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John Thelwall, The Tribune [1795]

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John Thelwall, The Tribune, A Periodical Publication, consisting chiefly of the Political Lectures of J. Thelwall. Taken in Short-hand by W. Ramsey and revised by the Lecturer (London: Printed for the Author, 1795).

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About this Title:

A collection of articles and editorials from Thelwall’s magazine The Tribune which were originally published between March 1795 and September 1795.

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The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

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Edition: current; Page: [iii]
taken in short-hand by w. ramsey, and revised by the lecturer.

To paint the voice, and fix the fleeting found.

PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR, and sold at the lecture-room, beaufort-buildings; And by the following Booksellers: D. I. Eaton, Newgate-Street; Smith, Portsmouth-Street, Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields; and Burks, Crispin-Street, Spitalfields.
Edition: current; Page: [iv] Edition: current; Page: [v]


Generally speaking, the object of a Preface is, or ought to be, to advertise the reader of the kind of entertainment to which he is invited by the author. But, with periodical publications, this object can rarely be proposed; for, as the Preface is generally the last part of the work in point of composition, the strong probability is, that the generality of readers, like the author himself, have traced the work through its respective stages, before the Preface comes under consideration.

This is particularly the case with the present performance; for though twelve hundred and fifty copies have been printed, I have the satisfaction to find that I am upon the eve of being called upon for a second edition, before the last number of the first is completed. Few of the persons, therefore, to whom this prologue is presented, can be supposed unacquainted with the plot and incidents of the drama it is to precede. Yet, as I am about concluding the first volume of a work, in every thing, but its form, of a very singular nature, I cannot but feel myself called upon to say something by way of apology for its appearance.

The various publications with which the world has been sometimes benefited, and sometimes infested, have been suggested by a variety of circumstances, and authors have been stimulated in their Edition: current; Page: [(vi)] labours by a variety of causes.—The greater number of books, undoubtedly, have originated either in the love of fame, or the desire of profit; and neither of these objects, I believe, when properly regulated, are in the least dishonourable either to the understanding or the heart: but there are some which owe their origin to higher motives,—and, among these, the author flatters himself that the Tribune has some pretensions to be ranked.

Those who are acquainted with the expences of publication, and who compare the quantity of matter with the price of these pamphlets, will immediately perceive that the sale of a thousand copies at three-pence per number, and two hundred and fifty at six-pence, (after all deductions for the profit of booksellers, and other incidental circumstances) can never make any pecuniary compensation to the publisher; and as for same, he must be infatuated, indeed, who looks for an increase of literary reputation from the hasty transcripts of a Course of Lectures, two of which he is to prepare and deliver every week.

Excellence is only to be attained by flow and elaborate process; and the world considers the degree of merit produced, not the circumstances which may have influenced the production. If, therefore, I had regarded only my interest, or my reputation, the probability is, that this periodical paper had never appeared,—especially as it might have been expected that such a work would rather blunt than excite the curiosity of the public, who are generally less disposed to go and hear that which they suppose they shall have the opportunity (though perhaps they may never have the inclination) to read. But the fact is, that though the late prosecutions have influenced me, in some degree, to vary my mode, they have not abated my desire of disseminating information, such as it is in my power to communicate, Edition: current; Page: [(vii)] among the oppressed and industrious orders of society. And at the same time that it was impossible, either from the limits of my premises, from the very large expences of my situation, or from the necessary precaution of preserving what the aristocratic prejudices of the world would term the respectability of my Lectures, to render the terms of admission more easy than they are, I flattered myself that the class of people to whom I have alluded might be in some degree benefited and enlightened by the doctrines which these Lectures are intended to enforce.

Feeling myself called upon to guard against a repetition of such gross forgeries as had been advanced against me upon my late trial, by the employment of a short-hand writer, I therefore began to calculate whether I could not turn this circumstance to the advantage of the cause in which my life has already been endangered, and in which my soul still continues to be embarked. The result was a determination to send into the world, at the cheapest possible rate, the following publication; printing at the same time a small edition upon fine paper for the use of those whose circumstances better enabled them to reward the labours of men who have nothing but their talents and exertions to bestow upon the public cause.

As it is impossible that in an undertaking like mine, there should not be considerable inequalities, my first intention was to have set apart those lectures which I conceived most successful in point, for publication in separate volumes, and to have published extracts only from the others. But upon further reflection I have changed my plan; and my present intention (to which I have partly adhered in the latter part of this volume, and which will guide me in a more general manner in the next) is to publish in this periodical manner those of a more Edition: current; Page: [(viii)] temporary nature, and to reserve for future revision and improvement, those which are more referable to general principles.

In conformity to this resolution, there are some of the Lectures delivered towards the latter end of the course, which (though yet unprinted) call aloud for publication—particularly those on Barracks and Fortifications, and on the dearness and scarcity of Provisions. It cannot, however, be expected that I should chain myself down to the metropolis, to the total neglect of health, relaxation, and comfort, during the whole summer, in order to superintend this publication; and as I am not at present provided with any person to whom I can entrust the correction of the press, I must decline the regular continuance of this publication till the resumption of the Lectures in September next. In the mean time, however, I shall put the Lectures above specified in a train to be published at convenient periods, that the work may not be entirely dropped during the summer season, and that the expectation of those who have testified their approbation of those discourses, in particular, may not be disappointed.

Edition: current; Page: [ix]


  • ON the distresses of the industrious poor - - Page 1
  • The impotence and absurdity of superstitious observances 9
  • Ode on the destruction of the Bastille - - 12
  • On the means of redressing the calamities of the nation - 12
  • Extracts from Buchanan’s General View of the Fisheries of Great Britain - - - - 20
  • Dangerous tendency of the attempt to suppress political discussion - - - - - 25
  • Examination of Mr. Pitt’s statement of the flourishing state of our commerce - - - - 26
  • On the exhausted state of our national resources, and the consequent condition of our labourers and manufacturers - 34
  • Picture of the horrors of war - - - 41
  • Emigrants - - - - - 43
  • Anecdotes of crimping - - - - 44
  • A striking instance of the wanton barbarity of despotic power 46
  • Auld Reekie’s corporation politics - - - 48
  • On the probable consequences of continuing the present system of ambition and hostility - - - 49 Edition: current; Page: [x]
  • The duty and interest of the people to enquire into the causes and conduct of wars, in the guilt of which they are involved by contributing to their support - - 62
  • Comparison between the guilt of a common murderer and the deliberate projectors of unnecessary war - - 64
  • No war just, but a war of self-defence - - 66
  • Consequences of our national glory and prosperity to the great body of the people - - - - 67
  • Extreme difference between the interests of ministers and the interests of the people, with respect to peace and war - 67
  • Ministerial prerogative - - - - 68
  • Defender of the Faith, a meditation in the Tower - 70
  • Anecdote of T. Paine - - - - 71
  • The Impatient Lover - - - - 72
  • Exemplification of the humanity and benevolence of the 18th century - - - - - 73
  • The blessed efforts of the system of colonization - 76
  • Historical sketches—Motives of a King and his Ministers, in former times, for making war, for the purpose of overturning a republic - - - - - 77
  • Tax on hair-powder - - - - 79
  • Mr. Dent’s speech on the hair powder tax - - 82
  • Calculation of flour wasted upon the military of England, Scotland and Ireland - - - 83
  • Anecdote of a great œconomist and calculator - 84
  • Narrative of the proceedings of the messengers, &c. on the seizure of J. Thelwall, with his examination before the Privy Council - - - - - 85
  • Sect. II.—Narrative of the proceedings of the Messenger and his attendants, relative to the seizure of papers, &c. - 90 Edition: current; Page: [xi]
  • Sect. III.—Examination before the Privy Council, &c. - 92
  • Political Maxims - - - - 96
  • The British Cabinet the first authors and supporters of the present war - - - - - 97
  • The pretences for entering into the present war - 106
  • The examination of H. Eaton before the Privy Council - 113
  • Political maxim - - - - 120
  • An examination of the arguments against negociating a peace with the French Republic, and of the causes of the disgrace of the Allies - - - - 121
  • On the moral and political influence of the prospective principle of Virtue - - - - 147
  • Tories, or Rapparees - - - - 163
  • Political song - - - - 165
  • Historical strictures on Whigs and Tories - - 169
  • Whig administrations - - - - - 181
  • On the frequent instances of tyranny and corruption among English Judges - - - - 182
  • Fatal effects of the dependence, and consequent pliability and corruption of Judges - - - 183
  • A reflection from Voltaire - - - 184
  • H. Eaton’s examination before the Privy Council, from memorandums written by himself - - 185
  • Political song, No. II. - - - - 191
  • Strictures on the letters of Lord Lauderdale to the Peers of Scotland, and Earl Fitzwilliam on the affairs of Ireland - 193
  • Second lecture on the moral and political influence of the prospective principle of Virtue - - 232 Edition: current; Page: [xii]
  • Impromptu - - - - - 236
  • On the humanity and benevolence of the Dutch revolution, and the causes of the excesses in France; with a parallel between the characters of Pitt and Robespierre - 237
  • Lecture on the system of terror and persecution adopted by the present ministry; with animadversions on the treatment of Joseph Gerrald - - - - 261
  • The Invasion; or, Credulous Spiders - - 278
  • Lecture on prosecutions for pretended treasons - - 279
  • Continuation of the Narrative of the proceedings of the Messengers, &c. - - - - 301
  • Removal of the State prisoners to Newgate - - 311
  • Correspondence with the Privy Council - - 318
  • Extracts from the Reviews - - - 327
  • Farewell address on closing the Lectures for the season - 329
  • Anecdote - - - - - 337
  • Political song, No. III. - - - - 338
Edition: current; Page: [1]

The Tribune, A Periodical Publication, Consisting Chiefly of the Political Lectures of J. Thelwall


On the Distresses of the Industrious Poor, from the LectureOn the proper means of averting National Calamities,delivered by J. Thelwall, on Wednesday 25th Feb. the day appointed for a solemn Fast.

  • Take physic Pomp—
  • Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel.
  • shakespeare.

The occasion upon which we meet, and the publicity of my opinions upon subjects any way connected with superstition may occasion many to expect that I call you together merely for the purpose of ridicule. It may not, therefore, be amiss to apprise you, that such as have formed this expectation will find themselves in a considerable degree disappointed. However absurd the idea of averting national calamities by superstitious observances in itself may be, the situation of the country is much too serious to be made the subject of idle pastime.

During two years the unparalleled devastations of a cruel, unjust, and impolitic war have been heaping disgrace after disgrace, and misfortune after misfortune upon a nation whose soil and situation (separated as it is by nature from the despotic governments and ambitious intrigues of the continent) might have secured the united reign of peace and felicity, if these advantages had not been so fatally counteracted by the blunders and infatuated projects of ministerial ambition. In vain do we look for that abundance which a soil so fertile ought to have secured!—In vain do we look for that cheerful and health-blooming industry which these natural advantages and the patient assiduity of Britons might entitle us to Edition: current; Page: [2] expect. Instead of these, beggary and emaciation encounter us in every street; our towns and villages present one universal picture of calamity and dejection; and the pencil of history, should it transmit to future ages a faithful representation of the present state of society in Britain, must be principally employed in delineating groups of disconsolate widows and unfriended orphans, supplicating from the contemptuous hand of Charity the scantiest portion of that sustenance which they ought to have been receiving, in abundance and independency, from the industry of the husband and the father!

Tax after tax is levied—contribution after contribution is demanded—and burthen after burthen heaped upon our bending shoulders; every shilling of which must come, in the first instance, from the labours of the poor—for all production originates with them. In the mean time all the useful occupations of life are in a manner suspended—the labours of the builder are arrested, and the unfinished tenement moulders into premature ruin;—the mallet of the artisan resounds no more—the shuttle sleeps, and cobwebs hang upon the loom:—Let Spittal-fields, and the constituents of Mr. Windham contradict me if I speak untruly!

Commerce is half annihilated; the arts decline, and science toils no more in the diffusion of intellect and happiness. The investigation of the causes of our miseries is become the only occupation of the speculative mind, and the only employments of manual industry are the trades which are connected with the aggravation of those miseries.

Nor does the evil rest here. The body politic of Britain is not only diseased: It is suffering daily amputation. Its most important members are hourly lopped away by a depopulating war.

  • “Princes and Lords may flourish, and may fade;
  • A breath may make them, as a breath hath made:
  • But a bold peasantry, their Country’s pride!
  • When once ’tis lost, can never be supplied.”
  • goldsmith.

Yet this peasantry—this pride of the country—if the country knew what it ought to be proud of—the productive energies of man, or the baubles or distinction!—This peasantry we suffer to be annihilated—this pride laid low, in a rediculous (I had almost said an unprincipled) crusade to restore the fallen despotism of France. For this the husband is Edition: current; Page: [3] torn from his wife—the father from his helpless infants, and the son from the aged parents with whom he used to share the scanty earnings of his industry. For this the marshes of Flanders are manured, and the dykes of Holland choaked with British blood. For this the personal liberty of Englishmen is invaded, with impunity, by the lawless violence of press-gangs; our youth are ensnared by the artifices of recruiting parties; trading magistrates are vested with a despotic authority over the lower orders of the community; and our streets are nightly infested by the snares, and atrocious depredations of crimps and kidnappers.

One consolation, and only one relieves the mind of the philanthropist, in the contemplation of this gloomy picture; and that, strange to say! arises from our disasters and defeats. The project is not likely to succeed. The despotism of the Bourbons—that despotism hitherto so fatal to the repose and to the morals of Europe, will not be restored; and the dead bodies of our countrymen that were intended to have been made the stepping-stones for the ambition of a Prince of Condé and a Comte d’Artois, have paved the way for the triumphant armies of a Republic, invincible from the conviction that every individual is fighting for his own independence, and his own rights!

Still, however, (uninfluenced by experience—untaught by calamity, and implicitly resigned to the interested councils of those dastard emigrants—those superstitious priests and profligate nobles whose intrigues have already been so fatal to their own sovereign) our infatuated Cabinet persevere in their Quixotic projects. Still are the ranks of our flying armies recruited by these detestable means, while our stagnated commerce and ruined manufactures present to the most useful order of men only the melancholy alternative of perishing by the sword abroad, or by lingering famine at home.

We cannot wonder, therefore, that the depopulation which the sword produces is so considerably increased by another species of depopulation, I mean by emigration. Nor will it give so great a degree of astonishment to your minds, when I state that 1500 individuals, during one week in the last summer, arrived, between Sunday and Sunday, from England, Scotland, and Ireland, at the town of New York alone; and that the whole amount of the individuals who had emigrated from this country to the hospitable shores of America, during Edition: current; Page: [4] the last summer, was no less than eighty thousand, men, women, and children. I say when you consider the calamities under which the country groans, you will not be surprised that I am enabled to state to you from authentic documents, that during the last summer eighty thousand individuals from Scotland, England, and Ireland, have bid a final farewel to their native fields, their relatives and friends, to assist the population of America, rather than endure the united torments of penury and persecution to which they must be here exposed. And of what description are the people we have thus lost? Not like the eighty thousand locusts that fled from a neighbouring country; not dreaming monks and swindling nobility! (Remember, Citizens, I am speaking of the nobility of France; not of the nobility of England.) The emigrants driven from this country were not eighty thousand dreaming monks and swindling nobility; but eighty thousand of the best sinews, the strong fibres, the nerves of the state; chiefly useful labourers, from whose application alone all the wealth, power, and grandeur of the country must be derived. If, therefore, so many vital fibres continue to be torn from the heart of Britain, will it be surprising if we should find that a dead palsy has seized one side of the country, when (as may possibly be the case ere long) we find ourselves called upon, by the progress of events, for all our energies, and all our magnanimity, to repel the hostile attacks that may be aimed not at the extremities only, but at the very seat of life?

Yet, Citizens, thinned as the population has thus been, what is the fate of those who yet remain? Have those persons who have fled to the hospitable shores of America secured, by that flight, abundance to those whom they have left behind? Alass, how melancholy a reverse presents itself to our observation! Calculate the present proportion between the increase in the price of labour, and in the price of the necessary articles of life: and estimate, if you can, without a blush, the meagre pittance with which the industry is repaid that secures the comforts and multiplies the luxuries of the opulent, and privileged orders. Behold the condition of our labourers (those even who can obtain employment for their industry at any rate!)—See them, in defiance of all their toil and assiduity, reduced to the miserable prospect of not being able to supply a necessary quantity of wholesome food for themselves and their distressed families!

Edition: current; Page: [5]

To what causes shall we trace these distempers? for we must know the nature of the disease before we attempt to apply a remedy. To what cause, I say, shall we attribute these phenomena in the state of the national health? The first that presents itself to us is that immense foreign exportation which is the consequence of this just, necessary, and prosperous war.

The loaf that should feed the useful labourer, is sent to supply the destroying soldier—English, Hessian, Austrian, Hanoverian, Sardinian, or Prussian! The peasant languishes, and the manufacturer starves, that the fruits of their industry may satisfy the cravings of those who are fighting, not I believe for the liberties of Englishmen, but for the preservation of the places and emoluments of those by whom the liberties of England are invaded.

But even this intention does not succeed. The stores intended for these motley legions are lost in the dykes of Holland, in the marshes of Flanders, in the ravaged territories of the petty princes of Germany, whom the power of Britain is no longer competent to defend. It is sent to some British, or some friendly army, at some given post; and, when it arrives there, it finds no such army in existence. The tricoloured flag is waving where the British standard was expected to be hailed; the reliques of our brave battalions have fled to some distant post; and the stores either fall into the hand of the enemy, or are wickedly destroyed, in hopes that the foes we cannot conquer may experience the same famine with the friends we cannot preserve.

Thus to the calamities which proceed from the political insanity of our rulers, are to be added those which result from the absolute impossibility of supplying a flying army without sending three times the quantity of provisions which a victorious army would require.

Independent of this, it seems as though the elements themselves had conspired to aggravate our misfortunes.

I shall not allude to the frosts in Holland. The Dutch best know whether they were calamities or blessings.—I shall not attempt to plead their cause. As far as we can see Holland believes it has had too much of our friendly interference already. But I do believe that, whatever Dutchmen may think, Englishmen must feel that a considerable aggravation of their calamities has been produced by the inclement season.

Edition: current; Page: [6]

I do not stand here to uphold the doctrines of superstition. I do not pretend to peer above the clouds, and discover the secrets of a supposed ruling Providence. That is no part of my profession. I speak of facts. I wish you to know how great your calamity is, and what are the moral means of redress? I speak only to moral agents; and, therefore, have nothing to do with supernatural causes.

But the greater the calamities are the greater is the crying necessity of applying relief: And it is the duty of the statesman not only to cure those disasters which result from the political wickedness or absurdity of the rulers, but to provide remedies also, for those which result from accidental circumstances—from physical causes: from derangements of the elements, and internal disasters. For this it was that government was chiefly instituted.

Yes, Citizens, as it is the duty of the physician to apply not only remedies to the diseases which result from intemperance, but to those also which proceed from accidents which may betide the human body, and over the causes of which we can have no dominion; so with the political physician; it is his duty to apply the remedy not only to the evils which result from his own follies and absurdities, but to the consequences, also, of those natural calamities which he could not foresee, and which, therefore, no human virtue could prevent. And I do affirm, that this was the purpose for which governments were principally instituted; for these are the only calamities likely to befal any nation, independent of those which result from the government itself. All the calamities of war, all the inconveniences to which any nation is exposed in consequence of foreign and external circumstances, are the effects of the government itself; and never could exist but from the particular conduct of the governors. It is, therefore, for the purpose of regulating those internal circumstances which result necessarily from the state of society, or are the consequences of those accidents or derangements to which the physical universe is perpetually liable, that government is in reality instituted: for these are misfortunes to which society, and, in many instances, even unassociated man must be perpetually subject from the yet unfathomed laws of the system we inhabit.

It is necessary, therefore, for the better security and accommodation of man (or at least it has hitherto appeared so) Edition: current; Page: [7] that institutions should exist composed of individuals whose superior knowledge and leisure for reflection may enable them to discover the proper remedies for these inevitable and unforeseen calamities, and to direct the popular attention to the means of counteracting their effects. These institutions constitute what is called government: and woe to that nation whose governors forget the real objects of their institution in the selfish pursuit of factious aggrandisement, and the mad and destructive projects of war and conquest!

I say, then, if it has happened, from the co-operation of political and physical causes, that calamities have been brought upon the nation, it behoves those entrusted with the administration of the government, first of all, prior to all external concerns, prior to all considerations of foreign alliance or hostility, to consider and apply the remedies which the internal situation of the country happens to demand.

If then, to you, as to me, the strong probability should appear that during this inclement season, hundreds, nay thousands of our fellow beings must have perished from those diseases which result from scanty and unwholesome food; from the want of proper protection from the inclemency of the season, and from the want of fuel to warm their frozen joints:—If the probability should appear that the dearth of provisions existing, and likely to be encreased, from the encreased exportation of the necessaries of life to our armies on the continent, co-operating with the physical calamities of floods, frosts, and inundations, are likely still further to aggravate the distresses of the country, to a degree little short of famine itself—it results as a deduction of reason—it results as an imperious duty, that the nation at large, but principally the governors of the nation, are called upon to seek with diligence, and to apply with alacrity, such remedies as may snatch us from this severe accumulation of disasters.

Citizens, it will be said that a sort of relief has been applied. We shall be told of the benevolences in parishes. We shall be told of the subscriptions of persons enjoying 12, or 14,000l. a year, who have liberally subscribed one guinea in one place because it was not their own parish, and two in another, because it was their own.

We shall be told, perhaps, that abundant relief has been given to the distressed portions of society.

Edition: current; Page: [8]

Citizens, this is a specious, but a dangerous mode of proceeding towards the relief of our fellow beings. If this is the condition under which so many of our fellow citizens groan, some remedy (not a remedy of Charity, of Benevolence, as it is called, but a remedy of political amelioration) ought to be applied that will impartially reach them all.

Parish associations may amuse the wretched with delusive hopes, and present a vain glorious picture of public munificence; but can never afford an adequate remedy to the evil.

I shall not dwell upon the peculations of parish officers and contractors. It is sufficient to observe that by parish associations nothing but a partial remedy will ever be applied; and that not for the purpose of removing the distress, but of increasing the dependence of the lower orders of the people.

He who is attached to the faction in power, who can can cringe and creep to the petty officers and dependants of of that faction, may perchance obtain relief. But I myself have witnessed the manner in which the applications of those may be repulsed, however great their miseries, who are suspected of being deficient in these loyal virtues; or who have the misfortune to be recommended by individuals whose principles are not entirely agreeable to “Gentlemen high in office.”

I have known poor wretches refused relief from the fund raised at the general expence of the district, or chid with surly insolence, and dismissed with a scanty disproportionate pittance, because the persons who recommended them—the individuals who knew their distresses, were Jacobins, as they are called: persons attached, not to individual men, but to broad and general principles! Persons who believe that principle, as it is the soul of political existence, is more to be revered than the leaders of little, paltry associations of men of rank:—more venerable than even those corporate institutions which arrogate to themselves a kind of omnipotence, while at the same time they are in reality but the tools of individuals, who some how or other have got to the lead, but who, by the grovelling passions they so frequently exhibit, one would suppose to have been intended to be placed at the foot of society.

Citizens, whatever may have been the calamities of the people, whatever the partial relief of those calamities, I am afraid they have not yet arrived at their height.

Edition: current; Page: [9]

When I read—and who has not read, the melancholy accounts of floods and inundations; when I consider how many pastures have been laid waste, how many fields of promised grain destroyed, I cannot but look forward with gloomy apprehension towards that prospect of famine, or little short of famine, which presents itself to our view. And if I can hereafter show, and I trust I can show, that there are political remedies which might remove this grievance, what are the deserts of those individuals, who have power to apply these remedies, but whose pride, whose avarice of office, prevents them from listening to the voice of calamity, and renders them blind to that happiness which might be produced by pursuing measures consistent with the wishes and interests of the people, but which they conceive would be detrimental to their own selfish interests, and the permanency of their places and emoluments.

The impotence and absurdity of superstitious Observances. From the Same.

What are the proper objects to which the Statesman ought to turn his attention? What the proper pursuits in which the nation ought at this time to be engaged?

Ought we to appeal to the moral energies of the human mind, to the powers of reason, to the faculties of intellect, or to yield to the cowardly dictates of superstition? Are we in short, to apply to moral and political resources for redress, or like the stupid Neopolitans, carry about in long processions, the head of Saint Januarius to avert the earthquake rumbling under our feet, and suspend the explosions of the volcano which is flaming over our heads, and threatning us with immediate destruction?

Yes, Citizens, you can see the absurdity of this. You can feel what a ridiculous figure St. Januarius makes in the midst of this tremendous scene. But O blindness of self-love! O folly of national partiality! you cannot perceive that there is scarcely a shade of difference between the practices of Naples and of Britain. For how are Englishmen at Edition: current; Page: [10] this time employed? Are not Priests in their pulpits and devotees upon their knees pouring forth their souls in sublime rhapsodies to an invisible being, to induce him to do for them what, if it is right, they ought to do for themselves, and if it is wrong, such a being certainly would not do for them? Are they not offering up their petitions, as they say, to a benevolent and merciful Creator, to enable them to cut the throats, to desolate the fields, to burn the towns and villages, to make widows of the wives, and orphans of the children of their fellow creatures—according to their own calculation, of their brethren? Thus intreating this merciful being to lend his assistance to practices so cruel and so profligate, that even the beasts of prey are strangers to them! They devour indeed the brutes of other species, but leave to man alone the enlightened province of destroying his fellow man.

Instead of appealing to the virtuous resources of the human character, instead of endeavouring to find what kind of stuff Britons are made of, instead of restoring them to their rights, that they may recover their energies, are not persons hired to preach the doctrines most agreeable to their employers, rushing into the utmost extremities of superstitious absurdity, and endeavouring to preserve those employers from the ruin and destruction in which they have involved themselves—by what? By reformation and atonement? No, but by the vain attempt to make divine perfection (for so they call the object of their worship) the participator of their guilt; and praying for thunders and lightnings to consume the individuals who have presumed to differ from them in political and religious opinions, and whom their folly and presumption have converted from generous friends to the nation into implacable enemies to the government.

Citizens, if reason is not to be the arbiter, if superstition is to be appealed to, let me ask what difference is there between a pair of Protestant lawn sleeves and the relics of a Roman saint?

If we are to seek redress, not by our exertions, but by the prayers and mediations of some intermediate being, some demi-god placed between man and divinity, what difference can reason discover between St. Januarius and his Grace of Peterborough or of Durham?

Citizens, the real friends of humanity have no occasion for this hypocritical mummery: they disdain to appeal to a superstition Edition: current; Page: [11] which their actions show they do not believe, and which they do not pretend to comprehend.

Liberty, Benevolence and Truth, are the trinity in unity of their perpetual adoration. These are the objects to which the attention of the human mind should be directed.

If all that is preached and believed is true, the being to whom they address their prayers, sits immoveable in the heavens, lost in a blaze of light, which we cannot penetrate, and in his own divine perfections, superior to external motives, and incapable of change, pursues the eternal tenor of his way; and nothing can be so ridiculous as the attempt of human weakness to divert him from this eternal course.

But Truth we can discover, Benevolence we can feel, and Liberty, the glorious principle of liberty we can promote. Let us consider then, whether those great deities of rational adoration are not more likely to furnish us with the means of extricating ourselves from that weight of calamity, which political priestcraft and superstitious policy have so heavily accumulated upon the shoulders of mankind than all the juggling between priests and Machiavelian politicians which have so long been carried on. Let us labour to enlighten our fellow citizens—Let us for political maladies seek for political relief; endeavour by every means in our power to apply the assistance of moral amelioration to moral calamities; and explore the means by which one physical cause may counteract the mischiefs of another.

Thus and thus only can we remedy what superstition never yet could cure. But those who have an interest in imposing upon mankind, have found out another mode of remedy. Fasts and prayers are instituted for the purposes of sanguinary ambition. You are told to humble yourselves for the crimes which your rulers have committed. You are taught to pray, that they may continue to slaughter: and you are taught to fast (and you have been taught it long enough)—You are taught to fast that they may riot in luxurious profusion.

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On the means of redressing the Calamities of the Nation. From the Same.

What then are the means of redress for which the calamities of the nation call? For redress of political calamities let us apply ourselves to correct the vices, the errors, the delusive ambition, which have led to those calamities. And if the present situation of the country, with respect to policy, results from the quixotic imagination that a handful of Britons could subdue the enthusiastic myriads of France—If we have attempted to trample their infant liberty in the duft, without considering with what gigantic energy that infancy was endued—If we have madly supposed that the pigmy efforts of a Pitt, a Dundas, a Loughborough, a Jenkinson, and a Colonel Mack, could subdue this gigantic energy, and reduce a mighty nation once more to the tramels of despotism;—and if this has been the political source of our calamities, let us acknowledge that we see our error, that we see the folly of our attempt; and ere it be too late, consider how we can save our own country from that very famine and destruction with which we threatened to depopulate the streets of Paris. This also would lead to the remedy of those internal calamities that have fallen upon us, by calling forth the resources of nature and the energies of a well directed industry. And as for those heavier calamities which may threaten to assail us at our own door—If Britons, as perhaps may be the case, are speedily to be called upon to defend their own habitations and their own families from those hostile aggressions with which they so unjustly and so absurdly threatened the enemy they have thus provoked, let our governors appeal in time to those popular concessions, those conciliating acts of justice which have been so long, and so intemperately refused; but without which, I fear, that unanimity and energy can never be expected which circumstances so alarming may require.

To restore us to our vigour, let them restore us to our rights: let them convince us that it is for ourselves, and ourselves alone, that we are strugling; nor suffer us to suspect, for a moment, that we are contending for our own chains, for the security of our oppressors, and the perpetuity of our oppressions.

Remove the possibility of this suspicion, and then shall it be found that the British character has not lost its energy; but Edition: current; Page: [13] that we are still as capable of vindicating our own cause as ever we were in the most brilliant periods of our history. Then shall it appear in the eyes of Europe that Britons still retain that resolute and unanimous affection for the real interests of their country which can alone secure its protection or improve its happiness.

For the alleviation of calamities of another description, let us also labour to abolish luxury: (and every man may do much towards this reformation. Let us in our own houses, at our own tables, by our exhortations to our friends, by our admonitions to our enemies, persuade mankind to discard those tinsel ornaments and ridiculous superfluities which enfeeble our minds, and entail voluptuous diseases on the affluent, while diseases of a still more calamitous description overwhelm the oppressed orders of society from the scarcity resulting from this extravagance. Thus let us administer to the relief of those who having the same powers of enjoyment with ourselves have a right to, at least, an equal participation of all the necessaries of life, which are the product of their labour. Let us seek also to restore the freedom of commerce. Let us consider that while the ports of nations are open, scarcity can never exist to any alarming degree. Every country, if not prevented by political impediments, will send its surplus productions to the best market.

The best market is always the country which is most in want, and, therefore, those who have most of any particular commodity will carry it to that port where its scarcity is most notorious: So that the effects of that scarcity will hardly be perceptible to the community at large. Let us consider what the real utility of commerce is not that it may swell, as at present, the opulence of a few individuals; give the luxuries of the globe to the great man’s table, and thus inflate his pride with the imagination, that he is a being of superior species to those by whose toil his appetites are pampered. No: the real advantage of commerce is, that the surplus resources of one nation exchanged for the surplus resources of another, may prevent excessive want and scarcity from being felt by any individual portion of the universe.

Let us consider then for one moment what are the real causes of the political and natural calamities of the country; and we cannot be long before we find redress.

The greater part of our calamities result from a ridiculous, an unjust, and therefore, an unnecessary war; and that state of corruption into which the democratic branch of our constitution has so unfortunately fallen. It is from those that the Edition: current; Page: [14] political distresses of the great body of the people arise. And let it be remembered that even the physical calamities, those which originated in the severities of the season, may also be removed by the same species of redress which may remove the other calamities. In the first place then let us consider how we can put a period to the present disasterous war. Let us see how we can conciliate the affections of the irritated republic of France, and how we can convert again into our dearest friends those people whom our unjust interference with their internal concerns has compelled to be our bitterest foes: or, to speak more correctly, the bitterest foes of our ministerial directors. Let us remember that however a few desperate individuals may have stained with crimes the revolution of that country, and however we may deplore the excesses into which the aspiring disposition of some individuals may have plunged a mighty nation; yet, on the other hand, we see, in the virtues they have exhibited, a character so great and glorious, that nothing but the delusive cant of political corruption could have induced us, for a moment, to brand them with those epithets, so liberally, and so impoliticly, bestowed.

Let us apply ourselves assiduously to compose the differences and restore the peace and cordial intercourse of Europe: and let us recollect that if this intercourse, this peace and affection can be restored, whatever calamities the elements may chance to inflict upon an individual country will be presently removed, even by that interested, but yet in its effects philanthropic spirit which indues mankind so universally to barter those commodities they can spare with other nations that stand in need of them.

Citizens, let us also, seeking for a more immediate redress, consider what our natural resources are. Let us consider that this is a country watered by innumerable streams, not only imparting fresh verdure to the fields they flow through; but teeming also with that food which, but from the unjust monoply with which it is incumbered, might supply the necessities of all our industrious poor. For proof of this we need only appeal to facts. One of those fish which is certainly among the most luxurious of the finny tribe, the salmon, was so abundant in this country, before the streams were made the property of individuals, that it was necessary in many parts of the country to insert a clause in the indentures of poor boys from the parish, to prevent their being fed upon this delicious dainty more than three times in a week. I refer you to the Edition: current; Page: [15] indentures of the city of Winchester particularly, where the clause is still retained, though it is difficult now in that town to get a morsel of that fish without paying two and sixpence or three shillings per pound for it.

Circumstances also of equal impolicy and injustice have produced an artificial scarcity of salt water fish: and a red herring which some years ago might be bought for a halfpenny, is not now to be had for less than threehalfpence or twopence. What then is the cause of this? Will any man make me believe that the fishes are infected also with the rage of emigration?—Will you tell me that they also have drank the poisonous doctrines of jacobinism, and become discontented with that glorious constitution, under which for so many centuries they have so happily been eaten; and that, therefore, the herrings have fled from the coasts of Scotland, and the salmon deserted our rivers, and, together with the other factious inhabitants of our streams and shores, have fled, with atheistical abhorrence of all regular government, to the coasts and rivers of French anarchy, or the distant and happy shores of America, that they might enjoy the pleasure of being eaten without alloy from the consideration that they were put in the mouths of what they rebelliously consider as bondmen and slaves? No, Citizens, it is the infernal spirit of monopoly, that cruel and wasteful demon that has rendered poverty, want, and distress the portion of the mass of the people of this country; that has produced in the midst of abundance this cruel, artificial scarcity.

Citizens, is it not enough that men should have a property in that which has been procured by the labours of their ancestors? Is it not enough that the soil, which from time immemorial has been worked by a herd of men who were to receive a scanty portion only of its produce should be the property of a few wealthy and privileged individuals? Is it not enough that the birds of the air should be monopolized by these men?

Must the wild inhabitants of the very waves, must all the common bounties of nature, be also considered as articles of monopolizing accumulation? Shall one or two men grasp to themselves the whole product of our rivers; and then make an agreement with a fishmonger to waste and destroy whatever cannot be sold at an extravagant price, rather than suffer the swinish multitude to feast upon luxuries with which the tables of the great ought to be exclusively furnished; and thus produce an artificial scarcity into the country, so ruinous Edition: current; Page: [16] to the population, so detestable in its principles, so alarming in its effects.

Citizens, the harvests of our waves, if I may use the metaphor, if once relieved from this intolerable exercise, might always be reaped in abundance; and when plenty smiled not in our valleys, it might still sparkle in our streams, and in the neighbourhood of our shores, whose finny produce might compensate, in some degree, for the accidental scarcity of the field.

The surplus production, also, of those streams and shores might produce, by the exchange of a liberal commerce, abundance of the necessary supplies of which the country might stand in need. Look to the coasts of Scotland, look to the little islands, the Hebrides and the Orkneys. Behold how populous the surrounding waves! See the whole ocean one animated mass, as it were; one thronged association of little beings who offer themselves as the food of man.

Consider, that in the neighbourhood of one island, even upon a very moderate calculation, more than one hundred thousand millions of the finest herrings are devoured annually, by one species of fowl only, the solan goose, that frequents the rockey shores; consider also, that the bays of that country are frequented by such huge quantities of them, that the whales (which might be caught there, also, instead of sending to Greenland for them) may be seen eating their way through the innumerable shoals that throng every part of the shores. Why is it then that they do not come to our markets in such quantities as to render superfluity, not want, the lot of man? Why is it that the superfluous produce of this fishery is not imported by the inhabitants of these coasts and islands, in such quantities as to produce in return an abundant supply of those necessaries and comforts of which those barren fragments of our isle stand so much in need?

Why is this fishery neglected and resigned to the more politic and industrious Dutch, who almost engross the exclusive advantages of that trade, and thus sell to us at an increased price the produce of our own coasts and bays? Why stamp this shameful indignity on the British character: for it is, in reality, a much more shameful indignity than any of the offensive decrees of the French Convention against which aristocrats and alarmists have so querilously declaimed!

I will tell you, Citizens—The flagrant impolicy of government is the sole cause of this scarcity and this insult. It is this that has brought the country into a situation like that of Tantalus, where the waves rise to our lips and yet we cannot Edition: current; Page: [17] drink; and the food hangs down to our very mouths and yet we cannot eat. To this situation are we reduced by those who (constantly engaged in the intrigues of party, in the coalitions of faction, in the management, as it is called, of majorities in the House of Commons—In adjusting the interests of proprietors of rotten boroughs, in disposing, I had like to have said, like cattle, of those people whom they ought to preserve,) are too busy to attend to the insignificant consideration of providing for the comfortable sustenance of millions.

But it is not only by their neglects that we suffer, we are equally injured by their impolitic regulations.

Citizens, I shall read from Buchanan’s general view of the British fishery, what he says upon this subject, “What added greatly to the hurt of the fishing trade in Scotland in these latter times, appears to have arisen from the regulations and heavy restrictions respecting foreign and home made salt. These are particularly hurtful to the isles, without storehouses to supply them with salt in their neighbourhood; and the poor inhabitants or fishers are incapable of procuring it, from its extravagant price, when sold by merchants, and its immense distance to purchase that article at first hand where it may be had at a moderate price.

“This circumstance deserves serious consideration.

All herrings cured for home sale are subject to a duty of one shilling per barrel if used in Scotland, and only threepence or fourpence if used in England, which heavy duty must greatly retard the fisheries, and is too glaring an imposition to pass long without amendment.

The custom-house fees in Scotland are become a nuisance to the adventurers; so heavy as to absorb the greatest part of the bounty, especially on small vessels.

This also calls aloud for redress.

A man of respectability, named Macbride, and now in London, declares that he saw eighteen barrels of fresh herrings given for one barrel of salt, to the master of a smack; and three barrels for one shilling sterling.—The owners judging this trifle better than to allow them to rot without salt, as has been the case before.

An intelligent minister on Skye told the author that he had seen heaps upon heaps rotting on the shore, and until carried off to dung the ground no man durst pass by on the leeward of them for the rotten offensive effluvia emitted from the fish.”

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Is it not better then to turn our attention to the redress of these evils, than to be engaged in ridiculous crusades to restore a fallen despotism, and reinstate a superstitious priesthood, in a country where they have been torn from their pedestals and trampled down by the enlightened energy of the people.

Citizens, it will be asked what should be the first step towards the general reform that seems so requisite?—The first step, perhaps I shall be expected to say is the restoration of peace. But, alas! that cannot be restored till other steps have been taken. So long as those men now at the helm shall remain in power, no more, I fear, must the olive-branch of peace wave over this devoted country: never more, I fear, must that tranquillity and happiness be restored to Europe, for which we have so long and so ardently longed.

The first step, I believe, towards the redress of our national calamities must be taken by the people: By manly, and spirited, but peaceable remonstrances, by the unanimous voice of the friends of liberty throughout the country: and I believe in that description I include at this time by far the greatest part of the nation. The unanimous voice of the friends of liberty must be uplifted against the abuses and corruptions which have crept into the administration of the country. With these boldly, but peaceably, we must endeavour to hurl from the seat of ill gotten power those men who, Jehu like, are driving us to destruction. We must seek for the redress of our grievances by removing from the power of future injury, those men to whom our present injuries are to be attributed.

Yes, Citizens, I believe it is necessary to shew our indignation, our detestation, our abhorrence of the mad, the frantic, and destructive measures which the present administration are pursuing.

But let me be understood—When I say we ought to shew our indignation, I mean not violence—I mean that we ought to shew that benevolent feeling which disdains to see the miseries of our fellow creatures without attempting to obtain redress. I do not mean that by frantic impetuosity you should plunge the devoted country into desolation.

I hope I have a heart that really shudders at the idea of civil discord as much as the aristocratic hypocrites and cowardly alarmists of the day pretend; and which would never consent to uplift the arm of violence but in absolute self-defence: when it is palpably necessary to the preservation of that life or that personal liberty which every individual undoubtedly has a right and which it is his duty to vindicate; because Edition: current; Page: [19] without vindicating that, he can never have the power of discharging any other duty to himself, or his fellow creatures.

By manly exertions then,—and by manly I mean benevolent and peaceable: for fury and devastation, though sometimes those fiends have inhabited the forms of men; fury and devastation are not the passions of human beings:—humanity is lost when we appeal to desolating violence. By manly and spirited remonstrances then, I would have you seek redress! And your courage and your fortitude I would have you display,—by shewing what you are ready to suffer in the cause of reason and of man, not what you are ready to inflict on the deluded and therefore selfish antagonist of this cause: This is the sort of energy I wish the human character to display,—this is the sort of argument I wish to enforce:—the energy of mind, not the energies of the dagger—the logic of assassination.

But think not, Citizens, if you should accomplish, the fall of a particular faction, that your work is done.

You may, if you please, like the fox in the fable, drive away the insatiable swarm of gnats that are now molesting you—but when they are driven away another swarm still more hungry may come upon you, and the devouring system still go on.

You must show that it is principles, not men you contend for,—that you are indifferent to the name of a Pitt or a Fox, that you scorn alike all party distinctions, and all party prejudices—that you venerate nothing but the virtuous principle of liberty, and are attached to no man any farther than as he may be the organ of this principle, the instrument by which its energies may operate for the public good.

If therefore, a change of men should take place, think not that all is done: resign not yourselves to supineness: remember you must show that your spirits are teeming with the love of liberty; that you are seeking the reformation of those abuses in the Commons House of Parliament; which if you had obtained before, you never could have laboured under your present calamities. And therefore treat with equal indignation every administration, that does not, by active exertions, shew its zealous attachment to these principles of liberty. Never lose sight of this grand political truth, that “there is no redress for a nation situated as we are, but in a fair, full, and free representation of the people in the Commons House of Parliament.”

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The following extracts from “Buchanan’s General View of the Fishery of Great Britain” will shew that the foregoing statements have not been exaggerated.

“FROM the vast multitude of fowls about St. Kilda, we are sure that the fish must be very plenty there. Let us, for a moment, says the Rev. Kenneth M‘Aulay, minister, who acted as missionary there, confine our attention to the consumption made by one single species of the numberless fowls that feed on the herrings.

The solan goose is almost insatiably voracious; he flies with great force and velocity, toils all day with very little intermission, and digests his food in a very short time; he disdains to eat any thing worse than herrings or mackarel, unless it be in a very hungry place, which he takes care to avoid or abandon. We take it for granted, that there are an hundred thousand of that kind round the rocks of St. Kilda, and this calculation is by far too moderate, as no less than twenty thousand of them are killed yearly, including the young ones.

We shall suppose that the solan goose sojourns in those seas for about seven months in the year, and that each of them destroys five herrings in a day, a subsistence by no means adequate to so greedy a creature, unless it were more than half supported of other fishes. Here we have one hundred thousand millions of the finest fishes in the world devoured annually by one single species of the St. Kilda birds.

On the west side of the long isle the very whales might be harpooned with ease and safety instead of going to Greenland; (or, the author might have added, to the South Seas!) in quest of them at much heavier expences, and greater danger annually.

The most critical time for harpooning them is, when they are seen devouring the herrings by great mouthfuls, and each gap they make is constantly filled with fresh supplies, wishing to fly beyond danger, but cannot for the thick bank before them, as they stand pent up in lochs, by the heavy storm. And the strongest whale dares not pierce through them; seeing he could not move his fins for the immense throng, much less rise to the surface to breathe; therefore the monster is seen behind the herring, like a horse eating at the face of a hayrick?”

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The following Ode occasioned by the first of those splendid events that distinguished the commencement of the French Revolution, was the earliest political production of the Lecturer. As a public speaker he had interested himself in the party questions of the day; and displayed his zeal in the discussions upon the slave trade—(discussions which so happily prepared the minds of Britons for the reception of those great truths which the investigation provoked by events upon the Continent brought to light) but his Muse had never before been enlisted under the banners of political liberty. The poem was inserted in one of the periodical publications of the day; but has never made its appearance in any collection of the author’s works—

On the Destruction of the Bastille.

    • Now Science, by thy genial beam,
    • Awaken’d from the torpid dream
    • Of bigot Ignorance and servile fear,
    • Her awful brow, lo, Freedom rear!—
    • See her hand, with generous rage,
    • From sable limbs the shackles rends;
    • Afric’s wrongs her cares assuage,
    • And Hope, a long lost guest, to Ethiop’s race decends!
    • Then as indignant round she turns
    • And snaps the Gallic yoke in twain,
    • (While her patriot bosom burns
    • With generous rage, and just disdain)
    • The flashing fires her eyes indignant shed
    • Shake the proud tyrants of the earth with dread!
    • Shall then no Muse, with generous aim,
    • Wide diffuse the sacred flame?
    • And shall not, chief, the patriot theme inspire
    • The raptures of the British lyre?
    • Yes, Britons, yes—this artless hand,
    • While bright the inspiring ardour glows,
    • The shell of Freedom shall command,
    • Indignant of Oppression’s countless woes!——
    • Yes, Britons,—Freedom’s magic shell,
    • Sacred of old in Britain’s isle,
  • Edition: current; Page: [22]
    • This hand, with trembling touch, shall swell,
    • Nor ask a laurel for my toil—
    • Blest should my wild notes thro’ one bosom roll
    • The genuine ardours of the freeborn soul!
    • From Tyranny’s insatiate sway
    • What Woes, what coward crimes prevail!
    • How generous courage dies away,
    • While Anguish sobs in every gale?
    • Cross but one narrow creek of raging waves,
    • Set but thy foot on Gallia’s bleeding shore,
    • Where bold Resistance proud Oppression braves,
    • Who sinks despairing to revive no more;
    • There see (and seeing, smile with generous pride)
    • Where, on the ruins of her noble rage,
    • Freedom, enthron’d by Patriot Valour’s side,
    • Seeks a brave people’s sorrows to assuage.
    • Say—rolls not then the agitated eye—
    • Does shuddering Nature no wild terrors feel,
    • When, with Reflection’s retrospective sigh,
    • Thou view’st what once was call’d the dread Bastille?
    • There sullen Tyranny, in murky cell,
    • With spleen-born Cruelty, and ruthless Pride,
    • Hid from all human pity loved to dwell,
    • To coin new torments, and new woes provide.
    • There loathsome Horror, from the dark, dank cave,
    • Breath’d rank infection round the victim’s head:—
    • ——— Perhaps, because his virtue, nobly brave!
    • Awak’d the guilty tyrant’s jealous dread:
    • Perhaps because his manly tongue was warm
    • To plead the cause of Innocence opprest;
    • Or from the rage of power, with filial arm,
    • He dar’d defend a Sire’s devoted breast:
    • Perhaps, because the child his cares had nurst,
    • Or the fond partner of his nuptial flame
    • Had wak’d some pamper’d menial’s sordid lust—
    • And he refus’d the proffer’d bribe of shame.
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    • Nay not these vile pretexts does it require
    • To urge the wrong, the cruel malice screen,
    • Enough if caprice, or suspicion fire
    • The booby monarch, or his strumpet queen!
    • Think the vile tools of arbitrary sway,
    • With all their tyrant’s noxious power array’d,
    • Seizing the wretched victim ye survey:
    • Of guilt unconscious—yet with fear dismay’d.
    • Hark! does not fancy hear the shrieking wife,
    • The frantic parent, and the clinging child?
    • Each bosom torn with passion’s painful strife!—
    • Must guiltless sorrow feel a pang so wild?
    • ’Tis past—The prison opes its gloomy door,
    • Deep—deep the ruffians plunge their victim down:
    • Heaven’s common light—heaven’s breath is now no more:
    • Despair and darkness all his senses drown.
    • Chill Horror creep thro’ every vein,
    • And frenzy racks the giddy brain,
    • While (ere it close, to ope, perhaps, no more)
    • Sullen creeks the iron door.
    • See the loath’d abhorrent cave—
    • Helpless Virtue’s living grave!
    • There sits Disease midst filth-born vapours vile;
    • Disease that knows no cheering smile;
    • While, trickling down the murky walls,
    • The aguish fiend Infection crawls.
    • “Den of Horrors!—Cave of woe!
    • Emblem of the realms below!”
    • “Why ope to me its death-denouncing jaws?—
    • Why frowns it thus on Misery’s guiltless son?—
    • I never broke my Country’s sacred laws!—
    • I am no murderer!—Ruffians! I am none.”
    • But ah the creeking doors remorseless close,
    • Light, and the soul’s best light, soft hope, is fled.
    • Year after year he broods o’er lingering woes:—
    • To all but horror and reflection dead.
    • Yet walls, nor bars, nor deep descending cave
    • Shut a loved consort from his aching sight:
    • Her pictured sorrows find him in his grave;
    • Haunt his long days, and scourge the restless night.
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    • There too his babes, in wakeful vision rise—
    • Pale images of want and friendless woe!
    • To pierce his soul with unavailing cries,
    • And bid afresh the floods of anguish flow.
    • “Ah save them—save!” he cries in vild despair
    • “My wife—my babes—Ah how could they offend?
    • Me with your racks—your wildest tortures tear:
    • But oh! to them your pitying succour lend.
    • ’Tis Phantom all—Ah! restless train
    • Creations of the frantic brain,
    • Depart—depart—
    • Oblivion come—and o’er my aching head
    • Thy opiate-dripping pinions spread;
    • Sole hope—sole soother of this bleeding heart!
    • Alas! while thus perturbed fancy’s sting
    • Aids the proud fury of a tyrant King,
    • What added pangs may yet remain!
    • For what can tyrant cruelty restrain?
    • The ruffian grasp that stops the labouring breath;
    • The dire suspension from the torturing beam;
    • Famine that slowly wastes the vital stream:
    • And all the ghastly train of lingering death!
    • Hark!—Sure the tread of bustling strife!
    • What added torments now?
    • Or what new victim doom’d to waste his life
    • In griefs like those beneath whose weight I bow?
    • Heavens! what sounds are these I hear?
    • Sure the pealing voice of Joy!
    • Again!—Again!—The shout comes near!
    • Liberty the glorious cry!”
    • ’Tis so: and see the dungeon’s bars are broke,
    • And cheerful light pervades the horrid gloom;
    • Awakening Gaul shakes off the servile yoke,
    • And, freed from slavish awe, her patriot honours bloom!
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Dangerous tendency of the Attempt to suppress political Discussion.—From the Lecture on the “Moral and Political importance of the Liberty of Speech.

While prudent and moderate measures leave the door open to peaceful investigation, men of talents and moral character step forward into the field of politics, and never fail to take the lead of all popular meetings and associations, which nature seems to have intended them for.

While this continues, all is peaceful and rational enquiry; and the people, though bold, are orderly; nor even when persecution inflames their passions, are they easily provoked to actual intemperance! But when words are construed into Treason, and the people can no longer unbosom themselves to their friends at a tavern, or associate together for the diffusion of political information, but at the peril of their lives, the benevolent and moderate part of mankind retire from the scene of action, to brood with prophetic anxiety over the melancholy prospect.

Enquiry, is it is true, in some degree suppressed, and the counsellors of these overbearing measures are apt to congratulate themselves on their supposed success. But the calm is more dreadful than the hurricane they have suspended. In the ferment of half smothered indignation, feelings of a more gloomy complexion are generated, and characters of a very different stamp are called into action.

Men who have neither genius nor benevolence succeed those who had both; and with no other stimulus than fury, and no other talent but sullen hypocrisy and intrigue, embark in projects which every friend of humanity must abhor; and which, while the free, open, and manly character of the species, Edition: current; Page: [26] was yet uncrushed by the detestable system of persecuting opinions, never could have entered the imagination.

Whoever will consult the page of history, will find, that in every country on the earth, where liberty has been alternately indulged and trampled, this has been but too uniformly and exactly the progress of the human mind.

Let us ask then this serious question—Is it possible for any person to be a more dangerous enemy to the peace and personal safety of any sovereign, than he who advises the persecution of opinion, and the suppression of peaceable associations?

Examination of Mr. Pitt’s Statement of the flourishing state of our Commerce.”—From the Lecture on the Budget.

CITIZENS, It is very well known that among those persons, who call themselves politicians, the first object of calculation is revenue, by which their wars and their projects may be carried on. It is very well known, that the lives of individuals are considered only in a secondary point of view: that they only calculate how long they can get money enough to procure men to be slaughtered at their command; and consider but little the groans, the anguish, the miseries, of those poor wretches who are devoted to destruction, and whose families they leave to still worse destruction behind them. If this is the case it is of some importance to state what situation they stand in, even with respect to their own system; to shew them how near they are towards exhausting those resources which are to them of the utmost importance.

For if they should chuse to argue thus, “It is true the population of the country is considerably thinned; it is true that the sword has wasted many, that pestilence and disease in foreign climates has wasted more, that many have perished through the hardships and calamities to which they were exposed in this country, and that thousands and tens of thousands yearly fly from these shores to America, to avoid their portion of the inconveniences of the present ruinous system; but still we can raise Revenue, still we can bring money into the public Exchequer, by which we can hire men to cut throats at our bidding; and so long as we are served it is a matter of Edition: current; Page: [27] very little consequence in what country the individuals are born who are murdered for our pastime and aggrandisement.” If, I say, they should argue in this way, it is of some importance to remind them in reply how long those pecuniary resources, so much dearer than the lives of human beings, may last. Remember the state of the public revenue, and know that however affluent, however powerful, however magnificent in resources a country may be, however willing the inhabitants of that country to spend their last guinea, their last shilling, still the last guinea and the last shilling is all that you can have, and when they have spent the whole you can have no possible means of obtaining more.

It will be of importance, then, to shew the very rapid accumulation of that public debt under which we groan. I say, under which we groan, for it is my intention to prove in the course of this lecture that Revenue is supported by the groans of those who are doomed, in consequence of the ruinous system we pursue, to labour without end, and procure no comfort to themselves and families by that labour.

Citizens, I shall not now expatiate upon the cruel system of war in general; I shall not attempt to paint to you all those horrors which belong to a system of this kind: neither shall I attempt to bring before you, on the present occasion, all the peculiar aggravations with which the present war is attended; the infamy, the false and shuffling pretences with which it has been accompanied; the precipitancy and pride with which it was rushed into; the vain boasting with which it has long been bolstered up; and the failure of every project by which those boasts ought to have been supported. Neither shall I dwell, in particular, upon the depravity and wickedness of one country interfering with the internal concerns of another, and endeavouring to prevent any set of people from forming for themselves such a constitution as they themselves think fit.

Neither shall I at present call your attention to the inconsistency of those who support this measure.

I might, it is true, if I were so inclined, by animadverting on the constitution of Corsica, and the manner in which that constitution is said to have been formed, and comparing it with the doctrines and principles held up by those who have occasioned that constitution to be adopted, shew how themselves practically deny the very principal they have laid down; and affirm in the most open way every doctrine which those Edition: current; Page: [28] who have maintained the cause of liberty have endeavoured to uphold; that they have ratified the universal right of the great body of the people to form their own government, to enfranchise themselves from one, and set up another; and that they have laid down that right as resting upon the system of universal suffrage: that is, the right every individual has of forming a representative government in which he himself has collaterally a voice equal with that of any other individual in the country.

Citizens, The ravages and depopulation produced by this war, as I have already observed are not the main object of this lecture, my present intention is to consider the waste of Public Revenue, the rapid manner in which, by exertion after exertion foolishly directed and still more foolishly conducted, we are exhausting the power of the country, and drawing rapidly towards that situation in which the expences and the corruption of the system under which they live can no longer be supported.

Citizens, It is very true that the Honourable Chancellor of the Exchequer upholds a doctrine in the House of Commons, totally inconsistent with that sort of conclusion which it is my purpose to draw.

But you are to remember what have been the doctrines and what have been the sentiments of that being during the last two or three years in particular. You are also to call to your recollection what sort of proof they have endured when they have been put to the test of experiment; and if you find that in every individual instance, when he has tried the experiment, the result has been diametrically opposite to the theory he has laid down, I shall then have a right to conclude, that you have no great reason to place any confidence in his professions and plausable stories, however able he may be to dress them up in the semblance of truth; however prompt to support them with bold assertions.

If he set out with telling you that the English army would march to the gates of Paris, and is now almost in a paroxysm of despair lest the French army should be at the gates of London: If he promised you, at the very outset of the war, that in all probability that war would be terminated in the first campaign, and if we are now at the beginning of the third, and he is now telling you (truly) that five times the resources are necessary now that were requisite when he first commenced: If at the outset of the war he also promised you the wealth, the Edition: current; Page: [29] advantages, the exclusive possession of the whole West India settlements; and if it should appear to you that the result of the experiment has been that Sir Charles Grey and Admiral Jervis and two or three other individuals have in reality procured considerable and ample fortunes for themselves, but that the mass of their followers reaped no other harvest than the yellow plague, which, with great difficulty, was prevented from being imported into this country, and raging with infectious pestilence among us also: If it should appear to you that in the present prospect of affairs (and I refer you to the ministerial papers) the strong probability is, not only that the islands we have captured, but our own islands also, will be ultimately seized upon by that people whom we threatened to strip of every thing; but who, if we prosecute this mad crusade any longer, are likely to strip us of every thing:—even of the independency of our own country.

If all this be true, there is very little foundation for trusting to the boastful confidence of this man, when he tells you that the resources of the country are still equal to the prosecution of this war; that the purse of the nation, like the widow’s cruise in sacred writ, is inexhaustible; and the more you drain from it the more will be found at the bottom. He tells you it is true that the commerce of the country is in a very flourishing situation. But if this be true, how come the manufactures of the country, upon which that commerce depends, to be in a situation so deplorable? How is it that notwithstanding all the depopulation which has taken place by emigration, notwithstanding all the depopulation that has taken place by the sword, notwithstanding all the depopulation that has taken place by diseases springing from the inclement season and the miserable condition of those who had not wherewithall to repel the inclemency of that season—neither comfortable food, proper cloathing for their limbs, coals for their grates, nor glass to their windows to shut out the bleak and bitter winds;—how is it, that notwithstanding this depopulation, the most fortunate of those manufacturers who still remain can scarcely ever procure full work; and when they do, generally receive but two thirds of the pay they used to receive?—how comes it that so many hundreds and thousands of families in Spital-fields, in Norwich, and other manufacturing towns are totally deprived of all employment—are crying in vain for bread; and that you are obliged to raise large contributions in every corner of the kingdom—to do what? To protect the lame, Edition: current; Page: [30] the blind, the deaf, the dumb? No—but to afford half a meal to those individuals who still possess the power and the disposition to work; and who would, if the country had been wisely governed, have been able to have earned a plentiful subsistence for themselves and families: to have received much better pay, while at the same time every individual of the higher classes might have received encreased instead of diminished profits, from their labours.

That manufactures should decline and yet commerce increase appears almost as reasonable as that the whole surface of the earth should be buried under the ocean, add yet every species of vegetation be produced in greater abundance than before.

But he tells you, that you are not to listen to arguments, you are not to listen to the sophistical declamations of men who persuade you that you ought to be discontented; that you are unhappy: for I tell you, says he, that you are happy; and I will prove it to you. And how will I prove it to you? By shewing the quantity of enjoyment which you at this time possess? by shewing you that you and your families are well cloathed and fed? by shewing you that you can keep comfortable houses over your heads, and that there is no danger of being turned out like vagabonds because you cannot pay the rent?—No; I cannot give you these demonstrations but I can give you better: I can set down so many figures upon a piece of paper; and then, if you will not be convinced by the sacred truths of arithmetic, in opposition to all your feelings and sensations, then you are a grumbling, factious, Jacobinical set of people—a swinish herd—you ought to be muzzled with proclamations; you ought to be prosecuted for sedition;—you ought to be hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason.

Now for the proof of the flourishing state of your commerce, says this profound expositor of Cocker’s Arithmetic, look at the situation of your export trade; and you will find that at this time it is in as flourishing a situation as it was, even in the best periods, previous to the war. For in 1792 the commerce in British Manufactures amounted to £18,342,000. In 1794 the exports amounted to £16,301,000, The Foreign Merchandize in 1792 amounted to £6,563,000. and in 1794 it amounted to £8,868,000. So that the total of the exports in 1792 was only £24,905,000; while in 1724 the total of the exports was £25,169,000. Thus, then, Edition: current; Page: [31] according to his mode of argument, though the demand for British Manufactures has avowedly declined upwards of two millions, the state of the commerce in this country is more flourishing than it was before you entered into the war; and therefore as men are nothing at all, and money is every thing, you ought to continue the war to all eternity, because, though you lose your population, you increase your wealth.

But, Citizens, if you will permit me to argue precisely in the same manner that the Right Honourable Chancellor of the Exchequer chuses to argue without your permission, there is no absurdity upon the face of the earth that I will not demonstrate. I am content, as he is content, to select nothing but facts from which I draw my arguments; but permit me to select such facts only as I please; and boldly assert that these are the whole of the facts, and there is no conclusion, however contradictory to common sense, that I could not prove. Especially if I had at my back so large and dead a majority of your representatives, as they are called, as that gentleman possesses, to cry out—Hear! Hear! Hear!—are very bold assertion which flatters their prejudices and supports their interests.

Grant me these advantages and I will prove to you that the blackest Raven is whiter than the driven snow, and that Pitt is an intelligent and upright minister.

But, Citizens, suppose we investigate a little the delusions of this statement. I am not prepared to affirm whether, in this account of the exports are included the articles exported for the accomodation of the armies of Europe—the armies of Britain—the armies of our good and faithful Allies of Prussia, and of Austria—of the disinterested King of Sardinia—of the cordial Duke of Tuscany—and all the humane Princes and pious Prince-Bishops of the Germanic Continent—and ultimately, indeed, for those of France itself.—If, among the boasted exports, these are to be taken into the calculation, (and be it remembered that these are most assuredly entered as exports, in the books of the Custom House) we shall find a very easy way of accounting for a very considerable part of this extraordinary exportation. For, certain it is, that the quantities of commerce and manufactures of a particular description, which have been sent out of this country, is such as so exceed all belief in those who have not had the good fortune (as I had during a part of last summer) to be, in some degree, spectators of it. But this, be it remembered, is an exportation that brings no return; and, consequently, is so many Edition: current; Page: [32] millions added to the losses and calamities, not to the resources and profits of the nation—so much to be deducted, not so much to be added in the calculation of our capacity to continue the present war.

These things, however, are wrapped up in the veil of political mystery. They are not meant for the eye of the swinish multitude. And therefore, it is that the account is stated in the gross; and you are left to rout out the particulars if you can—if your appetites are keen enough and your snouts are competent to the task. The minister knows well enough—(It is the most important part of his trade; and if he had not been in the secret, it is impossible he should have kept his shop open so long)—He knows when to be perplexingly explanatory, and when impenetrably concise—when to throw down your food in lumps you cannot digest, and when to fritter it into wafers which you have not time to pick up, or beat it into whip-syllabubs to amuse your eyes. And, therefore, it is that in the present instance, when speaking of your exports he carefully avoids particular enumeration. He gives you a lumping pennyworth at once, and then shines away about your happiness and his generosity to prevent you from investigating the materials of which it is composed.

But, Citizens, to put this entirely out of the question—Let us remember another thing, namely, that the advantages of commerce do not depend entirely on the export trade. He should not only have told us what was sent out of the country; but he ought to have given us some hint (and I think he would have done so if it had suited his purpose) of what had been sent into the country in return. But here is the difference—If he had stated the import commerce, he could have stated only the amount of those cargoes which arrived safe in port; and the endless catalogue of raptures must have been deducted. But in stating the exports only, he was at liberty to calculate upon the gross amount of all the cargoes shipped by our merchants, whether they arrived in safety at the place of their destination, or were conducted under the tricoloured banner, to the ports of Toulon or Brest.

If then we have been sending abroad every thing which the industry of former years has produced (and I have already shown you that it could not be the production of the last year that was thus exported) if that which has been sent out during the last year has not ben returned by some equivalent, then the greater the exportation the greater the calamity; the Edition: current; Page: [33] greater the misery, the scarcity, the want, the desperation of the country. And why, let me ask—if the commerce of the country was so flourishing—Why has there been such a multitude of bankruptcies weekly recorded in the Gazettes? Why but because neither the specie of the country which is sent so liberally to continental despots, nor the exports of which so pompous a display is made, are repaid either by the gratitude of those despots, or by the returns of foreign commerce, so as to support even the ordinary circumstances of internal traffic. And how should they be returned? The former is swallowed up in the insatiable vortex of German pride and tyranny; and the profits of the latter, from the superior energy of the republican marine, have found their way to the treasury of the convention.

Let me observe then, Citizens, that unless those who boast of the flourishing situation of the country can state to us the returns that have been made for the commerce that has been exported, but little triumph will attach to them in consequence of the large exports partly occasioned by the frequent captures of the enemy, which reduce the merchants of this flourishing and happy country, though they are to be paid but once, to execute their orders twice, in consequence of which the double exports are entered upon the books: a circumstance which while it aggravates our calamities, has furnished the minister with the means of boasting of our prosperity and resources. And let it be remembered, that the vaunts which have been made by the ministers of the French Convention, that they should march to London in apparel procured by English merchants, victualled with provisions supplied by the English Government, and armed with the cannons, bayonets, and muskets, which the English themselves had forged, was not in all respects an empty boast.

I shall not dwell upon the innumerable stores which have been captured in the struggle upon the continent. But let us remember that frequent statements have been made to the public, the authenticity of which may be established by searching the books at Lloyds, that more than twice the number of vessels captured from the French by the English, have been captured from the English by the French.

Such is the excellent manner in which our commerce is protected, such the glorious fruits which the monied interest reaps for its blind attachment to the present minister!

Nay, I state the difference too coldly. The loss is not to be estimated by this numerical difference. The vessels we Edition: current; Page: [34] have thus lost in predatory warfare, have been mostly capital merchantmen, fraught with valuable cargoes; while those which we have captured, in return, were principally small craft of little value; the important parts of the French commerce sailing generally in large fleets, with strong convoys, under the wing of their whole naval power, and thus arriving safe in their ports in defiance of our boasted empire of the ocean. While our invaluable merchandise—the treasure of our souls!—But the contrast is too degrading. I forbear to conclude the picture. It might be too painful to the sensibility of our wealthy merchants: a set of men for whose wisdom and humanity I have certainly the most profound respect.

On the exhausted State of our Natiomal Resources, and the consequent Condition of our Labourers and Manufacturers. From the same.


If merchants and monied men, in the fury of unfounded alarm, are determined to rush into bankruptcy to preserve their property, they certainly have a right to do so, according to the present organization of society. Every individual has also a right to shew them the precipice upon which they are treading: of the real condition of the mass of the people in the midst of our boasted prosperity, some sketches have been given already; and I shall have frequent opportunities to review the subject.

But, Citizens, what can be so absurd, in speculation, as well as in experience, as to talk of the flourishing state and the happiness of a country that is loaded with such an enormous mill-stone of debt as hangs round the neck of this.

If the subject is not too dry for your attention, let us call to recollection the real state of our revennes and finances. Let us, in the first place, pay a little attention to a few facts relative to the National Debt, with which we are incumbered by the Providence, the virtue, and the enlightened politics of those ancestors to whose institutions we are called upon to bow down with implicit veneration.

In January 1793, before we engaged in the present wise and necessary war, by which so great a part of that debt was doubtless intended to be paid, the nation was already involved Edition: current; Page: [35] in a debt of £260,000,000, the interest of which, together with the expences of collection, may be estimated at near ten millions.

Such, then, was the annual deduction to be made from the gross product of the labour of our industrious peasants and manufacturers, simply to defray the interest of debts contracted without their consent, and from the expenditure of which they never reaped any individual advantage whatever.

I say, from the labours of our peasants and manufacturers; for it should be remembered, Citizens, that the real sources of all revenue, and, indeed, all the enjoyments and necessaries of life, are the labours of those classes of society, whom we treat with so much contempt; but to whom, if we were just, we should acknowledge the greatest of all possible obligations.

It is upon the shoulders then of the industrious poor that the enormous weight of this burden is laid. For it is they who must produce those articles which are given in exchange for that specie which defrays, not only the interest of this debt, but the whole expences of the government.

Let us consider then, how very considerable a damp must necessarily be produced upon the spirit of industry, upon the ingenious inventions and labours of mankind by this enormous burthen. Let us remember, that the poor labourers and manufacturers have, in the first instance, to produce not only that which is necessary for the support of their own existence and that of their families, not only that which is necessary to produce a large profit to their immediate employers, not only that which is necessary to pay the enormous expences of the government under which they live, but annually also very nearly ten millions of specie for defraying the interest of those debts which their ancestors contracted, by which they never were benefited, and which have no other influence than to strengthen the hands of their rulers, and to increase the price of provisions, and every individual article by which the accommodations of life can be supplied.

To these are to be added also the burden which is laid upon their shoulders by tythes, by parochial assessments, by rates of innumerable kinds, and which amount to an extent never yet fairly and faithfully calculated. Let us add, then, to this, ten millions of annual interest, seven millions more for the annual ordinary expences of the country, and thus we shall find (independent of the expences of the religious establishments, independent of the expences of the inferior governments of parishes and districts) the enormous sum of seventeen annual Edition: current; Page: [36] millions, even in years of peace, to be produced out of the laboars of the lower orders of society—that is to say, a sum almost equal to the whole annual receipts of one million of peasants, mechanics, and manufacturers, taking the average price of labour at seven shillings per week, which, after the accidental, but inevitable deductions, from sickness, vacation, &c. is as much as it can be rated at. So that if we calculate the really productive inhabitants (that is to say the laborious orders of the community) at one million two hundred thousand effective men (which is a large calculation considering that the whole number capable of bearing arms, of all ranks and denominations whatever, have never been estimated at more than a million and a half) we shall find that nearly one half is necessarily deducted from the price of their labour for this part of the national burthens alone, even when the nation is at peace.—In other words: But for these burthens and incumberances (the price of commodities remaining as they are) every labourer and mechanic might receive twice the wages that he now receives, without deducting in the least from the profit of his employers, or the convenience of the consumers. And if to this we add the great number of unproductive hands now employed in the collection, assessment, and regulation of the various and intricate branches of revenue by which this enormous demand is provided for, who would otherwise be employed in productive exertion, it is impossible to calculate the advantages that might have resulted to every class of people, placemen, pensioners, and contractors alone excepted, had this fatal system of funding credit (the consequences of our eternal wars) never been adopted. Nor can we suppose that any thing now produced by the efforts of the nation bears the smallest proportion to what might be produced by a just and liberal spirit of government that regarded the real welfare of every order of society instead of being engaged in that squabble for places and pensions, that contention for the monopoly of power and the aggravation of revenue which constitutes the whole history of the Ins and Outs, the factions, the cabals, and the contentions of this country.

There are other calculations I know which make the interest of the National Debt amount to near twelve millions, and the expences of government to five millions only; however it is of small consequence whether the expences of government are seven and the interest ten millions, or whether the interest of the National Debt is twelve millions and the expences of the government five. If a burden of seventeen Edition: current; Page: [37] millions is heaped upon the annual industry of the people, it is scarcely worth investigating upon which side two or three millions of it are in reality laid. That which it is most important to remember is, that in consequence of this burden every individual in the country has been compelled for many years to undergo double the fatigues he need to have undergone for the same earnings he now enjoys; and that if on the other hand he had chosen to make use of the whole of the industry which at this time he employs, he might have twice as much comfort at his table; twice as comfortable a cottage to live in; twice as comfortable cloathing; and twice the quantity of enjoyments for himself and his family, that he had even before the commencement of the present war.

But, Citizens, if this was the condition of the country when we were first engaged in this war, what must we think of the frenzy, what must we think of the Quixotism of that man, who under such circumstances, plunged into so mad, so extravagant, so ridiculous a crusade as the present? Let us remember how rapidly this debt has always accumulated during the continuance of war: however successful that war might be, however powerful and faithful the allies with whom we were engaged, and however small the power with which we had to contend.

War is always a losing trade. All that the victor can boast is, that he has received a smaller number of honourable scars than the enemy he has vanquished: he perhaps having only lost a leg and an arm while the other has lost both legs and arms together. At any rate the most important members of the nation must be lopped off; and, therefore, if there were not some strange delusion among the people propagated by men whose interests were hostile to the general good, not one war could have taken place where fifty have defiled the page of history.

But the present war has not only been particularly disgraceful, it has not only been marked by treachery and by crimes which never before sullied the name of Britain, it has also with respect to pecuniary calculations been extraordinarily fatal, for when was there a period in which two campaigns had plunged any nation into the enormous accumulated debt of seventy millions of money. Yet in the pamphlet lately published by Mr. Walker of Manchester (Review of Political Events, page 160) it is proved that seventy millions have already been expended in this just and necessary war.

Add then those seventy millions to the two hundred and sixty which you had before, and you have a debt of three hundred Edition: current; Page: [38] and thirty millions with which you are at this time burdened; and the interest of which, that is to say upwards of twelve millions sterling, is every year to be wrung from the toil of the peasant and manufacturer; to be substracted from those comforts of life which ought to be the fruits of industry. It is to be collected by drawing from their purses not only all the means of indulgence, but even of information, as to the cause of the oppression: for the poverty of the people would have no charms in the eyes of certain individuals, if they did not believe that the consequence of that poverty would be ignorance; and the consequence of that ignorance implicit subjection to their wills.

Therefore it is, that duty upon duty is to be laid upon newspapers and pamphlets; that every bit of paper that can be used through the medium of the press to convey intelligence to the people is to be made an object of excessive taxation, not so much for the purpose of revenue as of preventing the progress of information.

Thus it is that the fine gilt paper upon which lords and ladies write their amorous billets, and their little invitations of compliment, are to be burdened with a less degree of taxation than the clumsy coarse paper which may chance to convey intelligence to the swinish multitude.

Now, Citizens, there is another part of this subject which must be stated to you, namely, the increased expence of the operation of government.

It might formerly be disputed by those who were inclined to amuse themselves with those calculations, whether the expences of government were something more than five millions or something less than seven. But this dispute would now be vain and idle indeed. It might be something whether you were paying five millions or seven towards a particular object; but when it is doubled, trebled, and quadrupled, what signifies contesting about trifles? what signifies arguing in what manner the animal has been cut up? whether a little more went to the loin? or a little more to the haunch? the whole animal almost is gone, and it is of little importance to poor John Bull in what particular portions he has been disposed of.

From six or seven millions annually, the expences of government are now extended to twenty millions and a half. Such is the difference between the expence with which men may live in some degree of peace and happiness, and in which they may live disturbed by those hostile passions which are disgraceful to the human character; and whose only fruit Edition: current; Page: [39] is mutual butchery: Man rioting in the blood of man, and nation in the blood of nation, till whole oceans are insufficient to wash the guilt from those who occasioned the fierce contention.

So that an annual deduction is to be made from the fruits of industry of thirty-two millions and a half for national burdens; which together with three millions and a half of poors rates, and five millions, to state it at the lowest, tythes and other parochial assessments, amounts altogether to forty-one millions. And, therefore, as the whole amount of the annual wages actually paid to all the labourers and working manufacturers in the nation (estimating them, as I have, at so high a calculation as one million, two hundred thousand men—and averaging their pay, after all incidental deductions, at seven shillings per week), amounts to no more than twenty-one millions, nine hundred thousand pounds, it follows that the money paid in taxes, is, in reality, near twice as much as that which is paid to all the labouring poor.

Citizens, I do not mean to contend, that a country can subsist without taxation; but the experiment ought to be how little it can do with, not how much it can bear. I do not contend, that you can have government and not support the expence of that government: it is the degree, not the thing I complain of. When I endeavour to shew you the whole magnitude of the evil, it does not therefore follow that I think the whole ought to be swept away. Certainly not. But I mean to draw this inference, that every thing superfluous in that system ought to be retrenched; because in proportion as you retrench these superfluities, you increase the happiness of mankind.

The evil has already spread to a great extent, you ought therefore to be the more careful how you increase it; and not like desperate traders on the eve of bankruptcy, carelessly to rush deeper still into ruin, because you are so deep already. You ought to forbear the cruel, ruinous system of war which has brought you into that debt. You ought to retrench (as if you were faithfully represented you might by the votes of your representatives retrench) the extravagant expences of government (I mean the expences of corruption), not those expences which are necessary for the regular government of the country; for the promotion of internal happiness and protection against hostile invasion.

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But chiefly the men of property ought to be aware how they heap mischief upon mischief, for the supposed preservation of that property. I would I could see them half as careful of that property as the friends of liberty are. I wish I could convince them of the danger of stretching the cord till it breaks: for if it should break, miserable to them must be the consequence. And break it must if it be not relaxed. If the government thus go on, adding war to war, campaign to campaign, million upon million, and seventy million upon seventy million, they must in time exhaust the resources of the country to such a degree that the country can no longer bear the weight of the interest even. And when this is the case, what is to become of the capital? For remember your capital is but moonshine: a bubble! You have the name of it. You have the entries on the books: but shew me the bullion that can realize it!

Bank notes and Exchequer bills may supply the place of currency, while the credit of the nation is supported:—that is to say, while the people are able and willing to pay the interest: but when the bubble bursts, you may tie them on strings to make tails for kites; for their value will be only their weight in paper. If the bubble should burst, and burst, I repeat it, it must, if the blast of war continues thus to swell it beyond all proportion; woe unto the rulers who have been the causes of its bursting. The frenzy of those who are ruined by the explosion will fall, I fear, with a heavy hand.—They will forget what willing tools they have been to their own destruction; and consider themselves as inhumanly betrayed. Yet this war, at least, so big with destruction, is, in reality, all their own:—the war of the monied alarmists: of the meeting at Merchant Taylor’s Hall.

Infatuated monopolists! whither are you running?—hastening to inevitable ruin over the trampled rights of your fellow men! If you would preserve your property (the real king of your thoughts! the only God of your adoration!) urge not your country down the precipice of bankruptcy by which your property must be destroyed. If you love your own security, consider how that security may be preserved. If national credit is no more, as the word indicates, than the bubble of confidence, remember that the bubble must burst when inflated beyond its bounds. Half—two thirds of the produce of human labour may be seized by the hand of power, to pay the interest which supports this bubble of annihilated capital; Edition: current; Page: [41] nay perhaps the people may be so sluggish that three fourths may be taken with impunity. But another such campaign or two as the last; another such budget or two as the present, and three fourths will no longer do. But beware how you go beyond. Should the people once demur to the claims of the tax-gatherer, the richest stockholder is from that day a beggar.

Those, then, are the enemies of property who continue this mad and ruinous war; not they who cry aloud for peace. Those are the enemies of law and order, who heap burthen upon burthen without remorse; not those who say to you “alleviate the sufferings of your fellow citizens; enable them to be happy, or they will not be contented: it is not in the nature of man. Enable them to receive an honest competency for their labours; let your policy and institutions contribute to their happy subsistence; and you will retain your situation in tranquillity.”

These are not the doctrines of anarchy. The real promoters of commotion and anarchy are those who would silence complaint by chastisement; who would check the progress of reason by barbarous coercion; who would make truth sedition and argument high treason. These are the enemies of order; because these are driving their fellow beings to desperation: And who shall answer for the conduct of man when desperation has taken possession of his mind.

Picture of the Horrors of War.—From the same.

THUS then, Citizens, the labour of the people of this country, their diligence, and their ingenuity are exhausted, for what? To procure them the comforts of life? No. To procure them the advantages of intellect and virtue? No. To purchase the empty bubble, reputation, which, after all, is to be sought in the cannon’s mouth? No: not even this. It is paid for disgrace, defeat, reproach, infamy, and misery.

The happiness that should result is squandered and lost: (with respect to the individuals at least by whom it is produced). A few contractors, beings who live only in the midst of storms and hurricanes, and who exult amidst the wrecks of nature, and fatten on the spoils of misery!—these may be enriched—may build themselves palaces, may roll in gilded chariots, may aspire to city honours, may enlighten the Senate Edition: current; Page: [42] of their country with their lucid and mellifluous eloquence, and, perhaps, may confer coronial dignity upon the descendants of their illustrious blood. This may be the effect to them. But what are the effects to the nation at large? Go, if you will to the plains of Flanders, where imagination will present every turf and hillock heaving with the groans of your expiring countrymen.

Go to the the frozen dykes and rivers of Holland, see your fellow citizens bleeding fourth their souls in anguish, writhing with the double torments of grinding wounds and biting frosts, smarting through every pore, and like poisoned arrows, rendering every scar eventually mortal.

See their accumulated horrors, think of their wild varieties of woe—their miseries without alleviation!

Happy, thrice happy, the individual whose death is received by an instantaneous stroke! whom the friendly ball frees from the lingering misery of those who, trampled under the feet of their fellow men, or bruised by the iron hoof of horses, lie languishing, perhaps, for hours—perhaps for days, for nights—and are relieved, perchance, at last by the murderous hand of some female fury, who follows the camp, and traverses the field of death for plunder.—Behold all this, I say (and this is but a feeble picture) and then look at the splendid palaces of your Contractors, and avoid the boiling indignation of the honest heart if you can.

Citizens—You must shut your eyes, or you will perceive the truth; perceiving the truth, you will learn to abhor the cruelty; abhorring the cruelty you will learn to remonstrate with the authors of that cruelty; and by the united voice of reason and justice endeavour to heal the wounds with which human nature has so long been bleeding.

But this is not all. Miserable as has been the lot of these beings, it is happy in proportion to that of the relations they have left behind.

You, my generous auditors, who live among the comforts of life—for though the generality of you roll not, perhaps, in that affluence which I have described, you know not half the miseries to which human nature is exposed. You must feel something of it yourselves, or you must have relatives or connexions in that rank of life where that misery is mostly found, or you must have been thrown by accident or curiosity into those groups of wretchedness with which the country abounds to be able to form any conception whatever of the degree of calamity under which thousands, I might have said millions, Edition: current; Page: [43] of people in this happy and flourishing country are at this time languishing.

What is the lot of the widow and orphan?

What is the condition of those who might with smiling rapture have looked up to the industrious father or husband, whose toils procured their comforts and protected them from injury and insult?

What must be the feelings of those who are stripped of their natural guardians, and doomed to beg as blessings the insulting charity, the embittered benevolence of purse-proud beings, whose successful selfishness has made them the lords and tyrants of the parishes that furnish the scanty and precarious morsel for their relief?

But these are not the only sufferers. Every man who hears me suffers. The richest merchant suffers. The poor mechanic suffers more, it is true: but what of that? Wealth is of more importance than human happiness, and if I can convince you, therefore, that the wealthy merchant has his share in the suffering, however small, I may have some chance of convincing our rulers of the necessity of redress.

I say then, every individual throughout the country suffers by this waste of public money, and this profligate perversion in the expenditure of it: for what can be more profligate than to employ that which might give comfort and happiness to millions, in the destruction, the murder, the cool, deliberate murder, (for every battle is in fact a massacre!) of those who had a right to this comfort and happiness.

Emigrants.——From the same.

AMONG a variety of curious charges in the estimate of expenditure presented to us at the opening of the budget, we have “For the suffering Clergy and Laity of France, £ 98,410,” so that out of the taxes which you, every individual of you must contribute towards the support of the state, ninety-eight thousand, four hundred pounds are taken to relieve—who? Your distressed manufacturerers? No. The poor beings, whose little all has been lost by the inundations at Norwich and other places? No: but the profligate monks, who, with intolerance and superstition in their knapsacks, have Edition: current; Page: [44] travelled here to open the Pandora’s box of their exploded religion, and taint the morals and manners of the people by the detestable doctrines over which they have been brooding in their solitary retirements.

These are the individuals for whom the peasant is to labour in the field, and the manufacturer in his workshop!

These are the men who are to have a portion of the poor man’s loaf, while that poor man possesses not sufficient for himself and his craving family.

I say the poor man’s loaf, for show me the article that can be consumed by the lowest individual in society that is not subject to taxation!

How often has the bread been taxed before it goes to your mouth? Is it not taxed in the barn? Is it not taxed in the market? Is it not taxed in the mill? Is it not taxed in the labour of the individual? Is it not taxed in the iron that ploughs the earth?—in all the implements of husbandry? Is it not taxed in the cattle of the farmer and the factor? Is it not taxed by the soldier? Is it not taxed by the priest? In short, is it not taxed again and again till it is astonishing, considering how many accumulations of taxation it has gone through, that the price is not even more extravagant than it is?

Yet, a part of what has been thus earned, and thus dragged through the sieve of taxation, is it to be torn away to feed the very wretches whose pride and superstition have kindled the war that is desolating Europe, and who have infected the cabinet of this country by their evil councils, and blinded it to the real interests of humanity.

Anecdotes of Crimping.

The following Anecdotes are inserted upon the most unequivocal authority; and may tend to impress the minds of the advocates for the present war, with some idea of the domestic calamities, and growing depravities of human character, which are the inevitable consequences of its prosecution.

IN September, 1794, a young recruit (about half a year standing) who was himself employed in the honourable office of procuring soldiers for the service—(an office, which like that of some other procurers and procuresses, is better paid Edition: current; Page: [45] than honester professions) found means to persuade a younger brother to enlist, and proceeded with him to a neighbouring magistrate for the purpose of taking the customary oaths. The magistrate suspecting the purpose of his approaching visitors, and feeling for the situation of an already unfortunate mother, caused himself to be declared absent. Finding his surmises true, he permitted a person to be privately sent to the mother acquainting her of the circumstance. He was, however, obliged to appear before the mother arrived, and it was with the utmost difficulty he could find excuses to resist, for awhile, the continual demands of the elder brother to perform his duty. At last the mother appeared in sight, whom when the elder brother saw, he redoubled his importunities, but without success. The mother entered. Figure to yourself the contending passions of a mother in such a situation. She used prayers and threats, and then prayers again to her unnatural son, not to rob her thus of her children. Appealed to the feelings of her other son, but though he cried bitterly, it was in vain. The elder monster had played his part too well. He coolly desired the magistrate to do his duty. O how miserable am I, exclaimed the mother: it is not a year ago since I was happy, happy indeed! with four children, who all supported themselves by honest industry. Here are two of them. My daughter married a soldier, and after following him up and down the country, and living in the most wretched manner, and with the most wretched people, is now gone to the wars.

My youngest son is still at home: but you wretch, how long will you let him remain with me? He is but twelve years old, and you know you are always teazing him to leave me and become a soldier.

The magistrate and his family were all in tears, but he was obliged to conclude the business.

They tell us that anarchy would be the consequence of attending to those who oppose war and state craft. Is not this anarchy? or something worse? A happy family are all thrown into confusion. The elder son sells his brothers, and the daughter becomes an outcast. Every principle of morality, generosity and feeling, as well as order and regularity, for which they so much contend, is here entirely destroyed. Besides, what interest has this family in this war? What good could setting up a King in France do to them? Would their work be easier—their pay be better—or their bread be cheaper? What had they to fear from what was done in Edition: current; Page: [46] France? Honest industry cannot be worse off than at present. And if the lower class of people in general, have no interest in the war, what but swindling and murder is to carry it on, at the expence of their lives, their connections, and every thing that is dear?

On another occasion, when this same magistrate was on the point of administering the oath to a youth who had enlisted, the door suddenly burst open; an aged man darted in and fell flat upon his face, as if never more to rise again. Silent astonishment seized on all—when the old man collected strength to raise his head and exclaim only “For God’s sake stop!” He was the father of the youth. The magistrate refused to administer the oath till he had heard his request. In a short time he recovered, and gave vent to his agony at the thoughts of losing his son. He had, he said, followed him the moment he heard of his intention, and had run several miles; his years would not have permitted him to walk half so far on another occasion, but his anxiety and despair had given him strength. He could not expect to live long, but if his beloved son and only comfort of his old age thus abandoned him, short and miserable indeed would be the remainder of his days. But the bounty had stolen into the son’s heart—destroyed his lately generous feelings, and doomed him, perhaps, to be soon numbered with slaughtered thousands; or become a mangled and horrible spectacle the rest of his days; a living witness to the effects of corruption and war.

M. J.

A striking Instance of the wanton Barbarity of Despotic Power.

THE tendency of inordinate power to corrupt the human heart, has frequently been remarked by philosophers, by moralists, and historians; and the remark is more than sufficiently illustrated by the records of that people, (the Romans) with whose history every lad of tolerable education becomes familiar in his scholastic exercises. In short, it is impossible to read the slightest accounts of the reigns of Nero, and the croud of monsters, who, stained the Roman purple, without reflecting Edition: current; Page: [47] that the shocking barbarities, with which these tyrants amused their leisure hours, are such as no human being, accountable to public censure, and educated under the restraints of equal laws, could ever have thought of even in the wildest paroxysms of rage, when inflamed by injuries, and struggling with the most imminent dangers. Nay, notwithstanding the tendency of every thing that depresses the human character, to harden the heart, not even the wild troops of emancipated slaves, who have occasionally broken loose upon the ancient and modern world, ever displayed the exulting levity and epicurianism of barbarity which has marked the characters of these imperial slanders of the Roman name.

The mind just freed from the chains of intolerable slavery, will, it is true, by its natural elasticity, fly to the opposite extreme of licentiousness; and the impolicy of a treacherous or ill-timed opposition, will often inflame it to madness, till in the furious pursuit of revenge such acts are perpetrated as the advocates of despotisin may repeat with exulting exaggeration, and the friends of liberty shudder to hear. But for the despot alone, who claims a property in millions of his fellow-creatures, is reserved the calm and tranquil gratification of having racks and instruments of torture in his apartments, that he may amuse his fancy, as he eats his voluptuous meal, with the groans and agonies of the victims selected for his morning recreation.

It may, however, be supposed, that there were some particular circumstances in the character and situation of the Roman tyrants, which prompted these excesses of barbarity. But, in fact, no reason can be assigned, but the tendency of unlimited power, to corrupt the heart: for the records of every despotic government display the effects of a similar disposition; and if the cruelty has not been carried to the same horrid excess, it is only because the despotism has been more restrained.

Among the instances of the wanton inhumanity of Turkish tyrants, with which a miscellaneous course of reading has furnished me, I need only quote the following, to shew that the barbarities of despotic monarchs do not require the common excuses of revenge or fear, or even the slighter provocations of capricious aversion—Murder is their amusement, and the blood of their unoffending slaves may flow to illustrate their criticisms of those arts which ought to civilize and refine mankind.

Gentil Bellini, a Venetian painter, born in the year 1421, being employed by the republic of Venice in painting the noble works still to be seen in the council-chamber, procured so Edition: current; Page: [48] high and general a reputation, that Mahomet II. emperor of the Turks, wrote to the republic, to request that they would send him to Constantinople, that he might employ his pencil for the gratification of that court. Bellini accordingly went, and painted many excellent pieces; among the rest was the decollation of St. John the Baptist, who is revered, as a great prophet, by the Turks. Mahomet admired the proportion and shadowing of the work; but he remarked one defect in the execution of the skin of the neck from which the head was separated; and in order to prove the truth of his observation, the royal monster sent for one of his slaves, and ordered his head to be struck off in the painter’s presence. This sight so shocked the less-critical feelings of the artist, that he could not be easy till he obtained his dismission from such a den of despotisth and barbarity. This request at length was granted, and Bellini returned to the more humane confines of his native country, where he lived upon the pension liberally bestowed upon him by the republic, till he attained his eightieth year.

AULD REEKIE’s CORPORATION POLITICS; Or, the Scotch method of procuring Addresses; Practised with success after the illegal Dispersion of the British Convention.

  • Address us pray, good Deacons, do,
  • Thank us well and we’ll thank you.
Deacon convener.
  • My Lord, your wishes let us know,
  • Like reeds with wind to you we’ll bow.
  • The Dean of Guild will give instructions;
  • This will regulate our productions.—
    • The copy given to all the corporations,
    • They fill’d the blanks with little variations,
    • Return’d their thanks with formal deputations.
    • The Provost stroak’d his fur and chain;
    • To gormandize the sots invited;
    • (Which our good lieges much delighted)
    • And then return’d them thanks again.
    • Exile.
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On the probable Consequences of continuing the present System of Ambition and Hostility. From the First Lecture on the Nature and Calamities of War.

I Know very well that, even in the most superficial manner in which this subject can be treated, there are many persons without these walls, and perhaps some few within, who may think this a very improper enquiry for an individual like myself to enter into. For it cannot but be known to you, that it is held out, by those who are the advocates of a system of corruption and delusion, that “those who pay ought not to enquire into the reason of the expenditure; and that those who bleed should never investigate the nature of that quarrel in consequence of which their blood is shed.” But the friends of reason and of justice will hold a different opinion. They will be ready to agree with me, that it is, at all times, not the right only, but the duty of every individual to enquire into the nature of those transactions he is called upon to support; and that every individual, before he expends his property, ought to have some view of the application that is to be made of that property; and, before he rushes into scenes of slaughter and desolation, ought to be well assured that the principle for which he is contending is such that the happiness to society to result from it, will more than amply repay all the desolation and all the scenes of horror which are to be produced. I am aware that to maintain doctrines of this kind—to affirm that man has rights, and that it is his duty to enquire into the nature of those rights;—to affirm that man is a moral agent; and that, therefore, it is his duty to enquire into the manner in which this agency is to be employed, are principles and doctrines which, in the present day, are stigmatized by the name of jacobinism. However, Citizens, though Edition: current; Page: [50] I never was particularly inclined to idolize that name, yet, if the distinction is to be drawn, if, as Montgaillard has affirmed;—there are to be but two parties, and every one who is not a friend to the ancient despotism and tyranny of France, is to be branded as a Jacobine:—if we either must wish for the restoration of that tyranny, and the establishment of something like it among ourselves, or we must be called Anarchists and Jacobins, I will put up with the insult: I will be called an Anarchist or a Jacobine; for I know very well they are not names but principles that constitute the real value of the human character; and I never can uphold as a principle “the enormous faith of millions made for one.” If, then, it ever was the duty, if it ever was the interest of the people to investigate the operations and proceedings of the government under which they live:—if it was ever right to enquire which is to be preferred, the peaceful reign of reason, arts and sciences, or the desolating dominion of war and slaughter, surely it is a ten-fold duty, it is a ten-fold interest, at this time, when we reflect under what a weight and accumulation of burdens we groan; and how many calamities and disasters have blasted, at once, the prosperity and the fame of Britain.

Let us then make some little enquiry into that ruinous system of war and desolation under which we, at this time live; if life, indeed, it can be called, to that mass of people, so large a portion of which are shivering in want and wretchedness, and are doomed to untimely graves; not absolutely, it is true, by the griping fangs of famine, but by those debilitating diseases which are the consequeoces of the want of proper sustenance.

We have long been amused with egotistical tales of British glory, national grandeur, and commercial prosperity. These pompous words, like the maxims and oracles of ancient superstition, have been uttered from behind the sacred curtains of the cabinet: they have been dealt abroad by the high-priests of the house of representatives, and have been echoed again by the artizans drooping under their labour, and the peasants pining for want in the midst of that plenty they produced. From nation to nation, from shore to shore, these pompous egotisms have been re-echoed. National vanity has not been the peculiar property of any people; and the arrogance of Britain has been equalled, at least, if not surpassed, by the adulating vanity of the old despotism of France. Edition: current; Page: [51] Hence suspicious envy and rival animosities—Hence have two nations, two courts, I ought to say, and their deluded followers, been precipitated into mutual hatred, and scenes of cruel carnage, to gratify that vanity which had so insidiously been inspired. Hence comes the monstrous doctrines of natural enmity, and the supposition that every country which approximates towards another must necessarily be the enemy of that country; because its grandeur and prosperity (by which little more is meant than the splendour of courts and the power of ministers) might rival the grandeur and prosperity of its neighbour. What has been the blessed consequence? The old despotism of France depopulated her regions in a vain struggle for the universal sovereignty of the continent. Britain also has depopulated her country by an equally ambitious and ridiculous attempt at the exclusive empire of the ocean. And thus these two great boasters (the general disturbers of mankind!) would grasp the sovereignty of the universe: the one by her myriads of marshalled slaves, the other by her empire of the ocean. What has been the result? Look, in the first instance, to the country whose ambition we have so long blamed, while we have been so fatally blind to our own. Look what were the fruits to the Gallic monarchy of this monstrous scene of war and slaughter, with which it so long embroiled and depopulated Europe. See the sinews of the state exhausted; see that grinding oppression which fell upon the lower orders of society; see that embarrassment of finances which resulted from this continued struggle; and behold, at last, between its accumulated burdens, its vices, and follies, this fabric of gigantic despotism falls crumbling into the dust, amidst groans and carnage, and all the miseries that arise from disorganized society:—miseries, however, not to be considered, in general, as the crimes of those who immediately produced them, but of those whose monstrous vices—whose barbarous ambition—whose system of war and oppression rendered convulsion necessary as the only means of national salvation.

The people, when driven to desperation, will act from the dictates of despair. Revenues, when exhausted, must be productive of explosions fatal to those who have exhausted them. While absolute ignorance reigns, it is true, a spunge may be applied; and we have seen that France has in this manner, more than once retrieved herself. But when information and enquiry are afloat, a government that means to perpetuate itself, must cultivate frugality; frugality can alone Edition: current; Page: [52] be supported by a system of peace; and a system of real peace cannot be continued but by consulting the happiness and welfare of the people, and regarding the prosperity even of the lowest orders of society.

The old despotism of France, either unhappily or happily for mankind—But why do I doubt? why do I speak with sceptical diffidence upon such a question? Why not affirm at once that the old despotism of France, unhappily for itself indeed, but happily for mankind, was blind to these great and important truths. A little more moderation in the rulers of the last half-century might have kept France in slavery to this day; might have prevented those explosions, it is true, and those calamities under which the nation has lately groaned; but it might have procrastinated, generation after generation, and century after century, a degree of subjection on the one hand, and tytanny on the other, to which I shall not scruple to say, no being possessed of moral and intellectual faculties ought ever to submit: and from which (be it sedition, or be it high treason) I cannot but rejoice to see mankind emancipated.

With respect to England let us see what is the harvest which it has reaped from manuring the field of glory with its blood, and sowing it with its treasures: from pursuing with mad infatuation the “bubble of sanguinary reputation:” a bubble, it is true, which monarchs and courtiers may enjoy amidst the plaudits of a theatre, or the adulation of a palace, but which the peasant, and the artizan must “seek in the cannon’s mouth;” and which when he has obtained, enables him to leave to his widow and orphans, no other legacy than beggary and wretchedness; no other dowry than the bitter fragments of charity that fall from the proud man’s table.

Much has been said by historians of the triumphs of British arms, her glories in continental wars, and her magnificent exploits by sea. We have not, it is true, heard many of those plaudits during the present war; but in former exploits of this kind, our ears have been tickled, our imaginations inflated, with pompous details of myriads slain in the field of battle, and thousands, and tens of thousands of our fellow beings blown in mangled fragments through the air, or strewed like wrecks over the surface of the ocean. But what have been the fruits of those triumphs? what have been the profits of those glorious exploits, which humanity so much exults in? Look to your heaths and villages, your manufacturing towns and trading cities. See in every populous street, obscure Edition: current; Page: [53] hamlet, and solitary cottage, what happiness, what triumphs on every conntenance. Behold the aged and infirm solacing themselves in ease and plenty; and the young and vigorous banqueting on all the harmless luxuries of the earth; enjoying every delight and every comfort which glory and honour and such big sounding words, if they mean any thing, must certainly include.

Alas, alas! Wherever you turn, behold the sad reverse!—behold the melancholy effects of these victories written in other characters. If you will believe the facts of history, if you will compare the condition of the lower orders of society, by considering what, in former times, was the degree of proportion between the prices of labour and the prices of provisions, you will see that all these triumphs have to the great body of the people brought nothing but a plenteous harvest of wretchedness, and misery. To the mass of the people, I say, (and facts will bear me out) no other fruits have been produced from these sanguinary labours, but misery and dejection; but ignorance and want. They, therefore, have but little reason for glorying in these mighty triumphs, or for hazarding their lives in support of this depopulating system.

Would not this view of society lead one to suspect, either that there has been a great deal of vain boasting in those reports of triumphs and successful atchievements, with which the page of former history has so inflated the breasts of Britons? or else, that this glory is in reality nothing but a bubble,—a painted vapour, which, like the rainbow in the fable, tempts the deluded shepherd to fly from hill to hill in quest of an imaginary treasure, while the wolves of power seize upon his little flock, as the proper reward of his infatuation?

Perhaps both these statements are in reality just. At any rate it is evident that, whatever may be the pompous language that is held out to us, this system of war and glory, instead of a project of national advantage (and by national advantage, I mean advantage to the great body of the inhabitants of the nation) is an evil of most enormour extent, to remedy the effects of which calls for all our energy, and all our unanimity.

I say, Citizens, it is our duty to take this subject into consideration. And I also say, that if we consider what the state of Britain is at this time, and what was the state of France previous to that explosion which destroyed the monarchy and aristocracy of that country, we should find that aristocrats and Edition: current; Page: [54] royalists, if they could see their own interest instead of irritating the public mind by persecution, instead of aggravating the burthens and calamities of the people by an obstinate perseverance in this ruinous war, would ardently join in the endeavour to avert a similar catastrophe from the government of this country, by the only means by which it can be averted,—by restoring the country to peace, and immediately throwing a large portion of the burthens already contracted from the shoulders of the common people to the shoulders of those placemen, pensioners, and contractors who have been so long enriching themselves by this horrid traffic. For we must admit that similar causes will produce similar effects. If, therefore, the despotic Constitution of France was overthrown—and I am glad it was overthrown—[This sentiment was interrupted by a burst of enthusiastic applause.]

Yes, Citizens, I avow that such is my abhorrence and detestation for despotism, that I rejoice in its overthrow in France. And there are some other despotic governments (I mean the superstitious tyranny of Turkey, the barbarous despotism of Morocco, the capricious cruelties of the Japanese)—which I should rejoice to see involved in the same fate. Nor would it grieve me much if the pious, orderly, and regular government of Russia, and the other conscientious Partitioners of devoted Poland, were on the verge of a similar catastrophe. I should be happy indeed if this overthrow in other countries were attended with less violence and fewer crimes than it has been in France: and I should hope that it would be so; because the example of the errors of France will be an awful warning to other parts of the universe; and when they shall choose to struggle for their liberty, they will have less of the illiberal spirit of suspicion, less intrigue, less disposition to slaughter and violence; more philosophy, more information, more experience, and, therefore, more temperance, more benevolence, and a more thorough conviction that principles and not men are the objects of attention. For men are but machines performing, under the inevitable laws of necessity, precisely the part which under circumstances exactly similar any other individual must inevitably have performed. And if men are not voluntary criminals—if their crimes are only the inevitable consequences of the systems under which they have acted, what justice—what necessity can there be to stain a holy cause with cruel vengeance, and inflict a wanton punishment upon individuals, when the system is no more that produced their crimes.

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If, I say, then the despotism of France was overthrown on account of the abject misery into which the mass of the people were plunged by the profligate expenditure of the public money in foreign exploits and crusades, and the eventual embarrassments of the revenues of that country, it is the duty of ministers to take care that the orderly, benevolent and just government of England is not overthrown by a system of war and taxation inevitably tending to reduce the people and the revenues to the same calamitous situation.

And yet, Citizens, much as this duty and this prudence should press upon the heart of every reflecting man, what is the conduct of those in power? Consider how frequently shock after shock, paroxysin after paroxysin of this frantic mania, this lust of war and glory has followed during the last century, and how debilitated the frame of this country has become in consequence. And yet the paroxysm of the disease is again upon us; and there seems not to be one political professor of the healing science inclined to examine how many more attacks of this voluntary disease the fibres and stamina of the country will endure without being shaken to dissolution.

Citizens, when I first began to deliver political lectures to a smaller circle than I have now the happiness to address, this subject occupied a considerable part of my attention; and I find (by looking over one of the few fragments which escaped the general pillage of the 12th and 13th of May last) that I then endeavoured to state what the circumstances were under which we at first engaged in this ridiculous crusade. I find I then stated that we commenced a war of the most alarming complexion with a debt of between 260 and 270 millions already upon our shoulders; with an annual taxation of near seventeen millions, and with a population which, though it appeared too large, considering the monstrous waste and consumption of those monopolists, who for destroying the liberties of the country are rewarded by its luxuries, yet scanty indeed considering what the country, properly cultivated, is capable of supporting if sheltered by the laws of liberty, truth, and equality:—I mean equality of rights, equality of opportunities for turning the faculties of the individual to advantage.

If, Citizens, these arguments deserved any weight at that period, let us reflect a little how considerably this weight is now increased. Let us remember the gigantic strides which these evils have made during the two short years in which Edition: current; Page: [56] we have been engaged in the present war. Let me recal to your minds some of those facts which in the course of the present season I have submitted to you. Let us remember, that during the last summer 80,000 individuals emigrated from England, Scotland and Ireland to the more happy and inviting shores of America; and that therefore the decrease of population, during these two years, by emigration alone, in all human probability, (particularly if we consider how during the last three months, accumulation of difficulty has been heaped upon accumulation, how distress has been added to distress, and insult offered in aggravation to insult,) we cannot calculate the whole depopulation from this source, at less than 160,000 useful inhabitants. Let us add to this the depopulation of famine and the sword. If you consider the immense armies that have been sustained on the continent; if you consider the expeditions to the West Indies, glorious and profitable to this country indeed! if you consider that even aristocrats allow that 247 officers lost their lives in that expedition, and calculate the general ratio with respect to the men; if you consider how small a portion this armament bears to the whole, and if you call to mind that the present number of troops on the continent bears a very small proportion indeed to the numbers that were sent at the very opening of the first campaign, notwithstanding that month after month, and week after week, the youth of this country have been drained in hundreds and in thousands to recruit our armies, I think that my calculation of the depopulation by military and naval expeditions cannot be extravagant if I estimate it at 250,000 individuals. I know this calculation will appear very large, and I know very well that the human mind must be so filled with horror at the aggregate idea of 250,000 massacres—(for I can give the murders of an unnecessary war no better name) that your minds will be but little disposed to admit so large a calculation: but I believe I have not rated it too high. Consider then, that this depopulation is of the most serious kind; that our armies are mostly composed of men from that age when youth begin to increase the species to that period when they cease to be useful to the country in this respect; that you are therefore taking away the heart and sinews of the country; and that the men you slaughter in your ridiculous crusades might have doubled the population of the succeeding ages—as well as the present quantity of the necessaries of Edition: current; Page: [57] life. When you take all these circumstances into consideration you will be palsied with terror and apprehension at the probable consequence. For consider, putting together the emigrations and the slaughters, you have an amount of 410,000, four-fifths, (that is to say, 328,000) of which, at least, must have been the most effective members of the state, either for productive labour or necessary defence.

Now you will consider, that the population has never been reckoned higher than twelve million. I take the three countries into consideration. Then you will consider that of this population you are only to reckon one million and a half as effective men: that is to say, men capable of bearing arms for the repulsion of foreign interference. You have, therefore, a positive diminution in two years of nearly one fourth of the effective population of the country; and full one fourth of those individuals upon whose manual exertions we can depend for the necessaries and comforts of life: for the calculation of effective men is taken in all the ranks and classes of society; but some of these ranks and classes are employed only in destroying, not in producing the necessaries and comforts of life.

I stated to you also, Citizens, on the last evening, that from 264 millions and an half our national debt was increased to 334 millions and an half. I gave you then the documents by which the fact was proved. I have stated also to you, from documents equally authentic, that the annual burthen was increased from something less than seven million to almost thirty-two millions and an half. Such then are the burdens under which we at present uphold the doctrine, that war is to be continued and depopulation to go on; that, though beaten at every point, though disappointed in every undertaking (not from the want of energy in the people, but from the want of virtue, justice and wisdom in those by whom the people have been deluded!) though disappointed in every expectation, though disgraced in every effort, though obliged to appeal to bribery and corruption, instead of the open and manly exertions in which this country used to pride itself, mixing, with Machiavelian art, in all the intrigues and vices of Italian politics;—notwithstanding all this, still we are told we are to go on; the government of France is not to be treated with; we are to carry sword and fire to the gates of Paris. Mark, Citizens, how these political mountebanks out-herod Herod. Edition: current; Page: [58] Laugh no more at the pompous boasts of Katterfelto, or the project of the Bottle Conjurer. The Conquest of France has been advertised by the chief juggler of the day; and the credulous world has thronged to the exhibition; but when the feat was to be performed, the conjurer, as usual, escaped at the back door.

“The conquest of France!!!—O! calumniated crusaders, howrational and moderate were your objects!—O! much injured Louis XIV. upon what slight grounds have you been accused of restless and immoderate ambition!—O tame and feeble Cervantes, with what a timid pencil and faint colours have you painted the portrait of a disordered imagination!”

Such was the exclamation of the great oracle of Opposition—the Demosthenes of the British senate, in his letter to his constituents of Westminster.

Prophetic exclamation! How completely confirmed by every subsequent event! Yet still we are to persist; and though like a crab we have been travelling backwards for two whole years, we are still to keep our eyes upon the gates of Paris! and still in imagination to rout the Convention and destroy the myriads of armies they are pouring into the field.

But it is not only this accumulated weight upon our shoulders that impedes us; we are palsied, also, upon another side—look at the different situation of our allies: think of Holland for whose sake we are told we undertook this war—Look at the Scheldt. Will the Brabanters and the Dutch quarrel now whether the Scheldt shall be navigated? Will one side of the river co-operate with us while we are defending the other? Alas, the two banks are equally hostile; and to the right and the left, those whom you called your friends and treated like the worst of enemies; those whom you fought for, and those whom you fought against, are combined against you; and perhaps the navy of Holland, which sunk into such contempt under the torpid reign of the Stadtholder, may recover its wonted energy under a republic; and joining the navy of its new ally, may show the world that Batavians are the same people they formerly were; that it was the government alone that had become lethargic; and that freedom restored them to their wonted valour. And if for so many years, in former periods, they alone kept the navy of this country at bay, reflect a minue whether by your haughty deportment, refusing to treat because it is the people and not the Stadtholder that sends Edition: current; Page: [59] the ambassador—reflect, I say, what may be the consequences—if the navy of Holland unites with the navy of France; the nautical skill of the Dutch with the republican enthusiasm of the Gauls! should their united thunders be directed against the shores of this country. I own I do not look with that bold confidence upon the event which your rulers would pretend, while inwardly they shake with coward palsies.

Holland detached from your side! Brabant, then wavering, now confirmed the friend of France! Tuscany, whom you plunged into the war, whether he would or no, extricating himself by an honourable peace, granted with magnificent generosity by that enemy whom we pretend to say is so treacherous that we cannot treat with them! Russia still slumbering over her promises and her treaties; fattened and satiated with the massacres of Warsaw; and exhibiting without a mask what are the views, the virtues of this canting heroine, and of that regular and orderly government of which she is the consecrated head! Prussia receiving your money, but never furnishing the stipulated troops! accepting your subsidies with one hand, and with the other signing the preliminary articles of negociation with your enemy!

Such is the picture of Europe! Such are the allies who are still to be treated with, and trusted after repeated acts of the most flagitious treachery; while another country, from which you have not, in its present form of government, experienced any treachery whatever, you are told it is not to be treated with at all, because if it happens to break a peace forsooth, it will not be broken in that regular and orderly manner of which the diplomatic faith and consistent virtues of the old established governments have given you so many curious specimens. But still we have one hope. One wooden leg after another with which we have attempted to prop up our decrepid cause, has, it is true, been broken and thrown away: but still we have a crutch on one side. We can lean upon Austria: and though we do pay a little dear for the support, yet it is better than to suffer an entire overthrow—Of what? Of our territories? No. They are only endangered by continuing the war. Of our prosperity? No. The minister takes care that nobody shall share with him the honour of destroying that. It is the windmill of cabinet influence whose overthrow is dreaded; the vanity and wild projects of our heaven-born minister!

Yes, Citizens, we stand, it is true, upon the fickle hope of German faith. The Empire, the Emperor—Hear the sounding Edition: current; Page: [60] name, ye crouds! adore the wonderful charm! Remember that even breach of faith ceases to be treachery when gilt by this pompous title! Remember that though repeated experience has shewn you the faithlessness of those who wear it, and though all the facts of history shew you the open sincerity of republican governments—yet such is the magic power of this word emperor—and indeed of every other word that implies but royalty, that the very breach of faith proves you ought still to trust; while experience itself can furnish no reason to conclude that you ought ever to confide in a country branded with so atheistical a title as Republic. The Emperor’s promises, such as they are (though he seems to have modesty enough not to be extremely explicit in them) are still to be relied upon; and thus, crippled in your alliances, weighed down by debt, weakened by depopulation, we are to repeat our crusade; to rush once more into the field of slaughter; and sacrifice at the altar of this infernal Moloch the husbandman and the manufacturer, whose labours might administer to the comforts and felicities of life. And all for what? To sooth the vanity and superstition of the monks and cowardly aristocrats of France, who monopolize the confidence of our minister and pour into the ears of our rulers that poison of despotic treachery which has already brought to the scaffold their own unfortunate sovereign, who was weak enough to imbibe its influence. For these, and their visionary prospects, we are to pursue the most expensive, hopeless, and ridiculous war ever undertaken by Europe: not excepting the crusade that left so indelible a stain upon the intellects of the 14th century.

If however one grain of reflection still remains in Britain; if we are not entirely intoxicated by the mania of alarm, let us pause a little and survey the precipice upon which we stand. Still thy rude voice a while thou brazen trumpet, ere again thou provoke mankind to deeds of cruelty and wickedness! Silence awhile the dreadful thunders of the all-devouring cannon; and let Reason uplift her powerful voice. For what purpose are we thus going to bathe our faulchions in the blood of our fellow-men? For what reason are we to expose our bosoms to their destroying swords. Suppose you could succeed, my Countrymen! would your taxes be lessened? Would the commodities of life be procured at a cheaper rate? Would you—I put aside for the present the calamities and miseries you suffer during the struggle: Would you find yourselves in a situation more comfortable and happy? Would the wants of nature be better supplied? Edition: current; Page: [61] would the innocent luxuries of life be enjoyed in greater abundance? Would your minds be more unshackled? Enquiry be more free? Would science—and above all, the science of political amelioration raise up its head with greater triumph than it did before? Alas! Alas! these are circumstances I fear never entered into the calculation of those who have plunged us into the present undertaking. These are calculations for metaphysical Jacobins and those who are mad enough to suppose that man has unalienable rights, and that one human being has as just a title to improve his faculties for the happiness of himself and family as another.—Such visionaries as these may enter into calculations of human happiness and human knowledge; but the enlightened statesman soars above them. His eye, sublimed above the clouds of common life, rolls in golden and beatific visions; and dwells upon the sublimities of places and pensions; upon the heaven of power and emolument. There he bathes his luxurious fancy; wantons in the prospects of coronets, titles. stars, and coloured ribbons; and leaves to such insignificant beings who think about their fellow creatures, the idle speculation of what is good or what is ill for man.

But, Citizens, though placemen and pensioners may not think fit to enter into such calculations, it is worth your while to do so: and you ought to do it for yourselves. For if you will not enquire into your own rights, how can you expect that others will be so superfluous as to enquire them for you. If you do not value your own prosperity, why should others? If you do not think it worth while to make calculations upon your own happiness, why should others who have no conection, no common interest with you, trouble their heads about it? They can be more happily employed in counting their places, their Chancellorships, their Tellerships, their Lord-Wardensships, their Treasuryships, their sinecures, and their patronages. And, therefore, if you will not enquire into your own rights, why blame others for not enquiring into them for you? How can you expect, that which you will not do for yourselves should be done for you by placemen, pensioners, and proprietors of rotten boroughs.

To stimulate to this enquiry is the object for which I call you together in this place. Remember it is not from listening to lectures, it is not from frequenting now and then a debating society, it is not from turning over the leaves of a book, that you are to expect improvement and wisdom. Your Edition: current; Page: [62] minds must labour if you expect them to be benefited. Your minds must labour if you wish to discover that truth which, assisted by benevolence, may redress the wrongs of your fellow citizens and yourselves. If you will idly listen with implicit confidence to any man, it matters not who he is—whether priest, prime minister, or political lecturer. You may listen, it is true, to the doctrines of another; but if you make not use of your own reason to enquire and investigate whether they are true or false, you may be affected indeed with warmth and petulance, but will never attain the true philosophical light of truth and benevolence. Scrutinize every thing you hear from every one; and most of all, every thing that you hear from me. I am a man, subject to all the passions and delusions of human nature; all the frailties of passion are upon me; all the ignorance which the prejudices early inculcated in the present system have a tendency to produce: and I have had many disadvantages in the pursuit of knowledge, under which many of you, perhaps, have not laboured. Think not, therefore, that I wish you to take for granted every thing I tell you. You must have your knowledge not as the parrot has his by rote; but from the labours of your own minds; from the feelings and conviction of your own hearts. These will, I believe, conduct you to this conclusion, that war is equally a calamity to the nation that makes it, and the nation against whom it is directed; that the system of war has plunged this country into innumerable calamities; and that the overthrow of that system, the return of reason, and the permanent happiness of the country, can only be secured by a full, fair, and equal representation of the people in the Commons House of Parliament.

The Duty and Interest of the People to enquire into the Causes and Conduct of Wars, in the Guilt of which they are involved, by contributing to their Support.—From the second Lecture on War.

IN my former Lecture on this subject I seriously recommended you to consider no individual as infallible, to look up with veneration to no man’s opinions; to estimate all opinions Edition: current; Page: [63] and all sentiments in proportion to the conviction they bring to your own minds, and not the partial attachments you may have for the persons who submit them to you. I endeavoured to shew you that all instruction, all reading, all eloquence are no further useful than as they cultivate the seeds of enquiry in the minds of those who listen or peruse; and as they furnish them with materials wherewith to work for themselves in those grand enquiries in which it is the happiness and interest of man to be engaged. I advised you seriously to consider for yourselves how far this system of war is good or bad in itself; how far the pretences for it have been realized; and, if realized, how far they were worth the price that was paid for them.

I shall now endeavour to shew you, that it is equally your duty and your interest; and that a considerable degree of moral turpitude attaches to that individual who, by his personal services, or by his property, contributes to the prosecution of any war, the justice of whose principle he has not investigated; of the probability of whose success he has not formed some estimate; and whose objects he has not properly weighed.

Citizens, Let us consider that the morals, the happiness, and the prosperity of every individual are involved in every war in which the country may be engaged: let us consider that we all have every thing at stake; that not only the comforts of life, not only that liberty and independence which we so much prize, but the very existence of every individual may be involved in the event. However securely we may fit at home; however carelessly we may read the Gazettes which announce the slaughter of thousands; let us recollect, that in the giddy changes of the wheel of fortune, the war which is now at a distance may come home to us; slaughter and devastation may confront us at our own doors; and those who have so madly and so franticly engaged to carry desolation through the streets of Paris, may fly through the streets of London before the face of those very Parisians, whose habitations they so madly threatened with conflagration, and whose sires and relatives with slaughter.

If, then, the lives and happiness of every individual are at stake, surely all ought to give themselves some pains to calculate the chances of cards, and endeavour to discover the rules of the desperate game they are playing.

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“War,” says Citizen Gerrald in his excellent pamphlet, (a Convention the only means of saving us from ruin) “though declared by the government must be supported by the people. Parliament imposes taxes but you pay them. The King declares war, but it is the blood of the peasant and manufacturer which flows in the battle, it is the purse of the tradesman and the artificer which is emptied in the contest.” Let us recollect also, that not only in the catastrophe but in the guilt we are participators. Whatever turpitude may attach itself to the war in general, so far as it depends upon our exertions or our sluggishness, lays at our doors.

Comparison between the Guilt of a common Murderer, and the deliberate Projector of unnecessary War. From the same.

AS war can only be just in one of the parties, it follows, of course, that in the other it must be murder! Nay, I believe that in nine wars out of ten it has not been just either on the one side nor on the other. If, however, it appears in any particular contest that the individuals who compose one government, have made use of every exertion to produce negociation, instead of slaughter; if they have sent ambassador after ambassador to treat with the cabinet of the threatening country, and that country, with insolent disdain, with scorn, with contempt, with ill-founded confidence, and a degree of arrogance which nothing but ignorance could produce, has rejected all those overtures of peace and negociation, I am terribly afraid we shall be compelled, in spite of national vanity, in spite of national prejudice, to justify the party that would have negociated, even though that party should be contending against ourselves.

I have said, Citizens, that war, on one side or the other, must be murder—but the epithet is feeble. There is no term in language that can describe the crime with justice and energy.—Murder which stands so prominent in the catalogue of moral vices, bears but a trifling proportion to the political Edition: current; Page: [65] guilt of those who plunge two nations; nay, not content with that, who plunge almost the whole habitable globe in scenes of slaughter and desolation, to gratify their caprice or exalt their ambition.

Perhaps the murderer, whom we so justly execrate, might find many circumstances to plead in alleviation of his guilt, which it would be difficult to apply to the other. Want, misery, the persecuting insolence of monopolizing power, the hard griping hand of famine may drive a miserable individual to acts of depredation, which afterwards, from a mistaken sense of personal security, or in the moment of unexpected contest may provoke him to plunge into guilt he never meditated. Hasty revenge, intemperate rage, the boiling passion of the moment may have inflicted the fatal blow. But the political murderer proceeds by system. He plans, he deliberates, he meditates, in the calm recesses of the closet, those scenes of fury and desolation which his hired assassins are to perpetrate, as soon as his cold blooded ambition shall have formed by mathematical lines and calculations the plans upon which they are to act. He, also, strikes, not at the life of an individual. He strikes at thousands. He murders by wholesale; and exults over the catalogue of his atrocities. He kills in safety also—shuns the danger; but perpetrates the guilt. He breathes the pestilential mandate, and myriads perish; but, bathed in the true thieve’s vinegar of office, he strips the dead without partaking the infection.

How much more atrocious this than the crimes which excite so much indignation in our hearts! and which, because they are rare, because they come before us in individual instances, and present the real picture to the mind, we contemplate with indignation; while we remain indifferent to the other.

Citizens, then let us consider how important it is (since every individual is, some how or other, concerned in what are called the acts of the nation) that every individual should seriously investigate the justice or the injustice of the wars in which he may be plunged: because, though the principle of self preservation may justify the individual who draws his sword upon the defensive side, the soldiers who march into the field in support of an unjust cause, are only the hired assassins (however unconscious they may be of the guilt) of the persons who planned the war.

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No War just but a War of Self Defence. From the same.

CITIZENS, A war of absolute defence is the only war that can be justified: What criminality then must attach to those who are engaged in a war of a directly opposite nature. “If the life of one man is not to be taken away but on a principle of self defence, or on the previous conviction of his guilt by a calm and sober appeal to reason, how much more does it become us scrupulously to weigh in the balance of the sanctuary the causes for which we embark in a complicated war, in which the kindred blood of thousands of our fellow creatures is poured out like water by the unfeeling arm of a mercenary soldier?”—Gerrald.

Citizens—I do not mean to confine my animadversions to the war in which we are at present engaged. Principles and not men should be the objects of attention—the general system, not the individual instance. It matters little that you should put a period to the present war, if you are not convinced of the madness and turpitude of war in general, and determined to diffuse those benevolent and generous principles of peace and amity which may prevent fresh calamities of this description, from falling again immediately upon your heads.

No war can be just that is not politic; and by politic I mean promotive of the happiness of the people; for how can that be good which does not secure the general happiness of mankind. No war can be politic but that which is engaged in for the real and actual defence of the Parent State; because, though it is good and right to exert all the energies with which we are endued, for the preservation of the individual, or the community, all wars for frivolous pretences (and I call all the ambitious schemes of courts and cabinets frivolous) however successful or triumphant, must cost more than they are worth; and the sole glory and triumph that you obtain is to see so many mutilated beings stalking through your streets, or filling your hospitals, and reminding you of the thousands and tens of thousands of your fellow men, who have been slain in battle, but who might have been increasing the prosperity and real wealth of the state, if they had been employed in producing the comforts of life, instead of destroying each other in a ridiculous contest.

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Consequences of our National Glory and Prosperity, to the great body of the People.—From the same.

LET us look at the mass of mankind. Do we not find them still doomed to eternal drudgery! Still plunged in ignorance and servitude? Is it not their bitter lot (even when they can obtain subsistence at this rate) to go from the hard pallet to their different occupations, from their occupations to the scanty meal, from the scanty meal to labour, and from labour again to repose? as if the bulk of the human species, existed for nothing, were fit for nothing, were capable of nothing but to drudge eternally for the luxuries of a few, to eat, to drink, to propagate, and rot.

However, Citizens, those advantages, even if they could be proved, which are supposed to result from conquest and victory, are advantages of which this country has for some time almost entirely lost sight.—It is true, at the commencement of the present war, his Royal Highness took Valenciennes in the name of the Emperor of Germany; and he ran away from Dunkirk in the name of his Royal Father. Let the widows and orphans of those who were slaughtered in these glorious exploits, tell me, if they can, which of them was the most advantageous to the country? Which of them afforded the largest proportion of comfort to themselves, or alleviated best the wants and anguish of their expiring relatives?

Extreme difference between the Interests of Ministers, and the Interests of the People, with respect to Peace and War. From the same.


BUT we must admit, whatever may be the effect to the people at large, as our governors are men of discernment, men of considerable learning and intelligence, that they are playing a game not quite so losing, that they at least know what they are about. The fact is, they may have an interest while we have not. “The great source of the evil is here, the people of Europe in general, have no more connection Edition: current; Page: [68] with their respective governments, except indeed as they are made the objects of plunder and taxation, than they have with the governments of China and Japan.” It may then be good for them to pursue a system which is destructive to us. “All war, as it multiplies places, and increases the receipts of government, at least while the war endures, extends of course the power and patronage of the minister though it loads the people with additional taxes.” As “long as war lasts,” continues Citizen Gerrald, “government has immense sums to dispose of; and as revenue has hitherto been the object of governments, the hope of making conquests will induce them to carry on the system of war as long as the people will submit to it. Every addition of territory furnishes a new field for the collection of more taxes; every conquered district is considered a new farm; and the people who cultivate it being regarded as sheep, are annually brought up to be shorn of their fleeces.”

Thus every minister, while affairs are situated as they are, has an interest in plunging the country into war; because in consequence of that war a great variety of fresh places are created, and great patronage thrown into his hands, he has the power of appointing Contractors, Colonels, Ensigns, and Officers of various descriptions, which increases his power and patronage, secures him in his situation, and gratifies his avarice or his ambition. These facts need but to be mentioned, and every one will feel conviction immediately.

Ministerial Prerogative.

THERE is another circumstance of considerable importance why the interests of the people and of ministers should be considered, in a very eminent degree, diametrically opposite to each other with respect to war. Those persons who are at the helm during a time of war, have a pretence for vesting themselves with discretionary powers; for increasing their own arbitrary authority; for trampling down the liberties of the people; and putting them under restrictions which, in times of peace, there could be no pretence for doing; and, consequently, we find one of the blessed harvests of the present war (to say nothing of the discretionary powers vested, by the bill for manning the navy and other late acts of Parliament, in the Privy Council) is the happy suspension of the Jacobinical Habeas Corpus Act.

It is an argument to which every driveller can appeal: “The country is in a state of external danger; you must, therefore, Edition: current; Page: [69] take care of turbulent spirits within;” by which phrase (turbulent spirits) is always meant every man who dares to speak against the mad and foolish projects of ministers. The fences of authority are, therefore, doubled: the personal protection of the individual members of the state suspended and annihilated.

Where is the man who will pretend that, in times of peace, such acts could have been quietly thrust down the people’s throats as the Alien Act, the Traiterous Correspondence Bill, so nobly disputed in the House of Commons, by those persons who, according to the calculation of some, are enemies to the Laws and Constitution of the country, because they dared to shew that theministers were violating that Constitution. To these we may add the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, after he persons were taken into custody whom that suspension was meant to affect; thus making the law a sort of trap, to ensnare us with an appearance of security; and when the harpies of power have drawn the victims into their toils, the laws are suspended; down goes the trap; and Britons, when most in need of British privileges, find they are Britons no more. No, Citizens: in times of peace, in times of national tranquillity such strides cannot be made: and it is a fact standing upon the records of all histories of Europe—it is a fact proved by thousands of instances, that war after war has been produced, nation after nation, has been plunged in ruin and desolation, and whole continents have been embroiled, for no other purpose whatever than to give an opportunity to the ministers and cabinets of those countries to extend their own arbitrary power, and lay prostrate, at their feet, the lives and liberties of their fellow-citizens.

It is then not from ministry that we are to expect a proper exposition of the system of war; it is not from Court expectants in opposition, who, however distinguished they may be by their talents or boasted principles of liberty, still have their eyes fixed on a succession to places of soul-corrupting power and aggrandisement. I say it is not from one or other of these classes of politicians that you ought to expect a thorough investigation of that system of war which for more than a century has continued to depopulate Europe. No: Every individual knows how powerfully self-love and interest operate upon the judgment. Like a thick film before the eye they obscure the lines and confuses the colours of the political landscape. Views of personal interest pervert the judgment and prevent us from seeing those evils from which at one time or Edition: current; Page: [70] other we may expect advantage. It is, therefore, from the virtuous energies of the public mind, from the bold and manly spirit of general investigation—from the spirit and good sense of the people that we are to expect a thorough exposition of the horrors of war.

Oh, what but ambition, what but the wild passions of interested individuals could so long have kept up that system of of delusion which has depopulated the ancient, and continues to depopulate the modern world? Is it not strange, does not imagination sicken, does not reason stagger when we conjure up the picture fairly and justly before us? What can be the reason that so many thousands of human beings rush into the field of battle with no provocation of malice; no one real interest to direct them? How astonishing is it that age after age, generation after generation, country after country should have beheld this phenomenon of man destroying man—intellectual beings rushing forward frequently to inevitable destruction; with a mad and fierce enthusiasm, courting the stroke of death, as it were a blessing!

Citizens—The picture is too astonishing to have been believed, if we had nothing but records of history to attest it.


A Meditation in the Tower.

Regal titles and decorations, are seldom very readily parted with, how much soever they may have lost their original meaning. The Roman Emperors continued to be distinguished by the name and ensigns of Pontifex Maximus, or High Priest of Jupiter, long after their profession, and the legal establishment of the Christian Religion; and Henry the Fifth, having, by the assistance of the Duke of Burgundy, made a kind of temporary conquest of France, and his son having been crowned (in his nurse’s arms) at Paris, his successors have continued to the present day to “bear about the mockery” of Gallic Empire in their titles and their arms.

But a title of still more dignity and importance has long imparted lustre to the British Crown: the title of “Defender of the Faith.

We all know that the first of our august sovereigns who wore this title was a very faithful being indeed. He cut off the heads of half a dozen wives or so, it is true; and he changed his religion every six months that he might have the glory of roasting such of his subjects whose faith could not keep pace Edition: current; Page: [71] with his. Be this as it will, Henry the Eighth having written a book in defence of the POPE, the Protestant Kings of England still continue to be gratified with the titular reward of Defender of the Faith.

For Mr. Pitt, however, was reserved the distinguished honour of restoring to his present Majesty the substance of what, for the eleven preceding reigns, had been merely a shadow; and His Majesty George the Third may now, without boast or flattery, be emphatically stiled Defender of the Faith: for (to say nothing of the present just and necessary War, waged with so much holy obstinacy, or, as Gibbon would have expressed it, with such an exquisite rancour of theological hatred, against the deluded Republicans of France, for the restoration, among other things, of the established (i. e. Popish) religion of the country; not only has the infallibility of his Holiness the POPE, been protected by a guard of British Soldiers; but, by the late confirmation in Corsica, of the Right of the People to chuse their form of government, their rulers, and their religion, His Majesty is bound to protect and defend the Holy Roman Catholic Religion in that Island. Nor have I any doubt, but that when the Allies have got to Paris, routed the Convention, and hanged all the Jacobines, the other hitherto empty title of our amiable Sovereign will be realized and secured upon a foundation equally solid and permanent with that upon which we have here descanted.

J. T.


IT was observed in company to Thomas Paine, that the British and Irish were naturally inclined to Monarchy; so much so, that in their convivial meetings they always had a toast master; and that if six of them went to a tavern to drink a bottle of wine, one would be put into the chair, who would collect the bill and pay the waiter, and the rest would benefit by his attention.

Very true, Sir, says Paine, but suppose your six men met every day to drink their bottle, and that they had no more, and the chairman always took a pint to himself: They would soon contrive to drink without one; that is, if they were fond of wine, and had common sense.

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Or a Sigh across the Herring Pond.

    • COME, lovely Brunzey, to my arms,
    • Nor let thy Geordy languish;
    • Haste, with thy fancy-painted charms,
    • Assuage thy lover’s anguish!
    • Tho’ long the truant I have play’d,
    • From fair to fair one changing;
    • And near as many Bucks have made
    • All Windsor Park as range in;
    • ’Twas but my father’s people’s wives
    • And daughters I gallanted:—
    • To beggars round the royal hives
    • Small favours must be granted.
    • The senate and my sire declare,
    • And Bishops in their sermons—
    • The noblest of the British Fair
    • Can be but drabs to Germans.
    • The fates!—O were they slaves of mine!
    • I’d for High Treason try them,
    • Who dare detain my nymph divine;
    • And jury I’d deny them.
    • Thy hopes wound to the highest pitch,
    • Impatient in thy wishes;
    • Come, spring across the briny ditch
    • That would impede our blisses.
    • Thy bed is made—thy dress prepar’d,
    • Thy Lords and Ladies waiting;
    • From post to post the royal guard
    • Shall drive thee without baiting.
    • Fly, Brunzey, to my longing arms,
    • Nor thus let Geordy languish;
    • Come, with thy fancy-painted charms,
    • Assuage thy lover’s anguish.
    • Exile.

asterisks The Examination of J. Thelwall before the Privy Council will be given in the next Number.

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Exemplification of the Humanity and Benevolence of the Eighteenth Century.—From the Second Lecture on the Nature and Consequences of the System of War.

Within the last hundred years of our history,” says the author of the Political Progress, “Britain has been five times at war with France, and six times at war with Spain. During the same period, she has been engaged in two rebellions at home, besides an endless catalogue of massacres in Asia and America. In Europe, the common price which we advance for a war, has extended from one to three hundred thousand lives, and from sixty to an hundred and fifty millions sterling. From Africa, we import annually between thirty and forty thousand slaves,” [Writers of considerable respectability have calculated the annual consumption as high as 60,000.] “which rises, in the course of a century, to at least three millions of murthers. In Bengal only, we destroyed or expelled, within the short period of six years, no less than five millions of industrious and harmless people; and as we have been sovereigns in that country, for above thirty-five years, it may be reasonably computed that we have strewed the plains of Indostan with fifteen or twenty millions of carcases.

So that it is with too much justice that the same author observes in another place—“In the East and West Indies, the conduct of Britain may be fairly contrasted with the murder of Atabaliba, and will prove equally ruinous to the detested conquerors.” A severe censure, which as far as it relates to West India policy, and African commerce (for so it is called) has been sufficiently authorised by the facts which have come out in parliamentary discussion; and which with respect to the East is supported by the following historical quotation.

“The civil wars to which our violent desire of creating Nabobs gave rise, were attended with tragical events. Bengal Edition: current; Page: [74] was depopulated by every species of public distress. In the space of six years, half the great cities of this opulent kingdom were rendered desolate; the most fertile fields in the world lay waste; and five millions of harmless and industrious people were either expelled or destroyed. Want of foresight became more fatal than innate barbarism; and men found themselves wading through blood and ruin, when their only object was spoil.Dow’s History of Indostan, vol. iii. p. 70.

These barbarous injuries have not been inflicted without some taste of correspondent calamities among ourselves: though the day of serious retribution seems yet to come!—perhaps is fast approaching!!! Already however, “If we combine the diversified ravages of famine, pestilence, and the sword, it can hardly be supposed that in these transactions (independent of the desolation produced by the present war) less than fifteen hundred thousand of our countrymen have perisked; a number equal to that of the whole inhabitants of Britain who are at present able to bear arms.

“In Europe, the havock of our antagonists has been at least not inferior to our own, so that this quarter of the world alone has lost by our quarrels, three millions of men in the flower of life; whose descendants in the progress of domestic society, would have swelled into multitudes beyond calculation. The persons positively destroyed must, in the whole, have exceeded twenty millions, or two-thousand acts of homicide per annum. These victims have been sacrificed to the balance of power, and the balance of trade, the honour of the British flag, the universal supremacy of parliament, and the security of the Protestant succession.

If we are to proceed at this rate for another century, we may, which is natural to mankind, admire ourselves, and our atchievements, but every other nation in the world must have a right to wish that an earthquake or a volcano may first bury both islands together in the centre of the globe; that a single, but decisive exertion of Almighty vengeance may terminate the progress and the remembrance of our crimes.” Pol. Prog. p. 3.

Will any individual believe that a system so mad and so profligate can tend to any thing less than the dissolution of all those governments by which it has been carried on? Why are we not warned by fatal experience? Why will we not be taught that evils so enormous cannot be perpetuated? that if we continue in this mad career it requires no volcano to Edition: current; Page: [75] destroy us; no thunders to blast the depopulated and enfeebled country: its own phrenzy must work its destruction. Shall we, then, or shall we not conceive it our duty to enquire into the means of checking this monstrous tyranny, this horrid growth of war; which has so long been exerting such destructive effects? Shall we suppose that it is our duty tamely and supinely to sit down, without attempting by every possible exertion to apply a remedy to evils so enormous?

Alas! if we will not shortly apply the remedy, the remedy will apply itself. I know not what blindness, I know not what infatuation has seized upon the men in power; but either they are dreaming, or the rest of the thinking part of mankind are lost in visionary phrenzy. But it does appear to me that every department of the state, every political phenomenon gives the most direct indication of the dissolution of that system which these men are endeavouring to perpetuate. This system of ambition and war must fall. See if you cannot discover the symptoms of the decay of that false strength, that delusive appearance of power and grandeur, which has so long deluded this country. Can you see no symptoms of approaching weaknesses? If you cannot, you certainly have not observed, with accurate eye, the page of history. What were the symptoms of the fall of other states? Schemes of oppression and depression at home; selfishness, avarice, monopoly, individual accumulation, and a total indifference to the miseries and calamities of mankind. Have not these been the forerunners of the destruction of all countries? Did not Athens display the same phenomenon? Were not corruption, voluptuousness, and the desire of rapacious accumulation, the great evils complained of by the philosophers, and orators of that country, previous to the desolation under which it fell, never to rise again? Was not Sparta a victim to the same corrupting vices? Did not “Rome, a giant statue fall, pushed from its base by artless hands,” from the same enervating causes? Can we not see the same spirit among ourselves? Can we not see that idolatry to opulence and to splendor, under which the virtues, the courage, the energies of the people are daily sinking? And sink they must: for it is the necessary consequence of our present system. Luxury produces its diseases of one description; penury has its diseases also; and while the higher orders of society are enervated with the former, the lower orders are depressed and beaten down by the latter.

Citizens, if we are wise, we shall endeavour to extricate ourselves from the calamitous situation in which we are placed. Edition: current; Page: [76] By a timely and temperate reform, we shall endeavour gradually to restore the one class of people to their simplicity, and the other to their wonted comforts. This and this only can preserve us! this only can unite us in the day of trial, and save us from the ruin that is gathering over our heads.

The blessed Efforts of the System of Colonization. From the same.

COLONIAL aggrandisement, instead of an advantage, is a curse. For proof of this I will refer you to the Budget of the Minister, which has been laid before the people (I was going to say the insulted people) during the present session; and you will there find, among the extraordinary expences that are charged (and very extraordinary indeed many of them are) a very considerable sum of money standing to the account of your colonies and foreign settlements, for the support and protection of which you are taxed at home. Nay, Citizens, Canada itself, at this very time, is maintained at the enormous annual charge of six or seven hundred thousand pounds a year, to be paid by taxes levied upon your industry; by excise laws, by window lights, by taxes upon malt, by taxes upon bread, by wine licences, by hair powder licences, by little pittances pillaged from the tea cups of poor old women, who have no comfort in the world beside.

Six or seven hundred thousand pounds, accumulated to the burthens which you must necessarily and inevitably bear!—For what purpose? For advantages expected from this distant colony? No; not one shilling of advantage was ever reaped, ever will be reaped, or ever was expected to be reaped from the important colony of Canada: and the Minister knows he is paying this 700,000l. a year for no better purpose than shewing that this magnificent empire is extended to every quarter of the globe: that you have a slave factory in Africa, a vast territory in Asia, a high mountain in the Straits, a barren rock in the Mediterranean, and a wretched colony in America.

Magnificent Idea! How can Britons repine at the want of bread; when they are blest with such solid advantages! But Edition: current; Page: [77] there is a better piece of policy still behind. These colonies promote patronage, and strengthen the powerful hand of ministerial influence. The minister and his creatures get the power of appointing all sorts of officers, from the high and mighty Governor, who represents Royalty in miniature, to the little Constable, who parades the streets, and who will also tell you that he, in his turn, represents the same sublime character.

Yes, Citizens, here is the real advantage. The Governors of your Colonies must be dependant upon the Minister, the inferior officers must be dependant upon the Governors, and the understrappers upon them; and thus you see the boasts of national grandeur and glory are nothing but steps to the back staircase of patronage, built, it is true, at the expence of the people, but subservient only to the purposes of their rulers; who are enabled by this ingenious invention to climb beyond the reach of the swinish multitude, and laugh at their grunting and complaints.

Motives of a King and his Ministers, in former Times, for making War for the purpose of overturning a Republic.

It may not be amiss to remind those English Readers, who are in the habit of reflecting upon what they read, that when Charles the second, and his CABAL—(Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, Lauderdale)—were determined to overthrow the liberties of the people, and establish despotic power upon their ruins, they thought it necessary, as a preliminary measure, to enter into a grand alliance with several continental despots, for the overthrow of the republic of Holland. A war with that then (and now once more) free republic, was accordingly entered upon, under a variety of frivolous and ridiculous pretences, (almost as unimportant to the people of England as the navigation of the Scheld:) with a view, not only to counteract those poisonous principles, which the good understanding between the Dutch and English people was Edition: current; Page: [78] supposed to disseminate and encourage, but also to furnish Charles and his ministers with a plausible reason for encreasing the military establishment, which they believed, when once properly set on foot, under what pretence soever, might be turned to any use they thought fit, and rendered the instrument of enslaving those very people who had already been oppressed with taxes for their support.

That I may obviate the abusive answers of Treasury scribblers, and prove that this representation is not the mere invention of Jacobinism, I shall present the reader with the following extracts from Rapin.

“After this view of the state of the English Court, it is easy to conceive, that those who had most credit and access to the King, could hardly intend the benefit of the kingdom. Every one of his most intimate counsellors would have been glad to see the King absolute, that he might have at his command the whole riches of England to lavish upon them.”—“But on the other hand, the King thought himself obliged to proceed circumspectly, the example of his father not permitting him to engage in the same course, before he had taken greater precautions. This was the reason, that for some years the Court projects were executed gradually, and with great dissimulation, notwithstanding the warm temper of the Duke of York, and the eagerness of the Papists.”—Rap. Hist. of Eng. vol. 3, p. 652.

After delineating the characters of the Cabal, Rapin thus pursues the subject. “If to these five members of the Cabal, are joined, as in reason they ought, the King and the Duke of York, it will be found that all the seven were for absolute and arbitrary government; and that with regard to religion four were Papists, and three without any religion, or at least they considered it only as an engine of state:”—the usual opinion of ministers, rulers and potentates, in all ages and countries of the world! “It would be difficult to know the transactions of the cabal, if Father Oleans” (a Roman Catholic historian and advocate for despotism) “instructed by King James II. had not told us that a war with Holland was there resolved, in order to furnish the King with a pretence to keep on foot both land and sea forces. For it is manifest, that such a design could be accomplished but by force at sea. The pretence for this war was to be taken from the dispute about the flag, &c.” But adds Father Orleans, “The true reason for making this war upon Holland, was the secret correspondence between the republicans of England Edition: current; Page: [79] and the Dutch, who were incessantly exciting them to rebellion, and to shake off the yoke of Monarchy, being ever ready to support those that should attack it.” This, continues Rapin, “seems to contradict what the same author advances a few lines before, namely, that the true ground of this war, was to furnish the King with a pretence for raising an army. It must be considered, however, that the design of the King and the Cabal concerned two points, which went hand in hand, and formed properly but one design; namely, to introduce an arbitrary government, and to extirpate the Protestant religion. As it could not then be expected, that the English would tamely give up their religion and liberty without resistance, it was natural to begin with depriving them of the only assistance they could hope for, by attacking the Dutch, and disabling them to succour England. Those therefore who are called by Father Orleans, the Republicans of England, were the persons, who, it was supposed, would oppose the King’s designs, as well Episcopalians and Presbyterians, as the Republicans properly so called.” Just as the advocates of ministerial usurpation, in the present day, confound under the general name of Jacobines, every man who has the courage and virtue to oppose the ruinous measures and alarming encroachments of the prevailing faction!

To this it may not be improper to add, that the Dutch Republic, aware of the designs of Charles and his ministers, endeavoured to avert the calamities of war by negociation; but which was rendered abortive by the intrigues and insolence of the British Cabinet. They were determined upon war. Their projects at home were not to be carried on without it!!!

Tax on Hair Powder. From the Lecture on the Budget.

THERE is one tax proposed by our enlightened Premiere that gives me great pleasure. I mean the tax upon that luxury with which people choose to furnish the outside of their upper stores: a fashion which originated, we are told, Edition: current; Page: [80] with two dull and miserable mountebanks, at a public fair in France; and who having racked their stupid imaginations in vain to excite the laughter of their gaping auditors, at last frizzled up their hair in a phantastic manner, and plaistered it over with flour and grease. The conceit pleased, and Fashion, ever fond of absurdities, carried the fooleries of a brace of low buffoons into the court of a great monarch. There is a particular reason why I approve of this tax. I think it is the most democratic thing that has been thought of for a long time; so much so that it almost leads one to think there is some truth in the assertion, that the measures of the present minister are in reality intended to promote that spirit of democracy which he pretends to be so anxious to suppress. At any rate it is one of those taxes which I think every real friend to the happiness and welfare of mankind will reflect a little before he pays: and I will tell you why.

Much as I am attached to that manly simplicity which the worthies of the ancient world displayed; superior as I think the Roman or the Grecian head, superior as I think the simple habits of antiquity to the phantastical absurdities of modern dress, simplicity is not the only object of consideration. What is this superfluous ornament? What is it produced from? Would not that which you suppose decorates, but which I think most ridiculously disguises you, contribute towards the support of those who find it so difficult to procure subsistence at this period? Are you not wasting, at any rate, in unnecessary ornament, that which might feed the hungry and sustain the weary. Suppose, for example, every individual wearing this superfluous ornament, instead of wearing it, were to distribute its real value, in bread to the hungry poor, and put the superfluous price which he pays for the spoiling of this flour into his pocket; let me ask if he might not find plenty of indigent individuals, by relieving whom he could purchase for himself a more noble satisfaction than this paltry superfluity can afford?

Then, Citizens, there is another point of view in which it is to be considered. Every guinea paid for this tax goes to prolong the present war. The less productive the taxes, the sooner you must have peace; for if the speculations with respect to finance fail, the sinews of the war are gone. Well then will you pay your guineas towards the abolition of freedom in France.—Do not be frightened, Citizens! I think I may venture to promise you that the ghost of French Freedom Edition: current; Page: [81] will never haunt your pillows. You may try to do it if you will; but, if I have any portion of that divine inspiration which Mr. Brothers possesses in such miraculous abundance, I will venture to prophesy that so desirable a thing as the restoration of the old despotism in France never will be effected, either by English arms or English gold. The question, therefore, is not whether you will abolish the freedom of France, but whether you will prolong the groans and sufferings of your own country. If you believe that the prolongation of this war is only a prolongation of the calamities of Britain, then I think it is fair and honest for every man, by every mean that has no connection with hostility, no violence, no turbulence, to throw every impediment he can in the way of the prosecution of the war, which he believes to be unjust, cruel, and destructive.

Well then, suppose I should tell you a way by which you may dispose of your guinea better, and be four or five guineas a year richer, in consequence of this tax. The generality of those who have their hair dressed pay, I believe, about five or six guineas a year for dressing it: I am putting the aristocrats out of the question, who pay half a guinea a time. I say nothing to them; because I know they will not pay attention to my argument.——Well then, Citizens, there are at this time languishing in cells and dungeons, upon charges of High Treason (and such charges of High Treason!) Citizen John Martin; for he is still in confinement, without any provision whatever, where he has not even an apartment allowed him, nor coals to keep him warm, but what he procures by that charity, which the tears of his wife may obtain from the casual humanity of strangers. There is also poor Smith. I pretend not to prejudge whether he is guilty or innocent. I tell you only the fact. I have my opinion, and always had from the first—but Citizens, there is this man also lying in an unwholesome dungeon in Newgate, where he is, I believe, at this time expiring of the disease he has there contracted, and he has a numerous family without any means of support;—his own support is taken from him in consequence of his confinement; and the sale of a sew little penny and halfpenny pamphlets in a little shop, the corner of Portsmouth-street, is the only resource of his wife and family. He has twice applied to men, too great for me to name for medical assistance in his disease; and has procured no answer.—[He has since been removed to an apartment less miserable, and had medical advice.]

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There is a Citizen Le Maitre, (whose spirited and sensible examination appeared, some months ago, in the Morning Post) locked up in a place by some called the Bastille: and as bastille means nothing but a place of solitary confinement, I shall not quarrel with the name.—There is also a Citizen Higgins, in confinement upon the same sort of charge. And there are other patriots in confinement under charges of sedition: though neither the lawyers themselves, nor the devil, their great coadjutor, could ever tell what sedition meant. There they lie languishing without the necessaries of life.

Now suppose every patriotic individual who intended to pay a guinea for dressing his hair was to leave off that superfluity and pay that guinea in some generous subscription, not for their relief; that would be something like High Treason perhaps; but for the relief of their wives and families. You will then have done an act of benevolence which, I believe, your hearts would reflect upon with pleasure, and be four or five guineas a year in pocket into the bargain.

The following Speeches in the Debate upon the Powder Tax, contain information of so important a nature, that every individual appears to be called upon to disseminate them as widely as possible: Unless, indeed, we admit the doctrine of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the people ought to be kept in ignorance of their own situation.

As the Speeches are copied from that violent Ministerial Paper (The Times) there can be no room to suspect exaggeration in the statement.

Mr. Dent said, that instead of exempting the army from the Powder Tax, he had hoped the Honourable Gentleman would have prohibited them the use of powder, or rather flour; for as powder was 15d. per pound and flour but 3d. they would consequently use flour.

The army of Great Britain at this time was 150,000 men, and allowing a pound a week each man, made 22,800,000 pounds annually. The consumption of the best wheat, also, in starch, from which powder is made, amounted to 17,500 quarters; if his information was correct. A great quantity was consumed in the heads of servants; as he believed most of their powder came from the drudger boxes in their master’s kitchens. At this time the country was not abundant in wheat; the crops had failed; and the prospect of the next Edition: current; Page: [83] harvest was not very cheering. From the late rains and bad weather, much mischief was to be apprehended, and at the same time we could not gain any stores from Poland; which heretofore had been used to supply us with wheat. Add to this, that the French were our competitors in other markets, and consequently lessened the import into this country.

He had also been informed (probably the Chancellor of the Exchequer knew it also), that there was not sufficient corn in this country to last beyond July, at which time 60,000 quarters were expected from Canada. The situation of the poor was at this time to be deplored; they paid nine-pence for a quartern loaf, which a short time back cost only six-pence; and this, perhaps, from wages of a shilling per day. Meat they never could get at its present price, and even scarcely a sufficiency of bread alone. With all these circumstances under his eyes, he had hoped the Honourable Gentleman would have prohibited the use of flour in the dress of the army for at least a year.

Mr. Pitt objected to the irregularity of this conversation. He thought it dangerous in the extreme, and would tend to excite commotions, if those statements were to be disseminated. He denied any knowledge of such a scarcity of corn prevailing.

The following little article, copied from the Telegraph, as the calculations are more particular, will place the propriety of wearing Hair Powder in a still clearer point of view: and as the facts are unquestionable, it is hoped that no friend to the oppressed and indigent orders of society will longer disguise himself with that ridiculous ornament.

“The military force of Great Britain, including foot, horse, militias, fencibles, &c. in England, Scotland, Ireland, and elsewhere, amounts to about 250,000 men, each of whom is supposed to waste upon his head a pound of flour per week: 250,000lbs. a week make no less than 6,500 tons weight a year—a quantity of flour sufficient to make three millions, fifty-nine thousand, three hundred and fifty-three quartern loaves, and to supply 50,000 people with bread for twelve months.

This calculation proves what a good effect the total abolition of the use of Hair Powder might have upon the price of bread; but when you add to the above a calculation of the flour which will be used by persons privileged under the new Edition: current; Page: [84] tax, whose numbers cannot be fewer than 500,000, it will then be found, that there are 750,000lbs. of flour used per week for the hair, which would make in a year 19,500 tons, or nine millions, four hundred and eighteen thousand and fifty-nine quartern loaves; a quantity of bread sufficient for the use of one hundred and fifty thousand men, women, and children.

From the above statement we are authorised to say, that it would be more for the honour of our legislature, and the benefit of the nation, to prohibit the use of flour, or powder for the hair, altogether, than to lay a partial tax upon those who use it, for the purpose of prolonging a war which has been too long continued, and the effects of which the people of this country so severely feel.”

Who after reading these facts, can do otherwise than admire that honest and respectable member of the House of Commons, John Martin, who with every grain of powder combed out of his head, stood up, and after vindicating the dignified simplicity of the human form, in opposition to the ridiculous foppery of fashion, declared, that “though as a measure intended to support the war he reprobated the tax; yet as a means of preventing the unnecessary consumption of flour, at a time of such alarming scarcity, it had his hearty concurrence and support.”

There is another circumstance relative to this interesting subject, which deserves some enquiry. It is reported, upon pretty good authority, that an American merchant waited upon a certain great Oeconomist and Calculator, and informed him that he could supply him with a large quantity of corn at a given price. But he was answered with great hauteur, that no corn was wanted in the country; that rumours of scarcity had been artfully spread abroad for the purpose of enabling merchants to be extravagant in their demands; but that the country was in reality very well supplied.

This, however, was nothing more than one of those commercial tricks, very common between traders, when they wish to beat one another down in their prices, and which the Calculator had learned from having been for the last twelve or thirteen years chief managing clerk in a very great counting-house; for shortly after he sent a message to the Edition: current; Page: [85] merchant, that he should be glad to have the corn on the terms proposed. But

  • “If you will not when you may,
  • When you would you must have nay.”

The corn was already disposed of to the agent of foreign country; and in all probability may ultimately find its way into the ports of France.

No person surely will blame an agent for making as good a bargain as he can for his employers; but while millions upon millions are lavishing away—while so large a portion of the public revenue is swallowed up by placemen and pensioners—and when the wicked and ridiculous project of starving the people of France, has brought our own nation to the very brink of famine, ought the subsistence of millions of people to be thus coquetted with, that a self-opiniated arithmetician—an official adept in the rule of three—may have a chance of boasting that he can outwit the Jews of ’Change Alley at a bargain!

Narrative of the Proceedings of the Messenger, &c. on the Seizure of J. Thelwall’s papers; with his Examination before the PRIVY COUNCIL; Treatment at the Messengers, &c.

EARLY in the morning of Monday the 12th of May last Citizen Hardy was apprehended and his papers seized by warrant from the principal Secretary of State for the Home Department. It is unnecessary to dwell upon the circumstances of his arrest, they having been already published and disseminated. At the same time Daniel Adams, Secretary of the Constitutional Society, was also taken into custody, together with his papers, upon the same authority.

These circumstances, of which I was informed three or four hours after they had taken place, did not very much surprise me; as I had received very positive information on the Friday preceeding that eight warrants for High Treason were made out, and that the names of Hardy, Richter, Lovett, and myself, were among those against whom they were directed. After such a confirmation of the truth of my intelligence, it was not easy to doubt of its correctness; and I was seriously Edition: current; Page: [86] advised to destroy my papers at least, if not to conceal myself. I had, however, some little knowledge of the Law of Treason; and I was clear in my mind upon two points,—First, That I had never been engaged in any transaction that came within the pale of that offence; and Secondly, That prerogative, in England, was admitted not to extend to the seizure of papers upon any charge of a less serious nature. I took, therefore, the proper means for summoning an extraordinary meeting of the delegates of the London Corresponding Society for the ensuing evening; and then, without troubling my head about my papers, spent the day, with my family, at home, and went in the evening to the play.

On the day following I spent the morning as usual in study, dined with a party of friends, with whom I was previously engaged; and returned home time enough to meet the Committee, at which the attendance was unusually thronged. To this meeting I read, and expounded, to the best of my ability, the Law of Treason, as laid down in Blackstone’s Commentaries; and compared this with the conduct and case (so far as we could be acquainted with it) of Citizen Hardy. After which some resolutions were moved by me, and after some little debate between Richter, Baxter, and myself, were unanimously adopted.—These Resolutions were in substance as follows:—

1st. That it appears to this Committee, that no person can be legally apprehended and his papers seized, in this country, but upon a SPECIFIC charge of High Treason.

2d. That as far as this Committee is acquainted with the conduct and deportment of Citizen Hardy, there does not appear the slightest foundation for charging him with that crime.

3d. That as far as the conduct of Citizen Hardy shall be found to be, as this Committee believes it entirely to have been, legal and constitutional, we will support him to the utmost of our ability.

4th. That this Committee proceed in the most solemn manner to such of the divisions of the London Corresponding Society as are now sitting to communicate to them the preceeding resolutions, and conjure them not to be discouraged or alarmed by the violent proceedings of government, but to pursue, with unabated ardour, the object of their institution.

In pursuance of this last resolution we rose in a body, at a little after eleven o’clock, to visit such of the divisions as were Edition: current; Page: [87] then sitting expecting the result of our deliberations. The members of the Committee, &c. went out before me; while I looked into the parlour to inform my family where I was going. I was then following to join my comrades; but before I got out of the buildings, I was met near the door by Walsh, an itinerant spy, and five or six other persons, several of whom were wrapped up in great coats, &c.


Mr. Thelwall, I believe, [offering his hand.]


The same.

Upon which the rest (among whom were Tims and Schaw the Messengers, King, Secretary to Dundas, and Carpmeal, one of the Bow-Street Runners) came up.


Then, Sir, you are my prisoner [Tapping me on the shoulder.]


Very well, Sir, You will permit me, I suppose, to go home and tell my wife and family where I am going: and at the same time let me see your Warrant.


O yes; you may go home, Sir.

We accordingly turned back, Harry Eaton let us in, and Burks, one of the Members of the Committee, and now Secretary to the Society, entered with us; aad was a very diligent observer of all that passed. It was, however, with some difficulty that I could get permission to enter the parlour, where

Mrs. T.

my mother, and a friend, were sitting. Having got in, I again demanded sight of the Warrant, which, after much shuffling and delay, was brought by Schaw. Tims put it into my hand; and I read it aloud, observing, that I never had the pleasure of seeing one of those pretty things before. It purported to authorize the Messengers, taking with them a Constable, &c. to apprehend Mr. Thelwall, of Beaufort Buildings, for treasonable practices, &c.


Mr. blank Thelwall!—How do I know this is meant for me. There is another Mr. Thelwall. The warrant ought to specify the name.

[I might also have objected to the competency of the charge; the law being explicit that the specific Treason must be charged in the warrant.


You are Mr. Thelwall of Beaufort Buildings, I suppose.—There is no other Mr. Thelwall of Beaufort Buildings, is there?—Now, Sir, give me your Keys; for I must have all your papers:


I have no keys—[which was true.]


Then, Sir, I must break open your drawers.


You must execute your warrant. But take care you Edition: current; Page: [88] do not exceed it; nor do any wanton injury to my furniture I tell you truly I have no keys—I make use of none.

They then rummaged all my pockets—Tims took my pocket-book; and Carpmeal took my penknife. About the indignity of this personal search I remonstrated; but in vain. Upon my person nothing was found but a few memorandums of a private nature, which Tims put in his pocket. He then began to rummage the drawers in the parlour, where he found two or three printed lectures, some lecture tickets, and some impressions of the portrait of Margarot, which he put into his pocket. They were then, (some of them) going to other parts of the house.


Wherever you go, I insist that I may go with you, to see what you take; and that you do not exceed your Warrant.

With this they at first made a shew of compliance, taking me all over the front house; where nothing was found; there being, in reality, nothing to find. As they went up to the back house there was a great knocking; they refusing to permit the door to be opened. We supposed, as was the case, that it was the wife of the friend who happened to be in the house with my family; and I desired that she might be informed from the window the reason why she could not be let in. Tims, upon this, immediately insisted that a coach should be called, and that I should be carried away.—A coach was called accordingly, and Tims, Carpmeal and Walsh took me off: Tims having first informed my wife that she and the child might come and see me, but not a soul besides.

H. Eaton.

Shall I let Citizen Bonney know where you are?



The word Citizen put the Messenger in a rage; and I was hurried into the coach. The window was down, and Baxter and two or three more came up to the side of the coach.


God bless you, my dear fellow. [putting up his hand.]


And you, my good fellow. [shaking hands.] Do not be intimidated, for I assure you I am not.


Where are you going?


To Tims, the Messenger’s in Crown-street, Westminster.

By this time the messenger, &c. had got into the coach; and with great ill humour and alarm, pulled up the windows, and ordered the coachman to drive off. Tims talked Edition: current; Page: [89] about political occurrences; and I requested him to drop the subject; saying, that situated as we were, it was improper; that we might find plenty of topics to amuse ourselves with; and spend our time pleasantly together; but politics I must beg leave to decline. To the propriety of this he readily assented.—I forget whether this was in the coach, or at the Secretary of State’s office.

Five or six people (positively not more) running after the coach, the messenger pretended to be afraid to go home; so they took me to the Secretary of State’s office, in Downing-street, where I was detained a couple of hours at least, and given to understand that I should stay all night. During this time, a tall thinish man, a little pock-fretten, I think, and rather sallow in his complexion, who was treated by all present with great submission, and who I since understand to have been a very great man in the diplomatic world, came into the back office where I was.


What he is here, is he?


This is Mr. Thelwall, Sir, I was obliged to bring him here, for there were so many people running after him that I did not dare to carry him to my own house.


Aye, aye, this is a proper place for men who have a parcel of people at their heels.


[turning round and looking up at him, without uncovering]. Pray, Sir, what is your name—may I ask?


My name is a matter of no consequence.


Certainly! Only I wish to know who I am indebted to for this very obliging remark.


I only mean to say, that men who have a heap of people running after them are best in a place of security.


It is a crime, then, to be popular.

His Lordship stalked away: and I turned on my heel, repeating

  • “The man resolved and firmly just
  • Adheres unshaken to his trust.
  • Tho’ storms and tempests round him roll,
  • Unmov’d will stand his dauntless soul,
  • Nor would the wreck his mind appall,
  • Should the whole world to swift destruction fall.”

One of the Attendauts. Aye, aye, that may be said in a great many different cases.


True: and happy is he who can apply it justly. Pray who was that gentleman?

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We cannot answer that question. That is a person of very great consequence.


So I perceive.

It was now between twelve and one o’clock. I had made no supper, and began to be very hungry.


Pray am I to be kept here all night without any supper?—If I had the Secretary of State in my custody, I would give him something to eat, at least.

Apologies were made for the delay; and, after waiting about an hour longer, a proper guard having been provided, to allay the fears of the messenger, (who seemed very uneasy at having such a wild beast as a Jacobine to take care of) I was, at last conducted down stone staircases, and along endless passages into Crown-street, and immediately to the place of my temporary destination.

Some of the persons present seem to have been very expeditious in giving an imperfect account of the conversation with the “person of very great consequence;” for the next day it was reported in one of the papers, that, being taken before the Secretary of State, I treated him en Cavalier, and kept my hat on, as denying his authority.

Sect. II.: Narrative of the Procedings of the Messenger and his Attendants, relative to the Seizure of Papers, &c.

Tims, having thus, in spite of my remonstrance, taken me away before my papers were seized, the house was left to the dominion of Schaw, the other messenger, King, private secretary to Dundas, and some Bow-street Runners, their coadjutors. Here they remained till four or five o’clock the next morning. Nor was ever a more indiscriminate pillage committed under colour of legal authority (if legal it could be called) than that to which my house was subjected.

They did not, indeed, absolutely take the furniture of my rooms: the cumbrous, old fashioned lumber which satisfies the wishes, because it administers to the necessary accommodation of a Democrat, would hardly have rewarded them for the trouble of procuring waggons to carry it away: but every manuscript was seized, upon whatever subject—Poems, Novels, Dramas, Literary and Philosophical Dissertations, all the unpublished labours of ten years’ application—Successful or abortive it matters not—they were the fruits—The creations of my own industry, and therefore were more absolutely Edition: current; Page: [91] my property than the estate of the landed gentleman or the stock in trade of the manufacturer. Whether they are worth six-pence, or six thousand pounds is of no importance. If such plunder is to be countenanced by the mandates of a Secretary of State, what intellect will be active? what property can be secure? It is difficult to conceive how the members of any government can have the assurance to talk about the protection of property, and yet refuse to restore the plunder thus impudently seized by their own officers, and under the colour of their authority.

But they did not stop at manuscripts. Some hundred copies of my publications were also seized—some of which were on subjects the most distant from politics: and from no one of which did they think fit to quote a single passage in crimination of me. And thus, at a time when my family could receive no support whatever from my exertions, were they deprived of the only resource that could any way supply the deficiency—the sale of my former labours.

But if the indiscriminate plunder of manuscripts and publications appear a wanton stretch of authority, what shall we say to their seizing upon a considerable part of my library.

As even the catalogue of my books has been stolen by these executioners of the mandates of the Privy Council, it is impossible for me to state the whole of my loss: but among the books of considerable value which I have thus lost, are Godwin’s Political Justice, and Darwin’s elegant Poem the Botanic Garden. Two books, to replace which alone, the reader will recollect, will cost me near four pounds.

To this catalogue of robberies I must add a very large collection of Copper-plates—consisting of three volumes of book prints—portraits, historical pictures, and landscapes; together with several loose prints of different value, and a fine proof impression of Sharpe’s folio portrait of Thomas Paine.

These effects were taken away in three or four coaches; and that they might preserve them entire for their new proprietors, they made free also with a trunk, and several green cloths that covered my tables, to pack them up in.

The pictures were in the study in my back house, all but some portraits of Margarot, which were in my front parlour. I had reason to know where the others were; for I had, on the very day of my arrest, bought some new plates and added them to the collection. The print of Thomas Paine was between the leaves of Johnson’s folio Dictionary; where also Mr. Schaw, or his coadjutors, must have found the unsent, Edition: current; Page: [92] unfinished letter to Allum of America, which Tims, who was not present when it was found, swore upon my trial that he found in the pocket of Richter.

Sect. III.: Examination before the Privy Council, &c.

The next day I was brought before the Pivy Council; and while I was waiting in the anti-chamber, I saw Tims take a parcel of loose papers out of his pocket, from which he selected my pocket book, and a few other articles, with which he went into one of the adjoining offices, and shortly returned with them tied up with a piece of tape or string, I forget which; and with a pen in his mouth.—In the course of this narrative I shall relate some other circumstances of the careful and orderly conduct of this being, upon whose oath it was thought fit that the lives of Britons should depend.

When I first went into the Privy Council it appears, that my conductor had not been cautious enough in waiting for his cue. The actors, indeed, were all assembled, but the machinery was not ready; and, after much bustle and confusion, I was ordered to withdraw awhile. In about a quarter of an hour I was called in again, and beheld the whole Dramatis Personæ intrenched chin deep in Lectures and manuscripts, some mine and some not; all scattered about in the utmost confusion.

The Chancellor was sitting at the far end of the room, Dundas near the door; and Pitt was standing at the far side of the table, behind the persons who were seated there.

As there was more stage effect than dialogue in this scene, I shall endeavour to preserve the spirit of it, by marking in italics the passions and gesticulations of the actors.

Attorney General.

[Piano]. Mr. Thelwall, what is your Christian name?

T. [Somewhat sullenly].


Att. Gen. [Piano still].

How do you spell your name? with two l’s at the end or with one?


With two—But it does not signify——

Att. Gen. [Interrupting]

With two, do you say?


With two—But it does not signify. [Carelessly, but rather sullen, or so]. You need not give yourself any trouble. I do not mean to answer any questions.


What does he say? [Darting round, very fiercely, from the other side of the room, and seating himself by the side of the Chancellor].

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Lord Chancellor.

[With silver softness, almost melting to a whisper]. He does not mean to answer any questions.


What is it?—What is it?—What? [fiercely].

Att. Gen.

He says he does not mean to answer any questions.


[After a pause, abruptly]. He had better consider of it.—He had better take time and consider of it.—Give him a little time.

Att. Gen. [Mildly].

Mr. Thelwall, you had better consider.


I have considered, and I shall answer no questions. You need not give yourselves any trouble. I shall not answer.

Att. Gen.

[With great assumed politeness and humility]. It is no trouble, Mr. Thelwall; it is my duty to ask you. You live in Beaufort Buildings, I think?

I made no answer, but kept my eye upon the Chancellor and Pitt.

Lord Chancellor

[in a half whisper in the ear of Pitt]. He won’t answer.


[After a pause, with a mixture of petulance and embarrassment]. He don’t know what’s again him.—Better let him see what’s against him. Here, (reaching across the table) here let him see this paper. Shew him this paper. [Vide the Second Rep. Sec. Com. H. of Commons. Debrett’s edit. p. 24 and 25.]—Now, Mr. Thelwall, do you know you are apprehended for treasonable practices, and that this paper was found upon you?

I made no answer. It was a paper rejected by myself and all the Committee to whom it was referred; but I did not chuse to fix it upon the person it originated with.

Att. Gen.

Do you know any thing of that paper, Mr. Thelwall?

I made no answer.

Pitt. [Very petulantly].

Read it to him. Let it be read.

[It was read accordingly; Pitt keeping his eye upon me, with great fierceness of deportment.]

Now, Mr. Thelwall, it behoves you to account how that paper came to be in your possession.

I was not of the same opinion, and, therefore, made no answer.

Att. Gen.

Mr. Thelwall, can you tell how you came by that paper?

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I am bold in the consciousness of innocence; but I shall answer no questions.


What’s that?—What’s that? [to the Chancellor.]

Chancellor [half whispering in Pitt’s ear]. He says he is bold in the consciousness of innocence; but he will answer no questions.

Pitt [fidgetting about upon his seat. His lip quivering, and his whole countenance convulsed with rage]. A strange reason that, for answering no questions, Mr. Thelwall.—A strange reason, being bold in conscious innocence.—A strange reason for not answering.


If I answer this, you will expect me to answer other questions; and it is no part of the law or constitution of this country to answer interrogatories to a Privy Council.

Lord Chancellor [very gravely].

You do not come here to answer to the laws and constitution of your country, Mr. Thelwall.

[I ought to have asked what a Briton should answer to but the laws and Constitution of his country; but the fact is I was a little sulky, and did not think of it.]


What was that?—What was that?

Lord Chancellor

[with his usual softness]. He says it is no part of the law or constitution of this country to answer interrogatories.—I tell him he does not come here to answer to the laws and constitution of his country.

Att. Gen.

Were you at Chalk Farm, Mr. Thelwall?

[I made him no reply, but shook my head, and laid my finger on my lips.]

Att. Gen.

Were you at the meeting at Chalk Farm?

I made no answer. The question was put to me again, and I turned round, and began to contemplate a drawing in water-colours, of a ship, that hangs over the fire place.

Att. Gen.

He won’t answer.

Lord Chancellor

[as usual, in Pitt’s ear]. No: its of no use: he won’t answer.


Don’t ask him any more questions then:—Don’t ask him any more. Its only putting him on his guard. Mr. Thelwall you may withdraw.

Exit T. cetera desunt.

The scene was now shifted again to the Lobby—What passed, therefore, among the great actors behind the curtain, I cannot exactly say. A great deal, however, appeared to be transacting around me, in dumb shew; and among the rest I observed, that King, the secretary of Dundas, took my keeper Edition: current; Page: [95] Tims aside, and appeared to give him some instructions with great emphasis of gesticulation. From the deportment of the Privy Council towards me, in which certainly, I had observed very little that, according to my judgment, was consistent either with good manners or humanity; and from the manner in which I had treated their questions, which certainly was not very likely to conciliate them, it immediately occurred to me, that the dirty, vexatious spirit of revenge, by which little minds in great situations are generally directed, had prompted them to order that my wife and infant should be permitted to visit me no more.—This suspicion was shortly confirmed.—Mrs. T. brought my little babe to see me the next day; but was turned from the door with the heart-rending intelligence that neither of them could be permitted to enter.

The same day (14th May) Henry Eaton (who had lived with me ever since I had been in Beaufort Buildings) was taken before the Privy Council; and examined. The spirit and shrewdness of this boy were highly creditable both to his heart and understanding; and I should be wanting in justice if I omitted this opportunity of acknowledging the fidelity of a youth whose unrewarded services, during the whole time he lived with me, had no other stimulus than zeal and disinterested attachment. On the present occasion, this zeal and attachment, assisted by a courage and presence of mind uncommon at his years, were particularly useful: for, in spite of philosophy, the husband and the father still cling to my heart; and to be debarred entirely the conversation of one with whom affection (not the laws) was the bond of union, and to be forbidden the sight of the little innocent which, almost from its birth, had been regularly the first object to which I turned my waking eyes, was far more painful than all the rigour of a jealous imprisonment.

An account of this boy’s examination, as far as his memory could retain it, was printed the next, or succeeding day, in the Morning Post: a paper which, from the first of our presecution to the last, had the spirit and virtue to vindicate our cause in the most direct manner.

The reader may perhaps be pleased to see this specimen of youthful firmness, preserved form that immediate oblivion which is the fate of newspaper compositions: it is, therefore, here inserted.

[Some difficulty having interfered as to the procuring the Paper in which the Examination is contained, it is unavoidably deferred till the next Number.]

Edition: current; Page: [96]

Political Maxims, &c.—From Mercier’s Fragments of Politics and History.

Destructive vices.—The internal vices which prey on a great state are the wasteful expenditure of the public money, immoderate gifts and gratuities, and a non-observance of the laws [on the part of the governors.] If the military body exhausts the treasury, if the nobility are prodigal in their claims, if the great have the address do obtain a peculiar justice for themselves, then to these mischiefs become so many incurable wounds, which impair the strength of a fine kingdom, and destroy the admirable efforts of brilliant enthusiasm and heroical valour.

Augustus maintained forty legions for twelve millions of livres (half a million sterling) a year: his secret has been lost. The worst kings are those who have dissipated the most, because they have held in their hands the public money. Vol. 2. page 44.

Reform.—It is easy to perceive whether the government tends to despotism, by appreciating the repugnance of the sovereign or his ministers to a reform of the civil laws: it is impossible that these laws when improved, should not favour that natural right the very name of which terrifies administrators of a despotic state. Page 10.

Stretches of Authority.—An ill guided authority undertakes more than it can execute. This is the rock on which governments split, when, not knowing themselves, or rather wilfully misunderstanding their boundaries, they aim at the extension of the latter by a natural but dangerous propensity. Page 56.

Patriotism.—The love of the country, recommended as a moral virtue is a chimerical command, provided the citizen is not attached to that country by the security, ease, and prosperity, he finds in it. It is a romantic sentiment when it hinges solely on the transitory glory of a monarch. The love of the country and that of the laws of the country are two distinct objects. [The author might have added, and the love of principle is different from both. The fact that principles, not spots of earth ought to be the objects of our attachment; The spirit and virtue of the people, not the dead letter of the law!] The love of the country may be injurious to the love of humanity, in the same way that self-love may be detrimental to generosity. Page 60.

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The British Cabinet the first Authors and Supporters of the present War.—From the second Lecture on War.

CITIZENS, The magnitude of the subject upon which I have been treating the two previous evenings, and which I am to consider in a more home-felt point of view on the present evening, is such, that I am well aware it would call for all the powers and faculties, of the most intelligent mind to do it justice. It will, however, sometimes happen, that when we wish to exert ourselves most, those accidents to which all human life is liable, will render us less able to make use of those exertions; and I should not be at all surprised, if many have been disappointed in the manner in which the subject has been treated. The fact is, that domestic calamity weighs down the spirits of your lecturer. During that long confinement which I have endured, an aged and feeble parent, racked with all the anxieties and anguish which a fond mother must inevitably feel under such circumstances, received a considerable degree of injury in her health, from which she has not yet recovered; and I have been, and still am, in considerable danger of losing that great comfort of my life.

This is one additional instance of the omnipotency of that system or conspiracy, of oppression, spies, perjury, and inquisitorial persecution, under which this devoted country groans.

However, standing in this situation, I know how far it is my duty, and shall endeavour, as much as I can, to rise superior to individual feelings; and devote myself to to the cause of the public, in whose behalf I here stand up an humble advocate; I shall, therefore, without further apology, resume the subject of my lecture.

The particular object of the lecture this evening, is to investigate the pretexts for entering into the present war, and the pretences for refusing to negociate a treaty of peace.

Edition: current; Page: [98]

I shall, in the first place, Citizens, endeavour to shew you, that it is peculiarly the duty of England to restore to Europe that peace and tranquillity of which it is at present so universally deprived, because, in reality, it was England, or rather the Ministry of England, that plunged Europe into the present war. I shall endeavour to shew you this from a variety of facts and arguments, which, if they have the same influence upon your minds that they have upon mine, will undoubtedly produce a complete conviction. However, I ought frequently to repeat, that you are not to suppose yourselves convinced, because the person you listen to shews his own conviction. Consider, I pray you, all that comes from this place, and from any other place whatever, as the materials only upon which your own understandings are to work; and upon which your own judgments are to be formed. For that country is very far removed from the capability of liberty or virtue, which is in the habit of taking any thing for granted on account of the individual from whom it comes.

Citizens, There are particular circumstances that induce me to suspect, that even at the treaty of Pilnitz, the Cabinet of this country was by no means inactive. It is not uncommon, I believe, when Conventions of Sovereigns, or representatives of Sovereigns, assemble to hold, and preserve in just equipoise, the mysterious balance of power in Europe, that individuals who appear not at all concerned, should be the prime actors, standing behind the curtain, and dictating to the diplomatic puppets who assemble, under other pretences, to do their work of darkness. And if it should be found, that, after the treaty of Pilnitz, the language of the powers who formed that fatal alliance—an alliance they were ashamed of, which they had neither the assurance nor the honesty, to explain! If the language, I say, of those very powers, when engaged in war with France, should be found to correspond with this suspicion, and there should be other corroborating circumstances to support these appearances, you will have some foundation, at least, to conceive with me, that some of the persons who compose the cabniet of this country were not entirely ignorant of those infamous proceedings: I allude in particular to a declaration, or memorial, which very shortly after the commencement of the war was published by the Emperor of Germany, and in which he declares, in the most peremptory terms, that all the crowned heads of Europe, all the principal Courts had determined and agreed to restore that system of regularity which Jacobinism had overthrown in France.

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Now, Citizens, you may perhaps remember, that in consequence of this declaration, very severe animadversions were made by very respectable individuals in this country: that appeal after appeal was made to the Minister, and even in the House of Commons very strong and pressing questions were put to the administration, relative to the truth or falshood of this assertion, as far as it affected Britain. And if it shall be found, after all, that the Minister, being pressed in the most direct manner, did not think fit to deny the charge, that will be an additional reason to suppose there was some intercourse between great persons in this country and other great persons, who were the ostensible actors in those infernal rites:—that though the hags of Austria and Prussia, and other continental despots, alone were seen dancing round the cauldron, in which the miseries of Europe were brewed; yet the prompting Hecate—

  • “The real mistress of their charms
  • The close contriver of all harms.”

was to be found hurling her infernal spells and incantations through the air, from a little, distant, solitary island, and enjoying, in supposed security, the storm her arts were brewing. Here it was that the directing dæmon, enveloped in fogs and darkness, sat brooding over the incipient mischief, and enjoying, in supposed security, the approaching convulsion.

Citizens, if we consider what has been the conduct of the British cabinet, ever since the mask was thrown off, and the hostile intentions of that Cabinet publicly declared, we shall be still further confirmed in the suspicion I have suggested.—If we should find, that not only all the powers of Europe have shewn to the world that they considered England the principal mover of the war; and if, also, it should be found, that the conduct of the British Cabinet has supported and confirmed this opinion,—has done that which must have been its conduct if this were truly and really the case, no rational doubt can remain whether the statement be true or not.

Now, Citizens, let us examine what are the interests, and what has been the conduct of the respective powers, some of whom are nominally, and some of whom have been actually engaged in this royal federation against the liberties of France. Let us, for example, consider what interest Russia could have to enter into any alliance relative to the opinions, proceedings, and conduct of the French nation. Every Citizen at all acquainted with geography, knows, that Russia is so considerably Edition: current; Page: [100] remote from France, that in this respect there was no very immediate danger of the eruption of French principles into the empire of Russia. We know also that such is the miserable state of ignorance and barbarity in which the inhabitants of Russia are plunged, that those hordes of martial savages are totally incapable of comprehending any thing that can be called principles in any nation or set of men whatever. It cannot be forgotten, that apprehensive of some struggles between the great Boyars, or Nobles, and the regular government of Russia, an attempt was made by the Empress to emancipate the peasantry from that state of slavery under which at this time they live: the Boyars and great men domineering over them, and treating them no better than West India slaves. Yet, so far were the Russians from being likely to be affected by the Jacobinical principles of freedom, that they were very nearly thrown into a state of insurrection; their ignorance and the influence of their hereditary drivers leading them to suppose that freedom, even in the smallest proportion, was one of the most horrible calamities that could fall upon them.

Therefore, whatever pretensions she may have to religion, however enamoured she may be with humanity!—Let the breathless corse of a strangled husband—let the massacres of Ismael—let the horrid and depopulating cruelties lately acted at Warsaw teach you, with firm conviction, how zealous she is to promote the real cause of human happiness—and with what pious detestation she views the excesses committed by the Jacobins of France! I say, Citizens, that, however attached to the principles of religion and humanity this good woman may be, yet, it is very evident she could have no terror of the irruption of French principles into her country: she could have no fear that her savage hordes would be affected with the dangerous and anarchic principles that disseminated themselves in other countries, and as interest is the known and avowed actuating principle of sovereigns in their alliances, as this is to be considered the primum mobile of royal proceedings, friendship and co-operation—we cannot be much inclined to suspect, that the Empress of Russia ever had any great inclination to disturb the progress of the French, and administer to the views of this country, against whom she has, by so many evident symptoms, betrayed her animosity; and whose officious and bullying interference so lately irritated her pride, and impotently endeavoured to thwart her ambition.

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Then, Citizens, let us consider also the situation and connections of Prussia, and though, perhaps, in the capital of Berlin, the principles of philosophy may have been speculatively diffused, in a considerable degree, and the feelings of liberty may have been consequently a little disseminated, we shall find that the military despotism of Prussia had but little to fear from the irruption of French principles, and, considering the situation of the country, nothing could have a greater tendency towards it than the act of engaging in hostilities with France. But if we consider, also, the great interest the King of Prussia must necessarily have felt; instead of assisting, to check, the ambition of the Emperor, if we consider that every thing that tended to the diminution of the power of France must have had a considerable tendency to increase the power of the German Empire, and if we consider, also, that the history of the last half century proves that the favourite policy of Prussia has been to pull down the pride of Austria, it cannot be very much supposed that Prussia ever felt an original interest in this alliance of Kings against French republicanism.

Citizens, with respect to Austria, I believe there is considerable reason to doubt, also, whether she would have felt so determined an interest as, without the stimulus of British logic, would have induced her to come forward in the present alliance: for though it is true relative connection had attached the interests of the house of Austria with those of the house of Bourbon; yet, as certain situations have a tendency to elevate men above the vulgar prejudices of social affection, we shall be inclined to think the sorrows of Marie Antoinette would not alone have induced the Emperor to plunge into war with an enemy so powerful, when his resources were already so considerably drained by those wars from which he was scarcely extricated—particularly his war against the Turks.

But let us not only consider what have been speculatively the views, but what has been the conduct of the powers in alliance.

It is very well known that Russia agreed to assist the English with 12,000 men for an invasion of the French coast; and to attempt thereby the restoration of that order and humanity to which her imperial Majesty is so considerably attached. But, Citizens, though this engagement was nominally made by the Empress, we have not yet heard of the fulfilment of the promise. She, pious arbitress of the fate of Edition: current; Page: [102] Europe, is too good a friend to the established system of regular government, and the rules of diplomatic faith, to withold her name from any instrument that might induce the powers of Europe to plunge into scenes of hostility by which she might be eventually benefited. But however willing she might be to assist the alliance with 12,000 men upon paper, yet we find that she was not equally anxious to bring them into the field. That was quite another thing. Nay, Citizens, we find, very shortly after, by references to state papers and other authentic records, we shall find a memorial presented by her to the British Cabinet, in which she treated with derision the idea that the minister could suppose her serious in her promise; and giving him to understand, that he could not expect her to fulfil such promise at a time when she was incompetent to fulfil even her engagements to the House of Austria. In short, she gave our cabinet to understand pretty plainly, that it would be impossible for her to bring a large army into the field without the assistance of a considerable subsidy.

It is true this proposal was never complied with; it is true that the Chevalier Whitworth who was the agent in this instance, was not successful in this negociation. But yet the overture sufficiently shews you what the views of Russia were; and who the Empress looked upon as the main-spring and engine in the alliance into which she had nominally entered.

But if subsidy was only talked of by Russia, with other nations it came to something more than words; and though the assistance lent towards this project by the king of Prussia has not been much more serious than that afforded by the Empress, yet, the money we have been obliged to raise in fulfilment of our part of the engagement with that potentate compel us to look upon him as much more serious in the business. Yet he could not possibly send an army into the field without the assistance of who? Of the Emperor of Germany or any of the continental powers? No; it was to England he looked for the subsidy: England guaranteed the payment or the whole; and, though Holland was pledged to pay a small part, whether the Stadtholder has ever yet fulfilled the engagement we have not been told. If not, though the treasures of the Stadtholder have been removed from the Stadthouse to England, I believe we shall find ourselves obliged to make the payments for which he was pledged. Indeed the portion was but small for which Holland was nominally Edition: current; Page: [103] pledged—and it was evidently nothing but a nominal pledge; a little dust thrown into the eyes of John Bull to prevent him from seeing the whole burden that was thrown upon his shoulders.

The other continental powers do not seem to have been deficient in the same faculty of discernment; and, therefore, it is that the king of Sardinia has thought fit not to defend his own dominions without receiving 200,000l. a year from the treasury of Great Britain; which may stand in place of 200,000 weighty arguments to prove who is the real provoker of the present war; and who is to pay the piper in this dance of death, now exhibiting on all the theatres of Europe. Good examples are sometimes imitated by the higher from the lower orders; and the Eagle of Austria having seen the Sardinian and Hessian crows so comfortably provided for from the fat paunch of John Bull, wetted his beak also, and had a mind to see whether he could not pick a few of the brains out of the head of the passive brute. Austria began to consider herself as one of the auxiliaries of this federation. She began to talk of treaties of peace, to hold out threats of negociation to our Cabinet, and to pretend to withdraw from the alliance: not that it is readily to be believed that the Emperor had at that time any serious intention of deserting the alliance. This was perhaps only one of those coquettish artifices so common in the negotiations of monarchs and prostitutes, when either the former or the latter wish to increase the price of their favours. This threat or insinuation led the way to those overtures which were at first distantly hinted by the great and magnanimous Colonel Mack, and afterwards more directly proposed by other agents of the Imperial Court.

Citizens, we must know, I conceive, if we consider the general conduct of that power, that the addition of Bavaria to the hereditary dominions of the Emperor, has long been one of the grand objects in the contemplation of that high and mighty potentate. I shall perhaps towards the close of the lecture shew you how he is likely to accomplish that object. However it was now talked of that the low countries were to be abandoned, and Bavaria taken in exchange: a measure, which could not but be eminently offensive to the British Cabinet; whose minister in the open Senate had most directly arrogated to himself the right and determination to arbitrate the fate of Brabant; and declared that it was equally hostile to HIS PLAN for the adjustment of the Ballance of Europe that those provinces should be added to the French Republic Edition: current; Page: [104] or formed into an independent state: In other words, that it was HIS DETERMINATION that, so long as he was minister of Britain, no country whatever should arrogate to itself (the Crown of Corsica was not dreamt of then) the right of chusing its own government.

In this manner the jealousy of the Court of St. James’s was awakened: for though Courts cannot love they can be jealous!—An inducement was held out to our minister to purchase, at any rate, the co-operation of HIS dear and valuable ally: and the plot succeeded. Promises of important assistance (attended by weighty proofs of their sincerity) were made to the Emperor to induce him to defend his government in the low countries, and resist for a while the jacobinical principles that had diffused themselves among the Brabanters.

The conduct of Spain and Naples has not been less equivocal. We have seen a great reluctance on the part of Spain from the very first to this alliance; and even to the very last that Court has never entered with any sort of vigour into the prosecution of the war; till the irresistable arms of the Republic brought it home to their own doors. Naples, we know, kept aloof till it was compelled, by the fleets of Britain, to join the confederacy, even after it had pledged its faith—royal faith!—the faith of a regular government! to remain entirely neutral, and acknowledge the French Republic.

Citizens, we shall presently see that the conviction which appears to be so general among the nations of Europe, is not entirely absent from the minds of our ministers themselves; and that the conduct of the English Cabinet has, in innumerable instances, plainly demonstrated that they also consider themselves as the prime movers and principal in the present war. Let us, for example, consider the pressing remonstrances which have been repeatedly made on the part of the British minister, to the different powers of Europe, either to join in the conspiracy, or prosecute with more ardour the cause in which, with so much lukewarm apathy, they had engaged. On this account, we find remonstrance upon remonstrance, accompanied, as it were, with a burning desire of the honour of subsidizing all Europe. We find that they have not only, with great willingness, complied with the desires of Prussia, and granted a very large subsidy to a monarch who shewed no great inclination to perform any part of the stipulations, that of receiving the money alone excepted; but that last summer, so anxious were the ministers of this country to Edition: current; Page: [105] perpetuate the war and increase the activity of the powers of Europe, that Earl Spencer was positively sent with a zeal warm and fresh from the hot bed of alarm, and an avidity sharpened by the enthusiasm of recent apostacy, to the Court of Vienna, to intreat and solicit the Emperor of Germany to accept that subsidy, for which he had before hinted some little inclination.

Let us consider also the conduct of the British minister towards the neutral powers. Let us see the anxiety with which he endeavoured to plunge those powers into the war against France, who had so determinately kept aloof. I have already given you an instance in the kingdom of Naples which was dragooned into a war, in which it had pledged its honour not to engage. I need not call to your minds the transactions at Genoa: they are fresh in every man’s mind. In spite of national vanity we cannot contemplate, without some degree of contempt, the figure Great Britain made upon that occasion; when our bullying fleets blocked up the ports and harbours of that little independent republic, and threatened them, in vain, with the extinction of their commerce if they refused to plunge into that mad havock and desolation in which the other parts of Europe were engaged. Yes, we bullied! Great and mighty Britain!—the soi disant sovereign of the ocean—the self-constituted arbitress of Europe—the terrestrial destiny, who holds in her omnipotent hand the ballance of power, and weighs out the fates of nations, as she weighs out tea and tobacco in her warehouses:—This great and mighty Britain bullied the little republic of Genoa; with one hand offered her a war with France, and with the other threatened her with annihilation; but the little republic laughed at her big words; and the fleets of Great Britain at length withdrew, and confessed her insignificancy to the world.

Denmark and Sweden also partook of the threats, if they did not partake of the fears which had agitated Genoa; and we find these two countries at last obliged to lay their subjects under contributions—not for the purpose of plunging them into wars which might be ultimately fatal to their own liberties, but to protect them from the power, I had like to have said the insolence, of those who wished to plunge all other nations into the same calamitous situation into which they had plunged their own.

The threats of our Cabinet were for a while more successful against Tuscany. It was in vain that fortune had blessed that country with a prince who had some regard for the happiness Edition: current; Page: [106] of the people! It was in vain that the reins of power were held by a minister desirous of perpetuating the blessings of peace; that prince was to be controlled, that minister disgraced; nor would the Cabinet of Britain be satisfied till the minister who thwarted its wishes was dismissed from his office and Tuscany plunged in war:—a war, which but for the generosity of the French Republic might have been fatal to that country.

These are sufficient to prove that the Cabinet of England has hitherto considered itself as the principal mover and head of that federation. At least it appears to me that the facts are sufficient to build this conclusion upon. You will weigh in your own minds how far they are so; and give yourselves the trouble, I hope, to investigate how far the facts are impartially stated.

The Pretences for entering into the present War.—From the same.

CITIZENS, I shall next proceed to enquire what are the pretences on the one hand, and the real objects on the other, in the British Cabinet for embarking so deeply in this undertaking; and endeavour to shew how far they appear worth the expence, the danger, and the calamity with which they were to be pursued and purchased. We know, Citizens, that the first pretence for engaging in the present war was the protection of Holland. We were told that the trade of Holland, which flourished so happily under the auspices of the House of Orange, that the liberty of Dutchmen so considerably confirmed by the honourable proceedings of the Stadtholder, backed as he was by the fleets of Britain and the armies of Prussia, were in danger from French republicanism. We were told, that to protect this commerce and these liberties, was an inviolable duty, which the English ought never to depart from: because the Dutch were always so extremely anxious to fulfil their part of their treatises with this country!—Our minister certainly called to mind the very generous conduct of the Stadtholder, if not of the people of Holland, during the late American war; and the battle off the Dogger Bank was not forgotten. Our minister undoubtedly considered that, though there have been wars since the sacred and inviolable Edition: current; Page: [107] treaty that was to be made use of as godmother,—or grandmother (for it was old enough for either) to this holy crusade, in which the good people of Holland, (seeing that it would be a happy thing for this country, that America should be emancipated) had taken part against us; yet that the treaties, old and musty as they were, were nevertheless not to be departed from upon our part: And that if the Scheldt should be opened, and the Brabanters permitted to navigate their own river, that we should be called upon to enter into hostilities to close it up again.

Yet, Citizens, examine, either upon the principles of policy, or the principles of justice, this pretence, and see what foundation it will yield for supposing this to be a justifiable reason for plunging the nation into a war by which millions of its inhabitants were to be destroyed, and hundreds of millions of its property lavished and expended.

With respect to policy, I should be happy to be informed how it would be worse for this country that the navigation of the Scheldt should be free than that it should be monopolized? I am well aware, that habits have a very considerable influence upon the judgments of mankind, and that those persons who have long made the encouragement of monopoly at home a part of their system, may wish the same habits to be encouraged abroad, without investigating whether that monopoly would be to their advantage or not. But, Citizens, laying aside this habitual feeling, which the audience are not so much in the habit of cultivating, as the persons of whom I am speaking; Why were the Dutch to prevent Brabant from navigating her own rivers? Certainly I should think that all the facts of history tend to support this great truth, that the more unrestrained the commerce of any country is, the more advantageous it is, not only to the inhabitants of that country but to all the inhabitants of all neighbouring nations, and of the globe at large. That which has been said by a poet, of the tender passion, is also true of a generous and liberal spirit of commerce—

  • “That free as air, at sight of human ties
  • It spreads its wings and from restriction flies.”

The fact is, that a considerable part of the benefits of commerce must necessarily be lost in any country that attempts to put restrictions upon the commercial transactions of its own subjects, or the subjects of any other country with which it may keep up an intercourse.

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But according to the principles written in my heart, and which I could wish disseminated among all mankind, because I believe they are the principles of justice.—According to these principles I should suppose it unnecessary to investigate what would have been the particular advantages to this country, or what the disadvantages from the navigation of the Scheldt; because it appears to me, that the eternal principles of justice, are principles of the soundest policy; and that every country wishing to promote its own happiness, ought to be jealous of violating those principles which ought to guide and direct the conduct of the whole universe. What justice should we then perceive in a similar transaction, if any neighbouring power presumed to say, The people of Britain shall not navigate the river Thames? Holland and Austria are allied together; and it was agreed between them, half a century ago, that the whole advantage of the navigation of the Thames should be secured to the Dutch?—Or suppose we make a statement nearer to the truth: Suppose it should be said, Holland has hitherto monopolized, in a degree, the fisheries of the British coasts; the British coasts have hitherto furnished wealth and sustenance to the inhabitants of Holland, instead of the inhabitants of Britain; and the very produce of these coasts have been afterwards sold in scanty proportions, at aggravated prices, to the people of England and Scotland, which they ought to have had in abundance from the skill and industry of our own fishermen. This, suppose it should be said, has hitherto resulted, not from the blameable negligence and impolitic regulations of the British government, but from foreign coercion. Austria and France, we will say, have guarranteed, by a special treaty, the monopoly of the fishery on the British coasts to the Dutch nation. What would Britons, should they happen to come to their senses, and wish to recover a great part of the advantages of this fishery, say to this treaty? Should we have felt that it was right for Austria to declare war against this country, to prevent us from recovering that advantage which our ill policy had hitherto neglected? Should we not spurn at this attempt of foreign nations to take from us those advantages which the common laws of nature seem to have presented to us?

Citizens, another pretence for the present war was the necessity of preserving the balance of Europe, by driving the French from Brabant. Nor can we but remember the very curious language made use of by the Minister upon that occasion. Edition: current; Page: [109] He told us he not only should not be satisfied that the French should relinquish Brabant; but he should consider it the duty of this country to go to war to prevent that country from becoming an independent republic. So that it is not enough for us to say nations shall not navigate their own rivers. It is not enough to say, they shall not be at liberty to shake off their yoke, and chuse their own government.; they shall not join themselves to this country or that, because it would destroy the balance of power in Europe: But we must say, also, when the chances of war have emancipated them; when their tyrants, tired of oppression, or incapable of defending them, have left them to themselves; we will plunge all Europe into war to prevent them from forming a government of their own, and compel them to return to their ancient state of dependance.

But, Citizens, the grand pretence is yet behind. If the Minister had been sincere (a crime, of which I do not mean very frequently to accuse him)—if he had been sincere in his professions relative to the above objects, as soon as the French had been driven out of Brabant, certainly he would have shewn his disposition to restore peace to Europe.—The end being accomplished, an end might certainly have been put to the war, and undoubtedly there were considerable indications in the conduct of the French, which shewed that they would have had no great aversion to enter into a treaty of peace upon fair and equitable principles. Had we been ready to grant as a preliminary, that right, which no law can take away, no force can destroy—the right of every nation to manage its internal concerns, to reform its own abuses, and fix whatever government it pleases, upon its own basis—what impediment could then have remained in the way of peace?

Yes, Citizens, we might then have had peace—It was offered and we refused. It was found inexpedient, from some views which the Cabinet might understand, though we cannot.—We do not pretend to be competent to the understanding of all their reasons: we are very few of us acquainted with their weight. But, for some reason which the Cabinet understood, they thought it necessary that peace should not be restored to Europe: and another pretence was to be hunted for, or, to speak the truth, was found ready at hand; but which it was not convenient to bring forward in the first instance. It was now found to be—Mark the swelling language, and tell me whether are we to look for gasconades in the British Cabinet Edition: current; Page: [110] or the Convention of France?—It was found necessary, that the omnipotent arm of Great Britain should be stretched forth to restore the disfigured mass of Anarchy and Jacobinism once more to the beauteous form of Order and Regularity, which monarchic institution can alone preserve; and to set up again those great divinities of ministerial adoration, Priestcraft and Despotism, to controul the atheistical ardour of twelve millions of enthusiasts.

“O, say they, it is necessary, most necessary, that we should interfere, for if we let these madmen go on thus, we are ourselves in danger!”

Who they meant by WE I cannot say. For my own part I never believed myself to be one of those WEs that were in danger from what had occurred in France. I slept as soundly in my bed when the Bastille was thrown down as when it was standing: and to tell you the truth, I do not believe that throwing down Bastilles in any country would break my repose. Nor do I believe that the people in general found themselves in much danger that the walls of that old edifice, while tumbling down in France, should fly across the herring pond, and knock their brains out in England. WE, however, you know, is a word of very various application. Sometimes it may mean two people, and sometimes two hundred million: nay, sometimes (for great occasions supercede the necessity of grammar), it may mean only an individual person. Now, whether there were two or three WEs in Britain, who found themselves in danger, from that world of practical science which the early events of the French Revolution opened to the mind of man, I shall not attempt to investigate. Certain, however, it is, that they endeavoured to show to this country the necessity of engaging in a war to restore order to France; that they painted, in fine metaphors, this necessity, till it was repeated from our very cottages and workshops, “that when your neighbour’s house is on fire, you must endeavour to extinguish the flame, to prevent its communicating to your own.”

Citizens, Citizens, when Statesmen standing up in grave assemblies—when Judges solemnly from their benches (and we have had Judges lately who could appeal to such arguments!) find reason fail them, and appeal to metaphor, you must suspect them ever—strongly suspect either the sincerity of their hearts or the soundness of their understandings. What fire could be kindled in France that the waters of the Edition: current; Page: [111] ocean might not extinguish ere it could cross to us?—unless, indeed, they meant that fire of political truth—the irresistable flame of reason which warms the injured and virtuous, while it consumes their oppressors.

Lord Chief Justice Eyre, himself, confessed, in his late curious charge to the Grand Jury, and laid it down as a fundamental principle, that all laws and all governments are only to be supported as they tend to the benefit of the whole mass of the people: that for this alone even the royal authority, in all its functions, is to be exerted and operate; and that it is only for the preservation and happiness of the people, that the laws can be justified in throwing such strong fences as they have around the king’s person. Now grant but these premises and what sort of danger could this or any country be in, from the progress of any set of opinions in France. If you had given a few years of peace and quietness to the new government and principles of that nation, the eyes of mankind would have been impartially directed towards them, and if they are really so dectructive to human happiness as they have been painted by those who shew their affection for peace and order, by rushing into war and desolation, and display their pious humanity and moderation by every aggravation of rancorous hatred and calumny, the more they were seen the more they would have been detested. If they were principles tending to the destruction of all peace and order in society, the constitution of this country would have been the more firmly fixed in the affection of the people by regarding their excesses: and all would have been eager to avoid the consequences of such destructive principles. Does it not appear then, that the ministers who plunged us into war, to prevent us from seeing the genuine consequences and effects of those principles, had something like a lurking suspicion at their hearts, (I am speculating upon their sentiments you know, not advancing my own!) that these principles had, in reality, a tendency to produce an effect diametrically opposite to what they pretended? Seeing then that it is right, that every thing should be done for the best for the great body of the people, although that which is best for them is frequently injurious to a few individuals who grasp the whole power, wealth and patronage of a country, does it not really seem as if WE, I mean THEY, were in reality in danger, and as if it was necessary to preserve themselves from the influence of this light of truth and reason so dangerous to the cause of corruption, by conjuring up the clouds of war between the two countries. Whether these arguments were well or ill founded I am not Edition: current; Page: [112] investigating. I am examining their arguments; and if their conduct furnishes arguments against their principles, the fault is theirs, not mine; for we have a right to investigate the conduct and sentiments of our government, and so long as I have breath I will endeavour to stimulate my fellow-citizens to a zealous exertion of that right.

Citizens, the conduct of the British Cabinet has been supposed by many to have been actuated also by another motive. The Count de Montgaillard in his very excellent, though very prejudiced pamphlet, the facts and reasonings of which will lead, I believe, every reflecting reader to conclusions directly opposite to those which he intended)—has shewn (though he has been induced by the spirit of flattery to cover his opinion and make it as palatable as he can)—that he suspects that the leading object with Great Britain, in particular, and the other powers of Europe in general, was the dismemberment of France: the desire of taking a part of France and giving it to one power, and another part and giving it to another. Nay, Citizens, in a very excellent pamphlet which a foreign Citizen (a native of one of the countries in alliance with Britain) was kind enough to bring me the other day, and which though written in the French language the government of this country took the pains to surpress, by purchasing up the whole edition—I say in that pamphlet, which has furnished me with a great number of hints upon this important subject, we find it supported by good reasoning and documents that even long before Britain openly engaged in the present war, the ambassador of Great Britain at Madrid had made use of every artifice to persuade the Cabinet of Madrid to take possession of Roussillon; to begin the work of dividing France, and thus break to pieces the empire which they pretended to be so anxious with generous haste to restore to the house of Bourbon. Spain resisted this. Spain was averse to entering into any war. She began to perceive that the depopulating system, which in the course of a century and a half has thinned her population full one-third, must shortly, if pursued, lead to inevitable dissolution. The Spanish Court began to conceive that these mad projects were plunging it into irretrievable ruin; and, therefore, desirous of checking the fiery steeds of war before, Phæaton like, they were plunged from the chariot of empire, into similar ruin and destruction with that which overwhelmed the French monarchy. Spain resisted: but, at last, the scruples of the Spanish sovereign Edition: current; Page: [113] considerably got the better of;—and indeed the French Convention seems to have been well informed of the cabals, artifices and intrigues that were going on at the Court of Madrid; for very shortly after they declared war against England, they declared war against the Spanish monarchy also. We have, therefore, a proof of the early desire of the English Cabinet to produce the dismemberment of France; and I am afraid, notwithstanding the good opinion I have always entertained of the Girondist party,—of their virtues I mean, for they had no energy! I am afraid that France itself must have gone to wreck and ruin if the feeble hands of the Brissotines had been suffered to continue to hold the reins of government. Many of them I reverence from the bottom of my soul; though I believe that with respect to some of the members of that faction, there has been a little English intrigue, and a little English gold in the affair, and that the object of federalism was intended as the previous step towards effecting that dismemberment which would have produced not only the ruin of France, but the slavery of Europe.

Citizens, there are other circumstances which are not so ambiguous. When Valenciennes was taken. In whose name was it taken? Was it taken in the name of the Dauphin, the young king, (as they chose to call him) of France? No, of the Emperor of Germany. It was to be one of the bonuses by which he was to be drawn into this commercial negociation for human blood. When Condé was taken, was it taken in the name of the French king? No. When Dunkirk was besieged, or threatened with siege,—besieged it was, I believe, with gold; though as it happened that the cannons and balls did not match; as 12-pound guns were furnished with 24-pound balls (a fact which the officers in the ordinance know to be well established!) and 24-pound balls not being able to go into the 12-pound guns, it is true that nothing but gold ever did besiege that place. But was it ever supposed that it was to be taken for the young king of France? No.—It is very well known that the retreat from Dunkirk was made in the name of another sovereign. Here then are additional arguments for the supposition that the dismemberment of France was one of the real objects of the present war.

Another argument may, perhaps, be drawn from the treatment of the ex-princes of France: for though I am convinced that they are men who ought not to receive the countenance of any country, of any cabinet, of any set of beings, because I suspect that if they were common men, not a profligate Edition: current; Page: [114] is to be found, who would not blush to sit down in their company. Yet I am much inclined to suspect that we must attribute to another cause the coldness with which they were received here; that is, the conviction of the ministers of this country that their objects were not the same as the objects of the ex-princes.

I do not mean to say that they were unwilling to restore the same degree of power in France. They have shewn themselves not very averse to despotic monarchies by the selection they have made of their alliances, but it seems as if a mutual jealousy prevailed; and hence a considerable part of the failures, of the disgraces and defeats which the allies have experienced.

The nationality of France is well known. Perhaps there is as much nationality in Britain: but whether there is or not is not now the question. The great degree of nationality in France is matter of public notoriety, and therefore, we find the people stung with detestation and abhorrence at that assistance which was to dismember their country. Even the royalists and banditti of La Vendee were unwilling to cooperate with the allies in the reduction of a country whose government they did not like, but at whose dismemberment they were too honest to connive.

But, Citizens, an ostensible object held out in the present war was the restoration of monarchy in France: The restoration of the House of Bourbon to the throne of that country: though it should seem by some of the speeches delivered in a very important assembly, that they did not much care who the tyrant was, so that a tyrant was but set up in France; for I recollect a ministerial member of the upper house, being reported in the newspaper to have said with exulting congratulation, that France was making rapid strides towards royalty; that Robespierre was already all but king; that his person was attended by guards through the streets of Paris, that he was grasping all the power and sovereignty of the country, and that consequently the republicanism of France was almost in its last stage.

Citizens, so much for the generosity of the noble friends to the House of Bourbon: However we find their conclusions not very just. They did not happen to know any more than Robespierre what were the energies of a nation that had tasted freedom; and that no Robespierre, with all his scenes of blood and cruelty, could subdue the enlightened and philosophic spirit of a nation panting for freedom, though they were sometimes Edition: current; Page: [115] mistaken in the road. The absurdity of this attempt is so evident from the facts of history, that one cannot but wonder at the ignorance (perhaps it would be more polite to say the blindness) of those men who have attempted it in the present æra. No attempt to force upon a great people, a sovereign that they did not like ever yet was successful. We know it is an honour to which this country has frequently aspired. We have endeavoured to make kings of France; we have endeavoured to make kings of Spain; I was going to say, we have endeavoured to make kings of Holland. In short, we have the rage of king-making. We are a very generous people; and very willing to participate to others those supreme blessings we enjoy ourselves. A much greater man than any that exists in the present alliance endeavoured to force himself as a sovereign upon France:—Henry V.

This is one of the tales that has been misrepresented by the glossing pens of historians, boasting that this little island was the frequent conqueror of France. But when we attempted to subdue the French nation, remember that all Normandy, Picardy, Gascony, all the richest and most flourishing parts of France belonged to us. Burgundy was in alliance with us, and the different parts of the country were distracted with that federal despotism under which Europe at that time groaned; so that we led into the field the subjects of the very kings we attempted to dethrone.

Yet, Citizens, what was our real success? Edward III. claimed the Crown of France. But though England was depopulated, though France was converted into one scene of slaughter and desolation, what lasting triumphs did we obtain? Let the distractions which followed those and projects of ambition dictate to us a more wise and prudent conduct for the future. Instead of preventing civil discord all our attempts at conquest have produced that discord.

Henry V. had, also, at first, the appearance of success. He was crowned at Paris, and died time enough to avoid the infamy of loosing that which with so much blood and treasure he had gained. At another time, a more recent period, we endeavoured to force upon the Spaniards a king they did not like. The Spaniards, however, gained their point, they cashiered the king we set up, and were wise enough to set up another in his place. We might, therefore, calculate, from the facts of history, the improbability of succeeding in such wild projects. But there is a still greater absurdity in the present undertaking; because it is not individual aversion we Edition: current; Page: [116] have to combat against. There is added also, the aversion of system. Whether their system is right or wrong I do not discuss at present. I do not wish to give opportunities to those wretches who insinuate themselves into every assembly to take advantage of the speculative opinions of men, and turn them into treason or sedition. I do not, therefore, determine whether their aversion to monarchy is right or wrong. But certain it is, if our eyes are open, if we are capable of receiving impressions from facts, there can be no doubt that an almost universal aborrence reigns through France against the very name of king; and which even the tyrannies of Robespierre could not obliterate.

Thus then we are not only endeavouring to impose upon them a king they dislike; but we are endeavouring to impose a system they dislike; and to whose restraints they are too enlightened and philosophic to submit.

But, Citizens, let us suppose, for a minute (for it is no harm, for the sake of argument, to suppose very great absurdities.) Suppose for a minute we could succeed: that the House of Bourbon could be restored to the Crown of France; are you sure whether, even then, you would have reason to exult in the wisdom of your policy? Is it likely, that after such transactions and such principles as we have displayed, the House of Bourbon, if restored, should have much affection for the people of Great Britain? No, they would remember the national insults which have been offered; they would and must remember the attempts that have been made to dismember their country: nay, dismemberment being part of the system, success would breed in their minds an hatred and aversion which would not be easily removed. Add to this the consideration of who must be the present rulers of that country, if the monarchy were restored.

Would Monsieur, who was refused entrance into the port of Toulon by the English, while they were in possession of that town, in the name of Louis the 17th—Would the Duke D’Artois, who has been driven from Hull, forgive the indignity they have met with? insults, not greater than they deserve, for that is impossible; but which it is equally impossible they should ever forgive: and with such a regency, a blessed harvest of amity we should be likely to have. On the contrary, as is well argued in the pamphlet I have before alluded to, the personal civilities which the Empress has been politic enough to extend towards these men, would make Russia the country with which they would be likely to enter into the closest alliance. Let England, and let commercial men consider Edition: current; Page: [117] what degree of interest they would reap from such an alliance!

Citizens, I perceive that I have yet a very considerable and important branch of the investigation to enter upon. I have still to go through all the pretences for not negociating peace, the examination of these pretences, and the confutation of them. I have to examine the resources which remain for carrying on the war, and the advantages and disadvantages of the respective powers; and I observe that my time is very nearly exhausted. I am afraid I shall wear out your patience, but I am unwilling to hurry over a subject of such importance. I shall, therefore, take the liberty of resuming it on Wednesday, dismissing you for the present with one quotation relative to the state in which we, at present, stand with respect to our allies.

In the Morning Chronicle of this day, a paper not prone to take up every idle report and affirm it with confidence, we have this paragraph:

“We have avoided to mention the report which has been freely circulated on the continent for some time, but without any other evidence than its probability, we mean the separate peace actually said to be concluded between the French and the King of Prussia, it is now reported upon authority that in our minds is decisive of the fact, ministers do not deny it, and even the terms have transpired.

Now, Citizens, see what are the terms of your faithful Ally. See, by the good faith which monarchs display to one another, the force of the argument that you can put no trust in republics, nor expect them to keep faith and treaty with you. “A body of the Prussian troops are, perhaps, at this moment on the march,” not to join the allied army, but “it is strongly suspected, that Hanover is to be made the theatre of action of the two powers; the conquest and guarantee of which will be made to Prussia by the French as the price of peace. On the same authority we learn the equally important fact, that the Emperor persists in refusing the loan offered to him by this country, since the extraordinary movements in his own neighbourhood make it incompatible with his own safety to proceed in the war. The terms offered him by the French are too advantageous to be resisted, and there is but little doubt, but that he, like Prussia, will accept of the boon that is held out to him, namely, the guarantee” of that which has been the chief object of his ambition, the guarantee “of Bavaria.” Thus, Edition: current; Page: [118] then, your faithful allies, your despotic, regular, orderly, established governmenes of the continent, return your subsidies with insult, with desertion in the hour of danger, and leave you to the mercy of a prevailing, and as the ministerial papers themselves confess, an irresistible enemy, whom your mad and frantic measures, (I mean the mad and frantic measures of your cabinet—for I believe that you detest them from your hearts!) whom the mad and frantic measures of your cabinet have irritated against you. Surely, Citizens, this is an additional argument why you should repeatedly, closely and anxiously investigate the situation of the country; the pretences for continuing the war, and the resources by which it can be continued.

Sect. IV.: The Examination of Harry Eaton before the Privy Council.

ON Wednesday evening about four o’clock Master Eaton, a boy about fourteen years of age, who lives in the house of Mr. Thelwall, and who has attended at his Political Lectures, was taken into custody by Mr. Shaw, one of the King’s Messengers, and examined before the Privy Council. His examination began at nine o’clock, and lasted till eleven—of which the following are brief particulars.

The Clerk of the Council was proceeding to swear the child, when he declared he would undergo any torture rather than be sworn.

The Attorney General, with his usual gentleman-like conduct, observed, that he was not brought there to be tortured; and suffered him to be interrogated without being sworn.

The interrogatories were to the following effect.

Q. Do you know your Catechism?

A. No.

Q. Can you say the Lord’s Prayer?

A. No.

Q. Are you a Christian?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know the hand writing of Mr. Thelwall (shewing him several manuscript papers); are any of these his hand writing?

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A. I cannot say I do. They differ much, and I am sure the words in capitals were not made by Mr. Thelwall.

Q. Were you at the meeting at Chalk Farm?

A. Yes.

Q. Was not there a supper consisting of bread and cheese and porter after that meeting? and were not you present?

A. Yes.

Q. Did not Mr. Thelwall take a pot of porter, and cut off the froth or the head of it with a knife? And did not the meeting afterwards drink “The Lamp-irons in Parliament street?

A. I was out of the room, and therefore knew nothing of the matter.

Q. Did you not take, at the door, the price of admission to Thelwall’s Lectures?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you not think it a mean situation? and did you not expect to be noticed by the Minister?

A. I did not think it a mean situation; I did not think I should be noticed by the Minister; for I did not want from him any favour.

Here the child entered into a political harangue, in which he used very harsh language against Mr. Pitt; upbraiding him with having taxed the people to an enormous extent; which, among ignorant people, brought blame on his Majesty, when it in justice, should belong, he said, to the Mintster.—(Pitt turned aside, and smiled at the shrewdness of the boy, while the Members of the Council seemed surprised at his confidence).

H. Eaton was next informed, that he might return to the house of the Messenger, or go home if he pleased; to which he replied, that “he would rather go home.”

Before he departed he addressed Mr. Dundas. He appealed to him, and asked him if it was consistent with the humanity that should actuate the breast of man, to deprive Mrs. Thelwall of an opportunity of seeing her husband. He then withdrew.

[The consequence of this remonstrance was, that the paltry, malicious order respecting my wife and infant was recalled; and they were permitted again to visit me. Not a word, however, was permitted to be said but what the Messenger was to hear.]

After the boy withdrew, he was taken to the Cumberland Coffee-house, where he was treated with an excellent supper by the Messengers, but was not suffered to enter the house of Edition: current; Page: [120] Mr. Thelwall by the constables, who were arranged at the front. In consequence of which, at a late hour he was thrown on the town, to encounter the nocturnal vices of the metropolis, from the danger of which he was, however, rescued by a gentleman, who, on hearing his tale, humanely provided him him with a lodging.

I have every reason to believe that the account of this examination is far from being exaggerated. Indeed the Messengers themselves told me it was quite the reverse; and that it gave a very feeble picture of the boldness and shrewdness of the lad, whose deportment astonished (and I dare say they might have added confounded) the whole Council.

From the same quarter I understand, that when speaking of the barbarous order for excluding Mrs. T. he demanded in express terms of Dundas, whether he was not ashamed of himself to keep a wife from her husband, and a husband from seeing his wife in such a situation?

[To be continued.]

Political Maxims, &c. From Mercier’s Fragments of Politics and History.

Patriotism.—How can a love for the country reside in a nation, where the wretched inhabitants every where display poverty, tatters, and the hollow and sunken eye of misery? p. 60.

Knowledge.—There can be no liberty where knowledge and science do not flourish: the more these are diffused, the more does the haughtiness of power lose its oppressing force. p. 11.

Despotism.—Courtiers establish despotism by extending immoderately the royal prerogative, by perverting the laws to their private views, by imposing ruinous taxes, and by converting the soldiers of the country into the executioners of the citizens. Courtiers, actuated by caprice, or by a desire to protect the invaders of the rights of men, have contrived to turn the military force against the social body, to tear out the bowels of the state. p. 133.

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An Examination of the Arguments against negociating a Peace with the French Republic; and of the Causes of the Disgrace of the Allies.—The fourth Lecture on the Causes and Calamities of War.

I Come before you, Citizens, with such preparation as could be made by the bed side of an expiring parent, to speak upon one of the most momentous subjects that ever was investigated by man. I am sure that no powers or faculties I ever possessed, however free my heart might be from that anguish which prevents the present exertion of my faculties, ever were such as could do justice to the subject now before me. I am aware that the situation of the country is momentous in the extreme; and that I come from one scene of hopeless anxiety to the contemplation of another equally calamitous and hopeless. I shall endeavour, therefore, to forget the melancholy feelings of private regret in such exertions as I am cacapable of making towards averting the miseries of my country.

The subject of war has taken up a very large portion of the investigation during the present course of lectures. On the last evening I investigated, as far as the nature of the lecture and the extent of time would permit, the real sources and origin of the present war. I endeavoured to convince you that this country was the prime agitator of that war, that the cabinet of this country considered itself as the leading power in the alliance, and that the allies themselves, evidently, by their conduct, have proclaimed to the world that they are only the auxiliaries, the hired assistants of the administration of Great Britain.

Citizens, I now come to investigate the pretences for continuing the war:—a subject of more importance than the former: because, as my system precludes all possibility of revengeful feeling, and attributes the misconduct of mankind not to intentional guilt but to mistakes and delusion, no sort of Edition: current; Page: [122] resentment attaches itself, in my mind, to that which is past. Whatever therefore, the pretences for entering into the war may have been, if we consider the situation of Europe to be such as to call aloud for the healing hand of peace, for the restoring power of tranquillity, the important question is, What are the pretences for with-holding that peace and tranquillity, and the means by which it can be restored? not what have been the artifices and headlong absurdities by which the nation has been plunged into this almost irretrievable destruction.

Citizens, it is admitted on all hands that the resources of the French nation are immense; it is admitted by the most rational of the speculative writers, in favour of the system I oppose, and even by the intelligent emigrants themselves, that the resources of the French nation are, at this time, considerably more powerful than even at the period when the war began; while at the same time, it must be universally acknowledged, that almost all the powers of Europe are paralyzed; that the martial arm falls listless by the side of the continental despots; and that incapable of pursuing the trade of death any longer, they almost avow the wish to save themselves from destruction, by suffering it to fall unresisted upon this country, to whom they have hitherto represented themselves as good and faithful allies.

Citizens, a writer in behalf of despotism—a man of very considerable power of mind, and certainly of great intelligence, Montgaillard, one of the emigrant nobility of France, an avowed advocate for the most detestable tyranny, has furnished a variety of statements, which, though he endeavours to urge on the war, are enough to convince any thinking man of its impolicy, and the total impossibility of success. The same conclusion also is supported by a pamphlet, purporting to be a speech intended to have been delivered in the House of Commons. This latter pamphlet, it is true, states, that the population of France is but twenty-four millions, while that of the allies amounts to one hundred and thirteen millions and an half. So that the superiority on the part of the allies, as to individual population, is nearly five to one. But he gives afterwards in this excellent pamphlet a variety of reasons why, in estimating the superiority of power, we are not to calculate upon that physical superiority of force; and he substantiates his position, by shewing the great degree of moral and political energy infused by the conventional government of France.

Citizens, the aristocrat, Montgaillard—(I love to quote from the enemies of liberty, when their facts are favourable to Edition: current; Page: [123] the conclusions of its friends: their arguments fall with tenfold weight as they cannot be suspected of partiality.) Montgaillard has, in two admirable pamphlets, which now lie before me, and from which I shall trouble you with a few quotations, stated many facts worthy your serious attention. After having ransacked the language in which he wrote, for epithets of opprobrium and contempt, he states in a variety of passages, the boundless activity—the almost omnipotent energies of France. “Every thing,” says he, “acts in concert with the Committee of Public Safety, laws are made, roads are constructed, and canals dug, almost at the same instant. The arts and sciences are called upon to consecrate their crimes; work shops and military manufactories are every where founded to defend them. The most abundant resources are lavished; public schools instituted, and the French language is carried to the foot of the Pyrennes and amidst the heaths of the Lower Britany.” State. Fr. page 6.

He shews, also, by a great variety of facts, how this general and universal energy, which the Convention and the Committee of Public Safety, have inspired throughout the country, is directed to that point which must sooner or later, if his statements are true, bring destruction upon all those states who are mad enough to persevere in the present war. He expressly says, “The Committee of Public Safety have directed the attention, the fears, and agitation of Paris to the affairs of Europe, to the war, and the factions. They have destroyed the splendor of equipage, of dress, and of servants; but they have replaced them by an expence more suited to their new empire; by an industry wholly military; which employs their workmen, whom the want of labour had rendered dangerous. The restless activity of the people is turned to profit by their agitators. Two hundred thousand hands are night and day busied to forge the pikes of insurrections, and the musquets of the army; and a thousand, or eleven hundred are daily finished in the workshops of this city. One hundred pieces of cannon (four and eight pounders) are monthly cast; and the exertions of the establishments of Meulan, or Corbeil, and of Fontainbleau, as well as those of each department, is correspondent with this dreadful activity.” P. 21 and 22.

In another part he shews the astonishing power of their pecuniary resources; and, after investigating the advantages Edition: current; Page: [124] and disadvantages under which they lay, he prophecies that, if order and tranquillity should be restored by the republican government of France, if the system of terror should be laid aside, that it would be no very unlikely thing that France should combat the powers of Europe with the whole accumulated resources of those powers concentrated in its own government and exchequer, while at the same time all the hostile governments are struggling on the verge of bankruptcy. Yet he tells you, you are to go on with the dreadful game, because if peace is made with France, jacobinism must triumph, and the well-regulated, established, virtuous governments, of kings, priests, and aristocrats must be laid prostrate at the feet of the swinish multitude.

Now, as these emigrants consider Cassius, the last of all the Romans, as a jacobine, and the Brutuses as jacobins, that “Brutus, who being proof against all charm of benefits, struck so brave a stroke into that Cæsar’s heart who sought to enslave his country,” and that elder Brutus who sacrificed his own sons for the security of the republic of Rome.—As these have been expressly stigmatized by these emigrants as jacobins and infamous assassins; and as Montgaillard himself stigmatizes with one intemperate execration all who have had any hand in any part of the revolution, from the Constitutionelles of the Constituent Assembly to the Maratists and Robespierrists of the Convention, the conclusion is, that by jacobinism he means nothing more than the principles of liberty; and that by the overthrow of regular government he means that reformation will take place; and that consequently, if the administrations of the different countries wish to keep their places, they must at all events go on with the war, though he lays down such facts as prove that the continuance of it must be inevitable destruction not only to their power but to their persons.

Citizens, in other parts of this pamphlet, he shews you the impossibility of effecting the scheme of starving France; and says when we consider the resources of that country, we must banish famine from the catalogue of these calamities with which Providence sometimes afflicts the nations of the earth. Page 30 and 31. He might have gone a little further. He might have calculated the resources of the powers at war with France; and have shewn, that though France could not be in danger of famine, yet those who are sending the stores out of their country, for the foreign armies, that were to effect this chimerical starvation, were not secure Edition: current; Page: [125] themselves from that calamity; and that, perhaps, the famine with which they threatened twenty-four millions of gallant republicans, might meet them at their own doors, to the devastation of their fields and the depopulation of their towns and villages.

He has shewn you also, how these assassins and villains—for these are the only names he ever gives them; and after having called Brutus and Cassius assassins and villains, no liberal mind will be very much hurt by the obloquy of this fry of bigotted and voluptuous emigrants.—He tells you, that these villains and assassins, whose only talents are audacity and crimes, have nevertheless concentrated all the military genius, all the tactics, all the knowledge, all the science of all the great men that ever existed in France; and having thus concentrated and improved those military talents that had displayed themselves under the monarchy, that they were now most barbarously and ungratefully employing them for the destruction of that monarchy.—Hear his own words. “The Military Committee directed by Carnot, La Fitte, d’Anissi, and many other individuals, whose only talents are crimes and wickedness, draw the plans of attack and defence, combine their operations, and adapt their military tactics to the spirit of the Revolution. From the memoirs, and from all the precious vestiges of the exploits, the zeal, and the intelligence of the great Generals, Ministers, and Statesmen, who adorned our Monarchy, those villains have extracted the means of its annihilation.” P. 5.

Citizens, when we calculate these resources, when we consider that every one of those events have actually taken place, which this Author foretels, if ever they should take place, would give twofold energy to the repulican government of France, what are we to say to this very man, who comes forward again, and publishes another pamphlet, telling us, that the war must be pursued; and that peace cannot be contemplated by the governments of Europe, without the destruction of those governments, and the total overthrow of privileges and religion.

Citizens, you will, perhaps, be curious to know what can be the occasion of this astonishing energy in the French people. You will be surprised how these twenty-four millions of men should be able to cope with a population in alliance against them of five times that number. But, Citizens, the reasons for this are not unfathomable. We shall find what the disabilities are that lie upon the combined powers: we Edition: current; Page: [126] shall find also, if we consider a little seriously, what are the sources of the almost supernatural abilities of the French Republic.

In the first place, every man in France feels a thorough conviction—whether this conviction is rational or whether it it is insanity, is not for me to declare. I do not pretend to guess whether they are mad or whether our governors are so—certainly the madness is on one side or the other; and perhaps it would be best to call in Dr. Willis to decide the question—

Citizens, in the first place then, we are to remember, that every man in France—every peasant at the plough, every common soldier in the field, and every nameless inhabitant of that country believes that he is toiling for himself and family—that he is fighting for his own liberty, and that in consequence of that liberty, for the establishment of which they are struggling, every individual, down to the meanest peasant and manufacturer, becomes, in reality, a much more noble, exalted, generous, and respectable being than any sovereign or potentate that ever reigned.—Just as the private citizens of Rome, at the time when that triumphant republic was making such gigantic strides towards the empire of the universe (I hope so mad a project does not inflate the brains of the republicans of a neighbouring country!) would have thought themselves disgraced by any marriage or alliance with any of the Kings who at that period tyranized over the enslaved barbarians of the earth.

Now, Citizens, another circumstance of considerable importance is, that every man considers the duty of fighting against the enemy as the common lot. A small sum is not levied upon the rich, in order that certain officers, either of the parish or of the crimping-house, may have a right to seize upon the persons of the poor. No; from the richest merchant, from the most wealthy landholder to the poorest peasant, every man takes his common share of the hazard and the glory of defending that country, which is considered as the common property of all; for the defence of which, therefore, one part of the people are not to be made beasts of burden to the other.

Add to this, that the Citizen Soldier finds, that the situation of defending his country is not a service of barren honour. On the contrary, that there are real advantages and compensations affixed to it; and that, whatever may be the situation of the interior country, the government has Edition: current; Page: [127] laid down this as a maxim, that the man who is fighting and bleeding to prevent the liberties of the republic from being destroyed, should not, in addition to the hardships and dangers of actual service, be exposed to the aggravated calamities of famine, and that long train of diseases which are the consequences of unwholesome food. “No:” says the detestable, Jacobinical government of France, “our armies shall be first supplied with the best of every thing the country produces; nor shall the luxurious vintage of the country sparkle upon the board of the richest merchant or citizen, while the soldier on the frontier is in want of that inspiring cordial.”

Citizens, these circumstances, and the large pay which is given to the French soldiers, are really principal sources of that great, that astonishing, that unparalleled energy, which the Republicans of France have displayed. They know—and it is a consoling knowledge—a comfort of whose cheering and supporting influence, the man who is bleeding for his country ought never to be deprived, that even though want and famine might chance to threaten them at home, yet scarcity will not meet them in the camp, nor the debilitating diseases of penury unnerve them in the field. The only evil that threatens them, is that which the enthusiasm of liberty can despise—is that of dying in the midst of victory, pierced by honourable fears, by which they think they have purchased immortality in the Pantheon of their country, and contributed to the freedom and happiness of mankind.

Yes, every individual there believes, that his name will be transmitted to posterity, though he should be the meanest soldier in the ranks, if by any act of virtue, transcendently superior to his fellow men, he has proved the ennobling energies of his soul. But, alas! what is the condition of those military machines who support the war on behalf of the despotic sovereigns on the continent? Do they receive for their brave efforts even the reward of merited applauses! Are they distinguished by the honourable mention of a grateful government? Are they rewarded according to their labours, with popularity and preferments? Are they compensated for the sacrifices they have made, and consoled for the wounds they have received? No, no, no!—Gazettes proclaim the triumphs of the General! Gazettes proclaim the valour of particular officers! Gazettes lament the loss of men who stand in an elevated situation; but the common soldiers, by whose blood and toil the victory has been obtained, perish by wholesale in forgetfulness: “no friendly hand to close their eyes”—no Edition: current; Page: [128] tongue to speak their merits—no pitying friend to snatch their orphan families from want. The field of honour, as it is called, manured as it is with their blood, furnishes not one poor sprig of laurel for their tomb, nor so much as a melancholy cypress to shade the heads of those who are left destitute by their fall.

I have painted this as the fate of the common soldiers under the despotic governments of the continent—your imaginations will immediately point out to you, how much of it is also applicable to those who bleed at the command of the mild and equitable government of England!

The fact, however is, that the system of equality in France, which considers every man’s life of equal value, considers that no man is to be left to perish if help can be extended to him, and that no man, on account of the obscurity of his situation, is to lose the glory or the reward of a generous and heroic action. But, alas! in those countries where a monopolizing spirit prevails, even the wounds of the mutilated soldier are but too frequently neglected. Better is it for the governors, that the poor wretch should languish and die unpitied, than come home maimed and disabled, to claim the pension that has been promised to some great man’s pimp, or increase those heavy burthens which they are so unwilling, upon such frivolous pretences, to lay upon the shoulders of their subjects.

Citizens, this is not all. These circumstances may account for the energy of the enemy, but they do not account entirely for the parallelized impotency of the allies. Citizens, we are to consider, that though the population of France is only 24 millions, and the population of the allies 113 millions and an half, yet, that out of this 24 million the French nation, under its present government, can send more soldiers into the field without exhausting and destroying itself, than all the allies together: And for this reason, that the expence of supporting the respective governments is widely different.

Though the pay of the French soldier is larger than the pay of any other soldier in Europe, yet can the resources of France be more readily extended to the support of that army, than the resources of the allies to the support of those armies it has to contend with. Indeed there is another thing may be remarked—It is not the good fortune with every nation as with England, to have such a number of Staff Officers, men of rank and dignified situations to support in the army; nor does it happen in all countries, that if a regiment should Edition: current; Page: [129] happen to be broke down to a hundred, or a hundred and sixty men, that still it must have the same number of officers duly filled up, and kept in constant pay, as if it had its full complement of a thousand men.

But, Citizens, this is a partial circumstance, applying in a great measure, to Great Britain alone. There are others equally applicable to all the allies. They have all mill-stones enough hanging round their necks.

I shall not consider the advantages or disadvantages of privileged orders; my veneration and respect for gentlemen of that description is very well known; and I certainly shall not endeavour to inspire you with any factious or Jacobinical aversion to men so useful, so important; and but for whom all things must fall into chaos—all the happiness of human society must be dissolved!!!

But, Citizens, there is another set of men, to whom I am not called upon to pay such implicit veneration. Some persons may venerate them more; but as their numbers in this country are comparatively small, I shall prove my loyalty, by pointing out their uselessness, and commending the wisdom and virtue of this country for reducing them to so small an establishment. I spring forward, therefore, to the grateful duty of painting in proper colours their mischievous influence on the energies of society.

You are to remember, then, that besides the armies that are to fight the battles of their country, the nations in alliance have also (to use the language of a pamphlet I have already quoted) a numerous army of religionists maintained by the combined powers “to fight the devil and his angels!”

Citizens, in Portugal we find, under various denominations, 250,000 of these most important soldiers. In the King of Sardinia’s dominions we find 350,000—(towards the support of whom, perhaps, part of our 200,000l. a year may be piously and charitably applied.) In Naples and Sicily there are 113,000; in the Popedom, from which they all sprung, 100,000; in Spain 200,000; in Germany, and in the Austrian and Prussian dominions more than 200,000; in Holland (wise and frugal Holland) only 3000; and in England, Scotland, and Ireland, above 30,000. Now, Citizens, when you consider that the powers in alliance have to support 1,246,000 soldiers, whose whole warfare is carried on, not against the enemies that assail our bodies in this world, but against those which are to be drawn up in battle array against our poor souls in the world to come, you must remember, that there are Edition: current; Page: [130] 1,24,6,000 mostly able-bodied men, cut off from the number of those who might be employed in the terrestrial work of grace—that is to say, cutting the throats of the atheistical French!

Then, Citizens, remember this also, that though a soldier who fights your enemies in this world must be content with 5d. or 6d. a day; yet you are sometimes forced to give 14 or 16,000l. a year to a soldier who is to fight your battle in the world to come. (Some person here said a general.) True, it is to a general. However, you will please to remember, that in this army the generals are many; the colonels and captains are provided for in the same extravagant proportion; and that none of your soldiers who are to fight this after game will be content with the same portion of pay as the soldiers who are to fight in this world, though one would think, as their salaries are present, and the service future, some deduction ought to be made for prompt payment.

Citizens, whether it be right or wrong that Europe should support this swarm of one million two hundred and forty-six thousand spiritual heroes, I shall not now contend. But the expence of supporting so many unproductive labourers must evidently be a great impediment to the carrying on those schemes of human policy, in which the nations who have to support them, are engaged.

Citizens, there is another disadvantage under which the allies have to struggle, namely, that they are not one and indivisible!—that they are only allies. Remember the fable of the old man and his sons and the bundle of sticks. If the sticks are bound firmly together it is impossible to break them: but if you can take them separately you may snap them asunder, as quick as you please. Now these sticks (I am sorry to speak of those sublime personages by so wooden a metaphor) these sticks are of such a nature that they cannot be bound together. Their interests are in many respects widely different; and those interests are most different, which act most powerfully upon them: namely, those nearest to their doors; for, if we grant that their ultimate interest is one and the same, yet we are to remember that the mole hill, when it presses hard upon the sight seems larger than the mountain at a distance, so the interests which are daily and hourly pressing home upon them, will influence them to act in direct opposition to the interests of each other; because men will yield to that which is near, though that which is at a greater distance is in Edition: current; Page: [131] reality a much more serious and ought therefore to be a more powerful motive.

We find by experience, also, that this which theory might have pointed out, has been eternally taking place. In what alliance in Europe did the different powers in alliance ever act cordially together? Has it not always been found, that each, while professing to play the general, was playing his particular game? and, consequently, was ready to sacrifice his closet ally, such is the faith of treaties, to that which his ambition or his avarice pointed out? Such is the case with respect to the present war.

Has Prussia faithfully co-operated? Or, has she received the pay of Britain and refused to do its work? Has Russia co-operated? Has the Emperor himself co-operated? who, by loan after loan, has been drawing, though not openly, that assistance which he meant to apply to the security of his own individual power at home and not to the promotion of the object which the alliance had in contemplation!

But, Citizens, whatever have been the disadvantages with which the allies have hitherto had to combat, those disadvantages are now more than doubled. Montgaillard, whose pamphlet I have before pointed out to you, foresaw, that the cruelty, the ravages, the something worse than anarchy that was inflicted by Robespierre could not be of long duration in France. In the beginning of last summer he said—the time is coming, it is near at hand, when the Committee of Public Safety and the Convention of France will give peace, will give order, security, and internal tranquillity to the French nation; and when it does, powerful in the gratitude of the people for the victories it has obtained, powerful in the resources which he has innumerated, France will then be enabled to carry on the war with still greater energy and effect. (This was the prophecy of the man before the downfal of Robespirre; before many of the astonishing events of the last campaign!) and when they have so done they will be able to combat the allies with greater energy; while those allies will lie prostrate at the victorious feet of the Republic. Such were the prophecies of the man, who still advises us to continue the war.

He tells us, however, that our system of carrying it on is totally wrong. And in this respect, I believe, he spoke the perfect truth. Granting the war to be right, his argument is just. The system of carrying it on has been foolish and ridiculous to the last extreme: and one would suppose, that the Edition: current; Page: [132] men who have carried it on had a design of producing the very effect they have produced, namely, that of securing the permanence of the Republic of France, on a basis more broad and solid, than could otherwise, perhaps, have been expected. You attempt, says this partizan of the ex-princes, by one army to take possession of one place for the Emperor of Germany, you attempt to take possession of other places, by other armies, for the king of England; but if you go on thus to dismember—(I do not mean, says he, with courtly hypocrisy, to accuse you of intending the dismemberment of France!) but, if you go on with this apparent dismemberment, the bitterest enemies to republicanism will be also the bitterest enemies to you, and your undertaking. It is by French hands, only, that the French government can be altered.—Important axiom! Gleam of immortal truth shot from the night of prejudice itself! How irresistably the maxims of justice frequently make their way to the intelligent mind, even while struggling to maintain the cause of falsehood!—Yes, it is only by the efforts of a nation—its own independent efforts, that tranquillity, that peace, that happiness, can be restored—that the government of any country can be changed or fixed upon any permanent formation: and they who seek for the blossoms of peace from a soil manured by the hands of foreign interference, will mourn in foreign chains, their blasted hopes, and bewail, too soon, their folly and absurdity.

Citizens, I do not mean to feed the prejudices of nationality: as far as I know my own heart I detest it. I believe I do not love an Englishman merely for being an Englishman, one degree better than I love a Frenchman for being a Frenchman, or an African for being an African. I wish to be, and I wish you to be, Citizens of the world! to consider all human nature as one family; to be tender of the blood of every human creature, whatever his country, his complexion, or his opinions. I wish to see the cultivation of human happiness promoted by the united efforts of the whole human species knit together in the indissoluble bands of fraternity. I would have the only struggle between mankind, how to give his happiness the widest diffusion. This is the object I wish you to pursue, and when you find that this plan can be carried into effect, it matters not what powers you employ provided they are the best calculated to the end. The happiness of the human species is the only object virtue has in contemplation; and patriotism, which has made so much boast in the world, and assumed the garb of virtue, is reality only a little expansion Edition: current; Page: [133] of that contemptible and illiberal principle which makes the ignorant rustic suppose that the inhabitant of the next village, the foreigner of the adjoining hamlet, ought not to come and get his bread in the village where he resides; and which makes those sacred guardians of porochial rights, the church-wardens, and overseers of the poor, remove the diseased and wretched pauper from district to district in a cart, till he expires, for fear he should become burthensome to a parish in which he was not born.—But though this diffusive principle is the genuine source of virtuous action, we are to remember that all effects cannot be produced by all means. You must take human society as it is. You must take nation separate and distinct from nation as at this time you find them. Remember the rulers of nations, under whatever denomination, have generally one object; the enlargement of dominion, the increase of power, the extention of patronage; and so long as that shall continue to be an active principle of the leaders of nations, it is impossible for one nation to give freedom and happiness to another. Virtue, freedom, and happiness can only be expected to be secured to a nation by its individual efforts: because none but its own inhabitants can have an opportunity of understanding what is proper for themselves or have a common interest in doing that which is best for the general happiness and prosperity.—If a nation, as was lately the case with Holland, has the misfortune to be pressed by foreign interference on both sides; it must chuse between two evils; and nothing but tyranny and absurdity can deny its right of judging for itself which of the two evils is least. But the situation of France is different; and the reasoning of Montgaillard is just.

Citizens, this Montgaillard, in the passage which led me into this digression, has declared that nothing but French arms can restore tranquillity to France. He believes, which I do not believe, that there is an aversion to republicanism still existing in the hearts of Frenchmen. I believe, on the contrary, that if there is in the universe one passion more powerful, more energetic at this time, than ever burned in the breast of man before, it is the love of republicanism—the detestation of monarchy at this time existing in the hearts of Frenchmen.

He admits, however, that if there is a great desire for the restoration of royalty in France, yet that royalty can never be restored but by the arms of Frenchmen alone. And therefore, if you mean fairly, says he—if you wish for a counter-revolution in France, you must employ French commanders, Edition: current; Page: [134] acknowledge the regency of Monsieur, and put the invading troops under the command of the Duke d’Artois.

This reasoning is consistent enough to be sure in a man an avowed advocate of the House of Bourbon; who is an open champion of the divine right of Kings—and a stickler for the unqualified restoration of the old despotism:—the man who implicates every individual, however moderate, who has ever articulated the words reform and liberty, in the same indiscriminate censure: who considers the Constitutionelles themselves, the first glorious and philosophic leaders of the Constituent Assembly, as the authors of all the subsequent calamities of France; as the beings whose guilty machinations produced the carnage of the 10th of August, and the massacres of September. He who says these are the wretches whose guilty hearts ought to be searched and probed as the authors of the desolation of France and of Europe, may, indeed, consistently bow down to the golden calf of hereditary despotism, and uphold the sacred right of the detested Monsieur to the regency, and the profligate d’Artois to the command of the armies of the alliance; and he may, also, think that beings so despised and hated are the best instruments to reconcile the people to the restoration of royalty. But the powers of Europe can see the real characters of these men: and they have other views. It is true they wish to continue the war; but they will not trust men of such abominable characters with the command of their armies and the dissipation of their funds and resources.

Citizens, you see, then, their own counsellors—for the emigrant priests and nobility of France had too large a share, I fear, in the Councils of this country.—Their very Counsellors tell them upon your present system you cannot succeed. France, though it hates the Convention, will rally round the standard of that Convention, to resist and ruin you, while you thus proceed. But the Minister will listen to every part of their council but this. I tell you, says the Minister—and I tell the confiding House of Commons of England, which will believe whatever I say, if you will not—I tell you, and I tell them, the resources of the Convention are near exhausted. We are only living upon the interest, they upon the capital.—They have nearly exhausted their capital, but it is only the interest we are expending.

Precious sophister. He does not tell you, however, where our capital exists. He does not tell you, that our capital is mere moonshine! the mere airy bauble of paper credit; the Edition: current; Page: [135] ignis fatuus of public confidence—a funded vacuum, which has no existence but its name. Our capital, says, he, remains untouched; we are only spending the interest: they are spending their capital, and therefore must soon be exhausted.

What cannot this man, whose sole pretensions for being the Minister of a great nation, are founded upon his profound knowledge of “Cocker’s Arithmetic”—upon being the greatest adept in the rule of three that was ever flogged through a school.—Cannot he, or will he not see, that if they are spending their capital they are only doing what we have done already. Why did we borrow and borrow, and sink year after year the capital thus borrowed, till our credit is so near to bankruptcy, that the Jew usurers upon Change—circumcised and uncircumcised, (for there are Jews of all nations and descriptions) will lend us but sixty pounds for an hundred? Why, I say, do we thus continue to borrow capital that we may be able to pay the interest, if the fact was not that before we appealed to that method, we had already got to the end of our real capital. Our national domains were already expended. Our national capital, as it may be called, vested in the hands of government, was already gone—mortgaged and sold, to support the profligate ambition of our Edwards and our Henries; our Tudors and our Stuarts; and then it was found necessary, by our Whig calculators, to appeal to the Dutch fashion of borrowing and depending upon the interest of a nominal capital, that our Dutch King might be enabled to pursue the same ambitious game. So that the plain and simple fact is, supposing Pitt’s calculations true, supposing that they were rapidly exhausting their capital, and that none of that capital was returning back to them (which is by no means so to the extent he would persuade us) yet the French, after expending their whole capital, will have that game to begin which we are now almost at the end of: and, therefore, this exhausting of resources is true only as to us; and his calculations make, not against the government of France, but against the government of this country.

But, Citizens, there must be pretences and there must be real objects for the continuance of this war. Among the pretences which are obliquely held out is the necessity of humbling the marine of France; and breaking that huge mass of growing power, which has so long been the envy and dread of Europe; the necessity also of producing the commercial destruction of that neighbouring and rival nation. Now, Citizens, let us consider, in the first place, if we were Edition: current; Page: [136] able to do all this what advantage would it be? Does a man, to come to familiar instances, attend less actively to his business and his shop, because there happens to be another shop of the same description, in the same town or village where he lives? On the contrary, is it not found, that in proportion as emulation is diffused among mankind, in proportion as the spirit of rivalship subsists, and the spirit of rivalship cannot subsist without an object upon which to operate, in the same proportion the energies, the exertions, the resources of mankind are doubled; and, consequently, no greater calamity can happen to an individual, or to a nation, than to have no person, no object to whet that emulation from which all exertions are to proceed.

This is not mere theory. The facts of history support the conclusion. Was it happy for Rome, that Carthage was laid in ruins? On the contrary, did not the destructive influences of corruption and luxurious indolence take root in the republic of Rome, from the overthrow of the rival city, whose destruction they were so anxious to procure? Did Athens flourish the more for the destruction of Sicily? On the contrary the wealth, the resources of Athens, however apparently increased, were destroyed and ruined by the expeditions against that island. And the pompous fleets which with banners of silk and prows overlaid with gold, set off from the shores of Attica for the subjection of Syracuse, did, in reality, take with them the liberty and energy of the Athenian Republic, never to return again. Athens secured the downfall of Sicily, but it left itself thereby an easy prey to the arms of Lacedemon. Lacedemon was not more wise in the destruction of the rival city of Athens. The fate of the conqueror was sealed by the fall of the vanquished: nor was the period distant when other arms were to triumph over the country, whose virtue had been enfeebled by the malignant fury with which it had pursued its rival.

Citizens, the whole history of the universe is replete with this important truth, that no country was ever yet ultimately benefited by the destruction of the powers or energies of another country with which it had stood in competition.

But, Citizens, let us consider how far is it probable that these effects should be produced, what are the symptoms which lead us to suppose that the marine of this country can destroy the marine of France? It is true a glorious victory was obtained the first of June last, over the French fleet; and I remember contemplating at my leisure, from the windows Edition: current; Page: [137] of the Tower, the whole Thames exhibiting one scene of glory from the illuminations fixed upon the lofty masts of ships; I remember seeing the blaze of bonfires; I remember hearing the crackers, and seeing the rockets flying about; and I remember, also, that within these walls a hired banditti assailed the aged parent now languishing in the pangs of death! and the wife, the child, whose guardian and protector had been dragged away to dungeons by the stern hand of power; I remember that insults and indignities were offered to an unprotected but a virtuous woman, whose firmness of mind gave pain to the enemies of liberty, because it was a proof of the unconquerable spirit which the principles of liberty inspire; I remember, also, that the same ruffian band besieged the house of Hardy; I remember that the wife, then pregnant, of that virtuous patriot—that pattern of Spartan fortitude and disinterestedness, was driven by the fury of this mob from her own apartment, and compelled to slide upon a penthouse from window to window, to seek protection in an adjoining mansion. I remember too that the consequence of the bruises and the injuries she received on that occasion was the death of that virtuous woman, and of the infant then struggling in her womb.

But, Citizens, though these glorious triumphs are to be recorded amongst the effects of that victory at home, what were the effects of that victory abroad? Was the object for which the marine of France, risqued the battle, disappointed or not? Into whose ports did those numerous fleets arrive, which were protected by the maternal wing of the whole French navy: for the wild anarchic government of France does not leave its merchantmen unprotected, a prey to arms it pretends to despise, but at whose energy in reality it trembles. No, Citizens, the whole naval power of France was spread like the wing of the parent bird to shelter the commerce of the country, and conduct its stores safe and secure into the ports of an expecting nation, though at the hazard of some injury to that vain parade and glory which makes nations so proud, though it never bestowed upon them any real comfort or advantage.

The victory of the first of June, then, was of no other advantage but to give a moment’s popularity to the ministers, who contributed nothing towards its attainment. Mobs shouted their names through the streets of London; brickbats and stones were thrown through the windows of those who dared to suppose ministers were not omnipotent and Edition: current; Page: [138] omniscient; the Theatre Nationale as it was called, exhibited pompous displays of naval armaments: and Lords and Ladies, Poets and Poetasters, Wits and Witlings clubbed their brains together to obtain the applauses of the upper gallery with four lines of nothingness, tagged with four gingling syllables. But France secured her object: yes, France triumphed in defeat, and England was disappointed in victory; for the real motive of the engagement, on both sides, was that numerous convoy which was hastening to the ports of France: and we might boast of our victories as we would, but the hearts of our ministers were aching with the humane anxiety that their project for starving 24 millions of people must fail.

Well, boastings and gasconades were made use of on both sides; we published in our Gazette a catalogue of ships sunk and destroyed, which are now riding in Brest water; and they also pretended that they had gained a glorious victory, as indeed upon the first day’s engagement, upon which we thought fit to be silent, they did; but they buried, at first, the event of the second day: we have never recanted; but they came afterwards forward with an honest tale. Even that Saint Juste whose head has paid the forfeit of his inhuman crimes, acknowledged that the French Marine had not the energy of the English. They had courage, he said, but the English were superior to them in skill; he was not ashamed, before a people struggling to be free, to confess the defects and errors of his nation: and the consequence of that confession will be that the energy of the republic of France will be directed to supply that deficiency; and now that they have little to attend to, except the great atchievement of stripping the crown of England, of its Hanoverian jewel!—Now, I say, are all their astonishing powers to lie palsied and dead, or are we to conclude that they will be directed towards their marine? Consider the immense extent of France, its variety of production; and then ask yourselves this question, If it once comes to be a mere naval war, and the energies of the French should be directed to that, and that alone, whose is the probable prospect of shattered fleets, a destroyed marine, a crippled commerce,—an annihilated navy?

Citizens, I believe we shall have crackers and bonfires again. I have no doubt that the hearts of our administration will be inflated by fresh victories, during the ensuing naval campaign; but let it be remembered, that the resources of the two countries are essentially different; and that we shall Edition: current; Page: [139] be much more enfeebled by the most glorious victories, than the republic of France by the most disastrous defeats: because with respect to naval operations, it is with them a learning trade; and because, as Pitt has himself acknowledged, there is eventually, no resisting the reiterated efforts of a nation in arms. But if once we have the misfortune to be beaten, if once so great a calamity fall upon this nation that its naval power should fall before the naval power of France (as we have not the same means of repairing our losses that they have) what will become of that sole prop and stay? Shall we not have occasion to realize in more mournful strains what has been so ludicrously described by Captain Morris?

  • “If e’er on French decks shouts of victory roar
  • The Crown’s a red night-cap, and Britain’s no more.”

Why play for a stake so desperate? why not seek for peace in time? The game is unequal. Our naval war must be defensive—their’s offensive. Our naval force is our existence; as melancholy experience has taught us that by land we are nothing. They are already omnipotent by land, and their navy is but an auxiliary. The utmost we can get by victory is only to leave us just where we are—but defeat is inevitable destruction; while, at the same time, to France one victory is decisive, and the most dreadful defeat can only leave her in the same situation in which it found her.

Citizens, it would require some labour, perhaps, to make every individual of you feel the full force of this statement: but I think I can venture to promise, that if you give yourselves the trouble to investigate for ten minutes in your closets, the facts I have laid before you, you will see that the conclusion is just: that the greatest victory can add nothing to the security of this country, more than we might this moment have by negociating peace; while, on the contrary, one defeat will be destruction; while a defeat of the French at sea, omnipotent as they are by land, will make no immediate difference with respect to the internal security and the success of their government.

But we are told we must persevere; we are told we must have indemnity! O! it is a proud word—indemnity. What does it mean? What is the object of the minister, when he talks of indemnity? Will indemnity restore to life the soldiers that have fallen in the conquest? Will indemnity give back to the wife and the orphan the parent and the husband that is slain?

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Indemnity, in the old despotism of Poland—that despotism which we have contributed—every one who hears me has contributed part of his income, part of the product of his labour to restore! Indemnity, in the old despotism of Poland, I comprehend; because one of the constitutional maxims in the orderly, regular, established government of that country is, that if a nobleman, or if one of the equestrian order kills a peasant belonging to another nobleman, or member of the equestrian order, he shall replace that peasant by another of equal value. Now if by indemnity it is meant by the sage ministers of this country that as many Englishmen as have been lost in this conflict, shall be replaced by so many Sans-Culottes, then I am greatly inclined to think he will fight a long while before he will persuade so many French Sans-Cullottes to live under his administration. If indemnity means any thing else, what is it but insult to talk of indemnity to that country which has lost so many thousands of its most invaluable inhabitants? What is it but worse than Robesperian ferocity, to go on to spill the blood of as many thousands more for the contemptible aud ridiculous idea of pecuniary indemnity—even if it were possible to be obtained.—Pecuniary indemnity for human life!!! Let the thought be weighed one moment in your minds, and you will turn with horror and indignation from the being whose faculties could be so clouded that he could utter the expression—O what are we come to when all our calculations are employed upon pounds, shillings and pence; and the lives of men sland for no more than so many cyphers before the numerals.

But we must not now talk of indemnity. The tables are turned. It is the conquering power that talks of indemnity, not the power whose utmost exertions are applied to steal away by night, a few sick and wounded troops, the relicks of a ruined army,

So that if we are to continue the war, till we get indemnity we must continue till the tide of affairs is entirely turned; we must battle till the one half of the productive labour of the country, which was formerly paid in taxes, and which is already grown to two thirds, since the commencement of the present war, is extended to three-fourths—to four fifths—to the whole!—till the spunge has been applied to the national debt; and we have commenced once more that career of national credit, to the end of which we are so near.

Citizens, there is another circumstance which is argued as a reason why we should not treat for peace. We are told that Edition: current; Page: [141] they have no settled government in France. Citizens, what do they mean by a settled government? Did we not treat with America at the time it had no settled government? Was not the whole constitution of that country afterwards changed? Yet America preserved her faith: though (witness the banks of the Miami!) Great Britain, whose government still continues the same, violated hers. I say, though America has changed its government, it has left no part of the treaty unfulfilled; but it is matter of notoriety, that Great Britain has not fulfilled the whole of her part of the stipulated treaty.

But, Citizens, since we suppose republicans can have no faith, (though I never understood before that republicanism and faithlessness were convertible terms!) what sort of government are the French to have, before we can treat with them? Certainly the old despotism of France was not very singular for the faithful observance of treaties! Certainly the system of slavery on one part and despotism on the other in Russia has not made that government very much signalized for good faith! and certainly the military despotism of Prussia is not the best fort of government to treat with! Prussia entered into an alliance with the Poles one day, and entered the next into another alliance to quarter the Poles. Prussia entered into an alliance with this country, and borrowed money of this country, under pretence (I do not say, that the minister who lent it did not know that it was only a pretence) of making common cause with us and fighting against France; and Prussia employed that money to destroy the liberties of Poland. Hence behold the horrid scenes of Warsaw; see the cruel massacres of Ismael repeated again within the walls of that desolated city. So that if you will affirm that you are not to treat with any power till you are sure it will never break its treaty, I am very sure you are at once determined to treat with no power at all: and if you can find a way to restore peace to Europe, without treaties, it will be a very happy thing for mankind if no such thing as a treaty should ever be heard of again.

The very government prints acknowledge, that your good and faithful ally, Prussia, is at this time negociating a peace. They tell you in the Times (the minister’s own paper) that convinced of the inexhaustible resources of that country, convinced of the irresistible energies of the French Republic, that shuffling “king of threads and patches” that royal pedlar, or jugling pedlar (it is difficult to find a name descriptive Edition: current; Page: [142] of him) has determined to withdraw himself from the alliance. One day they tell you, that “The death of the Count de Goltz has certainly retarded the negociation between the king of Prussia and the French Republic. What the nature of it is, we believe few men in this country can accurately ascertain; but certainly it has always been regarded with suspicion. Indeed such has been the crooked policy of the Court of Berlin through the whole course of the war, that no reliance can be placed on its assurances from one week to another. We, therefore, shall not be surpised at any thing we hear of its operations.

The next day they tell you, that his place is supplied, that another minister is appointed; and the negociation is carried on. Yet we can treat with the King of Prussia, and send our money to him; but we cannot treat with France for the repose of Europe. Well, then, where will you seek for governments that you can treat with, if you will not treat with republics, whose faith you have never tried. You have tried the faith of governments of every other description. You have tried the faith of the aristocracy of Holland, and that would not do: you have tried the faith of the military tyranny of Prussia; that would not do: you have tried the faith of the federal despotism of Germany; that would not do: you have tried the faith of the trading tyranny of Spain; that would not do: you have tried the faith of that very government which you want to set up again in France; that would not do; so that according to this system of making no peace with governments you cannot confide in, and determining not to confide in a pure republic, because you do not like any thing that is either pure or republican; we are to be making war to all eternity. There is no end to it; for a pure representative republic (the only government we have not tried in Europe) we are resolved never to try; and all the rest we have proof we never can trust.

But, Citizens, there is another reason assigned by a very curious author, upon whom I shall make some few animadversions, why you should not negociate a peace with France. The blood of Marie Antoinette of Lorraine and Austria has not been sufficiently revenged. And you are told in a passage, which for sublimity is unparalleled, and which on account of its curiosity I take the liberty of reading, that till you have thoroughly drenched the grave of that princess it is an insult to humanity (the humanity of desolating the universe for the pride of two or three oppressive rulers) to attempt to restore Edition: current; Page: [143] peace to Europe. One professor, Wilde (they call him in Scotland professor parenthesis, on account of the long digressions into which he is apt to run) tells you, “I lament the king of France. Who would not lament him! he was an innocent man foully murdered—he was a good-natured man cruelly betrayed. He had many virtues; though none that belonged to a king.” And so 24 millions of people were to be resigned to the absolute dominion of a man, who confessedly had no one virtue which qualified him for his situation. But that is not his crime, “His last days were pious, almost noble. But he should never have been the husband of Marie Antoinette of Lorraine and Austria. He deserved her less than he deserved France.” This was the cruel crime, the monstrous guilt which lay upon the head of the poor unfortunate Louis, and which according to this curious author almost justified the fate he met with. “Fatal marriage! Cruel union! The noblest lady in all Europe came in all the gaiety of innocence and youth.” She came in all the gaiety of innocence.” How long she retained that innocence he does not say. But “the noblest lady in all Europe came in all the gaiety of innocence and youth to be the queen of the oldest European kingdom. She came to her early grave. The marriage sheets that covered her lovely limbs were cursed by the demons of hell for her winding sheets. The nuptial couch that yielded to the soft pressure of her body was doomed in their incantations to be her bier. The unhallowed voices of the abyss rose up in execrations, and their impure feet trod around her their dance of death. That head, formed at once for love and for command, was to fall under the axe, and be polluted by the gripe of the common executioner. The scaffold of democracy was to be sprinkled with that blood—”

Citizens, it is no laughable thing that the blood of any human being should fall upon the scaffold; but mark what is the reason why this humane professor of laws thinks it ought to be lamented. “The scaffold of democracy was to be sprinkled with that blood which full of all the royalty and nobility that ever existed, barbaric and civilized:” (he confesses, that nobility may sometimes be connected with barbarity!) “which full of all the royalty and nobility that had ever existed, barbaric and civilized, run in her veins, from the united sources of the Julian family, and Attilla the Hun.”

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What hereditary virtues she could derive from the Julian family, whose shameless prostitutions disgraced the Roman empire, or from Attila the Hun, that great tyrant who spread desolation from pole to pole, I leave to be determined by those who consider antiquity and truth to be one, and nobility and virtue synonimous.

“I never will forgive the King of France,” continues this Wilde professor—For what? For violating his faith with the nation? for declaring himself to be perjured? for acknowledging he had signed and ratified engagements which he meant to seize the first opportunity of violating? for concealing persons banished by the nation, within the walls of the Thuilleries, and who were killed on the fatal 10th of August, before their counter-revolutionary plots were ripe?—No, these were venial crimes—But “I will never forgive the King of France for the destruction of this Queen.” Forgive him? listen humanity! “I would sooner forgive him the ruin of his nation, and the devastation of all Europe.”

Restrain your indignation, Citizens, you have not yet got to the height of sublimity to which this genius is doomed to soar. “He should have seen all his people die like rotten sheep, before she could be brought to such hazard. This spirit would have made him, her, his people, Europe, the world happy.” So—the royal spirit (for this is the spirit he thinks ought to inhabit a royal bosom!) the royal spirit of suffering the inhabitants of the whole united nations of Europe, to die like rotten sheep, rather than sacrifice the most lewd and impure of women that ever converted a Court into a Brothel—this was the spirit which was to make the people of France, Europe, the world happy. Blessed happiness! Over whom was this tyrannic felicity to reign? Over what deserts was she to extend her empire? The whole human race were to die like rotten sheep. And happiness, seated, like another deity I suppose, in heaven, was to snuff up the incense of so sublime a sacrifice offered to her tyrannic nostrils.

“But her mind did not rule,” he says, “and the French monarchy fell, and she fell,” (and they all fell together.)

[To be continued.]

[The Political Songs so pompously proved upon the late Trials for High Treason to have been published by the Lecturer; but which the prosecutors, nevertheless, insidiously refused to read, will be republished in the ensuing numbers of this work.]

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An Examination of the Arguments against negociating a Peace with the French Republic.—The fourth Lecture on the Causes and Calamities of War.

[Continued from our last.]

But her mind did not rule,” continues the apostate professor, “and the French monarchy fell, and she fell. She is not to be lamented. Who dares to lament her? They threw her lovely body into a malefactor’s grave, and raked dirt upon it! They calcined it into powder; and the Queen of France was, in a few hours, only dust. What of it! They carried her to execution on a cart. They had laid before, on straw, in a dark dungeon. What of it all! Are womens tears to be shed for this! No: These are not the obsequies of Marie Antoinette of Lorraine and Austria! Her knell is to be rung over the carcases of the dead, and in the groans of the dying. The alarm of war, and the shout of battle is her’s. Indignation that makes vengeance, and vengeance that is death; these are her obsequies.”—Is it a man, or some fiend, broke through from the infernal regions, that dares to propagate this doctrine of cruelty without bounds? of havock without remorse?

“The camp and the field are the places of her mourners; and honour and revenge support the pall. Her funeral honours thus performed, will be the performance also of the will of heaven.” That is, when all the people in the world have died like rotten sheep, the will of heaven, according to this curious professor, will be fulfilled. “When it is completed in the destruction of evil we may then grieve, with sober dignity, over a Queen of France. The source of tears may then be opened, and we may solace our nature by their flow.” Good heavens, Citizens, do we live in a civilized country? Are prosecutions (I do not commend them, whatever doctrines they may be directed Edition: current; Page: [146] against!) but are prosecutions instituted against the mild principles of benevolence? are you told by the Solicitor General, that it is a moral turpitude to wish to establish universal peace and sraternity amongst mankind? and are such doctrines as those sent into the world by authority? Is the chair of the professor to be publicly prostituted by such maxims as Hell itself, if there were a Hell, would be shocked to hear. Are we to be thus publicly called upon to make the world a desert to gratify the pride of fallen ambition, and the revenge of a few individuals, educated in the “enormous faith of millions made for one?”

Citizens, such are the pretences for continuing this curious war. Ambition would dismember France; Pride would have indemnity for the injuries itself has offered; aristocratic adulation would depopulate the world, that the carcases of the dying might form an eternal monument of the fall of a woman, who would have been universally despised and detested, but for her elevated situation.—I pity her misfortunes! I pity the misfortunes of all human beings. It is not I that have excited the smile of ridicule at her fall: it is her foolish advocate. I would have spoken of her in other strains. I would not wound the feelings of the living by insulting over the manes of the dead. I would not exult in the groans and anguish of the dying. I hope the heart that dictates to this tongue, can feel the throb and touch of nature, not only for that calamity which calls for it at home, but for the woes of the universe.

But, Citizens, let us not be deluded, let not our humanity light the torch of vengeance and destruction. It is not humanity that would pour forth the blood of thousands upon the grave of a fallen being, whatever grandeur and dignity might have concealed her vices from the world. Humanity delights in the happiness of the human race; and leaves to Enthusiasts, Aristocrats and Usurpers, the insolent barbarity of exulting in scenes of blood!

The subject of War has occupied the space of four Lectures, extracts from the first and second, and the whole of the third and fourth have been inserted in the preceding numbers of The Tribune. There is yet a very important branch of the subject to be considered, which was intended to have formed the subject of a fifth Lecture, and which, for the sake Edition: current; Page: [147] of connection ought to have followed immediately that which is here concluded. But a catastrophe of another kind deranged my plan. The parent whose approaching dissolution I alluded to in the preceding lecture, expired in less than six and thirty hours after its delivery, and the mind, struggling between the duty of fortitude, and the pangs of affection, was naturally distracted from the regular pursuit of previously digested plans. On the Friday evening my place was supplied by a friend: and on the Wednesday following when I resumed my situation in the rostrum, I was instinctively led to the consideration of a subject in some degree connected with the event that had taken place, and the state of my private feelings: nor was it till I came to correct the preceeding pages for the press, that I recollected that my course of lectures relative to the present unfortunate hostilities was not completed. The subject, however, demands the most serious and persevering investigation; it will, therefore, be resumed, in the course of the present season. In the mean time, it will not perhaps, be disagreeable to the reader to have the theme diversified; and I proceed accordingly with the lectures in the succession in which they were delivered.

Lecture—On the Moral and Political Influence of the Prospective Principle of Virtue.

CITIZENS, neither the forms of the world, nor my own feelings permitted me to address you on the last Friday evening; and I would, if I could have devised any effectual means, have prevented on that evening any assembly in this place. But as I found that impracticable, or rather, as my mind was not in a state to seek for expedients, I thought the best way to prevent any disturbance, which might have arisen from a multitude of persons assembling, who could not gain admittance, was to get a friend to take this situation for me. I did accordinly procure a Citizen of whose understanding and excellent principles I have the highest opinion, and who, I am sure, is well qualified to utter those truths to which it is worth the while of any individual to listen.

Citizens, the subject of this evening’s lecture is “The Prospective Principle of Virtue;” or, in other words, “That Edition: current; Page: [148] all Virtues consist in so directing our exertions, and regulating our passions that we may be constantly promoting the future good of mankind.” This is a principle, Citizens, in itself, so consistent with reason that it, almost at the very first blush, presents itself to us as unanswerable and self-evident. And yet, Citizens, when we come seriously to investigate this principle, when we come to follow it through all the mazes of practice, into which it will lead us, perhaps there are few of us who have not some prejudices, some habits of mind which will be shocked, some dispositions and principles long imbibed which will be found to be very deeply and materially wounded by this principle.

It is our duty, however, in the first instance, seriously and maturely to deliberate upon the principles of human action; and when we have brought them to the test of reason and argument, and are thoroughly convinced of their truth and authenticity, we must not be terrified at any particular conclusions that may result. Particular conclusions are only the branches of the tree; frequently only the leaves at the extremities of those branches. If the root, therefore, is good, for principles are the root—the stamina of all moral excellence! we must not take it into our heads, that we are at liberty to root them up—to fell them to the earth, because there are particular conclusions resulting from them, which are hostile to our passions, or inconsistent with our habitual mode of thinking. I am, however, aware that liberal as the auditory I have so frequently the honour of meeting here has generally been, notwithstanding their habits of free enquiry, that, yet, I may, perhaps, in the progress of this investigation, advance some doctrines, so new and unexpected that their minds may, in the first instance, revolt from them. Let it be remembered, however, Citizens, that novelty is of itself no proof of falsehood, that the opinions of six moments and of six thousand years, if such an opinion should be found, stands precisely upon the same basis, the basis of reason and argument; and, therefore, must be brought to the same test of experimental investigation, or else must be permitted to fall at once, and be abandoned as unworthy our adoption.

Citizens, though I shall speak my opinions with that firmness which results from the conviction of my own mind, yet I warn you again—I have warned you frequently, but I cannot too often, that I do not deliver opinions from this place, for you to adopt them without examination. I advance them for your Edition: current; Page: [149] serious investigation, and I warn you again and again, to beware of that prejudice which, from having formed attachments to individuals, leads us to take for granted all they say. I most seriously recommend you to be as averse to a Pope in Beaufort Buildings as to a Pope at Rome.

Citizens, giving you this warning, I shall proceed without remorse or fear to cut up wide and deep rooted prejudices, with all the power and energy I am master of. Those things which appear to be prejudices to me, may perhaps upon better examination appear to others well founded truths. My opinions (though the results, I believe, of very dispossionate, and I am sure of very anxious enquiry) may, also, upon more mature deliberation, appear even to myself to have been taken up too hastily, and I shall never be ashamed publicly to change my opinions as often as I am convinced they are wrong. We live to improve, if we are wise; and if we are virtuous, we live not only to improve ourselves but to improve our fellow beings, by encourageing free and liberal enquiry, and submitting, with candour and sincerity, to their investigation, the sentiments which we believe important to their felicity and virtue: and if we treat with detestation the wretch who hoards his gilded counters in a box; with how much more contempt ought we to look upon that individual who locks up in secrecy the more invaluable treasures of the human mind, the discoveries (be they small or be they great) which he has either made, or supposes he has made in the progress of his enquiries. The widow’s mite, we are told, was an acceptable offering; the mite of science is an acceptable offering also; and be it remembered that with knowledge, as with coin, we must divide it into small parts before we can diffuse it through the general circle of society, and fit it for the accommodations and uses of common life.

If, Citizens, virtue consists in promoting the happiness of mankind—if virtue, in reality, means neither more nor less than intentionally doing that which is best for general happiness and welfare, it results, I conceive, as an inevitable consequence, that all virtue must be of an active, not of a passive nature; and, therefore, that it is the duty of every individual to keep his eye steadily fixed upon that which is before him, and to lose none of the powers and energies of intellect in unavailing glances upon what is past, and never can return. Citizens, this argument will lead us to many conclusions hostile to the general sentiments of mankind. Superstition, with her hood and cowl, presents herself before us at every step, with Edition: current; Page: [150] her doctrines of repentance, contrition, retaliation, and retributive justice, and points us back again to the dark and gloomy paths of error, which we, and which others may have passed; and bids us, in sackcloth and ashes, consume our faculties in unavailing lamentations, which can never undo the acts that are past, but which have but too powerful an influence to unfit us for what is to come. We shall find, also, that many of the institutions and habits of society are equally unfriendly to a steady and consistent perseverance in this prospective principle: and hence the general disposition of mankind to brood over the past; to hatch in sullen silence the gloomy passions of despondency and revenge;—hence also the sullen traits of misanthropy which deform the human character and reduce it almost to the brute. Nay, strange to say, the wisdom of ages has conspired to assist this malignant retrospective principle; and the administration of civil justice almost every where recals to our minds the evils which, because they are irremediable ought to be forgotten, and plunges us, thereby, but too frequently, in others that might have been avoided. You have been told, it is true, in this country, that punishments (such is the cant and theory of law!) are inflicted, not because particular acts of criminality have been done, but because they should not be repeated. But look at the general practice of mankind, mark the arguments with which they maintain their systems, and then tell me whether another principle, the sullen principle of revenge, is not the legitimate offspring of the system; and frequently, and evidently, the prompting motive even with the legislature itself.

Citizens, the retrospective system, the system of brooding over the past, instead of looking forward to the future, has also another tendency of a most fatal description. It frequently sinks the first and greatest characters into despondency and lethargy. We have found, by a gloomy interference of superstition, man unnerved of the energies of his nature; we have seen characters whose powers of mind might have darted like lightning from one extremity of the universe to another sunk by this enfeebling principle into sullen misanthropic monks, and devoting their lives to melancholy sighs and unavailing regrets for the errors (superstitious or real) into which in the vigour of intemperate youth they had been betrayed: and monarchs, and great commanders have shut themselves in their closets to beat their breasts, and rend their souls in repentance for past transgressions, while the cruel, but less infatuated invader, routed their armies and desolated their country.

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Citizens, whatever may have been our errors, let us recollect, that there is a nobler path for man to tread. Whatever wrongs he may have committed, whatever errors he may have fallen into, while energy remains, there may be reparation to society. Virtue and beneficence are still attainable; and the same energies which, under the delusions of error, made him criminal, guided by the light of truth, might produce such qualities and such effects as would make full compensation to the world.

Charles VI. after desolating whole nations, and plunging into all the crimes which conquerors (and none but conquerors, and would be conquerors) can perpetrate, retired within the walls of a monastry to white-wash his soul with prayers and repentance, and brood over the remembrance of his inhuman guilt. But if, instead of this he had exercised those powers and faculties of mind which he possessed, and used in a proper manner the advantages of his elevated situation, he might have rendered the latter period of his life as beneficial to the cause of truth and virtue as the former part had been inimical to the happiness of the human race.

Citizens, I do not mean to condemn that retrospective glance which surveys the vices and errors of the past, with a view to enable us to avoid them for the future; or which contemplates the virtues of former times, to increase the useful energies of mind. Certainly not. If the page of history ought to be explored, it is still more important that the history of our own private conduct should be searched with critical severity. But for what purpose? That we may afterwards lose our time in repentance—that we may exclude ourselves from the society of those fellow beings who have a just claim upon our exertions in the promotion of the general happiness? No: These are not the objects we are to have in view; and if we are to study with real views of wisdom and benevolence, the history of the human mind, we shall find that every moment of our existence has its duties, that every power and energy has its correspondent obligations, and that, therefore, not one moment, not one thought can virtuously be cast away in any other employment but that of seeking to promote the present and future happiness of mankind, with whose happiness our own is incorporated; and without the promotion of which no generous mind can itself receive the smallest particle of consolation.

But, Citizens, the contrary conduct so frequently preached and enforced by all the artifices which could be invented, has Edition: current; Page: [152] its charms for a particular class of people; and we cannot be surprized that there have been men who found it their interest to encourage the desponding, listless, melancholy misanthropy of the retrospective principle.

Yes, Citizens, there is a particular class of jugglers in the world, to whom truth is by no means acceptable; who cannot digest—(though, in some respects, they seem to have the digestion of an ostrich, and no stone is too big, no iron too hard or too rusty for their stomachs;) notwithstanding this, they are not capable of digesting so plain, simple, wholesome, and ailimentary a maxim as that “the only thing a man can do in this world that entitles him to respect and veneration, is prompting the happiness and welfare of his fellow citizens.”—Fellow Citizens of the world, I mean! Not Citizens of a town or district.

These men, therefore, finding it their interest to support a different sentiment, have chosen to oppose a system so beneficial to the human race, and to teach those who have the misfortune to fall under their tuition, that melancholy and repentance, are the proper feelings with which the lamp of life should be consumed; because they know very well, that such dispositions unnerving the energies of the human mind, filling the soul with images of terror and apprehension, though the most unfriendly to human happiness and virtue, are very well calculated to make the poor slave of their ridiculous artifices, obedient to their exactions, and subservient to their ambition. If they can make terror, in this manner, the order of the day, they know very well that, in consequence of the bugbears which the melancholy imagination is too apt to realize, they can make the poor victims come to them with their laps full of those good things, which might, according to my opinion, be better distributed among the industrious orders of the community. But they, right wisely, no doubt, think otherwise. Their inspiration teaches them—and who shall contend with the inspirations of the spirit, that these good things are more fit for the luxurious accommodation of their tables than to be thrown to a poor, despicable, grunting, swinish multitude, who, as they have no fleece to be shorn certainly cannot expect to be considered as part of their flock!

Thus, then, Citizens, this retrospective system which has such a tendency to unnerve the character of man, to annihilate those active virtues by which only the human race can be benefited, and to reduce him to the sole dominion of melancholy, Edition: current; Page: [153] terror, and dejection, are principles which we must expect will continue to be propagated so long as one class of mankind are paid for deluding the rest.

Is it not evident then, Citizens, that the only energy of character likely to be produced by this retrospective principle, is the feeling of revenge: a passion, indeed, active enough in its operation, and productive of many and many a tale over which the eye will pour with anxious avidity, but which no friend to human happiness will wish to see encouraged.

This has hitherto been the common principle of action between nation and nation. Hence is the page of history deformed with continued tales of slaughter and devastation. Hence imaginary insults, which the flag, or the flag-staff of one country (for I see no difference between the gaudy rags and toys of national vanity and the sticks that carry them), may receive from the flag or flag-staff of another. Hence the slightest injury offered to Courts and Princes, has plunged the world in scenes of horror and desolation. Hence it stands recorded on the page of history, that the favourite of one great man bidding against the favourite of another great man for a ring, at a common auction, plunged the Roman empire, that is to say, almost the whole of the then known world into a destructive civil war, which ended in the tyrannous usurpation of Augustus Cæsar, and the total overthrow of the profligate Mark Anthony.

Citizens, whether this last anecdote is accurately true or not, is not worth our investigation. We have witnessed of late, a quarrel almost as ridiculous. We have seen two great nations on the eve of being plunged into a chaos of mutual slaughter and desolation for a few cat skins. It is very true, the agitation of this question might have been encouraged by a bird’s eye prospect of a better ground of quarrel; and the two nations that pretended to be about to clapper-de-claw one another about the insult offered to these said cat skins, might, perhaps, have had their eyes upon a sweeter piece of vengeance; and while they were pretending to quarrel, were, perhaps agreeing to divide the robe of which they thought to strip the insolent, Jacobinical nation of France, which had dared to provoke the just revenge of all regular governments, by talking of rights and liberties.

Not only between nation and nation, has this spirit of revenge, the first fruit of the system of retrospective virtue, as it is called, been plunged in war and desolation; but party has whetted the dagger against party, and faction uplifted the Edition: current; Page: [154] axe against the head of faction from the same detestable cause. Thus we find in almost all the histories of the universe, that one party seldom prevails over another, but the scaffold streams with the blood of the vanquished, and scenes of horror present themselves on every hand, from the contention of principles and struggles of intellect, which might have been productive, but for these revengeful principles, of the greatest portion of happiness and instruction to mankind.

See, Citizens, from this principle of revenge what dreadful consequences have taken place in France! The most noble, the most virtuous, the most magnificent principles that ever were broached by man, have produced effects which tyranny itself can hardly surpass. We have seen from the seeds of freedom, a harvest of desolation. We have seen party struggling with party, stimulated at first, perhaps, by the private feelings of ambition, or the more destructive, though at the same time, in some degree, more excuseable principle of universal suspicion, but embittered by opposition, rising to a horrid enthusiasm of revenge which the soul of benevolence trembles to contemplate. The profligacy of manners and the inflexible rage of vengeance, which the cruelty of the Court and the superstition of the Church had conspired to engender in that country, bursting forth in the serment of the revolution, laid for awhile in the dust the bleeding limbs of that freedom which the revolution was effected to promote: though, happily for mankind, physicians have been found to stanch the wounds and restore her again to the universe.

Citizens, I had hopes that the excesses and cruelties of the system of revenge in that country were entirely at an end. I did believe that the benign principles of benevolence and liberty had completely triumphed; that the scaffolds were to stream with the victims of vengeance no more; but that peace and universal philanthropy were to twine their myrtles together with that laurel which triumphant energy has reaped in the fields of victory; but, alas! I cannot read without regret one part of the present transactions in that country. Perhaps while I am speaking, four individuals who, whatever may be their vices, certainly shine conspicuous in the ranks of intellectual energy, have fallen by the guillotine of vengeance, victims to the party that now prevails in France.

Citizens, this is not the howl of apostacy, this is not the lamentation of a man who wishes for a pretence to desert his principles. I adore—I care not what danger there may be in the declaration! I will not exist longer than I can speak the Edition: current; Page: [155] truths that I believe to be useful to my fellow Citizens!—I will proclaim my principles, because I am sure if mankind would but act candidly and fairly, and avow the genuine feelings of their hearts, that system of terror and tyranny which has so long subjugated the nations of Europe, must fade and shrink away without a struggle—without an individual victim.—I glory in the principles of the French Revolution! I exult in the triumphs of reason! I am an advocate for the rights of man! nor will I desert my principles, without a better reason than the example that other men have acted inconsistently with theirs. But daggers and guillotines are not principles. The disordered imagination of a Burke, the metaphysical phrenzy of a Windham, or the artful and studied harrangues of that great arithmetician Pitt, may confound things together as opposite as darkness to light, or as their darling measures to the interests of humanity and justice; but we will not be so deceived. Daggers and guillotines are not principles; massacres and executions are not arguments; the principles of truth still continue to be true, though those men who have them most frequently on their lips, should happen; in some instances, to have them least frequently in their hearts. It is not the men of France, that I glory in; it is not the execution of the King—I am an enemy to all executions! it is not the fall of the Bastille, for a Bastille, a Luxemburg, or a Newgate are to me indifferent; it is not for names it is for principles that I am anxious—it is to principles, not to unprincipled actions, that I am wedded; and the wanton and revengeful cruelties of Robespierre and his party can no more prove the principles of the French revolution to be wrong, than the sanguinary attempts of a faction in this country, who, with all their vices without any of their virtues, should attempt to establish the same system of terror without the energy to support it, would prove that the new fangled inquisitorial system of spies and informers, which has supplanted the constitution of Britain, is right.

That which I glory in, in the revolution of France is this, That it has been upheld and propagated as a principle of that revolution, that ancient abuses are not, by their antiquity, converted into virtues; that it has been affirmed and established that man has rights which no statutes or usages can take away; that intellectual beings are entitled to the use of their intellects; that the object of society is the promotion of the general happiness of mankind; that thought ought Edition: current; Page: [156] to be free, and that the propagation of thought is the duty of every individual; that one order of society has no right, how many years soever they have been guilty of the pillage, to plunder and oppress the other parts of the community, whose persons are entitled to equal respect, and whose exertions have been much more beneficial to mankind.

These are the principles that I admire, and that cause me, notwithstanding all its excesses, to exult in the French Revolution. But I do not believe that violence and cruelty, I do not believe that scenes of carnage and execution, can either be the promoters, or the consequences of principles like these. No: the excesses and violences in France have not been the consequences of the new doctrines of the Revolution; but of the old leaven of revenge, corruption and suspicion which was generated by the systematic cruelties of the old despotism.

Citizens, I am still the unaltered friend of liberty. But if liberty has not a tendency to promote the feelings of benevolence, to promote the happiness of mankind, and to make us better members of society, and more happy in our individual capacity, take your liberty, for I will have none of it.

I am convinced, however, that liberty has all these tendencies. I am convinced also, notwithstanding the excesses which have taken place in France, that the struggle in that country will be eventually beneficial, not only to that country but to the human race. I believe it was good that such a despotism as existed in France should not perpetuate itself from generation to generation; and all that I lament is that a few turbulent and ambitious spirits should have stained with their excesses the annals of the most glorious era in the history of man. Let us, however, be just to this great nation. They have received obloquy and abuse enough; they have received threats and injuries enough; let us not dwell only on the gloomy side of the picture; let us not be fond of recapitulating their vices and their errors only; let us speak, also, of those more amiable traits of character, which they have discovered; and which, even at this time, are gaining so considerable an ascendency. Let us not forget the magnanimity with which they have spurned, in some very striking instances, this gloomy retrospective principle of revenge which I am so anxious to see exterminated from the human character. See how they have treated their prostrate enemies; let us remember that they present the first picture ever exhibited in the world of a conquering army imparting freedom and felicity to the people over whom they had triumphed. Think of Edition: current; Page: [157] Holland—exalted by being vanquished! Think of the generosity with which they spurned the idea of insulting the weakness of the little prostrate state of Tuscany. Think of the generous maxims which, in the midst of all the exultation of unparalleled victory, they have laid down as principles with respect to hostile and half vanquished nations. Let us remember also that in their present conduct with respect to interior policy there are strong symptoms of the final overthrow of the system of terror and revenge. They have, it is true, and I am sorry they have hung over the heads of Barrere, of Billaud Varennes, Collot d’Herbois, and Vadiere, the sword of the law.—O! that I could once see law and justice without a sword; with scales in one hand and the olive of peace in the other;—the weapon of destruction buried deep in the bowels of the earth! I do not mean to vindicate the conduct of these individuals. I am convinced, that if it had not been for the tyranny of Robespierre and the assistance lent to that tyranny by these men, the cause of liberty throughout Europe would have been in a very different situation at this moment. I am sure, that if the practice of France had been as good as the theory of France, the irresistible light of reason, the torrent of benevolent humanity that would have swelled the hearts of Englishmen—of all mankind, would have left us, by this time, no abuses to redress. For it is not forms, it is not particular fabrics, that are worth contending for.—You may be happy in a cottage, you may be happy in a palace; you may be happy in the Corinthian dome, you may be happy though your mansion should be ornamented only with the simple, republican, doric pillar; nay, you may be happy though you should happen to reside under a venerable pile of Gothic architecture, provided you have but good security that the disjointed stones are not ready to fall about your ears.

It is not, then, the external structure of government that I find fault with—I may like the simple doric best perhaps—but we will not quarrel about the external shell. It is the furniture, the accommodations, the security, and convenience that I am anxious about—It is in short the principle that actuates the government, and if this is sufficiently pure to secure the happiness of the people perish the wretch who would breed contention for forms. Shew me the principles of peace, benevolence, and universal affection, of equal rights and equal laws, I will hail and venerate that country as my own, and rejoice in the establishment of such principles, whatever may be Edition: current; Page: [158] the exterior incumbrances, with which accident, or choice, may happen to have surrounded it.

Citizens, I cannot quit this subject without wishing that the party now triumphant in France, and every party who, in the political struggles that convulse the universe, may happen to triumph, could but feel how ungenerous it is first to draw the sting and then to bruise the head of the serpent.—O! for a great lesson to the world, that they would argue thus—“This animal has a glossy many coloured skin, whose beauties, if we had never felt its venom, would have delighted our imaginations. Well—why should we not forget?—We have drawn away the sting;—the venomed tooth is gone; it can bite no more. Why should we still retain our horror? and remembering the evil that is past prevent the good that yet might come? Revenge!—where is the benefit of thy backward glance? Magnanimity!—how great are the advantages of thy prospective virtues!”—Could they but apply this to the various energies of genius, that adorn the minds of these men, and of Barrere in particular, “We have felt your tyranny, they might say, we know that you have brought an odium on our good and holy cause in the eyes of Europe; but France is enlightened, and you can repeat your crimes no more. Go: we have drawn out your sting: we know there are graces and energies of genius in you which can be useful and beneficial to mankind. Having disarmed you of your power to wrong us go where you will. You can no longer be Citizens of France, because the sight of you might awaken indignation, and be assistant to the revival of that system of terror of which you were once the supporters and might be too soon the victims. But go where you will: the Republic of France has too much magnanimity to punish a prostrate enemy. It has magnanimously forgiven Holland; it has magnanimously forgiven the injuries assisted by the weak arm of Tuscany. It has still the same warm benevolence for its own children. Go. It has drawn a veil over the rebellions of La Vandee; and it will forget, in its Old Committee of Public Safety, every thing but its victories, and its energy. Employ, for the future, those talents to the benefit of society which have too often been applied to the destruction of the human race.”

O! could I see this benevolent and magnanimous feeling thus triumphant, I should be sure that the sun of liberty had risen indeed, and I should know that my own cottage sooner Edition: current; Page: [159] or later must be illuminated by its cheering light. The clouds of prejudice would then disperse, the fears, the terrors of mankind would vanish before the strong ray of truth and reason, and the night of ignorance would no longer be invoked to shelter the errors of ambition and the interested projects of a few individuals, who call themselves the nation though they are the nation’s scourge.

Citizens, the retrospective principle, which has hitherto excited the gloomy passions and resentful dispositions of mankind, is, I am afraid, but too prevalent in this country also. We have light; but I am afraid our light is not entirely of the right description. The common people feel that they are aggrieved; they feel that the hand of famine is fastening upon them. They begin to perceive that all this mischief proceeds from this mad ridiculous crusade for restoring the fallen despotism of France, and from the errors and oppressions of government. But I cannot persuade myself that, hitherto the best mode has been adopted for enlightening them as to the proper means of redress. We have taught them the sources of their grievances, and we have talked of denunciations and impeachments, of retribution and revenge: but I am afraid we have not yet been anxious to trace the principles of liberty to their real sources. Let us then unite our energies to diffuse the genuine principles of freedom among mankind. Let us teach them to seek redress, indeed, but to seek it by the means least injurious to public tranquillity and individual happiness. Let us tell them—You are full of commotion;—you talk of the prices of the necessaries of life; you talk of the monopoly among the dealers in these commodities. Silly men! restrain your indignation. The objects of your rage are innocent, are injured, like yourselves. A few rotten principles have found their way into the general system of government under which you live. Corruption has reared its head on high. Let us oppose that corruption. Let us say to our governors, we ask you not for power; we ask you not for slaughter; we ask you not for the banners of conquered enemies, even if you had banners of conquered enemies to give; we ask not for the French West India Islands, by conquering which you will inevitably lose your own; we ask not a bead-roll of appendages and colonies in this part of the world, and that part of the world, and in the other; we ask you for that generous, that just, that peaceful administration which will restore to us the opportunity of earning a comfortable subsistence by moderate labour; this is according to our Edition: current; Page: [160] opinions the only useful object of government. We will not contend with you for forms, if you will grant us this. But this we must have—this we will. We are enlightened—we shall soon be unanimous; for we are determined to speak our minds, and such plain truths as we utter must make their way to every heart; and when this unanimity takes place (if you do not give us our rights, now, while you have power to give) you must sink, without a struggle, sink into nothingness; and justice must triumph.

By such spirit, by such reason, by a proper detestation of violence, stilling the fears which have been so artfully excited, peaceful redress might be obtained: and no one can say that temperate redress and progressive improvement are not better than violence and confusion.

Citizens, I wish you to remember, that revenge is always vice—that violence is never to be appealed to but in self-defence. It is true, every individual has a right to defend himself, every community has a right to defend itself also; and I will give you the best authority in a case of this kind, the authority of Judge Foster upon the subject. You shall hear that he lays it down as a constitutional principle, that the people have a right to-resist oppression. “I am not at present concerned (says he, speaking of the deposition of one of our kings) to enquire whether the charge brought against Edward II. was or was not well founded; but admitting that it was, the Parliament proceeded upon a principle, which in the case of individuals is perfectly understood and universally assented to. I mean the right of self-defence in cases of great and urgent necessity, and where no other remedy is at hand, a right which the law of nature giveth, and no law of society hath taken away.” And he might have added, which no law of society can take away. “If this be true in the case of individuals, it will be equally so in the case of nations, under the like circumstances of necessity. For all the rights and powers for defence and preservation belonging to society are nothing more than the natural rights and powers of individuals transferred to and concentering in the body for the preservation of the whole. And from the law of self-preservation resulteth the well-known maxim Salus populi suprema Lex.

Citizens, will you not hear with astonishment, that this very maxim, laid down by Judge Foster, in his Crown Law, was one of the maxims for reprinting which, we were accused of High Treason, kept seven months in close confinement Edition: current; Page: [161] (which you are told was no punishment at all) and afterwards tried for our lives at the Bar of the Old Bailey? “I think” continues Judge Foster “the principles here laid down must be admitted; unless any one will chuse to say, that individuals in a community are, in certain cases, under the protection of the primitive law of self-preservation, but communities, composed of the same individuals, are, in the like cases, excluded. Or that when the enemy is at the gate every single soldier may and ought to stand to his arms; but the garrison must surrender at discretion.” Such are the sentiments of this learned Judge, that the people, in cases of the last dire necessity have a right, upon principles of self-defence, to preserve themselves from ruin and destruction. I do not wish to root out from your hearts the conviction of this truth, but I wish to plant by the side of it another truth, that the redress obtained by headlong violence never can be as effectual as that which is obtained by benevolent means. Thus we see the Republic of France, after having rushed through violence after violence, and finding only change of tyranny, is at last obliged to resort to the principles of benevolence and humanity; and before her work can be completed she must call into action a still larger proportion of these generous principles.

Citizens, It is necessary that we consider a little what are the limits of self-defence. We lay it down as a principle; but before we act upon any principle we ought to understand it. The very term defence supposes it to be the only means you have of redress. If an assassin meets me at the corner of the street, and aims a poniard at my breast, if I have no other means of preservation, I have a right to poniard him. But if I have the power to arrest his hand, and take from him the weapon of destruction, it would be murder in me to prefer the use of the poniard. If the same assassin, struggling in my gripe, resisting my benevolent intention to preserve his life, falls prostrate at my feet, however provoked I may have been in the quarrel, whatever stripes or injuries, whatever wounds I may have received, if I strike my prostrate enemy to the heart, the principle of prospective principle of virtue is abandoned, the retrospective passion of revenge triumphs—he is the injured man and I become, myself, the assassin.

Let us consider then that nothing but the last extremity can justify an appeal to violence. Let us not listen to that sanguinary enthusiasm which breathes revenge—which talks of force and violence. There is no force like truth; there is Edition: current; Page: [162] no omnipotency but reason. Let this force, this omnipotency be the objects of your constant attention; and do not fear, Citizens, but that the condition of mankind will be ameliorated. All amelioration must be gradual; no society ever rushed at once from absolute tyranny to perfect freedom; no person ever rose from raging disease to florid health in an instant. We may change one sort of misery for another, but change is not always redress.

Citizens, this prospective system, which is to lead by steps to political amelioration, ought to actuate you not only in your public but in your private feelings. Never forget that virtue is a uniform principle; that the same principle that makes a man virtuous in public life, would, if applied to private affairs, make him virtuous there also. There is but one principle of virtue—the principle of benevolence; and the only way to promote this benevolence is to keep our attention fixed upon the circumstances that surround us, and to be constantly considering how we can ameliorate or improve the condition of mankind. To this all our faculties ought to be directed; nor let it be forgotten, that in whatever notions or prejudices we have been brought up, we are practically vicious whenever we consume the energies of our minds by fixing our eyes upon that which is past and irretrievable, and resigning ourselves to the retrospective emotions of revenge, repentance, or regret.

Citizens, in this respect, I come before you (such as it is) with my example as well as my precept. I have recently passed through one of the severest struggles which human nature can experience. I have lost, since I saw you last, a parent by whose aged side, year after year, I have toiled through many a scene of trial and calamity. With her I have met, unappalled the grim countenance of disaster—almost of want; and I have beheld in her age, the same fortitude, the same undrooping resolution that buoyed up myself. This aged partner has been torn from my side. I will not dwell upon her virtues; for what are the virtues of an obscure individual to mankind? I will tell you, however, that she fell a victim to the public spirit of her son. Already bowed down with years and infirmities, the blast of ministerial oppression aimed against this head, though powerless to bend the young oak against which it was directed, struck, in its passage, the aged plant, whose sap could no longer resist its influence.

She broke.—I beheld, when I came from the jaws of my miserable dungeon, the characters of death upon her countenance. Edition: current; Page: [163] I saw that she was not long for this world. My conviction was too prophetic. She is gone. I have soothed her last moments; I have caught her expiring breath; and these hands have sealed her eyes.

What can I more?

Society lives; and it is to the living, and to them alone, that benefit can be imparted.

Be gone, ye idle, melancholy sensations; ye feelings that can produce no fruit.—I call upon Roman energy—I call upon Spartan fortitude, which characterised the pure and virtuous republicans of the ancient world;—upon these I call to steel my heart with firmness. Let me, so long as I exist, impart (such as it is) my advice, my little knowledge, my best assistance to my fellow citizens; and let me not, by unavailing regrets, and retrospective views, consume the energies to which I have no exclusive right—which are your’s—which are the property of my country—of all mankind. For I am not a solitary individual. I stand not upon a world where I behold no inhabitant but myself. I am but a part—a little, little member of the great animal of human society—a palpilliary nerve upon one of the extremities! and I must do that duty to the whole, for which by my structure and organization I am adapted.


The Banditti of Ireland, now known by the name of Whiteboys or Rapparees, were originally called Tories; and gave their name to that notorious Faction. The following Account of them, therefore, from Sir John Dalrymple may be entertaining; especially as the reflecting Reader will trace in their manners a striking resemblance with those of the Chouans and Royalists of LaVendeé, whom that raving Aristocrat, Montgaillard, with consistent infatuation callsthe virtuous and simple peasants of Poithou.”

THE Rapparee was the lowest of the low people. He lived in the country upon potatoes alone; in his clothing he was half naked; his house consisted of a mud-wall, and a few branches of trees, covered with grass or bushes, the one end of the branch being stuck in the ground, and the other Edition: current; Page: [164] laid upon the wall; a fabric which could be erected in an hour. He was a part rather of the spot on which he grew, than of the community to which he belonged; or when he entered into society, he did it with all the selfishness and ferocity of uncivilized nature. Each party (the adherents of James and William) hunted out these people against the other though the instrument of vengeance often recoiled upon themselves; for the Rapparees knew little difference between friend and foe; receiving no mercy, they gave none; and, not regarding their own lives, they were always masters of those of other men. They rendezvoused during the night, coming to some solitary station, from an hundred places at once, by paths which none else knew: there, in darkness and desarts, they planned their mischievous expeditions. Their way of conducting them was, sometimes to make incursions from a distance in small bodies, which as they advanced, being joined at appointed places by others, greater and greater every hour; and, as they made their incursions at times when the moon was quite dark, it became impossible to trace their steps, except by the cries of those whom they were murdering, or the flames of the houses, barn-yards, and villages, which they burnt as they went along. At other times, they hung about the cantonments of the troops, under pretence of asking written protections, or of complaining that they had been driven from their country by the other army. It was difficult to detect, or to guard against them till too late, seeing they went unarmed, and more with the appearance of being overcome with fears themselves, than of giving them to others: but they carried the locks of their muskets in their pockets, or hid them in dry holes of old walls, and laid the muskets themselves, charged and closely corked up at the muzzle and touch-hole, in ditches with which they were acquainted: so that bodies of regular troops often found themselves defeated in an instant, they knew not how or from whence. Their retreat was equally swift and safe; because they ran off into bogs, by passages with which others were unacquainted, and hiding themselves in the unequal surfaces formed by the boggrass, or laying themselves all along in muddy water, with nothing but the mouth and nostrils above, it became more easy to find game than the fugitives. These people gave an unusual horror to the appearance of war; because they mangled the bodies of those whom they slew, partly from rage, and partly to strike terror; and they tore corses from their graves for the sake of their shrouds.

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The world is by this time pretty well acquainted with some of the juggling theatrical tricks which were played off, with such unavailing effrontery, during the late trials. Few of these, perhaps, were more disgracful to the managers of the prosecution than that which related to the following Bagatelles. Three songs, printed upon one sheet of paper, were produced in Court, with great solemnity, by the counsel for the prosecution, upon Hardy’s trial; which were proved to have been written and published by me, and sung at the London Corresponding Society. Neither of these songs were, however, read, although Mr. Erskine humorously pressed the prosecutors to amuse the Court with them, as they might enliven them after the dull business they had been obliged to toil through. But in the course of the examinations frequent allusions were made to, and verses quoted, not from these, but from songs of a sanguinary and censurable description; and thus the Court was left to suppose, and many persons, both in and out of Court did suppose, that those bloodthirsty stanzas were the production of my pen. The fact is, that no sentiment of that description ever was sent into the world from me: unless, indeed, the ludicrous story of the Game Cock (a narrative founded in fact, and repeated in the warmth of debate, to shew the difference between muscular and voluntary motion), can be considered as an exception.

The same artifice was again played off, in part, upon my trial. The songs were again produced, with their former solemnity, and proved to have been sold at my Lecture Room; but immediately laid by in silence, notwithstanding the admonition of my Counsel, “What, the Songs are not to be read.” The sanguinary quotations were not, however repeated; it appearing, perhaps, better to trust to the general impression already spread abroad, than to hazard the unravelling of the plot by necessitating me to demand that my songs should be read.

I shall make no comment on this proceeding. It requires none. But, considering the opinion that has been sent abroad, it is, perhaps an act of justice to myself and to society, to reprint these Songs, that the public may see how far they support the character so insidiously given to them.

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SONG I. News from Toulon; or, The Men of Gotham’s Expedition. Sung at the Globe Tavern, at the General Meeting of the London Corresponding Society.

    • SILENCE, men of Gotham all, in country, court and city,
    • With drooping hearts and downcast eyes, attend unto my ditty,
    • A ditty all so sad and strange, from Toulon late I brought it,
    • And sure you ought to love it dear, for dearly you have bought it.
    • Hum! hum! hum!
    • The burthen of my song is a wondrous transformation,
    • That late (by hocus pocus sure) befel a neighbouring nation,
    • For while Bastilles were tumbling down, and palaces of Neroes,
    • Lo! a Swinish Multitude were chang’d to men and heroes.
    • Hum! hum! hum!
    • There Soldiers, hir’d to cut the throats of those whom they protected,
    • Transform’d to zealous Citizens, the Court’s commands rejected;
    • While Lawyers (wondrous strange to tell!) to honest men converted,
    • Plac’d Reason on the seats of Law, and quirks and fees deserted.
    • Hum! hum! hum!
    • There cloister’d Monks, who dream’d and pray’d, with shaven skulls so bare, Sirs,
    • Transform’d to useful lab’rers, itch no more in shirts of hair, Sirs,
    • E’en Priests their holy frauds forsake, the public weal to plan, Sirs,
    • And chaste and pious Nuns demand to learn the rights of man, Sirs.
    • Hum! hum! hum!
    • There Superstition’s temples too—(but hush! I fear ’tis treason!
    • Are chang’d to temples (strange indeed!) of liberty and reason!
    • While crucifixes, relics, shrines, apostles, saint, and martyr,
    • These sans culottes (oh! impious dogs!) for beef and brandy barter.
    • Hum! hum! hum!
  • Edition: current; Page: [167]
    • Oh! woeful Times! when schemes like these can madden every brain, Sirs,
    • When priests, saints, lords and ministers come tumbling down amain, Sirs;
    • Then those who’ve plunder’d long the land, alas! refund their riches,
    • That every villain Sans-culotte may get a pair of breeches—
    • Hum! hum! hum!
    • But woe, alas! not here can stop the renovating fury,
    • But Kings and Princes, Queens and Lords must bow to judge and jury;
    • Nay, little Capet, so ’twas said, since changes went so fast, Sirs,
    • Must cobble up his royal thoughts, and labour at his last, Sirs.
    • Hum! hum! hum!
    • This news to Gotham late arrived, when her wise men assembled,
    • While pensioners were struck aghast, and every placeman trembled;
    • To arms!” cries each Aristocrate, “for if the tempest gathers,
    • They’ll slay us all, and tan our hides, to furnish upper leathers.”
    • Hum! hum! hum!
    • A mighty man, and mighty mighty fleet, then sought a mighty harbour;
    • He came, saw, conquer’dGotham’s Chiefs declar’d it quite the barber.
    • Then thus says he “To France at large I bring most glorious news, Sirs;
    • For Louis, by my NOSE I swear! shall never cobble shoes, Sirs.”
    • Hum! hum! hum!
    • But, ah! those base-born sans culottes kick’d up a mighty riot,
    • Nor man of Gotham, Naples, Spain, could sleep a night in quiet:
    • The panic seiz’d on man and beast, of terror all were full, Sirs;
    • And e’en his Popeship’s cows and calves were silent as his BULL, Sirs.
    • Hum! hum! hum!
  • Edition: current; Page: [168]
    • Thus while the rout and ruin reign, which nothing could controul, Sirs,
    • Each would himself a Cobler be, might he but save his soul, Sirs;
    • Nay, Gotham’s Captain, while the balls were whizzing in his ears, Sirs,
    • Began to think he was not like to live a thousand years, Sirs.
    • Hum! hum! hum!
    • Thus ends, the woeful tale, good friends, of Gotham’s expedition;
    • A tale must fill each loyal breast with sorrow’s sharp attrition,
    • And so God save kings, priests, and lords, and princes altogether,
    • And shield them, in these changeful times, from lapstones, lasts, and leather.
    • Hum! hum! hum!

☞ Since the insertion (in No. V.) of the account of Harry Eaton’s Examination, as printed in the Morning Post, I have received, from himself, a correct and authentic copy of that very interesting document, which shall be inserted in the next Number; and which will be found much more satisfactory than the one before published: The fact, I understand, is, that as soon as he returned from the Privy Council, he wrote out, in the most accurate manner he could recollect, the whole Examination; a copy of which he took to the office of the Morning Post. This copy was unfortunately lost by the person to whom it was intrusted, but not till after he had read it over with considerable attention; and from the recollection of this perusal the report printed in that paper was made. I am happy, however, to have an opportunity of laying before the public a much more ample account of that very curious examination: the authenticity of which the youth is ready to attest.

asterisks The two following Numbers will contain the whole of the Lectures “On the distinction between Party Spirit and Public Principle; with Strictures on the Letters of Lord Lauderdale to the Peers of Scotland, and Lord Fitzwilliam on the Affairs of Ireland.”

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Historical Strictures on Whigs and Tories.From the First Lecture On the Distinction between Party Spirit and Public Principle.

Among the innumerable evils which have been entailed upon mankind by party names, there is one which deserves particular attention; namely, that they have a tendency to perpetuate divisions between one body of individuals and another, long after all the principles which were in agitation between them have died away; and thus by creating the appearance of distinction where, in reality, it does not exist, delude the public mind, lead it from the investigation of general principles to the contests of individuals, and make them, instead of virtue, the objects of adoration.

I do not mean, Citizens, to contend with you, that while governments continue to be constituted as most governments at this time are, that society can be expected to exist without such distinctions. I am very well aware, that while corruption shall domineer, and tyranny overwhelm, there will necessarily be lines of distinction between the great body of the people and their rulers. One part of the nation will be advocates for the rights of the people, and the other sycophants to the power that can reward their adulation. I am sure, that while this system lasts we must always have some who will idolize authority and be advocates for the prerogatives of rulers; while others, I hope, we shall always have who will stand forward as champions for the imprescriptible rights of man, and maintain, with firmness and ardour, the duty of government to promote the general happiness and welfare of the human race.

“There is no city,” says Machiavel, “but is divided into two factions; because the nobles always seek to command and oppress the people, and the people to save themselves from obedience and oppression.” And the most revered of the ancient historians, by shewing us that the same character prevailed in the aristocracy of ancient Rome, as Machiavel ascribes to that of modern Italy, lead us to conclude that the Edition: current; Page: [170] vice is in the institution and not in the particular individuals. “Avarice and insolence,” says Tacitus, “are the common vices of the great.” “Pride and arrogance,” says Patercullus, “are natural to nobility.” And Montesquieu, though himself a member of the aristocracy, finishes the picture by describing “ignorance, indolence, and contempt of civil government” as the “natural characteristics of the nobles.” It is evident, therefore, that while society is so organized, parties, in one sense, that is to say, contentions of opposing interests must continue.

While such systems exist it is in vain to look for that unanimity which proceeds from languor and indifference on the one hand, or from a universal spirit of liberty on the other. It is only when governments are so constituted either that nothing but despotism and doctrines of despotism can be promulgated, or that the interests of the governors and governed are united together, that such unanimity can prevail.

I will not pretend to say under what particular forms of government the latter may be expected, for the future, best to flourish; but certain it is, that, if we regard the history of mankind, we shall find that those which have been farthest removed from the government of an individual, and have tended most to the republican system, have been those in which this virtuous concord has most prevailed; and in which the most glorious effects have consequently been produced to mankind.

It is not my duty, however, to point out modes and forms of government. It will be more instructive, perhaps, to keep the eye fixed upon that state of society which, in theory, we ought to enjoy in this country, to compare how far this theory and the practice agree together, and what are the pernicious excrescences which have grown out of the government to the detriment of this theory.

As long as this country has been distinguished by any spirit of enquiry or liberty, it has been divided regularly and uniformly into two parties. At first we had no other division than that which resulted from one party supporting the individual authority of the sovereign, and the other maintaining the power and the equal prerogatives of the aristocracy.

The contentions of the aristocrats of former periods, who were the only persons who had power or light enough to contend, have been marked with great approbation in the pages of history; in some instances perhaps with more than they deserve, compared with the present state of political illumination, Edition: current; Page: [171] but certainly not more than they merited, considering the state of society in which those exertions were made. I refer you particularly to those contentions which took place during the reigns of John and Henry III.—contentions which, though really in support of aristocratical privileges, with very few exceptions, produced what has been considered as the foundation or ground work of the British Constitution.

I shall not enter into the merits of Magna Charta. It is a melancholy task to investigate the merits of departed friends! I shall not, therefore, enter into the merits or defects of that great instrument, as it is called, of our liberties. It is enough to observe that it formed a barrier between two great parties in the nation; one of which was sometimes prevalent, and sometimes the other. We find, however, that they agreed uniformly in one principle, namely, to keep no faith while they had the power in their hands to break it. Sovereigns and nobles vied with each other in the arts of treachery and perjury, and all the powers of the priesthood assembled to give countenance to their proceedings. They stood with lighted tapers in their hands, and swore to observe the provisions of the Great Charter and the Charta de Foresta, they threw down their candles, and with solemn imprecations wished that the souls of those who should violate them might so expire and stink in hell (such was the elegant language of the times) as the tapers stunk and expired upon the earth. But no sooner was the sword hid in the scabbard, no sooner was the armour hung in idle trophies in the halls of the respective Barons, than the Charters were violated, the provisions of liberty, such as they were, repealed; and the sovereigns, once again, such is the infatuated thirst of power which particular officers create, aimed at arbitrary dominion and attempted to support it by mercenary troops and alliances with foreign despots like themselves.

The barons, not more nice, when they had got the king entirely in their power (as sometimes happened) continued to rule, in his name it is true—for ministers, you know, can make use of the name of the sovereign when they have usurped all the power to themselves!—They continued to make use of the name of the sovereign, but grasped to themselves the power; and oppressed at once both the prerogatives of the crown, and the rights and liberties of the people.

These parties differed, in some degree, from the factions of the present day. It was not a mere struggle who should be in place and who should be out. One party contended to support an absolute despotism over the whole, and the other Edition: current; Page: [172] struggled for the emancipation of a class. They had one thing, however, in common with modern parties. They had no first principles, no great lights of truth and virtue to guide and direct them; and they were therefore totally indifferent about the interests of the great mass of the people, any further than as it was necessary to hold out to them some shew of favour and advantage to persuade them to be subservient to their views.

In later periods other struggles have arisen. The accession of the family of the Stuarts, happened at a period when mankind were considerably enlghtened. Enquiry had gone abroad; and there were some persons who could read and write, aye, and understand what they read into the bargain, who were neither priests nor nobles. Enquiry getting thus abroad, the mass of the people began to feel a disposition to attain a degree of liberty for themselves, and we soon had the appearance of parties formed upon something more like principle than any thing evident in the former parts of our annals.

I shall not dwell upon passages of history so well known. It will be necessary only to call your attention to the names, the description, and the nature of the parties which existed at that period. We shall find that in the distinctions of Whig and Tory, whatever may now be the case, there was, originally, an actuating motive in one different from that which prompted the other; and that they were not, in the first instance, merely nick-names fortwo factions mutually struggling for the attainment of the same object.

Citizens, we shall find that Whig and Tory, originally meant, in this country, precisely the same as Aristocrat and Sans Culotte now mean in France.

I know very well, Citizens, that I have been tried for High Treason for calling myself a Sans Culotte, and that some who are called Whigs are not very well pleased at the term. To such Whigs I may be expected to make some apology, before I endeavour to prove that, if they mean any thing when they talk of Whiggism, they have no right to find fault with those who boast of their Sans Culottism. But apology is not the language of the advocates of truth, and if I can convince them that the thing is as I state, it is not for me to enquire, whether they will be pleased or displeased with the conviction.

Bishop Burnet informs us, that the origin of this title of Whig, is to be traced to Scotland. He tells us, that the South West counties of Scotland, not containing a sufficient quantity of corn for the consumption of the inhabitants, and Edition: current; Page: [173] the Northern portions of the country producing a larger quantity than was necessary for their consumption, a great fair was held at Leith, to which the inhabitants of the Northern part used to convey their grain, where the Whiggamors of the South, that is to say, the drivers of Whiggams or waggons, used to come to purchase the corn wanted in their respective towns and villages.

Now it happened, that some how or other, these Whiggamors, coming to Leith, happened to pick up something besides the grain which they came to buy. They happened to pick up some degree of intelligence, relative to the oppression of their country, (feeling enough of it themselves) and the causes of that oppression, and to contract thereby a desire for redress.

After the defeat of the Duke of Hamilton’s army, the ministers, I mean the preachers of that part of the country, animated the people to seek a redress of their grievances; and they accordingly went to the amount of 60,000 to Edinburgh, where they were headed by the Marquis of Argyle. This was afterwards called the Whiggamores insurrection; and by way of abreviation, the insurrection of the Whigs. And the Aristocrats, by way of fixing an odium upon the advocates of liberty, called them all, in terms of contempt, Whigs, or persons so poor and wretched, that they were obliged to drive their own teams to market. Thus the title at first fixed upon the common people of Scotland, became afterwards to be applied to all persons, of whatever rank or condition, who were advocates for those people. From Scotland it travelled in time to England, and eventually supplanted the name of Roundheads, by which the partizans of the Parliament were at first distinguished. Thus, then, by Whigs, is meant nothing more than the common people, or advocates for the common people.

Now let us see what is the meaning of Sans Cullotte. The wretchedness of the common people of France under the old despotic government is well known. It was very common in the streets of Paris to see numbers of poor half naked beings shivering in want and wretchedness. Hence they came to be called Sans Cullottes: that is to say, people so wretched as not to possess a pair of inexpressibles to conceal their nakedness.

Precisely in this sense was the term Sans Cullottes made use of at the beginning of the present revolution. The enlightened friends of mankind, however, soon began to reflect that there was no great crime in being poor, and therefore thought Edition: current; Page: [174] it no shame to be considered Sans Cullottes themselves. Warmed with generous feelings they disdained to see these poor beings trampled on earth; and then treated with ignominy and insult because they were so trampled. They felt a common interest with their oppressed fellow Citizens, and claimed fellowship with them. We are Sans Cullottes also, said they; we uphold the principle that the multitude was not made for one or two individuals; but that government was instituted for the benefit of the multitude; and that, therefore, the Sans Cullottes ought to be so provided for and protected by the constitution of their country that distinctions so odious and contemptible might be wiped away. Thus terms of reproach became converted into expressions of public virtue and principle; and men were found in all ranks and departments of society, who were not ashamed to acknowledge that the human being shivering in want and nakedness was still one of his brethren: and that it was his duty to labour for his emancipation from such misery.

Citizens, Another definition of the term Whig, which some historians have insisted upon, is somewhat different. It will bring you, however, to the same point, and shew you that the principle of defending the rights of the lower orders of society was all that was meant by this name. There was a particular sort of butter milk in Scotland, the general food of the lower orders of society, which was called Whig, whence Whig-eaters and Whigs—a name equally descriptive of the lower orders of society, who were guilty of the abominable crime of being only able to obtain sour butter-milk for their food and sustenance.

Now, Citizens, having shewn that by Whig, or Sans Cullottes, or Swinish Multitude, nothing more is meant than the common, that is, the great mass of the people, let us see what is the origin of the word Tory. We shall find, I believe, that it resembles pretty much the idea that most people at this day begin to entertain of Aristocrats:—I do not mean by Aristocrats those men who, from never having considered the subject, and not understanding, in reality, what the principles of either party are, have been led by the visionary ravings of Burke and Wyndham, to suppose that Sans Cullotism means cutting throats, and that Aristocracy means preserving property. Such infatuated dupes deserve our pity, but are not entitled to our reproach.

Tories, then, was a name given in the time of the Stewarts to the party at first distinguished by the title of Cavaliers,—supporters Edition: current; Page: [175] of royal prerogative, supporters of the absolute dominion of a few over the great multitude.

The word Tory was a name originally belonging to an Irish banditti; a set of robbers who infested the mountains of that country, and committed all sorts of depredation upon the property of those who happened to fall within their power. That is to say, whenever they could get an opportunity, they levied taxes upon the people without waiting for their consent, or that of their representatives.

These Aristocrats of the woods and caves becoming so powerful as to foment an insurrection and rebellion in Ireland, and the king and his court being suspected of conniving at that insurrection, and being, by his agents the Cavalier Party, the prime mover of it, the name of Tory, by way of retaliation for the name of Whig, was given to all the supporters of arbitrary authority, who believed they had a right to take the money out of the people’s pockets without the sanction of genuine representation.

Thus Whig originally meant a poor man, or an advocate for the rights of the poor; Tory meant a plunderer, a robber; one who thought that a few have a right to commit indiscriminate spoil upon the great mass of mankind.

Thus, Citizens, these names are in reality as ancient as the first struggles between the people and their governors upon principles of liberty in this country. And you may see that they did originally convey some sort of meaning.

For a considerable time, however, the old distinctions of Cavalier and Roundhead continued to be more familiar in England.

The time when the names of Whig and Tory were pretty universally admitted on this side the Tweed is supposed, by Rapin, to be at the period of the unfortunate restoration of Charles the Second. I say unfortunate restoration. It has frequently been called the happy restoration, and the glorious restoration; but let us not be abused by terms and epithets. Unhappy indeed must it be for any country which, after a long and unavailing struggle for liberty, has a monarch restored to absolute despotism, uncurbed by any of those restrictions which the friends of virtue and humanity would wish to prescribe.

The intrigues of Hyde, afterward Lord Chancellor, and Monk, Earl of Albermarle, whose name has been so sounded and idolized, together with a few partizans, occasioned Edition: current; Page: [176] Charles II. to be restored without compact or conditions. So that after so many years of struggle and commotion, the country was tricked and cheated by a few individuals into the relinquishment of every advantage which those struggles and commotions ought to have secured. What the consequence was, we know full well. The country had afterwards that to do again which it had done better before; and after struggling, year after year, with the imperious despotism of Charles was obliged to drive James II. and his posterity out of the country for ever.

At the time when the party names I have been speaking of, were generally and universally adopted I am afraid a very considerable difference had taken place relative to the real meaning of the distinction. The Tories, it is true, still continued to resemble those great and worthy characters of Ireland, from whom they had taken their name. They still continued to plunder the people in so remorseless and shameless a manner, that were it not for the recollection of recent examples, we should not be able to persuade ourselves that ministers could be found with profligate impudence enough to attempt, or people who were so tame as to endure it. I am afraid, however, that those who continued to call themselves Whigs, did not preserve their principles in the same vigour. I cannot say that during the struggles with Charles and James, there does to my eye appear much of that disinterested virtue which had bloomed forth in the character of Hampden who sealed his principles with his blood, or those great and immortal colleagues whose struggle in the holy cause of liberty will command the admiration of mankind, so long as history shall remain and curiosity explore its page. After the fall of Sidney, at least, the names of Whig and Tory began to be little more than distinctions of two parties who were mutually struggling for the attainment of the same objects—places of emolument and distinction.

The characters of these two parties have been so ably sketched by the pen of Rapin that I shall take the liberty of quoting his own words, “Were you to rely on what is said by both, nothing is more just, more equitable than the motives by which they are actuated, namely, the glory of God, the honour of the king, the public good and the welfare of the nation. For my part, if I may speak my mind, it is my belief that, as they are all men, interest is the main spring of all their actions. Since the two parties were formed each has earnestly laboured to gain the superiority over the other Edition: current; Page: [177] because this superiority is attended with posts, honours, and dignities, which are conferred on their own members, by the prevailing, in exclusion of the contrary party. This made King William say,”—for the Dutchman had some penetration. He understood pretty well, that as it was better to have a Crown than a Stadtholderate, so also it was better to have a place under that Crown than to have no place at all. “This made King William say, that if he had places enough to bestow he could soon reconcile the two parties.

Indeed, Citizens, when we consider the very constitution and organization, if I may so express myself, of parties, it is impossible such distinctions can have any permanent meaning connected with principle. For mark their language. Tory families! Whig families! as if principles, as well as estates, could be entailed by a piece of parchment, or man could take the inheritance of virtue as he takes a family name! How can it be supposed that any house, as it is called, generation after generation, century after century, should be more inclined to favour the rights and liberties of mankind merely because the ancestors of that House maintained those principles of old?—as if virtue were only an exhalation of putrid effluvia from “dead men’s bones, and dust of rotten ancestry.”

Citizens, men of penetration have long seen through this mask of faction. They have long seen that Whiggism and Toryism were, in reality, nothing but stalking horses of aristocratical ambition. Whig and Tory had become so notoriously mere words of empty import, so early as the year 1711, that Dean Swift, though himself an adherent, in some sense, to the Tory faction, observes, “By this time all disputes about those principles which used originally to divide Whig and Tory were wholly dropped; and those fantastical words ought in justice to have been so too; provided we could have found out more convenient names whereby to distinguish lovers of peace from lovers of war.

I shall not pretend to support in this place the insinuation of Swift, that the Tories are friends to peace and Whigs to war: but I will say that if we are to have party distinctions, I could wish for such as have some meaning. Lovers of peace and lovers of war are certainly of this description. I hope, however, if this rational distinction does take place, it will be founded upon principle, and not upon family compact. I hope also, as the eyes of the people seem to be opening, that we shall soon find none in the party of the friends of war Edition: current; Page: [178] but the Ministerial Cabal, their Commissaries and Contractors, who are fattened by the general ruin and desolation.

But, Citizens, it cannot be concealed, that all parties have supported the system of general carnage; nor can it be otherwise so long as things are constituted as at present. So long as war can create a wide and extensive patronage; and one man, by means of corruption, perverting that which is called a House of Representatives, into a mere “expensive chamber for registering the edicts of a Minister,” can grasp that patronage in his individual hand, so long will every man who shall be firmly fixed in the seat of power, wish to plunge nations and continents into war, that he may reap the harvest of wealth and power which war creates. Accordingly we find, that the Whigs had no sooner placed their idol, William III. upon the throne, than this nation was plunged into a crusade almost as mad as the one in which we are now engaged. Two partition treaties were signed between this Royal Republican, this Stadtholder metamorphosed into a King, by the summer sun of Britain, like a grub into a butterfly in the month of May!—Two partition treaties were signed by this Dutch Saviour of Britain, and other Sovereigns of Europe, to divide the kingdom of Spain; to fix the succession of a country to which they had no right; and to force Kings and Constitutions down the throats of the people of that country. This ambitious project sowed the seeds of incessant war; and the swords of the contracting parties were alternately turned against each other’s bosoms, as seems likely to be the case among the still more frantic crusaders of the present day.

In the reign of Queen Ann too, we find our famous Whigs, our lovers of the rights and liberties of the people, obstinately persevering in the war of the Grand Alliance, till the exhausted treasures, and miseries of the country roused a general indignation against the very name of Whiggism, and rendered popular, for awhile, the monstrous doctrines of Toryism.—Hence the wretch Sacheverell became popular by blaspheming common sense, and publicly upholding “divine right” and “passive obedience:” And when doomed to punishment by the sentence of the law, (for this is an argument which Whigs can use as well as Tories:—they also can answer by prosecution, and refute by punishment!) we find this very Sacheverel, by doctrines so preposterous, swelled into dangerous importance, and made the idol of the giddy populace. But the triumph of Toryism was Edition: current; Page: [179] of short duration. The Whigs returned to power, and maintained a general ascendancy till the present Sovereign happily came to the throne.

It must be admitted, Citizens, that the Whigs certainly had done important services to the House of Brunswick; that it was by means of these Whigs that the settlement in their favour was made, and the present illustrious family were seated on the throne. It has, however, happened, from wife and benevolent motives, I make no doubt, that during the present reign the Whigs have enjoyed but little power or confidence. The Whigs have, therefore, been enemies to the system of war, which procured them no places, no pensions, and no patronage.

But, Citizens, it is evident, that the pacific principle does not really belong to a particular set of men. I have never found any first principles or elementary doctrines laid down by one party in direct contradiction to the doctrines of the other. I have found them opposing particular measures, and contending with all the warmth of interested zeal, that the party in power abuses the administration and government of the country in a way in which they would not abuse it if they had the happiness to be in the same situation. But to what principle have they pledged themselves? What object have you seen them stedfastly pursue? Has not party after party amused you with hopes of reform, and when they came into power, have they not totally abandoned every project upon which they had built their popularity.

Party enthusiasm, however, has continued to be nourished; and many individuals even of considerable intelligence, have mistaken this party enthusiasm for attachment to liberty. Hence the names of Wilkes and Liberty and Fox and Liberty, have been echoed from mouth to mouth, as if the men were the chief objects of our veneration, and liberty nothing but the domestic waiting in their train.

The conduct, however, of persons formerly members of what is called the Whig Party, has, I believe, in a considerable degree, opened the eyes of the nation. We have seen Burke, so indignant against the wicked attempt to curb the spirit of American liberty, the first to raise the war-whoop of Faction, and enforce the necessity of plunging all Europe into war, to destroy the same virtuous principles in France. Yes, we have seen this individual once so loud in behalf of liberty and the Rights of Man, brandishing his dagger in political phrenzy, and out ranting the maddest hero that ever strutted Edition: current; Page: [180] in a barn, in execration of the very name of Freedom, while Wyndham, Elliot, Portland, Spencer, joined in the chorus of apostacy, and applauded his ravings.

What principle did Whiggism ever uphold which the leaders of Whiggism have not abandoned and reprobated? Consult the furious declamations of this Burke; consult the metaphysical phrenzies of Wyndham; and the childish longings of Portland for a bit of ribbon. Consult, if you please, the conduct of Fitzwilliam—popular as a particular circumstance may have made him in the fister kingdom!—See this temporary idol of an infatuated nation coalesce, for the short lived dignity of mock royalty, with a man whom he held in the utmost indignation, and at the very time when the conduct of that man was more suspicious than ever, and then lament if you can that the dreams of his ambition should end so soon in degradation and insult from a being who seems to have entered into a conspiracy to degrade the aristocratic character below even what the advocates of democracy would represent it.

Citizens, if you could have any doubt that places, emoluments, and distinctions are the only objects for which those parties have been contending, this must convince you—As soon as all hope of getting into power by other means has vanished, what do they do? Why, at the very time when these men whose strides to arbitrary power they have so frequently denounced, are taking a stride more gigantic than ever entered the imagination of any minister, for above a century, you find them making compacts and agreements with these men, and accepting the very scraps and fragments of places—the very offal from the full banquet of ministerial insolence; grasping at any thing they can get, and on any terms; and consenting to seal the compact of their copartnership in the blood of patriots and reformers.

In short—What has been the conduct of all parties? Have they not uniformly succeeded one to the other, and pursued the same measures when in place which they reprobated when out? Has any administration, for half a century back, nay, for a century, granted any one advantage to the people, but what has been extorted by hard and determined struggles, and usurped back again as soon as the public mind is quieted. Leave them then and their unintelligible squabbles to themselves; and fix your eyes upon nobler objects. Principles alone and not particular measures ought to occupy your attention. There can be no good practice which does not spring out of good principle, for principles are the stamina of society, and individual actions are only the smaller ramifications produced from their commanding energy.

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WHAT then are the great advantages which this Whig Party, ever since it was so denominated, has bestowed upon this country.

They placed, it is true, William III. upon the throne: or rather the Whigs and Tories coalesced together; because they found that not only the people, but the Aristocracy were to be sacrificed to the sullen and gloomy tyranny of James the Second: because they saw that priests and superstition were to have the sole dominion of the country; and that the power neither of one party nor the other could be supported without a change. They placed William the Third upon throne, but what restrictions did they make to secure the happiness of the people?—Did they reform the abuses in the representation of the Commons House of Parliament? Did they restore to the people their right of annual Parlaments and Universal Suffrage? No.—Did they repeal the law of Henry VII. by which Universal Suffrage was abolished, and the present system of borough jobbing introduced? No: They could get no accession to power; they could get no influence or emolument by such alterations, and therefore left them as they found them: or rather they ratified, by their triennial bill, that which never had been ratified before. They gave the colour of law to that which before was usurpation; and sanctified the oppression they ought to have overthrown. But mark what they did besides—They plunged the country into continental wars; they laid the foundation of that national debt which has been ever since increasing, year after year, till its enormous burden is ready to crush the nation into ruin; they connived at the horrible massacres of Glenco; massacres more deliberate and more wicked than those that have taken place in France, during the Revolution.

Let us trace them a little further.—What did they do in the reign of Queen Anne? They procured, it is true, the bill for the succession of the House of Hanover. We, no doubt, feel as we ought, the gratitude due to the Whigs on that account. But they still pursued the same conduct of plunging into continental wars, which swelled the national debt, of which before they had laid the foundation, and increased the burdens and calamities of the country. These same Whigs having seated the House of Hanover upon the throne, the first Parliament of George I. met upon the 17th of March 1715. And one of their first acts was to confirm the system of maintaining a Edition: current; Page: [182] standing army in time of peace in the country. They had already assented to it in the reign of William III. They now confirmed it.—Another of their Acts was the Riot Act, under which a poor being who shewed an honest indignation against Crimps and Kidnappers lately expired by the felon hand of the executioner. Another of the measures of this Whig administration, was the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. The Whigs speak loudly against its suspension in the present instance; and they do rightly; but this will shew you that Whigs and Tories, when in power, can use the same instruments. I do not mean to say that the pretences for the suspension in 1715 were quite so weak and frivolous as those under which it is now suspended. But they set the example to those at present in power. Another of the acts which passed under the administration of these Whigs was the famous Septennial Act. They had already abridged the right of election from annual to once in three years, and now they reduced it to once in seven. They might, as justly have passed another Act to make the Parliement perpetual, and the seats descendible, like other property, from father to son. And descendible from father to son in reality they are: for it is not the individual who sits there, it is the person who appoints the Member that is the real Legislator: and if Mr. Rose, the immaculate, the modest Mr. Rose, possesses, as I understand, a freehold estate in as much plank and green baize in St. Stephen’s Chapel, as six Members can cover with their representative bums, it follows as a consequence that Mr. Rose, and his descendants to all generations are in possession of an hereditary right to six voices in that virtuous Assembly. So much for the representation of the people, which the “soi disant Friends of the People” would not now distract the public mind by seeking to reform.

On the frequent Instances of Tyranny and Corruption among English Judges.
From the Preface to State Trials.

  • A Judge is the Creature of the Crown.

“IT has not always been the good fortune of England to have the bench adorned with such persons as behaved impartially, without bearing hard upon the innocent, or shewing unallowable favour to the guilty. The reader will light upon Edition: current; Page: [183] certain periods, wherein the Judges, who ought, by the duty of their place, to be the great barrier, and to act impartially between Prince and People, have, notwithstanding given opinions in direct contradiction to the known fundamental laws of the nation, and, as far as in them lay, sacrificed the constitution and liberties of the kingdom to the pride and ambition of an arbitrary Monarch. This generally ended in the downfall of such Judges, and the Ministers whose tools they were; the politics of those times not having arrived at that height, to know how to influence the representative body of the nation: for what need could Ministers have to corrupt the interpreters of the law, if the makers of it were entirely at their devotion?”

[This reflection is in part very just. It may, however, sometimes be worth the while of the proprietor of a dependant majority in the House of Commons to corrupt the Judges, because, on account of the superstitious attachment of the people to the idea of being governed by their ancient laws, it is safer sophistically to violate the laws, by means of agents who can no longer be made responsible for their misinterpretations, than openly to repeal and alter them as fast as a Minister might find occasion.

Besides such interpreters are necessary engines to destroy, ex post facto interpretations, such virtuous men as may be bold enough to combat and expose the incroachments of the despot.]

“Others there have been (as the reader will have too frequent occasion to remark) who, regardless of right and wrong, and all the solemn oaths they had sworn, have under colour of law, but yet in open defiance of natural justice, made no scruple to murder the innocent, and by foul, unwarrantable practices to acquit the guilty, just as they received their directions from, or thought it would be best pleasing to those above them: to such a monstrous pitch of barefaced iniquity were they arrived, that they stuck not to determine the same point different ways at different times, making the law a mere nose of wax, but always turning it to the destruction of the person tried before them.”

Fatal Effects of the Dependance, and consequent Pliability and Corruption of Judges.

“THIS Judge,” says Mr. Pierpoint, speaking of Sir Robert Berkley, in the time of Charles I. “did advise such a Edition: current; Page: [184] government as future Kings here might exercise the highest tyranny, and the subjects want the benefit of restraints, known to the most slavish eastern nations; where, if their prince do unjustly, he hath hatred for it, and the dangers that follow that. There is no such bondage as when the laws of freedom are misrepresented by Judges to make men slaves.

For a Judge to be unjust more hurts the public than any other. He is not suspected. What a Judge doth, is looked on as a thing that ought to be done. The most pernicious great man that by cunning hath got to himself the heart and tongue of his prince, his ill acts have died with him, if not taken up by others, and then they walk in darkness; no man will justify what he doth, by saying such a favourite did it: But the unjust judgments of this Judge were given in noon-day, were done in the face of the whole kingdom, in the hearing of such as might carry the news to all parts of the realm, and was therefore done: his unjust judgments were our records. We have seen wicked great men most craftily politic; they hated our laws, yet not meeting with active Judges moulded to their purposes, they and their acts have died, the realm flourished: but of late, others less politic, meeting with most unjust Judges, every way as ill as they coul wish them to be; then did the kingdom faint, under the load of its misery did long struggle.”—“If the designs of some would not have such a man to be at liberty, a warrant from some of the Lords of the Council would soon have laid him in prison, and given no cause; had he moved this Judge to be discharged or bailed, he could have obtained neither. If their ways would not have endured that man to live, a Judge, reviling the prisoner, and the Counsel that moved for his discharge or bail, joined with the hate of some great man, might soon have moved a gaoler for unwholesome rooms and lodging, and ill diet for his prisoner, and they may soon take life away. Offenders in prisons are looked after to be safe only; such as are brought in by power against law, are abused.

St. T. vol. i. p. 693.

A Reflection from Voltaire.

Human Nature has not arrived at such perfection, as to admit that any Prince shall have a sufficient quantity of moderation to be content with all the power it is possible for him to have; wisdom enough to know his own happiness, and goodness sufficient to support the happiness of others, when instrumental to his own.

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Copied from the Memorandums written by himself, immediately upon his return. (The Original in his own Hand-writing is in the possession of J. T. and can be produced if ever it should be necessary.)

ON the 14th of May last, Mr. Schaw the messenger, with two assistants, came to the house of J. Thelwall, commanding me to appear before the Privy Council, and to go with them now; and on going before the Privy Council they asked me the following questions:—

Q. What is your name?

A. Harry Eaton.

Q. Do you live with Mr. Thelwall?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. How long have you lived with him?

A. About four or five months.

Here one of the Privy Council asked if I was sworn; and, upon being answered in the negative, he desired an officer present to swear me; upon which I told them, that I would not answer any questions, unless Mr. Thelwall was present; as I was not of myself a competent judge what questions I ought, or ought not, to answer.

The Attorney General then said, “that I was not brought there on any charge of any crime; and, therefore, I must answer such questions as were put to me.” Upon which I said, that I would not answer any questions unless I could have the opinion of a council, or an attorney, what questions I ought or ought not to answer.

The Attorney General then said, that what I alluded to could not be granted; and desired a person to swear me. Upon which I told the Privy Council, that I would suffer any torture, which the human mind can inflict, rather than be on my oath. Here again the Attorney General rose and told me, that I was not brought there to be tortured; and then suffered me to be examined without being sworn. They then asked me the following questions:

Q. Do you know your Catechism?—A. No.

Q. Can you say the Lord’s Prayer?—A. No.

Q. Do you know the Belief?—A. No.

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Q. Are you a Christian?—A. Yes.

They then shewed me a Lecture on “the System of Law, and its abuses.”

Q. Is this Mr. Thelwall’s hand-writing?

A. I cannot say whether it is, or is not. So many people write so much alike, that I cannot be positive.

Q. Do you think it is Mr. Thelwall’s hand-writing?

A. I cannot say.

Q. Do you believe it is his hand-writing?

A. Yes, I believe it is his writing; but cannot be certain.

Q. Was you at Chalk Farm on the day the meeting was there?

A. Yes, I was.

Q. Who was there present?

A. A great concourse of people.

Q. Was not Richter there?

A. Yes, I believe he was.

Q. Did he not take an active part there?

A. I cannot tell.

Q. Was not Lovet there?

A. Yes, I think he was.

They then shewed me some resolutions in manuscript.

Q. Do you know whose hand-writing those resolutions are in?

A. No, I cannot tell.

Here one of the Privy Council said, that they knew whose writing one of them was, that it was Margarot’s. Upon which I made the following remarks.

Ah! there is an instance of ministerial tyranny. A man who, for being an advocate of the same cause as Mr. Pitt and the Duke of Richmond themselves professed before they had places and pensions. And if Mr. Margarot deserved to be transported; I am sure, that Mr. Pitt and the Duke of Richmond deserved equally to be transported too.

They then shewed me a Lecture “on Fasts and superstitious observances.”

Q. Do you know who wrote this?—A. Yes, I do.

Q. Did Mr. Thelwall write it?—A. No.

Q. Who did write it then?—A. Part I wrote myself.

Q. Who told you to write it?

A. I cannot tell. I wrote it from Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Q. Did you write it all?—A. No, I did not.

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Q. Did Mr. Thelwall write it?

A. I do not think it is Mr. Thelwall’s writing. It is too good a hand writing for his.

Q. Do you know these resolutions?

A. No, I do not. [They have since been proved by Evans to be Martin’s.

One of the Privy Council. Look at them. Take time,

A. No, I cannot tell whose writings they are.

Q. Did you ever see them before?

A. Never to my knowledge.

Q. Are you sure of that?—A. Yes, I am.

I here observed Mr. Pitt to be speaking to a person, whom I took to be a Member of the Privy Council, in a whispering manner; when they told me, that if I would tell all I knew, or speak the truth, the Minister would take me into favour. At this moment I felt myself so much hurt that I could not help interrupting, and expressing my indignation at such atrocious proceedings, in a place where I should have thought nothing but Virtue and Justice ought to have presided. I therefore said—

“I never have yet sullied my eyes by the sight of the Minister, nor never wish—for he is a Traitor to his King and Country.” Here one of the Privy Council asked me how he was a Traitor? I replied, by increasing the national debt; by causing unnecessary wars; and taxing the people to an enormous amount; and if he did not retract, he would make the poor people hate the King, as much as ever they loved him; when in justice they ought to blame the Minister, who alone deserves the indignation of the people.

Q. Does any body then hate the King?

A. No, not as I know; but they soon may.

Q. I think you said you was at Chalk Farm the day the meeting was held there?

A. Yes, I was.

Q. Was you at the supper likewise?

(Not answering directly, they told me that I was not very well that night, and that I only eat some bread and cheese).

A. Yes, I was there, and was very ill.

Q. We know that—Did you not see Green shew some knives of a peculiar construction?

A. I do not recollect any such thing.

Obs. A knife with a spring.

A. I don’t know.

Edition: current; Page: [188]

Q. Did you ever see any of that description at Mr. Thelwall’s?

A. Yes.

Here they paid great attention, and desired the person to be very particular in taking my answers. They then began as follows:

Q. When did you see it?

A. I cannot tell exactly.

Q. Who was it that had them there?

A. I do not know—But when it was shewn to Mr. Thelwall, he severely reprobated any such things being in the London Corresponding Society, as it might furnish the enemies of Reform with a pretence for arbitrary proceedings; and then entered into an abuse of the excesses of the French Revolution, and of the horrid massacres of Paris, and hoped never to see any such proceedings in this country; and remarked, that this (taking up a pen) should be the only weapon which the Society ought to use.

Q. Did not Mr. Thelwall take up a pot of porter and cut off the froth with a knife? And did not the meeting afterwards drink “The Lamp Posts?”

A. I was out of the room, and therefore knew nothing about the matter.

Q. Did you not take at the door the price of admission to Thelwall’s Lectures?—A. Yes.

Q. Did you not think it a mean situation?

A. No: I thought it an honour.

Q. Do you know where Richter lives?

A. No, I do not.

They then told me, after consulting among themselves for about ten minutes, that I was at liberty to go home, provided I promised to come to-morrow. I replied—

“I cannot promise any such thing; but if you should want me again (but I don’t think you will), Mr. Schaw knows where to find me.”

They then advised me to go home to the Messenger’s, where I should have a good supper and bed, as it was too late to go home. I then again told them that I would rather go home, as Mrs. Thelwall would be uneasy at my stay. They then said I might go if I pleased. But before I went away, I addressed the Privy Council as Gentlemen, and asked them, “If it was consistent with the humanity which ought to actuate the breast of man, to deprive Mrs. Thelwall and her Edition: current; Page: [189] child of an opportunity of seeing her husband, which was the case, by an order from Mr. Dundas, or from them.” Here one of the Members asked how old the child was? when I answered about ten months. Here again another said, that no such order went from them. But I said I hoped they would take this application into their consideration, as I assured them that it was truth; and that I was sorry to say by the inhuman order of Mr. Dundas. They then promised to take it into their consideration; and the day following Mr. Schaw came and told Mr. Thelwall, that she might then see her husband.

When I came from the Privy Council I went home: and and on going to Mr. Thelwall’s house, I was refused admittance by the constables; and on going away, I perceived a Messenger, who, I since have been informed, came just before me with an order to the constable, who was then attending, not to admit any person to the house; and upon which order I was refused admittance, although I told them again and again, I lived there, and was just come from the Privy Council.


☞ It is worthy of remark, that scarcely one fact came out upon the trials in favour of the prisoners, but what had been again and again attested during the examinations before the Privy Council. Whatever injustice therefore, there may have been in the prosecutions, Government certainly acted with their eyes open. It will be remembered, that a similar circumstance to that which is here attested, relative to my taking up a pen and declaring it to be the only weapon, &c. (an action and sentiment which had been exceedingly common with me) was given in evidence by one of the witnesses for the Crown upon my trial. And, indeed, it was impossible for any person to have witnessed my conduct in the Society, without obseving innumerable instances that marked my abhorrence of blood and violence. Yet the newspapers in the service of administration, during the whole time of our confinement, continued to paint me and my associates as a gang of bloodthirsty assassins; and on the very eve of our trials, that infamous vehicle of diurnal slander (the Times), occupied a whole page with the most profligate attempt to prejudicate us in the public mind, that even the assassin-like imagination of B—— or A—— could have devised. They represented the purposed convention as having assembled; painted Edition: current; Page: [190] the prisoners then about to be tried, in the perpetration of every enormity; and placed me, by the name of Telwell, in the chair, issuing orders for rapes and assassinations, pillaging houses, and burning towns and villages. This ingenious performance was called the “The New Times;” and was published in the paper of September the 6th, 1794.

So flagrant an attack upon every principle of public justice, never could have been tolerated by any country that had not a Pitt at the helm of Government, or a Sir John Scott for its Attorney General.



    • COME to a song of rustic growth
    • List all my jolly hearers,
    • Whose moral plainly tends to prove
    • That all the world are sheerers,
    • How shepherds sheer their silly sheep,
    • How statesmen sheer the state,
    • And all when they can sheer no more
    • Are sheer’d themselves by fate.
    • Then a sheering we will go, &c.
    • The farmer sends his clippers forth,
    • And deems it not a sin
    • To sheer the lambhog of his fleece,
    • And sometimes snip his skin,
    • Then if his landlord rack-rents him,
    • Can he deem it unfair
    • That he thus, in his turn, again,
    • Is snipp’d and fleec’d as bare.
    • Then a fleecing, &c.
    • Nor is the wealthy landlord’s self
    • Of fleecing free from fears;
    • How oft his rent-roll shrinks beneath
    • His steward’s clipping sheers;
    • And if he chances, for redress,
    • The lawyer in to call,
    • Why he takes out his legal sheers,
    • And fleeces worse than all.
    • With his capias, alias, and plurias, declaration, plea, replication, rejoinder, surrejoinder, rebutter, surrebutter, writ Edition: current; Page: [191] of enquiry, writ of error, habeas corpus—flaws; fees; three and fourpence, six and eightpence, thirteen and fourpence, one pound one, &c. &c. &c. &c. &c. ad infinitum.
    • Thus a fleecing he does go, &c.
    • But when the hour of sickness comes,
    • And fevers mar his sleep,
    • This legal fleecer proves, alas!
    • Himself a silly sheep;
    • Grave doctor’s call’d, whose potions, pills,
    • The speed of death encrease,
    • While his prescription sheers the while
    • Strip off the golden fleece;
    • When a fleecing he, &c.
    • At length the patient trembling feels
    • His latter end is nigh—
    • And conscience brings his crimes to view
    • And makes him fear to die,
    • That holy fleecer, call’d a priest,
    • Is then call’d quickly in,
    • Who, finding all the wool is gone,
    • E’en strips him of his skin.
    • Thus a fleecing, &c.
    • But hold, cries Mrs. Piety,
    • And lifts her goggling eyes,
    • O wicked lout, these holy men
    • Thus for to scandalize!
    • To steal the fleece, or strip the skin
    • Not wicked robbers they,
    • But watchful dogs, whose pious care
    • Keeps fox and wolf away.
    • Lest a fleecing they should go, &c.
    • Yet tell me, honest neighbours all,
    • When oft with fresh demands,
    • For rates, for fees, for Easter dues
    • They tax your rack-rent lands,
    • While for their tythings often they
    • Perpetual warfare keep,
    • Do they look more like dogs who guard,
    • Or wolves who tear your sheep?
    • When a fleecing they, &c.
    • Nor think that they in country shades,
    • Can all the fleecing own,
    • Full many a sheepish flat, each day,
    • Is fleec’d in London town:
    • Edition: current; Page: [192]
    • There tradesmen fleece their customers,
    • Them sharpers fleece, and then
    • Your thieftakers, for hanging fees,
    • The sharpers fleece again.
    • When a fleecing, &c.
    • There misses too, patch’d painted pink’d,
    • With fashion’s gaudy arts,
    • With mincing wiles, and fraudful guile
    • Would fleece us of our hearts.
    • Yet while you’re roving thus at large,
    • You bachelors may find,
    • Miss will not only fleece your backs,
    • But leave her mark behind.
    • When a fleecing she, &c.
    • But these are petty sheerers all,
    • And fleece a little flock;
    • Behold where haughty ministers
    • Fleece the whole nations stock:
    • The while pretended patriots,
    • A still more venal race,
    • With liberty and bawling cant,
    • Would fleece them of their place—
    • When a fleecing they, &c.
    • But cease ye fleecing senators
    • Your country to undo—
    • Or know we British Sans Cullottes
    • Hereafter may fleece you,
    • For well we know if tamely thus
    • We yield our wool like drones
    • Ye will not only fleece our backs,
    • By God you’ll pick our bones—
    • When a fleecing ye, &c.
    • Since then, we every rank and state
    • May justly fleecers call,
    • And since Corruption’s venal pack
    • Would fleece us worse than all,
    • May we Oppression’s out-stretch’d sheers
    • With dauntless zeal defy,
    • Resolv’d fair Freedom’s golden fleece
    • To vindicate or die.
    • When a fleecing they do go.

[The next Number will contain the whole ofthe second Lecture on Parties, with Strictures on the Letters of Lord Lauderdale to the Peers of Scotland, and Earl Fitzwilliam on the Affairs of Ireland.

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Strictures on theLetters of Lord Lauderdale to the Peers of Scotland,and of Earl Fitzwilliam on the Affairs of Ireland.——The second Lecture on the Distinction between the Spirit of Party and the Principle of Liberty.

Citizens, It is my purpose on the present evening to resume the investigation of the distinction between the spirit of Party and the genuine Principle of Liberty. In the course of the former Lecture I dwelt pretty largely upon the general history of Parties in this country, from the origin of the struggles between the Crown and the Aristocracy, to the situation of Parties at the present period. I believe you will agree with me, that from that history one conclusion, at least, is to be drawn, namely, that in the first instance, parties originated from a real difference of interest between respective bodies of the community; that in reality, party distinctions at first arose from the opposing interests of the great Barons or large landed proprietors and the Crown. It will, also, I dare say, occur to your minds as another deduction from this view of the subject, that in process of time the grounds and foundation of party were in a considerable degree altered; that, in proportion as the mercantile interest, and the landed gentry increased in their influence and power, a certain portion of respect attached to them, in consequence of which, instead of the Barons standing forward as single champions against the rights and prerogatives of the Crown, those merchants and gentry took the lead in all the struggles which opposed the arbitrary assumption of prerogative.

About the time of James the Second a wider diffusion of knowledge, a more liberal spirit of enquiry had awakened the gentry and trading parts of the community from the torpor of slavery in which they had so long lain. They began to investigate questions of a general and abstract nature; and particularly to consider the frame and structure of the government under which they lived, the interests they had in that government, Edition: current; Page: [194] and the larger portions of interest to which they thought themselves entitled. This spirit of enquiry kept rapidly increasing; for it is not very easy when such a disposition has once made its appearance, among any order of men for stretches of power or prerogative to prevent it ultimately from enlightening the whole mass. In the time of Charles the First, therefore, we find, that the spirit of enquiry had extended much wider; and, if we consult the history of that period, we shall find that the most intelligent, the most active, as well as the most virtuous leaders of the opposition against the arbitrary prerogatives and usurpations of the House of Stuart, were found, not among the hereditary nobility, but among the gentry and traders who had assumed their seats in that branch of the legislature then called, and still by some considered as a House of Commons. Then it was that the distinctions of Whig and Tory, as I before observed, first grew into use: and if we reflect with any degree of accuracy upon the early history of those parties, we shall be compelled to acknowledge that they were terms, in the first instance, descriptive of the struggle between the aristocracy and the sansculottism of the country. I think the facts submitted to your consideration in the former Lecture, are sufficient to prove, that the Whig interest was originally precisely the same thing as has since been called the sansculottism in France. That it was in reality an interest struggling to maintain the rights, liberties and happiness of the distressed and despised orders of the community, in opposition to that tyrannical Court and usurping Aristocracy, which endeavoured to grasp, in their own hands, every power, rational faculty, and human enjoyment, and treated the great body of the people as slaves and beasts of burthen, upon whom they assumed a right to heap oppression after oppression, till their shoulders were broken beneath the enormous load.

The misery of the lower orders at that time it is not necessary for me to dwell upon: it is sufficient to say, that the common people were at that time almost half as miserable as at this day.

Those parties, therefore, (having much to contend for, the rights and liberties of the people on one hand, and the whole plunder of the people on the other) became the objects of perpetual struggle and investigation; and as it is in the nature of names to be more permanent than principles, we find that the distinctions of Whig and Tory were perpetuated when the sources of the distinction were forgotten. The plain and Edition: current; Page: [195] simple fact is, that two branches of the Tory interest—two factions of the aristocratical branch of the Constitution, imagined they perceived in those distinctions the means of carrying on their own ambitious projects, under a more specious mask. One association, therefore, of noble families, (that is to say, of Aristocrats, or privileged banditti) assumed the denomination of Whig, and another association of noble families the denomination of Tory; and with those different names long continued to abuse the understandings of mankind; and, indeed, it is but lately that we have discovered that they are nothing more than two aristocratic factions, with no sort of difference of principle; and whose uniform object is to usurp all the power, opulence, and patronage of the country.

This circumstance, however, has been lately confessed in a very direct manner by the Earl Fitzwilliam. It has been acknowledged, I think, as completely, though not as openly, by Lord Lauderdale, in his “Letters to the Peers of Scotland.” He tells you, page 135—for I shall be particular in my quotations from this book, as I am anxious that you may not suppose I abuse, by false representations, a character for which, in some respects, as I shall shew you, I have considerable esteem! “He who gives himself up to the pursuit of honours and dignities,” says he—p. 135, “who loves the splendour of a Court, attaches himself to the cause of Monarchy, and soon sees in the increased power of the Monarch the source of additional weight and splendour to those who surround the throne, and of increasing value to the favours which the Sovereign can confer. He who possesses an ardent mind, conscious of its own rectitude, animated with a desire of building reputation upon a more solid foundation, naturally looks with anxious desire to acquire the approbation and applause of hie fellow citizens, and discovers with equal alacrity, in the extent of power which they may possess or retain the value of that he wishe to obtain.” So that the possession of power is at last fairly acknowledged to be the grand object of pursuit both with the one and with the other; but, according to the exposition, we are to consider the ambition of the Whigs as of a more liberal nature—that is to say, they wish to build their fame, their glory, their reputation, and by the means of these their power, upon a more solid foundation than royal favour; and as they suppose their power, reputation, &c. will be more solid when built upon the favour of the people, they therefore think it necessary to court that popularity from whence that security may be derived. Thus, then, Edition: current; Page: [196] stripping away a few glossing epithets, taking away some of those favourable shades, with which the most honest mind cannot always avoid incumbering the form of truth, when touching upon a subject in which the painter is personally interested!—taking those glossing circumstances away, we find the upshot of the distinction neither more nor less than this, that one party endeavours to gratify its ambition by flattering the Monarch, and the other expects a more solid gratification by cajoling the people.

Citizens, while such principles, or to speak more accurately, such motives, stimulate men who stand forward as the leaders of the people, what are we to expect? The great principle of general virtue is not even alluded to in this illustration of Whiggism—the benignant principle that every action ought to be directed towards procuring the greatest quantity of advantage and felicity to the great body of the people, and that personal considerations, either of vanity, ambition, or avarice, ought to be entirely out of the question! these great leading principles do not appear, from the preceding quotation, ever to have been dreamt of, by the strenuous advocate of party. You have ambition on the one hand, and the avarice of power on the other, to distinguish between—if distinguish you can!—This being the case, what could result but that which has resulted, endless commotion about what nobody ever comprehended or pretended to explain; scenes of riot and confusion, by which a few interested leaders are advanced from popularity to power; and the shifting and shuffling of places from hand to hand, without advantage to the people, or prospect of any benefit or advantage whatever.

The consequence is, that the minds of the people have been perpetually fluctuating between Whiggism and Toryism: at one time no doctrines could be swallowed but passive obedience and divine right—at another, nothing but the omnipotence of Parliament could go down. We shall now, perhaps, be inclined to enquire whether, while Parliaments continue to be organized as they are, there is in reality with respect to the interests of the people any difference between the two doctrines? We may, perhaps, be inclined to think, that if divinity and omnipotence are to be assumed by earthly powers, it is not a question of much consequence, whether we talk of the divine right of a Monarch, or the omnipotent power of a few monopolizing borough-mongers: though I, for my own part, should prefer the tyranny of the former.

Edition: current; Page: [197]

These fluctuations of opinion from party to party, and the consequent contentions, rancour, and animosity that have ensued, are effects that could not fail of being looked for by every intelligent mind, when the nature of the principle was considered. The fact is, that the only way to effect reformations that can in any degree influence the happiness and welfare of the multitude, is to appeal to one grand principle, namely, that the people are the fountain of all power, honour, trust and distinction—that they have the absolute right of choosing the representatives that are to make their laws, and of cashiering not only those representatives whenever they have forfeited their confidence, but all such officers and magistrates, also, as by their arbitrary proceedings or corrupt practices impede the due execution of those laws.

A principle like this, if followed through all its conclusions, must shortly annihilate all party. It is not possible, if you admit so broad a principle, for any combination of families, however great or powerful, or with how many thousand pompous and unmeaning titles soever they may have incumbered their insignificant names—it is impossible for any factious combination of his house, and your house and t’other’s house, and—“the Devil take your houses,” as Mercutio says, “what have we to do with your houses!”—It is impossible, I say, for any combination of all their houses together, if this broad principle were admitted, to grasp and monopolize all power in their own hands as they now do. The object would be lost for which family combinations are now made, and the jargon of faction would stun our ears no more.

But the uniform practice of parties has shewn us, that they are aware of this truth; and therefore they have never thought fit to appeal to principles. They have found fault, indeed, with particular measures; and the OUTS have always shewn a most generous anxiety to displace the INS—to rout a Minister that might be in power to day, that they might get into the same degree of power to-morrow. But however anxious they were that the reins of government should be shifted from hand to hand, they have all displayed an equal unwillingness to infringing materially upon the power of the administration, because, say they, though it is a very good thing to turn men out of their places into which we may, by and bye turn ourselves; it is, for that very reason, a very bad thing indeed to take the emoluments and patronage from those places, and diminish their weight and consequence in the Constitution.

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It must, however, be admitted, that there are many liberal minds—men who, in their hearts, as far as they understand the subject, are friends to liberty, who entertain very different ideas of party from those I am now delivering. The same Lord Lauderdale, whom I have already quoted, in his 129th page, expresses himself apparently with great strength of conviction upon the subject. He says, “long convinced that the welfare of the country depends upon the existence of a body connected on those principles the Whig party has been understood to possess; that the nature of its government creates it; that its preservation demands it, I am by principle a party man.”

I own, Citizens, I have considerable respect for the man who thus commits himself freely and fully to the public. A man, who, without any sort of disguise, tells you what he really is, and what are the principles he means to maintain, gives you strong reason to suppose, at least, that he is sincere; that he does in reality believe what he is supporting, and that if there is any thing wrong in the opinion he advances, it is an error of judgment, not of a venal and corrupt disposition. Hypocrites generally disguise the principles or opinions they wish to maintain; and insinuate, with plausible inferences rather than enforce their doctrines by direct and open avowal. To the credit of the author of this book, no such artifice has been used. We can examine his arguments fairly and openly. He has put himself at issue with the public, which I conclude he would not have done, had he not felt a conviction that the opinion he was maintaining was right.

My opinion, however, is directly opposite to that which he entertains. I believe also, that the opinion he endeavours to uphold is going very much out of fashion. I believe the people are rapidly making advances towards the discovery, that instead of the salvation of the country depending upon party, that it is party alone that has so long cajoled the people; that the squabbles and contention of faction have too long drawn off the public attention from those real interests to the serious investigation of which they would otherwise have applied. “I hope to convince you” however, says Lord Lauderdale, in the 131 page, “that though the calamities of war (the involving us in which was the sacrifice Mr. Pitt made to the Duke of Portland and his friends).—I hope to convince you that the calamities of war,” I repeat it to you, for it is a curious fact, “the involving us in which was the sacrifice Mr. Pitt made to the Duke of Portland.” The Duke you find Edition: current; Page: [199] is here laid down to be the author of the present war; and that the judgement of Mr. Pitt was sacrificed (a blessed upright character must he be indeed who so sacrificed his judgement in a question involving the lives of millions!) in order to cajole as, in former cases, he had so successfully cajoled the people. “But,” continues my author, “the calamities of war, though they are more immediately felt, their ultimate consequences cannot prove more seriously deplorable than the breaking up of the Whig party. The sacrifice,”—O! mark how grateful these men are; how they sacrifice alternately to each other! the idol of to-day, to-morrow is the worshipper, and the worshipper of to-day is to-morrow the idol!—and thus the sweet incense of their mutual sacrifices is offered up, again and again, while the rights of the people are burnt like so many faggots upon the altar to cook the precious banquet of places, pensions, honours and emoluments upon which they are to regale themselves. Thus, then, we are told that though Pitt the Tory as a sacrifice to the divine honours of the Duke of Portland, plunged us into a calamitous war, and though the whig Duke of Portland sacrificing his principles to the tory Pitt, gave support and energy to that war, yet that the breaking up of the whig party was of more serious consequence than the war which has depopulated the country, brought the nation to the eve of bankruptcy, spread a general famine throughout Europe, and brought starvation to the very doors of our peasants and manufacturers. All these circumstances are trifling and insignificant compared to the breaking in pieces that sublime idol, the whig party, to which the prayers of the people have been so often offered in vain, without their ever once discovering that the deity of their adoration was peradventure sleeping, or gone a long journey, or, which is nearer the truth, had in reality yielded up the ghost.

But what have the whigs done for us ever since they became an aristocratic party? I can tell you, indeed what they did,—and glorious things they were, before they were debauched by aristocracy. But since whiggism was an aristocratic party, what have the Whigs done? Look to their history from the period of the revolution to the present day; reflect how much they might have done if they had been men of principle and integrity! reflect how much they have left undone, because principle and integrity were never prevalent in their hearts. Did they not lay the foundation of the national debt, whose interest has now accumulated to so enormous a degree, that more than twice as much is paid in annual taxes out of the labours of the Edition: current; Page: [200] poor for the payment of the interest and of the ordinary expences (they ought to be called extraordinary expences) of government, as is paid for all the labours of all the industrious poor, from one extremity of the country to another. Did they not, also, give their sanction to the existence of a standing army? an attempt to introduce which had been fatal to the house of Stuart! Did they not, knowing full well that the people of this country had a right—an indubitable, till that time a legally unquestioned right, to annual parliaments—Did they not, in the first instance, pass that triennial bill, which took away two thirds of the franchises of the people? Did they not afterwards from three years proceed to seven, and having converted, by their own votes and authority, an annual senate into a triennial, and a triennial senate into a septennial senate, did they not thus establish a principle which, if the enlightened spirit of the people did not at this time oppose, might enable them to render the seats in the house of Commons tenaments for life; nay, descendable property? so that the portions of twelve square inches of plank in St. Stephen’s Chapel might descend from father to son, from generation to generation, just as the tax upon coals descends from one Duke of Richmond to another, till no one can find out the reason for which it was conferred, or the benefit derived for it to the people. Did not these Whigs countenance the passing of that riot act so exquisitely fitted for maintaining the purposes of regular and orderly government, that a jury at Birmingham, properly picked and packed, may require that the fact of absolutely pulling down and destroying houses be proved by good evidence, and the rioters after all may be acquitted, while a poor wretch for huzzaing at the downfall of a crimping house, is condemned to the pains of death, and suffers at the fatal tree without one tear dropped from the eye of patriotism, one generous remonstrance from the people to stop the vindictive arm of courtly vengeance? Have they not as one of the means of “fixing their fame and reputation upon a more solid foundation,” plunged the country into perpetual continental wars, without its being possible for any rational man to discover any other reason for those wars, than the desire of increasing their patronage and enriching the contractors and other bloodsuckers that might be dependant upon them? So that, as I have observed in the former Lecture, so early as in the reign of Queen Ann, Swift discovered that the men who called themselves Whigs ought to have been denominated lovers of war. And we find from the quotation of Lord Lauderdale, himself, Edition: current; Page: [201] that Whiggism has not lost its ancient desire for those exploits which spread the fame of an administration at the expence of the blood and treasure of the people.

So much then for the advantages which we have gained! So much for the real benefits which have been conferred upon us by the Whigs. Now let us consider what they have not done, and when we put them together, perhaps we may say, in the language of a very sacred composition, “ye have done those things which ye ought not to have done; and left undone those things which ye ought to have done, and there is no help in ye!”

Have they ever extended the rights and immunities of the people? Have they abolished or attempted to abolish the vexatious, destructive, annihilating contribution of tithes, those unjust and dreadful clogs upon agricultural improvement? Have they remedied the abuses of the law? Have they curtailed its delays? Have they diminished its expences? Have they removed its scandalous uncertainties? No. Whig administration after whig administration has been formed; but I wish any advocate for this most excellent and glorious party could point out to me any one act of this description which they have ever brought forward. Have they consented to the abolition of unjust privileges? Have they endeavoured to persuade the legislature of the country, with the controul over which they have frequently been entrusted, to take away from opulence and grandeur the priviledge of ruining the poor tradesmen who had credulity to trust them, because, forsooth, their sacred persons were not to be amenable to the laws which for similar conduct, would have doomed any of their fellow citizens to the horrors of a goal? Have they made any extensive advances towards the abolition of unjust and unmerited pensions? Have they retrenched the expences of office? Have they brought within rational and proper limits those enormous salaries which are paid out of the labour of the lowest, the most despised, but the most useful orders of society? Have they endeavoured by any regular or consistent plan to take care that a proper average should be kept up between the prices of labour and the prices of the necessary articles of provision? Far from it: no regulations of this kind have ever been adopted; and act after act has been made and sanctioned by all parties, to punish the poor journeymen who associate together for the increase of wages, while the rich manufacturers, the contractors, the monopolists of every description may associate as they please; and, in their conventions, fix, at their arbitrary will, the prices of the commodities in which they deal. Hence a rapid advance in the price of every article of necessity, while the wages of the labourers who produce these articles are left Edition: current; Page: [202] to the caprice of those who have an interest in depressing them. Have they established seminaries for the annihilation of ignorance, for the diffusion of intelligence, among the great body of the people! Have they, as the convention in France has done—let them look across the water and learn to blush at the virtue they are so forward to calumniate!—Have they disseminated their schools, for the instruction of all ranks of people, from one end of the country to the other, so that the spot should no longer be found, where Ignorance could fix her residence, and that virtue, knowledge, and benevolence should be found growing up thick as the wild flowers that surround the peasant’s mansion? Have they ever declared as a principle and endeavoured to confirm by any act of the legislature, the unlimited freedom of the press? a freedom without which liberty may be talked of, but never can be enjoyed; because it cannot be understood!

To conclude the whole, Where will you point me out the whig administration that has made any strides towards that great, that momentous, that all including object parliamentary reform? nay, so far have they been from advancing these principles while in power, that, even when they are out of power, and endeavouring to get into power,—when they are doing all they can to delude the people, to make them the instruments of their exaltation, even now they refuse to pledge themselves to this principle. Parliamentary reform, forsooth, we are told by whig associations, is a subject that must not be agitated at this time. The attention of the public must not be divided; the calamitous situation which, for want of parliamentary reform (for they acknowledge that it is from the want of parliamentary reform that we have been plunged in to the present calamitous situation!)—these calamities are so great they tell us that we ought only to think of curing the present evil; but not to think at all of eradicating the cause. That is we are slightly to patch up the constitution,—just to skin over the sore but leave the disease untouched. “It is true by and by it will break out again; but then you know we shall be in place, we shall have the advantages of nursing the sickly body politic, and consequently of managing the possessions of the poor valetudinarian.”

Such is the plain english of the argument at this time held out to the people by the “Friends of the people:” or as some of the members of that club call them, the friends to themselves.

Citizens, do you wish for a further proof that whigism and toryism is only a bite? Would you have any further conviction? Are not the whigs holding, at this very minute, the very language which the tory Pitt upheld before he got into power? Edition: current; Page: [203] Did he not join clubs and associations for the attainment of parliamentary reform? Nay, though he found it difficult to remember, you I dare say have not forgot, that he met an assembly of delegates, in convention, for the purpose of obtaining this parliamentary reform; and that he then upheld the doctrines of universal suffrage and annual parliaments, which now (assisted by the logic of the learned Attorney General, the still more learned Sir John Mitford, Sollcitor General, and the superlative learned Serjeant Adair) he undertakes to demonstrate to be the highest of all high treason.

Yes Pitt did associate, the Thatched House Tavern has been conscious to his persuasive eloquence; the demonstrations of the necessity of reform have flowed from his lips, and have been echoed by every pannel of wainscoat throughout that great building; and the Duke of Richmond has reverberated the invigorating sounds which were to amuse the people and get them into place. Yes these mighty alchymists once pretended to be indefatigable in search of the philosopher’s stone of political virtue, but when the moment of projection arrived, when the base metal of their professions was to be transmuted into the golden realities of places and pensions, then what language did they hold out? what was then their plan of parliamentary reform? “Leave that entirely to me, depend upon it I will sooner part with my existence than abandon the principles I have professed; but leave to me the manner of the accomplishment; we must not, at this time, investigate the particular manner in which it is to be brought about; nor must we publicly pledge ourselves to the people to bring it about at all. We are plunged into a calamitous war with America; don’t let us distract the attention of the people; but let us keep to that one object, fixing our minds upon that, and that alone. Thus,” say they aloud to the people, “we shall be able to get a redress of your grievances.” But to their own party they say in a side whisper, “Thus we shall get into place, and when fortified there, the swinish mulritude maygrunt. It is only making a few new laws for the protection of placemen, pensioners, and borough-jobbers, or getting a few ingenious lawyers to make the laws bear a meaning which no one ever supposed them to bear before, and we will keep the rabble down make no doubt of it.”

But can we suppose a minister of this country so stupid as to give up that most gainful part of his trade, the management of the House of Commons? which he must give up if he pretends to violate the sacred property of borough-mongers, and take from them their right, once in seven years, to sell the franchises of the people at the public market—called a general election!

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If such were the sentiments and conduct of Pitt when out of place, and such the pretences with which he deluded the people when he was upon the eve of getting in; and if such is the language of that society which calls itself “the friends of the people,” I should be happy to know (if there is any difference between Whig and Tory) which is the Whig and which is Tory? for I profess I cannot discover.

But, Citizens, they may delude themselves as much as they please; they may flatter themselves with the examples of former times, but their day of faction is past: the people of this country will not be so cajoled again. We hear them perpetually exclaiming there is no public!—What can we do? there is no public! But there is a public—an enlightened, glorious public in this country: but not for them: it is a public for principle, not a public for party. It is a public that seeks the happiness of the public, and cares not one pin about the downfall of Mr. Pitt, or the elevation of Mr. Fox or Mr. Grey.—In short, there is a growing conviction among the people that party is all absurdity; there is a growing conviction among the people that the only effect of party is the creation of tumults, in which the people may be sacrificed, but from which none but a few intriguers and hypocrites can reap advantage. They are aware of the destructive tendency of all party; they are aware, also, that the parties, happily for mankind! are working their own destruction as fast as they can; that in a little time they must all fall together under the weight of their own profligacy and folly; and it is, therefore, that the public stand patiently by, and behold the feeble struggle without interest or exertion, knowing that it is their duty only to be at their posts prepared to take advantage of the madness and weakness of those by whom they have been so long deluded, and to restore to themselves, at the proper season, their long ravished rights. Such appears to me to be the state of politics, and of the public mind; and I exult in a prospect, according to my calculation, so replete with hopes of the most advantageous kind to the interests of humanity and liberty.

Lord Lauderdale, however, in the 132d page of his work, delivers an opinion in direct opposition to this. He says “A very little reflection must enable any one to detect the fallacy of the idea” (of the mischievous tendency of party) “and teach him to reject the opinion, with respect to this country however generally it may be received.

“Party (says he) in reality, will be found to be attended with advantage, just in proportion to the degree the government under which it exists admits of its being founded Edition: current; Page: [205] on principles: in the simple forms of government there is no possible difference in principle which can give rise to combination; and, therefore, party under them must always be productive of temporary, often of permanent evil.

In a monarchy or a republic there can be no parties arising from a difference in principle but such as give birth to confusion; they afford no subjects on which to combine, but such as from their nature must tend to generate immediate convulsion. In the one, a difference of opinion with regard to the right to the Crown, or a desire totally to overturn the government, upon account of real or ideal oppression, both possessing the seeds of instant conflict, are the only topics for which our imaginations enable us to conceive men can wish to combine, or that the annals of times past shew us they have united. There are under such a government no jarring principles upon which you can maintain different opinions; the possession of power depends solely on the favour of the sovereign, and favour is always more easily secured by individual address than by combined effort. In the other, the object which parties must naturally have, and which history points out as their main pursuit, is merely to support the pretensions of different individuals to public favour; and whilst we recollect the evils of the disturbances attending such contests, we cannot but remember how often they have ended solely, in being the means of advancing the man of brilliant talents in preference to him whose more sound pretensions were founded upon the purity of his intentions;—how often the crafty has been able to make party the engine of his elevation, at the expence of the able, the virtuous and discerning statesman.”

So you see, Cisizens, that, with respect to a monarchical, and also a republican form of government, Lord Lauderdale can see the inconvenience of party. You will see also, by what he says of aristocracy, (for it is necessary to read this part of his work without mutilation, that I may treat his arguments fairly,) that when he considers forms of government diffimilar to that of England he is accurate in his arguments and just in his conclusions; but when he shows you why party is good in this country, I think I shall show you that the delusions of habit fasten upon him.

“In aristocracy,” says he, “the object of parties has been to support the pretensions of different families to power; and though we have always seen them produce immediate calamity, it is in vain we look for any permanent benefit to the society to compensate for the momentary evil. The struggle is here alone for, who shall have the privilege of oppression; and the conduct of all men in power, if not Edition: current; Page: [206] well watched, has but too great a resemblance to make us think that such a contest can produce any lasting good.”

Now, Citizens, I admit the justice of this argument. I admit also the accuracy of the painting relative to the nature of factions under aristocracies; but I appeal to every man who hears me whether it is not a correct, a concise, and perfect picture of all the parties that have existed in this country, for the last 135 years? I call to your recollection, whether you have not regularly found that the object of all parties has been “to support the pretensions of different families to power?” I call to your recollection, whether we have not “seen them produce immediate calamity?” and whether we have not also found it “in vain to look to them for any permanent benefit to the society at large?” I call upon you to consider seriously and minutely whether the struggle has not been “alone for who shall have the privilege of oppressing?” and whether “the conduct of men in power” has not been so uniform as to convince us, if experience can convince, that here, in England, we can have no expectation whatever of any advantage, any benefit from these contentions of faction, but the aggrandisement and emolument of a few particular families, combined together under the nick names Whigs and Tories,—the Guelphs and Gibbeollines of the British Empire.

If then, Citizens, this argument is true, as I believe it is, if the statement is as accurate as to me it appears, what is the conclusion? Why that whatever may be the form and exterior appearance of our government, we are in reality living under a virtual aristocracy. We may talk of our mixed constitution, of our Kings, Lords and Commons, but in reality it is the spirit of aristocracy that keeps the ascendency, and all the difference that has existed between Whigs and Tories from the unfortunate restoration to the present time, has been nothing more than a struggle which of the combinations of aristocratical families should grasp the government of the country into their own hands, and monopolize to themselves the exclusive advantages and aggrandizement produced from the labours of seven millions and an half of people.

What party, (I have asked you the question before, and I repeat it) What party has ever conferred any lasting, any real benefit upon the people? Which of them has ever eased the weight of taxes? Which of them has ever assented to the sacrifice of a portion of their enormous salaries towards paying that national debt which, in the struggle of factions, and the projects of their ambition, has been accumulated upon the shoulders of those who are doomed to pay the interest though they never reaped any benefit from the expenditure of the principle? They may blame, when out of office, this Edition: current; Page: [207] measure or that; but which of the parties, when they got into power, has refused to take advantage of the very measures which they had blamed. The Whigs, for we had a whig administration a little while, even during the present reign!—The Whigs no great while ago, you remember imposed a receipt tax upon the people; and the great leader of that whig or coalition administration, told you “a receipt was a luxury,”—perhaps because those in connection with them seldom wanted a receipt. The other party abused the tax. Yet, when they came in, did they abolish it? No; the receipt tax still continues to be paid by all those who have not the honesty and confidence to trust to each other’s memorandums, rather than contribute when they can avoid it to the support of this infamous war. This coalition administration also framed an India bill; by which they meant to have grasped into their own hands a large portion of the patronage of India. Pitt declaimed against it; all the outs declaimed against the ins; and at last the outs became the ins. and the ins got out. Yet what did the victors do? why they effected, in a jesuitical manner, every thing which the other administration openly attempted. They first brought in one India bill which did half the business that the bill of Mr. Fox professed; and then they brought in another to interpret and explain the former, by which they did the other half of the business, rather in a more snug and silent manner, it is true, but full as effectually as their opponents intended. And thus by the management of that sublime juggler Signior Pittachio, passes the wealth, power, and patronage of India (hey presto) into the possession of the obsequious Dundas; instead of being grasped by the itching fingers of Messrs. Fox & Co.

During the American war the Whigs were vehement against the Tory administration of Lord North: no language was sufficiently acrimonious, no opposition sufficiently intemperate to shew their abhorrence of that war and its abettors. Gibbets, halters, and axes danced through their speeches in all the mazes of metaphorical frenzy; nay, they went so far as to tell you that if they were to trust themselves in a room with the man who had plunged the country into that unfortunate war, they should deserve, and might expect assassination. But mark their consistency. By and by the denunciator and the denounced shake hands; like lovers that have quarrelled, become so much the fonder in proportion to the bitterness with which they formerly abused each other; and John Bull is amused and astonished to behold the fierce and mighty Carlo Chan and “his fair spouse en cordon blue,” make their triumphal entry into St. James’s Palace.

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Such have been the recent consistencies of those virtuous advocates, those great pillars of party in this country: and we find the same fort of conduct still pursued.

During that American war to which I have before alluded, Burke was a most flaming Whig:—faith he had good reason so to be. The Marquis of Rockingham, the leader of the Whigs lent him £20,000 to purchase a qualification, that he might sit in the House of Commons and bark Whiggism for him. He took a bond for this £20,000; but never called for any interest; and when the Marquis died, he cancelled the obligation, by his will, and thus made this Burke a present of the £20,000 and of the interest also. This was certainly no bad bargain for the sublime and beautiful driver of the Swinish Multitude; it was “carrying his pigs to a fine market.” But the Marquis had not long been dead—the £20,000 had not been long secure—the bonds had not long been burnt, before Burke found out that being a Whig was a very bad trade. The party appeared to have shut up shop in a state of bankruptcy; and he was afraid he should never be able to sell any more of his oratorical commodity to them at so good a rate. What then does this famous champion of party do? he bellows forth, mad as one of the heroes in Lee’s mad Tragedies, with a dagger in one hand and a crucifix in the other, and swears he can never sleep in his bed again till original toryism reigns triumphant over the world, and liberty is exterminated from the face of the earth. He tells you that daggers are principles, that philosophy is assassination, and, with all the bitterness and virulence which Billingsgate itself could afford, strangely mixed up with all the sublimity of Parnassus, pours forth the most lavish abuse upon every man who dared to maintain the sacred principles of the RIGHTS OF MAN.

What would a philosopher be without scholars? and what would scholars be good for if they did not follow the examples of their philosophic teachers? Wyndham, who had been educated in the school of Burkism, trod in the same path; surpassed him in metaphysical rant; and out did him in all his extravagancies.

In no great space of time, forsooth, Spencer cut off the tail from his fox’s coat, and became a tory also—Portland followed—to give a new front of solid stone I suppose to the tottering edifice of the constitution which the men he coalesced with had brought so near to ruin. Under the same banner of apostocy marched over the great and mighty Earl Fitzwilliam, who, in the hour of spleen, and the intemperate rage of disappointment, lamenting the loss of the patronage of Ireland, has done what party men very seldom did before, spoken the Edition: current; Page: [209] truth, the whole truth, and I believe nothing but the truth, as fully and as explicitly, nay, more fully and more explicitly (unless he had a better memory than Pitt) than he would have done in evidence, upon his oath, at the Old Bailey.

How futile, how ridiculous, after these examples, will appear the following arguments of Lord Lauderdale page 135. He says, “In our constitution, however,” having shown you that party is a bad thing in an aristocracy, “In our constitution, however, of which in theory”—he modestly says “in theory, we are taught to admire the beauties, as proceeding from a due mixture of all the different forms of government, there must arise naturally a difference of opinion on principle.” In other words, the component parts of which our constitution is framed, according to Lord Lauderdale, (heaven forbid I should utter such a treasonable opinion as my own) are of such jarring and discordant natures, so incapable of harmonious union, that nothing can keep them intire, nothing can preserve the texture and form of our government, but the wranglings of party and faction, by which the people are distracted from one end of the country to the other, without knowing in reality what are the causes of contention. A bitter satire this, if it is true, upon the boasted constitution of this country; a bitter satire indeed upon that which we are called upon to respect. For what is any form of government good for, if it cannot be preserved by tranquillity and unanimity? by the harmony of the people at large? But Lord Lauderdale tells you, that in such a constitution as this, if that unanimity, if that harmony existed, the constitution must perish: it must tumble. It can only be supported by the three parties, one pulling one way and another pulling another; while the people, like butcher’s boys patting their dogs on the backs, are to keep up their mettle in the contest, and finally be snarled at and torn to pieces themselves, as the signal of the reconciliation of the combatants.

“Such a difference of opinion,” continues he in the next page, “cannot long subsist without the existence of party founded on principle. The friends of monarchy have in the person of the monarch a common bond of union: they derive from his councils a source of unity of action.

“Poor and feeble would be the resistance which the isolated efforts of the disunited advocates of freedom could make against such an attack. There is nothing in their pursuit which naturally connects them. But they must soon see the necessity of uniting to preserve the value of that Edition: current; Page: [210] for which they all contend”—(That is to say, for places, power, and patronage)—“against the efforts of those who “from their situation, naturally present themselves in phalanx.”

But, Citizens, if the legislative power, the controuling authority of the country were built upon the fair principles of universal right, if power were confessedly derived from the people, and responsible to the people, how could there possibly be any such phalanx existing in the country? If the House of commons were, as it pretends to be, the real representative of the people, it could never be managed and controuled by a minister, appointed by any party of faction whatever, and therefore there would want no other check than the intelligence and virtue of the people, which the system of universal representation has so grand a tendency to awaken and preserve.

“The folly of resisting the attack of an invading enemy,” continues Lord Lauderdale, “by individual exertion is too great, too apparent, not soon to generate, under such a government as our’s, the appearance of popular party, to counteract the efforts of court intrigue. And as in the form of our constitution we perceive a natural tendency to produce a party of this description, so the benefits that must arise from it are too obvious not to strike any man who suffers his mind to consider the subject. Under the simple forms of government, party can alone tend to overturn the existing constitution, or to create temporary disturbances, without affording the hopes of permanent benefit. Under our mixed form of government, party on principles has a direct propensity effectually to preserve a due balance between the various branches of the government; and by the powerful check which through this means the supporters of freedom are enabled to give to the gradual encroachments of the crown, it has a tendency to prevent that ultimate disturbance” (Mark, Citizens, how speciously this part of the argument is worded!) “it has a tendency to prevent that ultimate disturbance.”—To prevent disturbance is certainly a good thing, at all times: but mark what is hid under this sort of reasoning—“that ultimate disturbance which the imperceptible extension of influence is sure to create, when it has made such advances that ‘the hoary head of inveterate abuse can no longer draw reverence, or obtain protection from the multitude.’—In other words, when the hoary head of inveterate abuse can no longer draw reverence or obtain protection from the multitude, party, by Edition: current; Page: [211] drawing the attention of the people from the real and main subject of enquiry, is the only thing which can disappoint them in the attainment of a real and radical reform. When ministerial oppression has arrived at this height, the power of reason will operate in conjunction with the feelings of the people, and then, if no deluding pretender, no tool of party distracts their attention from that which ought to be the subject of their consideration, reform will take place, the hoary head of inveterate abuse will be laid low in the dust. This is the consequence that must ensue if party forsooth does not step forward, rearing again the fallen idol, and throwing the veil of plausible pretension over the defects whose naked deformity had become too glaring to the public eye to be endured without the assistance of such artifice.

But, Citizens, whatever may be the opinion of this advocate for whiggism, with respect to the speculative or theoretical constitution of this country, he is of opinion that the advantages of party are still more eminently displayed, by considering what the practice of the constitution is: for every one has found out, that the practice is one thing, and theory another, in this respect.

“Considering what the practice of the constitution is,” continues he, p. 139, “Party then appears more than ever necessary; the benefits arising from it are still more conspicuous. For if Party constituted on sound principle, when we consider the Constitution as theory represents it, seemed to form its best nourishment;—when cramped and crippled by its habitual disorder, Corruption.”—The habitual disorder of this Constitution, he admits is Corruption. Lord Mornington and Mr. Pitt contend that it is one of the component parts, a sort of vital habit that grew with its growth, and strengthened with its strength, and without which it could not subsist. [See last Debate on Grey’s Motion for Parliamentary Reform.]—“When cramped and crippled by its habitual disorder, Corruption—it is the best medicine that the wisdom of the politician can prescribe. In proportion as corruption increases it becomes necessary; and now when in a manner it has universally pervaded the frame of government, without such a combination we can hardly look with hopes of safety to its existence.”

Citizens, I shall not absolutly deny the truth of this part of the argument of Lord Lauderdale; but I will draw this conclusion, that if it is really true, as he here asserts, that the frame of this constitution is such, and the corruption of Edition: current; Page: [212] this constitution such, that nothing but faction, nothing but party can maintain even the exterior form of its existence, “Carthage must fall!”—It wants no army of Sans Culottes to overthrow it! it wants no insurrection or turbulence from within—no pressure of hostile force from without! If what he says be true, if nothing but party can support it, the props are rotten as the foundations, and it is tumbling already about the ears of those whose cabals and intolerable corruption have sapped and under-mined it; for party, in one sense of the word, is now no more; Whiggism and Toryism have been laid in the peaceful grave. Dundas has dug deep and low the grave into which they have been tumbled; Burke has said mass over them; and Pitt, Fox and North, Portland and Fitzwilliam, Moira, Elliot and Windham, have joined in concert to sing the eternal requium. And so “farewell—a long farewell” to all “the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious Whiggism and Toryism!” For they are gone for ever—“have sunk like the stars that fall to rise no more!”

Parties themselves have sealed the destruction of Parties. The people are at issue with them all. Principles are the objects they are intent upon: and I shall not so far satyrize the constitution of my country, whatever Lord Lauderdale may do, as to suppose that as soon as the rotten pretences of party are removed, and the real investigation of principles commences, its glories must end, and its very fabric tumble into ruins.

But, Citizens, there is another thing to be considered, namely, that the whole of this defence rests upon the supposition, that party is to be formed upon principle. Now, a little investigation will show us, that these are terms totally contradictory to each other. It is a figure of rhetoric borrowed from the meritorious imagination of the poet Claudian, where the epithet is at constant war with the substantive. Party and principle stand in direct opposition to each other, like “nocturnal day” and “meridian night.”

Party is a compact and association of individuals: an agreement that whatever way you vote I will vote the same; my family interest shall combine with your family interest, my borough with your borough; when you are in place, I will be in place also, and we will divide the good things between us; when you are out I will be out also, and we will bark together as loud as we can against whoever may come in, and whatever they may do. Principle says we will investigate what is true, consider what are the elements of government, Edition: current; Page: [213] what the purposes for which it was instituted; and according to the conviction of our individual minds, each individual will vote. Each individual will promote those measures for the happiness of mankind which principle dictates to him. There is one thing upon which we shall eternally and invariably agree, and, perhaps but one—namely, that the government of the whole ought to be government for the whole—for the common and equal benefit of all. How this common and equal benefit may be best secured there may be a variety of opinions, and the majority of voices must decide. This is the dictate of principle, and we might as well talk of darkness produced by noon day-light, as principles produced by party.

But let us refer to practice. Let us review the conduct of the most virtuous leaders of the Opposition at this time. Let us turn to the Demosthenes of that party in Parliament. I respect the private virtues of the man. I lament only, that he has mistaken a particular feeling for virtue, which I believe to be vice; and that thereby he has suffered connections to draw him from the principles his heart would otherwise have dictated.

Why should this great man, with all his intelligence of mind, have stood up in the House of Commons to warn the people against referring to elementary principles and abstract propositions? What—“a party upon principle” afraid to investigate principles! What can be so absurd? What reason can there be for those who act upon principle being afraid that principles should be enquired into?—The question needs no answer. But is it not principle alone that is annihilated by party. It obscures also the lustre of genius. Behold its palsying influence on the greatest minds.

Alas! I cannot but conclude, that the great talents of Fox—the splendour of mind which characterizes Sheridan—in many respects, the upright and generous Sheridan! could never have been so obscured and lost, during a period so favourable for rouzing all the vigour of intellect as the present, but for this party spirit oppressing and annihilating that energy which an appeal to first principles, and nothing but an appeal to first principles calls so effectually forth. Could otherwise the debates in our Parliament, during this important crisis, have been so dull, so insipid, so spiritless, that no energetic mind can read them without falling to sleep? Could this have been the case, but that this damning, soporific principle—or rather no principle of party renders all who taste, insensible to the happiness and rights of mankind, and Edition: current; Page: [214] absorbs every faculty in consideration of the interests of a few individuals with whom they happen to be connected.

Yes, Citizens, this false moderation has, I believe restrained the powers and energies of these great men.

Moderation!—Moderation!—A compromise between right and wrong!—I detest it. But when I speak against moderation, let me be understood. There is a sense in which I reprobate moderation as the most contemptible of vices; there is a sense, also in which I venerate it as the first of virtues. In our passions, in our actions, in our intercourse with mankind, let moderation be our guiding principle; for without moderation cruelty will rage where liberty and benelence ought to smile! without moderation revenge will transform the human character to the likeness of the fiend; and all the god-like principles of science, justice, and truth, will fall into oblivion. But moderation of principle let us abhor: for what is moderation of principle, but a compromise between right and wrong; an attempt to find out some path of expediency, without going to the first principles of justice. Such attempts must always be delusive to the individual and fatal to mankind. If there is any thing sacred, it is principle! Let every man investigate seriously and solemnly the truth and propriety of the principles he adopts: but having adopted, let him pursue them into practice: let him tread in the path which they dictate, and virtue will be his reward. Nothing but delusion and hypocrisy can dread the investigation of principle; that which is delusive will be detected by that investigation. It is, therefore, party that trembles at principle, but truth delights in it. The rights, the happiness, the welfare of mankind depend upon the thorough investigation of principles; but the security of party, the monopoly of particular privileges and advantages, the delusive, ridiculous supposition, that one family is, by virtue of its origin, more virtuous or more to beconfided in than another, will, indeed, be overthrown the instant that principles are generally investigated, and therefore party and principle will for ever be at war.

There is one principle, however, to which party has no great objection: the principle of self-interest: and this, I believe, we shall find to be the principle of them all: at least in the extraordinary letter of Earl Fitzwilliam to the Earl of Carlisle, it is publicly avowed to be the principle of the seceding Whigs. He says, “when the Duke of Portland and and his friends were to be enticed into a coalition with Mr. Edition: current; Page: [215] Pitt’s administration, it was necessary to hold out such lures as would make the coalition palatable!”—Where is now the pretence of rallying round the Constitution?—Where is now the boasted virtue of forgetting all indignities in the public danger?—The security of the public peace was indeed a plausible pretence—Plots and conspiracies were necessary stalking horses—but something very different was crouching behind, and lures were necessary to “make the coalition palatable!” And what were these lures?—No trifles I assure you. Baubles and blue ribbons had their charm, it is true; but these were only the whip syllabubs of the banquet; and the seceders, tired with the long Lent of Whiggism, expected to regale their palates with more solid food.

If the general management and superintendance of Ireland had not been offered to his Grace, the Coalition could never have taken place!!! Accordingly it was offered from the beginning of the negociation as was also the home department of Secretary of State,” that is to say, his Lordship’s principles—for Whigs, you are told, you know, are “a party upon principle”—were rated at too high a price to be purchased by any thing less than a Secretaryship of State, and the patronage attached to it, with the management and direction, power and patronage of Ireland!

See, Citizens, how very fairly, and how very liberally, upon what a thorough commercial system these pure and immaculate rulers—these hereditary proprietors of the swinish herd can carry on this barter of places and principles! “Ask the Duke of Portland,” you will see also there is a little swindling in the trade of state, as well as other branches of commerce.—Halhead tells us, you know, he sold his soul upon credit; and now he is obliged to appeal to divine inspiration to get the pledge back again; for as to the money it has never been paid, and he tells you, in direct terms, he is much inclined to suppose not one shilling of it ever will. In this peculiar wholesale market of souls, credit has got to a considerable height, and swindling is refined into a science—so that those who have taken promises in payment, will find they have sold their souls in vain. I don’t know whether the Duke had sold his soul; I cannot say whether it may not be the case with Dukes, as Mahometan’s say of the fair sex, that they have no souls at all—certainly he had some thing to sell; and mark how it was bargained for. “Ask the Duke of Portland, when he engaged to accept, if he doubted that the office offered to him was to be entire, and such as Edition: current; Page: [216] his predecessors held it? Ask him if he was forewarned by Mr. Pitt that it was to be divested of half its duties, half its importance, and all its character? Ask him if he was apprised that another secretary of state was to be made out of the department? And that he was to be left but a joint possessor, with an inmate? Ask him, when he accepted the management of Ireland!”—He the management of Ireland!—So then the Duke of Portland was to be King de facto of the Irish Nation—and Earl Fitzwilliam was to have been his Viceroy. But no—so material a part of the performance was not to be left in such unskilful hands, the shew was to have another manager, and the wires of the respective puppets were to be kept in motion by the chief proprietor.—“Ask him when he accepted the management of Ireland if he did it under any restrictions whatever? Ask him if he pressed it upon me under any? And if he did not propose and recommend to me to lay myself out.”—One man sells his soul, another his character, and another lays himself out; out it is all in hopes of good interest; he would not so much as lend his name by way of accommodation to a factious bill, without he thought there would be good interest. “Ask him if he did not propose and recommend to me to lay myself out immediately for making such arrangements in the government as would enable me to restore peace, tranquillity, and order in the country, and as would reconcile the general mass of the people.

“But, my dear Carlisle, the instant we had proclaimed our acceptance the scene began to open!”—Why how comes it that this great man, one of the heads of the aristocracy, that is to say, of course, one of the wisest, of the wisest of the people, could not take a peep behind the curtain before the farce began. Other persons, it seems, had been present at the rehearsal; for during my pleasant residence last summer in the mansions of the Tower, I remember to have read in the Morning Chronicle, the Post, and the Courier, the very secret and mystery of the plot which his Lordship was obliged to sit the whole play to discover. The writers for these papers unravelled the whole plot in the prologue; but he, at the end of the fifth act, comes forward, and in the epilogue, after the manner of the old drama, to untwist the riddle. “The scene began to open; then it was first discovered that the object of all this mighty work was, not to strengthen administration by an accession of character, but to debase, degrade, and disgrace that character.”

(To be concluded in our next.)

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Strictures on the “Letters of Lord Lauderdale to the Peers of Scotland,” and of Earl Fitzwilliam on the Affairs of Ireland.——The second Lecture on the Distinction between the Spirit of Party and the Principle of Liberty.

(Continued from the last Number.)

The instant we had proclaimed our acceptance the scene began to open; then it was first discovered that the object of all this mighty work was not to strengthen administration by an accession of character, but to debase, degrade, and disgrace that character.

When the junction was irrevocably avowed and declared then the pretensions of Mr. Dundas to the continued management of the war were immediately brought forward, and a new office was to be cabbaged out of the Duke of Portland’s.” I am very glad to find that our great Peers begin to adopt the language of the Swinish Multitude. It is a prophetic dawn of their sanscullotism—a happy omen of the approach of Liberty and Equality, which I have no doubt will soon arrive,—“a new office was to be cabbaged out of the Duke of Portland’s and an obvious diminution of his credit and authority was proclaimed.” In other words, the Duke of Portland was to be made clerk, or rather servant to Dundas, and his livery was to be a piece of blue ribbon.

No sooner had I declared my acceptance of the Lieutenancy of Ireland, than delay interposed, and soon doubts and difficulties arose.”

And now, Citizens, I think we have one of the prettiest pieces of stock-jobbing duplicity that could ever have been learned among the Jews in ’Change Alley. “It is a matter of public notoriety in this country,” (But the noble Lord has but just been able to discover it,) “that Mr. Pitt assured Lord Westmorland, as early as August, that he should not Edition: current; Page: [218] be removed; and I know that I could bring evidence to prove, that in the course of the autumn, he pointed out my actual successor as the person to succeed my predecessor.”

Citizens, among those jilts whom we call courtezans, I understand it is a maxim that it is a good thing to have two strings to the bow: but a state jilt finds it better to have three; that he may first twang the one, and then twang the other, and then twang the third, and send forth the dart from that which is likely to go furthest towards the goal of his own interest.

“Knowing the importance we gave to the system then pursuing relative to France.”—Oh! dismal system! Whigs and Tories united together for the annihilation of the liberties of Europe.

“Knowing the importance we gave to the system then pursuing relative to France!”—(A precious system that could receive importance from such individuals, such principles, and such intellects!) “he snatched at the opportunity and made that the means of disgracing our characters.” In other words, he had found out that they had no characters at all, and was determined that the public should be made as wife as himself, and thus did he succeed in “rendering us fit for no other service but to be his vile tools and instruments. He thought that object perfected and complete, then he cared not how soon he turned us adrift to all the disgrace and contempt it was his expectation and wish should attach upon our characters.” Spirit of blindness and infatuation!—can the oracles of party step forward and publish such truths as these, and not perceive that they are sealing the instrument of their own eternal infamy, and insuring the irrevocable inheritance of contempt. Yes, Fitzwilliam is kicked away; by and by Portland will be kicked away in the same manner;—the minister, however, has taken care if he should fall into a fit of despair in consequence of his disappointment, that he shall not be in want of a garter to put an end to his miserable existence. Yet after all this acknowledged infamy, mark the high tone of aristocracy.—“I have,” says Earl Fitzwilliam, “the glory of being objectionable to Mr. Pitt.” He now finds out that it is a glory to be objectionable to that man, with whom, for sake of the emoluments and patronage of Ireland, he coalesced a few months ago; and with whom he would have continued to have co-operated to this very day if he would have suffered him to have any share of the loaves and fishes which the minister is accumulating to himself.

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The glory of being objectionable to Mr. Pitt? No, Fitzwilliam, no: glory and you have shook hands and parted; and reputation and esteem have followed her. I will tell you how you might have had the glory of being objectionable to this man. You might have been honest, you might have been upright in your principles, you might have persevered in the cause of liberty and virtue, and, with undaunted fortitude, pursued the general happiness of the people.—Then you would have been sure of the glory of being obnoxious to Pitt, and a glory indeed it would have been in the eyes of the universe and of all succeeding ages. But to talk of the glory of being obnoxious to a man who has made you his tool and instrument to swindle Ireland of her men and money, and then throws you away with neglect and contempt, is language too ridiculous, I assure you, to gull the swinish multitude, however it may succeed with the narrow intellects of courts and factions. And to say afterwards that “he has not rendered your character subservient to his views,” is talking that, at which children themselves would laugh. The very drivellers in the street would point their fingers at the man who could make use of such logic as this “I have bargained for the wages of iniquity, and was refused my reward. I, therefore, stand up before the people and talk of my character, and glory in being made obnoxious to the being by whom I am thus disappointed.”

Citizens, such is the letter and such are the facts which Earl Fitzwilliam has submitted to the public. What is the conclusion we are to draw from it? I believe it is simply this—That no man is to be trusted who has ever had any connection with any party whatever. I know there are men who consider themselves as Whigs, who will say “this is judging harshly. These men have coalesced, we grant, but we have held out.” Yes, Citizen Whigs—if Citizens you will be called; but I fancy you would be much offended if you heard me call you so,—Yes, ye scanty relics of the tattered banner of party, you have held out. Remember the language of William III. I have not places enough for them all, or else I should soon be able to reconcile the differences of contending parties.—“Two stars keep not together the same course, nor can the cabinet brook the double reign of Billy Chatham and of C. J. Fox!” But give them what credit we will for their motives, what have they done? what consistency have they displayed? Mark what has been their conduct during the present struggle. The first session that the mania of alarm burst out among us, when proclamations were posted in every street, when the Edition: current; Page: [220] militia were called out, and parliament assembled in a hurry, Fox comes down to the House of Commons, reprobates the meditated war, speaks in the most direct and open manner, so that I really thought he had at last determined to act as the consistent friend of the people,—condemns the alarm, treats it as a juggle and a ministerial trick, and brands the associations with merited infamy. What does he do the next day? Why he goes with his aristocratic friends to the parish meeting of St. George’s Hanover-square, and puts his name to one of these very associations, the alarming introduction of which he had so recently reprobated.

Mark the next step of these Whigs. They condemn the war. Yet what do they do? Vote supplies for the vigorous prosecution of that war. They affirm that it is a war levelled at the liberties of Europe; yet, calling themselves the friends of liberty—they say if you do go to war we are determined to support you. Is not this like the coqueting of a young lady who slaps her lover’s face with her fan, and calls him a naughty devil, and yet gives him to understand that if he is determined to kiss her she must, per force, submit.

Either the liberties of Europe are or are not at stake in this war. If they feel an honest conviction that these liberties are struck at, how can they vote for prosecuting it with energy? If they are convinced that it is not a war hostile to the liberties of Europe, but a just and necessary war, why oppose it?

Principle would have pointed out a straight line: party always leads into serpentines and mazes, till you know not where you are going, nor where you set out from.

Mark their proceedings respecting the justiciary court of Scotland. They make a motion in behalf of Muir and Palmer; but they disdain to mention the sanscullotish names of Skirving, Margarot and Gerrald: men suffering in the same cause—men suffering under the same cruel, arbitrary, and unjust sentences. Call it High Treason if you will to arraign the proceedings of the Courts of Scotland; but while I have breath I will call them, as they themselves have called them, arbitrary sentences. But Muir and Palmer, because supposed to be a little less connected with sanscullotish principles, because they were not members of the Convention, were to be named in the House of Commons; but the name of Margarot, to whose upright integrity the greatest aristocrat cannot refuse his admiration, and the virtuous Skirving already gone to the inhospitable shores of New Holland, were not to be mentioned;—nor Edition: current; Page: [221] Gerald, now languishing under the miseries of disease and persecution, lying upon a vile hammock, unfit for a common felon!—This man, whose faculties and powers of mind surpass, in gigantic energy, almost every individual existing in the country,—this man, whom Doctor Parr, the tutor of Mackintosh, the tutor of Sheridan, and the tutor of Gerald also, has declared to be by far the cleverest man he ever had under his tuition!—This man is to languish unpitied and unnamed—this glorious energy of intellect is to lie neglected, and not a party man has virtue to reverberate his name, or publish his virtues and the injustice of his persecutors.

An annuity of 3000 a year could the props and pillars of party collect by subscription, for a man who has been toiling all his life time to be Chancellor of the Exchequer or first Lord of the Treasury, and been disappointed in that virtuous and useful pursuit. Three thousand a year has been given to him to console him for the disappointment: but poor Gerald, attached to no party, whom nothing but virtue and principle can bias—poor Gerald is left unsupported, and unprotected, to receive his daily bread from the scanty pittances, which the honest shoemakers and mechanics of the Town can save from the hard earnings of the week for the support of virtue and the alleviation of unmerited suffering.

What talk you of parties upon principle, while men whose only crime is principle, are languishing in want and neglect. If there is is such a thing as principle in the human breast, this must be one of the first results of reason, that for principle, whether mistaken or not, no man shall languish without that generous assistance which those in affluent circumstances might so easily afford.

Citizens, the plain and simple fact is this: let me impress it upon your minds: if you wish for the fruits of virtue, if you wish for the fruits of liberty, truth, and justice, seek them not from the rotten, blasted bough of party: they grow not there. These fruits are only to be expected, (to borrow a beautiful illustration from Doctor Parr) from “the solid trunk of virtuous habit, growing out of the deep root of virtuous principle.”

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The Second Lecture On the moral and Political Influence of the Prospective Principle of Virtue.

[For the First see Tribune No. VII.]

CITIZENS, The subject of this evening’s Lecture is the Prospective Principle of Virtue. It will be remembered that some evenings ago, the first time I had the pleasure of meeting you after a melancholy circumstance had taken place in my family, I delivered a Lecture upon this subject, a subject to the choice of which I was led, in a considerable degree, by the state of my feelings. I was conscious of the duty of struggling with those sentiments of regret which we cannot wholly avoid when deprived of those who are dear to us, and I recollect that one of the most pleasing and efficacious methods of rivetting instruction in our own minds, is to endeavour to impart it to others; and I, therefore, upon that evening, undertook to prove that virtue is a prospective, not a retrospective principle, that it regards always those things we are to look forward upon, not those to which we may look back.

Citizens, I had no sooner determined to treat upon this subject, than I found the extreme importance of considering it with accuracy, and giving it an extensive investigation; it will not, however, be surprising to you that I should feel myself, under such circumstances, incompetent to give that methodical and orderly arrangement to which the subject is entitled: for, notwithstanding all our boasts, fortitude itself is a struggle, and when we are struggling against powerful passions our thoughts may occasionally flow, perhaps, with considerable energy, but they will generally be uttered in a loose and unconnected woy. I found, accordingly, after I had concluded, that I had very imperfectly performed the task I had undertaken, that many important topics had not been touched at all, and particularly one important branch of my subject, which, perhaps, I was called upon to investigate with some degree of boldness and accuracy, because I had shocked, in a considerable degree, the prejudices of some of my hearers by having promised to attempt to prove that gratitude is in reality no virtue.

I have been induced, therefore, to consider the subject again, and to bring before you those parts of the argument into which I did not sufficiently enter; and though this subject may, in the first view, appear considerably metaphysical, and though many Edition: current; Page: [223] persons may expect that the investigation will not be sufficiently political, I believe this suspicion will be found only to originate from not having sufficiently considered the nature of the subject.

The fact is, that the great question whether virtue is or is not always a prospective principle, is one of those which takes in an almost boundless range of investigation. Perhaps no question, in morals or politics, can possibly be started which has not some degree of reference to it; and I hope I shall be able to prove, that the proper understanding of the subject is of equal importance to practical utility, as to the accurate arrangement of ideas comprehended in the investigation. I think I shall be able to shew, that the prospective principle of virtue, that is to say, that principle which looks forward always to the advantages and benefits that are to be attained—which thinks of nothing but promoting the present and future happiness of society, is a principle the most magnificent, extensive and generous in its influence upon the human character of any that can be devised.

Citizens, If we could but persuade ourselves, not only in theory, but in practice, to keep our eyes thus constantly before us, I have no doubt but we should be able to produce a harvest of felicity of which mankind, as yet, entertain no conception; that we should be stimulated to a degree of energy that would expand the human intellect, enlarge the political powers of man, and produce a universal triumph of happiness throughout the universe;—that we should convert all the passions, powers, and energies of man, now so frequently wasted in profligacy, revenge, or apathy, into powerful engines to promote the general happiness, and to enlarge the capacities of our species!

Citizens, This proposition might, in a considerable degree be illustrated from what all of us must have observed in the intercourses of private life. If we regard the human character, such as we find it, we cannot but reflect, upon the considerable degree of force and activity which the youthful character displays, in proportion as it is inspired by the energies of hope, in preference to that tendency to regret and melancholy which frequently distinguishes the later period of life: for what is this hope but an enthusiastic ardour of the mind that keeps the eye constantly fixed on things that are before. Hence not only the human intellect unfolds to a degree which could not otherwise be accomplished, but we Edition: current; Page: [224] also find the youthful character struggling with, and frequently surmounting dangers and difficulties which, but for this prospective principle, would sink them listless to the earth, and consign them to hopeless desperation. We find them also frequently springing forward to the full attainment of objects which to the cold eye of censure appear unattainable, and which occasion the soi-disant moralists of the day to ridicule and censure their daring enthusiasm.

Citizens, Could we carry this principle into the political world—could we persuade mankind to consider the universe, as in reality it is, one continuous system of animated being, and could we persuade the individual to think himself only a part, a portion of that great, and, as far as we can perceive, immortal existence, think how those energies would be prolonged, and reflect what must be the beneficent consequences! For why does age droop into despondency? Why is the vigour, the ardour of the youthful character suppressed by the chilling hand of experience? Is it because we have found that hope and exertion are of no avail? No—It cannot be. Let any individual who has once felt this enthusiastic ardor consider what he has attained by its means, and it is impossible that he should conclude that ardor and enthusiasm are fruitless.

What is the reason then that the energies of the human character are of such short duration? Citizens the reason is this, man when considerably advanced in life thinks he has but little to look forward to, and therefore slides imperceptibly into the retrospective, dwells upon that which is past, seeks his pleasures and his gratifications from the remembrance of what is no more, and thence drops too often into regret, repining melancholy, and dissatisfaction, from reflecting upon those parts of his past history which he cannot approve, or which, if he does approve, are accompanied with the melancholy conviction that they can return no more.

These are the consequences of the selfish system. That man who considers himself as an isolated individual, who believes that all his exertions ought to be made for his individual benefit, soon has reason to relax in his exertions. He finds that he is approaching towards the catastrophe he wishes to avoid; that there is little for him to hope for; little for him to wish; his anxiety for the future is only a gloomy consideration of his approaching dissolution; and he therefore resigns that energetic character which in youth had been the Edition: current; Page: [225] source of his delight and prosperity, and sinks into that disposition to regret and melancholy which is equally barren to himself and injurious, or at least unproductive, to society.

But if we extend our view a little further; if we consider that man lives not for himself alone, but that every existing being, each individual that participates the feelings and sensations of which he himself is conscious—all that have the same common faculties with himself, are entitled to the same enjoyments and the same rights; that year after year, generation after generation, ages after ages, and myriads of ages after myriads, may pass away, and still society exist to reap the benefit of our exertions; then our energy becomes as it were immortal, and the desire, the hope, the anxiety to labor for human happiness, can only terminate with existence, because there only can terminate that satisfaction which the virtuous mind conceives from the consciousness of laboring to promote the general felicity, from the conviction that unborn ages may taste the harvest which his virtue is cultivating.

Citizens, Such, I conceive, with respect to the energies of the human character, are the effects that must result from considering virtue as a prospective principle. It creates to man a sort of eternal interest, in the advancement of virtue and happiness: it enlarges every day, in proportion as his knowledge enlarges the sphere of his activity; and consequently it is likely to be productive of effects to society which nothing but such a principle can possibly produce.

But it may be said, what avails to me the felicity that is to be enjoyed by unborn ages? Why should I exert myself for happiness that is to be tasted an hundred thousand years to come? Citizens, this way of arguing may look like philosophy, but it partakes very little of benevolence, and still less of a thorough knowledge of the sources of human happiness. It is true we may not live to realize a very large portion of the happiness we are laboring to produce. Some of it certainly we must behold; because if our labours in the cause of general happiness are continual, the harvest will be springing up day after day. But this proportion, you say, is small.—True, this proportion, if you consider this only, may be small. But is this all that man enjoys? Those atoms which compose the individuals that surround me, some few years hence may perhaps be winnowed in the gale; in the eternal Edition: current; Page: [226] revolutions of matter they may be transmuted into various forms, flow in the wave, mount with the element of fire, or mingle with their parent dust: but have we therefore no interests in the enjoyments of posterity?—Yes, we have. Incontemplation we enjoy them; in the noble and sublime satisfaction which springs from the consciousness of laboring, from the most disinterested principles, in the promotion of the grandest cause in which the faculties of man can be employed. And though you may not live to see the whole of those benefits you are toiling to produce, if you cannot anticipate them and enjoy them, in prospect, while you are toiling, I pity the coldness and sordidness of your imaginations.

The principle of retrospective virtue, if such a contradiction may be permitted, is however of a very different description. The passions it engenders are almost uniformly the very reverse of benevolence. Instead of imparting energy, it begets listlessness; instead of permanent happiness, it produces a sensual disposition to the gratification of the moment; and instead of ardent labor to promote the welfare of mankind, it generates the gloom of hatred, the rancour revenge, and the eternal brooding of malignant passions that disturb the universe and deform the character of man.

The most conspicuous of the pretended virtues of this system—for there is hardly any passion, however vile or base, which has not, in some country or some age, been dignified with the name of virtue.

The most conspicuous of the pretended virtues of this retrospective system, may be classed under a very few heads.

The first I shall hold out to your observation is Nationality. A certain ingenious set of romance writers called English Historians, having, time after time, told you very pompous stories of Frenchmen cut into fritters by English valour, of mountains of Spaniards looked to death by the terrors of the British eye, you are taught, by these fine stories, to contract an affection and veneration for the exploits of these glorious proficients in the science of human butchery, and hence you are taught to consider, of course, that as the persons who tell all these great exploits bore the name of Englishmen, you ought to love the character of Englishmen better than any other, and to hold all other beings in contempt: without enquiring whether they do not possess the same powers of mind, nay, whether the romance writers of other countries, that is to say, their historians, have not, in return, made those Spaniards Edition: current; Page: [227] and Frenchmen cut myriads of English Dogs into fritters in the same miraculous manner. In short, you are to love Englishmen because they are descended from those Englishmen who, as you are told, murdered the natives of France in inconceivable numbers, and you are to hate all Frenchmen (run away emigrants now excepted) because they are descended from the Frenchmen so murdered. Hence, Citizens, that perpetual animosity between nation and nation. What!—am I who am descended from Britons who have so frequently scourged those dogs of France—am I to suffer a Frenchman to consider himself my equal? Shall I, who pretend to be so proud of liberty, suffer a Frenchman to think of liberty for himself?—No, it is an insult to the sacred records of British story; and, remembering the cut-throat virtues of my ancestors, I must be sure to carry on the same trade of cutting throats in my time also.

Another species of this kind of partiality, is the spirit of party, proceeding also from the retrospective notion of virtues derived from ancestors—I have known gout, stone, and gravel to be derived from ancestors, but no one ever yet found the power of transmuting virtue, intellect, or learning from father to child. But, in remembrance of virtuous acts, forsooth, which the heroes of particular houses have accomplished, we are to bow down in veneration to those particular houses, we are to love the Whigs, because some of their ancestors stole the name from the Scotch Sans Cullottes, who stood about 150 years ago so boldly and conspicuously forward in vindication of the rights of man.

We are to revere sects in politics and religion also, because our ancestors were brought up in those political and religious notions; and as we have looked back for the example, it follows, of course, that the example must be right, and it would be almost atheism itself to think we could make any sort of improvement.

Another of the virtues which spring from the retrospective principle, is the system of proscription; that is to say, if any man, at any former period of his life, happens to have been guilty of any imprudence, or to have fallen into any vice, we are to take a resolute determination that he shall never have an opportunity of being virtuous again: we are never to think what the man is. The capacities and energies of his mind may be of the most useful nature, his virtues, private and public, may be most eminently conspicuous; we may look forward, also, to the prospect of his being beneficial to society: Edition: current; Page: [228] all this is very good till you happen to hear, some how or other, that at some former period of his life, he had committed some faux pas, or was accused of something of that kind, and then, forsooth, all your veneration and respect is to terminate, and you are to push him back into the paths of vice from which his enlightened intellect had rescued him.

Citizens, can any thing be more opposite to the great interests of mankind, to the desirable object of promoting universal happiness, diffusing felicity to those who are at present around us, and cultivating those virtues that may tend to the felicity of posterity than this retrospective principle of proscription, which so ridiculously and inhumanly says to the unfortunate man struggling to regain his place in society, you may make what efforts you will, and struggle to be virtuous to the last degree, but, if we can prove that you have once been vicious, we will forget your present exertions, we will shut the doors of future virtue against you, and drive you back, whether you will or not, to that situation from which the energies of your intellect had redeemed you.

Two other of the virtues which the retrospective principle cultivates are sorrow and regret,—weaknesses, which it is no further necessary for me to dwell upon, than as they have frequently not only been cherished, but hypocritically assumed, that the individual might challenge the praise of sensibility. Sensibility! what is it? Sensibility means nothing more than acuteness of feeling; and if there is any particular honor in having a more acute sense of pain than other people, the sickest valetudinarian has more virtue to boast than robust health and vigorous and useful activity can ever aspire to. In the same degree the feeble, sickly mind, in which there is not energy or virtue enough to do one virtuous action, frequently bears off the palm which ought to be conferred only upon the man glowing with a generous and extensive love of his fellow creatures, but which is, in general, conferred upon that debility into which persons sink from contemplating nothing but their own sensations, and supposing that to those sensations the world and its happiness ought to be rendered subservient.

Another of the virtues of the retrospective system is repentance. This is one of the virtues I shall touch upon very delicately, because I would not wish to offend the fine sensations of those reverend Gentlemen who may, perhaps, be anxious not to lofe that hold which it gives them of the consciences and consequently the purses of their followers.

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But the most conspicuous and energetic of all the virtues resulting from the retrospective principle is revenge: a passion that has done more towards deforming the face of human society, and plunging nation after nation, and generation after generation into all the horrors the mind can conceive, than all the other vices in the catalogue of human errors. Of this principle I shall not enter particularly into the investigation at this time, having spoken of it at length in my former Lecture. I shall, therefore, proceed to the consideration of a more plausible part of the retrospective system; I mean the supposed virtue of Gratitude. These two passions I shall compare together, and endeavour to shew that, however different in appearance, they both proceed from the same selfish principle.

Citizens, as this passion or sentiment of Gratitude is the only one generated by the retrospective system which has any plausible pretence to virtue, and as it has been long revered by the most amiable characters as the germ of every virtue, I am well aware that I have a delicate task to perform. Few, perhaps, who hear me ever questioned that gratitude was a virtue of the first description. A chain of serious reasoning has induced me to consider it as a vice. It will be necessary, therefore, for me to state the question to you with great precision, so that I may be thoroughly understood, and you may perceive the foundations upon which my conclusion is built. It is a doctrine, I believe, which no one has been hardy enough to broach in this country, till it was advanced by a celebrated author of the present day (Godwin) in his “Enquiry concerning Political justice;” and the odium it has drawn upon his head is little calculated to induce others to tread the same path. I am not afraid, however, of popularising those ideas which I believe to be true, because the persons who first propagated them have encountered reproach. If gratitude is a virtue—if it has a tendency to expand the heart, and promote the line of conduct most conducive to general happiness, let it be proved, and I shall be happy to retract. If gratitude, on the contrary, has a tendency to draw the human mind from the consideration of the whole, and to fix it, from a principle of self love, upon a few individuals, then I shall be obliged to conclude that gratitude is no virtue, but that, on the contrary, it is an enemy to that great fountain of all virtue—Justice!—which commands us, without favor or regard to personal feelings, to cultivate felicity in every bosom capable of receiving its impression, and remove sorrow and affliction Edition: current; Page: [230] from every sentient being, wherever the opportunity is presented.

Citizens, let us enquire, in the first instance, what is the principle of gratitude, and what is justice. If justice consists in nothing more, according to the ideas of Lombard-street, than merely paying your debts that you may neither injure your credit, nor be sent to prison, why then justice is not the sole foundation of all virtue. But if justice consists, as I suppose, in doing, in all possible cases, all the good we possibly can for our fellow beings, then I must conclude that every thing that is not just is criminal, that nothing that militates against this justice can be a virtue.

Well, then, what do you mean by gratitude? Either it means something, or it means nothing. If it means something, it must mean either something more or something less than justice; or else justice and gratitude are convertible terms:—a position that will never be allowed. If justice, then, is a supreme virtue, if justice embraces the whole universe, if it is the elementary principle of justice that you should do all the good to all human beings that you have the power of doing, and never neglect any opportunity of doing good to any individual, unless by doing that good you are likely to do more injury to other individuals, or, to society at large—If these are the principles of justice, and if gratitude means something more or something less than this, it must be injustice, and consequently is no virtue. It is mistaking a part for the whole, and confining our exertions to a few particular individuals, merely because they have done more for us than we were entitled to, and thereby neglecting that great scale of justice which would lead us to do all the good in our power to all existing beings.

Gratitude is generally understood to be a return of benefits. Now let us consider what are the benefits which ought to be returned.

You must never lose sight, in this enquiry, of the first principle, namely, that justice includes doing all the good you can for all human beings. Now then what is returning favors? The obligation, as it is called, either was a favour which the individual did or did not deserve. If not deserved, then it was an act of injustice; for no man has power to do more than he ought to an individual, without doing less than his duty to the whole; the fact being, that he owes to the whole every power and faculty he possesses, and is bound to lay out those powers and faculties to the general advantage. Edition: current; Page: [231] If therefore he does more to any individual than that individual deserves, he is reduced to the necessity of doing less to other individuals than they deserve; consequently he has done injustice, he has done an ill act. If injustice then has been done in your favour, ought you to do a kindness to another because you have received the benefit of his injustice? Certainly not.

Grant, on the other hand, that what your benefactor did was no more than just and due; that it was beneficial to the human race that the kindness should be done, would you not be bound in the same manner to respect and reverence that human being, whose virtue had led him to do the best for his fellow beings, just the same whether that benefit was conferred upon another individual or yourself? If not, what makes the difference but your own self-love?

Thus then it resolves itself into the principle of justice. But if you lay it down as a principle of gratitude, that if you do me a kindness, I am to do you a kindness again, what is it but a barter? What is it but a traffic? a compact between parties?—Do more for me to day than I deserve, and I will do more for you to morrow than you deserve!—or, in other words, you having done injustice to mankind, that you might heap unmerited favours upon my head; I will do injustice to mankind, for ever after, that I may heap favors upon your head of which you are not worthy.

Citizens, It is not often that I enter upon any subject in this dry and abstract manner: but I wish you to see, as it is a part of that great system I wish to impress upon your minds, that the conclusion I draw from this is not a conclusion unfriendly to doing kind and beneficent actions. It is not an argument against doing as many generous actions as you would otherwise do; on the contrary it is a stimulus to do more: for the conclusion is, that all the good you can do to all existing beings, you ought to do; and that the only standard by which you ought to regulate the proportions of good you are to administer, is the standard of the effective right of the individual: that is to say, the capacity and the inclination of that individual to do good in his turn to other human beings whom it may be in his power afterwards to serve: and the only reason why you ought to give him that preference is, that by so doing, you throw your seed into a soil where it will be sure to be cultivated and bring forth a more abundant produce—not for your particular advantage, the paltry gratification of your contracted senses: no, but for the general diffusion Edition: current; Page: [232] of happiness and virtue through the whole of that great family of human beings every one of which, whatever be his name, his colour, or his country, is the brother of all the rest, and ought to enjoy with them a community of rights and happiness.

It matters not whether the individual has done me a kindness or an injury. A virtuous individual, supposing me to be vicious, may have done me wrong! This virtuous individual has the power and inclination to do benefit to all mankind. Now suppose this individual who has thus injured me unintentionally—or suppose he had intentionally wronged me (being then a vicious, tho’ now a virtuous man)—This man who has wronged me languishes in want. Those powers, those faculties, those virtues, by which nations and generations might be blessed, are perishing before me. On the other hand lies some worthless individual whom nature may have made my relation, who may have heaped, in profligacy and idle intoxication, perhaps, unmerited favours upon my head: I have the power of serving but one: Who does gratitude call upon me to serve? The worthless being by whose exertions society will never be benefited, or him whose relief confers an essential benefit upon mankind? Gratitude says, relieve the worthless, and let the important sufferer perish. But who does justice, who does virtue, who does the love of my fellow men call upon me to serve? The man whose conduct, perhaps, was once a scorpion to my breast; who, if I relieve his necessities, if I triumph over the selfish narrow principles corroding my heart, may become a blessing to the universe and diffuse felicity through a wide sphere of human population.

Citizens, it may appear paradoxical, but I shall endeavour to prove how nearly gratitude and revenge are allied. I might argue this point by dogmatism, and inference from fact. I might appeal to observation, and remind you that grateful men are generally revengeful, and that revengeful men are generally grateful; and even hence, perhaps, it would be no great presumption to conclude that the revengeful and grateful man act from the same selfish spring of motion, that is to say, the recollection of the benefits or injuries heaped upon himself, and the hatred or love he feels towards the individuals. I shall not however take advantage of this general association, but shall proceed to examine the question upon the open ground of argument. For this purpose, Citizens, I will refer to a recent circumstance, because it will give me an opportunity of meeting the arguments of my opponents on their strongest ground.

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You all of you know that, together with other Citizens, I have lately been in circumstances of a very extraordinary nature: that the iron hand of oppression was stretched over me to crush me to atoms, that every species of persecution was made use of to destroy at once my person and my character. Well, how came I through this perilous storm? Citizens, twelve good Mariners and three excellent pilots conducted my vessel in safety into the harbour of peace. Twelve honest Jurors disdained the sophistry of an host of Crown Lawyers.—Erskine, with an imagination all on fire, with a soul full of that energy which nothing but virtuous feelings could inspire, Erskine stepped forward with manly eloquence, and asserted the cause of truth and justice to the very teeth of that judge who, in his charge to the Grand Jury, propagated doctrines to which I will not give a descriptive epithet:—posterity will do them justice. Erskine stood up in the face of power; he vindicated the rights and liberties of Englishmen, and as he already stood unrivalled for forensic talents, determined to prove that the qualities of his head were not superior to those of his heart.—Gibbs, whose soul, unbiassed by party, never yet was plunged in political disputes, felt a correspondent ardour. Burning with honest conviction, elevated with a noble fortitude, conscious that the men who pretended to reverence the law and constitution were trampling law and constitution under foot, and endeavouring to mark every footstep of their tyrannic career with British blood;—Gibbs, not curious, perhaps, of those abstract and speculative truths which form the basis of the character of the philosophical politician, but fired with that Constitutional enthusiasm, that zeal for the faithful interpretation of the laws which has occasionally, though not frequently, adorned the English Bar—Gibbs stood by his side, like the younger Ajax by the side of Telemon, seconded his strokes, and enforced his advantages. Nor must we forget the labours of Foulkes, who in a situation less conspicuous, but equally arduous, united the diligence of the solicitor with the disinterestedness of the philanthropist, and the ardour of the patriot.

Such were our champions. They fought, they conquered, and Britain escaped the chains that were forging for it.

Well, Citizens, I feel—I know all this: I acknowledge, I avow, I proclaim (for justice calls upon me so to do) that but for these honest jurors, these honest advocates, and this honest solicitor, I had not been here. I am not a man to deny the good offices I have received. That is no part of the system I Edition: current; Page: [234] am upholding. The good actions of mankind ought to be publicly proclaimed, nor ought the light of benevolence to be hid under a bushel. But can I suppose, or, if I were so infatuated, could any body else believe that the merit of these men is any way increased because I was the individual who was snatched by their exertions from the jaws of oppression, and restored to my sphere of public and private usefulness. Can I, unless egotism has usurped the seat of justice in my mind, believe that more affection is due to these men, more esteem for snatching me from the meditated destruction than for snatching the veteran Tooke, for example, from the same fate? or Hardy, that gallant and disinterested leader of the van of liberty? Certainly not. The principle and the utility of the action are the real foundations of the esteem we owe the actors, and not the individual object. They would be equally entitled to respect and veneration had they exercised the same energies of mind in behalf of any other individuals equally innocent and equally useful to mankind.

Nay, Citizens, I will go a step further, I say that the respect and veneration which we owe and which society owes to these men, does not arise from the circumstance of past exertions. No, those exertions ought only to be considered as proofs of energetic virtues calculated to produce the happiness of mankind; as land marks, if I may so express myself, on the shore of morals, pointing out to mankind, whenever their happiness and felicity shall need such a shelter of intellect, and legal knowledge, where they may seek that shelter with confidence.

In short, Citizens, it is not this or that good action which individuals have done, but their general usefulness, their power and inclination to benefit society, that ought to stamp their estimation with the thinking part of mankind.

Now, Citizens, I will contrast this by another circumstance. It is not likely that in mentioning the seprosecutions I should forget the sanguinary ambition of a Pitt, the aristocratic enthusiasm of a Burke, the metaphysical frenzy of a Wyndham, or the apostacy of your Portlands, your Spencers, and the would-be Viceroy Fitzwilliam: yet, Citizens, because we recollect the vices of those men, are our souls to fester with revenge? Are we, like harpies and furies, with lips quivering with rage and indignation (such lips as I beheld in the Privy Council when I was examined!)—Are we, I say, as if we were ready to lap the blood of these men because their principles and conduct are offensive to us, to brood over the Edition: current; Page: [235] gloomy feeling of resentment and revenge? No: Perish the wretch the fire of whose patriotism must be fed by the destroying fires of vengeance! Perish the wretch who, remembering only his own petty wrongs, forgets the great interests of humanity!

However contemptible their conduct may have been, or however conspicuous their sanguinary hatred and disposition to oppress, those individuals certainly are no worse members of society than they would have been if they had never persecuted me. If their persecution had fell upon other heads, ought I not to have the same abhorrence for their principles and practices which is justifiable now? Certainly this makes no difference in the great scale. If I am merely an isolated individual, if I am to be acting merely for myself, if I am to consider that I am all, and society nothing, then of course I must hate these men in proportion to the injury they have done me. But, admitting the benevolent principle, can any individual have a right to stake the happiness and prosperity of society, the welfare, the peace, the tranquillity of a whole generation, that he may satisfy his particular feelings of rage, of hatred, of resentment? No: such a right, reason, humanity, justice, all disclaim. I know this is not the popular sentiment. I know how strong a tendency there is in the human character to egotism and resentment; and I therefore warn you when you yourselves are wronged think twice—always think seriously before you suffer yourselves to feel indignation against any individual; but when yourselves are wronged think twice,—think how common a thing it is to over-rate ourselves, and consequently to over-rate the injuries we have received,—and learn that the principles of virtue are principles of general utility, not of particular feeling.

But, Citizens, there is one circumstance more relative to this gratitude, to which I shall allude, namely, the mischievous consequences it frequently produces in the most noble and capacious minds, fettering them to individuals when they were born for the universe, and extinguishing the great principles of general justice in their hearts. How is it that the Demosthenes of our senate, Fox, a man whose soul is occupied by magnificent virtues,—how comes it that this man shrinks as he does from the path of public duty at this period? What is the reason that he should affirm in the Senate, that elementary principles are not to be talked of, that you must not discuss general abstract rules,—you must only consider the particular motives and objects of the present day?—In other Edition: current; Page: [236] words, you may make as many disputes as you please to get yourselves into power, but never discuss what are the rights of the People, the duties of Ministers, or the objects of Government! No: this would lead you to enquiry equally destructive to all parties, and the Outs have as much to tremble for during the investigation as the Ins. But can we believe that this great character is blind to the importance of first principles? Can we believe that his mind cannot see beyond the narrow line of conduct now chalked out?—It is impossible to think so meanly of his mind; but the harpy Gratitude has taken possession of him: recollecting that much of the felicity, much of the ease, the splendor, the consequence of his life, has been derived from a few aristocratic families, from a great combination of Whigs, as they call themselves, he therefore supposes that he is bound in gratitude never to desert this party, though, one after another, they have shewn little remorse in deserting him. Thus is this great, this powerful, in many respects this virtuous and energetic mind, trammelled by the fetters of Aristocracy, and society is robbed of those glorious advantages which might be reaped from the free and generous exertions of capacities so gigantic and immeasurable!

Impromptu on seeing the word Liberty half erazed from a wall on which it had been written.

  • POOR dastard no triumph thy malice imparts;
  • What you ’razed from our walls is engraved on our hearts:
  • And tho’ Pitt and his crew may the legend efface,
  • The emblem for ever the mind shall embrace;
  • Its firmness—its ardour shall ever endure,
  • Engrav’d on our bosoms, unshaken and pure;
  • Existence and Freedom together we’ll twine,
  • And the one with the other we’ll only resign.
  • juvenis.

asterisks An additional Quarter-Sheet will be given with a future Number.

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On the humanity and benevolence of the Dutch Revolution, and the causes of the excesses in France. The Third Lecture On the Moral and Political Influence of the Prospective Principle of Virtue. With a Parallel between the Character of Pitt and Robespierre.

Citizens, it will frequently happen, from the extempore manner in which these Lectures are delivered, that I shall be considerably mistaken in my calculations as to the extent of matter to be embraced by a single Lecture. On the last evening I intended to have closed the subject of the prospective principle of virtue, and to have entered largely into the political considerations that depend upon it; particularly that branch of the subject which relates to the revolutions of nations. I found, however, when the evening was considerably advanced that it would be impossible to accomplish this, or, indeed, to enter at any considerable length into that which forms the most important branch of the subject, namely, the application to the leading characters and events of this important æra, without considerably trespassing upon my usual limits. And as the state of my health was precarious, I thought it not right either to expose myself to hazard, or you to inconvenience by protracting that Lecture to an unusual length. I am glad I made use of this precaution, because, when I came to review my subject again, I found a vast variety of important matter entirely untouched. I recollected also that while I had the honor of residing in the Tower, I had perused, with a considerable degree of attention, the works of an author sometimes very much praised, and sometimes more abused,

  • “Now hail’d with joy as true to Virtue’s side;
  • Now view’d with horror as the assassin’s guide”—

I mean Machiavel, who appeared, in a considerable degree, to furnish a clue to the events which have recently taken place Edition: current; Page: [238] in Europe; and from whom many important reflections might be adduced: An author, whatever might be his object—whether to instruct the tyrant, or expose the tyranny, whose work is replete with political erudition and, therefore, worthy of the most serious attention. I found, in a review of the present subject, that many of his reflections would apply to that branch I am now going to enter upon, and I shall occasionally, therefore, make some quotations from him. It may be necessary, however, to premise that this author is perpetually speaking of princes and of tyrants, whereas I shall have to apply his reflections to leaders of revolutions by which princes and tyrannies have been overthrown. You will see, however, that the reasoning applies just the same, and that in one instance in particular the only irrelevant circumstance is the use of the word prince, a title to which the individual animadverted upon never attained, nor ever, perhaps, aspired.

Having premised thus much, I shall proceed to remind you that in two former lectures I have dilated very considerably upon that principle of virtue which looks forward to benefits to be procured, in opposition to that which looks backward upon injuries already done. You will remember that I dwelt upon the tendency of the passion of revenge to disappoint the aims of those who use that engine to promote the principle of liberty; the very essence of which is philanthropic virtue. I attempted also to shew you that the deviations from the great principles of political virtue which, according to my conceptions, are observable in that illustrious character, the Demosthenes of the British senate, are to be traced also from the delusive principle of gratitude, a branch as I endeavoured to shew you, of the retrospective system.

I come now to the most important branch of my subject: namely, the influence of the two principles in the grand revolutions which frequently convulse, sometimes destroy, and sometimes improve great communities. And here, Citizens, I shall dwell, in the first instance, not upon the gloomy, but upon the benignant picture. I am sure no man who has a heart can have read the proceedings of the revolution in Holland, without feeling that heart dilated, and finding himself a better member of society from the grand sentiments of justice and benevolence upon which that revolution has been conducted. Remember particularly the doctrines they lay down, how they discard the principle of vengeance, and all those effusions of retrospective fury which have produced such miserable consequences in the world. Think of that proclamation Edition: current; Page: [239] in which they declare their independence, and avow their determination of forming a government upon the broad basis of liberty and equality. Having been required, with more zeal than discretion, to satiate vengeance upon some of their late oppressive rulers, the provisional representatives, the leaders of the revolution, publish a proclamation, equally admirable for its energy of sentiment, its wisdom and its humanity. “The Dutch,” say they, “from the very moment when they first broke their chains, gave to astonished Europe too grand an example of generosity and humanity to let us believe that they would fully that glory in the moments of tranquillity, by avenging themselves on a set of humbled despots, deprived of all strength.” This magnanimity will appear very conspicuous, when you consider what has been the conduct of the man who was once the chief magistrate of that country; when you reflect that during the American war, while Holland was at war with England, there are strong reasons to suspect that he sold the fleet of his own country to the cabinet of St. James’s (I mean at the battle of the Dogger Bank)—when you reflect, also, upon his conduct to the people, of whose constitution, be it remembered, the Stadtholderate was never an integral part—it was only a provisional office set up by the temporary will of the nation, and liable to be put down again whenever the nation so willed.

The Stadtholderate, I say, and the history of the country bears me out in the assertion, was no integral part of the constitution of the Batavian states; yet you will remember that when the Batavian people thought it their duty—and who shall venture to dispute the right of a people when they do so think, to ameliorate the government, under which they live?—You will remember that when they thought it their duty to ameliorate their government they were prevented by the Stadtholder from so doing. How? By a larger portion of the people declaring against the patriots? No: but by the menacing of a British fleet that threatened their ports, and by troops of Prussians poured into the nation to thrust the Stadtholderate down people’s throats, with an increase of power, and additional prerogatives.

But they forgot all this—generously and gloriously forgot it, and remembered the true principles of virtue and policy; as you will hear, “He deserves not to triumph,” continue these philosophic patriots, “who basely abuses his victory; he alone can promise himself the constant and happy fruits of victory who makes his vanquished foes blush by his justice and generosity; Edition: current; Page: [240] and convinces them that they are the persons who have chosen the worst cause to defend. Citizens, generosity and justice carry with them irresistible force, nothing can save our country but a constant adherence to those virtues. The exercise of revenge may afford a transitory pleasure in the moments of passion and delirium, but its consequences are commonly sad and fatal; while the exercise of equity and generosity leaves nothing but agreeable sensations.”

They then go on to declare that their great end is to establish a government upon the foundation of the genuine principles of freedom and equality; perceiving (as all men will sooner or later perceive) that all governments that are not founded upon this basis, that is to say, upon the basis of equal rights, equal laws, and equal means of obtaining justice, are in reality nothing but usurpations, how many hundred, or how many thousand years soever they may happen to have been established. “But,” continues the proclamation, “how to attain this end? No method more likely than to shew, on the one hand, grandeur and generosity with respect to the past; on the other, to be severe and inexorable to all attempts against freedom and the supremacy of the people.”

Citizens, I am not sure whether to be severe and inexorable is ever right. You are always to exercise justice,—you are to preserve liberty; but take care, that, while you pretend to make distinctions, you do not ultimately fall into an undistinguishing system of terror and revenge. However, Citizens, there can be no doubt that, in the agitation of passions that must prevail in such a revolution as that in France, and that in Holland, there must be a considerable degree of ferment,—a necessity for a considerable degree of energetic exertion, which at other periods cannot be justified. In a moment of crisis, all the terrors, in the regular course of things, being on one side, it is necessary, perhaps, to create a salutary and counteracting terror, that persons who have no side, no sentiment, no principle but that of self-security, (a description which always includes a large proportion of every people) may not suppose that they have every thing to fear from the triumph of one party, and nothing from the other. If therefore there is any excuse for this language, it is from that consideration. Self-preservation is a right of nature which belongs as much to the friends of liberty as to courts and ministers.

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Citizens, I mark this discrimination the more particularly, that I may shew you that there is no more foundation for the calumny which describes me, on the one hand, as a friend to passive obedience and non-resistance, than the calumny which represents me, on the other, as an agitator of violence and massacre. I love humanity, I love my fellow-beings, to whatever party they may belong; and I would no sooner wound or afflict my bitterest enemy than my dearest friend. Either the one or the other I would resist, if I met him in the prosecution of schemes destructive of the rights and interests of man; but I would resist him, which ever it might be, in the mildest and most benevolent manner, from which I could have any prospect of success. This is my land-mark—my boundary between Quakerism and violence; and here I think every man ought to stand to his post, and, when attacked, defend himself and his principles; and if ever the dire necessity should arrive, which I hope never will, I trust I shall be as willing to shed my blood, as spend my breath, in defence of the rights and liberties of man. But not one blow for vengeance! No: that which is past, is past. I would prevent the future evil; I would remove the present; but when, instead of prevention, we talk of punishment, we may disguise it to ourselves in what pompous language we will, but we have departed from the genuine principles of liberty and justice, and plunged into the cruel system by which all the tyrannies of the ancient and modern world have been supported.

Unhappily, citizens, this great political truth has not been understood in all the stages of the French revolution; unhappily we do but too frequently observe, instead of the prospective principle of amelioration, the retrospective glances and passions of revenge, in the struggles of parties which, one after the other, have succeeded in that great, that glorious, though in some respects unhappy country.

Citizens, perhaps in the first instance every one of the factions which have alternately prevailed in that country acted from virtuous principles. I cannot, I own, call back to my mind the glorious sentiments, the godlike reasonings, the generous eloquence, which has so frequently resounded within the walls of the French assemblies, without being convinced that, in many of those leaders who have at last fallen victims to their own ambition, there were pure and enlightened principles of liberty and truth, which perhaps never shone before with equal lustre in the world. But, citizens, one of Edition: current; Page: [242] the first misfortunes of France was, that the leading characters of that country formed themselves into factions, (into parties as they are called here!) compacts and associations, which have an inevitable tendency to produce a selfishness of character, a sort of esprit du corps, and to banish from the mind those broad and generous principles, without a resolute adherence to which nothing like genuine liberty ever can be produced.

These parties soon became inflamed by suspicions, and aggravated by threats of vengeance. Yes, I say by threats of vengeance; for I believe the threats held out by the feeble Brissotines were the first cause of the sanguinary proceedings which the Mountain afterwards adopted. When suspicions are generated, when denunciations are springing from every quarter, there is but too necessary a tendency in such proceedings to stir up the gloomy spirit of revenge. Opposition becomes inflamed by mutual hatred, and mutual fear, till nothing but the destruction of one party can satisfy the frantic ravings of those who began in delusion, but end in rancorous animosity. Let it be remembered however, citizens, that I do not attribute the whole of the mischiefs that have taken place in France to the revengeful dispositions of the particular leaders of the revolution. The time is near at hand when it will no longer be virtue to slander France. The time is near at hand when it will be no longer High Treason to do justice to the real character and virtues of that nation. Prussia has already, from a professing friend, become a threatening enemy to this country. Prussia already, from the foe of France, has become her ally; and, with very few grains of penetration, I think we may discover that part of the alliance, yet behind the curtain, is, that the arms of Prussia and France shall combine to drive the British forces from Germany. Spain and Sardinia, there is good reason to believe, have submitted already, or are upon the eve of submission. The King of Prussia is nominated, as it were, patron of a large portion of Germany; and, in all probability, under his wing peace will be procured from the French republic for those distracted and half-ruined states. Yet still we sleep supine: we lift not the manly voice for change of men and measures, though the period, I believe, is not very distant, when we must either discard our ministers to make a peace, or submit to a conquering foe, whose revenge we have stimulated by injustice and opprobrium, and whose generosity we have treated with ingratitude and contempt. I believe therefore, Edition: current; Page: [243] in such a posture of affairs, that it is not improper to prepare the public mind for amity, by removing a part of that odium unjustly thrown upon the French character; and I believe, if we consider the whole history of the revolution, we shall find that the excesses of that revolution have not, in general, proceeded principally from the character of the individual leaders, but still less from the principles which that revolution has promulgated. The revengeful character, the depravity of morals, which stained some stages of the revolution resulted from the old despotism. While every species of cruelty and licentiousness practiced by the court, during whose tyranny no poor miserable sans cullotte could walk the bridges at night, without expecting that some great man’s lackey might chuck him into the river, conscious that he would never be enquired after; while the monstrous cruelties practiced by the nobility, and gentry, as they called themselves, against the industrious order of people; while these things were fresh in the memory of the people, it is a circumstance to be lamented, but not to be wondered at, that a profligate spirit of revenge should have stimulated a part of the revolutionists also. Consider likewise the corruption introduced into that country by the court, nothing but splendor and power was treated with respect; and, therefore, splendor and power has but too frequently been grasped at by vices so detestable that no being would have had the audacity to perpetrate them, if he had not known that titles and gold would hide the deformity from the public eye, and his character be smoothed and polished over by the gold leaf of privilege and distinction.

To this I am sorry to add,—that I believe we must also attribute a considerable part of the intrigues and excesses in France to the cabals and artifices of the British cabinet. Do I say I believe? they have stood up in the houses of Parliament and avowed it. They have said that they sent the money of Britain into France to create internal commotions there. [Interruption.] The Citizen groans, but he will groan a little more when he remembers that Lord Stanhope made a motion in reprobation of that avowal. The motion was scouted, and the sentiment remained unretracted, to the disgrace of humanity, which could not but rise in indignation at the idea that any set of men could stand forward and say, we are employing the property of this country, taken from the hard earnings of industry, to spread treachery and crimes through the country of that enemy whom we wish to destroy though we have not the energy to conquer.

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Citizens, you will consider, also, the situation in which France was plunged at that period: you will consider the barbarous manifesto of the Duke of Brunswick. I mention not his name to give any wound to an unhappy female, who is torn from every connection to reside (such are the cruel mandates of state policy) at the mercy (for mercy, under such circumstances, it must be) of strangers whom, perhaps, she may love, but to whom, perhaps, she never can reconcile herself. I have heard, and I am much disposed to believe,—for I am much inclined to think the Duke of Brunswick one, among the sovereigns of Europe, who possesses a larger share of intellect than belongs to most of them: our own blessed sovereign excepted. (Reiterated applauses.)

I am very happy to hear, Citizens, that you are so loyal; and that you will not suffer a just compliment to be passed upon our benign sovereign, without taking the notice of it that it merits!

I say this piece of Bobadil bravado has been reported not to be the composition of the Duke of Brunswick. It was smuggled into the world, however, under his name: and I am sorry it should so frequently be the misfortune of Princes that their names should give the sanction of authority to measures of which they are totally ignorant, till the mischief has been disseminated through the world.

However, certain it is that this barbarous manifesto, whoever penned it, was one of the causes of the violences in France. Pressed with intrigues within, which were fomented and supported by cabals without, pressed by armies of invading despots, menaced on every side, provoked by every insult, injustice and indignity, their enthusiasm and apprehensions arose to frenzy, and they did acts which I shall not attempt to justify—which I should wish could be blotted for ever from the page of history, if I were not sure that it is good for the future happiness of mankind that every historical truth should be fairly and publicly handed down.

Citizens, we are to remember, also, that, at the time when the country was driven to the last extremity, when arms could not be procured fast enough to be put into the hands of those brave defenders of liberty who were rushing forward to meet the foreign foe; at that time in the prisons, crammed with suspected persons, counter-revolutionists who had never been committed, were found to be concealed, in every part of Paris, and arms were found concealed in those places, evidently for purposes of the most detestable treachery. Edition: current; Page: [245] when we consider these circumstances, we must attribute to an unfortunate concurrence of events, those excesses which have been so frequently related with aggravation upon aggravation, as stains upon the character of the French people. We have, also, to consider that the situation in which they were placed rendered measures of considerable energy requisite. I am sorry they mistook the real character of energy: but the fears of a populace trembling for their new-born liberty, and driven to despair by such a combination of disastrous circumstances, can never be brought forward as a stain upon the general character of a nation, but by persons whose own understandings are either perverted, or who are determined to pervert the understandings of others.

If, however, we should admit, that there are some excuses for the excesses that took place in that country, we must, also, admit that there were men whose gloomy dispositions perpetuated those excesses when there could be no excuse for them whatever: for as Machiavel has well observed “Cruelty, if ever it can be palliated, can only be so when it is commited but once, out of necessity, and for self-preservation, and never repeated afterwards, but converted, as much as possible, to the benefit of the subject.” I know that in the vague manner in which this is worded it might be made use of to justify the horrible massacres of St. Bartholemews, or even the still more horrible and atrocious massacre committed by that French aristocrat M. de Memmay, and which all aristocrats are so willing to bury in oblivion. But I quote not the author’s words because I mean to admit their full latitude, but because they give me an opportunity of shewing that even the advocates for cruelty and tyranny do not justify that reiterated fury and vengeance into which it is but too common for men to plunge in the fury of political contention. “Cruelty is ill applied,” continues he, “when it is but little at first, and is afterwards rather increased than abated.—Those whose cruelty lingers and comes on by degrees, cannot possibly subsist long.” The event has shewn how truly this author was acquainted with the springs and influences of political action. It must, however, be admitted that few characters in the world ever had energy enough to do those things which were requisite in such a situation as France was plunged into, without, at the same time, indulging some disposition for revenge and cruelty.

“All new governments,” says this same Machiavel, “are exposed to so many dangers, that it is impossible for a new Edition: current; Page: [246] Prince,” and such, it cannot be dissembled, at the latter part of his life, was Robespierre, though I believe, at the beginning, he was actuated by the true and genuine principles of republicanism. It is impossible, he says, for a new Prince, that is an usurper, “to avoid the scandal of being cruel.”

Citizens, as I believe the characters of great actors in the political world furnish the most important of the facts upon which the human mind expatiates, I shall next enter into some consideration of the character of Robespierre: by which I shall be able to shew you that he had not a constitution calculated to form an exception from this general rule. I admit, and I think I shall by and by prove, that there were in the character of Robespierre many as great qualities, as magnificent virtues as ever adorned a human being; unfortunately, however, none of those great qualities and virtues were of that description that led to moderation. He had no philosophy, he had no social affections, he had none of those tender sympathies which soften the rugged character of the politician, and reconcile the great and sublime powers of the human mind to the gentle endearments of humanity—that affection and general attachment to his species, which are necessary to constitute the truly excellent character: and without which no character, however splendid, can either command or deserve the general admiration of mankind. His virtues were of the severe and gloomy cast; his vices were those most favourable to cruelty and revenge; he was tainted, nay, he was saturated, if I may so express myself, with the monstrous vice of suspicion; a narrow selfish fiend, which, when it enters into the human character, debauches all the great qualities of the soul, and perverts the energies which might otherwise have been ornamental and beneficial to the human race. He was also, unfortunately a slave to personal cowardice. He had, it is true, political intrepidity; but the history of his proceedings show, that like Marat, (though not to so great a degree) he had a heart that trembled for his personal security, and that, therefore, was disposed to raise sences and protections round him, which he thought it necessary to cement with blood. He had also a political impetuosity that could brook no restraint; that must dash forward at once to its object, that could not go step by step to the attainment of that political amelioration at which, at first, he aimed, and which, therefore, hurried him from the path of patriotism to that of individual ambition. He had also a fanaticism gloomy and inveterate; and that fanaticism Edition: current; Page: [247] whetted the axe of the guillotine against the man who had long been his firmest and most useful friend; because, forsooth, (such was the popular pretence at least) this man denied some doctrines, of which he thought fit to make himself the champion.

I wish not to contend on this occasion, whether the atheism of Danton were a vice or not; but I am convinced of this, that if it were a vice, it was of that description that man had nothing to do with; and the individual who once supposes he has a right to shed the blood of his fellow Citizens for differences in speculative opinion, knows not where he may stop. He may cut this man’s head off to-day for being an atheist; he may cut off, the next day, another man’s head for being a deist, and, the next, send flocks of people to the guillotine, because they receive the sacrament standing, when he takes it kneeling. In short, unless you suffer a man to enjoy the utmost freedom of opinion; unless you lay it down that speculative notions are not objects of punishment, and that punishment, if justifiable at all, is only useful when used to prevent destructive exertions of the powers and faculties of man, for the annihilation of life, or the overthrow of happiness,—Unless you admit these maxims, whatever your religious opinions may be, you are a fanatic. Whether you go to mass with Robespierre at one period, or at another bow down with this high-priest to his new-fangled allegorical religion, whether you go to the conventicle, to the church, the chapel, or the plain meeting of the Quakers, it matters not; unless you uphold that every man has a right to his opinion, you cannot be a friend to genuine liberty and justice; you are hostile to human intellect: for though you think you are right, the man in direct opposition thinks he is right also, and if you want no other judgment than your own opinion to justify coercion, universal massacre must ensue, society must be unhinged, chaos return, and “darkness be the burier of the dead.”

The generality of these qualities, it is true, fitted Robespierre for the times he had to act in: and we may, indeed, observe a tendency in all times and postures of society, to create those characters which are necessary for them.

It is certain that the Brissotines were incompetent to the task of the salvation of France. They had virtue—they had philosophy; but they had no energy: and we may observe, from this, the reason why, in great revolutions, the first movers seldom steer through the whole. It is ridiculous, therefore, to suppose that any man, acquainted with the history Edition: current; Page: [248] of the universe, is anxious to produce revolutions. Revolutions are always produced by the folly and wickedness of the rulers, not by the projects of individuals. Whoever puts the first hand to the work, in all human probability will be one of the first that loses his head, in the progress of it; for the fact is, that the character of man only fits him for acting in that particular sphere where he finds a similar character in the posture of society. Hence what is called fortune. We say that this man is fortunate, and that man is unfortunate; for both have pursued their way with equal wisdom, and one has succeeded and the other fallen. But it is not fortune, but the times, and the victory of the one, and the fall of the other must result from one of these causes; either the individual who falls was not keen-sighted enough to see what the real state of society was, and what the proper mode of acting in that state of society, or else, seeing what it was, the habits of his character did not permit him to act in the particular way required.

Thus we find the Brissotines, at one period of the revolution, were characters best calculated to help it on. Their deliberate, progressive, cautious movements led forward the people and the country to a particular state, to which it, perhaps, never would have arrived but for those moderate exertions. But then came the dæmon of foreign power, then came calamities, then came a posture of society for which their deliberate measures were no longer fitted. They could not assume the energy requisite for the moment; and the reins of power sell from their feeble hands. They were seized by the energetic gripe of the leaders of the mountain: men born to live among the storms of nature; and “rule them at their wildest.”

The different dispositions requisite at different periods, are excellently animadverted upon by the author whom I have quoted to you before “He whose manner of proceeding agrees with the times is happy, and he unhappy who cannot accommodate his conduct to them. Hence it is not rare to see a leader happy and flourishing one day, and ruined the next, without observing the least change in his disposition or conduct.” The fact is, the cause of his ruin is that he is incapable of that change. “For men, to arrive at the end which they propose, take very different courses; and if these different courses were accommodated to the characters and dispositions of the times, all might succeed. One acts with moderation, another with impetuosity; one with violence another with art; one with patience, another with fury, Edition: current; Page: [249] and yet they may all arrive at the same end. We see, likewise, that of two persons, equally moderate, one succeeds, the other miscarries; and that two persons of different turns, one moderate, the other impetuous, are equally successful. This proceeds from nothing but the nature of the times, which either suits or disagrees with their manner of proceeding.—Upon this also depends the vicissitudes of good; for when a man acts always with moderation and patience, if the times and affairs turn so favorably as to suit his conduct, he prospers; but if the face of affairs and the times change, he is undone, because he does not change likewise.”

The whole of this reasoning, which Machiavel continues to a considerable extent, and which is certainly very just, is applied by him to Princes; but it is equally applicable to the leaders of revolutions: as I have in some degree shown you, from what I have observed relative to the Brissotines. The moment the crisis came they were incompetent to the task, and another faction of more power and energy stept forward, and seized the helm: otherwise, I believe, though France was too far enlightened eventually to have fallen, she would have experienced much greater calamities and difficulties, and been for the present, perhaps, disappointed of her object; a portion of her country would have perhaps been lost; and the real object of the allies, namely, a partition, and perhaps to a considerable degree, might have taken place.

But, however necessary the exertions of the Mountain for the moment might have been, cruel and unjustifiable beyond description, was the manner in which the triumph was enjoyed. Did they maintain such language as I have read to you from the proclamation of the friends of liberty in Holland? Did they with magnanimity turn round, forget the past, and enjoy the triumph without sullying it with vengeance? No: the retrospective principle had sunk too deep in their minds: the remembrance of the examples of cruelty so frequently set by the despotism from which they had so recently been emancipated, had contaminated their hearts; and the crimes of the French monarch survived, while the monarchy itself was broken in fragments.

Thus, Citizens, Europe was witness to the murder of the deputies; after that to the murder of the friends of those deputies; who were sent to the scaffold for fear they should revenge their blood; these were followed by their friends, and those by their’s. And Robespierre, like Macbeth, soon found Edition: current; Page: [250] himself “so far gone in blood,” that he thought it “harder to turn back than to go o’er:” Thus from suspicion and revenge he was driven to cruelty, and from cruelty to the necessity of ambitious usurpation; and this usurpation was to be fortified again by blood. Danton was to be sacrificed—Camille Desmolines—Hebert—all accused of counter-revolutionary crimes, though the real crimes I believe, of some of them were, that they were dangerous rivals to the ambitious Dictator; and the crimes of others, that they wished to restore to France that free representation, which was in some degree usurped by the plausible pretences under which the Convention contrived to procrastinate their power.

But whatever were the causes of the cruelty, the practice continued when the temper of the times could no longer endure it: And we find that not only justice was trampled upon, but discretion also—for though it may perhaps sometimes be true, as my Italian author has observed, “That it is of the two better to be impetuous than cautious; because fortune is a woman, with whom it is impossible to succeed without some degree of violence;” and that “it appears by experience that she more easily submits to those who are fierce and boisterous, than to such as are cool and deliberate.”—Though this may be true, yet certain it is, that such violent measures never can be of long duration. Fortunately for the universe, such crimes and such atrocities have a tendency to their own cure: accordingly we find that Robespierre fell by the machinations of his own violence; because he, no more than the party he had displaced, was capable of changing his character with the necessities of the times, but continued to act with violence when moderation and philosophy were requisite to heal the wounds which the struggle had given to the bosom of his country. This circumstance, I own, appeared to me so inevitable, from the perusal of the author I have so frequently quoted, that, when I read the following passage, I could not but consider it as a prophecy of the fall of Robespierre; though, at the time I read it, he appeared to be in the zenith of his power.—“Pope Julius II.” (for Catholic Popes, as well as allegorical Popes, can be sometimes destroyers of the human race.) “Pope Julius II.” says Machiavel, “in all his enterprizes acted with passion and vehemence; and the times and circumstances of affairs were so suitable to his manner of proceeding, that he always came off with success; and, by his violent and impetuous measures, succeeded in an enterprize Edition: current; Page: [251] which no other Pope, with all the wisdom of man,” and he might have said, with all the infallibility of holiness, “could ever have effected.”—“But the shortness of his reign saved him from any reverse of fortune; for had he lived to see such times as made it necessary to proceed with caution and moderation, he would have certainly been ruined, because he could never have departed from his natural impetuosity. I conclude therefore, that, as Fortune is changeable, he who always persists in the same measures succeeds as long as the times fall in with them, but is sure to miscarry when the times alter.”

Citizens, it must also be observed from the first entrance of Robespiere upon the stage of the French revolution, we have strong traits of the ferocity of his disposition. He was the first man who lifted up his voice in justification of the wanton excesses of the people. So early as the 27th July, 1789, when a proclamation was proposed by M. Lally de Tollendall to restrain the excesses and violences of the people, he says, “What has happened, after all, from this revolt of Paris? The public liberty.”—So far he says true. The public liberty did arise from the revolt of Paris; and if Paris had not revolted as it did, Broglio would have been upon their backs, with his train of mercenary assassins, to destroy every friend of Liberty in the country. But mark how he goes on!—“What has happened, after all, from this revolt of Paris? The public liberty: very little bloodshed, a few heads struck off,” says he: “no doubt,—but guilty heads.”

This is the way in which that man, in the senate of his country, sported with the disastrous circumstance of the populace having taken vengeance into their own hands, and polluted the streets of Paris with streams of blood; shed in the spirit of wantonness and revenge.—“Very little bloodshed! A few heads struck off, no doubt; but guilty heads.—Ah! sir, it is to this commotion that the nation owes its liberty—that we are now sitting in this place.”

Citizens, it is worth while to remark this passage, because it shows you how, from step to step, when a man begins a vindictive system, he goes to the utmost atrocity. This was the first justification, in the assembly, of the excesses of the people.

After the 10th of August 1792, the cry of vengeance was heard again. Some call the events of that day a massacre: I consider them as a glorious victory. The Royalists were conspiring to overthrow the constitution, and restore despotism; the Edition: current; Page: [252] Jacobins were endeavouring to overthrow the constitution, and set up republicanism. This is the bare statement of the fact: they met at the double crisis, each unconscious how near the plot of the other was to maturity: they met, and the battle was fought out bravely.—He who shall call that a massacre, must suffer me to pity the perversion of his understanding, if, afterwards, he calls any battle by any other name. It was not a mere battle of mercenaries, contending for they knew not what, at the nod of a Court or a Cabinet; it was two parties of men, feeling conviction that their principles were their country; each knew, each felt, that without the downfall of the other they could have no security; and they struggled (in a situation where it was impossible for them longer to live in peace) by one decisive effort which should be the conqueror, the republican or the despot. The conflict began by treachery, gross, unpardonable, abominable treachery, on the part of the Royalists, who, upon seeing their King safe within the walls of the assembly, fired upon the populace, having previously told them that they were all friends, and would all hold together in the same cause. But though they began in treachery, they fought with courage; and, if the conquerors had been truly generous, they would have drawn a veil over the transaction; they would have said. We have conquered,—we are satisfied. But no: the man of blood went to the bar of the assembly, at the head of the sections of Paris, and called for punishment, upon the heads of the Royalists.—Punishment! for what? For having been beaten? for having been overthrown?—Revenge! punishment! retribution!—What, was it not enough to triumph over a party? And can you not then, with generous magnanimity, even applaud the courage of a vanquished foe; but must you yelp for vengeance.

Pardon me! I cannot restrain my indignation. Though I love the principles upon which the French revolution is founded, I cannot but lament that men, conspicuous for their talents, powers, and virtues, should sully so good and holy a cause by the wolfish and hellish yell of vengeance and slaughter.

This deputation went to the bar of the assembly on the 15th of August 1792. I shall draw a veil over the massacres that took place on the 2d and 3d of September. They have been dwelt upon frequently enough already; and the aggravated colours in which they have been painted, and the care that has been taken to conceal all the palliating circumstances with Edition: current; Page: [253] which they were attended, prove that the Aristocrats of this country rather exult in them than deplore them. I shall mention, however, another massacre, which took place at an earlier stage of the revolution, and which the Aristocrats have not been so fond of dwelling upon, or pretended to regard with so much horror. It will shew, however, that the doctrines of Robespierre were in some degree countenanced by the transactions of some of the aristocracy at that time, and that, if the populace of Paris have plunged into cruel excesses of vengeance against their oppressors, they have only practised upon those tyrants a part of that inhumanity which the practices of those tyrants had learned them. During the beginning of the struggle in France, some time about the beginning of August, or latter end of July, 1789, one M. de Memmay, who had always sided with the aristocracy, pretended to his tenants, and other inhabitants around his chatteau, that he was in reality attached to the cause of liberty, and invited every person attached to that cause to come and join in a civic feast, and exult in the overthrow of despotim. They came (poor unsuspecting individuals!) from every part of the surrounding country. With hearts filled with gratitude and affection, they flocked to his castle, resounding the praises of the man who was thus about to sacrifice his oppressive privileges to the general happiness and welfare of his country. They were entertained with every semblance of hospitality: music, feast and dance went chearfully and alternately round, and all was joy and unsuspecting felicity. But what was the catastrophe? The whole company, thus assembled, was led to a particular spot, by this infernal aristocrat, to vary their diversions, and he departed, under pretence that he would not damp their mirth by any restraint which his presence might put upon them. But no sooner was he withdrawn to a secure distance, than a match was applied to the fatal train; a mine was sprung, and, in one instant, the whole assembled multitude (men, women, and children) were scattered through the air, and their mangled carcasses were found by their patriotic friends weltering in blood,—a spectacle of horror which no tongue can describe, nor heart can scarce conceive.

Citizens, we are told of the massacres of the 2d and 3d of September: the conflict of the 10th of August is called a massacre, that it may throw reproach and odium upon the friends of Liberty. But which of our senators (though this appeared in all the papers at the time) repeats the tale of this Edition: current; Page: [254] horrid massacre of aristocratic tyranny; this abandoned treachery, which taught the people to be cruel, by convincing them they had nothing but cruelty, nothing but tyranny to expect, if those privileged assassins, who had so long been trampling out human existence in the desolated realm of France, were restored to their irrational and soul-corrupting power.

Citizens, I shall now proceed to the last part of the lecture of this evening, namely, a comparison between the character of Robespierre and the immaculate minister of this country. I know well, citizens, what dangerous ground I tread upon: I know very well that though treason once meant compassing and imagining the death of the King, it now means telling truth to the shame and confusion of Ministers. I know also, “ ’Twere better pluck the master by the beard, than hurt the favorite’s heel.” I have no doubt, either, that there are persons here of various opinions: some of them, perhaps, good pious men, who, when they say their prayers, forget the name of God, and whisper Pitt. Let such, however, perform the bidding of their purblind deity. I invite them—I wish them to note every word I say. Let them call upon me to repeat any part they think good ground of prosecution: I will repeat it; for I can support, by historical facts, the opinion that I give; and if the country is so lost in degeneracy that a jury can be bought to deprive an Englishman of his liberty, for saying the truth, this is no longer Britain, and I am desirous of being no longer in it. Send me with my beloved compatriot Gerrald—with him let me try the inhospitable climate of New Holland, herd among felons, or escape to the abodes of savages.

Let us compare, then, the usurper Robespierre with the boasted Minister of this country:—a Minister who has been constantly imitating, for a long time, the worst parts of every oppressive measure of the French dictator and his faction, at the very moment while he was calumniating and abusing those measures: that Minister who, without the energy of Robespierre, has all his dictatorial ambition; who, without the provocations which Robespierre and his faction experienced, has endeavoured, vainly endeavoured, to carry into execution the same system of massacre for opinion, of sanguinary prosecution for proclaiming truth, of making argument High Treason, and destroying every individual who dared to expose his conduct, or oppose his ambitious views. Does this appear too strong a censure. It is only so, because the sanguinary Edition: current; Page: [255] malice of the English Minister has been as impotent as it was malignant;—because he and his faction had not energy enough, and British juries had too much honesty, to crown his malice with success. But if you want proofs of the views and objects of the man, peruse the facts relative to the late prosecutions, and particularly the trials, and the documents upon which those trials were founded.—If you find, from beginning to end, one single attempt, one single act, that leans towards what the law of this country calls treason—if you find any one act of violence, or attempt at violence, proved against any of the persons tried—if you do not find that the witnesses for the Crown (I should say for the Minister, for it is he, I must believe, and not the Crown, that stained the annals of the country with these prosecutions)—if it is not proved, even by the witnesses for the prosecution, that several of the men prosecuted for High Treason were most determinately hostile to all systems of violence; that they had opposed regularly and consiently every thing that looked like violence; that they had always contended that truth and reason were to be their only weapons—if you do not find these things as I now state them, brand me in the forehead, let me be marked with contempt and odium; let me (what can be worse) let me be baptized a William, and nicknamed a Pitt!

If it should be proved, and I have the documents to prove,—that is to say, I have lodged them where those who have an interest in suppressing the truth shall not be able to seize them till they are printed, and then they may get the printed copies.—If it should be proved also, that those men had all this in evidence before them in the Privy Council, from the witnesses they examined, what will you say, but that Terror was to have been the order of the day here also; that all argument was to be treason, and opinion felony; and that men for the future were to be afraid to open their lips to a friend at the table, or encore a speech at the playhouse, for fear of being hanged, drawn and quartered, for High Treason?—I think, when you consider these facts, you can have no doubt what the disposition of this man was: what the inclination, however deficient he might be in energy, to imitate the tyranny of Robespierre.—If you recollect, also, as it is pretty well agreed, that 800 warrants for high treason were signed and sealed, ready to be executed upon the conviction of Hardy: of which they entertained no doubt: not recollecting that English Juries are not Scotch Juries, nor always ready to obey the nod of a minister, you Edition: current; Page: [256] will start with horror at the recollection of the precipice from which you have escaped.

But let us pursue the parallel.

Both of them have proved themselves to be men equally destitute of philosophy, and of those social affections, and tender sympathies that smooth the rugged temper of the politician, and make gentleness and energy go hand in hand. They have both, also shewn themselves to be sanguinary and revengeful, prone to suspicion, and exhibiting a strange mixture of personal cowardice and political impetuosity.

Robespierre and his faction ravaged France, it is true, for the destruction of royalty. Pitt and his faction have depopulated Europe, and spread a general famine through this quarter of the universe, for the annihilation of liberty.

Robespierre adopted a fair and impartial requisition, for the defence of the liberties of his country: (I say a fair and impartial requisition, for what so just, and so impartial, if you are to have war, as to compel every man, whatever be his fortune, to partake of the hardships and perils of that war? to suffer no man, by procuring a substitute, to put the life of a human being who happens to be in a different state of society in competition with his paltry pittance of property, however it may be acquired?) Pitt, on the contrary, has adopted a partial requisition, by which the poor are submitted to the absolute controul, without appeal, of any justice of the peace, who chooses to pronounce that they have no visible means of subsistence; and in which the lowe orders of society are to be compelled, exclusively, to bleed for the promotion and aggrandizement of the great.

Both have had their parties and their partialities.

Robespierre unjustly oppressed the rich, that he might support his popularity among the poor. Pitt has neglected, and by his wars and consequent taxes, oppressed the poor, to secure his popclarity among the rich.

Robespierre, in order to preserve a plentiful circulation of the necessaries of life, punished combinations (cruelly and unjustly punished them!—for severity and cruelty are always unjust!) among the merchants and monopolists, that he might shew his partiality for the laborious part of the community. Under the administration of Pitt, punishments still continue to be awarded against the labourers who combine to increase their wages, while monopoly is connived at and encouraged, among the wealthy, upon whom alone administration chuse to rest their confidence.

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Both have made use of extraordinary means for filling the ranks of their armies, and manning their fleets.

Pitt has tolerated crimps, kidnappers, and press-gangs. Robespierre took care that, whatever might be the condition of the other members of society, the army and navy should be well clothed, well fed, and well paid.

Robespiere set up a free constitution, and tyrannized in direct opposition to it. Pitt praises another free constitution, and tramples all its provisions under foot.

One effected his purpose by a dependent Committee of Public Safety. The other by a packed majority of borough-mongers and white slave-merchants: for such we must consider them, if the assertion of Mr. Alderman Newnham is true, that the common people of this country, of whom they dispose, are in the condition of West-India slaves.

Both pretended to reverence Trial by Jury: and both endeavoured to undermine it as fast as they could. Robespierre by erecting a Revolutionary Tribunal, which had a perpetual Jury, of his own appointment; and Pitt by fabricating innumerable acts, which vest the trial of Englishmen (especially the poor, dependent, classes of Englishmen) in the arbitrary discretion of Justices of the Peace.

Robespierre is accused of keeping a set of witnesses to swear whatever he chose, and of calling them his lambs. I don’t know whether Pitt may be called the good shepherd, but he also has as fine a flock as ever grazed on the bounty of his rival: he has his Groves’s, his Taylors, his Walshes, his Alexanders, his Lynams, his Uptons, and a long list of gentlemen, equally respectable, equally valuable, I don’t say with himself, but with each other; and whom we will dignify, if you please, with the title of Knights of the honorable order of Confidants, or retainers of gentlemen high in office.

Pitt has, however, escaped the odium of part of this parellel; for Robespierre has been accused of actually sacrificing, by these means, a monstrous number of people—A much greater number he has been charged with destroying, than in reality have fallen; for I remember having read of one man’s being guillotined six times, who was afterwards killed in a massacre, which never took place, and after that had the honors of the sitting in the Convention: and to add to the pathos, he was a man 70 years old, and had nine children.—Santerre was guillotined twice, and had afterwards the honors of the sitting in the Convention. General Miranda was guillotined several times, also; and Kellerman, who has now Edition: current; Page: [258] the command of one of the armies. Undoubtedly however he did, under the pretence of law, commit a monstrous train of massacres.—But I will ask you, what might have been the situation of this country, if the late prosecutions had succeeded? Consider that there were many thousand members of the London Corresponding Society,—and that a part of the doctrine was, that every member, whether present at their objectionable deliberations or not, was answerable for the whole acts of the society, and for every political act of every individual connected with it.

But, suppose they meant to go no farther than the destruction of those whom they had marked as their first victims—though I am credibly informed that a noble Lord was heard to say, that he believed they must hang a third part of the Constitutional Society, and perhaps that might be enough. Now, as it was admitted that the Constitutional Society was not so bad as the London Corresponding Society, we may conclude that one half of the Members of the latter were to be hanged also; and that might have been enough for them. But who knows, when you once begin a system of massacre, and especially legal massacre, for opinion, where you can stop? I do not believe that Robespierre meditated, in the first instance, those scenes of carnage into which he at last was plunged. But fear of revenge, and the brooding malice of suspicion, hurried him from act to act of accumulating horror, till nothing but his own destruction could retrieve the country. And I have strong suspicions in my mind, that, if they had touched the life of an individual who stood at the bar of the Old Bailey, the gaols of London (and we all know we have abundance) would have been as crammed as ever the prisons of Paris were, even in the very dog-days of the tyranny of Robespierre.

Both these men also have a happy knack of sacrificing their friends, whenever they find it convenient to get rid of them. Thus we find if a Danton and a Hebert have been cut off by Robespierre, as soon as they had answered his purpose, Pitt has also abandoned a Jackson, a Fitzwilliam, and a Robert Watt.

But here, Citizens, the parallel ends. For, though Pitt has the dictatorial ambition, he can never be accused of the energy or virtues of Robespierre.

Pitt is the tool of an oligarchic faction, over whom he appears to tyrannize, but who can make him, when they please, their slave? Robespierre made every thing subservient to his own views, and the greatness of his own mind.

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The one was firm, steady, and constant; the first in the original assembly of France who declared himself hostile to royalty; and he never departed from his text—Whether that text was right or wrong I am not now enquiring. The other, on the contrary, throughout his whole conduct, has been shuffling, treacherous, and evasive. The most anxious advocate for parliamentary reform, associated with the first modern projectors of the plan of universal suffrage and annual parliaments; he has since been the bitterest enemy to reformation, and has even thirsted for the blood of every individual who would not be as great an apostate as himself.

He has, indeed, pretended to be consistent with respect to the slave trade; but it was only, I am afraid, consistent hypocricy. He can command a majority for places and pensions; but he cannot command a vote for the interests of humanity.

Robespierre had a soul capacious, an imagination various, a judgement commanding, penetrating, severe. Fertile of resources, he foresaw, created, and turned to his advantage all the events that could possibly tend to the accomplishment of his designs. The mind of Pitt is barren and inflated, his projects are crude, and his views short sighted.

One was always politically intrepid and unmoved; his means always adequate to the end, and always persevered in with steadiness and consistency. The other, indecisive, fluctuating, and capricious, adopts a project to-day, and abandons it to-morrow; issues an order from the Privy Council in the morning, and countermands it at night. His calculations (which do not depend upon the rule of three) have always been erroneous and deceitful; and his consequent bluders have been such as nothing but his smoothe verbosity could cover.

One possessed the key of the passions and understood how to estimate their influences, and command the various operations of the human mind. The whole knowledge of the other is confined to his numeration table. Figures he can command, but in events he has always been so mistaken that he has attempted no one thing without effecting the very contrary.—Anxious to suppress Jacobinism in France, he adopted the very measures best calculated to make “the banner of Jacobinism triumph without a struggle.” The projector of the seizure of the French West India Islands, the means he has employed have been so inadequate to the object, that the event in all probability, must be, after being flattered with a transient gleam of success, the total loss of all our own possessions in that part of the world.

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The one, though dreaded was respected; he was revered while he was abhorred. The energy of his mind commanded success; victory attended upon the arms he directed, partly, it is true, from the energy of the country; but partly, from the energy, also, of his directing mind; which planned, which formed, which pervaded the whole system; saw all the parts, and knew to which in particular, it was necessary for him to direct his powers. Every one of his plans were conducted to its accomplishment except the last he undertook, and in which he was disappointed because France was too much enlightened, after having shaken off the chains of one tyrant, to yield to those of another. We find attendant upon the heels of his rival—on the contrary—not victory and triumph, but disgrace and defeat: disgraces so innumerable that nothing but the muddy imaginations of the inventors could possibly have occasioned them all: defeats so continued that scorn, instead of lamentation, followed at their heels.

Add to this that Robespierre had a mind too great to be debauched by any thing but ambition. He grasped at no accumulation of places and emoluments; he neither enriched himself nor his family; he indulged in no voluptuous pleasures; he was incorruptible; severe in simplicity to the last; and we cannot do greater justice to his memory than by closing this lecture by a quotation from the works of one of his bitterest enemies, Montgaillard:—“He possesses a character of incorruptibility,” says he, “which hath preserved his influence against all the attacks of the Brissotines, and of the Commune of Paris. Solely confined in appearance to his functions of Member of the Committee of Public Safety and of Jacobin, Robespierre shews every appearance of the most unaffected man. This modesty of triumph, this œconomy of person, and the obscurity of his private life, have so long secured him the popular favour: he lives as he did in 1790, neither altering his manners, nor his taste, and always changeless.”

Having reviewed these facts, it is impossible to doubt which of these characters we must prefer.

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Lecture on the system of terror and persecution adopted by the present ministry; with animadversions on the treatment of Joseph Gerrald.

Citizens, every person who has made use of the least reflection must admit that there is in the human mind a considerable tendency to progressive improvement: that the individual always commences feeble and ignorant, and gathers strength of mind, as well as limbs, in proportion to his exercise and experience. It is true that, after a given period, even the mind, much earlier with respect to the body, is observed to go backwards again towards decay. Old age and debility creep first over the limbs and then invade the intellect, and bring us, in the last stage of our lives, to a second degree of childhood.

This is not, however, the case with society. The aggregate of human existence has no decay, no old age; and the tendency of the human mind, considered in the aggregate, is to perpetual improvement. We may observe that human institutions, indeed, are subject to decay; because human institutions growing, at the time when they are first founded, out of the necessities of society, cease to be necessary when the state of society is different, and when the progress of human intellect has made considerable advances. Just as the go-cart is necessary for the child, but no person would think of compelling the full-grown man to follow the go-cart all the days of his life.

There is another reason why these human institutions are liable to decay. The improved intellect of society is some; times, though not always, shared in common by the rulers and by the governed. When this happens to be the case, all is well. But when the agents of the institutions become wiser than the institutions themselves, and the body of the people are kept in ignorance, these agents find out means of making that which was originally intended for the public good a mere matter of advantage to themselves; and thus, preserving an exterior semblance, when they have destroyed all the virtual excellence of those institutions, they bring on the Edition: current; Page: [262] absolute necessity of overthrow: if timely reform does not remove that dire necessity.

But though these circumstances affect human institutions, the human mind, as you will see, is not under the same predicament. There is an eternal renovation of youth, of ardour, of activity; and, consequently, there is a universal tendency towards perpetual improvement.

I grant that the whole of this reasoning does not appear practically to apply. If we observe superficially the events of history, we shall find that though, in theory, the human mind is heir to the improvements of the former generation; and though every advancement in the state of society, though it was the mountain to which former ages travelled, forms the level plain from which the succeeding generation is to start, to attain a higher goal of intellectual improvement; yet we cannot deny that history presents us with many instances of a retrogade motion in the political and intellectual revolutions of nations.

This, however, will be found to arise principally, if not always, from some one of the following causes—Either, first, from eruptions of barbarians, overthrowing the establishments of civilized societies; or, secondly, from those disasters to which the general system of nature at times is subject, such as plagues, famines, inundations, and convulsions of the physical elements; or, thirdly, from the usurpations of tyranny.—This last is by much the most frequent cause of the retrogade motions of society; and is sometimes effected by individuals grasping at thrones and dominions to which they had no pretence of legal right, but much more frequently by those who are upon those thrones grasping at a power and authority to which those thrones are not by the proper institutions of society entitled.

These are, as I have observed, the usurpations that are by far more common than the former; and in the preface to a work written by the late King of Prussia, (who was certainly, in these respects, a very tolerable judge) I mean the Anti-Machiavel, we find some very pertinent reflections upon this head; which, as I have royal authority for the publication, I suppose it can be no treason to quote. “As the temptations,” says he, “to which a King is liable are very powerful, it requires a more than ordinary degree of virtue to resist them;” and he very well observes, that “inundations which ravage countries, thunder and lightning that reduce cities to ashes, the pestilence which lays whole provinces Edition: current; Page: [263] waste, are less fatal to the world than the vicious morals and unbridled passions of Princes. The plagues of Heaven continue but for a time; they only ravage some countries; and these losses, however grievous, are nevertheless repaired; whereas the crimes of Kings entail a lasting misery upon whole nations.”—“How deplorable,” continues the royal author, whose conduct was afterwards so excellent a comment upon his text.—“How deplorable,” says he, “is the condition of that people who have every thing to fear from the abuse of majesty! whose properties are a prey to the avarice of their Prince, their liberty to his caprice, their repose to his ambition, their safety to his perfidiousness, and their lives to his cruelty!” With respect to the perfidiousness, he left the comment upon that to be written by his successor!

Such then are the causes of the retrogade movements of society. But, barring these, we must be blind indeed if we do not see a perpetual tendency to progressive improvement in the intellect, and, I believe, in the virtues of mankind. Every new discovery, every fresh event, is a source of extensive improvement: slow, indeed, in its operation at first; but, afterwards rapid and important.

The institutions of society, thus, by the improvement of intellect, will every now and then be growing unfit for the state and condition to which the mind of man has arrived. In the first instance we find, as I have observed before, that those institutions grow out of the necessities of society. But nothing can be more pernicious to the happiness and welfare both of the individuals who attempt it, and mankind at large, than to endeavour to perpetuate those institutions, when, on account of the altered condition of man, they become, instead of necessary, injurious.

Thus it is that the enlightened part of the community are always looking forward to an amelioration of their political circumstances: and if the enlightened intellect of man were left to its free progress—if calumny and persecution did not attempt to arrest its steps, peaceful and happy would be the advances which men would make; and each succeeding generation would look back with admiration upon the liberality of that which preceeded it, while it felt an honest exultation at having towered to greater heighths of virtue and perfection.

Benevolence and wisdom would not only yield to this improvement, but would stretch forth the hand of government to help it forward. But self-interest and rapacity stimulate too often those who happen to be vested with power, to a Edition: current; Page: [264] directly opposite conduct. An inclination to tyrannize, a disposition to monopolize the advantages of corruption, too frequently leads the statesman, instead of enlarging the boundaries of freedom in proportion to the improved intellect of man, to resist that improvement by contracting them within narrower spaces. Thus the stream of popular sentiment and improvement, the strong current of increasing liberty, in proportion as the waves are swollen, is dammed up with fresh restrictions, and embanked within a narrower channel, till at last, impatient of restraint, it bursts its boundaries, and spreading, like an inundation, sweeps before it at once the tyrannous restrictions that have been erected, and the deluded beings who erected them.

Perfectly consonant with this observation is the experience which is to be derived from all the former facts of history. Persecution is no new invention. It has been tried again and again: and has often been fatal, indeed, to the virtuous reformers who first propped the persecuted cause; but has never failed, ultimately, to secure the triumph of the principles thus ridiculously opposed; and has frequently brought down a terrible vengeance upon the heads of those who have wielded the intolerant sword.

Let us look back upon all that history unfolds. What was the first reception of Christianity in the world? And if we look to the page which records the merits of that institution (whatever particular opinions individuals may have, they are always to do justice to the cause of which they are speaking!)—if we look back to that institution, we certainly must admit it to be one of those that had, to a considerable degree, the happiness and welfare of mankind at heart: the amelioration of the general condition of man; and particularly the uplifting of the trampled plebeian from the dust, and restoring him to that independence which belongs to the genuine system of liberty and equality.

In vain, therefore, did the cruelties and calumnies of the imperial despots of Rome, and their servile coadjutors, persecute the dawning spirit of Christianity. It had too much political truth in it, not to make impressions upon the hearts of mankind; and these impressions, instead of being effaced, were rendered infinitely more powerful in their operation in consequence of the persecutions directed against it. Many an excellent and worthy creature, struggling for the advancement of what he believed to be truth, fell a victim to tyranny and persecution. And though lying monks have since disgraced Edition: current; Page: [265] their tales, by fabling allegories, and by ridiculous visions, I cannot but think that I discover in the fall of many of these martyrs, strong symptoms of that virtuous spirit which prompts the present exertions of the advocates for the principles of liberty and the freedom of human intellect.

They fell: but christianity triumphed.

I shall not trace the abuses that soon crept into an institution which, virtuous in poverty, became corrupted by being taken under the wing of power. That would be a digression. But I shall observe, that the same instructive lesson is to be drawn from after records, as from those early ones to which I have now referred. Look back to the progress of the reformation. When human liberty first burst forth from that torpor in which it had lain so long, the first struggles were against priestly tyranny; by which every faculty of mind and body was enslaved. Priestly tyranny had its pretended liberties and properties to defend; and the sword of persecution was wielded by the fleshly arm of those who ought to have been all spirit, purity, and tolerance, and to have remembered that they were paid for fighting battles in the other world and not for wetting the daggers of assassination in this.

Thirty years of war deluged the continent of Europe, in this struggle between rousing intellect and the depressing tyranny of priestcrast. In proportion, however, to the persecution, the energy of the advocates for reformation increased; and the blood of the martyrs was again the seed of the church, as it is called; but I shall say the seed of human liberty. Priestly tyranny fell: nor could it be propped, nor could the course of free enquiry be restrained, in this country, by the persecuting fury of a Bonner, or by the perpetual flames of Smithfield, any more than by an age of tyrannous warfare among the despots on the continent.

Thus then we see, that, with respect to what is considered as connected with religious questions, persecution was never capable of ultimately disappointing those views into which liberal and energetic minds had entered. If we look to the civil history of mankind, we shall find the same moral written.

I shall not travel for these examples beyond the boundaries of my own country. It cannot be new to any person who listens to me, and, therefore, it need not be particularly animadverted upon, that once in this country the absurd doctrines of the divine right of Kings, passive obedience, and nonresistance, were fulminated from the pulpit, and thundered Edition: current; Page: [266] from the cabinet of the country, in order to support those doctrines against the innovating fury of those who began to discover that man had rights; and that government was instituted, not for the benefit of an individual, but for the benefit of society at large.

Persecution again drew the sword from the scabbard, where political and religious institutions have seldom suffered it to sleep for any considerable time; and we find fictitious treasons, pretended plots and conspiracies, Courts of Star Chamber, and every species of persecution and illegal inquisition was adopted to crush the daring spirit of truth, and annihilate the growing reason of Britons.

What was the effect? The struggle was long. The struggle, in many respects, was melancholy. Sometimes one party prevailed; at other times another. But the persecuted party never lost its energy by persecution; on the contrary, the energy increased. Charles the First fell; Charles the Second was restored, it is true, and the doctrines of divine right were attempted to be extended to a still greater degree than ever.

Till this time the usual language with philosophers, lawyers and historians wont to be the Commonwealth of England. It is the constant language of all our old constitutional writers, who considered the King as no other than a president with regal powers; the first magistrate of the republic of England. This language was now, however, thrown aside; and judges were found (for, if you refer to the State Trials, you will find that there have been some judges in this country who could make most curious speeches, and lay down most curious doctrines, whenever it would suit the purposes of the court who employed them—I say Judges were found—Chief Justices of the Common Pleas, and Chief Barons of the Exchequer, to broach new fangled doctrines about the imperial crown of Britain, and the unquestionable authority of the King. Not, say they, that we mean to set up an absolute despotism. The king is to govern according to the laws, though he is not amenable to them: nobody has a right to find fault with him: he is to govern according to law; but if he chooses to violate that law, nobody has a right to call him to account: a doctrine, by the way, which these judges had not the merit of inventing; for it was invented by James the First, who said that “every good King was bound of conscience to administer justice according to the laws of the land, but, at the same time, it was nothing less than blasphemy in a subject to question his omnipotent power; for he had no Edition: current; Page: [267] bond, no restriction but the conscience that inhabited his royal bosom.”

The doctrines of divine right were revived, enforced, and aggravated, at the close of the reign of Charles the Second; and during the reign of James the Second attempts were made to subjugate this country entirely: And as they had not then learned the secret of buying Parliaments, they attempted to do without them. Yet, in defiance of their Court of perverted law, in defiance of their iniquisitions, in defiance of the pillory, the halter, and the gibbet, the friends of man persevered and conquered. Russel fell, and Sidney fell, and many a glorious patriot fell besides: but the cause for which they bled triumphed at last. Passive obedience and non-resistance, and the divine right of Kings, were laid together in the grave: nor do I believe that all the howlings of Burke, the metaphysical ravings of Windham, no nor the plausible verbosity of Pitt, will ever arise them from their graves again, or obtain them to be acknowledged once more in this country.

But to tell the truth no wish is entertained at this time to revive these exploded doctrines. There is another doctrine, new and curious indeed in its nature, which ministers think more to their interest and advantage; and consequently more to the glory and happiness of the nation, to maintain “by fire and sword and desolation:” namely the infallibility of ministers, the divine right of 162 oligarchic proprietors of the rights and suffrage of the nation. These are the sovereigns of the day; and to speak one word against the rotten boroughs of East Grinstead and Old Sarum, is the highest of high treasons, and is to be punished with fines, imprisonment, transportation, and death.

But, Citizens, the usurpations and despotism of ministers will no more triumph than the despotism of the Church of Rome triumphed, than the prosecuting spirit of the Roman Emperors triumphed, or than the doctrines of divine right and passive obedience triumphed, in the wise and virtuous times of the lamented Stuarts. Ministers indeed may bring forward, as they please, their new inquisitions; but the enlightened spirit of the people will not be suppressed. The improved intellect of man calls for an improvement, not for an increased corruption of the systems of government. Men who are wiser must be governed by more wisdom and moderation, not pressed and trampled down with an increase of burdens and usurpations.

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Almost the whole country begins to perceive that the boasted check which the Commons House of Parliament was intended to have upon the other branches of the constitution, is done away. They know very well, that it is a farce to talk of the representation of the Commons House of Parliament, when 162 rich landholders, nobles and others, can return a decided majority in that House which calls itself the Representatives of the People. And it is, therefore, that for thirty years back considerable agitation has occasionally taken place in the public mind upon the subject of Parliamentary Reform. This, however, has uniformly been resisted by the Ministers who happened to be in place.

The party out of place has now and then lent it some little assistance while they found there were no other means of acquiring popularity; but as soon as they either got into place, or were likely to get into place, they have always abandoned it; and the wishes of the people never have been complied with. But what has been the consequence? Why, an increase in the demands of the people: not a diminution. And whereas in former times a small reform would have been accepted as sufficient, I have no doubt that almost every individual begins to look forward for a reform upon a larger scale. They begin to look forward to annual parliaments, to universal suffrage: because continued discussion has convinced them that every man has rights to defend, and, therefore, ought to have the means of defence; that pure representation is the only defence these rights can depend upon; and that a representation for the whole ought to be a representation of the whole. They discover also, that, according to the theory of our constitution, they have an absolute right to those annual parliaments and to that universal suffrage, the former of which they actually did enjoy in ancient times: a fact which has been particularly proved as to the reign of Edward III. as you will see in my “Vindication of the Natural and Constitutional Rights of Britons.” They elected their members for every session of parliament; and if two sessions of parliament were held in one year, then they elected their representatives twice during that year; and sent them, with their instructions in their pockets, dictating to them how they should vote. In other words they were guilty of the high Treason of over awing their own servants and representatives.

But, Citizens, the present administration have not been satisfied with merely resisting the wishes of the people, they have adopted persecution against those individuals who have had the Edition: current; Page: [269] boldness to speak for their rights. And mark the steps by which they have advanced. First, they began with prosecuting for libel and sedition, though both of them are things which no law has defined; of which no act has fixed the limits; which are not to be found in the best constitutional authorities.

Libel, in reality, means nothing more than little book. And why a man should be prosecuted for publishing a little book, any more than a large book, I can find but one reason: namely, that large books give but little information, and that little books frequently give a great deal.

As to sedition, the lawyers themselves are not agreed even upon the definition of it. They freely confess they do not know the meaning of the word. And one of the judges of Scotland—Oh, excellent and virtuous judges of the Court of Justiciary! how shall I mention you without pouring forth, in gratitude, your praises! But, however, my esteem for your virtues is not greater than my admiration for your wisdom; and, indeed, I think such virtues and such wisdom ought always to go hand in hand!—One of these judges then, being asked by one of the seditious panels at the bar, what was the meaning of sedition? replied, “Why, my lords, does not the panel know that sedition is a very great crime in all the countries of the world?—It is a monstrous crime—it includes all other crimes, my lords. It is—it is—it is—it is—in short, it is sedition.”

Citizens, upon the strength of this very eloquent illustration, we know that they proceeded to transportation for seven and for fourteen years, against characters upon whose conduct, public or private, not one imputation of scandal can be laid: men whose talents were an ornament to their country; whose virtue, whose independence, and disinterestedness, were even still more conspicuous than their talents. But this was not enough. Transportation for fourteen years did not suppress the rising spirit of enquiry. Men have discovered that they have rights; and feeling a deep conviction of this, they feel also that without the enjoyment of those rights, neither their country nor their lives are worth their care. The next step, therefore, was to prosecute several individuals for high treason, for opposing the projects of ministers, and disputing the divine right of the holders of rotten boroughs.

An attack upon these rotten boroughs was called an attack upon property; just as if human intellect could be property; as if the suffrages of mankind could be property; as if any individual can possibly have a right of voting for millions without, at the same time, possessing the power of crushing Edition: current; Page: [270] and destroying those millions—loading them with what burdens, oppressive taxations, and impositions, he thinks fit, and, in fact, treating them in every other respect like beasts of burden.

By these prosecutions, however, (though they have been too successful in their attempts with respect to sedition) they were able to effect nothing more than to destroy their own spies.—Perhaps some of these poor deluded Gentlemen, those confidants of Gentlemen high in office, may be here at this time. But let them take warning by the fate of Watt and Jackson, and remember how perilous a thing it is to enjoy the confidence of the present administration!

Citizens, in a ministerial paper which gives an account of the trial of Jackson, there is a paragraph which justifies this classification. The reporter says that on the trial of Jackson “Mr. Cockayne”—if there are any Gentlemen of the law here they know that man pretty well, I dare say. I was once in the profession myself; and I remember what sort of reputation he then bore. However that is neither here nor there, you know. When we want facts we must take them from the best authority we can get; and when ministers want high Treason and can get no respectable evidence of its existence, they must hang up their men upon such testimony as they can procure.—“Mr. Cockayne, an Attorney of London, deposed that he had been for a series of years the law agent and intimate friend of Mr. Jackson, who a few years since went to France, as the witness understood, to tranfact some private business for Mr. Pitt, where he resided for a considerable time. Soon after his return, Mr. Cockayne said he called on him, and told him in confidence that he had formed a design of going to Ireland, to sound the people for the purpose of procuring a supply of provisions, &c. from them, for the French, and requested him (the witness) to accompany him. Having accepted the invitation, he immediately waited on Mr. Pitt, and discovered to him the whole of Mr. Jackson’s plans. The Minister thanked him for the information, and hinted that, as the matter was to become a subject of legal investigation, it would be necessary for him to substantiate the allegations; but this Mr. Cockayne wished to decline on the principle”—You find principle is here made use of in the true ministerial sense—with whom principle and interest are controvertible terms—“on the principle that, if the prisoner should be convicted of high Treason, he should lose by it £300.”—He should lose Edition: current; Page: [271] £300!!!—Why you know, Citizens, it would not have been very modest to say, Mr. Pitt, you must give me 300l, or I will not hang this man. Perhaps neither Mr. Pitt nor Mr. Cockayne had the brass to stand the brunt of such a proposal: “he should lose by it 300l. in which sum he was then indebted to him. This objection was soon removed, by Mr. Pitt agreeing to pay him the money, provided he would prosecute to conviction; and the witness accompanied Mr. Jackson to Ireland, for the purpose of making himself acquainted with his proceedings.”

Citizens, I tremble for myself—I tremble for you. What security is there for the life of any man, if a villainous spy chuses thus to fix a price upon his head, and say to a Minister, “Such a man owes me 300l. Pay me that sum, and I will hang him for High Treason!”—Who knows how soon you or I may be in debt to Mr. Cockayne, at this rate?

I dwell upon this subject a little copiously, to oblige the ministerial scribblers, who wish to be furnished with a few hints; as it appears: for, in another very respectable paper, of this day, called The Times, I am invited not to pass over the affair in silence. And, as I have a high respect for the writers of that print, who have earned their bread, for years, by diurnal slander and assassination; I will not fail to indulge their wishes.

But I should do them injustice, if I were not to quote the words of their invitation.—“Some of our modern Lecturers” say the editors of this respectable print, “might make some atonement for their past political lectures, if they would give the public an oration on the causes of Parson Jackson’s suicide; and point out the bad effects of insidious attempts to subvert the constitution. They might also make a few comments on the treasonable conduct of Hamilton Rowan, and the republican sentiments of the united Irishmen; shewing to what purposes their views tended. And if they gave a sketch of the character of Napper Tandy, another seditionist, who fled to America, it would serve to strengthen the family piece, and warn the public of the danger of following the principles of such men.”

This challenge I accept, as far as relates to the person tried: every man, who professes the least respect for the laws of his country, might have the decency to be silent as to the others, against whom there is no legal evidence whatever. With respect to Jackson, I admit, in the first instance, that if the charge (standing at present upon the individual testimony of a man Edition: current; Page: [272] who says he is not bribed, but that he was to secure to himself the payment of £300 by the conviction of the culprit) be true, that it called for the severest animadversion of the law. He who introduces a foreign foe into the country, destroys the liberty and independence he pretends to promote, and damns the good cause in which he pretends to be embarked. I shall not animadvert particularly upon the character of the witness; I shall only observe, that it is the general fate of those who boast of “the confidence of gentlemen high in office,” that no person who is not high in office would condescend to be seen in their company. I shall add, however, that I have always thought that in Ireland, as well as in England, the life of an individual was held so sacred, that it was not a single oath that would take it away, however respectable the deponent might be. Surely existence is but a frail tenure, indeed, in an age of spies and informers, like the present, if one man’s life is not worth two men’s oaths, however pure in moral character, however free from the taint of suspicion!

But as these famous Times writers, or time-servers, or whatever you please to call them, talk about suicide, would it not be worth while to enquire first of all whether it was a suicide or not. Did Jackson poison himself? Let reason speak: for we have no facts or documents. Would not a man, who meant to destroy himself, have waited first the issue of the motion that was making, upon such strong grounds, to arrest the judgment, and reverse the verdict? Would the man who after all stood under the recommendation of the jury for mercy (a recommendation not very often neglected) would such a man (for they say he was a man of considerable intellect) have laid the destroying hand upon himself till he had seen the certainty that there was no other means of escaping an ignominious execution?

But there are persons in these countries who have studied Machiavel with other views than to confute him. There are persons whose whole conduct shows us that they have treasured the wicked system in their hearts: and one of the things recommended by Machiavel is to put a man privately out of the way whom it might be dangerous to expose to public execution.

I charge no particular individuals. I know not who has had access to, or who the care of Jackson. I know not by what accidents, particular catastrophes may sometimes take place; but this I know, that in the decline of the Roman Edition: current; Page: [273] empire, when spies and informers were publicly patronized, poisoning and assassination were also exceedingly common.

Dead men tell no tales: but some men have been found who, in their last moments, have revealed fatal secrets; and considering what multifarious transactions Jackson has been concerned in—considering that he has sometimes been editor of a newspaper, and sometimes a writer of scandalous and scurrilous controversy,—considering that he was a very useful servant to a great Dutchess—considering that he was engaged in a variety of services, some of which were not very honourable, there might have been some of his employers unwilling that he should tell all he knew. At least it would have become the writers of “The Times” to have ascertained facts, before they had dared to broach the insinuations which have appeared in different papers under that name. But the wretch who, pending the preparation for the trial of twelve men—trials in which, perhaps, the lives of thousands were involved, could publish in his newspaper that scandalous and profligate libel called “The New Times,” in which the individuals to be tried were represented perpetrating, in convention, the most detestable transactions—in which the individual now speaking to you was represented as giving orders for rapes and massacres, for burning villages, and plundering towns, and thus attempt to poison the minds of the Juries that were to decide upon their lives—the wretched prostituted editor of such a paper, must be capable of any thing; nor can we ever be surprised at any thing he does or says, or ever expect him to blush,

  • “——unless, in spreading Vice’s snares,
  • He blunders on some Virtue unawares.”

But I will suppose that Jackson did destroy himself and that he was really guilty of all he was charged with: what, then, is the conclusion to be drawn? In the first place we are to conclude, that there is a wide difference between the firm and manly conduct of a man suffering for principle, and the wretch who takes bribes from both parties; and conducts himself according to the expediences of the moment, as he supposes most favourable to his individual interest. It would teach us also, that the being who has once prostituted himself so much to be a spy and agent of Pitt, has no alternative, no hope, no dilemma, but either either to be hanged like Watt, or swallow poison like the unfortunate Jackson.

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The halter and suicide are the only resources of these poor spies; and yet such is the miserable condition into which the burdens of the country and the luxury of the times have brought us, that heaps of poor beings, with this dreadful alternative before them, march upon this forlorn hope, under the command of the great general Reeves, and with so excellent a pay master as the present Chancellor of the Exchequer.

But though, spies and informers have met the shaft of death, freedom and virtue have had their scars: On the manly breast of patriotism the wound is still rankling; and the tear of humanity is called, not only for the poor wretch who falls a victim to the crimes into which poverty and ignorance have led him, but for virtue, genius, and transcendant talents, and a fortitude of independence, of which few instances are to be found in the annals of the human race. The mild, the meek, the humane and benevolent Palmer, has been followed into exile by the eloquent, the manly, the enlightened Muir. The simplicity of Skirving, and his untainted honesty could not preserve him; and Margarot, whose mind, firm as our rocks, and upright as our masts,—daring in virtue, and vigorous in intellect, opposed the growing corruption of the times—is gone to the inhospitable shores of New Holland, amidst felons and caitiffs of the worst description, to lose, in worse than solitude, those talents which might have enlightened thousands and benefited successive generations.

But this is not all. The cup is not vet drained to the dregs. More of bitterness must be tasted. Gerrald, too, whose transcendent mind, and virtues equal to his intellect, challenge the love and admiration of all who know him; he whose vast stores of genius and science command reverence from the first sages of the time—who is revered by all who know what merit and learning are, and esteemed by all who have a nerve for exalted friendship.——Gerrald, whose unblemished life—unblemished I say: for what are the little extravagancies of a young man of genius, born, not for the narrow circle of a family, but for the universe—and who, dissipating only what was his own, lays no burthens on society to replace it?——Gerrald, this great, this enlightened character, who, in the 35th year of his age, has attained a degree of mental excellence that very few, even of those who stand recorded for their talents, have attained at the maturest periods—Gerrald, also, is sent, not to Botany Bay, to enjoy the converse of those godlike patriots sent before him—this Edition: current; Page: [275] were something like humanity!—no, but to that solitary speck of earth, Norfolk Island, where his only companions must be wretches cast out from society for the meanest and most despicable of crimes, or savages whose untutored minds and ferocious manners exclude all the comforts and alleviations of human intercourse.

Citizens, it is difficult to do justice to such a character as Gerrald’s. When we speak of superior excellence, our minds toil with anxiety to reach its merits, and frequently swell into bombast, for want of remembering that we cannot do complete justice to the talents of another, unless our own are of equal magnitude. I shall not, therefore, attempt to toil through the paths of panegyric; but shall read to you a faint and feeble, yet, in some degree, a just sketch of the talents of this martyr, printed this day in the Morning Chronicle.

“His mind,” says the writer, “grasped various branches of science, and digested them all. The best scholars, the profoundest metaphysicians, and the ablest professors of politics and the law of nations, will be the first to confess the soundness of his classical knowledge, the acuteness and extent of his reasonings, and the accuracy of his information. His eloquence had equally the power to charm and astonish; and the brilliancy of his imagination was not inferior to the terrors of his invective. With all this, his temper is not less entitled to our praise. He was placable and generous to an extreme. The magnanimity of his spirit, and the purity of his sense of honour, could only be completely understood by those who had made them the subject of personal observation. His defence, delivered before the Court of Justiciary, at Edinburgh,”—which, Citizens, I recommend you all to read with the greatest attention. It will shew you the difference between the intellects of this champion of liberty and of those who sat in judgment upon him. It will enlarge your minds with the fruits of profound research, into the genuine principles of that liberty which glows in his breast, and which I am sure will for ever continue to glow there, though it must glow where not a breast can receive benefit from its warmth, nor an eye be cheered with its light. “His defence, delivered before the Court of Justiciary, at Edinburgh, is a master-piece in acuteness of reasoning, purity of composition, and dignity of sentiment. I am aware that the various excellence I ascribe to him would seem like a romance, if Gerrald had been a man unknown to the world. But almost every eminent scholar Edition: current; Page: [276] and statesman in Britain knew his merits, and know that I say less than the truth; because I do not know how to tell the truth in its full extent.

“Having finished his education and his travels, he came to England, the country which seemed best adapted to the display of his talents. Alas! those talents are crushed, perhaps, for ever, by the flagitious act of men who were incapable of understanding them, or understood only to hate them.”

Such is the man who is now sent to ignominious exile. But it was not hatred only that stimulated the men who sent him. They were goaded, also, by fear. Alas! what is the condition of a country in which talents, united with intrepid virtue, a power of discovering truth, and a determination to abide by its decisions, can be dreaded by those who grasp the helm of power.

But, Citizens, this man is not only transported, like a felon, he has been treated with aggravated cruelty. Why, for thirteen or fourteen long months, was such a man to be kept stretched on the feverish rack of apprehension? Why, if the door of mercy, as it is called—I should call it justice—was for ever to have been shut against him, why was he not sent, together with those companions, who were not gone from the coast of Britain when his sentence was pronounced? Why was he to be moved from dungeon to dungeon, from the Tolbooth to Newgate, and from Newgate to the New Compter? Why was he for ever to be racked and tortured with hopes and expectations, and partly with promises that his sentence was never to be carried into execution? Did they expect that the proud virtue of Gerrald could have been shaken? Had they hopes that he would disgrace the cause of Liberty by mean concessions? If such were their hopes, I glory in his transportation; for rather would I see,—much as I love, much as I esteem him, greatly as I adore his virtues and intellects, much rather would I see him thus sent to inhospitable regions, than have seen him exposed to the still more cruel ignominy of submitting to crouch beneath the footstool of a Pitt or a Dundas, and accept of mercy, upon dishonorable conditions, from the hands of men who are not worthy to unlose the latchet of his shoes.

But it has been said that there was another motive: it has been said that if the prosecutors, in the late trials for High Treason, had been successful, they were to have tried him over again, in England. That they thought transportation Edition: current; Page: [277] not enough; and that he was to have been one of the innumerable victims that were to have made the streets of this city flow with blood, to complete the parallel between Pitt and Robespierre.

Whatever might be the reasons for which he was kept so long, the manner of his removal, at last, deserves some notice. It is not many weeks since I went to visit him, in consequence of hearing it whispered about, that he was to be sent off immediately. I found him unconscious of such rumour, but apparently almost in the last stage of a disease, that, if not relieved in time, must have swept him off in a few days.

I found this great man, this light of the universe, unattended, uncomforted, unsuccoured. No hand to administer to his disease, but the person employed, by government, to attend the prison. I do not even know the name of that gentleman, and therefore can mean no disrespect to him; but I would not leave such a man in the power of any person employed by the present Ministry. I procured him other assistance; and I had the pleasure, in some degree, to see him out of the jaws of absolute danger, but in that state of health which made his friends think proper to apply to Mr. Dundas to know whether he was to go or not, that proper preparations might be made for his accommodation. It was on the 6th of April last, I understand, that this precaution was taken, and the answer of Mr. Dundas was (they state the fact in the Chronicle of to-day, which agrees partly with the account I had from Gerrald himself) that there was no intention of sending him at present; and, if it depended upon him, he would not be sent at all. Yet so short a time after comes the mandate of authority. Gerrald goes down upon the summons, and is immediately double-ironed, like the vilest felon, and dragged away without even permission to go back again to his room, and kiss the little lips of his sweet babe, that kept him company in prison. He was scarcely permitted to speak through the grate to a fellow prisoner, and give him some directions as to the things he left behind him. Away he was hurried, and the first notice his friends had of it was from its being announced on the Monday in the public newspapers.

Such is the man whom the humane, the virtuous, the pious—for they talk of religion, as men generally do when they are disposed to do such actions!—Such is the man whom these virtuous Ministers have treated in this ignominious Edition: current; Page: [278] manner. For what? For opposing the Sovereign on the throne? For disturbing the peace of society, and exciting rebellions and insurrections? For committing depredations upon public virtue and justice? No; but for doing that which no law forbids, no statute proscribes, no previously adjudged case (if adjudged cases were in reality any authority!) had warned him to shun; and for doing it with an eloquence which his persecutors could not rival, and with a power of reason and facts to which they could not reply.

THE INVASION: or Credulous Spiders.

    • ’TWAS in a lofty Gothic Hall,
    • An old and venerable place,
    • Secure, intrench’d within a wall,
    • Dwelt the laborious Spider Race,
    • O’er whom, with arrogance and pride,
    • A bloated Chieftain did preside.
    • He, with fair shew and subtle parts,
    • Unbounded empire had obtain’d,
    • And with the same ungracious arts,
    • In virtue’s spite, that power maintain’d;
    • While some a private int’rest sway’d
    • And others were by these betray’d.
    • Strange tales are forg’d, preposterous lies,
    • Fit coinage for a faithless court!
    • Of armies of invading flies,
    • That from some foreign clime resort,
    • And all were summon’d to oppose
    • With real force these fabled foes.
    • Or sooth’d by hope, or urg’d by dread,
    • The spiders toil with ceaseless pains,
    • To guard the realm thick webs are spread,
    • Whilst every webb their vitals drains;
    • Till weak, exhausted, and beset,
    • The fools were caught in their own net.
    • A Looker-on.
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The LectureOn Prosecutions for Pretended Treason.

CITIZENS, this being the anniversary of the arrest of the Patriots, who some time since were implicated in a factitious and ridiculous charge of high treason, it appeared to me that some sort of notice should be taken of the return of a day so important, in the event, to the progress of liberty, but once so threatening to the existence even of the very shadow of British freedom. I therefore chose for the subject of this evening, “Prosecutions for Pretended Treason.”

It was my intention to have gone pretty largely into the history of these prosecutions in this country, particularly during the reigns of the Stuarts; reigns which some persons, dignified with official situations in this country, seem to have studied with minute attention, drawing, as it were, all their precedents from those reigns, and the ill counsels given by the ministers of that unfortunate family. I meant to have laid before you a great variety of interesting and entertaining particulars: as the subject is, indeed, of a very curious nature, and well worth our serious attention; and as, during my confinement in the Tower, I was naturally led to the consideration of facts of this description. While I was in that confinement, therefore, I made very copious notes and extracts from history, and from the State Trials, that they might furnish me with matter for a course of Lectures in this place, upon this branch of our political history.

But to those notes I have had no time to refer. Eminent as my duties are in this situation, I have been called upon by a duty of a superior nature, to the discharge of which neither my conscience nor my feelings would permit me to be inattentive.

You will remember, that on the last Lecture-night I took the liberty of proposing to you a subscription for our beloved and persecuted fellow-citizen, Joseph Gerrald. I did not then think fit to announce my intention of setting off the next morning to see that virtuous and persecuted Patriot, whose amiable manners have won the hearts of his fellow-citizens, as his talents have commanded the admiration of mankind. I Edition: current; Page: [280] did think proper to mention it at that time, because I did not know what jealousies might continue to haunt him; and therefore went as private as possible, left I should be deprived of the solitary satisfaction which was left me, of seeing once more that beloved and respected patriot, who is going to distant and inhospitable regions, for exerting those virtues and talents which illumine his heart, for the benefit of mankind; and because he would not prostitute his understanding to aristocratic usurpation and ministerial corruption.

I have the pleasure to inform you, that that collection, with which I set off without delay, amounted to 16 guineas; the receipt for which I now have in my hand, and which is ready for the inspection of any Citizen who wishes to be satisfied upon that point.

I had another reason also for my journey. I wished that some memorial of that great man should be left behind him, for the instruction of his country. I wished to procure the means of decorating these walls with the bust of that revered patriot; that, fixing my eye frequently upon the image of his countenance, I might be inspired with similar virtues, and endeavor to imitate those talents which he so transcendantly possesses.

For these reasons I have been to Portsmouth, from whence I am but this instant returned. I have but just had time to wipe the dust from my weary brow, that I might take my place in this situation, and submit my thoughts to you upon this important subject, with such arrangements as could be made during my journey.

But, there is one circumstance relative to this visit, which I shall not do justice to you and to society if I pass over in entire silence: though it is something like digression.

Of the deportment of Citizen Gerrald I shall give you some idea at the conclusion of my Lecture; but when I am speaking of my journey, I ought to observe that I have been deceived, and am now agreeably undeceived, relative to the state of the public mind in that part of the country I have visited. In order that no barrier might be thrown in my way, to prevent my seeing the Citizen, I have hinted that I thought it necessary, at first, to keep my journey as private as possible. I found, however, that these precautions were not as necessary as I supposed. I found that in Portsmouth there are upright, enlightened, and virtuous magistrates, who will not suffer the peace to be disturbed by any factious set of beings, who may choose to bawl out “Church and King,” for the purposes of Edition: current; Page: [281] inflammation and tumult, and to destroy the peace and property of those who happen to differ from them in political or religious opinion. I found, also, that the seeds of liberty are not only sown, but have spread to a considerable degree, in that aristocratic town; the centre, as it is, of so considerable a portion of patronage, and, consequently, of dependence. Instead of meeting in every house jealousy and animosity, I found a great number of persons anxious for an opportunity of shewing their affection and attachment to those principles which have been lately so much persecuted; and for that cause in particular which occasioned my visit to that place; so that while many strangers found it difficult to obtain accommodations at any price, my friend and myself, on account of our principles and the object of our embassy, were cheared and welcomed by persons of all descriptions, from those of the learned professions down to the simple mechanic and labourer: and were received and entertained with a hospitality that bore more resemblance to the welcome of old and intimate friends, than the greetings and civilities of strangers.

I do not mean to represent these as the unanimous sentiments of the place; but they are sufficiently so to procure protection to any individual whose good intentions may carry him to that part of the country; and I own it gave me great pleasure to perceive that the gall of animosity in the opposite party is either transmuted into the milk of human kindness, or else is kept in awe by the shame which never fails to result when Malice is checked in her career, and sanguinary Cruelty is disappointed and unmasked.

Such having been the manner in which I have been employed, since I last met you, I hope to experience your candour, for any deficiences in the lecture of this evening; as the only preparation I have had, was made by quitting the coach at a time when others were taking their refreshment, and indulging myself in a solitary walk; that I might collect a few of the ideas that floated in my imagination.

To proceed, then, to my subject: Prosecutions for high Treason, as is well observed by the author of the preface to State Trials, have, in all ages, been the fatal engines so often employed by corrupt and wicked ministers against the noblest and bravest Patriots. It is a little important, therefore, in order that none of us may be made the tools of such nefarious designs, that we consider a little the meaning of the word Treason.

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Many of you may, in the different periods of your lives, have to decide upon the existence of your fellow Citizens, perhaps upon the liberty and salvation of the country; let me therefore, invoke you seriously to consider the proper meaning that ought to be attached to those terms that sound so dreadfully in our ears; that you may not be in danger of being abused by mere words, when it is the spirit, the soul, the motives and the consequences of action upon which the juror ought to decide.

Treason then, Citizens, as the derivation points out, is the act of betraying. This is, it is true, a very general definition. And, perhaps, in the first instance, it is best to begin with general definitions; and afterwards proceed to the particular. Treason, then is, the act of betraying; and accordingly we talk in private conversation of traitor to his friend, traitor to his trust, treachery to a mistress—a benefactor—an employer; in short, in all the situations in life, in which confidence can be reposed, we talk of treason and treachery.

This definition, however, it is my present duty to apply to the system of politics; and then we shall find that Treason, politically speaking, means betraying the trust reposed in the individual by the country, or betraying that country to the injury and destrustion from which it is the duty of the individual to preserve it.

Now when you consider this definition, which I believe must universally be admitted to be just, one reflection must present itself to your minds: namely, that, generally speaking, the traitors are to be found in that class of men who are themselves the prosecutors for treason. They are the men in whom trust and confidence is placed; they are the men who have the power of betraying, ruining, and destroying the country: they are the men who, if you consult the history of every country in the world, have been continually and perpetually undermining and destroying those constitutions, and those countries, which, with hypocritical plausibility, they pretended to uphold and to revere.

This is treachery indeed. It is betraying a trust; it is deceiving the minds of the public; it is, in fact, inflicting the basest, the deepest, and the most detestable wound that the arm of the assassin can possibly aim. The petty murderer, who meets his merited reward at the gibbet, has destroyed an individual, has overthrown the peace of one family: but the minister who, for his selfish ambition, to gratify the rapacity Edition: current; Page: [283] of his dependants and relations, and to monopolize all places, power, and trusts into his own hands, betrays the interest and happiness of his country, murders by wholesale; and the millions that strew the plains of foreign countries, with whose concerns he had no right to interfere, constitute the smallest part of the guilt that stains his polluted conscience!

Citizens, this crime which, in England, is called Treason, has been variously denominated and described by different countries in the world. It is not necessary for me to make an ostentatious display of that sort of learning which any man may acquire by half an hour’s consultation with his dictionary; and, therefore, I shall not run through a list of these various names; but I shall just simply instance the descriptive and energetic name which has been given of it by the French republic: observing, at the same time, that, among the many advantages resulting from some of the transactions and proceedings of the French revolution, (for I never gave an unqualified approbation of the whole) we may particularly notice a renewed energy of soul and expression, by which that country has shewn us the power which liberty gives not only to the arms, but to the language of people: enabling the one to mow down ranks of those who have less interest in the struggle, and the other to compress the meanings of volumes into a single word. They have called this crime of Treason Patricide!—or murdering the Country.

Now citizens, this is, I believe, giving, in one word, a description more copious and more energetic than will be found in all our treatises of the law of treason put together. It is striking at the vital existence and happiness of the country: not that which ministers call the existence of the country,—the continuance of power in the hands of a few individuals who have erected themselves into an arbitrary Oligarchy. No: but the continuance of freedom, happiness, and the possibility of maintaining the great body of the people in equal rights, equal laws, and the distribution of equal justice. This is the existence which the real traitor aims to destroy. And what treason, what crime can be so monstrous, as the crime of that individual who meditates so detestable an assassination?

That this was the original meaning of the word Treason in this country might be proved by a variety of documents, if I had time to refer to them. I shall notice, however, only the first in the collection of “State Trials;” and which took place in the reign of Richard the Second, when Edition: current; Page: [284] Tresillian and other Ministers and Judges were tried for High Treason, for monopolizing to themselves the wealth and power of the country; employing it to the maintenance of mercenary forces, to coerce the people; and dissipating those revenues which ought to have provided for the security, happiness and abundance of the nation.

Citizens, I know of few things more important, than that we accurately define to ourselves the limits and bounds of the terms we make use of; and the train of reasoning into which I have fallen, seems to make it necessary that I should chalk out to you a distinction very important, though hitherto not very particularly attended to; I mean the distinction between Treason and Rebellion: a distinction which exists in nature, and which is of the most important kind: for treason can only be practised against the happiness, safety, and security of the country; but rebellion may be practised against an usurper who is destroying that country, but who, as he grasps the power, may consider himself as having the right to destroy those who would restrain the arbitrary exercise of his authority. The rebel is not of necessity a traitor, nor of necessity is the traitor a rebel. They are frequently united together; but I think a recurrence to a few historical facts will shew you a very material difference.

When Harmodius and Aristoghiton slew the tyrant Pisistratus, did the Athenians consider those heroes as traitors to their country, because they were rebels to the usurper, who called himself their prince? On the contrary, we find that their fame was celebrated in odes and poems; and Mr. Pye, the present poet laureat, has thought fit to translate one of the odes, which was written upon that occasion, by the Grecian poet Symonides: and he does it, he tells you, for this express reason, that such compositions ought not to be lost, as they keep alive the spirit and love of liberty; the writing and signing of that ode having caused the Athenians afterwards to follow up the example, and get rid of other usurping tyrants in the same manner.

Citizens, if I recollect rightly, for it is some years since I read the poems of Mr. Pye, that poem begins and ends with the following stanza:

  • “Eternal honor’s deathless meed,
  • Shall, lov’d Harmodius, crown thy deed,
  • And brave Aristogheton’s sword—
  • Because the tyrant’s breast ye gor’d.”

[To be concluded in our next.]

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The LectureOn Prosecutions for Pretended Treason.

[Concluded, from our last Number.]

THUS we find, then, that neither the Athenians of old, nor Mr. Pye, our most loyal poet laureat, considered it any act of Treason to destroy the traitor who usurped authority to which he was not entitled: though certainly it was rebellion, according to every construction which can possibly be given to the word.

When the thirty tyrants usurped dominion over Athens, was it treason to remove those tyrants, and restore the purity of the Athenian constitution? It was rebellion, indeed: for to rise in arms against the ruling power must always be rebellion. I shall show you by and by that ministers, in the present day, think it is rebellion and treason too, to rise, not in arms, but in words, against them, or any of their measures!

If from Greece we travel to Rome, we shall find other examples, not less important, as to the distinction which I am laying down.—(I shall take care by and by not to be misunderstood, relative to the object and meaning of these arguments.)—Citizens, when Tarquin, the limited sovereign of Rome, became the ravisher of the virtuous Lucretia, when he usurped prerogatives that did not belong to him, and when oppression and tyranny ravaged the country, it was rebellion, indeed, in Brutus, when he stirred up the people to resist the tyranny, and “drove the Tarquins from the gates of Rome.” But was it treason to restore the country from the gulph of tyranny and perdition into which it was fallen? There is not a man, who has one spark of British ardour left in his Edition: current; Page: [286] bosom, who will pronounce such blasphemy against reason and liberty? It was rebellion to resist the usurping decemvirs—that oligarchy that trampled on the rights of Rome!—but, instead of being treason, it was virtue. And when Cæsar lorded it over the senate, and, with a venal pack of senators, who ought to have stood up for the liberties of the people, but who were his creatures, his tools, his hirelings, and dependants—when, by their assistance, he laid the liberties of Rome prostrate at his feet, did the second Brutus, did Cassius, that “last of Romans,” who rose in rebellion against the usurper Cæsar, act the part of traitors, or of virtuous citizens?

I believe, we shall admit that they were not traitors, who restored, or attempted to restore the purity of Roman liberty; but that, in reality, the men destroyed in this, and all the other instances I have mentioned, were themselves the traitors: that tyrants and usurpers are the worst of traitors; and that, if it is virtue to obey virtuous rulers, if it is just and right to obey legal and constitutional mandates, then must it be always virtue, right, and justice, to resist and oppose those tyrants and usurpers whose sanguinary violence depopulates the country, or whose projects of selfish ambition deprive the nation of its support and freedom.

Akenside, in his Poem on “The Pleasures of Imagination,” supposes, falsely I believe, that the most sublime image that can possibly be presented to the mind is that Brutus rising from the stroke that laid the tyrant prostrate at his feet.

  • “Look then abroad through Nature, to the range
  • Of planets, suns, and adamantine spheres,
  • Wheeling unshaken through the void immense,
  • And speak, O Man! does this capacious scene
  • With half that kindling majesty dilate
  • Thy strong conception, as when Brutus rose
  • Refulgent from the stroke of Cæsar’s fate
  • Amid the crowd of patriots, and his arm
  • Aloft extending, like eternal Jove,
  • When guilt brings down the thunder, call’d aloud
  • On Tully’s name, and shook his crimson steel,
  • And bad the father of his country Hail!
  • For lo! the tyrant prostrate on the dust!
  • And Rome again is free?”

Citizens, I do not approve, though the laureat Pye, and the whig Akenside have done so, passages that have such a tendency to excite a sanguinary disposition. I would have Edition: current; Page: [287] the powers of genius and reason employed to increase the kindness, not the bitterness of the heart;—to allay the furious passions and resentments of mankind, not to stimulate to violence and slaughter. I have not therefore quoted either the translation of Pye or the poem of Akenside, because they meet with my entire approbation; but because they shew you that it never has yet been thought, by men who think at all, that those two terms, so frequently confounded together, were one and the same; but, on the contrary, that they have regarded resistance of oppression as a virtue of the first class, and thought that every thing ought to be encouraged and disseminated that would dispose mankind to such resistance. I also maintain, that resistance of oppression is the first of virtues; but I would resist it, not by the dagger, but by reason: I would go slowly to work from circle to circle: I would disseminate the light of truth and benevolence; and I am sure that, when mankind can be persuaded to lay aside their artfully excited terrors, and to enter calmly into investigation, Liberty will want no poignard to enforce her doctrines, nor no buckler to guard her bosom against those furious foes who at present detest her, only because the artifices of a few individuals have prevented them from contemplating her features! I think myself, however, entitled, from the observations I have just brought forward, to conclude that, as the men who were destroyed were usurpers and tyrants, the rebellion of those who destroyed them was not Treason.

But, Citizens, I will tell you (for that is the more important part of my subject) how I suppose a man may be guilty of treason, without falling into rebellion: a thing which is much more common. And here permit me to observe, that my object in marking this distinction is to dissuade mankind from commiting treason, not to persuade them to commit rebellion; for rebellion, though another crime, is, generally speaking, a crime of monstrous magnitude; because it involves the peace and tranquillity of society, and gives a few upstart leaders, whose minds are inflated with a desire of power, too frequent an opportunity of making tools and instruments of those whose situation in society renders them the stepping stones and ladders of the ambition of deluding hypocrites. I do not therefore wish to persuade you to commit rebellion; but I wish to persuade other persons to cease to commit the greater crime of Treason.

I will tell you then, and I will illustrate as I go on by historical instances, how I conceive that men (if Ministers and Edition: current; Page: [288] Courtiers may be considered as men) may commit the crime of treason without being rebels.—I consider, when Cæsar grasped to himself a power to which he was not entitled, and thus attempted to enslave his country, that he, though not guilty of rebell on, was guilty of Treason of the highest kind. I mean to say also, that when Agrippa, Mæcenas, and others, advised Augustus to seize the sovereign power, and thereby to annihilate entirely all hopes of Roman freedom, that these advisers, though they did not rise in rebellion, were guilty of High Treason also; and that their treason was not a wit the less detestable, because they advised him to preserve all the forms of the Roman constitution, while he destroyed the whole of its spirit and excellency.

I mean also to say (proceeding to events of a more recent date) that, in France, for example, the destruction of the Bastile was certainly an act of rebellion; that the opposition made by the people to the interference of foreign mercenaries, employed by the then existing government for their destruction, was, also, an act of rebellion; and that the resolution of the Parisians, to defend the national Constituent Assembly, was another act of rebellion: but I mean to say, at the same time, that neither the one nor the other of these was an act of treason; but on the contrary, considering the situation of France at that time, that they were acts of salvation, to which France owes what she yet possesses of liberty, and the means (which are at this time almost completely in her hand) of obtaining a degree of liberty more happy and glorious than any thing that has yet been conceived or thought of.

Broglio with his mercenary troops, at the beck of that power which was then undoubtedly possessed of the supreme authority, was marching to Paris, to crush the friends of liberty, and annihilate the States-General. The Parisians heard of it, and were frantic with apprehensions for their dawning liberty: they ran to the Arsenal to provide themselves with arms, never thinking at first of taking the Bastille, or suspecting that they were capable of so doing; but the cruel behaviour and treachery of the governor urged their fury, even beyond its first intention, and, happily for the universe, the Bastille was laid a smoaking ruin upon the earth.

If I were standing up as an advocate for these men, defending them by legal quibbles against the charge of rebellion, I know I must be tongue-tied—I should have nothing to say. But if I were pleading for them upon the charge of Treason, Edition: current; Page: [289] I should say, Bring as many such traitors as you will before a just tribunal, charged with such actions, under such circumstances, and, instead of fetters for their legs, they must be furnished with crowns of laurel. They were the saviours, not the betrayers of their country: and if a foreign mercenary force can ever be permitted, at the nod and beck of any Minister, or any Monarch, to be brought into any capital, to enforce the commands of despotism, farewell to every thing like liberty,—farewell to every thing like humanity,—farewell to civilization!—This world is a wilderness, where one great elephant may stalk from place to place, and, with his huge proboscis, mow down every thing that might administer to the comfort and felicity of mankind.

But if this was Rebellion without being Treason, let us see, in the next instance, what was Treason in France, though not Rebellion.—It was Treason in those detestable sycophants who stood behind the curtain (and there is but too frequently some whispering fiend, behind the curtain, disturbing the repose of nations, and poisoning the ears of princes)—when they advised the King to give a hypocritical sanction to decrees which they meant afterwards to advise him to violate; when they advised the King, after having most solemnly sworn to support those decrees, to add perjury to treachery, and shameless effrontery to both, and declare himself destitute of every principle of faith and honesty.—Those men were traitors both to their Country and their King! and calamities enough they have brought upon both, which sophists may endeavour to lay upon other shoulders, but which are chargeable, in the first instance, to them, and them alone. Those men however, and that woman, who advised the flight of the unfortunate Louis XVI. were not guilty of rebellion, but they were traitors of the worst description; and if it were possible for me, in any situation, to applaud the severity with which crimes are sometimes pursued, I should be almost inclined to say—that they deserved the fate which they eventually met.—[A hiss.]

I am much obliged to the Citizen who has thus interrupted me! But, as I am sure the sentiment is unexceptionable, I perceive that I must have made some mistake in the expression. I will repeat, therefore, the idea I meant to convey.—I mean to say, that those evil counsellors of Louis XVI. who advised him to ratify decrees which he did not mean to fulfil; who advised him to swear to the constitution which he meant to violate; who advised him afterwards to violate that constitution, Edition: current; Page: [290] and leave the paper upon his table in which he declared himself to be a hypocrite and a perjurer; who advised him to fly to foreign nations, in hopes of leading foreign armies against his country,—that these counsellors, these vipers let me call them, though they were not rebels, were traitors of the worst description.—This is my meaning. This is what I meant to express before. This, I believe, I have expressed tolerably accurately now: and if any scribes of the Treasury think they can make any thing of it, I will endeavour, as nearly as possible, to repeat it again to those—I was going to say Citizen Spies, but—Gentlemen Spies, I mean. Far be it from me, Citizens, to inflame your minds against any individual; but, as I know that every night there are gentlemen of that description, I wish to tell them fairly and openly, that if any persons whatever wish to take down any part of my words, if they will signify their design, either in the manner just now signified, or any other way, I will repeat the idea to them. And I will do more: I will shew them the difference between the honor of a plain common man, the simple descendant of a London tradesman and the daughter of a poor country farmer, and the tinsel honor which belongs to persons who wear trumpery titles and trumpery decorations. I will shew them that instead of hiring, like a person of the last description, 50 bludgeon-men to knock out the brains of a man hostile to my sentiments, I will protect even his rude, intemperate, and ungentlemanlike conduct, from the indignation which some might think it merits. No man, however improper his conduct, shall meet with an improper return of it here. His person shall be protected; the freedom of his sentiments shall be protected. If he is a deluded individual, I will endeavour to remove his delusion by candour: if a designing individual, I will shew him how superior the smallest of the friends of liberty is to the malice of such designs.

Citizens, I shall now proceed in my task of making these distinctions, and shewing you that there may be treason without rebellion, and that this Treason is most frequently committed by those individuals who are so ready to charge others with being traitors. I shall proceed to illustrate this by facts from the history of our own country.

You will remember that Charles the First not being wise enough to know how to buy parliaments, and the parliament under Charles the First being disposed to support the rights of the people, there consequently arose what is called a rebellion in this country. (Remember I am not going to Edition: current; Page: [291] justify the last act of the Rebels, as they are called. I do not justify sanguinary punishments in any instance whatever!) But, in consequence of the disposition on the part of the ill advisors of Charles the First, to usurp arbitrary power, and the disposition on the part of the Parliament to support the liberties of the people, what is called a rebellion took place in this country.

Now, in this instance, I think we shall find that the Treason did not lie in the people and parliament of England, though they are called rebels for defending themselves against the armed force which Charles, by the advice of his ministers, assembled in order to make himself absolute; but that the Treason was in the Ministers, who advised him to abdicate his rightful crown, by attempting to usurp a tyranny and authority to which he had no claim. I say that the principle traitor was the apostate Wentworth, who, while he was in opposition, pretended to be a flaming patriot, a friend to the liberties of the people, and an advocate for a reformation of corruptions and abuses; but who, as soon as he became minister, became one of the most violent persecutors of every thing that looked like liberty; and though I do not commend nor excuse the trial of Lord Strafford (the title with which his prostitution was purchased) yet I contend, that those who advise a King to exercise a power which the laws of the land do not vest in him, are traitors to the king and to the country, and do thereby advise him to abdicate the throne on which the constitution has placed him;—do actually advise him to un-king himself, and renounce those privileges and prerogatives which, but for his unjust usurpation, he might still have continued to enjoy. I mean to say, also, that the advisers of Charles the Second and James the Second, who as they were also ignorant of the art of effectually buying parliaments, took it into their heads to persuade them to do without any parliaments at all (which is pretty nearly the same thing you know!) though they did not rise in rebellion against the royal authority, were also traitors to their country, and to those two unfortunate monarchs.—I say two unfortunate monarchs: for though the first of them (as some say) died a natural death, yet his reign was one continued source of vexation and misfortune; and might hold up a striking lesson to all monarchs—that when they attempt to grasp more power than they are entiled to, they grasp at thorns whose sharp and unpoisoned mail will rankle in the hand that attempts to grasp them.

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I shall now just observe, in a brief manner, that these natural distinctions have been too frequently confounded by the arts of courtiers and sycophants.

In the first place, it has been common, by the assistance of metaphor and flattery to represent the person of an individual and the happiness and existence of a whole country to be one and the same thing. I admit, I affirm that the safety, the security, and tranquillity of the individual or individuals who constitute the chief magistracy of a country, are incorporated with the happiness of society; and that he who invades the life of such magistrate or magistrates, whatever be the form of the constitution, commits an offence of a very heinous description against the peace and happiness of society. I think it necessary to make this observation that my intentions may not be misrepresented. I wish you to understand accurately the nature of crimes and offences. I do not mean to persuade you that any thing that is criminal is virtuous; or, which is frequently attempted in another place that, things really virtuous and just are criminal. But I mean to say, that though it is a high crime to assail the magistracy of a country, yet that the magistrate and the country are not one and the same thing: and that no one life ever yet was, or ever can be, as estimable as the life of twenty-four millions, or seventeen millions, or seven millions of individuals of which the population of any particular country may consist.

This is a sort of flattery paid by sycophant writers to increase their own importance in the eyes of those they flatter. But this is not all. Did the encroachment and metaphor stop here I would not have troubled you with so many animadversions upon the subject. But, having, in the first instance, identified, by a figure of speech, the whole nation in the person of the Prince, they next confound the minister of the Prince with the Prince himself; and then call it high Treason to oppose the measures, designs, nay the contemplations of that courtier who, by arts the most hypocritical, may happen to have seized upon the helm of power.

Mr. Gibbon, in his “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,”—a work which, though perhaps not entitled to so unqualified an approbation as has sometimes been given, must be admitted to be full of profound research, and useful reflection, particularly alludes to this last species of treason—an attempt to identify the person of the minister or favourite with the person of the Prince, and to punish the opposition made Edition: current; Page: [293] so such minister as an offence against the sovereign; and very justly considers it as the last stage of despotism.—(You will remember, Citizens, that at the time Mr. Gibbon wrote this reflection, the late accusations for high Treason had not been brought forward—nor had it ever been whispered in Britain that a disposition to oppose measures that had been hinted by a minister, could be considered as Treason in this country.

You will please to observe that, in this country, this last species of Treason has been very jealously guarded against; and it was for this reason that the 25th Edward III. was made; for so many things had been charged to be Treason, that bore no resemblance to that crime, that an act was thought necessary in that Parliament, to define the two principal species of Treason to be compassing and imagining the death of the king; and actually levying war against the king. Having laid down this in so clear and distinct a manner, our ancestors weakly thought that they had done sufficient. But it was not long before attempts were successfully made to extend the limits of the law of Treason. Those limits the good sense of the people has occasioned them to refer to again and again; and the same limits have been again and again declared to be the boundaries of the crime of Treason; and again and again (whenever artful, hypocritical, and alarming ministers got possession of the seat of power) under frivolous pretences, have been extended to a most exorbitant degree.

Queen Mary, on account of her religion and intolerance, has been spoken of with a degree of severity which is certainly as much as she is entitled to; she had one merit, however, which ought not to be forgotten; she expressed, by public act, her detestation of making words Treason; repealed all the encroaching statutes that had been made; and again fixed the limits of Treason by the 25th. Edward III. Those limits, however, since that time have been occasionally extended and again restored: and we have, at this time, to lament two statutes, fabrications of the present minister, (the Alien Act, and the Traiterous Correspondence Act) by which those sacred boundaries are once more violated.

But this is not all. It is to be observed, that since the revolution, ministers not thinking fit to alter the law of Treason as often as they wished to extend the limits, have induced their judges to appeal to fictions and evasions; by which they have effectually done that which they did not openly dare to avow. Accordingly we find that though the 25th Edw. III. expressly says, that to compass and imagine the death of the Edition: current; Page: [294] King shall be high Treason, and that to levy war against the King shall also be high Treason; making them, thereby, two distinct species of Treason, and clearly evincing thereby that merely conspiring, or imagining, to levy war, was no Treason; yet they have procured many judges to declare, and to pass sentences upon that declaration, that though to attempt to levy war is not Treason under the head of levying war, yet that it is still Treason under another distinct species: namely, that of compassing the death of the King—just as if our frugal ancestors, whose acts were seldom longer than this bit of paper, would have spent their time and words in declaring, that to levy war should be high Treason, if they had meant and understood that even the very idea of such a thing would be an act of high Treason, of the description which they had already previously declared; namely, the compassing and imagining the death of the King.—But let us now return to the times of Charles the Second, by whom it is notorious that an attempt was made to establish an absolute despotism.

If we wanted proof of this, we need only appeal to the alliances formed by the cabal, and other ministers of Charles II. their constant hostility to every country that attempted to gain or to preserve its freedom; and their connections with the despot of France, and every other despot on the continent, who would oppose the principles they wished to eradicate.

Now, Citizens, there is a curious circumstance relative to the history of Charles II. namely, that every six or twelve months produced a conspiracy, which, being begotten in the imagination of ministers, was propagated in Parliament, while there was any Parliament, and afterwards in the Privy Council (when Privy Councils became every thing and Parliaments nothing), was afterwards disseminated through the country by inflammatory hand-bills and proclamations. In consequence of these, imaginary traitors, never hearing of such plots and conspiracies till they were indicted and brought to the bar to be tried for them, were time after time dragged, at the peril of their lives, before judges who knew them to be innocent, to hear the scandalous harangues of Serjeants and Attorney-Generals, who knew that the men they were arraigning were innocent and virtuous, and that they themselves, and their employers, were the persons who ought to have stood at the bar and been tried.

If any one doubts whether I have given a faithful account of these plots and conspiracies, let him turn over the pages of Rapin’s History. These facts, which stand recorded upon Edition: current; Page: [295] unquestionable authority, (otherwise they could not have been believed by those who live under the present administration) mark, beyond the possibility of mistake, the designs and objects of the ministers by which these plots and fictitious conspiracies were fabricated: and woe to the nation that shall witness their repetition.

Yes, Citizens, in this reign of Charles II. in which these false conspiracies were hatched, there were also many real conspiracies; but they were conspiracies among those persons that were endeavouring to destroy the pretended conspirators. False plots, and false conspiracies, are necessary things for those who have real plots and conspiracies of their own to conceal.

I would not wish to press the subject too closely; but have we not also had false plots and conspiracies in the present day? Has not the present immaculate minister disseminated his alarms, like electric shocks, from one end of the country to another, to every individual who imagined he had a stake in the country?—as if every man that has life and exertion had not a stake, or ought not to have a stake in the country!—Has not the present minister, by those excellent conductors, warrants for high Treason, proclamations, and reports of secret committees, conveyed his electric shocks of alarm through the country, till the whole deluded mass of the people shook with convulsions before him? much to the amusement, no doubt, of the manager of the machine, though little to the health and benefit of those upon whom he operated. Nay, it is said, that there have been individuals who have had the audacity to attempt to keep up the reputation of their quackery, by charging the juries of this country with being conspirators, also, against the laws and constitution they were called to defend, because they would not hang the men whom they thought fit to accuse.

Yes, if we are not strangely abused, indeed—if our credulity is not most terribly tricked, by those retailers of intelligence, the reporters for the diurnal prints, persons have stood up in public assemblies, and declared that the acquittal of the felons, as they call them, was a proof of the extent to which the conspiracy had spread.

These words are detailed to us as the words of men whose professions of attachment to the Constitution ought to have prevented them from insulting that part of the Constitution, which, I make no scruple of saying, is worth ten thousand times more than all the rest of the Constitution put together: I mean the great and invaluable right of TRIAL BY JURY!

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But, Citizens, in the midst of these false plots we have, also, had real plots and conspiracies. I remember, a few evenings ago, having the pleasure, or imagining that I had the pleasure, of seeing, in this room, the high and mighty inquisitor, Mr. Reeves.—The sight of this being inspired me with some inclination to let him know that his inquisitorial presence did not daunt the friends of liberty. I, therefore, took the liberty of announcing, at that time, that I should, on a future occasion, lay before this audience an exposition of the plots and conspiracies of Mr. Reeves and his associators. And, if ever I should see a tall, gawky, shuffling fellow, who has been idolized very much in this country, and whose principal claim to that idolatry seems to be his talent of shuffling and apostacy!—if I should have ever the happiness to be in company where that right honourable maypole happens to stalk in, I will greet him with the promise of an equally just dissection. At present it is my duty to proceed with my exposition of the plots and conspiracies of Reeves.—I speak his name without disguise, that his followers and retainers may be at no loss in their report.

I shall not dwell particularly upon the character of the honourable institution of which he is the founder; nor the baseness, when it was first opened, of signing the name of a person, as secretary, who never had been within the walls of the meeting. I will mention, however, a little anecdote to which this circumstance gave birth. The gentleman went to complain to Reeves of the insult put upon his name by introducing it into such company, and found the whole society, consisting of four or five actual members, assembled. They immediately apologised; and said, as they were very much in in want of a secretary, they would be very much obliged to him to recommend them one. To which he is reported to have answered immediately, “Why, here is Mr. Reeves, who is a bustling active man, he will do very well, I should think, for a secretary; and then, perhaps, you may chance to get a respectable man in the chair.”

But, soft: I ought to speak of Mr. Reeves with fear and trembling; for he is chief magistrate of the district, and I have not yet forgot the maxim of Homer:

  • —“Though we deem the short-liv’d fury past,
  • ’Tis sure the mighty will revenge at last.”

This chief magistrate (the man who was to be the judge) about thirteen months ago, when I first began to lecture here, went from house to house, begging of persons to come and Edition: current; Page: [297] complain to him of my house as a nuisance. Having so done, Reeves, with fifteen or sixteen persons, attended at his court-leet—some to complain of nuisance, and others to declare it was no nuisance at all.

Mr. High Steward Reeves took his chair, authoritatively, and swore in the witnesses to be examined against me; when, seeing that these and the jury had withdrawn together, I put the following question:

“Pray, Mr. Chairman Reeves, am I not to be at liberty to call witnesses also?”

No, Sir, you cannot.—Who are you, Sir?

“My name is Thelwall. I am the person complained against.”

No, Sir. I shall take care that justice is done. But you cannot call any witnesses.

“Pray, Sir, am I to be permitted to be heard in my own defence?”

Not by Counsel, Sir, After the verdict you may say what you please to me yourself. But I shall not hear you at any very considerable length.

So you see, the man who is to sit as judge, first of all goes and begs people to come and accuse. After having got persons to accuse, he tells the accused he shall not be at liberty to call any witnesses in his defence. That he shall not be at liberty to say any thing in his defence, till after the verdict; and then he may be permitted humbly to beg and pray in mitigation of fine; but not to speak at any considerable length, lest (I suppose) his defence should happen to become sedition.

I should think this enough to convince you of the situation of the magistracy of this country. But this is not all. Mr. Reeves charged every individual of the officers under him to take me into custody, when I came into Court; to commit me (without any warrant whatever) to the round-house. After which, perhaps, I was to be sent on board a ship—being an able-bodied man for a sailor!—or sent off to some of the solitary isles of Scotland, as many persons have been—as Lady Grange, for instance, was.

All this, had the first step succeeded, might have taken place with ease. For, if he had power to take the first step, he might have had power to take the rest; and who should have said him nay?

What then preserved me?—Why there was not a beadle or parish constable throughout the district, who had the hardiness to execute such an order; and they told Mr. Reeves that they would not execute it.

These are the men who associate to protect liberty and Edition: current; Page: [298] property; and who, under such pretences, enter into conspiracies to seize the person of an individual without legal authority, though under the mask of magistracy—for magistracy is one thing, law another. If this is protecting property, may I never have property to be protected! If this protecting liberty, make me a galley-slave at once! If this is protecting order and civilized society, strip me naked, and turn me into the wilderness with savages, for I am sick of such order and civilization!

Citizens, when this would not do, within less than ten days a charge of high Treason was trumped up. I was dragged from my house; my premises were plundered; not only my manuscripts, the whole labours of my life, but my books, my collections of prints, and the very cloths from my tables were seized, to pack the pillage up in.

Application after application has been made to the Privy Council; evasive answer after evasive answer has been given; and my effects are not returned. (This is protecting liberty and property!) At last I am referred to Mr. Joseph White, the honourable Solicitor of the honourable treasury; and Mr. Joseph White says, “You may tell Mr. Thelwall I have nothing of his, and nothing shall he have of me.” This is protecting property! my books, my manuscripts of all descriptions, in prose and in verse!—whether there is a syllable of politics in them or not;—many of them the labours of years: all are to be seized, and witheld, because I have dared to question the wisdom and integrity of the most perfidious apostate that ever existed.

Yet these are the individuals who have the impudence to tell you they associate for the protection of liberty and property. They ought to tell you that they associate to pillage and plunder.

I meant to have gone further, and read some documents relative to these facts. But I dare not keep documents in my house. I may be taken up for high Treason again, perhaps; and my papers may again be taken, as they were before, lest they should enable me to prove my own innocence, or the guilt of my accusers.

For mark the consequences of this seizure of papers. It does not only furnish the materials of accusation but it takes from the person accused the means of proving the falshood of the charges, however basely forged. Thus, on the late occasion, the Privy Council knew, the Attorney General knew, (at least they must have known, if they had read my papers, which after my house had been pillaged of them it was their duty to do) that the whole of the evidence of Taylor, and Edition: current; Page: [299] other persons brought forward on the trials, was entirely false. It was proved again and again that the persons accused were the very reverse of what they accused them of being; and I can assign no reason for witholding our papers and property, but the fear left we should be enabled to prove these circumstances.

But this is protecting liberty and property: This is preserving the constitution.—Such protection!

O, Citizens! would I could see that quiet, that tranquil, but that determined spirit of enquiry among you, that you would hear and see before you judged! that you would know the truth before you pronounced!—You could not then be deluded by such ridiculous pretences; you could not be made the dupes of such artifices as these.

But let me not lose again the tranquillity of my soul!—I was in hopes that the scene I had beheld, had entirely allayed those irritable feelings which youthful intemperance is but too apt to indulge, Let me not, when the sting of indignation and the consciousness of injury urges my temper—let me not inflame your minds with similar feelings!—I am to blame: I have spoken with more warmth than either the circumstances or the authors of my injuries are worthy of.—Let me turn to that picture of philosophy which I have beheld on board the transport which is to convey our beloved fellow-citizen to the solitary inhospitable region of Norfolk Island; where even the converse of those friends, sent before him, cannot soothe his melancholy hours. Let me keep before me the virtuous, the godlike fortitude, with which he bears his wrongs; and blush at the recollection that while he with unmoved philosophy bears to be wafted across the tempestuous ocean, into a long, lingering, disgraceful exile of fourteen years, I have suffered a little, paltry pillage, committed by paltry individuals, upon my labours and my little property, to hurry me into an intemperance so unworthy of the principle I would inculcate.

O Citizens! could you have been with me—could you have seen what I have seen, and heard what I have heard, how would you lament the degeneracy of Britain, that could suffer such a man as Gerrald, in such a cause, to be sent into exile, in execution of such a sentence!

I met, when I visited him, not the dejected countenance of an exile; but the chearfulness of a philosopher. The health which had been impaired by his close and rigorous confinement, was considerably renovated, by the salubrious breezes of the sea; and the cheerfulness and vivacity to which his Edition: current; Page: [300] genius gave so peculiar a charm, again animated his countenance. I shall not attempt to picture to you the whole of those feelings which nothing but friendship can conceive; and friendship only when it is kindled by such exalted talents, and more exalted virtues. But I cannot forget that he left me one bequest; which is not only mine; but is your’s also. It is a bequest to every friend of liberty. I had parted from him the third and last time that I went on board the vessel. I had come half down the ladder, by the side of the ship, that was to convey me into the little boat and take me back to Portsmouth; when, with some agitation of countenance, he called me back.—“My friend,” says he (the tear standing in his eye) “look to my little Girl: let her not be forgotten.”

I had intended to have mentioned her to him; but the heart full of innumerable sensations, all crowding forward at once, will often happen to forget the most important. I returned. I enquired of him what could be done for her; and offered her the protection of my house, so long as oppression should leave me one.—“No, no,” says he, “my friend; I hope that is not necessary. I believe that her situation is not, at present totally uncomfortable; but countenance her—countenance my little babe: she is the vital drop that warms my heart. It will be the balm of my soul to reflect that the friends of liberty have not deserted her.”

I would not then disgrace the manly scene before me with a tear: but now, it is no shame, it is no reproach to let them flow down my cheek, while I conjure you, whatever fate may fall upon me, whatever may be the lot of the few particular friends that were dear to his heart, forget not, Britons, forget not, during that long, long fourteen years of banishment, if fourteen years it is to be!) that Joseph Gerrald is in exile for his zeal in the cause of liberty; and that Joseph Gerrald has an infant Daughter, who may, perhaps, want a friend, and call upon the name of that country which he has served at the peril of his life, for that support which the Father can no longer yield.

Having finished this brief appeal, he turned cheerfully round; and “As for myself,” says he, “bear witness how impossible it is for the little malice of my persecutors to punish me. They may punish themselves by the attempt; but as for what they call suffering, to me it is triumph, and not disgrace.”

Such are the feelings and sentiments that animate the heart of the true patriot: and while such feelings and such sentiments remain, persecution may triumph for a while, but liberty must be ultimately successful.

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Continuation of the Narrative of the Proceedings of the Messengers, &c.

[Concluded from Number IX.]

In the early numbers of this work, I began my promised Narrative of the Proceedings of Government relative to the late prosecutions. It will not appear surprising, in the hurry and fatigue which must necessarily arise from preparing and delivering two Lectures a week, and correcting and superintending a weekly publication, that I should not have found time regularly to continue it. It appears, however, an act of duty to my readers not to close the volume without bringing this narrative to a conclusion. I proceed, therefore, in the same hasty manner in which, under my present circumstances, I am necessarily obliged to execute whatever I undertake, to perform this obligation.

The examinations being concluded for the day, I was conducted back to the house of the messenger, where I continued to be treated with that insulting mixture of affected kindness and jealous restriction, which might be expected from ignorant hypocrisy. The character of this man, however, I saw through in an instant, and one of the first requests I made to him was, that he would forbear to talk to me upon the politics of the day; as it was totally improper, in our situation, to enter upon any such subjects. To this he immediately assented, and at first pretended to be very desirous of avoiding every thing of that description, though it was every now and then conspicuous enough that he was laying snares to trepan me into imprudent expressions; and, during the three last days I remained with him, he took such particular and repeated pains to lead me, from whatever subject we talked upon, into the very topic, and the parts of that topic, which it was most my duty to avoid, that I could not but suspect that he had received particular instructions upon the subject; and I was frequently obliged to repel his questions by the most indignant reproach. Once in particular, he introduced Edition: current; Page: [302] a man to sup with us, whose face I never saw before, but whom I understood to be a serjeant in the Guards, whose business it was to sleep in the house for my better security. This was not of itself a circumstance which displeased me; for I have some faith in physiognomy, and when I looked in his face, I had no doubt, nor have I still any reason to doubt, that my new companion was an honest, though an ignorant man; and I never objected, even when at liberty to chuse my company, to the society of such a man, whatever might be his situation in life. On this evening, however, while the glass was circulating, Timms contrived to introduce the subject of the condition of the lower orders of society. This is a topic with respect to which my heart has always been warm; and from the art with which it was introduced, I am convinced that he had been tutored by persons better informed, as to my passions and feelings, than he had the opportunities or the penetration to be. Upon such a topic there appeared no danger in expatiating. I always have thought, and I never have disguised that opinion, that the poor are oppressed; that they are kept in brutal ignorance, for fear they should free themselves from oppression; and that there is a most wicked and scandalous disproportion between the encrease in the price of labour, and the price of the necessaries of life; and I made no scruple to assert this in pretty round terms. The wretch had watched his time. He saw that I was warm; and supposing me entirely off my guard, put some question to me about the purposed Convention, and the poor taking things into their own hands; or something of that kind—the terms of which I do not now remember. I remember, however, that it was a question of the most suspicious and improper description; and that I turned immediately towards him, and looking in his face with the utmost contempt and anger, asked him whether he was not ashamed to put such a question to a person in my situation!—I had several occasions to use this language to him.—Yet this wretch had the audacity to swear that I used to indulge myself, at his table, in very unguarded conversations; and that I told him, if I had been fourteen days longer at liberty, I should have had so many friends around me, that it would have been difficult for Government to apprehend me.

It is scarcely possible to conceive any thing more absurd and improbable than this story: yet as improbable stories are sometimes believed, because it appears equally improbable that they should be invented, it may not be amiss to shew out of Edition: current; Page: [303] what slender materials they may sometimes be composed. On the night of my apprehension, while I was yet waiting at the Secretary of State’s office, the gentlemen clerks, and others who were in attendance, pretended to condole with me upon my situation, which I (desirous of marking as strongly as I could my contempt for my oppressors) repelled, sometimes with jocularity, and sometimes with gay indifference; and among other things I remember to have said, that “I did not care much about it: though, to be sure, if I had been at liberty a fortnight longer, it would have made thirty or forty pounds difference to me; which, in my present circumstances, would have been of some importance.”—At another time, while Timms and myself were at dinner, he told me, that it had been intended to apprehend me in my Lecture Room. “I am glad you did not,” said I, gravely, “It might have been a dangerous experiment.” These were the only foundations for the ridiculous fabrications.

To remain in the power of a being of whom one has formed such an opinion as I had conceived of Timms, must be sufficiently tormenting; and it was rendered the more intolerable by the affected, canting, hypocritical civility, with which his tyranny was interlarded.

Let the reader picture to himself an ill-tempered, mean, and illiterate tyrant (the discarded valet of one of our nobility) deriving consequence from a house furnished with every article of ornamental luxury, and a table supplied with costly viands; yet as gloomy and restless as he was consequential; a bigot in religion, and a slave in principles;—let him imagine this being intrusted with sole and absolute dominion over a man whom he pretended to commiserate, but whom it was evident he both feared and hated; and to whom, in the struggle between malice and hypocrisy, he alternately made an ostentatious display of his kindness and indulgence; and of his power, if so disposed, to load him with chains, and fetter him to the floor, or the bed-post.—When the reader has pictured all these circumstances to his imagination, he may form some idea of the first stage of the mild and benevolent system of imprisonment for pretended Treason.

But this was not all. There was another circumstance relative to this close custody, which, if it had long continued, must have committed me to the still closer custody of the grave: that is to say, the total exclusion of circulating air. Excluded from all exercise by day, and shut up every night in a small room, whose only window was not only secured with Edition: current; Page: [304] shutters, bolts, bars, and bells, but also with a thick double curtain, which (in spite of my remonstrances) was constantly let down, and jammed close against the wall with a heavy table, so as to exclude every breath of air. I was thus literally parboiled in my own perspiration; and reduced, in the course of a week, to such a state of debility, that, but for my timely removal to the Tower, it would have been impossible that my health should have supported the assault.

Two days before my removal, Mr. Ford called upon me, and told me, in the presence of Timms, That, “as in seizing my papers, which were very numerous, the Messenger had taken not only those of a public but of a private nature; the latter should be restored to me without delay, and he would give me his honour that nobody had seen them but himself.” He then asked me, “Whether I would have them sent to my own house, or to the Messenger’s?”—I replied, it would be some satisfaction to me to see what was returned; and I, therefore, wished them to be sent to me. Upon which he shewed me his seal, and told me, “that I might have the satisfaction of knowing they came from him to me, without being subjected to the curiosity of other persons, that he would send them sealed up with that impression.” Yet when I enquired of the messenger, at night, how it came that my trunk had not arrived from Mr. Ford, he told me, with more insolent rudeness of tone and manner than he had ever before assumed, that it had been; and that he had sent it to my house, for that he would not have his room littered about with a parcel of papers. Whether, therefore, it was really returned as Mr. Ford sent it, or whatever impertinent curiosity might have examined its contents, I cannot say; but when I came, after my trial, to inspect the effects returned, I found that all my fair copies and complete manuscripts were missing; that none of my prints or similar articles, so scandalously taken away in the general pillage, had been returned; and that the whole of the effects, thus ostentatiously delivered back, consisted of some private letters, the notes of four or five of my lectures, a few domestic memorandums, and some blotted fragments and imperfect copies of my unpublished works. So that, in fact, every valuable article is still withheld; and I am yet to learn, whether any part of the plunder is to be restored.

After being six days tormented by the hypocritical politeness and jealous tyranny of this keeper, I was happily relieved, by Edition: current; Page: [305] being sent to the more tolerable confinement of the Tower; where, notwithstanding the jealous restrictions and insults to which we were at first subjected, I found my situation comparatively comfortable; for my room was large, airy and pleasant, and the warders, to whose custody we were committed, with only one or two exceptions, were civil and attentive, and discharged their duty in a manner that does them credit.

To this Bastille we were removed with the most jealous secrecy. And although my wife was present when the coach that was to take me away came to the door of the messenger, no sort of intimation was given to either of us, where I was going; nor could I get any information from my conductors, till the direction taken by the carriage let me into the secret.

To the Tower then we were committed; and the first information I received was, that I was neither to be permitted to send for my books, nor have the privilege of pen, ink, or paper. This intimation of a severity so monstrous and so unexpected, struck, for the first time, a momentary damp to my soul; for as I could not persuade myself that the Minister would have the impudence to try us for High Treason, I expected that our imprisonment would be long; and from the iron bars, massive door, and the centinel planted with fixed bayonet at the entrance of the room, I conjectured that it was to be solitary. The pang, however, was but momentary. A proud exultation in the cause I suffered for rushed upon my mind: I envied my fellow prisoners their share in the honour of such a persecution; and ambition mingling itself with my enthusiasm, I breathed a fruitless wish that I might have stood alone in a struggle so glorious, and so important. I recollected also, a conversation I had held several years before with a friend, of more facetiousness than delicacy, upon the subject of my youthful peculiarities, and in which, with a sort of prophetic flight of imagination, I had pictured myself as excluded in some dungeon; without either books or pen and ink, and asked what I should be likely to do with myself under such circumstances.—“Do with yourself!” replied my friend. “Why, you would dip your finger in your own excrements, and scribble poetry on the wall!”

The conceit at first provoked my risibility; but it led me into a train of reflection productive of sensations much more consolatory and important. A croud of expedients rushed upon my mind; a nail which I picked up in the room appeared Edition: current; Page: [306] to be a fund of inexhaustible amusement and utility; and I felt a deep conviction that there was no possible situation into which a man of active mind can be plunged in which he may not find means not only of improving himself, but eventually of benefiting his fellow beings: a conviction attended with sensations which the proudest of my persecutors might have envied.

It was not long, however, before I found that my confinement was not to be as solitary as I expected; for that the centinel, with his fixed bayonet, not being deemed a sufficient guard for so desperate a rebel, two armed men were, also, to be placed in my room night and day. I was informed, also, that perhaps, upon specific application to the Privy Council, I might, in time, be permitted to send for some of my books.

It happened, also, that the person in whose house, or tower, I was lodged, had formerly been a bookseller, and had some few articles of his former trade still in his possession; and of him I ventured to borrow some volumes of Shakespeare’s Plays: neither myself, nor the Warders who had the custody of me, supposing that any thing more was meant by the restriction, than that nothing was to be brought into the Tower which had not first been inspected by the Privy Council, or its agents: nor either of us ever suspecting that the safe custody of a traitor could be affected by his reading “Macbeth,” or “As you like it.”—But we were miserably mistaken. I was detected reading a play-book without permission of Government; the Warder was reprimanded, and the books ordered to be withdrawn; and it was near a fortnight before the repeated and spirited remonstrances of my wise could procure for me the indulgence (so it was called) of perusing any book whatever, or having the use of pen and ink.

But this was not all I had to complain of. The perpetual and insulting visits of the military were such as constantly to remind me that I existed no longer under what have been called the wise and humane laws of England, but that I was, in reality, submitted to all the jealous tyranny of a military government. I was visited almost every morning by the officers on duty in the garrison; some of whom were insolent boys of sixteen or eighteen, who, having no pretensions either to the dignity of the citizen, or the urbanity of the gentleman, aspired to consequence by the rudeness and haughtiness of their deportment. Three times a day I was also Edition: current; Page: [307] intruded upon by serjeants and corporals; and every two hours the centinels came bursting into my room, with their arms in their hands, without the least warning, staring in my face with the most insulting rudeness. And, to crown the whole, a serjeant of the Guards was appointed to attend, whenever my sister, my mother, or my wife, came to visit me, to be a spy upon our actions, and note our conversation.

The insolent deportment of this man was no small aggravation of the jealous tyranny with which we were guarded. Our friends were not permitted to see us, without orders from the Privy Council; and this favour, with respect to me, was only extended to my nearest relations, twice a week, and for only two hours at a time; and to have a surly fellow of this description seated close by our sides, listening to every word, and insolently rebuking myself, my sister, or my wife, if we did not speak as loud as he wished us, was a degree of aggravated despotism which no law has authorized, and to which no Briton ought to submit.—The spirited deportment of Citizen Martin, however, rid us, as I understand, of this military interference; the visits of officers and soldiers were laid aside, and the office of watching and listening was transferred to one of the warders, in the absence of the gentleman goaler. But though the person was changed, the vexatious jealousy was not to be laid aside, and even when my apothecary, the respected Mr. Wilson, procured an order to see me, partly on account of a temporary derangement of my own health, and partly to satisfy my mind as to the health of my wife, whom the fatigues and anxieties to which she was exposed had thrown into a situation of the utmost danger, not even he was exempted from the general restriction, (though medical men, even under the most barbarous despotisms, have always been regarded as privileged in this respect, and I was of course obliged to forbear many of those enquiries which, under such circumstances, it is natural I should be desirous to make; but which, however important to his peace, a husband will not be disposed to make in the hearing of a third person.

Such then were the circumstances, during our continuance in the Tower, of that treatment which Mr. Dundas says was no punishment, and of the lenity and indulgence of which Mr. Pitt thinks fit ostentatiously to boast.—For ten days or a fortnight I was debarred the use of books, pen, ink, and paper; Edition: current; Page: [308] for about seven or eight weeks I was never permitted to go out of my room for exercise, or for air; during the whole of that very hot weather which prevailed during a part of the last summer, my only alternative was to be closed incessantly within this apartment, or to snatch an occasional breath of air on the little leads, at the top of the round tower in which I was confined; and where the intense action of the sun, reflected from the metal, was such as with difficulty could be supported; and, as there were three of us, Hardy, Horne Tooke, and myself, who were alternately to enjoy the breezes on this funny height, no two of us being permitted to bask there at the same time, the intervals were short, during which we could partake even of this indulgence. At length a fresh order was obtained at the request, I understand, of some of the prisoners, but which was extended in its operation to all, further indulging us with permission to walk round the ramparts of the Tower, guarded each by his respective warder, who had the strictest injunctions not to suffer us to speak either to each other, or to any other person.

Before I quit the subject of the military, I ought to observe the very different manner in which they deported themselves, at the beginning, and towards the latter end, of our imprisonment. At first they seemed solicitous of every opportunity to insult us; and even carried the expression of their abhorrence so far as to level their musquets at us, when we appeared at our windows, and to maltreat every person who testified the least affection towards us:—a circumstance which surprized me not a little, till I heard from one of the warders that, among the infernal fabrications which had been so industriously circulated to inflame the public mind against us, a report had been very successfully propagated among the soldiers, that a part of our detestable conspiracy was a plan for surprising the Tower by night, marching immediately to the Irish barracks, where the soldiers were lodged, and massacreing them all in their beds. The eyes of the soldiery, however, as well as of the people in general, became opened, during our consinement, to the infamous artifices of our persecutors; and when, towards the latter end of our imprisonment, we were permitted to walk about the ramparts, they shewed us every mark of civility and attention, and even turned people out of the Tower who attempted to offer us any kind of insult.

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At length, after we had been kept five months in suspence, unable to conjecture, and those who best understood the laws of the country were least able to devise, what our persecutors could possibly intend to do with us, a special commission was made out to try us for High Treason, which was opened on the 2d of October with a speech from Chief Justice Sir James Eyre, which, for the new and extraordinary doctrines it contains, and the strain of plausible eloquence with which those doctrines were insinuated, will long be remembered by the lovers of English liberty:—A speech which, without any portion of Mr. Brothers’s prophetic spirit, I venture to foretell will at least be heard once more in a court of justice, to the great edification of the country in general, and of the bench and the bar in particular.

I shall not animadvert upon the indecent violation of what have hitherto been regarded as effential regulations with respect to the Grand Jury. This has already been better done than I could possibly do it, by Citizen Martin, in his very excellent pamphlet, “An Account of the Proceedings on a Charge of High Treason:”—a pamphlet which I would recommend to the perusal of every Citizen. Neither shall I make any comment upon the decency of lumping together, in one indictment for conspiracy, twelve persons, several of whom had never seen each other’s faces, nor heard each other’s names.—Suffice it to say, an indictment for High Treason was found, the whole charges contained in which were of so vague and desultory a nature, that they would not have justified a common Justice of the Peace, understanding the duties of his office and the laws of his country, to have granted a warrant for the apprehension of any individual. Yet the indictment had been drawn with special care, and the crown lawyers had made of their case all that could be made.—The plain fact is, that, though there are nine counts in this curious instrument, there is no one direct overt act charged in any one of them; and for this reason, that the prosecutors knew they had no overt act to charge, and therefore dwelt upon generals,—thinking perhaps, at the same time, that general charges (good sweeping clauses) were best calculated to establish a general system of Terror and Execution.

Of the indictment in which I was included, together with a list of between two and three hundred jurors, and two and three hundred witnesses, I was served with a copy on the 13th of October, ten days before the day of arraignment, and my Edition: current; Page: [310] counsel and sollicitor were then permitted to have free access; as was also my wife, the person in my family whom I pitched upon as best qualified (from her fortitude, as well as her affection) to be employed as my confidential agent in this trying situation.

Ten days preparation being allowed to us, by act of parliament, from the service of the copies to the day of arraignment, (exclusive of that day, and exclusive, also, of the intervening Sunday) we expected, of course, that those ten days would not be broken in upon by the prosecutors; and that we should not be moved till the morning on which we were to be arraigned, or at any rate till the evening preceding. But we were mistaken. At nine o’clock on the night of the 23d, when the gentleman goaler came to lock me up, I was informed that we were to be removed to Newgate at six o’clock the following morning. This was, to me, a very considerable inconvenience. My wife and myself had been writing all day, till seven or eight o’clock, when she departed; and I had still some instructions to prepare, which my solicitor deemed important, and which I was to have got ready against eight or nine o’clock the next morning, when she was to come for them, and assist me in writing other letters and instructions to persons who were expected to be useful in my defence. But it now became necessary for me to neglect every other consideration in the preparations for my departure; such as packing up my books, papers, and other effects; and when my faithful agent was on her way, punctual to her appointment in the morning, she had the mortification to meet the procession, and to see her husband conducted into the abode of felons and murderers, where she had a fresh routine of ceremonies and delays to go through before she could be admitted again to visit him.

Nor was this all. When I came to the coach that was to bring me from the Tower-gate, the Sheriff, Eamer, refused me permission to send for my books and papers, which I had packed up, but which I had nobody at my lodging to bring for me. Mr. Sheriff Burnet would fain have insisted upon that act of justice, but Eamer obstinately refused: the consequence of which, and of other delays resulting from this circumstance, was, that even on the day of arraignment my books and papers had not come to hand. And yet I am told that, during a late canvas for the vacant gown (some persons objecting the treatment of the state prisoners, and myself in Edition: current; Page: [311] particular) this gentleman, or some of his friends, chose to affirm that I had written a letter—to thank him for the particular kindness and attention which he had paid to me.

There was one circumstance, however, attendant upon this removal, which I own was highly gratifying: I mean the deportment of the populace, who, as our removal at that time was perfectly unexpected, were of course a mere promiscuous multitude, and might therefore be considered as representing pretty accurately the general feelings of the country with respect to us.

But, as this circumstance was faithfully detailed the next day in the Morning Post, I subjoin the account from that paper:——

Removal of the State Prisoners to Newgate,

“At ten o’clock on Thursday night, when the gentlemen gaoler came to lock up the prisoners in the Tower, they were informed (having had no prior intimation whatever) that at eight the next morning the Sheriffs would be at the gates of the Tower to receive them, and convey them to Newgate. Accordingly, within half an hour of that time, the Sheriffs arrived; and Horne Tooke, Kyd and Bonney, Joyce and Richter, Thelwall and Hardy, were conveyed in three coaches to their new place of destination, attended by a strong guard of constables.

Notwithstanding the great precaution of secrecy, the crowd, however, soon became very great; and the strongest animation of feeling and sympathy was visible in almost every spectator’s countenance. Some could not even suppress the expressions of their regard, or prevent the warmth of their hearts from becoming conspicuous, not only in their looks, but even then tongues. Much to their credit, however, whatever might be the feelings of the crowd, they kept them within the bounds (not of affected inanity, it is true, but) of the most perfect real decorum; which sufficiently shewed that the secrecy and precautions that had been observed were perfectly unnecessary, and that neither private affection nor popular attachment was likely to induce the Friends of Liberty to injure their cause so much, and perhaps the prisoners themselves, as to attempt to impede the course of public justice.—If the persons, whose trials are this day to begin, are guilty of conspiring to kill the King, and to introduce a scene of anarchy and massacre, those who have been hitherto deluded by them Edition: current; Page: [312] ought to have an opportunity of being convinced of the mistaken opinion they have hitherto been led to entertain concerning them; and we hope there is yet so much of the British character left, that no Jury can be selected that will pass upon them, without the fullest conviction of their guilt, in the full extent and real meaning of the charge. If they are innocent, it is good that they should have an opportunity of proving their innocence; since their virtue will be ten thousand times more glorious for the ordeal it has to pass through.

The prisoners retained all that chearful fortitude (or, as some of the venal scribblers in the Treasury prints have called it—criminal levity) which has uniformly characterized them during their confinement; appeared to talk with great gaiety to each other, and to the attendants in the coaches; and bowed and smiled with a gaiety, evidently unaffected, to those who saluted them from the streets and windows as they passed.

It was highly gratifying to those who venerate the real character of the British nation, to see the manner in which they parted from their former keepers at the Tower gate. The mutual expressions of cordiality proved, beyond a doubt, that however rigid (and we cannot help thinking some of them uselessly so) the restrictions may have been that Government thought necessary to lay them under, they have been attended with all the softening circumstances of civility, on the part of those who were entrusted with the immediate execution of those orders—a trait of character which, we hope, will long continue to mark every department of the executive power in this country.”

Whatever little comfort might have been enjoyed while we were in the Tower was now entirely gone: and our accommodations were such as would leave an eternal stain upon the humanity of the country, which subjected even the vilest and basest ruffians to so miserable and murderous a confinement. Richter was absolutely confined in one of the condemned cells, and I in the dead hole, or charnel-house—the common receptacle for the putrid carcases of felons who die of diseases in the jail.

At my first entrance into this place, I was struck at once with disgust and surprise. I had heard of cells and dungeons, and had pictured them to my imagination: but a place so vile, so filthy, and so abhorrent to all the feelings and senses of man, Edition: current; Page: [313] I never had beheld or conceived. There was a window, it is true, of six panes of glass at the top of the room, but there was a high wall about six feet beyond it, so that the portion of light was so small that there was but one spot in the room where I could see to read or write even in the middle of the day; and as this window would not open, and the door, on account of the situation, could never be left open, a breath of air (even such air as circulates within the walls of Newgate) was not to be had. The ceiling and the upper part of the walls had once been white-washed, but they were now nearly of a colour with the chimney; the lower part had also been wainscotted; but the greater part of the wood had perished from the dampness of the place; and, all on one side, the bare bricks grinned with a sort of sepulchral horror, that might have persuaded me (had I been inclined to indulge the terrors of imagination) that I was already dead and buried. There was indeed a tolerable bed in the corner, hung with old, filthy, tattered curtains of red and white check; but all the rest was one consistent association of the utmost wretchedness. In a dark corner stood a shattered deal table, under which my coals were thrown in a heap, and upon which my victuals were to be placed; and, to complete the whole, though the floor was of the colour of foot, and in many places clotted with old hereditary filth, standing up in hillocks sometimes thicker than my fist, it was nevertheless flooded with wet, under pretence of having just been washed.

That my feelings were shocked at the first view of this den of horrors, I cannot deny; but those principles which had enabled me hitherto to preserve, not only my serenity but my cheerfulness, did not desert me. The proud consciousness of suffering for truth and virtue rushed instantly again upon my soul, and I set myself down immediately to write a little sonnet “the cell,” which appeared the next morning in the “Post,” and is now, together with the other little scraps of poetry to which my situation gave birth, published in a separate pamphlet.

I had scarcely finished this little sketch, when the Sheriffs, &c. entered; and Mr. Sheriff Eamer began to make a thousand polite apologies for not being able to furnish us with better accommodations (every word of which I knew to be false); and thence proceeded to condole with me upon the circumstance of my confinement, and display his tender feelings, by assuring me how painful a thing it was see and Gentleman in such a situation. Of this civil insolence of Edition: current; Page: [314] triumph, which the tools of office, throughout every stage of the proceeding, shewed such a disposition to display, I shewed my contempt, as usual, by a chearful indifference, equally civil, but more sincere. I told Mr. Sheriff Eamer, that “very likely their uneasiness upon this subject might be greater than ours; that, for my own part, I was very careless about the place I was confined in, for that a man’s happiness must spring from his mind, not from the situation he breathed in; and that I had no doubt that it was all for the best.”

The voluble vivacity with which this was uttered, appeared to shock Mr. Sheriff Eamer very much. He lifted up his hands and eyes, and turned away, as though I had uttered blasphemy; and, as plain as eyes and gesticulations could speak, seemed to reprove the “criminal levity” of my deportment. The fact is, that nothing was so offensive to our persecutors, and their agents, as our chearfulness and gaiety. It was a contempt of their power and authority so marked and so impressive, that it was impossible for them patiently to endure it. This their low assassins of the quill (the scribblers in their diurnal prints) pretty openly confessed, by their scurrilous abuse. But their more exalted and more discrete agents revealed it in another manner:—they affected, indeed, to fear that our indecorum should hurt us in the public opinion; but their fears were evidently of another kind:—they could not but perceive, in this deportment, an omen of the downfall of that system of corruption they are so desirous to support: the plain and simple fact being, that when men suffering for their principles are so deeply grounded in the conviction of their truth and propriety, as to despise the utmost malice of their persecutors, and, by their chearfulness and fortitude, to display that conviction to the world, it is impossible that those principles should be beaten down. Tyranny and persecution may rage for a while; but, if the apostles of truth deport themselves with becoming firmness, the gibbet and the consuming fire can only assist the propagation of those opinions they were intended to exterminate.

But, whatever might be my own indifference about the place I was confined in, it will not be surprising that the feelings of my faithful scribe, when at length she obtained admission, should be considerably affected. In all former stages of this trying affair, whatever might have been her internal feelings, she had always appeared before me with a countenance of such chearfulness and fortitude as took from Edition: current; Page: [315] separation half its anxieties; but when she beheld me thrown like a dead dog into a hole so vile, the heart can better conceive than the pen describe, the sensations that must have been inspired:—sensations not likely to be alleviated by the alternate howling, swearing, and obscenity of the female convicts, when walking perpetually under my window, deprived me of the possibility of enjoying even one moment of tranquility and silence. This circumstance, and a conviction that the publication of facts is a sacred duty which every citizen owes to his country, determined me to remonstrate, on the day of arraignment, against the barbarity of our treatment in this particular; and it happened that most of the prisoners had determined to pursue the same conduct, as will be seen from the following quotations from the proceedings of that day, as reported in Ramsey’s edition of the State Trials, published by Symonds.—[In Gurney’s edition, the proceedings previous to the day of trial are totally omitted: an omission which, in justice to the public, it is hoped he will remedy by an appendix, as those proceedings are fraught with matter for important observation.]

After the proceedings on the arraignment were over, Citizen Bonney began as follows:

Mr. Bonney.

My lords, will your lordships allow me a few words before we quit the bar? I assure your lordships, that if I had been arraigned for any known and certain treason, for murder or for felony, I would ask no favour of your lordships; but when I stand before you upon a case in which (and I believe I have your Lordship’s opinion in my favour upon the subject) if the facts charged against us should be proved, there would be great doubt as to the law. In such a case I trust I make no improper request to your lordships, when I solicit that we may be allowed as many of the little comforts and conveniences of life (to which we have been accustomed,) as may be consistent with the security of our persons. Your lordships I am sure will agree with me that a situation in which a man can neither sleep by night, nor cast his eye upon a ray of comfort in the day, is not the best adapted for the necessary preparation of his mind for so important a trial as mine:—and yet, my lords, such is my situation. I beg not to be understood to intend the smallest insinuation against the sheriffs; their language and their countenances when they visited me yesterday in my cell, sufficiently convinced me of the concern they felt at not being able to afford me better accommodation. As it may be some days before my trial can come on, my request to your lordships is, that I may be remanded to the Edition: current; Page: [316] custody of the governor of the Tower, where I have been treated for two and twenty weeks with the greatest humanity and attention.

L. C. J. Eyre.

I doubt the court cannot say any thing to it. If it should turn out that your trial should be postponed to any considerable length of time, it will be necessary for you to make application elsewhere for indulgence.

Mr. Bonney.

My lord, I cannot ask Mr. Erskine or Mr. Gibbs to visit me in the situation in which I am.

L. C. J. Eyre.

I dare say the Sheriffs will do all they can for your accommodation; but, as to ordering you back to the Tower, I think it is not within the proper authority of this court. The application must be made elsewhere, if you wish that to be done.

Mr. Gibbs.

Mr. Bonney, I dare say you will have nothing to complain of.

Mr. Richter.

My lord, my case is precisely the same as Mr. Bonney’s. In that situation it will be impossible for me to think of requesting the visits of Messrs. Erskine and Gibbs, or indeed any persons who have been accustomed to the comforts of life.

L. C. J. Eyre.

I have no doubt but the Sheriffs will do every thing that it becomes them to do.

Mr. Thelwall.

My lord, in addition to the circumstances mentioned by the other prisoners, I will take the liberty to say a few words. The situation in which I am, though deplorable beyond any thing that ever before entered my imagination, should not be a subject of complaint with me, if I were alone concerned; but men, whose connections have been used to some of the decencies of life, have persons coming to see them, whose feelings may not be supported with that fortitude which the consciousness of persecuted innocence inspires in the breast of the individual. I should wish therefore that some general regulation be made, not only with respect to one or two individuals, but with respect to the whole; at least that we should be in some place where one mouthful of fresh air may be admitted in the course of the day, in order to prevent those pernicious effects which may be produced upon the health of persons who have been used to different accommodations; and that the few friends who may visit us may not have the anxiety and distress of mind, which they must necessarily feel, so cruelly aggravated by beholding the very wretched manner in which we are at present provided. For my own part, I would not notice this; but there are others whose feelings it is a duty to have some tenderness for, and Edition: current; Page: [317] who cannot be expected to possess that fortitude which I flatter myself the circumstances of my situation have enabled me to acquire.

Mr. Baxter.

I wish to state, that the circumstances complained of are not peculiar to two or three prisoners: they are general to all. I should therefore hope it will not be inconsistent with our situation, that we should be better accommodated; and that we might be permitted, at least, to walk in the open air two or three hours in the day.

Mr. Richter.

This was allowed us in the Tower during the whole day.

L. C. J. Eyre.

I can only repeat my recommendation to the Sheriffs, and the Sheriffs assurance that you shall receive as good accommodations as the place will afford you, and the nature of your situation will permit.”

Yet this assurance was so far from being followed up by any performance, with respect to any person but Citizen Bonney, who was removed to a small room on the State side, that we remained in our miserable dungeons, just the same as if no promise had been made. The Sheriffs, indeed, waited upon me, to let me know that, if I chose, he would turn some one of the persons confined for seditious practices out of his apartment into my dungeon, that I might be accommodated at his expence:—a mockery to which I could only reply, that “It did not square with my ideas of justice, to turn other men out of their accommodations that I might turn myself into them.”—The fact is, however, that this was not necessary; for the prisoners for sedition proposed of themselves a plan, by which three or four decent rooms on the State side might have been furnished for our accommodation: but to this proposal it was not thought fit to attend. The only indulgence, therefore, which we obtained, was permission to walk in the square yard of the State side: an indulgence which, for two or three days, we enjoyed pretty freely, till Timms and another messenger happened to pay us a visit, to enquire after our health; when, behold, the next day fresh orders came down to restrain this indulgence to two hours a day, under restrictions so vexatious, that it was hardly worth acceptance.

This confinement, which lasted better than four weeks, under circumstances totally excluding every requisite for health,—where dampness could only be repelled by an enormous fire,—where cleanliness was impossible, and light excluded,—where Edition: current; Page: [318] even the disgusting necessities of nature were obliged to be complied with in the same close hole in which I slept, sat, and eat my food,—and where the total want of atmospheric air was supplied by daily lustrations of vinegar,—brought upon me a complaint in my bowels of the most malignant complexion, of which I continue to feel the occasional effects even to this day.

At length Bonney procured a Habeas Corpus to remove him again to the Tower, and I took possession of the room which he left, and in which my beloved fellow-citizen, Gerrald, had been confined before his removal to the New Compter, and Citizen Muir previous to his departure for Botany Bay:—circumstances which induced me to reflect how much Genius and Virtue are frequently consigned, under the present system of coercion, to those dungeons which it is pretended are built for the punishment only of the most profligate and abandoned of the human race.

Will it not appear extraordinary, after the recital of these facts, that any member of the Government should have the assurance to boast of the humanity and kindness with which we were treated. Yet that this boast has been made in the most public manner appears from the debates of that assembly generally called the House of Commons, in which Mr. Pitt is reported to have affirmed that the confession of the prisoners themselves bore testimony to the humanity and kindness with which they had been treated: a falshood so unqualified as few men but Mr. Pitt could have uttered without a blush.

Having, after all this oppression and injustice, been acquitted of the ridiculous charge of High Treason, I imagined of course that the property seized in my house, under false pretences, by the agents of my prosecutors, would be returned. How far this expectation has been realized, will appear from the following

John Thelwall
Thelwall, John
12th Dec. 1794
Mr. White
Mr. White

Correspondence with the Privy Council, &c.


I Hereby desire you to restore to me the books, papers, collections of prints, and other property, taken out of my house, by his Majesty’s Messengers, on the night of Tuesday the 13th, and morning of Wednesday the 14th of May last.

I am, Sir,
To Mr. White,
Solicitor for
the Treasury. }
Edition: current; Page: [319]

To this I received no answer. I, therefore, on the 17th, sent a second demand; having been informed, in the interval, that Mr. Ford had declared that Mr. White had orders to return my papers upon my sending for them.

John Thelwall
Thelwall, John
17th Dec. 1794
Mr. White
Mr. White

Copy of a letter left at Mr. White’s office, on the 17th Dec. at six o’clock in the evening, by J. P*****.


I Hereby desire you (once more) to restore to me the books, papers, collections of prints, and other property, taken out of my house by his Majesty’s Messengers, on the night of Tuesday the 13th, and morning of Wednesday the 14th of May last. The decision of a Jury of my Country entitles me, I conceive, to the full restoration of all my property; and the injustice of withholding it appears the more flagrant, as many articles (and, among the rest, three volumes of copper-plates, some printed books of considerable value, and manuscripts, the labour of years) were seized and detained, which could never have been supposed, for a moment, to have any connection with the alledged Conspiracy.

To Mr. White, Solicitor for the Treasury.

To this, however, in spite of repeated applications, I could get no answer. I therefore wrote, in the next instance, to Mr. Ford.

John Thelwall
Thelwall, John
Feb. 2, 1795
Richd Ford
Ford, Richd

Copy. To—Ford, Esq. Secretary of State’s office, 2d Feb. 1795.


I Take the liberty of requesting that you will inform the bearer by what means I can procure the restoration of my papers, printed books, collections of prints, and other property, taken out of my house, by his Majesty’s Messengers in May last.

I should not have given you the trouble of this application, if I had not twice applied to Mr. White without being able to procure any answer.

To—Ford, Esq.
Secretary of State’s office, Whitehall. }

(A true copy.—J. K.)

Edition: current; Page: [320]
Richd Ford
Ford, Richd
Feb. 3, 1795
John Thelwall
Thelwall, John

IN answer to your Letter of the 2d inst. in which you desire to know by what means you can procure the Restoration of your Papers, and other articles, which were in May last taken by his Majesty’s Messengers, I am to acquaint you that every application for that purpose must be made to the Lords of the Privy Council. I am, Sir,

Your obedient servant, &c.
J. Thelwall, Esq.
Beaufort Buildings. }

In consequence of this intimation, I applied to the Privy Council accordingly.

John Thelwall
Thelwall, John
Feb. 7th 1795

J. THELWALL takes the liberty of applying to the Lords of his Majesty’s most honourable Privy Council for the restoration of his books, papers, collections of copper-plates, and other property, taken from his house by his Majesty’s Messengers, on the night of the 12th and morning of the 13th of May last.

To the Lords of his Majesty’s
most honourable
Privy Council. }


Saturday, Feb. 7, 1795.—WENT to the Privy Council with a letter from J. Thelwall, requesting his books, papers, and copper-plate prints.

J. K.

Monday, 9th.—Called for an answer, and was informed that the opinion of the Attorney-General was wanted upon one point, and that they supposed that might be attained, and the books, &c. returned by that day week.

J. K.

Monday, 16th.—Called at the Privy Council.—Was informed that the two Messengers who seized Mr. Thelwall’s books, &c. were gone abroad, and that the Privy Council did not know which books, papers, &c. belonged to Mr. Thelwall, as they had more beside his.

J. K.

Wednesday, April 1st.—Called at the Privy Council.—Was informed that the books, papers, &c. were not yet sent there, nor any orders respecting them.

J. K.

That they did not know which books, papers, &c. belonged to me, and which to any other of the persons arrested, I readily believe: and indeed it is totally impossible, from the manner in which they were seized, that either they, the Messengers Edition: current; Page: [321] who seized them, or any other person, should have known with any tolerable accuracy. And hence, perhaps, rather than from actual intention, we may account for the perjuries of the Messenger, who, upon my trial, swore to have found upon the person of Richter a letter, which never was out of my possession, and which another Messenger must have found in my study, between the leaves of Johnson’s folio Dictionary, and to have found upon my person another letter (the direction torn off) which I never saw, and from a person I never heard of. With respect to the first of these papers, however, there is one very suspicious circumstance which ought to be noticed: namely that, as this was an unsent, and even unfinished letter—and as it was neither written in promotion of, nor in relation to any alledged conspiracy, it is notorious that it was not admissible evidence. The circumstance, therefore, of the Messenger supposing it was found upon the person of Richter was a lucky mistake, as this was a proof of publication; and as, therefore, without some such mistake, this letter (upon which, and particularly upon the avowal of my republicanism which it contains, it is evident that all the hopes of my prosecutors were built) could not even have been read upon the trial.

These circumstances, relative to the seizure of papers, if the present inquisitorial system is to go on, are of the highest importance to the lives and liberties of Englishmen; and as the perjury, with relation to the letter to Allum (had it been, in reality, any evidence of treason) would have equally implicated Richter and myself, I, therefore, subjoin the following correspondence, in further illustration of the scandalous injustice and negligence, to say no worse of it, with which every thing dear to man and to society is put to hazard by the agents of the present cabinet.

John Thelwall
Thelwall, John
7th June, 1795
J. Richter
Richter, J.
Dear Citizen,

HAVING heard you mention some curious particulars, that fell under your observation, relative to the conduct of the Messengers, as to the papers, &c. seized by them, and their neglect of all precaution as to the means of ascertaining them, I will be much obliged to you if you will communicate them to me, without delay, in writing, as I am at this time publishing an account of my Correspondence with the Privy Council upon this subject, and as they will equally illustrate some gross perjuries of the Messenger, upon my trial; and a curious Edition: current; Page: [322] confession of our prosecutors, that they have no means of knowing the books and papers of one person from those of another. I am, in civic affection,

To Citizen J. Richter.
J. Richter
Richter, J.
7th June, 1795
John Thelwall
Thelwall, John

Citizen J. Thelwall, Beaufort Buildings, Strand.

Dear Citizen,

I Have just received your letter of this day, and take the first opportunity to answer it. I must first mention that I have been this morning employing myself in writing a letter to the Privy Council, in order to obtain a restoration of the property of which I have been deprived by their authority, (though, from the account in your letter, I fear some other means must be resorted to for that purpose) and then proceed to state the circumstances of the seizure of my papers, &c. as well as the precautions which the Messenger and his assistant thought proper to take to identify them.

After I had been shewn the warrant, they both employed themselves, at the same time, in different parts of my room, in seizing written and printed papers, and books of all descriptions, which they then threw together, indiscriminately, into one heap, without any mark to ascertain by whom they were taken, or in whose possession they were found. Nor was any account whatever taken of them; nor would Timms suffer a friend of mine to be in the room at the time.

On observing this, I asked Timms, “If he would not mark them.” He replied, “No not now: I shall give them to Mr. Ford to examine first, and shall then mark such as he desires me to identify.”—Here I could not help reflecting on the very unaccountable negligence which was shewn as to the identity of papers, which were to form the support, if not to lay the foundation of a charge of the highest criminal nature known to the law, and by which the fortune, life, and honour, of the individual were to be destroyed. And though I did not think fit to pursue the subject any further at that time, I determined to watch narrowly the steps which were to be taken respecting them.—They were then tied up in silk handkerchiefs, and taken with me to the Treasury Chambers, in a room leading to Mr. Pollock’s office. Shortly after this, Timms left the room, and Kennedy, his assistant, soon followed him; leaving the papers behind them in the room with me: some other persons being Edition: current; Page: [323] casually present. They soon returned, and Timms took the papers away with him, leaving Kennedy with me. In less than five minutes, however, he came back without the papers; I immediately asked, “If he had marked them?” He answered, “No, not yet, Mr. Ford is now looking them over.”

Shortly after this, I was taken into another room, where I was left with Kennedy alone for the greater part of the morning; and, in about two hours, Mr. Ford, with Timms, came in. The former returned me some of my papers, which I now have, and which have no mark whatever upon them; and the latter had my port-folio, containing letters from some of my friends, with copies of my answers; and also a small red leather book, containing an account of the conduct of a Committee of the Society*, which he informed me were to remain in his possession, as he had marked them. These, however, together with those which had been returned to me, did not amount to one half the quantity they had taken from me: and, indeed, Mr. Ford told me, while I was in the Council Chamber, that there were a good many others which were intended to be returned to me, as soon as he could look them out; but although, during our confinement, I applied several times for them, I never received them.

I need not make any observations on the presumption of a man’s attempting to verify, by his oath, the identity of papers which were to bring to hazard the life, fame, and fortune of a fellow creature, which were not only not seized by himself, Kennedy having taken part, but on which he made no mark whatever at the time, and before he took any measures whatever, by which he might ascertain them, suffered them to be overhauled by a third person, out of his presence, for at least an hour and a half.

Every unprejudiced man will draw his own conclusion from the facts, as I have stated them, and will be able to account for the extraordinary testimony given by Timms,that your letter to Allum was found by him in my pocket;” which, however, it is scarcely necessary to tell you, I never saw or heard of till I had an account of his evidence.—But an obstinate, if not a criminal, persisting in his own statements, will never surprize those who have remarked that consequential Edition: current; Page: [324] arrogance which appeared to me, during the shor period I had occasion to know him, to be the most prominent feature in his character.

As I believe I have omitted nothing in this statement, and am conscious of having added nothing to the truth, you are at perfect liberty to make that use of it which you may deem the most proper.

I remain
Your sincere friend and fellow-citizen,

Having illustrated this honourable confession of his Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, I resume the thread of my Correspondence.

John Thelwall
Thelwall, John
April 6, 1795

To the Lords of his Majesty’s most honourable Privy Council.

WHEN I last applied to your Lordships, relative to the restoration of my papers, books, collections of prints, and other property taken from my house, under colour of the authority of a warrant from the Secretary of State, on the evening of the 12th, and morning of the 13th of May last, I received for answer, after many delays, if your answer was correctly reported, that the Messengers who seized these effects being out of the country, it was impossible to know my papers from those of any other person. Understanding, through the medium of the public prints, that both the Messengers are now returned I therefore renew my application, and cannot but recal to the memory of your Lordships the situation in which the liberty and property of the people of Britain are placed if, after a man having been arrested and kept seven months in close confinement, upon an unjust suspicion, has been pronounced innocent by his country, and, after the Judges from the bench shall have declared, (as the Chief Baron Macdonald did to me declare) That he has “been acquitted in the most reputable of all manners, by the verdict of an attentive Jury,” he is not only to be branded by members of the government as “a felon,” and a person stained with “moral guilt,” but his property (the larger part of which the warrant itself did not authorize the seizure of) is to be with-held from him, as a punishment for not having been guilty of the crime he was charged withal.—I cannot but add that it is a debt your Lordships owe both to justice and your own regulations, to shew that you do not connive at the almost indiscriminate plunder which, under colour of the authority of government, has been committed upon my premises.

(signed) J. THELWALL.
Edition: current; Page: [325]

To this remonstrance, after repeated applications, Kennedy at last brought me an answer, that “Mr. White had orders to select, and return, my papers; and that I must apply to him. I therefore wrote as follows:

John Thelwall
Thelwall, John
23d April, 1795
Mr. White
Mr. White

IN consequence of my applications to the Privy Council, I am instructed to apply to you for the restoration of my books, papers, collections of prints, and other property, taken from my house by his Majesty’s Messengers, and others, under colour of the authority of a warrant from the Secretary of State, on the night of the 12th and morning of the 13th of May last. I therefore desire you to deliver the said articles to the bearer.

To Mr. White,
Solicitor for the Treasury.
J. Kennedy
Kennedy, J.
25th April, 1795


THIS day called on Mr. White, Solicitor for the Treasury, No. 6, New-square, Lincoln’s Inn, and delivered into his own hands a letter (signed J. Thelwall) requesting the restoration of the books, papers, copper-plate prints, &c. which had been taken out of Mr. Thelwall’s premises by the King’s messengers, &c. and that they might be delivered to me.

On reading the letter, he threw it down, and in a surly manner asked me, What I meant by bringing him this letter?—I answered, The letter explains itself: I was desired by the Privy Council to apply to you for Mr. Thelwall’s property, and it is in consequence of their orders that this application is made.

He replied, “Well, Sir, you may tell Mr. Thelwall that I have nothing belonging to him!”

John Thelwall
Thelwall, John
18 May, 1795

To the Lords of his Majesty’s most honourable Privy Council.

I Trouble your lordships once more upon the subject of my property taken from my house on the 13th of May, 1794, under colour of a warrant from Mr. Secretary Dundas, and never yet restored, although the verdict of my country entitles Edition: current; Page: [326] me to the restoration of the whole; and a considerable part was of that description which there could be no pretence, whatever, for seizing.

I am to inform your lordships, that, in consequence of the answer I received to my last communication with you upon this subject, I wrote to Mr. White, the Solicitor for the Treasury, stating that I was instructed by your lordships to apply to him for the restoration of my books, papers, collections of prints, &c. but that, instead of having proper attention paid to my demand, my messenger was treated with great rudeness, and dismissed with the following answer:—“Well, sir, you may tell Mr, Thelwall that I have nothing belonging to him.”

This was on the 25th ultimo; and since that time I have had no further information, whatever, concerning any part of my effects, nor any thing that indicates the least intention to return them. I request your lordships, therefore, to satisfy me upon this subject,—Whether I am to consider myself as having any right to my own property, or any expectation of its being restored to me? or, Whether my books are to furnish the libraries, and my prints to decorate the apartments, of the Messengers and Bow-street Runners, and my family to be deprived of all advantage which might result from the disposal of my former labours?


To this letter I have not been able to obtain any official answer whatever; nor has any part of the stolen property been restored to me, nor, as I understand, to any one of the injured parties. Yet none of the “Associations for the Preservation of Liberty and Property” have stood forward, to offer us their assistance towards bringing the plunderers to justice.

☞ The length to which the Narrative and Correspondence has extended, and the applications made to the Lecturer to print the Farewell Address with which the Season was concluded, renders it necessary to publish an Appendix on Saturday next, with which will be given Title, Preface, &c and No. III. of the Political Songs.

Edition: current; Page: [327]

The manner in which some of the publications of the Lecturer have lately passed the ordeal of criticism, and the extensive circulation of this work, induce him to subjoin the following extracts.

THE PERIPATETIC; or Sketches of the Heart, of Nature, and Society, 3 vols. 12mo. 9s. 1793.

“The author of these volumes is Mr. John Thelwall, who has lately been honourably acquitted by his country on a trial for high treason. This work was published, as appears from the date, before his imprisonment. In political character, as the reader will be prepared to expect, it breathes an ardent spirit of freedom; boldly asserting the rights of man, and condemning the incroachments upon these rights, committed by those who have either assumed, or been entrusted with power. The author feels strongly on subjects of political oppression; and writes like an honest friend to his species. The peripatetic, however, is something more than a politician. By far the greater part of the work is addressed to the imagination, or the heart: and either describes the different parts of England through which our traveller passes, and the characters with which he meets; or expresses the sentiments and reflections, which may naturally be supposed to occur in the course of his tour. A story, by no means uninteresting, is at several intervals interwoven with the other papers; and the whole is enlivened and diversified with pieces of poetry on various topics. The author’s design appears to have been to unite the different advantages of the novel, the sentimental journal, and the miscellaneous collection of essays and poetical effusions. The character of the language is rather that of ease than elegance. It approaches nearer to the familiarity of Sterne, than to the dignity of Johnson; but is not properly an imitation of any former writer.

It is, however, on the whole pleasing, and very naturally and forcibly expresses the writer’s ideas and sentiments.”

After a quotation of several pages, the Reviewer proceeds:

“Mr. Thelwall possesses a happy vein of satire, and nearly resembles Churchill in the easy flows of his satirical verses. We shall quote a few pointed lines in this way, from an address to the Genius of modern Britain. Vol. III. p. 53.

  • ‘—Not thou who taught mellifluous Pope to sing,
  • Plum’d Shakespeare’s, Milton’s, Dryden’s daring wing,
  • Edition: current; Page: [328]
  • Ere whining Pratt, the pink of Common Place,
  • Pour’d forth long nothings with so soft a grace,
  • Made Sentiment so languishingly creep
  • To the charm’d Heart, as charm’d it quite to sleep;
  • Made Sympathy through two long cantos shine,
  • Without assistance from one feeling line,
  • And fair Humanityso soft—so sweet
  • Drawl through dull pages to the hundredth sheet;
  • Drew meek Morality with such a grace,
  • With such a simpering, lack-a-daisey face,
  • Such water-gruel sweetness, one would swear
  • She “suckled fools, and chronicled small beer.”

POEMS written in close confinement in the Tower and Newgate, &c.

“These poems are, as the author himself characterises them, and as the reader will naturally expect from an ardent friend to freedom in such a situation, as that of Mr. Thelwall at the time when they were written, rather transcripts of the heart than flights of imagination; rather adapted to rouze the patriotic feelings, than to amuse the admirer of poetic enthusiasm. They are by no means destitute of the graces of poetic imagery, and harmonious versification; but their chief merit consists in the honest spirit of liberty which inspires them, and in the noble example which they exhibit of the manly fortitude with which a patriotic mind can support unmerited sufferings. The poems are sentimental, but not in the hacknied sense of the term. In Mr. Thelwall’s own words:

Preface, p. iii.—“They who look for the sighs of personal regret, and the elegiac tenderness of complaint, will certainly be disappointed. The pathetic Ovid might lament his banishment from the country of his mistress and the social circle of his friends; but the patriot, immured in the walls of a Bastille, is called upon, by important duties, to repel every enervating sensation, and cultivate those habits of reflection only which may increase the energy of his mind, and enable him to render his sufferings ultimately beneficial to mankind. And if he feels as he ought, whatever affections or attachments may be incidental to him, one preponderating idea will be constantly present to his imagination,—the sacred cause for which he suffers.

See also Montly Rev. March.

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The Address of J. THELWALL to the AUDIENCE at closing his LECTURES for the Season.

Having finished the general sketch or outline of the history of Apostacy; and in that hasty and imperfect manner which the pressure of time, and the copiousness of the subject would admit, glanced at some of the innumerable characters whose biography that history would include, I hasten to another part of my subject, which the particular circumstances under which I stand this evening have occasioned to press more immediately upon my heart.

This, Citizens, is the last time I shall have the pleasure of meeting you in this place, for the present season. I am going awhile into privacy and retirement; and you will, many of you, ere long, be seeking for health and recreation in other scenes. Let us, then, before we part, have a few words relative to the nature of this undertaking, the objects to which I wish to draw your attention, and the means which I conceive the friends of liberty ought to adopt for the promotion of that cause of general happiness and general virtue, which must always go hand in hand, and which alone I hope will ever continue to be the actuating motive of the conduct, and enquiries of the Friends of Liberty.

In the first place let me say a few words upon the reasons of this adjournment.

The thronged attendance upon this and the recent evenings will convince those persons (however unwilling to be convinced) who have hitherto employed themselves in invective and abuse against every individual, however humble, who has attempted to support the cause of liberty, that I do not close these Lectures because my venom, as it has been called, is exhausted, and public curiosity no longer awake to my efforts. But there are various reasons why my present exertions should not be continued without intermission.

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It is neither good for your health nor for mine, that during the whole of that hot weather, which we must now expect, we should so frequently be cooped up within the walls of this place. I feel also the necessity of some retirement. I pant for the long lost pleasures of the rural scene, for the vigour produced by rustic exercise, for the cottage, the thicket, and the rill, and the healthful inspiration of the vernal breeze; nor will the man who has been so incessantly before the public as I have been, be suspected of misanthropy when he confesses that he hungers and thirsts after solitude and obscurity.

Since the time when I escaped, by the virtue of a British jury, from the charnel-house of Newgate, I have never had any opportunity of enjoying that relaxation which was necessary for the restoration of my health. And when you consider the infamous manner in which I was used when in Newgate—crammed in a hole where one breath of air wholesome could never gain admittance, and where the only substitute was a daily sprinkling of vinegar; when you consider that for several weeks I was thus immured, and debarred all possible resources of exercise and cleanliness, you will not be surprized to find that I have not recovered from the injuries my health sustained in that noxious dungeon.

I think it necessary therefore to seek, for awhile, the shades of retirement; which though they may appear, for the time, to draw me from the path of public duty, are perhaps necessary in more points of view than one, to fit me for the pursuit of that duty with more vigor and more effect. For health is not all I expect from this retirement: I feel that there is a necessity for the man who stands forward in so public, permit me to say so important a situation, to investigate political subjects that may involve the opinions, and consequently the peace and happiness of thousands, to retire occasionally from the busy haunts of life to that retirement where lonely, deep, and serious meditation may eradicate the views perhaps inherent in his nature, and confirm him in those great truths, which before he can propagate with propriety he must thoroughly understand.

It is from my deep conviction of the necessity of these occasional relaxations of busy and popular exertion, that I have frequently been led to consider, that one of the most fortunate and happy circumstances of my life—because I believe it was a circumstance which will assist towards my future utility to my fellow beings, was the confinement I experienced in the Tower and Newgate.

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No kindness it is true was intended. But if the mind has received a proper bias, it will extract utility even from the persecution and malice of the bitterest enemies.

That which was intended to bow down my spirit to servility and terror, and finally my neck to the stroke of the Executioner, gave me an opportunity to cultivate that firmness and strength of mind which can never be cultivated but in some degree of solitude and retirement. I had an opportunity of investigating, with more seriosness and abstraction than I could ever before have the means of indulging, many of the sentiments which in the warmth of youth I had adopted, perhaps, without a sufficient degree of enquiry. I used this opportunity in a manner, perhaps, which few would have expected, and certainly which my persecutors would not have wished. I struck with greater boldness into many of the new and dreaded fields of enquiry; and the effects were widely different from what the common speculations of mankind would lead them to expect.

I had an opportunity of confirming myself in certain abstract principles: Principles which I believe I shall continue to venerate as the most dear and excellent things to which the human heart can be attached—because those principles, properly applied to the condition and circumstances of society; are the only guides to permanent virtue, and consequently to the permanent happiness of the human race.

I had there an opportunity of confirming myself in many of those opinions which I had before adopted, and upon which I had acted with an enthusiasm of conviction which had drawn down upon my head the hatred of the interested and the persecution of the powerful.

I had an opportunity, also, of detecting some erroneous passions and emotions which had sometimes perhaps perverted my feelings, and which tho’ they had never seduced me into the approbation of violence, had mixed perhaps too much of asperity and personal resentment, where all ought to have been philosophy and benevolent enquiry.

I feel therefore the importance and necessity of frequently recurring to retirement and meditation; that I may not be blindly impelling you to principles and modes of conduct the justice of which I have not duly weighed; and that you may find this place, as far as my capacities will enable me to make it so, a theatre of instruction; not a theatre of mischievous inflammation; and that truth not irrational heat and Edition: current; Page: [332] pell mell violence, may be the consequence of your attendance round this Tribune.

The meditations which led me to consolidate my opinions upon matters of politics, have also had an influence upon a part of my conduct, which it was always my intention to explain, and which I think I cannot better explain than in this public manner: namely, that which some persons may be inclined to consider as apostacy in me—my withdrawing myself from the popular societies.

Citizens, one of the first reflections that suggested itself to my mind from the late trials, and which was also confirmed by the judgment of all those on whose opinions I could rely, was this—that it was necessary to make my choice between two objects—the Tribune, and political Associations.

When we consider the arts and machinations that were made use of to connect together upon the late trials, circumstances which had in reality no sort of connection whatever—that they endeavoured to hang Hardy for sentiments which I was charged with delivering, in my lectures and private correspondence, and to hang me for the transactions of Hardy at a time when I had no sort of connection with him or his society, it appeared to be important, both to my own safety and that of others, that I should give no crown lawyers an opportunity of involving, by legal sophistry, any political Association in the guilt, if guilt it may be called, of the sentiments that may be delivered from this place: I and could not be ignorant that the more popular my exertions in the public cause might happen to make me—the more desirous those, who wish to suppress all truth and chain the public mind in ignorance would be for my destruction.

I know that standing here, unconnected with any projects or associations, and adhering to the cause of truth, I stand upon a rock which they cannot shake; and that all their attempts against it must only render it the more firm. The laws of my country are clearly and decidedly in my favor; and honest juries shew an enlightened determination not to be misled by the sophistry of crown lawyers, nor the inflammatory abuse of treasury scribblers and the garbled Reports of interested alarmists. They will not violate those laws which they are impannelled to defend, to court the favour or shun the defamatory insults of a minister.

I balanced therefore between the two pursuits. I found a necessity either of relinquishing the popular societies, or of Edition: current; Page: [333] relinquishing this Tribune; and, upon serious examination, I thought I perceived that my individual exertions could be more important to the cause of liberty in this place than in any society whatever.

I therefore quitted the societies, not from any desertion of the cause, not from any change of principle, not from any opinion that political societies are dishonourable or unlawful.—I am convinced they are legal. I am convinced they are just; I am convinced that they are important; and that in many postures of society they are the only things that can save a nation from inevitable slavery and destruction. But considering the necessity of putting a period to all their pretences for making ridiculous charges of High Treason, and conspiracy, and hashing up mock traitors, by the dozen in a dish, some of whom, as in the late cases, had never seen each others faces or heard of each other before, I found it necessary to cut the thread of connection between the Tribune and the popular Associations. I therefore withdrew myself from them, and chose this as my only field of exertion in the cause of liberty: convinced that a bold, decided, and active mind, determined to pursue the cause of virtue (and by virtue I mean the happiness and welfare of the human race) a mind trusting only to itself, and independent of the humours and sentiments of others, may in some circumstances of society, do more service to the cause of liberty and justice, than can possibly be done by the same individual, when mixed with other persons whose wayward passions may sometimes thwart his activity, and by whose imprudences he may perhaps, by means of such complicated charges as have lately been brought forward, be sacrificed at the sanguinary altar of ministerial ambition.

I will honestly confess to you, Citizens, that there is also another motive which has had some influence in determining my choice: for I ought to have no motive which I am ashamed to state to the public. If it is an honest motive, I despise the ridicule which dishonest knaves may throw upon it. If it is an improper motive, let it be known, that its impropriety may be detected; and that I may be benefited by the animadversions of my fellow citizens.

I have a family to support; a family that perhaps may be growing continually upon me: one that I believe would have been larger by two individuals at this time, if the cruel persecutions of the present Administration had not bowed down an aged Edition: current; Page: [334] mother to her grave, and murdered the infant struggling in the womb.

It was necessary then for me either to abandon, in a considerable degree, the public cause, or to seek some way by which my personal interests could be united to the interest of the public. Such an union I believe is not dishonourable; and if I know my own heart (which I will not be too sure that I do—for it is certainly frequently too true “that the heart is deceitful to itself above all things”—but if I know my own heart, there is no motive can compel me to sacrifice the general to the particular feeling.

Abiding by that determination—and when I do not abide by it I shall no longer have your countenance, I shall no longer have the cheering reward of your approbation—but abiding by that principle I do not feel myself at all disgraced by acknowledging that this theatre of investigation is the source of my subsistence, and of the subsistence of that family which is dependent upon me. It is a subsistence however that appears to me the most glorious independence. It is the unsolicited price of the free exertions of my intellect. It is perfectly voluntary on your part. It is neither extorted from your charity, by supplicating importunities, demanded by the imperious voice of the tax gatherer, nor extorted by litigious collectors of oppressive tythes. No man is obliged to hire me to propagate what he does not approve, nor to pay me for forging the fetters he must wear; neither do I let myself out for hire to maintain all sides of all questions, and determine the weight of argument by the weight of fee. Whatever advantage I receive, is an advantage of the fairest reciprocity. It is a voluntary exchange of your countenance, and your rewards for the exertions which I make; and for your opinion of my integrity and zeal in your service; and tho’ it is impossible that periodical efforts should be uniformly successful, the growing popularity and thronged attendance of these rooms forbid me to suspect that my labours have generally failed of bestowing satisfaction.

Such a compact then—such a reciprocation; I believe to be the most honorable means and the most independent, by which an individual can hope to reap a livelihood by the exertion of his faculties.

I feel however the danger of my situation;—I am conscious of moral mischiefs, to my own mind in particular, which are too likely to grow up from the situation. I hope I occupy Edition: current; Page: [335] I shall keep these dangers constantly before my eyes, that I may avoid splitting the bark of my independence, and endangering the shipwreck of that which is the dearest treasure I have, my moral rectitude, upon those rocks of delusion, interest, and passion, which may unfortunately obstruct my course.

I am aware that in a situation like this, the mind is sometimes apt to become inflamed, to lose sight of principles, and dwell too much upon personalities;—to suffer passion to snatch the reins from reason and to foster prejudice and resentment when truth and justice ought to be the only objects.

I hope, whatever there may have been of that conduct this season, will be corrected in retirement before the next. I trust there is less of it this season than in that which preceded; and I trust also, that there will be still less when we meet again. “Else why live I an age of civilization, if I am not to reflect upon the errors of my own conduct and feelings as well as those of others; and by that means endeavour to attain to virtue, wisdom and utility?”

I feel also the danger and the temptation of being carried by the tide of popularity from the direct course of independent principle. But I feel at the same time a settled conviction, that I ought rather to court your hisses than your applause, when that applause is only to be obtained by following, instead of directing the current of opinion; by courting your approbation, instead of first looking to the approbation of my own heart, and propagating any opinion but that which I am convinced from my soul is the opinion of truth and virtue.

To fortify myself in these convictions, I retire awhile into obscurity. Ere I go, however, let me recommend to you to investigate with the most scrupulous exactness every opinion and sentiment you have heard, either from my lips or the lips of any other individual.

Remember—no man can deserve implicit confidence from himself, much less from a numerous auditory. Remember, that hearing and reading are no further useful than as they furnish materials for you own serious reflections and meditations. Opinions, to be useful to you and mankind, must be the result of ratiocination, of examination and re-examination.

Sentiments of genuine liberty must be the result of laborious reasoning, and must spring from deep rooted principles. To be efficacious they must be felt and understood, and not like the babbling of a parrot, who repeats the words, Edition: current; Page: [336] but understands not the meaning they are intended to convey.

Let me advise you also to consider the state and posture of society we exist in. It is an alarming crisis; and no man can possibly determine in what sort of condition, or what circumstances we may meet again, at the end of that recess we are going to enjoy. Let us, then, fortify our minds with virtue, and with principle. Let us restrain the angry and turbulent passion of our souls. Let us cultivate a benevolent affection for each other: even for those who differ from us in opinion; and let us labour by kind and gentle means to turn those from their error who may be treading in the path of vice; or detect, if we can, the errors and vices into which ourselves have fallen.

Above all things let us adhere to the principles of moderation. But let these principles be properly understood. For when it is properly understood, moderation is virtue; though as it is too frequently used it means the most contemptible of vices.

If by moderation you mean a compromise, a midway path between vice and virtue, I despise your modetion as I despise the cavilling of a sophist who would destroy the energy of my intellect, instead of leading me to the conclusions of truth and reason. But if by moderation you mean a steady adherence to the mild principles of justice—a determination to weigh and consider every sentiment before you adopt it, to be inflamed by no factious principles, to be misled by no party attachments, but to do that which is just, and never more; always taking care that we do not let violence and intemperance snatch from our hands the reins of reason, then I am the advocate of moderation—the votary of her power, and the champion of her cause.

Yes, this genuine moderation, so conducive to general happiness and virtue, is the object of my supreme admiration; I only love liberty as it appears to me to promote the virtue and happiness of mankind; and if liberty will not promote this happiness and this virtue, take your liberty, for I will have none of it. And if you could persuade me—it would be very difficult I believe—but if you could persuade me, that the despotism of Turkey could promote the happiness and welfare of mankind more than the principles of liberty and equality, I would be the enemy of that liberty and equality; because I am convinced, that all our endeavours should be directed only to promote the happiness and welfare of the human species: that welfare and that happiness which ought to be the dearest objects of every man’s pursuit.

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The happiness of mankind then should be our first object. But let us deeply enquire whether that happiness can be secured without liberty. If it cannot, let us brave dangers and persecution; let us stand, if I may repeat the simile, like the Spartan at his post, and defend our land-mark to the last: and though the slaves and agents of oppression should heap rubbish after rubbish, persecution after persecution upon us, there let us stand till we are buried beneath the growling heaps, leaving the monumental pile to all posterity, as a trophy to stimulate their virtue, and awake in their bosoms a correspondent flame in the cause of liberty; a cause to be for ever loved, because the cause of liberty is the cause of justice and of human happiness.


THE charity and liberality of this country is a subject of eternal egotism. And, certainly, very large contributions for the relief of distress are levied upon the public, both in the form of voluntary subscriptions and taxation. But, alas! all-devouring corruption swallows every thing, and a very small portion of these contributions are appropriated according to the original intention. The following anecdote, for example, will give some idea of the treatment of those brave fellows who, for the caprice or ambition of a minister, are doomed to bleed in the field of flaughter, and be deprived of the use of those limbs, by the industrious exercise of which they used to support themselves and families.

William Borton, of 9th regiment of foot, commanded by Lord Harrington, in the American war, being wounded, was, with many others, immediately sent to England, by the Barfleur, 74 guns, Capt. Robinson. A shot had passed through the right leg above the heel, and taken out a piece from the back of the left; he had, besides, two shots in his thigh. There being neither a surgeon on board, nor present at the engagement, several of his companions, being past hope, were (from the insupportable smell, and, at the same time, dangerous consequences that might be apprehended from their mortified wounds) absolutely thrown over-board alive. He, however, arrived, and was sent to the Plymouth infirmary, where the balls were extracted, and his legs attended to. That through which the shot had passed was in such a situation as to be Edition: current; Page: [338] deemed fit for amputation. Borton insisted he could recover without such an operation, and, resolutely opposing, he was at last dismissed, and on this account could not procure a certificate for 7l. a year for life, from Chelsea hospital. His leg is swelled, ’tis true, and he walks in some respects lame, but is in no pain, and is much better off than with a wooden leg. Now the surgeons have 5l. a limb for every one that is cut off; therefore, for putting 5l. into their pockets, he might have had 7l. a year for life—but, refusing this, he is for ever deprived of what he is in reality entitled to.

This man, now aged 76, who has since been supported by field labour, has no resource but the work-house, if he can be admitted in one, when he is incapable to work; and is to be heard of either at the Horns, or Dun Horse, Kingsland Road, near Shoreditch Church.

Britain’s Glory; or, The Blessings of a good Constitution.

    • TO my muse give attention,
    • And deem her not long, Sirs,
    • For the blessings of the times
    • Are the burthen of her song, Sirs,
    • While placemen and pensioners,
    • As loyal as may be, Sirs,
    • Establish inquisitions,
    • To convince us we are free, Sirs.
    • O! the golden days that ministers must bless!
    • Such are the golden days we now possess.
    • Now the first thing to prove
    • We’re so free and so happy, Sirs,
    • And as equal as all came
    • From one common pappy, Sirs,
    • There are volumes of Excise-laws,
    • As I can inform you, Sirs,
    • So num’rous—that, if burn’d,
    • All the country they would warm, Sirs.
    • O! the golden days, &c.
    • Then the next of our blessings,
    • As you know, my good neighbour,
    • Are millions of taxes,
    • For wh