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other operations of the banking and funding system; as long as I remained in this state, Corruption took little notice of me. She knew very well, that the tax-gatherer would take care to keep me in a situation sufficiently humble as to pecuniary matters. But, when she saw that the resources of my mind had not only enabled me to set all the country to reading, and that, too, at so cheap a rate as to drive from the field all the tribes of “Religious Tracts” and “ Moral Tracts" and “Amusing Tracts” and Tracts for the Poor” and the “ Lancastrian Tracts ” and the “National Tracts;" when Corruption saw that my litile publication had not only swept all these from the field, and bad made the people, in the space of three short months ashamed of their own folly in having been amused by the puerile effusions of fanatics and the crafty baits of hypocrites ; when she saw that my talents bad not only produced this wonderful effect in so short a space of time, but had also opened to me a mine of wealth, in spite of the lowness of my prices and liberality of my allowances to dealers, which partook of that carelessness about money which has characterised all the transactions of my life; when Corruption saw that I must be rich in spite of myself, and that my fame and my riches were going on increasing together, then it was that she, aided by her infernal associate, ENVY, set herself to work! For some time Corruption knew not what to do. She tried various underhand means, in all of which she had the cordial co. operation of Envy. At last, driven to extremities by my perseverance in a strictly legal and loyal course, she resolved on open violence, which, however, she could not commit upon me without committing it, at the same time, upon the laws of the country. In the commission of these acts of violence, BALEFUL ENVY was her constant associate! And even at this moment the country owes all the acts that have been committed against it, as much, and even more, to envy than it does to corruption herself. Had it not been for the base, the detestable feelings of envy which prevailed at the opening of the present session of Parliament, those Acts which have been passed, never would have been passed. Of this matter I shall speak more in detail another time; but I repeat here, that the cause of Reform has suffered more from this detestable feeling of envy than it has suffered from all other enemies put together. When I say that it has suffered, I mean for the present ; for as to the future, neither corruption nor envy can prevent its success. All that was contained in the Register was, with Envy, “ Verv good indeed ; very true, very “powerful; but Cobbett; the people talked of nobody but Cobbett! Why “should Cobbett know more than any body else ? why should he have “ all the praise?” The truth is, that I did not want it; that I never sought for it; that no man living was ever so ready to give praise to others, labouring in the same cause, as I have been ; that no man living ever took such pains to draw public applause down upon the heads of others as I have; and, what is still more, that no other man living ever stood silent and heard so many others applauded to the skies, admired beyond all bounds of expression, for the very plumage IN WHICH HE HİMSELF HAD DECORATED THEM. How often, good God! have I, after having put words into men's mouths ; after having made wisdom come forth out of the mouths of babes and of sucklings; how often have I quoted these very words of my own as being their words, and took merit to myself for having had the diligence to select and republish their wise sayings! How often have I acted thus ! How scrupulous have 1
been in observing the most impenetrable silence upon these matters, and, at last, to see Envy exerting all her malignant influence ; keeping at one time, a glum silence, and, at another time, endeavouring to mar by her doubts and hesitations the cause of the people; merely because the spon. taneous and universal sentiment of the nation had placed me at the bead of that cause! To see this at last after all my ten or twelve years of disregard of fame; after all the millions of proofs that I had given of having no envy in my own disposition, was a little too much for me patiently to endure. It was very natural for men to wish themselves in my place. It was natural for them to wish that all the people in the kingdom should be reading and repeating their words; but it was not natural for them to say, or to act as if they had said : “ Perish the cause of the people, rather
than let it succeed without our being considered as the prime instrument of its success.” This was as unnatural, as unmanly, as base, and
every way as wicked, as any of those acts of which we have ever complained. But, Envy will not succeed in the end. Nay, she has not succeeded even thus far; for, the very measures of which she has secretly approved, in the producing of which she has so mainly assisted, and in the adoption of which she has, within herself exulted, because they tended to check, and, as she hoped, to destroy the progress of that influence, the sight of which ber eyes could not endure; those very measures have only the more loudly proclaimed my fame to the world, seeing that there is not one single individual in England, who does not well know, that all the new laws ; that all the provisions in those laws ; that all the reports, all the imprisonments, all the hatched plots, all the schemes and all the contrivances have been principally levelled at my writings. This is so well known, that every man in England would be deemed an idiot who affected to doubt it. Therefore, Envy, as far as things have gone, has only laboured to defeat her own purposes ; and her ladyship may be well assured, that the part, which she has now to act, is a more difficult one than any she has ever acted before. To give her open approbation of what is going on at this time, sbe dares not. She cannot very well be silent while it is going on. Yet, if it goes on, it will be seen how impotent she is; and if it ceases, she has me and my writings back again to mortify her more than
And now let us proceed to our history of the last hundred days of English freedom.
The cause of Refurm was the subject of discussion. Disguise the matter how they will; talk as long as they please about plots and Spenceans, it was Reform that approached the Boroughmongers in such a formidable shape, and, against this it was that they armed themselves. This was no new cause : very far from it. The principle, that no man shall be tared without his own consent is as old as England is, or at least, as the very oldest of the laws of England. This was, in fact, the cause of HAMPDEN, the cause of SIDNEY; it was the cause of the Revolution in 1688, and it was the cause at the Revolution in 1817.
The American revolutionary war had the same basis. The Boroughmongers would insist upon taxing the Americans without suffering them to send Members to Parliament. These latter resisted, and their gallant and legal resistance was crowned with success. That war had brougbt on the nation such a burden of taxes, that the people looked to a real representation as their only safeguard for the future. The subject of Reform
was agitated. Mr. Pitt, the Duke of Richmond, and hundreds of others, then stood forward in the cause of Reform.
* * *
The latter, as you
well know, brought a Bill into the House of Lords to effect this grand purpose. Mr. Pitt declared, that “no honest mar could be minister without a Reform in the Commons' House.” Mr. Wilberforce, too, was a Reformer. Pitt's alliance with Dundas made him forget all his notions about Reform. But, so late as the year 1793, Mr. Grey, Mr. SHERIDAN, the late and present Dukes of Bedford, and many others, signed a petition, which was presented to the House of Commons, in which they state, that they are ready to prove at the Bar, that the people had no voice in choosing a majority of that House.
The French Revolution had now begun, and, as a real representative government had been established there, it was easy to see, that it would be quite impossible to keep the people of England quiet without a Reform, if the limited kingly government and a freely-chosen assembly were suffered to exist in France. Therefore, and for no other cause, it was resolved to go to war with the new Government of France, having first stimulated other powers to begin that war. The war succeeded in restoring the Bourbons, and in destroying freedom wherever she had raised her head on the Continent. But, in performing this work, the Boroughmongers contracted such a load of debt, that, at the close of the war, they found the nation completely ruined. They expected fine sudshine days for the rest of their lives ; but, behold! they were worse off than before they began their war! They thought, that they had stifled the spirit of Reform for ever, but, they found, that all the evils of the country were speedily traced to the old source. Men asked each other what was the cause of this unexampled misery after so glorious a war. The taxes was the answer. And why not lessen the taxes? They are wanted for the Debt, the Standing Army, and the Staff and the Sinecure People and Pensioners. And why do all these exist in so enormous a degree? Because the House of Commons will not lessen the four latter, and because they have voted the Debt and used the money. And why have they done this? Because they have, for the far greater part, an interest in so doing. Why not choose other Members then ? Because it is not the people who pay the taxes, who have the choosing. Why have they not then ?
Thus was the matter brought home, and Reform again began to be rung in the ears of the honourable House, who, as it were to convince the people of the absolute necessity of that Reform, had, by a monstrous majority voted, only a few years before, that they would not hear evidence against Perceval and Castlereagh charging them with the actual sale of a seat in the House.
This was the position of things in the spring and summer of last year. Yet, it was my own opinion, that it was not prudent to urge on the question of Reform at that time. In the winter of last year, and about the month of February, I stated this my opinion very clearly to Major Cartwright, who had been for some time reproaching me with a back. wardness in that cause. He, in a good-natured way, reproved me for wasting my great talents, as he was pleased to call them, on questions of political economy, in exposing the state of the finances, and in discussions about the Funding System, concluding with saying: “Let them settle their accounts as they will: let us have our rights." "Yes," replied I, “but, my opinion is, that, until they have settled their “ accounts, we never shall have our rights ; or, at least, until all the " world sees clearly that they never can pay in full the interest of the
" Debt." This was my opinion for many years, and, therefore, I bent the greatest part of my force to this object : the making the subject of the Debt, in all its parts and bearings, familiar to the people. And, the knowledge, which is now possessed in England is quite surprising.
It was impossible to believe, that men, who possessed the seats, that is to say, who possessed all the real powers of the Government; who had, in fact, the appointment of the Ministers, the filling of all places of profit and of trust; the giving of all the commissions in the army and pavy; the bestowing of all honours at the bar; the bestowing of the livings in what is called the gift of the Crown; and who, in short, possessed every thing in the country, having the power of taxing the people wholly in their hands : it was impossible to believe, that men so vested with power, and having a great standing army at their nod, would ever give up this mass of power and this mass of possessions, merely at the solicitation of an unarmed people. It was like petitioning an able man to give up his talents to you, or a handsome woman to give you up her beauty.
But, if some event were to happen, which would shake the Boroughmongers by their own means; some event which would make them stagger under their own weight ; some event which would bring them to a stand, not knowing which way to turn themselves ; then, indeed, they must give way, and do the people justice. I could suppose many events, that would have operated thus; but the event, which I was sure would be effectual, and which I was also sure would, sooner or later, take place, was the blowing up, or, at least, the total discredit of the Funding System, by a failure in the means of paying the interest of the Debt
It was, therefore, my opinion, that it was not prudent to urge on the cause of Reform to what might be called a pitched battle with its enemies, until those enemies were at war amongst themselves ; that is to say, until the Boroughmongers found themselves compelled to break with the Fundholders. Whenever that should happen, I saw, that the Boroughmongers would not only lose their best allies, but that those allies would be amongst the bitterest of their enemies ; and that then, a Reform must take place, and in all human probability, in a peaceable and orderly manner.
To this opinion I held during the last summer, and now I draw near to that series of transactions, which have finally produced the Bourbon System in England. But this letter is already too long; I shall, there- . fore, not enter on these topics till my next; and, in the meanwhile, I remain your sincere friend,
P.S. I have this moment had pointed out to me by one of my sons a paragraph in the INDEPENDENT Whic of the 30th of March, which I will notice here, merely because it contains a calumnious imputation, which may deceive some persons who have not been attentive observers of my conduct. The main object of the paragraph is to make the people of England, or that very small portion of them who read the Independent Whig, believe, that I had long planned my departure for America, and that I had long been writing in praise of everything American, in order to pave the way for this step. The income from my Register was never less than fifteen hundred pounds a year I believe. Not a thing to be
cast off upon a speculation of better fare, with a sea toyage for a whole family as a prelude. But, let us hear this wise and patriotic Whit, well worthy to belong to the faction, whose name he has chosen to take.
“ Our readers will perceive, in another department of our paper, a letter from Mr. Cobbett to the Public,' dated Liverpool, March 26, the contents of which, we are inclined to think, cannot excite much surprise, in those who have been accustomed to read the writings of that gentleman. It is to be recollected that Mr. Cobbett commenced his literary life in America. Without entering at present into any review of him as a public character, we feel, that to prove that he has lony contemplated this act, we need only refer those who have been accustomed to read his lucubrations, to re-peruse his numerous letters, not long since published, to the American People-to the unqualified praise of everything American contained in those letters, and to the particular manner in which he had expressed himself, previous to the dreadful and arbitrary measures which the Ministers have resorted to, and which the Parliament had so fatally sanctioned, when predicting, as he did, with confidence, the success of the cause of Reform, and scouting, as he did, the idea of the enactment of the Gagging Bills, &c. It was clear to us (and we have for months past stated that such was our opinion), that Mr.Cobbett was satisfied in his own mind, that tyranny, and not liberty, could prove the result of his truly injudicious zeal. Let the Reader refer back to his late Publications, and he will find that Mr. Cobbett, when scoffing at the Courier for holding out the threat of coercive laws, as constantly as he adverted to that subject, invariably opposed the menace of the Courier, with the prediction of the loss of one-half of the population of the country, either in being killed in the opposing the enactment of such laws, or in emigrating to America, to elude their vengeance. It was clear to us, when we observed this kind of writing adopted by Mr. Cobbett, that he had made his own mind up to a voyage to America, and that all his political writings had for their object the promotion of his views in that country. We were additionally led to indulge this belief from the information te possessed that one of Mr. Cobbett's sons had been for some time past, actually settled in America, as a Bookseller, and publishing his Register, printed here, in that country. Our opinion of Mr. Cobbett and his writings are upon record-we broached that opinion not only when he was here to defend himself, but when he was in the enjoyment of the climax of his popularity. We then stated that we considered he had greatly injured the cause of Freedom and Reform-such being our sentiments we placed them with our reasons upon record, as became us as Journalists, fearful of nothing so much as an abandonment of our public duty in any pitiful compromise of our independence. The sulemn question that now remains for us to discuss, as it regards the political character of Mr.Cobbett, is, whether after having taken so active and conspicuous a part in the cause of Reform, and having taken so much pains to make proselytes, to his oron constantly watering opinions, the quitting his country and turning his back upon the thousands whom ke had succeeded in making converts to his opinions, is the act of a Patriot? Previous to our entering upon this inquiry we will wait for the publication promised by Mr. Cobbett, which is to explain his own motives, and after we have had the op. portunity of perusing it, we will, with the strictest liberality and i:n partiality, place upon record our undisguised and genuine sentiments. - We have as decided a hatred to tyranny as Mr. Cobhett, or any other man in existence can have.We would rather perish the first of Freemen than live the last of Slaves, but the love we have been taught to cherish for our country has instructed us to consider it our first and most imperious duty to exert, at all risk, the best energies of our minds in the defence and support of the common freedom of our countrymen.- The hour of danger is the tine for the brave man to be at his post. When the country most wants the service of a patriot, that, of all others, is the moment to try his zeal and prove his fidelity.-Were every public-spirited writer to follow the example of Mr. Cobbett, and fly to the shores of America, because such men, such drivellers of Statesmen as Castlereagh and his aspiring crew, have succeeded in the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus and the enactment of Gagging Bills, &c.- to what a state of degradation would the character of Englishmen be reduced."
Pope says, that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Swift says, that if a man of real talent comes forth and commands general attention, “ straight a swarm of dunces rise up, and endeavour to sting