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produce, Government ought to give it followed, even in the reform of ad. every facility, seeing that it is obvious- mitted evils. Every commercial soly the very life of industry and trade; ciety is linked together by so many for, if we cannot exchange what is su- artificial and intricate ties, that we perfluous at home for some common cannot rashly tear them asunder withdity which is in more request, that out the risk of remote and consequencommodity will not be produced ; tial damage to an extent which cannot and thus industry, along with com at first be foreseen. But, giving all merce, is discouraged.
due weight to this practical maxim, The truth of these maxims is now it by no ineans implies a tacit acquiesacknowledged on all hands, and it is cence in what every one condemns, really grateful to hear the sound and en- and in what it would so much benefit lightened views on the subject of trade the community to have removed.which are propounded from the Op- Some beginning ought to be made in position side of the House, and loudly the great work of commercial reform. re-echoed from the Ministerial benches. We may act as cautiously as we please, The only drawback on all this har- but still we ought to act, and not conmony and liberality of sentiment is, tent ourselves with mere words, which that nothing is done. All are agreed signify nothing. that restrictions on trade are essen 2. There is another subject on which tially impolitic, and that our foreign a report has been made io the House trade ought to be freed from them; of Lords, which is, as usual, extremebut, somehow or other, the business ly judicious, and in which every one, stops—nothing is done ;--no practical including the Ministers, seem to be good follows from all the edifying agreed. We allude to the state of our theories which Parliament has pro- trade with India. It is well known, that, mulgated on the subject in the speeches by the act which partially threw open of its members, or in the elaborate the trade to that quarter of the world, reports of its committees ;--not a sin- certain restrictions were imposed which gle restriction has yet been repealed; are extremely burdensome to the mer-not the slightest breach has yet chant, while they are totally useless been made in that Chinese wall of to the Company. The British merrestrictions by which the country is chant is, for example, strictly excludbarricadoed against the influx of fo- ed from dealing in the article of tea, a reign produce. It is confessed on all monopoly in this trade being still rehands that the commerce of the coun- served by the East India Company. try is depressed, and that by repeal. The consequence of this restriction is, ing some of the restrictions which im- that the Americans and other foreignpede our intercourse with foreigners have engrossed tủis commodity, states it would be greatly relieved. with which they supply all the contiWhy this slowness, then, to investi- nental states ; and thus the British gate this important subject, and to merchant is injured, while the East grant the relief so necessary and so India Company is not benefited. Owmuch desired ? For what purpose is ing to the restrictions also imposed on it that Parliament meets? Is it not the merchants of this country as to to consult for the general interest of the tonnage they must employ in Inthe community ?-or is it merely to dia adventures, and to the tedious forvote supplies, and to afford an oppor- mality they must go through of obtunity for factious debate-for the Op- taining a licence, they are clogged in position to attack the Ministry, and the their operations, and their rivals, the Ministry to recriminate on the Opposi- Americans, who are under no restraint tion? The trade of the country has whatever, have a decided advantage been languishing for years, and session over them. The merchants have peafter session of Parliament has passed titioned the Legislature that these away without one effort for its relief. useless restrictions be done away, It will, no doubt, be said that we can that they shall be admitted to the not suddenly and rashly alter our sys same privileges as the Americans, and tem of commerce, faulty though it be, be allowed to bring back tea as part without the risk of producing greater of the return cargo, not to this counevils than those we are endeavouring try, where the monopoly of the Comto remove. This is unquestionably pany can be enforced, but to Europe, true. We grant that caution must be where it cannot be enforced. All
parties agree that their demands are modity in general use, the relief quite reasonable, and that they ought would have been generally felt. to be granted; but, in the meantime, 4. Another important subject was nothing is done, and the parties con- also brought under the consideration of tinue to carry on their trade under all the House of Commons during the the burtful and foolish restrictions late session of Parliament, namely, the whieh were heaped on it by the im- unrelenting severity of our laws in perfect and ill-constructed act of cases of forgery. This is surely a 1812.
subject which it well befits the wis3. On the subject of agriculture, we dom of Parliament to entertain. Huhave had a report from a Committee manity is shocked by the revolting recommending, and wisely recom- frequency of executions for this crime. mending, that nothing should be done, It is essential, therefore, that some yet it is somewhat singular that this method should be devised of securing report should be immediately follow. property without such a prodigal saed by the repeal of the agricultural crifice of life, and if the two Houses horse tax, and that the House of Com- of Parliament could spare some of mons, where they profess nothing, their precious time from factious deshould thus do something, and, on bate for such great works of legislathe other hand, where they profess a tion, they would rise both in the esgreat deal, that they should do no timation of the country, and of the thing. It was manifest, indeed, to world at large. every one, that Parliament could not Our laws for the prevention of forbenefit agriculture by any new re- gery have been improved into their strictions. For the last thirty months present stern and merciless character no importation of corn has taken place by gradual emendations, and now a into this country. The dealers in peremptory rule has been laid down, corn have, therefore, had the mono that a pardon shall in no case be expoly of the home market, and still the tended to the crime of forgery. The prices have been remarkably low. consequences of this state of the law In this case it is plain there is no re are not a little singular; the princi. medy. No one could possibly think ple is so harsh and inexorable, that it of going farther for their relief, or of is not reduced to practice; and in endeavouring to raise the price of place of a pardon being granted by corn by an act of Parliament. The the King, on a due and impartial evil in respect to agriculture is the consideration of the case, the Bank of low price of its produce, which it is England declines to prosecute capitalplain that Parliament cannot raise, ly, and thus the royal prerogative is and it is clear, therefore, that in this in reality exercised by this corporation. way nothing can be done. With re- In no other country are there such spect to the repeal of the horse tax, it sanguinary laws for the prevention of is a boon granted by the ministry, or forgery. In most countries, indeed, rather extorted from them by the it is not a capital offence; and it delanded interest. It will afford no serves to be remarked, that we do not perceptible relief to agriculture, and find the crime more frequent on this we understand, indeed, that the far- account. Indeed, it is proved by the mers consider it to be of very little documents laid before Parliament, consequence. If revenue to ihis a. that forgeries have increased with the mount lost by the repeal of this tax severity of the laws made to check could have been spared, taxes might this offence; and it will ever be the have been abolished which would case when great temptations are held have produced far greater relief to the out to the commission of crimes, that community at large. This tax on they will increase in spite of the most horses was one of the least exception- severe laws to prevent them. In able that could have been selected. every community, more especially a It was not in any respect an oppres- commercial community, a certain quansive tax. In the general outlay of tity of moral corruption is necessarily the farmer, it made a very small item, engendered from the accidents and inand the repeal of it to him can be of stability of trade--from high wages, little importance, while, if the same which, in many cases, produce vice, revenue had been remitted on salt, profligacy, and improvidence, and fit leather, or any other consumable com- men for every species of depravity,
and from the other pernicious ex- tirpate, or even materially check the treme of low wages, which entail po- evil. So far from this, it may be verty on the labourer, and render him doubted, whether the frequency of the prey of those vices which too fre- these revolting spectacles which are quently accompany it; and those dis- continually exhibited, does not take positions being once engendered, pro- away from that salutary horror with Aigacy, idleness, and dishonesty rule which they ought to be viewed. It ing in the mind, they will flow out in is certain that the human mind grows acts of depredation upon the honest familiar with evils of every sort, and part of the community, in thieving, experience proves how completely, in swindling, or open robbery, as cir- certain professions, mankind master cumstances determine. The enemy the fear of death. The same causes will reconnoitre the ground, and the will always produce the same effects; most vulnerable point will of course and may not the vanity of what is be chosen. In a community such as called dying game, in the perverted that in which we live, so well pro- imagination of the felon, be a counvided both with law and police, open terpart to those splendid illusions robbery is not an eligible speculation, which sustain more honourable minds -violence always excites alarm-it is under similar trials ? At any rate, we watched with corresponding vigilance, know that crimes have multiplied as and it is soon repressed. It is a coarse the penalties have increased ; and if expedient, therefore, and is only re there be a chance that a milder syssorted to by the most vulgar practition- tem would have the effect of preventers. Swindling seems more conge- ing them, every principle, both of ponial to the refined habits of the pre- licy and humanity, suggests that it sent age, and with suitable ingenuity should be tried. and address, it may be prosecuted The truth of these maxims, as the with infinitely more advantage ; and only sure basis for a system of crimiof all modes of swindling, forgery of- nal law, is now universally admitted; fers the easiest and the speediest and yet this subject, though frequentroad to the wealth of others. If the ly urged on the attention of the House fraud is ingeniously executed, the of Commons, has been but coldly supnotes may circulate a considerable porte. It was first brought forward time before it can be detected, and hy Sir Samuel Romilly, and has been in the mean time the gains must dragged into the House, Session after be considerable. More money may Session, until at last it came the be gained, and with greater certain- length of a bill. In this bill every ty by this, than by any other spe- sacrifice was made to procure support, cies of swindling, and when it is once insomuch that the principle, and all begun, it is a sort of regular and steady that was valuable in the measure, was business, which supersedes all other compromised ; after which it was reless eligible modes of thieving. It is jected, frittered down, and amended, the great staple branch of the swind- as it were, to conciliate its opponents. ler's trade-the general outlet by 5. Besides these measures, a bill for which all the surplus villany of the relieving the Roman Catholics from community finds a vent. Those the religious disabilities under which crimes against property are committed they labour, which passed the House by a class of persons who are outcasts of Commons, was rejected by the from all honest industry; they must Lords. Several other propositions either steal, or they must starve ; it for improving the criminal proceis not with them a matter of choice, dure in Scotland were also rejectbut of necessity; and to this state ed. A plan was proposed for a they are reduced by deep rooted ha- general revision of our navigation bits of idleness and profligacy; in laws, and for altering such parts of consequence of which the inind be the system as are plainly hurtful and comes diseased, and thoroughly aliena- inapplicable to the present state of our ted from all that is sober and indus- affairs. We have no doubt, that many trious. While those causes of crimes of the restraints imposed by our naexist in society; while the corrupt · vigation laws might be done away with matter is engendered, it must flow great advantage. These laws were through some channel, and no laws, enacted for the encouragement of our however severe and bloody, will ex- shipping; and by many our extensive
LY OF THE PRESENT DAY.
maritime power is traced to the efficacy ON THE PERIODICAL LITERATURE OF of this artificial contrivance, and not GREAT BRITAIN, MORE ESPECIALto that living principle of energy which must ever arimate a free people, and must carry them forward in improve No fact can be better confirmed by ment not only without these petty de- observation, than that the periodical vices, but in spite of them. These literature of a country is an index of prejudices, we fear, are too prevalent the prevailing sentiments of its inhato allow of any alterations in our na
bitants. How and in what degree vigation laws; and, at any rate, it is the press forms and directs these senquite manifest, that no proposed im- timents, or how far it is itself formed provement can be carried through the and directed by them, is another and House of Commons, except under the a totally different question. Assumsanction of those in power. It thus ing, therefore, what cannot be contraappears, that between the contests of dicted, that the periodical press, no the Opposition and the Ministry, the matter how, does exercise a constant interest of the people is apt to be ne- and powerful influence over the tastes glected. The Opposition, from time and habits, political, moral, and even immemorial, have stood forth as the over the religious opinions of mankind, self-elected champions of the Consti- it will be well worth our while to intution,--the patrons of every improve- quire into the origin, character and tenment and reform,--and the stern dency of that on which, it is scarcely enemies of corruption. It is their too much to affirm, that the national business to ask questions of the Mini- happiness and improvement depend. sters regarding the public interest, It is a common idea, we believe, to make motions of 'inquiry,-- and to that nothing deserving the name of bring forward all the defects in our a periodical press existed in this counsystem for amendment. It is the bu- try previous to the days of Queen siness of the Ministers to counter- Anne. This idea is not altogether check them in all their movements, correct. Long before a single paper to evade when they cannot oppose, of the Spectator was heard of, and but by some means or other to cause even previous to the Revolution, there all their propositions, brought for were more than one regular print, in ward, of course, for the good of the which the politics of the day were state, and from the purest of motives, discussed, attacked, and defended, to miscarry. Thus the people are ilí with fully as much asperity and keen situated between them. The Ministryness as at present. Every body that are averse from improvement, even knows any thing of the history of the where they confess it is wanted; and civil wars in England, is aware, that, the Opposition, though eager to do good during that stormy period, the press not to themselves of course, but to the teemed with pamphlets vindicating people, want the power. They some
their respective parties in their appeal what resemble the prophetess Cassan- to arms, and exhorting the people to dra of old, who, though gifted with rally round the throne, or calling on the spirit of divination, had this fa- them to enlist in support of their tality attached to her prophecies, that constitutional rights under the bannobody would believe them, so that ners of the parliament. The amiable her inspiration was of no use. In like and accomplished Lord Falkland, manner, the Opposition, though gift- who fell in the unfortunate battle of ed with the power of devising
all that Newbury, aided the cause of his royal is good or laudable for the improve- master as much by the vigour of his ment of the state, have attached to all pen as the valour of his sword. And, their schemes the fatality of their cer at a somewhat later period, the first tain failure, by which means their po. poet of modern times was only known litical illuminations are unfortunate as a controversialist, more famous durly lost, both to themselves and to the ing his life as the redoubted chamworld.
pion of popular freedom, than as the inimitable author of Paradise Lost. These pamphlets, it is true, do not come under the class of periodical writings. They are merely mention
ed to show, that even then some de to conclude, that, previous to the Reference was paid to public opinion, volution, politics occupied more atand that there existed considerably tention, and excited more interest in more political feeling than we of this England than is usually believed. age are apt to believe. It is very dif Still it must be allowed, that till ficult, indeed, to form a just estimate the reign of Queen Anne there was of the degree of interest taken by a little in this country deserving the remote age in affairs of government. name of a periodical press. The causes In those things, feeling is a great deal of this are obvious. The people, that and it is quite impossible for us at this is, the middling and lower orders of remote period to enter into their feel- society, for whose use this species of ings. Questions and events too that writing is chiefly calculated, and on strike us when coolly narrated by the whose support and patronage it mainhistorian, as mere trifies destitute of ly depends, were still rude and unenimportance, might probably appear in lightened, destitute of curiosity, and a very different light to those who utterly indifferent to whatever did viewed them at hand, whose interests not directly affect their personal comwere affected by their proximity, and fort, or supposed worldly interests. whose passions were excited by their The Reformation, though it had undiscussion. Besides, in the lapse of questionably done much to stimulate a few years, not only the party poli- the hitherto dormant powers of the tics of a country become obsolete, human mind, and rouse the spirit of the very writings devoted to them are inquiry, had not as yet produced its almost unknown. New questions, full effect. The majority of the ponew events, and new interests are con- pulation were still nearly in the same stantly occurring to engage men's at state of helpless ignorance as their tention, while the past are insensibly forefathers had been in the very forgotten, and quietly sink into obli- midnight of barbarism. It is a well vion. Who now knows or cares d known fact, that, during the long bout the innumerable party pamph- reign of Elizabeth, and for a conlets of the Royalists, and Parliamen- siderable part of that of her bigoted tarians, and Church of England men, successors, the Stuarts, particularly and Independents, and a hundred James and the first Charles, a great other sects of the seventeenth centu- proportion of what would now be callry? With a few solitary exceptions, ed the respectable and intelligent they have met the fate they deserved, classes of the community were absoand have perished with the occasions lutely unacquainted with the first and opinions that produced them. elements of learning. Very few could Perhaps there never was an age in read, and of those who could, not which politics and political controver more than one in a hundred, it may sy employed so many able pens, or be fairly presumed, possessed the infound so many intelligent and atten- clination or capacity to turn their tive readers as the present, yet it is a reading to account. In such a state little mortifying to think, (what is of the public mind, therefore, any nevertheless very true,) that in some thing like a periodical press was certhing less than half a century, the far tainly not to be expected. greater part of them will be unheard But another obstacle to periodical of. The principles, indeed, and the writing, addressed to the people preconstitutional questions they main- vious to the commencement of the tain and discuss, will remain and be eighteenth century, is to be found in maintained and discussed as they are the prejudices of the learned themnow, but the little bickerings, man selves. To us, indeed, who are accusQuvrings, and jealousies of our pre- tomed to see men of the first eminence sent race of editors and journalists in the republic of letters voluntarily will have perished. Our posterity, contributing their share to the publiacquainted only with our standard li- cations in question,—who see philosoterature, our poets, philosophers, and phers, orators, statesmen, and poets, adhistorians will, in all probability, won- dressing the judgments and appealing der nearly as much at our political to the feelings of persons of almost every apathy, as we now do at that of the rank and condition, through the me ages which are past.
dium of the daily and periodical press, These considerations make it fair it may at first sight seem incredible,