« PreviousContinue »
have given no just cause of complaint to Holland; we would have been embarrassed by no guarantee to revolutionary powers; we would have preserved the important barrier in the Netherlands; we would have permitted the King of Holland to solve the Belgian question, by extirpating, amidst the applause of all men of sense in the country, the fumes of Brussels jacobinism; and France, deprived of this advanced post of revolution, would have cea sed to be formidable to Europe. We should have told that power, in conjunction with Russia, Prussia, and Austria, that we would allow no interference by them in favour of the Flemish insurrection, and that the first squadron of horse which crossed the Belgian frontier should be the signal for 300,000 men crossing the Rhine. This would have been nonintervention on both sides; whereas the present system has forced us into violent interference in favour of the revolutionary power, and exposed us to the peril of a war, against alike all our former allies, and the real interests of the country, whether they are to be under republican or monarchical guidance.
V. This brings us to the last step in this concatenation of incapacity and blindness-the signature of the late treaty by France, England, and Belgium, in effect guaranteeing the revolutionary throne to Leopold, and binding us to uphold that tottering and vacillating revolutionary monarch, against the united force of all the rest of the continent. This treaty is at present only signed by three powers; the ratification of the others has not yet arrived, and probably never will. But be that as it may, England, without its Allies, has crossed the Rubicon, and we are irrevocably pledged to the support of two revolutionary thrones.
We do not hesitate to say, that the signature of this treaty is the most rash and fatal act of the present Administration, teeming as it does with imprudent and perilous proceedings. For who can repeal a signed treaty? An Act of Parliament may be repealed; a faulty constitution may be amended; but a treaty of guarantee cannot be got quit of without a violation of public faith. Its conse
quences must be, to the last degree, disastrous; and that equally whether the other powers do or do not ratify the treaty.
If they do not ratify, the powers which have plunged into the torrent, must bear the weight of all Europe. We know what that is; we felt it in the war with Napoleon; we are now groaning under its effects. And this terrible burden is now to be under taken a second time, to uphold a revolutionary throne; to keep the eagles of France in the Low Countries; to undo all that Marlborough, and Nelson, and Wellington have done; to overturn the balance of power, and prepare the second subjugation of the continent by repub lican armies.
If they do ratify it, we have the satisfaction of having completed the spoliation of our ancient ally; of having permanently fixed French ascendency and republican principles in the Low Countries; of having in effect advanced the tricolor flag to. Mayence and Antwerp; of having restored to France the mighty lever by which she shook and desolated the world under Napoleon, and imposed upon posterity the necessity of undertaking a long and hazardous war, to regain what their ancestors had bravely won, and their rulers in a moment of infatuation had abandoned.
And these disasters are the natural consequences, and will be the just retribution, of the innovating and revolutionary passions which have seized upon the nation within the last fifteen months.
The spirit of Propagandism is the accompaniment in every age of the revolutionary fury, and is the excess which Providence has appointed to lead to its destruction. A free state does not disquiet itself about its neighbours: Switzerland, Holland, and England, reposed for centuries without seeking to revolutionize or disturb any of their neighbours. But it is otherwise with the revolutionary passion. It ever seeks for proselytes, and strives to prop up its internal weakness by an array of similar passions in all the adjoining states. Republican France began the system of surrounding itself with affiliated republics, and the system
destroyed first its liberties, and then its independence. We have rushed into the same system; we must have a little advanced work of innovation on the continent of Europe, in imitation of the great parent of democracy, and our madness will bring upon the nation the same punish
It has been observed in the outset of this paper, that to support Belgium against France, and Poland against Russia, is the obvious policy of all the European states; because it is from these great potentates that the chief danger to their liberties is to be apprehended. By our infatuated policy, we have contrived at the same time to increase both these dangers; we have opened Flanders to France at the very moment that the payment we took upon ourselves to Russia enabled it to break down the independence of Poland. Thus this fatal step, of establishing a revolutionary throne in Belgium, promises to be equally ruinous to the liberties of eastern and western Europe; it has already enabled Paskewitsch to renew the triumph of Suwarrow at Warsaw, and it has gained for France all the advantages of the march of Dumourier to Brussels.
We tell the people of England, and they will perhaps remember our warning voice when the period of retribution arrives, that they will suffer, and suffer deeply, for this desertion of national duty, and this violation of public right. Europe will not forget that we strove to bully second-rate powers into a suspension of all efforts to regain their dominions, and a surrender of their ancient possessions to their rebellious subjects, at the very time that we said nothing in favour of an heroic race striving to regain their lost independence on the shores of the Vistula; that we aided the cause of rebellion when we had nothing to urge in favour of that of independence, and gave to those who had, without a shadow of reason, violated their duty towards their sovereign, that which we refused to those who had nobly stood in adversity by their prostrated country. She will not forget that, amidst the fumes of innovation, we forgot all the honour of
treaties, and all the gratitude due to past services; that we turned fiercely on our Allies who implored our assistance in the hour of trial, and to gain the applause of a fickle and despicable revolutionary mob, forgot alike all the examples of past glory and all the anticipations of future renown. The consequence of the sins of individuals fall upon themselves alone, and their immediate connexions: the punishment of national delinquencies falls on whole races of men, and is visited on the third and fourth generation of those who have violated their duty. Already we begin to feel the punishment of our national offences, in the consequences to which they lead at home, and the contempt which they engender abroad. A new and burdensome tax, it is said, will be laid on the nation as the first fruit and first recompense of its revolutionary passions; the rich will be restrained in their enjoyments, the poor stinted in their subsistence, in consequence of the perilous and guilty desires which they have concurred in indulging. Already the character of an Englishman, once the object of universal esteem, has shared in every European state in the odium consequent upon the proceedings of its government; and the national reputation, once the polar star of honour and fidelity, has been darkened by the vacillation and incapacity of democratic ascendency. But let us not flatter ourselves that our punishment is to stop here, or the character and independence of England to emerge unharmed from a crisis so perilous to its fate. Long and costly wars must be undertaken to reconquer the barrier which has been abandoned; national disaster and humiliation incurred to expiate the sins which have been committed; torrents of blood shed to regain the character which has been fost. Happy if, in this chaos of democratic passion, the national independence and freedom is not destroyed, and we emerge from the revolutionary furnace without, as in ancient Rome, having lost our liberties; or, as in modern Venice, sacrificed our independence.
WHAT CAUSED THE BRISTOL RIOTS?
THERE is not a city, town, village, or hamlet, in the King's dominions, where, if restraint of the law were removed, the mob would not rise upon their superiors. That this was always the case, we are not called upon to assert; that it is so now is an evil sufficient for our day. The hope of immediate emancipation from penury or toil, of immediately revelling in all "good things," of turning over at once to their grasp and possession the wealth that in civilized societies makes its daily display before the eyes of the needy, springs up in formidable excitement upon the least relaxation of those "bonds of peace," the checks of religion and law. Quench the love "which envieth not," and set aside fear, the sword of the law, and the state of social order is in instant disruption.
We say thus much by way of preface to an investigation into the causes of the Bristol riots, because we would vindicate at least the populace of that city from the necessity of their bearing the whole of the odium, which, we believe, they are entitled to but in common with every other populace, equally liable, like them, by incessant agitation, to be driven and maddened into outrage. Whoever may bear the punishment, theirs be the shame through whom such offences come. We think we shall be able to prove that in Bristol, more than in any other place, the democratical fury has been let loose. Its demagogues and its press have taken a more active part in revolutionary excitement-have been indefatigable in throwing contempt on its local authorities-in uprooting respect for superiors, and veneration for its religious institutions. They have followed this their unhallowed vocation, unhappily, under the banners of pretended loyalty, and with the sanction of his Majesty's Ministers. They have had all the advantage of the general relaxation of restraint, the contempt and defiance of law, and of the removal of the fear of punishment; and the mob, with all their inflammable passions, were at their mercy, the very slaves of the tyraut master-magicians, and demons of The Lamp. We say, without fear
of contradiction from any man of common sense or common integrity, that this connexion between the demagogues and Government, and the unconstitutionally allowed free use of the King's name, gave an authority to the wildest schemes of democratic ambition, an unnatural sanction to the most atrocious slanders, and threw over conservative principles the semblance of rebellion. mob therefore, flatteringly called the People, had much reason to believe that in seeking their "withheld rights" even by outrage in the King's name, they would be loyal and patriotic; that in a revolutionary struggle, they might obtain much if it succeeded-if it did not, that they had a lenient Government who would not punish them as rebels or plunder
We only say, they, as a mob, had reason to believe this; we say not the Government intended they should quite reach such a conclusion. But there were facts before the eyes of the people, plain and legible enough, and, as they read them, it is not to be wondered if they made their own comments. They had seen Commissions appointed for Incendiarism, and culprits unpunished; and thereby an odium thrown on the judges of the land. They had been told the press was more powerful than the King's judges, demanded and would obtain pardon-and they saw it was so. They knew the riots and burnings at Derby, Nottingham, and Dorchester, had been left without the notice of Government, and considered the Ministry had gained a triumph over a boroughmonger nobleman. They had seen the life of another nobleman attempted, and the reforming ruffians in ecstasy, and but small attempt to stop such outrages. They had seen O'Connell, the arch-fiend of agitation, escape from the net of the law, and rustle his silk gown in swaggering insolence, and fling from every fold the boasted praises of the Prime Minister. When they had thought to see him in unredeemable disgrace, they see him rise in the grandeur of ministerial honour. They had seen in Ireland a convicted conspiracy to defraud the clergy of their tithes pardoned-and
they had seen the consequences, resistance universally successful, the clergy (the established clergy) vituperated, robbed, and starved, and were taught to rejoice at the glorious impunity; and they recollected the intimation of Earl Grey, that he could contemplate the removal of the Church of England Establishment in Ireland, unconnected with the repeal of the Union. They thought they had hints as strong as those which their brethren reformers in Ireland had turned to such good account, given to them from the Ministerial Delphi, and what had they to fear, should they proceed to violence, provided it were committed in support of their "beloved Ministry, in the name of Reform and the King," even though they should plunder the King's Excise, and burn an anti-reforming odious Bishop in his palace?
The restraints of religion and law had been greatly removed. Were they then urged to acts of violence? The press, the Ministerial press, had incessantly recommended extreme violence, even ruffianism, the use of bludgeons, brickbats, and stones, the striking at the faces of the Tories, the not allowing any such to shew themselves at the Reform election, citizen guards and armed associations against the Tories and the Bishops; and can we wonder, if the populace, in their excusable ignorance, verily believed it to be the wish of his Majesty's Ministers, who had courted illegal assemblies, and denounced the House of Lords as a faction, and recommended the Bishops to "put their house in order," as persons who were to" die, and not live,"—if they believed it to be the wish of these vilifiers of our old constitution, to effect a revolution even by violence? Sedition had long been as it were at a premium. The Attorney-General had enjoyed his office as a sinecure. Treason had been stalking the land, as the schoolmaster, in open day. The press, with the power of the torpedo, had touched the arm of the law, and it was benumbed and withered; Political Unions, if they had not yet seized the reins of government, had rendered the hands that held them inert and powerless; and the Majesty of England was constrained by an imbecile Cabinet to issue a pro
clamation of entreaty for one of command. There had long been a general feeling of immunity, as if pardons were to be had, if worth the asking, for offences to be committed; and the ignorant goaded "multitude" were generally throughout the kingdom in a state of impatient turbulence and revolutionary hope. But nowhere were they more impatient than in Bristol, for there, more than in any other city or town in the kingdom, had the evil energy of the press and orators of Reform been virulently and profusely put forth.
Bristol had been particularly unfortunate in the choice the Reformers had made at their revolutionary election. Mr Protheroe had been previously an unsuccessful candidate had shewn himself outrageously arrogant and intemperate, totally without that ballast of the mind or understanding, requisite in trou, blesome times, to steady himself, or those who might look up to him. The most respectable merchants, bankers, and citizens, viewed his po litical principles with abhorrence; and being the constant objects of his abuse, they could scarcely consider him, under any circumstances that might arise, their representative. We very believe the Political Union chose him for his worst qualities, that made him their more ready tool, and tried upon him (seeing he had but that one determined ambition, to be returned for Bristol) the experiment of degradation, to testify to the world to what a degree of low subserviency and humiliation they could reduce a delegate. What man of gentlemanly feeling would not have indignantly broken away from the base submission of their public and private vulgar examinations,— their schooling, to use their own phraseology, and as he, in little reverence to the Church, its rites and services, terms them, his catechism and confirmation? But, as it is ever the case with a little mind to seek compensation to itself for its crawling servility to one quarter, by assuming an insolence in another, so did this slave of the Political Union rise from kissing their feet, to insult and slander the late member for Bristol; a man who had been for many years singularly and deserved.
ly popular so much so, that all parties, Whigs and Tories, had vied in pouring in their votes for him, to put him at the head of the poll, if a contest happened to arise, not in opposition to him, for that was out of all thought, but between rival Whig candidates. Mr Davis had been ever truly the member for Bristol, indefatigable for the general good, for the particular interests of the place, and the acknowledged courteous and attentive friend to every man, of whatever party, who required his time or assistance. As a man of business, well acquainted with commercial affairs, it was utterly impossible a better representative could have been chosen; and the respect and influence he enjoyed in the House, and with every government, reflected great credit on Bristol. As member for the city he was of no party-and this highly honourable man, beloved by all, was the first object of attack for the flippant and upstart candidate; and so careless was he in his assertions, that in a short time no less than three public apologies bore his signature, and his own party expressed no satisfaction at the little credit he ob tained as a man from his escape from another antagonist. We ourselves have remonstrated with some of his reforming constituents upon their choice; their answer was indicative both of the character of the respect in which they hold their member, and of the use they mean to make of him, and, in the end, of the Reform Bill and its parents. "The greater the fool," said they, "the better the tool; a stick, a stone, any thing, provided we could bind it down to vote for the Bill, would suit us; after that has passed, we will very will ingly kick him out if you please, for we hold him in utter contempt." We have thought it right to dwell somewhat on this description of the choice of the Reformers, because we shall shew that his extreme folly, to speak in the mildest terms of his conduct, if it did not produce, encouraged the riots to a dangerous allowed excess.
We have now come to this point, that the conduct of the Ministry, at once insane and imbecile, in throwing out the bait of Reform to democratic ambition, and in calling to their fellowship in arms the profligate of all classes, and the whole
bedlam of bankrupts, schemers, and despisers of the laws of God and man, and in their submission, in utter impotence, to their daring allies, had thrown the country into a dangerous state of excitement, that they were powerless to punish; and that the press, in aid of revolution, had fearlessly encouraged and demanded violence: That to a population they moved to outrage from without, the local demagogues and press within were constantly issuing most inflammatory language, of which we mean to produce some proof and specimens: That one member for the city, at least, was the mere tool of a Political Union, an illegal Political Union, and little likely, from inclination, influence, or ability, to promote sober quietness, and the decencies of civic order; and here, we regret to say, that the other mem ber, manly and upright as we believe him to be, seems ready to go the worst lengths of the philosophers and scheming economists by whom our policy is distracted. We must now speak somewhat of another party, upon whom the blame of these riots has been generally and erroneously thrown, before we come to the immediate occasion of the outbreaking,—the magistrates, or, as they are termed, the corporation of Bristol.
It has been asserted by the London press, in atrocious ignorance, that the corporation are Tories, and, as such, have unduly influenced elec tions; nay, that they have spent the public money for such base purpo ses. It is utterly false. The local revolutionary press have, indeed, been lavish in abuse of this body, partly because they yet hold civic authority, and partly from other causes. The foolish London press have, therefore, concluded them to be Tories-or, what is equally pro bable, knowing what they asserted to be false, thought them a convenient body to bear the blame, justly and solely due to the Reformers. Now, the fact is, they are in no respects a political corporation. Until of very late years, certainly, the majority of its members were Whigs, and would probably have so continued, had not some of them, thinking their party were running the whole length of a democracy, become converts to