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strongly opposed, on the ground of its bringing private families under the jurisdiction of the excise ; an objection, the full force of which must have been admitted, if means had not been taken to avoid all scrutiny by an easy commutation upon the principle of the assessed taxes. The o of Mr Perceval was, indeed, free from the objection which had been stated, as it

proceeded upon the principle of a rate .

according to the numbers in each family. To the proposition, even when thus modified, however, insuperable objections occurred. In the first place, the produce of the intended duty taken at the rate of five shillings a-head (the proposed assessment) had been greatly miscalculated, and instead of 500,000l., which was the sum required, would only amount to 250,000l. or 300,000l. But a still stronger objection occurred to the tax, from its unequal operation on the poorer classes. A poor man would brew the exact quantity required for the consumption of his family calculated upon the most frugal plan, while a rich man would provide for the entertainment of many visitors, and for the much more liberal consumption of his household: The consequence therefore would be, that if the tax were assessed at an equal rate upon each person in the family, the poor man would pay upon each barrel of a much inferior liquor a higher rate of duty than the rich would be charged for the best which could be prepared.—Inlieu of this tax, various minute additions were therefore proposed on such of the assessed taxes as operate on the principle of sumptuary laws. The amount of these additions was calculated at 515,000l. ; and the whole of the proposed duties would thus amount to 1,903,000l. It was very satisfactory to know, that after the country had so often appeared to have exhausted its resources, and after it had been so often stated that no fit subject for

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a sketch, met with universal approba

tion ; and every one was astonished, that by means apparently so simple, so great an addition could be made to the revenue of the country.—The fall which had taken place, however, in the publie funds, and the comparatively disadvantageous terms on which the late loan had been effected, called forth some observations from Mr Huskisson, whose opinion, in matters of finance, is entitled to great respect. This gentleman ascribed these unfa. vourable symptoms, in a great measure, to the support which England is accustomed to give to the credit of Ire. land; and he stated some very singular circumstances respecting the revenue of the sister kindgom. It appeared, that last year the interest upon the debt of Ireland was 4,400,000l., exceeding by half a million the whole amount of her revenue; so that, in fact, she had ao revenue at all which was productive of benefit to the empire. In the course of twelve years, since the Union, the addition made to her public debt was 68,500,000l. ; the interest upon this sum 3,190,000l. ; while the increased revenue to provide for the payment of that interest did not exceed 1,370,000l. Such had been the condition of her financial concerns since the Union; nor did it appear that they were now in a train of amendment.—The increase in the charge for the management of the revenue was not less singular. Before the Union it was 350,000l., and now it was no less than 900,000l., although the revenue to be collected had only been augmented by

1,370,000l. ; so that no less a sum than

550,000l. was charged for managing a revenue of 1,370,000l. Such a state of things imperiously demanded investigation. Although the Irish finances were in this unprosperous condition, it was universally admitted, that no part of the united kingdom was more rapidly improving ; the rent of land had risen prodigiously; the progress made in ariculture had been great; the manuactures of Ireland had not been materially injured by the war; yet it was not a little singular, that the produce of almost all the taxes in Ireland had of late years declined in proportion to her prosperity and her means of paying them. In the year 1799, the impost upon leather gave a revenue of 55,000l. and in 1811, it had fallen to 40,000l., though the consumption of that article must have greatly increased. The same remark applied to the tax on malt and beer. In 1799, the average quantity on which the duty was charged was 12,000-barrels; in the last year it was only 7,000. To what then was this diminution owing It was certain, that, besides great laxity in the collection of the revenue, there existed something like a connivance at fraud. The country was deeply indebted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland, for the unceasing pains he had taken to secure a more adequate collection of the taxes; but he had entirely failed, since nothing but a complete change of system could effect so desirable an object. The defalcation would appear the more remarkable when it was understood, that in Ireland not one direct tax was known ; and that in this respect her situation was better than that of any other country of the world, with the exception of the United States. The ublic credit of Ireland stands much É. than that of Great Britain; and yet this country was lending to the

sister kingdom assistance which she could by no means afford. If the public credit of Great Britain had not been thus grievously injured, the loan might have been contracted for on much better terms than those actually obtained.

Upon a review of the state of the national finances, Mr Huskissen declared, that an attention to economy had become indispensable; that considerable retrenchments ought to be made in the public establishments, particularly in the naval department, and that a change of system, as to matters of finance, was imperiously demanded by the circumstances of the country.— Sir Thomas Turton and Mr Tierney were of the same opinion; and in order to give a distinct view of the finances of the country, these gentlemen respectively moved a series of resolutions, embracing a comparative statement of the income, public expenditure, and debt, as in the years 1802 and 1812. Mr Tierney’s resolutions had no other object than to explain the progress of the public expenditure, and thus to enforce the necessity of some plan of economy and financial reform; but Sir Thomas Turton’s views were somewhat different, his last resolution having concluded, by declaring the necessity of peace, to avert the financial ruin with which the country was threatened. There were few, indeed, who concurred with him in this opinion; and as it appeared to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the resolutions proposed by both these gentlemen were inaccurate and defective, he himself came forward with a series of counter resolutions which will be found in the Appendix." They afford by far the most distinct and comprehensive view of the state of the commerce and revenue of the country, of the public income, expenditure, and debts, É. and unfunded, at the pe. riod to which they refer, that is now before the public ; and if the sketch which they present of the growing debts and burdens of the country be such as to teach her an impressive lesson of prudence and economy, it is no

* Wide Appendix.

less calculated, by the display of her

great wealth and resources, to silence those shallow persons who are so forward to announce to the world, that a failure of pecuniary means might have compelled England to submit her fortunes to the insolence of her enemies,

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 England were, about the beginning of this year, wound up to the highest pitch of amazement and horror, by the perpetration of barbarities hitherto unparalleled in the annals of the country. Crimes of deep atrocity, of wanton and savage cruelty, have been of rare occurrence in this island; and although offences against property have increased in full proportion to the growing wealth and luxury of the people, it is to the honour of the national character, that crimes of aggravated baseness and enormity have been little known amongst us. In some foreign countries, excesses of all kinds are so frequent, that they excite neither indignation nor horror; they are enumerated among the ordinary occurrences of the day, and quickly sink into oblivion. When such acts are perpetrated in this country, one general movement of detestation pervades the public mind; the whole o: of the magistracy are put in the most vigorous operation; the attention of the legislature is instantly roused, and the land resounds with shouts of indignation and vengeance. .. The solitary malignity of a wretch whose name will in future be classed VOL. v. PART I.

with those of the monsters who have

outraged and astounded humanity, had exterminated two whole families of innocent and unoffending beings, with circumstances of matchless cruelty.— The metropolis was in a ferment; alarm and distraction pervaded all corners of it; every one dreaded, lest himself and all who were dear to him, might become the next victims of a malignity, which seemed to transcend all limits, and to defy all calculation. The nature and extent of the conspiracy were, for some time, unknown ; and as no one could think that a single bloodthirsty monster could have required so much to satiate him, the existence of an extensive and formidable combination was very generally believed. . In thealarm of the moment, many causeless arrests took place, and many innocent persons were exposed to a painful and disgraceful scrutiny. The real criminal, however, was at last secured; yet owing to a degree of negligence which must for ever reflect discredit on those to whose care he was entrusted, he was suffered to elude by suicide the vengeance of the law. Conjectures, formed in the moment of alarm and dismay, were contradicted, to the surprise and relief of all; the ruffian, who

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had already disappointed the justice of the country, was ascertained to have been the solitary actor in the late atrocious scenes, and people seemed to have learned, for the first time, the extent which human ferocity was capable of reaching. Some great fault, it was supposed, must be chargeable on a system of police, which exposed the inhabitants of London to such dangers, and as the first suggestions of fear are always extravagant, many persons would have been willing to have surrendered their liberties, with the view of securing protection to their persons. A cry was raised for the establishment of a preventative armed police ; but the madness of such a proposal could not long escape observation. A preventative armed police can be nothing but a military police, and to subject the metropolis, as well as all the more considerable cities in the kingdom, to the government of soldiers, would have been, in fact, to surrender the liberties of the country. Those who appeared to believe that the soldiers might easily have been retained in subordination to the civil power, must have known little of the character of an army. It can never be safe to tell a body of men, who are naturally desirous of pre-eminence, that the tranquillity of the state cannot be preserved without their aid, nor is it possible, after such a declaration, to enforce respect to the civil power, which thus declares itself incompetent to the exercise of its most important functions. But besides being more dangerous, a military police must be always less effective than a well-ordered civil police ; close and patient attention to the discovery and prevention of crimes constitutes the most valuable quality of all establishments of this kind; a quality which can never be expected in soldiers, whose mode of life tends to encourage in them habits

of a kind so opposite. The absurdity of this plan, in short, which was the mere offspring of a momentary alarm, soon became apparent, even to those who had originally proposed it, and the project of a military police was speedily abandoned. The defects, however, in many parts of the actual establishment could not escape observation.—It was not till the year 1774, that parliament interfered with the police of the metropolis, by passing an act, which applied only to fifteen of the most populous parishes. Each parish had, in former times, provided the means for its own protection; but by the act referred to, directors and trustees were appointed, under whose controul, the watch, the patrole, and the beadles, were placed. The immense increase of the metropolis, however, since the act was passed, had gone far to destroy its efficacy; and various abuses had crept in, by which some of the most important provisions of the statute were disregarded. The act had, in particular, provided, that none but able-bodied men should be appointed to guard the streets at night, a provision which had been notoriously evaded for a number of years. It was the opinion of government, however, that the laws already in existence, if properly enforced, would, with some slight alterations and amendments, be found quite sufficient for the preservation of the public peace; but before recommending any measure to parliament, it was the wish of ministers that due enquiry should be made into 'all the circumstances by a committee of the House of Commons. Mr Ryder, the secretary of state for the home department, accordingly moved for the appointment of a committee to examine into the state of the nightly watch of the metropolis and the pārishes adjacent.—It was stated on this occasion, that although no system of police, however vigorous, could

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