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ART. XI. 1. An Inquiry into the Causes of the General
Poverty and Dependance of Mankind; including a full Investigation of the Corn Laws. By William Dawson. Edinburgh.
1814. 2. A Plan for the Reform of Parliament, on Constitutional
Principles. Pamphleteer. No. 14. 3. Observations on the Scarcity of Money, and its effects upon the
Public. By Edward Tatham, D.D. Rector of Lincoln College,
Oxford. 1816. 4. On the State of the Country, in December, 1816. By the
Right Hon. Sir John Sinclair, Bart. 5. Christian Policy, the Salvation of the Empire. Being a clear
and concise Examination into the Causes that have produced the impending, unavoidable Nutional Bankruptcy; and the Effects that must ensue, unless averted by the Adoption of this only real and desirable Remedy, which would elevate these Realms to a pitch of Greatness hitherto unattained by any Nation that ever existed. By Thomas Evans, Librarian to the Society of Spencean Philanthropists. Second Edition. London.
1816. 6. The Monthly Magazine. 7. Cobbett's Political Register. IF the opinions of profligate and of mistaken men may be thought
to reflect disgrace upon the nation, of which they constitute a part, it might verily be said that England was never so much disgraced as at this time. Never before had the country been engaged in so long or so arduous a struggle ; never had any country, in ancient or in modern times, made such great and persevering exertions; never had any country displayed more perfect magnanimity, and scarcely ever had any contest been terminated with such consummate and transcendant glory :-this at least is universally acknowledged ;-it is confessed as much by the rage and astonishment of the ferocious revolutionist, and the ill-disguised regret of a party whom the events of the war have stultified as well as soured, as by the gratitude and admiration of all true Britons, and of the wise and the good throughout the civilized world. Yet at this time, when the plans of government have been successful beyond all former example—when the object of a twenty years war---the Jegitimate object of a just and necessary war—has been attained, and England, enjoying the peace which she has thus bravely won, should be left at leisure to pursue with undistracted attention those measures, which, by mitigating present evils and preventing crimes in future, may, as far as human means can be effectual, provide for an increasing and stable prosperity ;-at this time a cry of discontent VOL. XVI. NO. XXXI.
is gone forth, the apostles of anarchy take advantage of a temporary and partial distress, and by imposing upon the ignorance of the multitude, flattering their errors and inflaming their passions, are exciting them to sedition and rebellion.
During the great struggle between Charles I. and his parliament, the people required an appearance at least of devotion and morality in their leaders; no man could obtain their contidence unless he observed the decencies of life, and conformed in his outward deportment to the laws of God and man. There was much hypocrisy among them as well as much fanaticism, but the great body of the nation were sincerely religious, and strict in the performance of their ordinary duties; and to this cause, more than to any other, is it owing that no civil war was ever carried on with so few excesses and so little cruelty, so that the conduct of the struggle was as honourable to the nation as the ultimate consequences have been beneficial. It is a melancholy, and in some respects an alarming thing, to observe the contrast at the present crisis, when the populace look for no other qualification in their heroes than effrontery and a voluble tongue. Easily deluded they have always been; but evil-minded and insidious men, who in former times endeavoured to deceive the moral feelings of the multitude, have now laboured more wickedly and more successfully in corrupting them. Their favourite shall have a plenary dispensation for as many vices as he can afford to entertain, and as many crimes as he may venture to commit. Among them sedition stands in the place of charity and covereth a multitude of sins.
Were it not that the present state of popular knowledge is a necessary part of the process of society, a stage through which it must pass in its progress toward something better, it might reasonably be questioned whether the misinformation of these times be not worse than the ignorance of former ages. For a people who are ignorant and know themselves to be so, will often judge rightly when they are called upon to think at all, acting from common sense, and the unperverted instinct of equity. But there is a kind of half knowledge which seems to disable men even from forming a just opinion of the facts before them—a sort of squint in the undere standing which prevents it from seeing straightforward, and by which all objects are distorted. Men in this state soon begin to confound the distinctions between right and wrong-farewell then to simplicity of heart, and with it farewell to rectitude of judgment ! The demonstrations of geometry indeed retain their force with them, for they are gross and tangible :--but to all moral propositions, to all finer truths they are insensible--the part of their nature which should correspond with these is stricken with dead palsy. Give men a smattering of law, and they become litigious; give them a
smattering of physic, and they become hypochondriacs or quacks, disordering themselves by the strength of imagination, or poisoning others in the presumptuousness of conceited ignorance. But of all men, the smarterer in philosophy is the most intolerable and the most dangerous; he begins by unlearning his Creed and his Commandments, and in the process of eradicating what it is the business of all sound education to implant, his duty to God is discarded first, and his duty to his neighbour presently afterwards. As long as be confines himself to private practice the mischief does not extend beyond his private circle,-his neighbour's wife may be in some danger, and his neighbour's property also, if the distinctions between meum and tuum should be practically inconvenient to the man of free opinions. But when he commences professor of moral and political philosophy for the benefit of the public,—the fables of old credulity are then verified his very breath becomes venomous, and every page which he sends abroad carries with it poison to the unsuspicious reader.
We have sbewu, on a former occasion,* how men of this description are acting upon the public, and have explained in what manner a large part of the people have been prepared for the virus with which they inoculate them. The dangers arising from such a state of things are now fully apparent, and the designs of the incendiaries, which have for some years been proclaimed so plainly, that they ought, long ere this, to have been prevented, are now manifested by overt acts. On this point, therefore, it cannot be necessary to enlarge. But there is a class of political reformers who profess; according to Horne Tooke’s expression, that they mean to stop at Brentford; and as these gentlernen, as far as they go, use the same arguments by which their more eager allies are stimulated to go the whole way and push forward for the Bank and the Tower, it may not be a useless task to detect their fallacies and
It is boldly asserted that the late war was undertaken and carried on against the wishes of the people, and in support of despotic governments against the liberties of mankind; that it is the cause of the existing distress, being itself a consequence of the corrupt state of the representation; and that the remedy for all our evils is a Reform in Parliament. The first of these assertions is in direct opposition to the truth. The second imputes the evil to a cause in itself inevitable, and which has only incidentally and partially operated in producing it. The third recommends a remedy which conld no more mitigate the disease, than the demolition of Tenterden Steeple could remove Goodwin Sands.
* No. XVI. Inquiry into the Poor Laws.
If ever there was a war begun and carried to its close with the hearty concurrence of the nation, it was the late war with France. We appeal to every person who remembers the beginning of the French Revolution, whether, if the question of peace or war had been referred to the people of England and decided by universal suffrage, Mr. Pitt would have found one dissentient voice in a thousand? The question completely broke up an opposition, which, till then, had nearly equipoised the weight of the ministry; the few who remained with Mr. Fos sunk at once froin the rank and character of a party to that of a faction as feeble as they were unpopular,-so feeble, indeed, and so utterly insignificant in the scale, that they took the memorable step of seceding from Parliament. The principle of loyalty was triumphant even to intolerance; in most parts of England the appellations of republican and jacobin were sufficient to mark a man for public odium, perhaps for personal danger, persecution and ruin: government was supported and even impelled by public opinion; and there is perhaps no instance in history wherein a nation has been more unanimous than the British nation in the great and decisive measure of declaring war against the French republic. The records of parliament, the addresses and associations are unanswerable proofs of this. None but they who are entirely unacquainted with the transactions of those times can believe that the war was undertaken against the opinion of the people; and the writers and orators who assert it, make the impudent assertion either in utter ignorance or in utter contempt of truth.
Thus much concerning the commencement of hostilities, at which time, if the government of England had been a pure democracy, and the people had given their votes by themselves instead of their representatives, the majority in favour of that measure would have been even more apparent than it was. As for the justice of the war, had it been undertaken for no other purpose than that of weakening France, by dismembering it, England would have been justified by the conduct of France in the struggle with America. But it rests upon better ground. It has been asserted, with reference to this subject, that one nation has no right to interfere with the internal arrangements of another; and this assertion is to this day repeated, as if it were an axiom in political morality. But as M. de Puisaye, who demolishes the arguments built upon this sandy foundation, has well observed—it is with the independence of nations as with the liberty of individuals--they have a right to do every thing which involves no wrong to others. So long as my neighbour demeans himself conformably to the laws his conduct is no concern of mine: but if he convert bis house into a brothel, or commence a manufactory there which should poison my family
with its unwholesome stench, I prosecute him for a nuisance. If he should think proper to take an air-bath in the street before my windows, his natural liberty would be restrained by the wholesome discipline of Bedlam or of the beadle; and if he were to set his house on fire, the services of the finisher of the law would be required. Just such are the relations of one country to another. With the internal arrangements of any neighbouring people we have nothing to do, as long as their arrangements have nothing to do
Should they be seized with madness, bite one another, and turn the whole land into one miserable Bedlam, God restore them to their senses, we cannot. But if this Bedlam breaks loose, and its inhabitants insist upon biting us, there is no alternative but that of resorting to those measures which unhappily are the only substitute for law between nations when they differ; wars, as Lord Bacon says, being suits of appeal to the tribunal of God's justice, when there is none on earth to decide the cause.' That the French were in a state of madness, is what all Frenchmen of every party have confessed since they came to their senses after the reign of terror,or of cowardice, as one of their own countrymen has more properly called it: and that they invited other nations to follow their example by a decree, promising assistance to any people who should rise to vindicate the rights of men, can be no matter of dispute, for the fact is recorded in history.
There may be some who question the policy of the war, however just the motives for which it was commenced, and there may be some ground for criticizing the manner in which it was conducted, with a view to what was, or ought to have been its main, or rather exclusive object; but only those persons who set truth at defiance and are incapable of shame will assert that it was unpopular. It was a war by acclamation, in which the people went with the government heart and hand. In its progress many errors were committed; so that if men had looked to the conduct of the allies, their discordant views and their deplorable counsels, they might, without hesitation, have pronounced ihe contest hopeless, had they not perceived on the other hand a constant and reasonable cause for hope in the condition of France itself. For in the course of the French revolution one excess succeeded another, each more extravagant than that which went before it; follies were generated by follies, crimes begot crimes, and horrors were produced by the monstrous intermixture of both, such as former times had never seen, not in the most barbarous countries, not in the fiercest ages of superstition, not under the most execrable tyrannies. If depletion be a remedy for raging madness, it might have been thought that blood enough was let by their own executioners to restore this frantic pation to its senses. It was impossible that so unpatural a