Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

common custom is, to pay the judge's clerk who takes the bail, half a guinea, when you are arrested under a judge's warrant. I feel that I have set a good example on this point; and that I have saved myself from being robbed of several pounds, merely by refusing the fees at entering into recognizances, discharging them, &c. Another point is the difficulty I find in editing a weekly publication of thirty-six pages, at such a distance from London; a circumstance which bas occasioned many errors creeping into the publication, and which has exposed my writings to more prunings than I could have wished: added to all this, there is a difficulty in sending a proper quantity of matter, for I neither like to see half pages, nor those (to me) disgusting words, “ to be continued,” in a periodical work. Anotber point I bave cousidered, and that is, if the present Ministers intend to keep - their places (and they can if they like, until the people are prepared-to take them by the shoulders) they must have a Censorship over the Press, and this they will bave too, if they continué in office much longer. This, or a representative system of government, we must have before the year 1821 ends. Another point is, that I am exposed to the mercy of half a dozen of Corruption's back-bone supporters in the character of visiting magistrates, who entirely controul this gaol, and I know that they have been holding some grave synods about preventing my sending out any manuscripts for the Press from this place. So that I am in dayger of being exposed to a double censorship. Under all these obstacles and considerations, 1 bave resolved to close the Republican with the close of the year, and with the close of the present volume; and at this moment, when there is nothing particular stirring, but all is breathless expectation, the time corresponds well with my intention. I should add another thing, that all my family bid fair to be in gaol in the spring of the year, for the Vice Society bave even obtained a corrected Indictment, for the one in wbich they were foiled by a blunder, against Mrs. Carlile! There is some hope of escape froni the Attorney-General's Informations, for if Castlereagh goes out of office, Gifford must go, and it is not likely that another Attorney-General would step into the dirty work that the latter had left unfinished. But the Vice Society appear disposed to carry on their dirty work as long as the present penal laws for the persecution of opinions are in existence. Against all this accumulation of persecution and obstacles, I shall fight whilst I can continue to print and publish another sbeet, for although I give up my weekly publi

cation, I shall occasionally publish my sentiments in a cheaper and more compact form. If I am stopped in this shape, there will be no chasm, or fragment of a volume, and the letters which I shall publish may be collected into a volume whenever tbere are enough of them, without being confined to any particular order of time. I am any thing but dispirited at the past, or future, for in this mode of warfare I am content, as a prisoner, under the idea of being able to fight the conmon enemy by means of the Printing Press!

Some deviations have taken place in the pages of the Republican, not exactly consonant with the promise of the first number,' but I must plead the deviations which bave occurred in my situation as an apology. Had I remained in London they should not have occurred. I flatter myself that this apology will be satisfactory to all my readers. As to its geveral principles, it hardly becomes me to speak; I can only observe, that in endeavouring to be useful, I have done my best. I saw that the corruptions and delusions of the day required to be attacked with something stronger than squib and pasqninade, which, however it might annoy the subject of attack, or amuse the reader, inust be confessed to be but ill adapted to convey principles to the mind. Correct principles require nothing but a clear and forcible statemeat to have them adopted and admired; and the promulgation of correct principles forms the most powerful opposition to corruption and delusion. Juvenal attacked the vices and corraptions of Rojne in satire, but what effect did it produce ? none whatever; for some of the objects of attack derived as much amusement from a description of themselves, as others to whom the satire had no relation, The first object necessary to raise man from a degradation is, to shew bim what he ought to be, and elevate his mind with useful knowledge and sound political principles. This, Paine saw, and no human being, before or since, has ever elevated the minds of mankind to so great an extent. No man can rise from reading the writings of Paine without feeling an additional importance, in his character of man and a member of society. Paine troubled not about inculcating respect and obedience to existing powers; the first object he taught man was, to examine whether those powers were constituted and existing for the welfare of the society at large; if not, to set earnestly about re-constitating them, not by any violence, but by temperate discussion, and a dissemination of correct principles. To the best of my ability, I bave endeavoured to tread in the steps of that ce

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

lebrated character ; wherever I have dissented from him on any minor point, I have not hesitated to avow that dissent; but I cordially support every tittle of his political principle. In his political writings, he has left the world a prize which will immortalize his name, and whilst superstition and religious delusion exist, his theological writings will be read with admiration and effect. I repeat bere, what I have often said before, that I consider them an admirable primer to the study of true theology, in the present state of society; this the priests and supporters of fanaticism know well, or they would not be so eager to suppress this particular book, wbilst there are so many similar in principle, in circulation unnoticed

To such correspondents as have assisted the Editor in this work, bé returns his sincere thanks; and to those who have subscribed sums of money towards his fine and expences, be is equally thankful. To the latter, he begs leave to say, that he passes his time very comfortable, or as comfortable as the close confinement to one room will admit. If he finds nothing to excite his spirits, he finds nothing that can make him sorrowful. He enjoys solitude in perfection, and hears no noise but the winds, the clanking of chains, and the turning of bolts and locks: an excellent place for reflection.

The Manchester massacre was the cause of this publication, and on its first appearance it came out with very good effect. The violation of all decency, which was manifest in the then Regent's thanking the Magistrates and Yeomanry of Manchester, for their murders committed on the 16th of August, 1819, more than any thing else, made the public begin to suspect his motives. He bas displayed a similar conduct down to this moment; and I have no hesitation in saying, that he argues the necessity of a republican form of govetnment in more forcible language than I can pretend to offer. A publication conducted strictly on republican prias ciples is not altogether necessary at this moment, for a great majority of the people are fully alive to the necessity of the representative system of government, and as to the abolition of monarchy, I do not wish to say one word about it. When I see a reformed Parliament, I would leave every thing to that Parliament, under the assurance that there is sufficient intelligence in the country to act for its own welfare. I would respect all the laws enacted by such a Parliament, for I should feel assured that if any were founded in error, they would soon be amended where annual elections existed. Under a reformed Parliament, the best place to promulgate

correct principles would be in the Senate, and it would be almost sufficient for the Press to report correctly what passed. Additional arguments, for or against a particular object, would scarcely be necessary, as every thing relative to the interests and welfare of the society would be sure to find ample discussion in the proper quarter. Violent party feelings would in a great measure cease, for where elections were founded on universal suffrage,'no man would be mad enough to oppose a really popular question, if he bad als idea of being returned to the Parliament again. Those wbo imagine that universal suffrage and annual elections would produce anarchy and confusion, argue altogether upon wrong principles. It would not produce half as much confusion as the present elections for London, Westminster, and Southwark produce ; for any notorious corrupt character would not venture to ask the suffrage of the people under such circumstances. The confusion at the present contested elections arises from the infamous characters who can thrust themselves forward, under the present confined state of the elective franchise, and the vengeance of the people is excited because they cannot put down such characters by their votes, or for want of the power of voting.

The part this publication has taken in the affair of the Queen was candidly stated in the first article on that subject. It was not from an attachment to ber as Queen, but because a corrupt and wicked government wished to deprive her of that rank and title to which she was justly entitled. She was an injured woman, an injured wife, an injured mother, as well as an injured Queep. This was sufficient to rouse the feelings of every man who has pot villain marked on his forehead: but when we knew the Queen better: when she gave us such proofs of her noble daring: when she identified herself with the cause of the people, with the cause of reform, with the cause of universal liberty, then I could have clad myself in armour, and have sacrificed my life in her defence. She has triumphed-she will continue to triumph, although her despicable foes have some idea of further insult towards her in their corrupt and prostituted House of Com. mons. Her answers to her addressers have conveyed the principles of reform, and the love of liberty, iuto every ho, nest bosom in the country. Wbilst she has been paying a tribute to the Priņting-Press, she has increased its force in a threefold degree; and whilst the people bave been defending her as their Queen, and as an injured woman, they have adyanced the principles of liberty, and their owu cause, to a

degree that would have occupied two or three years under other circumstances to have made a similar progress. Such incidents are almost sufficient to make people talk about a Providence; but the truth is it is the triumph of the moral

power of virtue over the hideous and long-discovered prin: ciples of vice. It was a struggle between good and bad

principle; and the former has triumpbed, as it ever will when fairly seen and brought into action. The Queen bas done a noble act in defending her conduct against that of her husband: and the people have done a noble act in standing so firmly and resolutely by the Queen. The circumstance has been almost as good as a revolution, for its benefits will be the same in the end. But the people must not think the battle over whilst the present Ministers are in power, or any other set of Ministers, who do not make it their first object to reform the Parliament, and give to every man the right of suffrage. Then, and not until then, will the Queen be safe. Her rights will be secure only with the security of the rights of the people. Peace must not be proclaimed until the first election of Representatives are sitting in their legislative character.

The resignation of Mr. Canning is a strong feature in the Queen's case: although it reflects but little credit on the gentleman himself: he should have resigned on the Queen's' arrival to this country, if he had wished to have displayed a manly feeling on this case, or he ought to have apprized the Queen three or four years back what was preparing for her, as he was the principal means of her leaving this country. It has now all the appearance of an agreement between him and the other Ministers that he would support them if they could beat her, but he would not help to do it; and that on condition of the Administration being foiled in their attempt he would immediately leave them. Had Canning the least idea of the Queen's guilt on the charges brought against her, he would not have been deficient in effrontery to have supported the Bill in the House of Commons; but the whole of his conduct is a proof that it was a conspiracy, and that not one of the Ministers, or the King either, had any idea of guilt attaching to the Queen. The whole and sole object was to be rid of her, and the means of effecting that object were but secondary. Old Eldon has expressed his fears in a very mournful tone that he shall not again sit in the Court of Chancery after the holidays; but the disposition of the King seems to be so bad that he can find no other Ministers in the market for bire! They all either dislike or are afraid

« AnteriorContinuar »