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No. 14, Vol. 4.] LONDON, FRIDAY, Dec. 1, 1820. [PRICE 6d.
CRISIS. No. IX.
AMIDST all the disasters and distresses by which this unhappy country is distracted, the first and most important object for consideration is, by what means can it be restored to tranquillity and if those means are various, which of them will be the most efficient, and most easily, and most peaceably accomplished. One thing is admitted on all sides, that the present state of the representation must be amended, or rather, that the representation of the people must be revived, before there can be the slightest hope of having a single abuse diminished, or any one grievance redressed. If the King would turn reformer, (which by the bye is but very unlikely of his own accord) he has the power of choosing such an Administration as will make it their first object to effect a reform in the Parliament: and those ministers, even under the present state of things, might make a Parliament as it is now called, vote itself inadequate to settle the affairs of the nation in a tranquil manner, and further pass a resolution of the necessity of calling a National Convention to restore tranquillity to the country, rid it of its burthens, and regulate the future form of Government. This, at present, seems to be the only smooth and peaceable way of accomplishing this necessary and important object. The alternative is that of force, which is to be deprecated if the desideratum can possibly be effected without. A Convention of the People must take place sooner or later, and the sooner it is effected the better for all parties that are suffering, and the less likely to become the work of force and arms. It matters nothing where this Convention meets, it may as well meet in St. Stephen's Chapel, it may be called a Parliament; but it is become absolutely necessary that a Vol. IV. No. 14.
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deputation from the whole People should be called together somewhere, and some how. It is the only legitimate mode of settling the affairs of the nation, and of rescuing the country from its distresses and degradation. The nation as a whole, or acting by a deputation fully and fairly chosen, must necessarily be above all existing laws and establishments, and it is the very essence of society, that an appeal should be made to the whole body in a crisis of general disaster and distress. Such circumstances intimate that there has been something wrong in the existing establishments and institutions, and that the welfare of the whole has not been studied, but that corruptions and party interests have existed. To a representation of the whole nation in Parliament there can be no just individual complaint. There can be no just exceptions to this general rule. The people being the only legitimate source of all power, it is evident that a People are at all times capable of acting as a whole, to any purpose whatever. If there be a few individuals who, thriving under the existing abuses, deprecate a change, they ought either to acquiesce in the will of the majority, or silently secede into retirement in this country, or emigrate to another if they think proper: it is monstrous that a few thousand individuals should controul as many millions, and that too from motives not honest or virtuous. It is an incongruity in society and legislation that ought not to be tolerated for a moment.
The difficulties to be surmounted in this country, at this moment, seem to be so huge and multifarious, that the present Government is evidently afraid to grapple with them; at least, it does not appear to possess any thing like sympathy for the general suffering of the People. It affects splendour amidst general distress, and exists by extracting from misery itself its miserable pittance. It exists amidst the groans and curses of all the industrious part of the community, and all that is good and valuable. The Ministers are not blind, but deaf to all the distresses of the nation. They see, but do not feel them, and having no feeling for others, they are determined to make their harvest last as long as possible, which will be until the King dismisses them from fear, or the People by force. The King, from a desire to get rid of the Queen, has made himself a party to all the measures of his Ministers, on the condition of their consenting to assist him in the destruction of her Majesty; and from this connection he is unwilling to be severed, kuowing, that no other Administration would take another step towards
the persecution of his wife; so that they may be viewed as fellows well met, and who have resolved to stand or fall together. Fear might induce the Ministers to resign, but I' can never think the King will be willing to enforce that resignation; and another obstacle to that resignation is, that the Ministers have as much to fear in the one condition as in the other. They would fain ask for indemnity, but who can promise them any thing of the kind after such crimes as they have committed? However, we have one satisfaction in reflecting that the King, his Ministers, their adherents, and their opponents, are all working to one common focus -revolution, which at present appears to be the only visible path to a representative system of Government. The enemies of the country prove themselves the best, though unwilling, advocates of a revolution. As there does not appear to be any probable chance or possibility of settling the affairs of this convulsed realm without a full representation of the People in a Convention, or Parliament assembled, I would call upon the whole nation to direct its attention to that object, and that only. In consequence of what occurred in the National Convention of France, something like horror is affected at the title, but be it remembered, that a name cannot cannot change the principles of a thing. Had the French National Convention been called a Parliament, a Cortes, or what not, its principles would have been the same: it was corrupted from without by foreign intrigue and influence, which became the sole cause of its sanguinary career. There is nothing of the kind to be feared again in France or any where else; the despots of Europe are deprived of their venomous powers; they have the will but not the power left to interrupt the progress of free Governments. They may crush it in such a country as Naples, but it will be found to take root in three or four other countries immediately. In fact, I shall not be surprized to see the crusade against liberty in Naples, by the Austrian Despot, be the immediate means of revolutionizing the whole of the South of Europe, leaving no part of Europe in a state of despotism, but the territories of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, with their dependencies, Sweden and Denmark. Let Italy, France, and England once breathe the spirit of freedom, and woe to all despots.
There is another circumstance evident, which must strongly enforce the necessity of a National Convention: nothing short of a full representation of the people can secure the Queen from further persecution and insult. As long as the
King finds the means and the power to annoy her, he will never cease, and from the conviction which the nation has of the Queen's innocence and ill-usage, it will remain in a continued state of distraction and hostility to the party in power, which alone can be fairly set at rest by a National Convention, as the only authority that can award to two individuals of that rank, their respective dues and merits. The Queen has a claim upon the gratitude of every honest and virtuous man and woman in Great Britain, and the nation will be not satisfied until she be in the full enjoyment of all to which she has a just claim, and all that can render ber happy in future. This never can be effected but by a Reformed Parliament, because, without it, her enemies will retain their power, and retaining it, they will exercise it with all severity. I might here observe, that in speaking of a National Convention, I view it in no other light than I view the Cortes of Spain, which in every sense of the word, is a National Convention, and has shewn itself deserving of that high-sounding appellation. I seek to set up nothing new, or what is not intelligible and comprehensible to every man; for a National Convention might be strictly termed the natural system of Government. There is a nature in politics as well as in philosophy, and the closer it be adhered to, the more consonant will it be to the interests and feelings of all societies. In short, as government is the very nature and essence of society, so also should that government be in unison with the natural feelings of the majority of that society. It is bad and unnatural systems of Government which foster crimes and corruptions, and degrade societies of men instead of elevating them above brute animals. A Government should be at all times founded upon the will of the majority, and change as often as that will changes. It is ridiculous to see a Government venerating certain customs because they are antiquated, whilst a majority of the people hold those customs in ridicule and contempt. A Government like the present in England will always be in a state of hostility with a great majority of the people, and will always stand in need of a large and idle standing army for its protection. The people are far superior in mind to the system and management of the Government, consequently, they look upon it with contempt, and as something beneath them, and of which they ought to be ashamed. Their feeling is very similar to what that of the King would be if he were compelled to dress himself in the customs and habit of the country five or six centuries back, with one red and one
yellow stocking, a pair of breeches that came but half way down the thigh, with a pair of shoes having a long and sharp point turned up and fastened to the leg or the waist with gold chains and ornaments. Our Government is not a jot less ridiculous, and retains a strong resemblance to those old and laughable customs in dress.
Again, the financial state of the Government imperiously calls for a National Convention, as the present system and its supporters stand in the situation of insolvents, or rather offenders and criminals, who are not the proper persons to sit in judgment and decide on their own affairs. What is to be done with the thousand millions of debt? To think of paying it is madness-or to think of continuing a tax to pay its interest is madness. To compound it seems an impracti cability, as the landholder will not willingly relinquish his lands--to me there seems but one rational and practicable mode of settling this business, and that is to apply the sponge to the whole debt, and in consequence of that measure to throw all the' burthen of the future exigencies of the State upon the land, according to the system recommended in Mr. Harrison Wilkinson's pamphlet. This would be a fair. retaliation upon the landholder for the loss of the fund holder. That there must be some sufferers is inevitable, but the great mass of the people have been sufferers for a long time, and have struggled in vain for the common necessaries and comforts of life, therefore our sympathy will be broken with regard to those who shall suffer by the breaking up of the funding system, knowing, that by industry, they may in future obtain a comfortable living, and in knowing also, that those who have been so long suffering from want will again begin to live somewhat like human beings. The funding system is of itself a germ of destruction for the present system of Government, and if all other opposition ceased, a National Convention would ultimately become an absolute necessity to settle this business.
It may be said that the present King, in his official character, has no authority to call a National Convention. Strictly speaking, he has not, but he has the indirect means if he has not the direct authority, and an appeal to the nation can never be considered illegal, or if our lawyers should call it so, they would only get laughed at for their pains. Even old John Scott, the Chancellor, would not venture to say then what he said on Horne Tooke's trial, that he hoped the King might be put to death if he took any steps to procure an alteration of the representation as it now stands.