Imatges de pÓgina

character as a patriot, the member for Westminster absented himself from the House during the discussion of this obnoxious measure. At the meeting he gilded over this desertion of his post, by a jest worthy of his conduct. "He did not chuse," he said, "to join in the mockery of debate he might have many reasons for staying at home-he should say generally, that he did not like to go to any house that was filled with bad company, and where they kept late hours." This fool-born jest was thought worthy of the applause of the meeting; and Sir Francis Burdett, though he insinuated that his sentiments were in favour of the measure so clamorous ly condemned, and made the subject of such execration by his constituents, was dragged home in triumph, be cause he had not had the manliness to discharge his duty as a legislator, in asserting his own sentiments in opposition to theirs. Apparently, however, he thought, upon reflection, that somede claration of sentiments more decidedly accommodated to the popular taste was necessary to maintain his post as the favourite of the tabble. The incident which happened at Mr Robinson's house on the 7th seemed to furnish a favourable opportunity to regain what ground Sir Francis might have lost in the opinion of the good people of Westminster. When he rose in his place on the 10th to present the petition against the corn bill, he spoke of the question as one of little real importance, and avoided either granting er denying it. But, while he slightly touched on the irregularities of the mob," he deprecated the fatalities which had occurred, and the placing soldiers in ambuscade, for the purpose of attacking and destroying the lives of unwary multitudes. He called such fatalities, (the placing of armed men, namely, within a house which had been twice broken into by a fu

rious mob, for the purpose of protecting the lives and property of the family,)-nothing less than military murders; and he thought there were symptoms, on the part of government, to supersede the civil authorities which were the constitutional guardians of the public peace, and to erect in their room a military despotism!!!" To such sophistry, mixed with such truckling subservience to the humours of the rabble, did this honourable member stoop in his misdirected ambition, forgetting that the true patriot equally despises the bended brow of tyranny, and the shouts and menaces of a misguided multitude. Mr Robinson, against whom this speech was principally directed, and who surely had already suffered enough, both in property and feeling, rose to reply under the greatest emotion. He stated "the ravages committed by the mob upon his house on the Monday; their outrageous return the next day, with threats of murder against him and his domestics; and made it plain that the soldiers posted within the house were at length, and after long for bearance and repeated warning, compelled to fire in their own defence." Mr Robinson's speech was interrupted by tears, which testified the grief which he felt, as a man of huma nity, at a fatality to which he was no way accessory, and for which the immediate agents were justifiable in the eyes of God and man. He con⚫ cluded, by entreating the honourable baronet, if he was really moved by that regard for the people which his language expressed, to desist from misrepresentations calculated to produce the most unhappy effects, both towards the peace of the country and the safety of his fellow-subjects. All felt the force of this appeal; and Sir Francis Burdett himself endeavoured to escape from the charge of pointing out an innocent individual as

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the object of popular revenge, by pleading that he had no allusion in particular to what had happened at Mr Robinson's, (although it was only upon that occasion, during the whole riots, that the soldiers had made effective use of their arms;) but to the general system adopted by the ministers, of protecting the city by soldiers in place, of peace-officers, and this at a time when the joint ef forts of the civil and military had proved totally inadequate to protect the property of individuals, offending only by discharging their duty as legislators on a question where their opinions were corroborated by those of Sir Francis Burdett himself. With such obliquity of intellect will party. spirit, or rather a feverish appetite for the garbage of popularity, endow such as prize the shout of a mob beyond the dignity of moral independence. Sir Francis on this occasion received from Lord Castlereagh a severe and merit. ed reprehension." It was a little too much," his lordship observed," considering how many lives had been lost on a preceding occasion to preserve the honourable baronet from being attached by an order of the House of Commons, that he should presume to question an Englishman's right to defend his castle and his family from the violence of an ungo vernable and furious rabble. As the honourable baronet, departing entirely from the question before the House, neither supported nor opposed the corn bill, he could conceive no purpose for which he came down, excepting in order to subvert the constitution." From this strong charge Sir Francis Burdett could only escape by such intemperance of personal recrimination as drew down the censure of the Speaker. But, however the But, however the "throng of words" which came from him with such effrontery might serve his cause with his friends in Palace

yard, the honest, consideration of almost the whole House of Commons, and of all thinking persons without doors, stigmatized his conduct on this as a home-attempt made to buy or redeem his fading popularity, by heating the popular odium against an individual, of whom it was hard to say whether he had been most injured in property or distressed in feelings; and to encourage the violence of the rabble, by representing as tyrannical and illegal, the means which were necessarily employed in repressing it.

The violent agitation occasioned by the corn bill was suddenly and effec tually silenced by the arrival of the news that Buonaparte had again land. ed in France; a stupendous piece of intelligence, before which all topics of domestic interest at once sunk in to annihilation. These extraordinary tidings reached London on the evening of the 10th March; and there was no more heard of the corn bill, than if the subject had never agitated the popular mind.

It was perhaps owing to the appearance made in the House of Commons by Sir Francis Burdett, that the grand jury of Middlesex found a true bill against the corporal and two soldiers stationed in the house of Mr Robinson, as also against his butler James Ripley, for the murder of Jane Watson. However absurd the conduct of the grand jury, it was fortunate, as giving an opportunity of a solemn trial of the most important question, how far a person acting like Ripley under a sense of duty to his master, and in defence of his property, or like the soldiers defending a post to which they had been called by the civil authority, are entitled to use arms in protection of that which is entrusted to their charge. The spirit of democracy, always at work on such occasions, failed not, by the manufacture of false reports and malicious in

sinuations, industriously circulated in pamphlets, to keep up the popular violence, and prepossess, if possible, the minds of the jurors against the prisoners. But the law, a law of infinite consequence to the protection of good order, property, and tranquillity, was distinctly laid down by the prisoner's counsel, on the authority of Lord Hale, Lord Mansfield, and other learned judges, was recognized by the judges, (Lord Ellenborough and Mr Justice Chamber) as indisputable, and received as such by a jury assembled in the ordinary manner for transacting the business of the sessions; who without hesitation pronounced a verdict of Not Guilty. Upon this solemn occasion, it was acknowledged as law that the peaceable master of a family, with his inmates, friends, and neighbours, as well as the peace-officers and military who are called in to his assistance, is justified in resisting whatever violence may be offered to person, house, or property; while, on the other hand, those assembled for purposes of mischief and destruction, led away by their own passions or the instigation of others, as well as they who in idle curiosity augment their numbers, must in future be aware of the risk in which they stand, since if their death ensues in such circumstances, the law will justify those employed in protecting at once private property and the public peace.

It must not beforgotten that the good. nature and candour of the English populace, qualities which they always shew when neither led away by their own prejudices, or the misrepresentations of their demagogues, were remarkably displayed on this occasion. Satisfied with the fairness of the investigation, and satisfied that the conduct of the soldiers had been entirely blameless, they greeted them on their acquittal with three cheers, sought to shake hands with them, and anxious

ly endeavoured to shew that they harboured no malice from recollection of a transaction, which, in its first aspect, operated so powerfully upon their feelings. There is a generosity in this conduct peculiarly characteristic of a free people, whose sober moments are always marked by a love of justice and a deference to the law, and who seek rather a fair and impartial investigation of such grievances as they suppose themselves to have sustained, than the gratification of vindictive feelings towards those whom they consider as the authors of them. And while we think it right that every attempt at systematic riot and violence should be checked early, and at a period when it may be possible to select the ringleaders as the objects of the resistance which they have provoked, we are as far as Sir Francis Burdett himself from desiring that every ebullition of popular feeling, though tumultuously and riotously expressed, should be made an excuse for employing deadly retaliation. The minds of the English common people cannot retain that energy of feeling which makes each regard the prosperity and fame of his country as matters of his own special concern, without the risk of its being expressed with occasional violence. We do not therefore think either the huzzas or hootings of a mob, accompanied with some insolence to their betters, and probably the demolition of some panes of glass, as fit subjects either of serious apprehension or severe repression. We would rather now and then endure the fever-fit of licence, than sleep the death-sleep of military despotism. But every thing has its bounds; and when the property and lives of the lieges are daringly assailed, they must be boldly defended, or the supine government which stoops to endure such scenes of outrage, must be contented to witness the streets of London gleam

ing with conflagration, and at length flooded with the gore of her citizens; as in the memorable year 1780, when only the firmness of the sovereign, in commanding his troops to act in de fence of the peace, saved the capital from total destruction,

We will close this chapter with an anecdote, trifling in itself, but important as it serves to shew the deep interest which the very lowest ranks of the British public take in the concerns of the state; a circumstance arising solely out of the freedom with which - public measures are submitted to their discussion, and to which the wisest and best-informed foreigners are disposed to ascribe the peculiar energy of our national character. When the order for embarking the Guards for Flanders, which followed immediately

upon the landing of Buonaparte, was in the act of being carried into execution, a grenadier of the Coldstream was observed taking a friendly farewell of a cobler with whom he had been quartered. They had exhausted their parting draught, and were shaking hands cordially. "God bless you, my good fellow," said the soldier; "do you look after the corn bill at home, and leave me to manage Buonaparte." The first impulse of the reader may be to laugh; but as both men were perfectly serious in the division of their public duty, we may estimate, from this trifling circumstance, the quantity of patriotism in a state where the meanest indivi dual considers her safety and fame as intrusted to his charge, and dependent on his efforts.


Internal State of France.-Defects of the Administration-Count de Blacas.State of Parties.-Royalists, comprehending the Nobles, and Clergy, and Vendeans.-Tumult at the Funeral of Mademoiselle de Raucour.-Sepulchral Honours paid to Louis XVI. and his Queen.-Jealous Fears of the Possessors of National Domains.-Republicans.-Buonapartists.-Discontents of the Army.-Constitutionalists.—Purchasers of National Domains.-Resemblance between the State of France and of England after the Restoration.

FRANCE, So long the centre of those 'successive revolutions which had disturbed the tranquillity of Europe, appeared now to be in the situation of an exhausted volcano. The thunders of the eruption seemed over, but its former ravages were still visible, and it was manifest to every reflecting mind, that many years must pass away ere their traces could be obliterated. The very extravagance of those hopes, which were naturally entertained upon the restoration of the royal family, like too early and too luxuriant a show of blossom, diminished the chance of their ripening into the expected fruit, and exasperated the disappointment of the over-sanguine expectants.

Yet symptoms of recovering prosperity began to appear in this rich country. The manufactures of Rouen, Lyons, and other French towns, were resumed with a zeal and readiness which alarmed their competitors in Great Britain. Capital, which has such a wonderful capacity of escaping like

quicksilver from the grasp of arbitrary power, and re-uniting and re-appearing when the prospect of profit and of security call it forth to action, began again to put in motion commercial speculations. Marseilles, Nantes, and Havre, resumed the appearance of tra ding cities, and again sent merchant vessels to sea. The cellars of Bourdeaux were once more emptied of her wines and brandies, and her warehouses replenished in lieu of them with colonial produce. Nor was it a matter of indifference to Paris at least, that crowds of foreigners, and particularly of English, rushed thither to spend large sums of money, and augment in no small proportion the reviving circulation of wealth. But this hopeful commencement was checked and counterbalanced by many circumstances of discontent and disappointment, some arising out of the nature of things, and totally uncontroulable by human wisdom, and others out of the errors of the government, and the

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