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have been opened by the funds of the industrious people that have been unjustly accumulated in other hands. Give the 'indefatigable labourer his own, and he would scorn the aid
that bragging wealth bestows; he wants nothing but what an 'equitable system of finance would produce, he needs no more to place him in that comparative comfort he aspires to: grant him justice, if obedience is wanted; the causes that separate the interest of the taxers and the taxed ought always to be dreaded, if by any privilege or collusion, they 'are not subject to the same consequences, they become the 'enemies of each other.'
The pamphlet concludes with a proposition for the commutation of tithes by giving the priest a direct sum in money. To our general readers, we feel assured, that the most forcible objection we can make to this proposition, is to be silent about it. We have now said sufficient of this pamphlet, and its plan for an equitable tax, to shew, that it has our approbation fundamentally: the exceptions have been fair and candidly stated. We repeat, that we believe the author has made condescensions to obtain a more general reading that were not agreeable to his own heart. The author of such a pamphlet must have known, that nothing in the shape of improvement can be hoped for under the present administration, and the present system of forming the parliament. Conducting a periodical publication that professes to be "bold enough to be honest, and honest enough to be bold," we felt, in duty bound, to enter our protest against any improper or false respect being paid to the individuals who compose the present legislature, or to that excrescence which has grown out of it, termed the funding system, or funded property. False and undue respect is allied to deceit; but we are sufficiently generous to believe, that Mr. Wilkinson had other motives in view than improper ones, although, the introductory address to the members of both Houses of Parliament stands as an admission of purity as well as power.
As far as vice is opposed to virtue, so far will the present parliament be opposed to the equitable system of finance. To men educated in chicane and deceit, honesty and simplicity become a most grievous punishment. Another obstacle to improvement is, the disposition of the king; he is the simile of Ferdinand of Spain, and will never be good and honest until he is compelled to it, and has no power left to be mischievous. Under those circumstances, we should have been better pleased with Mr. Wilkinson, if his pamphlet had been addressed to any other persons than those who compose the pre
sent parliament. Its contents are a fit subject for the consideration of every man in the nation, and on which the peasant is as capable of judging as the peer. In making our observations on it, we have been guided by a sense of duty, and have set aside all considerations of respect and friendship. We felt the importance of the subject and could wish to procure the pamphlet a general reading: but let no man delude himself with the idea that any thing of the kind can be brought into practice without a reformed parliament. Next to reforming the parliament, it is the most important object that can be taken into consideration, and its simplicity is such that every man cannot fail to comprehend it. The size and elegance of the pamphlet having occasioned the price of 3s. 6d. being put upon it, will prevent an extensive circulation among the poorer class: to all who can afford to purchase it, we would say, you will find matter in it well worth your notice for those, who cannot afford the price, we have studied to make the present review an epitome of the original, at least, we have embraced the most important part of it. We understand the author has a work in the press which takes a more enlarged view of the same subject. A perusal of the present will be the strongest inducement to possess whatever might come from the same pen. Where honesty in intention is combined with ability and elegance in stile, an author only needs to be known to ensure him public attention and respect.
MORE LEGAL MURDERS! EXECUTION OF BAIRD AND HARDIE AT STIRLING.
"Whosoever thou art that lovest liberty and hatest slavery, learn to contemn death: Kings then will tremble before thee, whilst thou alone shalt fear no man."
The act of putting men to death for offences supposed or real, is intended to operate as an example to survivors, but when it is demonstrable that it has not that effect, as is evident in the case of passing forged notes, and for political opinions, it then becomes a legal murder. As such I view the execution of Wilson, of Baird, and of Hardie, to have been in Scotland. Having already noticed the execution of Wilson, and the peculiar circumstances of his case, I shall now confine myself to the case of Baird and Hardie. These men it will be recollected were two of the Bonnymuir combatants, who gallantly resisted an escort of cavalry that was sent to take them prisoners. They have been lately executed at Stirling
by hanging and beheading in the true British stile. The papers of Scotland expressed an astonishment at the composure of the men, and the calm manner in which they took their leave of the officers of Stirling Castle. The old trick of getting the men to say something about religion was played off by the priests and their fanatical supporters. Baird we are told particularly recommended the by-standers to read and examine their bibles, but did not admit the justice of his murder. I also wish them to read and examine their bibles, it is the best way to get at truth. Whilst Baird was addressing the spectators, Hardie sat himself down with perfect composure on the block prepared for the decapitation, and when Baird had finished his address, he arose in his turn and began to address the spectators, just as if he had been conducting the business of a public meeting. The sheriff or his depute tapped him on the shoulder and bid him say something about religion, Hardie was not to be alarmed, but shortened his address by saying, Idie a martyr to the cause of liberty, truth, and justice. This expression drew forth from the spectators as enthusiastic a cheer, as if it had been a public meeting for petition and remonstrance, and revived their spirits from the gloom which the address of Baird had made upon them. Both of them urged the rectitude of their political principles, and did not express the least sorrow for what they had done. Much disapprobation and execration was expressed at the act of decapitation, and this brutal mangling seems to be continued as an emblem of the barbarity of the British government. Thus died two brave men, whose zeal for liberty was their only crime. Talk no more of the constancy of the martyrs of old to the Christian Religion, it is nothing when compared to the courage and constancy of those who have lately fallen as martyrs in the cause of liberty. The former tales have been handed down to us with many exaggerations, but here, our public prints suppress facts, because they dread that they should be known.
The trials for high treason at York have all been put a stop to, on the ground of a promise made to the men that their lives should be spared if they would submit and plead guilty. This at once turns the tragedy into a farce by leaving out the killing part of it, and if the men are to be sent home to their wives and families, I for one shall not complain of their pleading guilty, but if they are to be sent out of the country in chains, then I shall think they have been ill-advised, and that at least one of them should have tried the question of guilty or not guilty. If the men are not to be liberated, I consider that they
have been entrapped into a plea of guilty under a mistaken notion. Mr. Justice Bailey played his old character in this farce, and told the men that if they had been seduced by seditious and blasphemous publications he hoped it would be a warning to them; and the learned monk laid down some very foolish, and in my opinion, wicked propositions, about politics and theology. He, observing on the distress that the men had been exposed to, persuaded them, that it was very probable, that the Almighty God sent those privations among men that it might be the means of making them look up to him! Blasphemous caitiff! One would imagine that the air or climate of York deprived this old gentleman of his senses, if he ever had any. His prattle about politics in the same place exposed him to the ridicule and contempt of the whole country, and now the paltry theologian makes the distresses of the country to be an attribute of the deity. Such an imbecile fanatic is unfit to fill the office of judge: the man has no mind: and should he live a few years longer he will be an inmate of some lunatic asylum. I suppose the old gentleman thinks, that the Queen's persecution is another attribute of the Deity to get her to look up to him? Perhaps he thinks that the deposing of the despots of Spain, Naples, and Portugal, is another attribute of the Deity, to get their Majesties to look up to him? I wish he would find that his God has an attribute to punish the vices of his master and his master's ministers, and go and tell them So. It was common among the Jews to combine the character of judge and prophet in the same person, and surely, the sanctity of Judge Bailey can insure him the power of prophecy. Samuel threatened to unking Saul, Jeremiah denounced Zedekiah, and Micah denounced Ahab; but neither of those prophets pocketed 5 or 6,0001. per year, like the factious judge. He is ready to denounce honest poverty or conscientious opinion, but not the vices of his employers. I have all along, up to this moment, fancied that there was something like charity due to this man, I have endeavoured to find an excuse for many things that I have seen in him, but really he has gone too far, and has identified himself witha faction in politics, and a sect in religion, even on the bench. He has made falsehood his weapon to wound, and hypocrisy his rod to chastise the innocent and injured. He is the avowed supporter of tyranny, and a severe and unjust judge to those who oppose it. Under the mask of religion he affects humanity, and with the tears of the crocodile he pursues his victim to a lingering death. He has gone to such an extent, that it seems impossible that bigotry can have so far obscured his faculties as to leave him under a delusion of
acting right. I can no longer believe it, he must be the voluntary supporter of abuse and tyranny. Such deliberate falsehood, such base hypocrisy, never was exhibited by any man before, as by Mr. Justice Bailey, at York, at passing the idle sentence of death on the poor men, who feared to expose themselves to the chance of being pronounced guilty of High Treason by a jury. High Treason is not a disgrace to any man under a corrupt and wicked government; it is rather honourable than otherwise; it is a pledge of virtue and honesty, and proves nothing but unsuccessful courage. If the sentence and execution of Russell and Sidney was unjust, then also is the sentence and execution of those men who have lately suffered death or banishment, or are about to suffer it. If a tyrannical and wicked government was considered to be a sufficient exculpation for their conduct, so ought it to be at present with those who have been convicted of High Treason. The wickedness and oppression of the governments of Charles the Second or James the Second fell far short of that which is in existence at present. 1 defy contradiction to my assertion, and boldly state, that the personal characters of those two sovereigns and the ministers who served them, were not half so odious as those of the reigning sovereign and his ministers. I have studied well the history of these two reigns, and I say that in no instance can they be degraded to the level of the present. Then let the admirers and eulogists of Russell and Sidney turn their attentions to the Russells and Sidneys of the present day; let the execrators of the characters of Scroggs, Jefferies, and Kirk, execrate the Scroggs Jefferies and Kirks, of the present day; for we are not deficient in either. Living virtue merits support and applause in preference to that which is a century old, and the best encouragement to heroic and virtuous deeds is to cherish the actor whilst living, as well as to applaud him when dead.
Dorchester Gaol, Sept. 14, 1820.
The Koran Society are not quite prepared to publish, but they hope to commence in a few months. The matter is determined on by those, whose laws are in one respect, like those of the Medes and Persians never change. There being no immediate necessity for the appearance of the Koran, the Society wish to take time, and to begin effectually.
The Editor returns his thanks to Mr. Potts, and begs to say that in a few months time, he may be glad of the loan of the volume. At present, he has neither an idle, nor a dull moment, nor one to spare.