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law, the riots had been entirely quelled, and, by the same means, order and tranquillity might easily be restored in the other districts—that the most #. had already expiated their of. ences on the scaffold, and that the combination being thus dissolved by the death of their leaders, no serious apprehension could be entertained— That no attempt had been made to execute the existing laws—that evidence had been produced before the committee, to shew that the watch and ward act had not been complied with, and that there was no proof of that accumulation of arms, which the rioters were supposed to have accomplished by violence and robbery—That a great deal had been said of a meeting on Dane-moor on the night of the 19th of April, immediately before the burning of the mills; but of the forty persons who were present on the moor, it appeared that ten were local militiamen disguised, who had thus been employed by government in a most detestable system of espionage—That the misguided insurgents had been frequently induced to go greater lengths than they would otherwise have gone, by men who were employed as spies, to incite the multitude to daring and desperate acts of violence—That the measures now proposed to parliament resembled very much those which had been some years ago adopted in Ireland; in that country, in which such dreadful scenes had been exhibited, that the recollection of them agonized the minds of Englishmen— hat under pretence of searching for arms, government wished to disarm the country—that the persons whose arms were demanded might very well say, “We will not give up our arms, for if we do the rioters will mark us out, and we shall be unable to defend ourselves”—that when the minds of men were so much distracted with ter
ror and apprehension, as in the present instance, and all the powers of a despotic government were demanded, it was impossible to say what consequences might be produced. That there was
no evidence to prove the rioters were
in possession of any considerable funds —that, on the contrary, they seemed to be absolutely destitute of money, and felt the utmost difficulty in collecting the most trifling sums—that the revocation of the orders in council alone would ensure the restoration of tranquillity, and, added to the blessings of a good harvest, would speedily relieve the distresses of the country. Mr Whitbread made an elaborate harangue on this occasion, and concluded by proposing his usual remedy. “There is but one remedy,” said he, “for all these evils, which must unavoidably be borne so long as peace shall not be obtained. But peace ought by all means to be obtained if possible, for the country is going progressively into a state of things from which much is to be feared. The ministers must be aware of the truth of what he was stating, as he had predicted, that if peace was not made in time, we should be compelled to make it whether we would or not. Peace is the only remedy,” said he, “for our internal grievances, and the only remedy for our external grievances also ; , and, in his opinion, a more favourable occasion for a general peace never existed than at this time.” Mr Whitbread was unconsciously palliating, in some measure, atrocitics which filled the country with horror—he was helping to turn the indignation of the people, which was naturally directed against the enemies of their country, towards that government which protected them while it upheld the honour of the English name i and indirectly encouraging in their nefarious proceedings the delu
ded men who were endeavouring to , reduce the country to an extremity, which might have compelled it to accept the ungenerous advice which he was always ready to offer. But, happily for the honour and prosperity of
England, his advice was rejected; the measures proposed by government for restoring the tranquillity of the country were sanctioned by the legislature, and were instantly attended with the most beneficial consequences.
State of Parties at the Beginning of the Year. The Prince Regent's Letter to the Duke of York. Lord Borringdon’s Motion for an Address to the Prince
to form a more extended Administration.
The Ministers retain their Places.
- Assassination of Mr Perceval ; his Character.
The character and views of the dif. ferent parties who possess or aspire to the direction of public affairs, acquire an importance in a free country, which excites the astonishment and ridicule of those who live under a different form of government. It is not difficult to assign the cause of this marked distinction. The proceedings of an arbitrary government have but little interest to an enlightened mind—for as the will of the sovereign, which forms the only law, is seldom guided by principles which can become the ground-work of reasoning, the domestic revolutions to which such governments are exposed, constitute a barren and uninteresting subject of history. Extreme simpli. city and endless variety alike exclude conjecture and speculation; the powers of the understanding find their proper employment in the extensive regions which lie between, in which the mind is neither stupified by a tedious uniformity, nor bewildered by a succession of changes which defy all the laws of arrangement and combination. All free governments, and, in a peculiar and eminent degree, the government of this country, exhibit this happy moderation so propitious to study and reflection. The constitution, although
intricate, is not embarrassed by unne
cessary complications; it is composed of many powers, each acting as a check on the other; and, above all, the people are accustomed to exercise a great controul over the proceedings of government. Nothing, therefore, of any consequence is done here, no important step, either in foreign or domestic policy, is resolved on, without ample and eager discussion; and no real change can be accomplished for which some plausible reason is not offered. It is true, indeed, that such a government, although liable to continual fluctuations, changes its principles but little in the course of time; and that, although minor alterations are of frequent occurrence, and the public mind is continually agitated with political discussion, yet all the changes which can be ultimately effected by any party, how powerful soever, are confined within narrow limits. Yet the character and views of public men rise in importance in exact proportion to the real security of the constitution against their influence and designs : the popular interest in their proceedings is commensurate to the stability of the institutions of which it is the surest guarantee; so that there is no branch of the history of a free country which so naturally and universally engages attention as those great contests for power and pre-eminence, which ignorance and malice alone are wont to brand as the mere struggles of faction.
It has been supposed by some persons, that the leading public men in a free state are necessarily and inevitably guided by selfish considerations— that they are disposed to view the politics, whether domestic or foreign, of their country, chiefly as they may af. fect the interest of the factions which are struggling for power, and that the semblance, rather than the reality, of patriotism is all that can be expected from them. Were their power greater, or their independence of public opinion more complete, it has been imagined that they would more easily disencumber themselves of the selfish maxims by which their conduct is enslaved, and that, although with occasional frowardness and tyranny, yet with greater boldness and vigour, they would seek the real interest of the country. This, however, seems to be a mistake ; for, besides that the blessings of freedom have a tendency to inspire public men with greater nobleness and generosity of mind, the check which, in a free country, is exercised through the medium of the press, and by the vigilance of the people, on the conduct of their leaders, must be infinitely more powerful in insuring the high and honourable fulfilment of duty, than the possession of the most absolute power of which history has left any record. Notwithstanding the calumnies which have been so industriously circulated by persons who wish to bring not only the government, but all public men into contempt, it may be affirmed, that in no age or country has there ever been a race of statesmen of more eminent qualifications, and more unimpeachable integrity, than has flourished in Great Britain for the last
century. The pride and arrogance of some, the weakness and obstinacy of others, may have deserved censure ; but there is not the slightest reason to believe that any considerable man belonging to either of the great leading parties, has, for many years past, been tempted by the pitiful emoluments of office, or by any consideration merely selfish, to sacrifice his integrity or independence. Men who, as individuals, would be wicked enough to make such a sacrifice, could never in a public capacity be expected to sustain the honour of the nation: yet it is a fact, which few will venture to dispute, that how great soever the errors in policy which may have been imputable to ministers, the national honour and good-faith have hitherto been preserved without tarnish or reproach. This is a proof, at least, of honourable views in those who have been entrusted with the conduct of affairs—of principles which would in vain be sought for among the degraded victims of a base and sordid ambition. A great change is supposed to have taken place in the state of parties since the death of Pitt and Fox, who had so far elevated themselves by their talents above their contemporaries. No person, it is said, now follows either party with that implicit submission which he was wont to pay to the tenets of the one or other of these great leaders; but this opinion also seems to be founded on a very obvious mistake. The mere admiration of talents is not sufficient to insure political attachment; it goes a great way indeed towards preserving personal regard and veneration for the possessor, but in a matter so serious as the choice of a system of political opinions, it will not maintain that united and vigorous cooperation which is necessary to the power and influence of a party. No man ever stood higher in the public estimation for talents and virtue than the late Mr Burke; yet he could hardly be said at any period of his life to have commanded a party, or to have insured for his opinions implicit respect or active co-operation. Political attachments in honourable"minds arise out of a candid and rational preference for a system of opinions, by which it is supposed that the public safety and honour can be best maintained ; uninfluenced by personal regard or affection, they are founded on views far more generous and elevated. As a proof of this, we may refer to the career of those eminent men who have lately brought the public affairs to so #. an issue. They became the eaders of that party of which Mr Pitt was at one time the head; and they have been uniformly supported with no less zeal and union both in and out of parliament, than that illustrious statesman himself. There have been more numerous defections indeed from the whig, or opposition party ; and it is not difficult to give a satisfactory explanation of this circumstance, without supposing that the genuine followers of that party are defective in a sincere and steady attachment to its principles. It is natural for political adventurers, in the first instance, to engage on the side of opposition; they have there a better field for the display of those qualities on which they value themselves, a zealous, though narrow, hostility to existing institutions, , and a clamorous impatience of all control. But, as such persons are not in general very steady to their principles, and as they are easily seduced by the popular applause, which their arts seldom fail to obtain, they quickly separate themselves from those with whom they were at first accustomed to act, and by an affectation of greater purity and warmer zeal for the public service than either of the great parties possess, they strive to acquire the confidence of the lower
orders. It has thus happened, that, besides the ministerial and opposition parties, another tribe of politicians, of a singular and anomalous character, has made its appearance ; and as the two great parties in all their struggles o: the approbation of the higher and more intelligent orders, this new faction seized on the mob as the proper objects of its influence and authority. At the beginning of the present year, there were in this way three parties contending for influence, of which it may be proper in this place to give Some account, The ministerial party, of which the late Mr Perceval was at this time the leader, numbered among its supporters many very able men. Its chiefs unanimously concurred in a profound reverence for the principles and opinions of Mr Pitt, in whose school they were bred, and to whose memory they looked with feelings of veneration. It can scarcely be necessary to give any account of the political principles of this great man; they are known to all Europe, and exercised on its destinies for the last thirty yeara a greater influence than those of any other statesman. The leading maxims of his followers were persevering resistance to the dangerous ambition of France—a wise jealousy of the principles which have been drawn forth in the course of her revolution, and a firm determination in all circumstances to sustain the high rank of Great Britain in the scale of European powers. The principles of their foreign policy, therefore, were vigorous as they were simple; and with regard to domestic affairs, the constant tenor of their eonduct proved that although they were favourable to moderate and practical improvement, they entertained a salu
tary dread of intemperate innovation. .
They considered the mechanism of such a government as that of England to be a great deal too fine to be