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taxed without his own consent," and which, at the same time, excluded him from roting, unless, in addition to his being taxed, he possessed the qualification given him by a wife and by renting a house?
To make the right of voting depend on the possession of property of any sort, would not, in some cases, be so good as the present system, which in some cities and towns extends the right to free men of certain trades. But, to extend the right to mere householders, and to stop there, would in principle be even more capricious and partial than the present system, though, I am aware, that it would have answered the purpose, in practice, if it could have been obtained. But, while it was full as objectionable to the Boroughmongers as the Universal Suffrage, it did not please the petitioners, and Canning very quickly availed himself of this circumstance, when Sir Francis BURDETT talked of his Householder plan. He said, “this is full as bad as any other plan; "but, at any rate, it is a plan that nobody petitions for. The noble " Lord's plan (Lord Cochrane's, who said he agreed with the peti" tioners,) is really petitioned for. It is ruin, it is confiscation, it is “revolution, it is devastation and carnage: I am aware of all that; " but at any rate it does come supported by the prayers of numerous "petitioners; while all the other plans have not one single petitioner in
support of either of them.” This was very flippant and very impudent, but the argument against the divers plans, other than that of Universal Suffrage, was perfectly fair.
The question, when it came to this stage, was not what one man, of twenty or thirty men, might think best; but what the people thought best, and what they were ready to support with all their might. for no man to be judge for a whole people. No man was bound to act contrary to his own opinion ; yet it may be wise, and just, and publicspirited sometimes to do so ; but, no man ought, by the opposing of his own opinion to that of a whole people, to endanger the success of their virtuous cause ; especially when it must be obvious to him, that the following of his own opinion, could, in no sense or degree whatsoever, lessen the opposition which would be made to what he would have to propose.
I was, as I said before, of opinion, that the Boroughmongers would yield nothing at this time; but, because this was my opinion, I was not, for that reason, to desist. The thing was just and right. It was always justifiable to endeavour to obtain the Reform ; and, if I could have been quite sure that we should fail now, it was justifiable to pursue the path that I pursued; because, after we were fairly on foot, to have retreated without coming to the onset would have done much more mischief to the cause, than a mere suspension of its complete triumph can possibly have done. With several gentlemen I reasoned upon the subject, thus : “We can do no harm, except to a dozen or two of persons,
amongst whom I shall certainly be one. I am aware, that the Boroughmongers, though we shall drive them to the wall in argument, will now be too strong for us, if they resort to force. But then, what
follows ? Why, their system will stand before the people in its true "and undisyuised form and character; and that will be accomplishing
more than one half our work. I know very well what Gagging Bills are; and I know how they were smoothed over during the war, when
80 many means of false alarms existed. But I also know, that if "resorted to now, the thing will admit of no smoothing over ; it will
" admit of no disguise ; no palliation ; and the people will see clearly, “ that they can never be safe again as long as seats are bought and " sold. We shall succeed now, or we shall not. If we succeed, the “ nation and all its ancient laws and establishments are safe. If we fail, " there must be a system introduced equal to a great revolution ; and, " then it is impossible that final success can be at any great distance. “ The length of time, however, that this new order of things may last is “ of little consequence, it being, in my opinion, far preferable, that the “ shadow of freedom should be removed, than that the shadow should “ remain after the reality is gone. It is,” I used to say, “the hypocrisy “ of the thing that I most dislike, and the effects of which have been the “ most fatal to the country. The talk about liberty, about personal “ safety, about free press, about the right of petition, and the vague “ idea that the people have that all these exist: these are the things " which have done the mischief. It was the fair face and smooth “ tongue of Celia, and not the seeing of her paints and ointments, that “ kept her swain in bondage. We shall at any rate, compel the
Boroughmongers to throw off the mask; and, when that is done " let them live and carry on their system as comfortably as they can."
This was the reasoning upon which I proceeded, and I could call twenty persons to bear testimony to my having used it. And, there the Boroughmongers are with all their Acts of Parliament about them! They wallow in wealth ; they possess boundless power ; but, is there upon the whole earth, a man who envies them ? Dungeons and gibbets are their security. The dread of death, or of punishment equal to death, levelled against a whole people, they have thought necessary to their preservation. What a fact this is to proclaim to the world! They hare proclaimed that it is dangerous to them, that the people should read! They have resorted to means to prevent the people from hearing what they are doing ; aye, to means such as the most guilty and timid of individuals would scorn to employ.
I should now proceed to refer to the circumstances which occurred at the opening of the Parliament, but, seeing some things in the London papers which require immediate notice, I shall here conclude this second letter to you, with expressing my most sincere regard, and with begging you to remember me and my sons most affectionately to all the persons of your families. Pray, Mr. HINXMAN, remember us to your neighbours about Chilling and at Posbrooke, and to our good and kind neighbours at Botley, when you see them. If you should happen to meet" the Boiley Parson,” emphatically so called, pray tell him, that I advise him not to emigrate hither by any means; for that here the farmers do not pay eight shillings sterling an acre for tithes ; that a man may have a garden and orchard a thousand times as large as mine at Botley, and gather all the fruit himself, without sending to any parson to come and take his tenth apple, pear, &c.; and that a man, when he has a hen's nest, or a farrow of pigs, is not afraid of a parson coming to pry into his hen house or his pig-stye. Tell him from me, if you please, that the parsons here do not profess to be spies of the Government; and, that a son never gets a good fat living in a church on the score of the futher's having served a Lord at an election. But, tell him, too, that the parsons here, never get horse-whipped with inpunity to the whipper ; nor do they truck their pork in the sea-ports, for old clothes, to vend to their owo domestics at a profit. He once
undertook to cure the paupers of the parish of the itch for five pounds, another source of profit that would fail him here, seeing that, as we have no tithes, so we have no paupers.
I am your faithful friend,
Postscript, June 14, 1817.--Mr. James Perry: --I have said enough of my calumniators, and the calumniators of my motives ; but this mean and dastardly man must have one more blow, which I bestow on him because he is the well-known organ of the Whigs, that faction which is really more Boroughmongering than the Pittites, and who have been more active in procuring the abolition of liberty in England.
This man in a paper of late date, says, that I, at some dislance back, was shaping my course for America, because my Register had fallen so low in England; that, upon the publication of the cheap Register, of which I sold considerable rumheis (mind the curious phrase !), I changed my mind, and intended to remain at home ; but that the Gagging Bills having greatly reduced my sale, I again resolved to set off to America.
Now, the object of all this is to inculcate the notion, that I have all along been actuated purely by motives of a mercenary nature. However, supposing for a moment this to be true, this man, in his eagerness to calumniate, forgets, that in saying (which is false) that the Gagging Bills had reduced my sale, he clearly acknowledges, that, if I did lose readers, it was only in consequence of those acts of force, which no man could resist, and which wholly put an end to public liberty. He forgets, too, that he bimself bad, on the 18th of April, distinctly said, that the circular of Lord Sidmouth was directed against my cheap Register. And he forgot, while he was giving such a detail of my reasons, and of those operations of my mind which had finally taken me to North America; he forgot, while he was at this work, that he himsell had told his readers, about twelve days before, that I was gone to South America. This man, in speaking of the circular of Lord SiDMOUTH, and in ascribing it to a desire to suppress my cheap Register, adds: “In those publi“cations WE were not always gently treated ; but, We should be base “ indteil, if we could see without emotion encroachments on the Con“stitution, by the suppression of writings, even if those writings should “ be directed against OURSELVES.”
Yes, Mr. Perry, you would be base indeed, if you could see this without emotion ; but, let me tell you, Sir, that you would not in this case be guilty of baseness nearly so detestable as that of taking advantage of his compulsory flight from the Gagging Bills, to utter the foulest of calumnies against the author of those writings. Lord SiDMOUTH'S circular is force; it is, as you call it, an arbitrary suppression of my writings; but it is as much less foul than your proceeding, as a highway robber's act is less foul than that of a wretch who endeavours to destroy by poison, the object of his hatred. The ground, too, of his Lordship’s proceeding is less dishonourable to human nature. He manifestly proceeds upon the opinion, false or true, that the suppression of my writings is necessary to the permanency of the system, in the carrying on of which he is a great agent; while your motive is that of sheer envy, the basest of all the passions that ever cursed the human breast; a passion which sticks at nothing; which is ashamed of no means, however foul; and
which, alone, could have led you to commit so base an act, and that, too, under a conviction, that you could do it with impunity. Suppose I were to say of a man, that he was, at once, the most extravagant and most sordid wretch alive ; that he cribbed from every one ; took brides for inserting or suppressing paragraphs, while he employed a half year's plunder at a time in order to purchase the company of some men of title to eat his turtle and drink his Burgundy; that he, while playing the patriot, had always his eye upon a place, which he seized hold of with eagerness equal to the malice engendered by its loss; that he was every morning preaching morality, and every evening trading in the lowest of debaucheries in the very streets; and that, to crown all, while he was smirking along the fashionable promenades with the airs and self-complacency of an Adonis, his squinting eyes and distorted visage rendered him so dreadfully odious, that nothing short of a stock of vanity, such as human being never possessed before, could have emboldened him to go out of his house, even to take the air for the preservation of his life. If I were to say this of any man, would it not be called base, though warranted to the very letter by truth? What, then, shall we call your calumnies on me, which are all bottomed in what you know to be false, and which surpass in malignity anything here said of this imaginary despicable wretch ? If you have not been “gently treated” in my publications, it is because I thought you, as I still think you, an enemy. and one of the worst enemies, of the liberties of the country. Even in the very paragraph which I have last quoted from your paper you serve the Boroughmongers as far as you are able. You call Lord SiDMOUTH'S CIRCULAR “an encroachment upon the Constitution !” What Constitution was there, pray, after the Secretaries had the absolute power of imprisonment in their hands; after it was made death to attempt to seduce a soldier from his duty; after the Magistrates could prevent, at their pleasure, meetings to petition; after they had the licensing of all reading places; and, after it was made treason, permanent treason, to attempt to over-awe either House of Parliament; which might mean the use of any strong argument tending to produce Reform ? After all this had taken place, what Constitution was there remaining? To what, then, are we to impute this remark of yours? To drivelling, or to hypocrisy ? Take your choice. To convict you of a positive, distinct, and wilful falsehood may be useless, as you stand convicted of so many before ; but, it may not be amiss to show you, that you are not safe from detection, notwithstanding my distance from you. You say, that my Register was at one time so low in sale as 750, and that it was precisely at this time that I sent out my nephew to try the American market. Now, I appeal to Mr. Clement, who lives within musket-shot of you, and whose word is, at least, worth your oath, for the fact, that at that very time, the sale was more than 1600 and yielded a profit of 15001. a year or more. Thus I charge you in the face of our country with a wilful falsehood, invented by yourself, and published behind my back for the basest of purposes, namely, that of gratisying your personal malice, when you thought you were safe from detection. After this, must not the man who affects to believe you be a hypocrite, and he who really believes you be a fool ? You acknowledge, that I sold " considerable numbers of the cheap Register;" I did, indeed, more in the nine months, ending with the month of March, 1817, than you have sold of the MORNING CHRONICLES during the twenty-seven years that you have
owned that paper. It was, upon my word, a very “considerable number." And you, as well as Lord Sidmouth, may be pleased to bear in mind, that what has been read cannot be unread. Neither his mandate nor your malice can effect this purpose ; and, unless you can effect this, you effect nothing in the end. You and his Lordship may bear in mind, too, that there can be no relaxation of the present system, as long as I live, without again giving a free course to my publications : to those very publications, which his Lordship so much dreads, and whence arises that envy which is ready to choke you in your own gall. But, the cheap Register “ fell off in sale on the passing of the Gagging Bills.” Well! and what then? Why, it was a proof, that the people were afraid if they continued to sell it, not that they should be prosecuted according to law; but that they should be taken, at once, and crammed into a dungeon, without the use of pen, ink, and paper, and without a right to see their wives and children. A very sufficient reason for “the falling off,'' as you call it, though you are the first person to inform me of it ; and though I know, that of the number which was published after the issuing of Lord Sidmouil's circular, TWENTY THOUSAND copies were sold, in London only, in ONE DAY, a greater Number than ever was sold in any one day before ; and four times as many as were sold of Burke's pamphlet altogether, except what was bought by the Treasury to be dispersed. So that, the “falling off,” when it comes, will be proved, at any rate, to have formed no part of my reasons for quitting England. You and the hirelings of the Boroughmongers have laughed at the idea of continuing my weekly publication in Englund. I promised my readers that they should have a number from me in three months from the date of my Lente-taking Address. I have kept my word. I have sent them three numbers, and I shall send them one for every week. If the Boroughmongers suppress them, I cannot help that, but even this they cannot do completely without great trouble. They must have more acts and moro mandates; and after all I will elude their grasp ; and I fairly tell them now, as I told them before, that, as long as I have life, they shall feel the effects of my pen, unless they vield their power of disposing of the seats in Parliament. Of this they may be assured, and, who but such men as you will not applaud the steps I have taken, in order to set them at defiance.
MR. Curwer's POOR-LAW PROJECT.-This gentleman's project is, I see, in precisely that state that all his projects finally come to ; to wit: in a state of smoke! He and his Committee may sit till doomsday, but they will never do anything that shall tend to diminish that load of iaxes, called Poor-rates, unless they make the Boroughmongers take off the other tares to an enormous amount, and this the latter cannot do without over-setting the main prop of their power, the Funding System. Mr. Curwen's plan is a Saving-Bank plan, than which there never was any thing more foolish in the world. The thing carries absurdity upon the very face of it, and upon every individual feature of that face. To make present abundance provide for future want is reasonable enough, but it 13 what men do of themselves if they are of a provident disposition, and upon the supposed existence of such a disposition, the plan proceeds and must proceed. But, to make present want provide against future misery. is a scheme that never before entered the minds of any men upon earth. Either the journeymen and labourers have quite enough to eat, drink, and wear now, or, they have not enough. If the former, why suppose that