one to the praise of exertion.—
I am rejoiced to find that you are following up your blow—The amplest success has attended your exertions; you have made the principles of the subject completely your own, and are capable of affording information to the public, on every branch of it. I agree with you, mainly, in your view of the Sinking Fund. And, I should be rather disposed, had we any surplus revenue to spare, to employ it in the annual actual discharge of a portion of the debt, than trust to an accumulation, which however promising in prospect, may never realise the benefit expected—But, it appears to me, that there is a prior, and a much more important question to determine. How can we prevent the encrease of that debt? How, in the event of diminished revenue, or of encreased expences, can we raise the funds necessary for our current expenditure? This is the point to be labored; this is the question to be spread before the public. It is a subject of interest not only to this Country, but to every Government in Europe.—I am glad, that Parliament is about to meet, because I hope its measures will be calculated to calm the irritated feelings of the public. But, I grieve to see, that Ministers have schemes in contemplation, that I fear will have an opposite effect. Still, I cannot think they will succeed in carrying them; that they will be able to make out a case, which will induce Parliament to adopt them—I should not be surprised if a general, or a partial, change of administration should result from these discussions.—It is impossible, however, not to be alive to the dangers resulting to the peace, and to the liberties of the Country, from the frequent meetings of these countless multitudes—And, I am impressed with the necessity of adopting some regulations, which whilst they should effectually guard the right of public meetings from the arbitrary will of Government, should, at the same time, secure them from the dangers, not less imminent, of mere physical force. Why not limit meetings for political purposes to parishes, and thus diminish the danger by breaking down the masses? If the Votes at elections were to be taken in Parishes, there would be a precedent for the practice; and a fair analogy to justify its application to public meetings.—The people must and will meet, but they cannot continue to meet in safety to the Country, in the immense masses, which now assemble—If, therefore, these assemblies be not regulated, the liberty of the people will be endangerd, or the safety of the Country will be put to hazard. What say you to these matters?
I think the dismissal of Lord Fitzwilliam from the Lieutenancy very unwise and very unworthy of Ministers. —It will injure the cause it is intended to benefit; and is an evidence of bad temper and paltry malice, instead of good sense and liberal policy. At the same time it cannot be conceded, that the opposition are unworthily availing themselves of the popular outcry, and are giving countenance to outrageous conduct, which they cannot but condemn, because it may afford them an opportunity of pushing Ministers from their seat!—
After looking very attentively into the law upon the subject, and comparing it with the facts of the case, as they have appeared in the public papers, I am rather disposed to think the Magistrates at Manchester were not justified in the measures they pursued. But, it is really a nice point. Certainly, some of the circumstances attending the Meeting, were of an unlawful character. The flag with the Motto “Equal Representation or Death”, clearly calls for what the Constitution denies, and is consequently unlawful. The unusual mode of assembling, marching in regular time, and locked together by each others arms, provided, as many were, with clubs, (accompanied, as it was, by the certain knowledge of multitudes drilling at night,) were circumstances calculated to excite alarm—And, at all events, it seems to be forgotten, that, if the Magistrates have erred, they must have done so from an error of judgment, (for no man can fairly charge them with an evil intent,) and Magistrates, in the conscientious discharge of their duties, are protected by the law from punishment for errors in judgment. And, indeed, if it were not so, I wonder what gentleman would take upon himself the troublesome invidious, and anxious duties of the Magistracy!—And yet, the Manchester Magistrates are branded by the name of Murderers; and by those, who bawl aloud for enquiry! If they really call for enquiry, then the Magistrates are libelled. If they mean to call for punishment, then, are they condemned without enquiry!—
These are all very interesting and important questions, and I look with impatience to the meeting of Parliament for their decision—
Pray have you read Peters Letters to his Kinsfolk? They are amusing, and forcibly but coarsely written—If the writer be really Dr. Morris, I think he must be one of the most impudent coxcombs that ever existed, and certainly must never mean to shew himself in Scotland again—But I am almost disposed to think, that the Dr.. is an assumed character, for the purpose of more effectually concealing the writer. Who is he? What do you hear of him? He seems to set all the rules of decency and decorum at difiance! Is received in Edingburgh with the greatest hospitality, has the run of the Houses of the most distinguished men in it, and makes use of the advantages, which these opportunities afford him, to lampoon his friends, and abuse and ridicule their customs and their Country!—
But I must stop; for I find I am running this letter to an immeasureable length; and I must not conclude without informing you, that Mrs. Trower has added another Daughter to our family, and that she and the infant are both doing well.—
Pray make our kind remembrances to Mrs. Ricardo, and family, and believe me
Yrs very sincerely
Pray tell me on what day the Sheriffs are Sworn in. Is it on any particular day—and when do they first enter on the actual discharge of the duties of their Office is there anything to do before the Assizes?