« AnteriorContinuar »
liating to reflect has contributed to their success, and probably to the permanent diminution of our foreign trade. Flimsy goods have been fabricated for the sake of immediate gain ; the arts of chemistry have been fraudulently employed by unprincipled specuJators, and rapid fortunes have thus been accumulated by these nefarious means, at the expense of the national character. There was a time when English goods were sufficiently warranted by their name; but the foreign customers upon whom a trick of this kind. has once been practised, will look to some other country in future for their supply
That our inanufactures should ever again flourish as they have, is neither to be desired nor expected. From the commencement of the present century the cotton manufacture, which Mr. Brougham calls the great staple of the country, has been declining, and at this time it is chiefly supported by the exportation of cotton yarn, froin which other nations now fabricate their own piecegoods. The propriety of permitting this exportation is just now a subject of warm discussion, and the legislature has been called upon to prohibit it, by short-sighted reasoners who never look beyond their own private and immediate interests. The truth is that these other nations will begin to make the yarn for themselves also, as soon as they find it more advantageous than buying it from us; and any interference on the part of the government would only accelerate this result, which sooner or later is inevitable. Home restrictions are not necessary to basten the downfall of our manufacturing system. Some of the continental nations rival us in those branches wherein we are most expert, of course it is impossible that we should force our goods there. Others are rapidly advancing to a competition with us;-there it is the duty and the manifest interest both of the government and of the people to favour their own produce by excluding ours. In others which are less advanced, and where a want of industry, as in Spain, is the national disease, the great object of the statesman will be to stimulate industry, and the most obvious means of effecting this is by discouraging foreign manufactures for the purpose of forcing their own. An opposition orator, if he pleases, may call this ingratitúde in our allies, and ring changes upon the folly, the incapacity, and the wickedness of ministers for not making impossible commercial stipulations in peace, with as much reason as he rang the same changes during the war. He may affirm also if he pleases, as Mr. Brougham has done, that' from all our exertions to serve the continental powers, whether looking after honour or profit, we have been fated to reap nothing but loss and disgrace. But the sound part of the public know how to appreciate such assertions and such authority. As for profit, we were not looking for it in VOL: XVI. NO. XXXII.
the pounds, shillings, and pence meaning of the word : and if there be an Englishman who can indeed believe as well as assert that we have reaped nothing but disgrace from our exertious in the war, the disgrace is upon himself, upon his heart, and his understanding he had no share in the counsels which led to our success, and it is his proper punishment that he should have had no communion in the joy, no participation in the honours of the triumph. The
progress which manufactures had made on the continent was very little understood while the war continued, and meantime our adventurers, in the eagerness of speculation, seemed to think it impossible that the markets which were open to them should ever be overstocked. Instead of cautiously proportioning the supply to the demand, they acted as if the demand would always keep pace with the supply. The more their gains, the more they were désirous of gaining; with them increase of appetite bad grown by what it fed on:' but unfortunately they reasoned, that as it was with the manufacturer so it would be with the consumer. Thus they converted their very prosperity into the means of ruin, increasing the quantity of produce by every possible improvement in mechanism, till machinery at length has come in competition with human labour, for which during the first part of the process its tendency had been to produce an increased demand. The multitudes who have been thrown upon the public are now to be fed, means for employing them are to be devised, and the recurrence of any similar calamity is, if possible, to be prevented. Nothing but a thorough reformation, inoral and religious, of the labouring classes can accomplish this; such a reformation as shall in its direct and immediate consequences improve their physical condition, increasing their comforts as it increases their respectability, -nothing short of this can restore security. It is not the fault of this or of that administration, of any man or set of men, or of any pre-concerted order of things that such is now the condition of society; the evil has unavoidably arisen from the prevalence and extent of the manufacturing system: yet while we acknowledge the evil in all its magnitude and in all its bearings, we ought not to be unmindful of the good which that system has produced and the benefit which will eventually be derived from it. That system supplied the resources which enabled us to support the most arduous, the most necessary, and the most glorious war in which Great Britain ever was engaged, a war which has entitled her to the gratitude and admiration of all succeeding ages. And in its remoter consequences whatever diminishes the necessity for bodily labour will be a blessing to mankind. But when the evil has come upon us, when its presence is painfully and alarmingly felt, its causes distinctly perceived, and all its perilous tendency, clearly apprehended, then indeed if any means of remedy should be
neglected, the neglect will be a sin for which all who are implicated in it will stand arraigned not alone before posterity, but at the most awful of all tribunals !
If we compare the present disaffection with that of any former age, it will be apparent that the danger differs as much in kind as in degree. The party in the legislature who stand opposed to the measures of government were never at any time so little formidable either for talents or for their credit with the people. They staked their characters as statesmen upon the issue of the war, and forfeited it both abroad and at home, now and for ever. They have neither leader, nor bond of union : and were the government even to drop into their hands, they would be found incapable of occupying it; for they have neither the coufidence of the Sovereign, nor of the people, nor of each other. This, however, is the more alarming to the commonwealth. On all former occasions the discontented part of the public bave looked to a party in the legislature, and fixed their eyes upon the men by whom the change of measures which they desired was to be brought about: and the Opposition themselves have always till now been ready to assume the command of the ship whenever they could get on board, and unanimous in their opinion which course to steer.
But in the present crisis they are as much at variance with each other as with the ministry: east and west are not more opposite to each other than those statesmen who supported Mr. Pitt in the whole course of his foreign policy, and who have now supported the present government in those strong measures which were absolutely necessary for the public weal, are to the anacephalous Foxites. The ultra Whigs again hold these latter in utter contempt and hatred as moderates; and the thorough-paced revolutionist spares no effort to persuade the discontented part of the people that their superiors are their natural enemies, and to excite and exasperate them against all who are raised above them by the advantages of birth and fortune. • The interests of the great;'. says the Examiner, ' are so far from being the same as those of the community that they are in direct and necessary opposition to them : their power is at the
expense of our weakness; their riches of our poverty; their pride of our degradation, their splendour of our wretcheduess, their tyranny of our servitude. Such are the doctrines and such the language which this convicted libeller sends into the pot-houses of manufacturing towns and of the remotest vil.' lages !
The prospectus of Mr. Hone's Register is now before us. This man is the publisher of those irreligious parodies which have exa cited such just and general indignation; and since the abdication of King Cobbett, being ambitious of reigning in his stead, he adver-, M M 2
tises his unstamped two-penny farrago as being conducted upon the same principles. Numerous,' he says, “ have been the meetings, singularly wise are the resolutions and petitions passed at those meetings, wonderful indeed has been the unanimity of the people. Nuinerous and not less wise, or less unanimous, will those be which are about to follow.'-He talks of the blaze of intellect, the glorious light of knowledge so equally shining and generally diffused as the meetings for reform slew it to be. But in what classes,' he asks, ' among whom is it that we witness this knowledge, this improvement of the understanding? Is it among the nobles of the land, our hereditary guardians ? Do they manifest superior wisdom. Do they call public meetings? Do they or any of them attend public meetings to instruct the people, and point out the road to good government, to independence, to happiness ? No, not they. They call no meetings, they uttend no meetings; they do all they can to prevent meelings. They would have all quiet, quiet as death. They prove, as a wise man once said of them, that in knowledge they are an hundred years behind the state of society in which they live. By an unvaried and unqualified support of all the violent measures of ministers both at home and abroad, they have reduced the mass of the nation to a state of poverty, of dependence, of starvation: until alarmed for themselves, they have established soup kettles to dole out broth in scanty portions to the industrious people, who, but for their conduct, would have been living as became men, independent-minded men, from their own earnings.' Mr. Hone will doubtless exempt one of our hereditary guardians from this indiscriminate and sweeping censure,-he will make honourable mention of the Norfolk meeting, and confer upon Lord Albemarle all the celebrity which the Reformist's Register and Weekly Commentary, conducted upon the principles of Mr. Cobbett, can bestow.
That nobleman has discovered, by the blaze of intellect and the glorious light of knowledge' which illuminates such meetings, that his Majesty's ministers are engaged in plots and conspiracies theinselves. He has discovered that Spence* was an old gentle
* The fullowing notice respecting this man has been transmitted to us from the Se. cretary of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne, through their very respectable President, Sir John E. Swinburne.
Newcastle, Feb. 230, 1817. • There did exist a Debating Club at Newcastle more than forty years ago, which assuned the name of the Philosophical Society : they met in a school. Of this society, or club, Spence, then a schoolmaster in Newcastle, was a member, and there produced Iris strange paper, which was heard with very little attention. Spence, bowever, got it printed and hawked about the town, as an Essay read at The Philosophical Society of Newcastle, upon which a respectable member of the club moved at the next meeting that Spence should be expelled, and he was unaniinoasly expelled accordingly. He
man who had been many years dead, and who was very mad when he was alive ; and that the doctrines of the Spenceans are not dangerous, because of their palpable absurdity. Alas! there are times and places when even stich speeches as those at the Norfolk meeting may be mischievous.
Another of Mr. Cobbett's successors commenced his paper una der the title of “ The Republican;' but being told that it would be more generally read if the name were less explicit
, he tells us that "he has complied with the wish of persons who areas firm to the cause as himself, and I assure the tyrant and the slave,' he continues,
that I will not swerve one jot from the principles I have begun with.' Many other such' Successors to Mr. Cobbett' have started up, all printing like him, upon unstamped paper, and like bim, ad. dressing themselves to the poor and ignorant part of the community, for the purpose of persuading them that all their miseries are occa . sioned by the government. The Stamp Office and the Attorney General are no doubt acquainted with this whole litter of libellers; but there is one circumstance relating to the incendiary whoin they are ambitious to succeed, which is little known, and may possibly tend to open the eyes of some of his deluded followers.
About twelve months ago Cobbett began to reprint his Weekly
soon after removed from Newcastle, and was entirely lost sight of there. The period, (1715,) when this circumstance is stated to have taken place, and the present Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle having only been established in 1793, sufficiently proves that Spence had no connexion with it, and our society having last month dis. missed from liis situation as their Librarian, Mr. Marshall, a printer of Gateshead, for having published the Political Litany, may serve as a proof, if any were wanting, that the Society are determined to adhere strictly to their fundamental Rule,–Tbat Religion and Pulitics are prohibited subjects of discussion.' : Wc insert this notice because it seems to be the wish of the existing Society that it should thus be made public. But it must be apparent to them, and to every other person, that in simply stating where and in what wanner Spence first promulgated bis doctrines, no imputation was or could be inteuded against the Society to which he happened to belong.
Spence's name reminds us of the Monthly Magazine, and of what the worthy and witry Editor of that loyal and religious publication has said in reply to what he is pleased to call. a dull but wicked article upon Parliamentary Reform,' in the last Number of the Quarterly Review, So we would have him call it :
Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile,
Filths savour but themselves. This honourable Editor asserts that the Quarterly Review denies the necessity of Par. Bjamentary Refurm' because there exists a society of Spencean visionaries,' and because (in his own words)' we of the Monthly Magazine named a book which was likely to satisfy the curiosiiy of our readers in regard to the views of those visionaries, though we znurposely forbore to commend what we plainly admitted we did not understand. That this Editor should deny his own words, does not surprize us; but that he should do it when any of his readers inay courict him of falsehood, by turning back only to his last month's Number, is indeed being magnanimously mendacious. These were his words :— His pamphlet (Mr. Evans's) is written with considerable energy. We collect from it that she main cluject of the Society is a more equal occupation (not proprietorship) of Jand, y a poinciple which has often been urged in the pages of this Maguzine.' MM 3