Imatges de pÓgina
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when we hear a talk about radical hats, radical this, that, and the other thing, it becomes extremely ridiculous. The principle it intends to convey I approve, as no man wishes for a Reform more radical than myself, but the word has been grossly misused and abused, and much to the injury of the cause it was meant to espouse. In speaking about the Householder Suffrage, and Universal Suffrage, there was something intelligible, but when the words Moderate, Thorough, and Radical, were applied to Reform, they served as a mere evasion, meant nothing at all, and became mere words of sound and abuse. A man who wishes to be honest, and to be considered honest, should never make use of words that are ambiguous in their import. To talk about the British Constitution, is in my opinion, a sure proof of dishonesty. Britain has no Constitution. If we speak of the Spanish Constitution, we have something tangible; there is a substance and meaning as well as sound. In Britain there is nothing constituted, but corruption in the system of Government. Our very laws are corrupt and partial both in themselves, and in their administration. In fact, corruption, as notorious as the sun at noon-day, is an avowed part of the system, and is denominated the necessary oil for the wheels of the Government! It is a most pernicious oil to the interests of the people!

We may very shortly expect to have a large accession to the cause of Reform in the great body of Farmers. Those who hire farms can scarcely make the produce cover their rent and taxes; and if a Reform be delayed a year or two longer, this class of the society will be swallowed up, and reduced to pauperism. Mr. Pitt enabled them to live like gentlemen for a time, and all at once he produced a wonderful change in the character of the British Farmer. But now they begin to suffer most severely from high rent, heavy taxes, and reduced prices by no means cómmensurate with their expenses. In the ensuing session of Parliament they intend to petition for a reform-of what? not of the Parliament, but of the Grain Importation Laws, and the present mode of taking the average price! But the silly creatures will soon be taught wisdom by experience. They will soon be taught that the present system of Government cannot afford them relief, because it cannot, or will not, diminish its expenditure. Money, say the Ministers, we must have, and the Farmer's Stock is tangible property if he cannot pay his taxes. In a few months we shall have distresses among our Farmers as common as ever they were in Ireland, and then, when it be too late for themselves, the Farmers will be all Parliamentary Reformers. This is a class of men who have been bamboozled to the last. Their isolated condition, and their dependance upon their landlords, has kept them in a state of ignorance, as to the real state of the country. Year after year, they have been promised an advanced price for their produce: but each year reduces

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it, and their distress increases, so that they are beginning to make a stir, but they are on the wrong scent. This is a class of men whom nothing but experience can instruct, therefore, they are now receiving some very useful and very necessary lessons.

We may further calculate in the present year, on the accession of the whole body of Catholic Christians, unless the present Ministers should in their present distress, favour the emancipation, and admit them to the common rights of citizens. No intrigue I should think, can keep the Catholics aloof from the Reformers if they find themselves deluded in another session of the Parliament. Theirs is a case to which we know the Ministers are not personally hostile, and would readily accede to the Catholic request, was it not from the fear of losing the support of the bigotted part of the Protestants! The Catholics may gain their object in the present dilemma of Ministers, if not, they will be no longer at a loss to perceive where their common interests lies. We hold out the hand of fellowship and mutual toleration to them, and wish them to learn that their religious principles and interest cannot be secured to them inviolate, without entering into a compact to harmonize and render secure the political interests of all sects and all parties. There must be a mutual toleration of all opinions on theological subjects, and all tests and penal laws relating thereto, must be abolished by a Reformed Parliament. Without this, we shall never be free from internal commotions and disorder. The Legislature must only view the citizen in his political character, and leave his theological character to him whom he worships. The Catholic must no longer oppress the Protestant, nor the Protestant the Catholic, and the Jew or Mahometan, the Deist or Atheist, must be as free and uncontrolled as either of them. All citizens alike. Those persons, who in the year 1817 decried the petitioners for Parliamentary Reform as a set of wild madmen, who did not know what they wanted, are now become clamorous for the same object. The Times Newspaper is daily crying out, "Petition the House of Commons, and not the King." I sincerely hope that the million and a half of men who signed petitions in 1817, will not degrade themselves by meddling with any thing of the kind again: Let those petition for Reform who have hitherto been its opponents, if they like. It

may be proper for them to petition, and to state at the same time,

their recent conviction of its necessity; but it would ill become those to petition who have had their petitions treated with such scorn on a former occasion. Reform will be obtained when the existing authorities have no longer the power to withold it, and not before. We shall gain it as early without petitioning as with it, and I would again put forward my opinion, that something more than a petitioning attitude is necessary. At this moment, I would not say a word about insurrection, but I would strongly recommend union, activity, and co-operation. Be ready and steady to meet any concurrent cir⚫cumstance. The Union Rooms of Manchester and Stockport are admirable models for co-operation, and are more than any thing else calculated to strengthen the body of Reformers. Here children are educated, and adults instruct each other. Here there is a

continual and frequent communication between all the Reformers of those towns. Here espionage avails nothing, because the object of meeting is merely to inform, instruct, and assist each other. It is a sort of corporation or municipal government, and affords a proper channel for communication with other towns. I believe that Leeds still retains Union; but it would be well to see this system extended. It is not a secret association, for I understand the books are open to the inspection of any applicant. There are no secret meetings that I am aware of, or at least they are not necessary. The principles of Reformers, where they are correct, should be open to the strictest examination. They are founded in truth and reason, and need but be fully known to be followed and admired. There is one circumstance I consider useful to be followed, and that is, the issuing a spirited Declaration on the necessity of Reform. Petitions are lost as soon as they get to their place of destination; besides, there is something degrading in the style of address, whilst well-written and spirited declarations when in print, would be echoed back from every corner of the Island. A Declaration might contain bold and manly sentiments, such as are calculated to make an impression on the mind of the reader, but a Petition must be couched in abject language, and is calculated to degrade the Petitioner, and if the party petitioned be of a tyrannical or oppressive disposition, that disposition will be but hardened and aggravated. It is too much like petitioning a rogue or a thief to hang himself, instead of putting the laws in execution against him. Tyranny is not to be conquered by any such means, nor by any other means than a superior acting force. Whatever withholds from us our just and natural rights is tyranny. It matters not under what name it passes, or how it came into existence, it is sufficient that it doth exist to call forth our energies to destroy it. Whoever labours under oppression feels a natural disposition and desire to rid himself of that oppression. Independence is a principle that should fill the bosom of every man, and he does not deserve the name who can tacitly resign it, and bend unnecessarily to the oppressive power of another. There may be such things as slavish dispositions, but they are not natural; they must either be the effect of disease or education, Independence can alone elevate the mind, and make man walk erect in the sight of his fellows. With this possession, he owes no man any thing but civility and urbanity of

manners.

The spirited Addresses to the Queen, the manner of presenting them, and her still more spirited Answers, have worked a powerful effect in the country. Every village has had the desire of presenting an Address, by way of possessing one of those noble and instructive Answers. Addresses to the Queen have not been couched in those abject terms which are necessary to insure them a reception in other quarters; but the language has been sympathetic and declaratory of honest principle, such as does honour to the best feelings of the human heart. The manner of addressing her Majesty has been well conducted, and is justly entitled to the epithet of modern and moral chivalry. Her Majesty has no less than four or five million knights,

who are ready and willing to defend her from the gigantic tyranny which has oppressed her, and if necessary, would risk their lives in pursuit of that object. Never was woman elevated to such a height before! Never woman so well deserved it!

It is probable, that the chief part of the conduct required from the Reformers, in the course of the present year, will be a further defence of the Queen. The present Ministers seem resolved to persevere, and make their tools in Parliament pronounce something like a degradation. This they have the power to do, by the majorities at their command; but this will avail them nothing. The composition of the present Parliament is too well understood to produce the least impression on the public mind, contrary to the public opinion. It is considered to hold none, the least connection with the people or their interests. It cannot deceive, although it might annoy. If a scanty allowance be offered her Majesty, I hope and trust that she will reject it altogether, and throw herself upon the bounty of the people for support. This would be treating the Parliament as it deserves, and exhibiting it in its proper colours. The humblest labourer would willingly deny himself a meal in a week, to support her Majesty against the tyranny of the party in power. But this would not be necessary if there was the least spirit in the Aristocracy for those who have incomes of ten and twenty thousand pounds per annum, might easily throw down a thousand for such an object, and not feel the want of it, but a pleasure in the act. Let the Addresses and Answers be continued until her enemies be thrown down, as this line of conduct has a much more powerful effect in her behalf, and that of the people, than petitioning the constituted authorities to observe a good behaviour towards her. The latter idea is ridiculous, if rightly considered and analyzed. This is a wild and incoherent project indeed! The oppressors of the Queen ought not to be noticed in any other shape than by reprobation; and this cannot be more effectually done than by continual Addresses to her Majesty. Monarchy certainly does entail some very ridiculous customs on society, but this is not one of the least anomalous, to petition the King to use his wife better! It is not dissimilar to begging a froward child not to be naughty, without the least correction, which is a sure way to encourage a perseverance in the same conduct,

I have now, my friends, touched upon all the topics which I consider necessary to be pressed upon your attention at the commencement of a new year. At such a period we are apt to look back through the past and examine our conduct, and we are the best judges of our own actions when we interrogate ourselves earnestly and faithfully. The most important point for you to keep in mind, is a war with the revenue. I would defend myself from the manifold robberies as by law established in the present day, as I would against the highway robber: fear or prudence might induce me not to resist the latter, but I would endeavour to secrete and withhold much of my property as possible from him. A double good arises from an abstinence from exciseable articles, you promote your health by temperance, and by economy you procure yourselves more substantial

and more wholesome food. When the great Dr. Franklin was a journeyman-printer in London, he, by his habits and example, made a great change in the manners of the men who worked in the same office with him. He found them in the habit of drinking cold porter for their breakfast, and very often without any solid food. He explained to them that as the whole strength and nourishment of the porter, in addition to the water, was derived from the barley with. which it was brewed, it followed, as a matter of course, that the nourishment of a pint of porter was not equivalent to that of a twopenny wheaten loaf and a pint of water, and that the latter was free from the hops and the noxious drugs which are used in porter, and consequently more wholesome. The same thing might be said of all spirituous liquors, they exhilarate for the moment, but there is nothing substantial in the nourishment. The same money spent in bread produces ten times the nourishment. The use of exhilarating liquors are just the same as the use of tobacco and snuff, they form an excitement agreeable to the habit, by constant use, but they are not only filthy, but of a most pernicious tendency. The man who is in the habit of continually thrusting snuff into his nostrills, or tobacco into his mouth, is as filthy a creature in my eye, as the hog who wallows in the mire. This system of temperance and abstinence not only provides better for the health and the nourishment of the body, but it also enables the individual to obtain the delicious repast of mental improvement. Had Dr. Franklin followed the common habits of his fellow-workmen, he had never made the brightest philosopher and one of the most accomplished and generally respected statesmen of his day. He rescued himself from that voluntary bodily and mental slavery, solely by gratifying his mind with useful acquirements, instead of a filthy and destructive bodily appetite. I consider that I rescued myself from the perpetual labour of a mechanic's bench, solely by temperate and studious habits. I have denied myself, many a meal for the purchase of some instructive publication. It was a common joke of my fellow-workmen to put one of my books and some salt into the fire-pot as a cookery for my dinner. Never a Negro slave obtained his freedom with more joy than I quitted the mechanic's bench for a situation in which I could better improve my mind. My present situation has not lessened that joy in the least, for I made my calculation, that to get on well, I must expose myself to two or three years imprisonment. I heard my sentence in the Court of King's Bench with as much indifference as the Judge pronounced it, and perhaps of the two I thought the least of it; although the seizure of all the property I had accumulated was a shock, but even here, I was prepared, and not disappointed; for so far I have baffled the legal robbers, in their attempt to crush me, and doubt not but I shall so continue, in spite of their corrupt power and influence. The prison has no terror for me, and I find it that calm retreat, which my former want of education, and situation in life, had rendered necessary for my mental improvement.

By what I see of a gaol, I am enabled to feel for those whose condition is different from mine, and I would earnestly recommend them

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