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For JULY, 1807.
“ We shall never envy the honours which wit and learning obtain in any other cause, if we can be numbered among the writers who have given ardour to virtue, and confidence to truth.- DR. JOHNSON
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. SIR FRANCIS BURDETT, Bart.
mentioned :-He is such a character,
that a secretary of state has issued an THEN the attention of the pub- order that he shall not be admitted
lic is by any circumstance into any public prison; and the house brought to an individual, the enquiries of commons has voted that he shall are natural-Who and what he is ? not be a member of a committee of What are his motives — his former enquiry into the abuses of the public pursuits -- the manners of his life. -- expenditure. Two such compliments, bis education and disposition? The imply something extraordinary; for natural malignity of mankind gene- one would have thought by the abuse rally gives an unfavourable answer in thrown out against him by the facthe first instance to these enquiries; tions, that hie ouglit to be sent into a and, if the individual attack any pre- prison, rather than be prevented from judice, whether in church or state, going into one; but the fact is, Sir the factions that support them will Francis Burdett has inveighed, wiili not fail to cast out their envenomed equal justice and severity, against the darts, and the best actions are pervert- enormities committed in our prisons, ed by them into the most distorted and in the expenditure of the public appearances. At times, however, money; and the factions act theretruth will prevail; and in spite of fore wisely in endeavouring to keep every effort of malignity and faction, out of his sight as much as possible the public will do that justice to a these enormilies. character which his conduct deserves. It is curious to observe the various Such an instance was seen on the last artifices, used by faction, w deceive 29th of June, when Sir Francis Bur- the public, and to draw off its atdett was displayed to the people of tention from the main point to some Westininster; as the object of their free inferior object. Does a man of educhoice, and every heart and voice was cation and study point out what lie lified up at his appearance. Faction conceives to be an error in faith and ład proclaimed him to be an unworthy doctrine; instead of examining his subject, who had lost all public con- assertions, we are told that he is a fidence: the 29th of June contradict- disappointed man, and not to be lised the impudence and wickedness of tened to. If a man, without educasuch assertions :-Never was a more cation and of coarse manners, utters general avowal of public feeling; and, truths out of the pale of the establishwhatever may be the merits or de- ed church, then we are told, how cani merits of Sir Francis Burdett, it can- such a low tellow pretend to give innot be denied, that a greater number struction. In other words, we are of persons cheered him on his pro- resolved to cling in general to our first gress, and applauded his sentiments conceived notions, and it is the object at a public dinner, than has ever of the factions to prevent us from beaccompanied any public character in ing enlightened. "Every thing is to be our memory.
raked together extraneous from the Who then is Sir Francis Burdett, subject, and every thing is to be done, whose name is so much in every one's to prevent is from using the powers mouth? What is de distinguished for? of our reason and understanding in Among other things, two may be discussing the point in question. It is
L'AT. ERSAL MAG. VOL. Viil.
the same in political subjects ; if a pointed. Sir F. Burdett is in possesman is not in the regiment, is is presion of an affluent fortune; his persumed at once, that he is incapable sonal wants are few; he lives within of serving his country; all his motives his means, and is thus enabled to must be bad; everything he utters gratify his own generous disposition. false; and the factions will take good Factions, batted in these respects, care to distort, as much as they can, look into the internal management every thing he utters.
of a man's affairs. His domestic arNever were the factions so come rangements must be enquired into, to pletely at a loss in the grand efforts gratify their revenge. Unfortunately of their
policy, as in their attacks up- for them they are here baffled: they on Sir F. Burdett. Is he a low up- find Sir F. Burdett to be a good husstart?--not that we think a man the band, a good father, a good brother; worse for being a low upstart; and beloved in the domestic circle, and have no objection to the Hardwickes by all who have access to him. and the Eldons, because a few years What can the factions then do ? ago the head of each family was Attack him they must, and will; and sweeping the door of their master's no courteous demeanour, no personal house; but birth is frequently made appearance, no generosity of dispo, an object of malignity, and in so pro- sition, no excellence of family and minent a character as Sir F. Burdett fortune, can disarm them. On a sudit would have delighted the factions den they change their language :to throw dirt upon him, on account What a pity it is, they say, that a man of his want of ancestry: But no !- of such a family, such a fortune, such Sir Francis Burdett, unfortunately for elegance of manners, such talents, the factions, traces his birth up to the such rank, such a sweet temper, so conquest. Pride of ancestry is, the calculated to shine in the best circles, factions would say, most degrading. should be thrown away! What a Unfortunately agaip for them, Sir F. misfortune it is that he should be so Burdett has not one particle of this ill advised! We must pity, we must pride in him. He is affable with all; make allowances for poor Sir Francis and no one ever heard him assuming Burdett. He has got into bad hands; the least on account of his family pre- he is merely the puppet of an old tensions; and the school theme is intriguer. deeply impressed on his mind Thus will faction distort every Et genus, et proavos, et quæ non thing, do every thing, instead of askfecimus ipsi,
ing this plain question :- Is it not Vix ea nostra vuco,
possible that a man of birth, of wealth, We wish that some of our city gentry of education, may have been led by could enter into this feeling. Among circumstances to make peculiar enthem the distinctions in the mode of quiries into the state of the country, selling their wares, whether by whole. and, from those enquiries, aided by sale or retail, whether by means of a the soundness of his own judgment, shop, or a warehouse, or a counting- to conceive and divulge truths of ima house, create such endless divisions portance, though they may be exof pride, as would astonish the people tremely unpalatable to the factions; at the west end of the town, if they who, however they may hate each could condescend to enter into such other, still hate that man the most minute and triffing differences. who goes to the root of the evil, and
But a man may be rich, and have will not join in the corrupt views of squandered away his fortune; or poor, any party? This question we wish never having had a fortune. These our readers to answer; and to give are grand objects for the factions ; them an opportunity of investigating and it cannot be denied, that to have it thoroughly, we will give a slight had a fortune, and to have squandered sketch of Sir F. Burdett's life, which it away imprudently, is a very strong contains some facts that the public objection against a person's being en- hitherto has not clearly understood. trusted with the direction of public Sir F. Burdett's family, we have obaffairs. Unfortunately iu these re- served, is of considerable antiquity; Bpects, the tactions are sadly disap- it has been settled in Derbyshire since
the conquest. To the genealogists and of the borough not to vote against historians of that county we leave the him except in certain cases. If the history of his ancestors; suffice it for member, who is returned for a borough us that he came into the world like under these conditions, that is, if he other children, had no prodigies that obtains the borough tor nothing, or at we know of at his birth, passed through an interior price, and disagrees with his infantine years as usual, and at a his principal, he is said to act unhandproper age was sent to Westminster somely, if he does not resign his seat school. After the usual school edu- by accepting the Chiltern Hundreds. cation, and a year or two spent at Ox A curious question has thus arisen ford, he made the tour of Europe, in this country:-May a member for under the care of Mr. Chevalier, a county or a large town act against whose learned writings on the seat of the decided sense of his constituents ? antient Troy bave given him a dis- Yes, say the borough - mongering tinguished name in the literary world. faction ; for he is under no bond or As he was upon the continent at the tie from them; he is freely elected beginning of the French revolution, by them, and during the time he is in
he could not fail of being witness to parliament may follow what course * many of the extraordinary scenes that he pleases. May not, then, it is askaccompanied it. In those scenes he ed,' a member 'put in by a private had no concern; he was merely a borough also exercise his own dis- spectator; and at different courts of cretion in his votes? No, says the Europe, meeting persons of different borough-mongering faction : it was sides, he was the better enabled to expected, when he went into parliaappreciate the views and motives of ment, that he should study the wishes the different factions. On his return of his principal; and he acts against to England, he married; and was, in bis honour if he goes against these the year 1796, returned for parliament wishes. Thus the members for counfor one of ihe boroughs belonging to ties and large towns are free and inthe Duke of Newcastle.
dependent; but the members for The part he took in politics on his small boroughs are to be the liverycoming into the house of commons,na- servants of the proprietors. The lanturally gave rise to an enquiry into the guage is so common now, that no one manner of his coming into parliament; is surprised at it; and these impudent and when it was found that he was borough-mongers have the insolence returned for Boroughbridge, in York- to talk of honour in their depraved shire, under the auspices of the Duke transactions. of Newcastle, a complaint was made Sir Francis Burdet is not in the least in certain circles, that he was guilty affected by the false notions enterof improper conduct towards his sup- tained by these borough-mongers.posed patron. Every reader does not He came first into parliament, it is know, perhaps, the nature of these true, through one of them; but he supposed improprieties; and he will was not under the least bond, tacit or be surprised when he does know it, implied, to vote with the patron that so wicked, so base, so dishonour- through whose interest the seat was able a practice exists in this country. obtained. He went into parliament By a very great misfortune, many completely unshackled; and the Duke buroughs are now so in the hands of of Newcastle bad nothing more to do private people, they carr make them with his vote than any other man in an article of trade, or put in for the kingdom. nothing any member the patron The time when Sir F. Burdett came pleases. If the patron puts in a mem- into parliament will ever be disber without receiving any emolument, tinguished in the annals of this counit is understood that the member is try. The Pitt and Melville faction never to vote against his patron. If had obtained complete ascendency; the borough is sold at the market they had conquered every thing that price, then the member is not under was honourable in the kingdom: they this obligation. If it is sold under the were supported by the most depraved market price, the member is held un- majority ever known. It was suitder a tacit kind of bond to the patron ficient that a measure was brought
forward by the minister; it was imme. that his compassion was only for traidiately voted, and the few who dared tors, for seamen, whose lives were to open their mouths against the impu- forfeited to their country. The fact is, dent and insolent tax-monger,were set that his compassion was first excited down immediately as jacobins, or de- for the hardships of men uotried, torn mocrats, or traitors to their country, from their wives and families, and Implicit contidence was the word; cast into prison; and it is now well and the country now begins to feel known that the minister who threw the effects of that implicit confidence. these men into prison never meant to Such ignorance of the attairs of Eu- bring them to trial, and sued for a bill rope, such' a protligate waste of the of indemnity, which he easily obtainpublic money, will make the name ed from that house which, instead of of Pitt the son as inglorious, as that a bill of indemnity in his favour, of Pitt the father will be glorious, to ought to have presented against him the latest posterity.
a bill of impeachment. Sir Francis Burdett was not daunted The circumstances which led Sir F. by the threats of administration, nor Burdett to an enquiry into the state of aifected by the verbosity of the bom- the bastille, lately erected in this bastical minister. When it had be- country in Cold Bath Fields, were come, from the effect of the well- these :-- On the suspension of the known gagging-bills, in which Lord Habeas Corpus act, a number of perGrenville,row discovered by the whigs sons were taken up on suspicion, exto be so great, and so good a patriot, amined before the privy council, and when it had become almost obsolete then thrown into this prison. We to meet at a public dinner on a po- call it a prison, though in fact it was litical subject, Sir F. Burdett took the built for a house of correction and chair at a more numerous meeting penitentiary house, upon a new printhao had been beld to that time at ciple, which, under proper managethe Crown and Anchor. He there was ment, may be made very useful in the received with the utmost applause. correction of delinquents. The house His person, his manners, his language is divided into a vast number of small aitracted universal attention. His sen- cells, so numerous, that each delintiments were plain and undisguised. quent may have a cell to himself. He declared hiinself a decided enemy This doubtless is useful, even for the to the borough-mongering system, sake of health and cleanliness; and and earnestly attached to a reform in besides it has this advantage, that if parliament; that the house of com- a person is refractory, and disturbs mons might be brought back to what the order of the house, he may be it ought to be by the constitution of kept in solitary confinement till he the kingdom-a fair representative of has learned better manners. The the people, and to be kept in honour- principle is a good one; but the more able dependence on the people, by excellent the principle is, the more being only of short duration. care is necessary to prevent its being
In the house of commons he was abused; a most watchful eye must be no less strenuous for the rights of the kept over the jailor and his servants, people; and of course was resisted by that what was intended to preserve the minister, and teebly, if at all, sup- good order, and correct imnjorality, ported by the Whigs. One subject, may not be converted by them into on which he exerted himself to the engines of sordid avarice, cruelty, and utmost, and which will ever endear oppression. him to every impartial man, was his But whatever may be the excellence enquiry into the conduct of ministers of the principle, or however well towards those persons who were, to adapted the house might be for the the disgrace of the country, submitted imprisonment or conviction of delinto their controul by the suspension of quents, it cannot be doubted that to the Habeas Corpus act. The atrocity take a similar course with persons not of this conduct was so notorious, that found guilty of any crimes, is in the every art was used to calumniate Sir highest degree wicked and tyrannical. Francis, and to throw a veil over every It was base in the house of commons part of the proceeding. It was sail, tu sutier such an infringement of the