Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

strongly opposed, on the ground of its taxation remained, it was still practicabringing private families under the ju. ble to provide, with so little pressure risdiction of the excise ; an objection, on the people, and especially on the the full force of which must have been lower classes of the community, so admitted, if means had not been ta. large a sum as that of which the deken to avoid all scrutiny by an easy tails have just been explained. commutation upon the principle of the The measures of the Chancellor of assessed taxes. The plan of Mr Per. the Exchequer, of which the above is ceval was, indeed, free from the ob. a sketch, met with universal approbajection which had been stated, as it tion; and every one was astonished, proceeded upon the principle of a rate that by means apparently so simple, so according to the numbers in each fa. great an addition could be made to the mily. To the proposition, even when revenue of the country.-The fall thus modified, however, insuperable which had taken place, however, in the objections occurred. In the first place, publie funds, and the comparatively the produce of the intended duty taken disadvantageous terms on which the at the rate of five shillings a-head (the late loan had been effected, called forth proposed assessment) had been greatly some observations from Mr Huskismiscalculated, and instead of 500,0001., son, whose opinion, in matters of fin which was the sum required, would nance, is entitled to great respect. only amount to 250,0001. or 300,0001. This gentleman ascribed these unfa. But a still stronger objection occurred vourable symptoms, in a great measure, to the tax, from its unequal operation to the support which England is ac. on the poorer classes. A poor man customed to give to the credit of Ire. would brew the exact quantity requi- land ; and he stated some very singured for the consumption of his family lar circumstances respecting the re. calculated

upon the most frugal plan, venue of the sister kindgom. It ap. while à rich man would provide for peared, that last year the interest upon the entertainment of many visitors, the debt of Ireland was 4,400,0001., and for the much more liberal cơn- exceeding by half a million the whole sumption of his household : The con amount of her revenue ; so that, in sequence therefore would be, that if fact, she had no revenue at all which the tax were assessed at an equal rate was productive of benefit to the em, upon each person in the family, the pire. In the course of twelve years, poor man would pay upon each barrel since the Union, the addition made to of a much inferior liquor a higher rate her public debt was 68,500,0001. ; the of duty than the rich would be char- interest upon this sum 3,190,000l.; ged for the best which could be pre- while the increased revenue to provide pared. In lieu of this tax, various mi- for the payment of that interest did nute additions were therefore proposed not exceed 1,370,0001. Such had been on such of the assessed taxes as operate the condition of her financial concerns. on the principle of sumptuary laws. since the Union ; nor did it appear that The amount of these additions was cal. they were now in a train of amendculated at 515,0001. ; and the whole of ment. The increase in the charge for the proposed duties would thus amount the management of the revenue was not to 1,903,000l. It was very satisfactory less singular. Before the Union it was to know, that after the country had 350,0001., and now it was no less than so often appeared to have exhausted 900,0001., although the revenue to be its resources, and after it had been so collected had only been augmented by often stated that no fit subject for 1,370,000l. ; so that no less a sum than

550,000l. was charged for managing a sister kingdom assistance which she revenue of 1,370,000l. Such a state of could by no means afford. If the pub. things imperiously demanded investiga- lic credit of Great Britain had not been tion. Although the Irish finances were thus grievously injured, the loan might in this unprosperous condition, it was have been contracted for on much bet. universally admitted, that no part of ter terms than those actually obtained. the united kingdom was more rapidly Upon a review of the state of the improving ; the rent of land had risen national finances, Mr Huskisson de. prodigiously;

the
progress

made in a. clared, that an attention to economy griculture had been great; the manu had become indispensable ; that consi. factures of Ireland had not been mate. derable retrenchments ought to be rially injured by the war; yet it was made in the public establishments, parnot a little singular, that the produce ticularly in the naval department, and of almost all the taxes in Ireland had that a change of system, as to matters of late years declined in proportion to of finance, was imperiously demanded her prosperity and her means of paying by the circumstances of the country. them. In the year 1799, the impost Sir Thomas Turton and Mr Tierney upon leather gave a revenue of 55,0001. were of the same opinion ; and in order and in 1811, it had fallen to 40,0001., to give a distinct view of the finances though the consumption of that arti- of the country, these gentlemen recle must have greatly increased. The spectively moved a series of resolu. same remark applied to the tax on tions, embracing a comparative statemalt and beer. In 1799, the average ment of the income, public expenditure, quantity on which the duty was and debt, as in the years 1802 and charged was 12,000-barrels ; 'in the 1812. Mr Tierney's resolutions had year

it was only 7,000. To what no other object than to explain the prothen was this diminution owing? It gress of the public expenditure, and was certain, that, besides great laxi. thus to enforce the necessity of some ty in the collection of the revenue, plan of economy and financial reform ; there existed something like a conni- but Sir Thomas Turton's views were vance at fraud. The country was deep- somewhat different, his last resolution ly indebted to the Chancellor of the having concluded, by declaring the Exchequer for Ireland, for the uncea. necessity of peace, to avert the finansing pains he had taken to secure a cial ruin with which the country was more adequate collection of the taxes; threatened. There were few, indeed, but he had entirely failed, since no. who concurred with him in this opi. thing but a complete change of sys- nion; and as it appeared to the Chantem could effect so desirable an object. cellor of the Exchequer that the reThe defalcation would appear the more solutions proposed by both these gen. remarkable when it was understood, tlemen were inaccurate and defective, that in Ireland not one direct tax was he himself came forward with a series known ; and that in this respect her of counter resolutions which will be situation was better than that of any found in the Appendix.* They afford other country of the world, with the by far the most distinct and compreexception of the United States. The hensive view of the state of the compublic credit of Ireland stands much merce and revenue of the country, higher than that of Great Britain ; and of the public income, expenditure, and yet this country was lending to the debts, funded and unfunded, at the pe.

last

* Vide Appendix.

riod to which they refer, that is now great wealth and resources, to silence before the public ; and if the sketch those shallow persons who are so forwhich they present of the growing ward to announce to the world, that a debts and burdens of the country be failure of pecuniary means might have such as to teach her an impressive les compelled England to submit her forson of prudence and economy,

tunes to the insolence of her enemies, less calculated, by the display of her

it is no

1

CHAP. IV.

State of the Nightly Watch and Police of the Metropolis. Account of the

Riots in different Parts of the Country. Bill for increasing the Punishment of Persons breaking or destroying Frames. Bill for preventing the administering or taking unlawful Oaths. Report of a Secret Committee on the disturbed State of certain Counties. Bill for the Preservation of the Public Peace in the disturbed Counties.

The feelings of the people of Eng- with those of the monsters who have land were, about the beginning of this outraged and astounded humanity, had year, wound

up to the highest pitch exterminated two whole families of inof amazement and horror, by the per. nocent and unoffending beings, with petration of barbarities hitherto un. circumstances of matchless cruelty.paralleled in the annals of the country. The metropolis was in a ferment; aCrimes of deep atrocity, of wanton larm and distraction pervaded all corand

savage cruelty, have been of rare ners of it ; every one dreaded, lest him. occurrence in this island; and although self and all who were dear to him, might offences against property have increa. become the next victims of a malignity, sed in full proportion to the growing which seemed to transcend all limits, wealth and luxury of the people, it is and to defy all calculation. The nato the honour of the national charac- ture and extent of the conspiracy were, ter, that crimes of aggravated baseness for some time, unknown; and as no and enormity have been little known one could think that a single bloodamongst us. In some foreign coun. thirsty monster could have required tries, excesses of all kinds are so fre. so much to satiate him, the existence , quent, that they excite neither indig- of an extensive and formidable combi. nation nor horror ; they are enumera. nation was very generally believed. In ted

among the ordinary occurrences of the alarm of the moment, many causeless the day, and quickly' sink into obli arrests took place, and many

innocent vion. When such acts are perpetra- persons were exposed to a painful and ted in this country, one general move- disgraceful scrutiny. The real crimi. ment of detestation pervades the pub- nal, however, was at last secured ; yet lic mind; the whole powers of the ma. owing to a degree of negligence which

are put in the most vigorous must for ever reflect discredit on those operation ; the attention of the legis. to whose care he was entrusted, he lature is instantly roused, and the land was suffered to elude by suicide the resounds with shouts of indignation vengeance of the law. Conjectures,

formed in the moment of alarm and The solitary malignity of a wretch dismay, were contradicted, to the surwhose name will in future be classed prise and relief of all; the ruffian, who

gistracy

and vengeance.

VOL. V. PART I.

G

[ocr errors]

had already disappointed the justice of of a kind so opposite. The absurdity the country, was ascertained to have of this plan, in short, which was the been the solitary actor in the late atro mere offspring of a momentary alarm, cious scenes, and people seemed to have soon became apparent, even to those learned, for the first time, the extent who had originally proposed it, and which human ferocity was capable of the project of a military police was reaching

speedily abandoned. Some great fault, it was supposed, The defects, however, in many parts must be chargeable on a system of po. of the actual establishment could not lice, which exposed the inhabitants of escape observation. It was not till London to such dangers, and as the the year 1774, that parliament interfirst suggestions of fear are always ex. fered with the police of the metropotravagant, many persons would have lis, by passing an act, which applied been willing to have surrendered their only to fifteen of the most populous liberties, with the view of securing parishes. Each parish had, in former protection to their persons. A cry times, provided the means for its own was raised for the establishment of a

protection ; but by the act referred to, preventative armed police ; but the directors and trustees were appointed, madness of such a proposal could not under whose controul, the watch, the long escape observation.

patrole, and the beadles, were placed. A preventative armed police can be The immense increase of the metronothing but a military police, and to polis, however, since the act was passsubject the metropolis, as well as all ed, had gone far to destroy its effithe more considerable cities in the cacy ; and various abuses had crept in, kingdom, to the government of sol. by which some of the most important diers, would have been, in fact, to sur- provisions of the statute were disre. render the liberties of the country. garded. The act had, in particular, Those who appeared to believe that provided, that none but able-bodied the soldiers might easily have been re men should be appointed to guard the tained in subordination to the civil streets at night, a provision which had power, must have known little of the been notoriously evaded for a number character of an army.

It can never of years. It was the opinion of governbe safe to tell a body of men, who ment, however, that the laws already in are naturally desirous of pre-eminence, existence, if properly enforced, would, that the tranquillity of the state can with some slight alterations and amendnot be preserved without their aid, nor ments, be found quite sufficient for the is it possible, after such a declaration, preservation of the public peace ; but to enforce respect to the civil power, before recommending any measure to which thus declares itself incompe. parliament, it was the wish of ministers tent to the exercise of its most im. that due enquiry should be made into portant functions. But besides being 'all the circumstances by a committee more dangerous, a military police must of the House of Commons. be always less effective than a well.or. Mr Ryder, the secretary of state dered civil police ; close and patient for the home department, accordingly attention to the discovery and preven. moved for the appointment of a com. tion of crimes constitutes the most va mittee to examine into the state of the luable quality of all establishments of nightly watch of the metropolis and this kind; a quality which can never the parishes adjacent. It was stated be expected in soldiers, whose mode of on this occasion, that although no syslife tends to encourage in them habits tem of police, however vigorous, could

« ForrigeFortsett »