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France. I had read little at the age of twenty-eight, and I had had no experience in such matters, having been in the army to the age of twenty-six, from the age of sixteen or seventeen. I knew that I was an Englishman, and, hearing my country attacked, I became her defender through thick and thin, always confounding the Government of my country with my country herself. That I laboured with great effect is well known; and, it is also well known, that, amidst the turmoil of passion which existed in that country, I was finally most unjustly compelled to pay an amount of damages, which together with the consequences of it, actually deprived me of every shilling I had in the world, and sent me home upon a subscription, raised by some very worthy men in Canada.
Now, it has been asserted, and particularly by a base tool of corruption, who publishes a newspaper at Exeter, that, when I came home, I was disappointed ; that the Government did not receive and reward me agreeably to my deserts; and, that, THEREFORE, I turned against it. You, George, know this to be false. However, the facts were these. Very soon after my arrival, I was invited to dine at Mr. WINDHAM's, who was then Secretary at War, and did dine in company of Pitt, who was very polite to me, and whose manners I very much admired. At this dinner, besides the brave and honest (though misguided) host, were Mr. CANNING, Mr. FRERE, Mr. GEORGE Ellis, and some others, whom I do not now recollect. I was never presumpluous in my life, and I regarded this as a great act of condescension on the part of Mr. WINDHAM, and more especially on the part of Mr. Pitt, of whose talents and integrity I had then the highest possible opinion ; for I, at that time, had no idea of such things as Bank bubbles and Lord Melville's accounts.
What reception could be more flatiering to a man who had been a private soldier but a few years before, and who, even then, had not more than six or seven hundred pounds in the world ? I was well aware, that Mr. Pitt never admitted newspaper writers to such an honour. What reason, therefore, had I to be disconiented with my reception 9 Howerer, I might, it will be said, look for something more solid than this. You, George, well know that I did not; and you also know, that I had some. thing more solid offered to me. And, this it was. John Heriot, was at that time, the proprietor of two newspapers, called the Sun, and the TRUB BRITON, the former an evening and the latter a morning paper. I had heard that these two papers had been set on foot by you, who were then one of the Secretaries of the Treasury, and that, when set on foot, the profits of them had been given to Heriot. Now, mark, that Mr. Ham. MOND, who was then Under Secretary of State in the Foreign Department, offered to me the proprietorship of one of those papers as a yut, and I remember very well that he told me, that this offer was made in consequence of a communication with you, or your colleague Mr. Long, I for. get which. This was no trilling offer. The very types, presses, &c. were worth a considerable sum. Mr. HAMMOND, who was a very honest as well as a very zealous and able man, had behaved with great kindness to me; bad invited me frequently to his house, where I dined, I recol. lect, with Sir William Scott, with Loru HAWKESBURY (now Lord Liver. pool), and several other persons of rank; and, in short, had shown me so much aftention, that I felt great reluctance in giving the following answer to his offer : “ I am very much obliged to you and to the gentle. "men, of whom you speak, for this offer ; but, though I am very poor,
“ my desire is to render the greatest possible service to my country, " and, I am convinced, that, by keeping myself wholly free, and relying “ upon my own means, I shall be able to give the Government much “ more efficient-support, than if any species of dependence could be traced " to me. At the same time, I do not wish to cast blame on those who " are thus dependent ; and I do not wish to be thought too conceited “ and too confident of my own powers and judgment, to decline any “ advice that you, or any one in office, may, at any time, be good enough “ to offer me; and, I shall always be thankful to you for any intelligence " or information, that any of you may be pleased to give me. Mr. HAMMOND did not appear at all surprised at my answer; and I shall always respect him for what he said upon hearing it. His words were nearly these : “Well
, I must say, that I think you take the honourable course and I most sincerely wish it may also be the profitable one." I ought not upon this occasion to omit to say, that I always understood, that Lord Grenville, who was then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was not one of those who approved of the baseness and dependence of the press.
Now, Mr. HAMMOND is alive; and, I am sure, if appealed to, he will not deny that what I have here stated is true. I do not mean, of course, to be exact as to every word; but as to the substance, as to the full and fair meaning, I engage that Mr. HAMMOND, whom I have not seen for twelve or thirteen years, will frankly vouch. It is not pleasant for me to name persons in this way; nor would I do it merely for my own character ; but, when the cause of my country is attacked through me, I think myself fully justified in detailing all the circumstances, and in appealing to all the evidence that exists.
There occurred, about the period last spoken of, a circumstance which brought me in contact with you, George ; and the statement of it will show how careful I was to guard my fingers against touching public money. I had brought home with me a large trunk or two of old books. These, when I arrived at Falmouth, the Collector, Mr. Pelew, told me I ought not to pay duty for, as they were merely library books and for private use, and not intended for sale; but, that he could not remit the duty; that the trunks must go round to London; and that, a memorial to the Treasury, addressed to you, would give the books untared. I addressed such memorial to you; and, I received for answer, that the duty must be paid, but that the Treasury would give me the amount. No, thank ye, said I. I wanted no communication of this sort. I paid the duty, and left you the money to lay out in some other way. This was a trifling sum ; but, it shows how scrupulous I was upon this head. Little did I imagine, that you possessed an estate in Hampshire at that time, and that I should live to see troops of baronets and country 'squires creeping at your heels!
The newspaper, which I set up, very soon failed. It was not, I found, an affair of talent but of irick. I could not sell paragraphs. I could not throw out hints against a man's or woman's reputation in order to bring the party forward to pay me for silence. I could do none of those mean and infamous things, by which the daily press, for the far greater part, was supported, and which enabled the proprietors to ride in chariots, while their underlings were actually vending lies by the line and inch. For a short time I was without writing at all, when, the change of Ministry having put Addington in place, and Mr. WINDHAM in the Opposi
tion, the latter, with Dr. LAURENCE, prevailed on me to undertake a weekly paper, and they engaged to enable me to set it on foot, for, really, I had not myself the means. But, these advances were made and expended upon the express and written conditions, that I should never be under the influence of any body. The money was to be looked upon as sunk in the risk; and I was never to be looked upon as under any sort of obligation to any of the parties. It was long before I would consent to the thing at all; but, when I did, it was upon these express and written conditions. And never did any one of the persons who advanced the money, attempt, in the slightest degree, to influence my opinions, which were frequently opposed to their own.
When the Whigs, as they were called, came into power, and when Mr. WINDHAM came to fill the high office of Secretary of State for the War and Colonial Departments, every one thought, that my turn to get rich was come. I was importuned by many persons to take care of myself, as they called it. But, as soon as I found from him, that he actually was in place, I told him, “ Now, Sir, to make all smooth with “ regard to me, I beg you to be assured, that it is my resolution to “ have no place, and not to touch one single farthing of the public “ money, in any shape whatever ;" and justice to his memory demands that I should say, that he, upon that occasion, told me, that I never should forfeit any part of his esteem by opposing the Ministry ; “ No," said he, “ nor even by any censure that you may think it your duty to pass upon my own conduct." Mr. WINDHAM is not alive to appeal to; but, my Lord FOLKESTONR is, and his Lordship, though not present upon this particular occasion, was well acquainted with all the facts, and, I shall not easily forget, that I was, by Mr. WINDHAM, made the bearer of an offer of a Lordship of the Admiralty to Lord FOLKESTONE, which the latter (will you believe it, George !) declined to accept of, though it was a clear thousand a year for doing little or nothing!
After these transactions came the prosecution under Perceval and by the mouth of Gibbs, of which I have spoken before, and the misrepresentations with regard to which have given rise to this relation. If I am asked how it happened that Walter came in possession of the fact of my having written to Mr. White the letter which was recalled by Mr. FINNERTY, I answer, that I cannot tell; but, that I suspect that it was communicated to him (with a suppression of the recalling) by a wretch whom he knows to be without an equal in the annals of infamy, not excepting the renowned JONATHAN Wild, and which wretch I will, when I have time, drag forth, and hold him up to the horror of mankind.
Now GEORGE, I am aware, that I have bestowed too much space upon matters belonging to myself; but, there was a necessity for saying something, not for my own sake, as I said before, so much as for the sake of the cause of the country, which has, by the hirelings of the press, been attempted to be stabbed through me, who have now so large a portion of the press in my hands. It would not become me to be answering calumnies every week of my life ; but, I beg the public to bear in mind, that if every dirty and foolish attack does not draw me instantly forth, they may always confidently rely, that no man will ever be able to bring against me any charge involving dishonesty or dishonour, that I cannot, and that I will not, prove to be false. There is another circumstance, to which the people ought to attend ; and that is, that there is such a thing as envy as well as hatred, and that the effects of the former are very nearly the same as those of the latter. There are writers, who pass for very good friends of freedom, and, indeed, are so very much attached to the cause, that they cannot endure the idea of a rival, especially if he carry away, however unintentionally, a considerable part of their readers, that is to say of their profits. I have read of a nation of savages, who entertain the strange notion, that when any one murders another of superior strength or talent, the murderer instantly becomes possessed of the envied qualities of the deceased. I rather think that the writers of a paper called the INDEPENDENT Whiç are no very remote descendants of this singular nation,
Having disposed of these calumniators for the present, and until they have had another run of a month or two, I now come, GEORGE, to notice your Saving-Bank Bubble. You were for a long time, the great patron of Friendly Societies, and procured several Acts of Parliament to be passed for their encouragement. But, as if by inspiration, you, all at once, discovered, that these were bad things; that they collected men together; that when so collected, they got drunk and talked, the naughty rogues! Yes, and even talked politics too! And, it might have been added, that they very frequently heard one of their members read the Register! It must be confessed, that this was intolerable, and, therefore, no one could be surprised when you came out with your new scheme of Saving-Banks, by the means of which the pennies of the poor were to be put together, while their persons were kept asunder! What a bubble! At a time, when it is notorious, that one-half of the whole nation are in a state little short of starvation; when it is notorious, that hundreds of thousands of families do not know, when they rise, wbere they are to find a meal during the day; when the far greater part of the whole people, much more than half of them, are paupers : at such a time to bring forth a project for collecting the savings of journeymen and labourers in order to be lent to the Government and to form a fund for the support of the lenders in sickness and old age! The Company of Projectors, who, in the reign of George the First, wanted a charter granted them for the purpose of “ making deal boards out of saw-dust;" this Company just saves you from the imputation of having, in the Saving-Bank Scheme, been the patron of the most ridiculous project that ever entered into the mind of man. This scheme was, it seems, of Edinburgh origin. That seat of all that is servile in politics and religion. That favourite resort of supple slaves and quack critics, whose conceit and impudence are surpassed only by their shallowness and dirty ambition. The object of the scheme was, to make the poor people believe themselves to be fundholders, and, thus, to range them on the side of the paper-system. How foolish the scheme was is now seen; but the object of it ought not to be forgotten.
But, let us see a little how the matter would have stood, if you could have prevailed on the labouring people to give up two, three, or four pence a week each. In the space of seven years, at 4d. a week, a man would have deposited 61. ls. Od.; and, if accumulated interest were added, the amount at the end of the seven years, would have been about seven pounds. So that, by pinching a little out of his already too small wages, he would, at the end of seven years, have possessed seyen pounds. But, all this time, he must have full employment, and must enjoy uninterrupted health. However, the curious thing would be, in this case, that, while he was saving this sum out of his scanty meals, he
would as things now are, pay seventy pounds to the Government in taxes, which at the rate of interest supposed in the former case, would, at the end of seven years, amount to about eighty-two pounds!
I have here supposed the case of the common day-labourer who receives no more than seven shillings a week; and, whether we take the beer, salt, leather, soap, candles, tea, sugar, tobacco, spirits, &c., which each family use, or whether we take the number of families and compare it with the total amount of the taxes, we shall find, that every such man really does pay ten pounds a-year out of eighteen pounds of wages, and that Mr. PRESTON's calculation is not at all exaggerated. Mr. PRESTON is a lawyer of great eminence; he has (whether to his profit or not, I do not know), become possessed of a great, or, at any rate, an extensive landed estate; he is a Member of Parliament for a borough ; and, what is more, he has always been a staunch Pittite, and so (with what degree of consistency is not for me to say) remains to this hour. He is, therefore, no Jacobin; -he does not want confusion; he cannot desire to see all property destroyed. And yet he distinctly asserts, that, out of eighteen pounds of wages, every labourer pays ten pounds in taxes, and I know that he asserts what is correct, except that he has, very wisely, kept within bounds.
This being the case, what a famous Saving-Bank System might be adopted by taking off the labourer's taxes, and by putting the ten pounds a-year into an accumulating fund! Then, at the end of seven years of health and of industry, the labourer would be possessed of eighty-two pounds, which would be something, indeed, not only to ward off misery from times of sickness and old age, but to give a man a start in the world. You will, I know, say, that the Government stands in need of these taxes. I know it does, according to the present system of erpense, which I contend ought to be changed. But, at any rate, this is nothing to my argument; for what I say, and indeed, what I prove is, that it is a scheme little short of a sign of madness, to propose to better the lot of the labourer by inducing him to pinch his belly to the amount of six pounds in seven years, while, in that same seven years, seventy pounds are paid by him in taxes.
The scheme for preventing the labouring classes from marrying has in it an equal portion of folly with the addition of a very large portion of insolent cruelty. The apprehensions of the Government, and of those who depend on it, have given rise to numerous inventions. They are alarmed, and very justly, at the enormous increase of the Poor-rates, which, since the commencement of the war against the people of France, have swelled up from 21 millions to 8 millions a-year in England and Wales alone; and, we must observe, that these rates have increased in amount more within the last ten years, than within the twenty years before. Besides, there is no probability, that they have not now arrived at the pitch of ten or twelve millions a year. This I have, for more than eleven years past, been foretelling; and, I now foretel, that, if the present system be persevered in, and, if a reform of the Parliament do NOT take place, the Poor-rates will, in three years from this day, amount to more than the whole of the rental of the kingdom, houses, lands and all.
Of this, I believe, many Gentlemen even in Parliament, are now well convinced ; and, therefore, divers schemes are on foot to prevent this dreadful catastrophe. The only scheme that could be effectual would be