Page images
PDF
EPUB

demand--another may have lately sold his stock, and lent his money to commissioners for the construction of a road; or he may have purchased very largely of an article, the price of which he, by a monopoly, wishes to enhance! Is the latter gentleman so worthy, that he should be exclusively protected in his possessions, when half the property of the kingdom would be swept away? What compensation could be offered to the hospitals and public charities, for the robbing of them of their principal support? But individual sufferers, (women of retired habits, and gentlemen of literary pursuits, the aged and the infirm,) would form, in their aggregate, as deplorable a picture as the cripples of St. Bartholomew's or St. George's !

Mr. Cobbett has taken some pains, in his Register of the 22nd inst., in endeavouring to demonstrate the impossibility of paying off a part of the National Debt, according to Mr. Heathfield's and Mr. Ricardo's plan. The attachment of Englishmen to“ things as they are,” will probably resist the power of Mr. Ricardo's eloquence; yet Mr. Cobbett ought, in fairness, to have noticed that, by the people of property paying off a sixth part of the National Debt, the poor of the land would be disburthened of nine millions of taxes ! - that is, the taxes I have enumerated in page 267, viz. : the window-light, the duties on salt, sugar, malt, candles, soap, iron, paper, and leather, might be taken off. Would not this plan, therefore, be truly patriotic on the part of the people of property? For it is worthy of remark, that this contribution would not be exacted from the laboring classes, although personal industry would cease to contribute to the above taxes. The question is—whether an exemption from the above taxes would be more than an equivalent to the capitalists for the inconvenience of their subscribing a sixth part of their property?

With regard to plundering the public creditor—as a matter of policy, it would be injudicious. Would it be any advantage to a tradesman, or his workmen, if their proportion of the thirty millions of taxes was taken off, when every gentleman, served by them, mediately derives his income from the public funds ? In fact, commerce receives its principal support from the quarterly payments of interest at the Bank of England.

If, therefore, Mr. Cobbett seriously puts the question “Do you wish the interest to continue to be paid to the full to the fund-holder ?”-let us answer in the affirmative, with an authority that would testify our detestation of barboring an idea of defrauding the national creditor of his due, violating the laws between man and man, and sactioning fraud, deceit, and dishonesty, No. 25, Hatton Garden, London.

St. George's day, April 24, 1820.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

I have filled him with the SPIRIT of God, in wisdom and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones to set them, and in carving of timber—and in the hearts of all that are wise-hearted I have put wisdom.'

Exodus, XXXI, 3.

ORIGINAL

LONDON:

Pam.

VOL. XVI.

NO. XXXII.

T

т

LETTER,

&c. &c.

DEAR SIR,

I am desirous to show my sense of your kindness, by complying with your request in the best manner in my power. I shall, therefore, candidly state to you my sentiments, and, I hope, with a due humility; though the long-endured contempt cast upon our race has, I trust, not totally destroyed that upright steadfastness of soul on which all human character rests, and which alone can enable man, either to look his fellow-creature in the face, or to elevate his hopes to the divine mercy,—which the cringing of the hypocrite will surely never obtain.

Providence, in subjecting us to the hatred, whether deserved or not, of the rest of mankind, has not, in my opinion, laid its curse upon us; but rather inflicted the natural chastisement which the spiritual pride of our once highly-favored nation has called down upon her exiled children. I trust that many amongst us have so far profited by the lesson, as to be deeply sensible of the truth that God is the equal and universal father of all mankind. For my own part, I am fully persuaded that the providence of the Almighty has watched over us for the last two thousand years, with as merciful an eye as ever beamed upon the day of our national prosperity. The boasted cruelty which marked our entry into Palestine, and the exterminating persecution of its wretched and ignorant inhabitants, has not been exceeded, even by that of our enemies, persecutors and slanderers, who with the same pious rage have scattered and hunted us as beasts over the face of the earth; nor are our national crimes and sufferings either singular or rare examples of the extreme horrors of war, and the fury of fanaticism.

Permit me to say, Sir, without meaning the least offence, that the professors of Christianity have not profited so well by the warning of our example as they might have done; even at this day the religious institutions of the most enlightened countries are not totally free from the spirit of uncharitableness, or from the corruptions that naturally take root in the soil of superstition. It would be unjust, however, to deny that of late years, and in this country especially, Christianity has evinced a more humane and benevolent character; and thereby assimilated itself, in a higher degree, with that of its great founder, .

I beg to be allowed to say also, what is my honest and sincere belief, that, in this progress towards humanity and the true religion of the heart, my poor brethren have not remained entirely behind them. Their humble virtues are indeed unblazoned by national éclat; the applause of Senates and of popular associations, “ they must not look to have;" but in the bosom of domestic life, in the sentiments of the heart, they are neither secluded from the divine influence, nor denied the sacred consolation of an approving conscience : they believe and feel that God is still their God. It is not true, as mistaken zealots have cruelly supposed, that our humanity and our privileges as moral beings have been suspended ever since the destruction of our city.

We have been taught, indeed, a severe lesson of humility.We have learned charity from the hard-hearted, and tolerance from the intolerant; nor have even the corruptions which have occasionally deformed the purer doctrines of Christianity failed of their warning influence, in detaching us from some of the grosser prejudices derived from a barbarous antiquity.-I may say at least for myself, and I trust I am not singular in this, that the prejudices of my religious education have not so far blinded my eyes as to prevent my perceiving, that, while superstition has decayed, morals and religion have advanced with the progress of science in the modern world; nor have I failed to observe that, although philosophy is yet in its infancy, the divine impulse of the moral feeling alone has been found strong enough to stem the torrent of scepticism,-that river of despair, which the reason of man must inevitably pass before it can attain the heights of religious cultivation.

Yet, though the basis of religion is so deeply and firmly planted in the instinctive nature of man, that even the wildest errors of speculation can never totally detach him from it; I am convinced that sound philosophy alone can give to the mind the peace of reason, which is necessary to confirm and secure that of conscience itself. Error may disturb and endanger the best disposed mind; and superstition is but a temporary and a treacherous prop to true devotion.

I will now confess to you, Sir, that, in the overthrow of the ceremonial law of Moses, I see the hand of a divine providence : I

« PreviousContinue »