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LETTER VII.: TO THE EDITOR OF THE SCOTS CHRONICLE. - John Millar, Letters of Crito, on the Causes, Objects, and Consequences, of the Present War 
Letters of Crito, on the Causes, Objects, and Consequences, of the Present War, Second Edition (Edinburgh:the Office of the Scots Chronicle, 1796).
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TO THE EDITOR OF THE SCOTS CHRONICLE.
July 1. 1796.
The friends of liberty in Britain could not behold the violent measures of the Europe an despots without extreme concern and uneasiness. It afforded ground for the most melancholy reflections, to consider, that despotism, in so many kingdoms, was not only maintained by each interior government, but was further to be protected by a sort of imperial authority assumed over all, imposing a negative upon the establishment of liberty in each particular state. Henry the IV. of France is said to have formed the plan of preventing wars, by an appeal to the determination of a supreme council, upheld by an union of different nations. The present combination supposed a great council, not of nations, but of sovereigns; not in behalf of the rights of mankind, but in support of tyranny and oppression.
It would be superfluous to observe, that, by persons of an opposite description, by the aristocracy, by the retainers of prerogative, and by a great part of the corporate bodies in the kingdom, these transactions upon the continent were viewed in a very different light. The reformation of abuses at home, the introduction of a more adequate representation in the House of Commons, began to stare them in the face, as the necessary effect of the successful exertions in France.
The British ministry have solemnly disclaimed any accession to the treaty of Pilnitz; and it is impossible to disbelieve their assertion in a matter which, however the particulars may have hitherto been concealed, must at length be completely divulged. The truth seems to be, they entertained no doubt that the invasion of France, by the Duke of Brunswick, would gain the end proposed without their assistance. But no sooner had that enterprize been found entirely abortive, than they were thrown into the utmost consternation, and resolved to take a principal share in the confederacy. The speech-making talents of the prime minister, it seems, could suggest no better expedient for dissipating those clouds with which he began to be encompassed.
In this resolution he was confirmed by a great addition of strength, which he received from a powerful defection among the leaders in opposition. It had for some time been rumoured, that certain distinguished members of the whig-party had been planet-struck by the progress of French opinions; and they now were induced, in spite of the detestation of the principles of ministry which they had always avowed, to join the ministerial phalanx, and to accept of places under government.
Though the public is not very apt to judge favourably of men who come into office by leaving their party, and is disposed to pay little attention to the pretences which happen, in such cases, to be assumed, it must be confessed, that these persons have, on this occasion, been treated with unusual candour. They have been supposed to act from general aristocratic prejudices more than from private views of interest. Even their enemies must admit, when the proud station which they abandoned is taken in connection with the humble situation which they now enjoy, that their conduct has been dictated, neither by the love of fame, nor by the love of power. In reality they have been pitied more than censured; and their understandings have been made the scape-goat of their feelings. The same indulgence, however, has not been extended to the inferior agents, included in this migration; who, at the same time that they willingly embraced the opportunity of serving their country, are understood to have felt no reluctance at quitting the cold and thankless climate of opposition for the genial sunshine of court favour. Even the fanciful admirer of the age of chivalry, who appears to have formerly displayed the gilded colours of liberty as a mere light horseman of aristocracy, now forgetting the sublime and the beautiful, was glad to retire upon a most extravagant pension; and had the effrontery to laugh at his former professions, by stating the price of his apostacy as the reward of his services, and by submitting to a miserable recantation, in the form of a humilitating panegyric upon the least brilliant, and formerly the least admired of all his present benefactors.
To prepare the nation for seconding the designs of ministry, and to provide a force capable of preventing all resistance, no common efforts were sufficient. The desire of obtaining a reform in the national representation had produced numerous meetings of the people, in the mercantile towns, and in other parts of the kingdom, for the purpose of petitioning parliament in support of that favourite object. Many publications appeared, at the same time, in which the general principles of government, and various political doctrines, were handled with great freedom. In some of these, it must be confessed, that the British Constitution was treated with little respect. But whatever might be the wanton speculations, or the licentious or foolish expressions of a few individuals, there is no ground to believe, that any considerable number were desirous of a Republican system, or that the great body of the people were not warmly attached to that form of limited monarchy under which they have lived, and of which the happy effects have been so long experienced. Ministers, however, affected to think very differently; and endeavoured to propagate an opinion, that the lower classes of the people, instigated by French emissaries, and seduced by French politics, had entered into a conspiracy for the total overthrow of our government. Every engine was now employed for exciting apprehensions of disloyalty and sedition. Societies were set on foot, to procure information, to circulate reports, to propagate political doctrines favourable to the views of their employers, and to prepare materials for the prosecution and conviction of the supposed offenders. At the head of these, one Reeves, a retainer of the law, and possessing an office under government, was distinguished by his indefatigable zeal and activity. At a later period, after the nation had recovered, in some measure, from the delusion which then prevailed, the conduct of this person appeared in such a light to the public, that the House of Commons thought proper to order a prosecution against him by the Attorney General. This measure, towards a person in his subordinate capacity, marks sufficiently the indignation which was felt. It is necessary to observe, that, in the trial which followed, the fact was found to be proved; but he has been acquitted from favourable circumstances with respect to his intentions.
The artificial cry, which was thus raised by designing politicians, communicated real alarm and terror to the honest undesigning part of the inhabitants. The gentry expected to be degraded from their rank by the French system of equality. Those who had any thing to lose regarded themselves as the immediate prey of republicans and levellers. Men of peaceable dispositions, who hated innovation, and were attached to the British Constitution, trembled with the apprehension of some terrible convulsion, and of seeing the anarchy and the cruelties, which had prevailed in France, introduced into their own country. It was in vain to represent, that no vestige of insurrection, conspiracy, or design to overturn the government, could be found in any part of the kingdom. The continual ferment which agitated the public mind, prevented a fair examination, and contributed to distort and exaggerate every object.
Having succeeded in raising a panic in the higher classes of the community, the next aim of Ministry, in conjunction with all those who had a private interest in avoiding a reform of the National Representation, was to recommend a war with France, from whose uncommon exertions had proceeded all the dangers with which this island appeared to be threatened. Some of the arguments employed for this purpose, which are of a singular nature, I shall take the liberty of mentioning on a future occasion. I am, &c.