Imatges de pàgina

Almost every one who augments the long list of bankrupts and insolvents, when he foresees his own failure in business, finds a ready excuse for himself in attributing to government the effects of his own mismanagement and extravagance. Political discontent, indeed, is naturally connected with embarrassment in men of this description, and may be assumed as a tolerably certain indication that the complainant is near the end of his credit and resources— a truth which most persons may find exemplified within their own observation. Nor must it be forgotten that the late war, having created a vast demand for newspapers while great events were in progress, a great number of persons, engaged in supplying that demand, now find it difficult to revert to any other occupation. They are under the necessity of supplying something which shall stimulate the public appetite; the unbridled slander of a government, faulty only in its inability to repress the turbulent, is a topic always at hand and never out of season, and upon this topic envy, hatred, and malice may be palmed upon the world for patriotism and public virtue, the most atrocious falsehood may pass current, and the grossest ignorance go undetected. The habitual readers of such lucubrations form a large class of society, and the great majority imbibe, in all sincerity and simpleness, the opinions of such teachers. Their teachers pretend to speak the public voice, and to be the organ of the people, who, in truth, are their proselytes and dupes. Coffee-house politicians are naturally the tattlers of social life, and one bold uncontradicted propagandist of anarchy misleads many an industrious and well-disposed member of the community, who, attending to his own affairs too closely to think of politics for himself, takes his opinion from any voluble prater who will be pleased to think for him.

We shall not seek further to increase the ancient catalogue of the factious, as given by the prophet Samuel, but we cannot help adverting to a class of men, once the hope and pride and safeguard of their country, and now, by no fault or error of their own, in circumstances which render them apt agents for any perilous drama in the political world. In times of war all ranks are invited into the service; and at the end of the war the greater number must be dismissed, or the nation would sink under the enormous burthen. Nor do we here allude to those only who have been actually employed in the war-establishment, civil as well as military, but we extend our view to those whose parents have been tempted to educate them for a higher calling than their own circumstances would have pointed out, had not the army and navy presented a field of occupation prospectively large enough for all such. How many thousands of men, from fifteen to thirty years of age, the flower of their country, are now languishing in poverty and inaction


as half-pay officers, and as youths educated for a purpose which the course of events has frustrated! Let us honestly confess how little likely it is that men under such circumstances should be averse to any movement which might employ the listless hours, and call into full action the vacant energies of disappointed hope;-let us condescend to perceive that in case of civil commotion, those who are now scarcely noticed but as a useless burthen, would rise to commanding stations in society,-and then let us calculate the aggregate power and force of men in the full vigour of their faculties, and prodigal of life because they are not satisfied with their lot. We call on government to consider the hardships sustained by these individuals, and the danger incurred by not adverting to it; and we ask why the practice of antiquity in such cases is not imitated Colonies we have, and in various climates, to which slender encouragement would tempt the adventurous; and we cannot but think that with this view a liberal advance of money to a few thousands of those whom we have described, would be a proper act of national justice, and a prudent expenditure for national safety. The whole sum would go in the encouragement of our manufactures, and of the shipping interest; this would be its immediate application,—and with good prospect of an ample return hereafter in the additional customers who would be created.

But whatever steps are taken, we may rest assured that the poor laws cannot be amended in any decisive or satisfactory manner, without endangering the public peace, (for proof of this it is sufficient to instance the corn bill, and the first establishment of turnpikes ;) and as the poor laws must of necessity merge in one general destruction all the landed property in England, unless they are effectually amended, the question which arises is, in what manner to secure the public tranquillity without alarming any constitutional jealousy which might divide the opinion of the well-disposed, at a time when the strict union of all such would be especially needful.

Without venturing to prescribe the mode, we may assume that some military array ought to be formed, which would annihilate all final hope of success in a modern jacquery or insurrection* of the poor against the elements of human society. But prevention is better than punishment; and a species of injustice would be committed if simultaneous measures of prevention were not taken. Every agricultural parish might be called upon to find a quota of special constables, composed of farmers and proprietors, who would promptly range themselves under the direction of the parish constable, in case any breach of the peace were committed or threatened; and the head constable of the hundred, or rather of

A volume comprizing the history of all such insurrections would be not less interesting than useful, Half the public are ignoraut of the aweful examples of mob-power.


the district, might, at stated times, muster all this civil force without inconvenience to any, because the districts must of course be so formed by the county magistrates, that every market-town where petty sessions are usually held would form the centre of a district, and the muster-days would only cause a larger resort there. There cannot be much less than 360,000 occupiers of land at present injured by the poor laws; supposing each 1007. of agricultural rental to produce such an occupier; and the honour of being numbered among the special constables might be granted to other persons recommended by the good opinion of the parish authorities. The short staff of the constable is not a feeble weapon when there is occasion to use it unsparingly; but this would seldom be requisite, the preparation for resistance would prevent the occasion for it; few men, however daring and ill-intentioned, would venture to face those by whom individually they were so well known, that detection and punishment would be inevitable. A printed extract from some competent authority might be placed in the hand of every special constable, together with his staff, that he may be instructed in the powers and duties of his office; and we are convinced that from such an appointment every well-disposed person would derive double influence, in feeling himself called upon to cast off that inattention and apparent yielding to seditious discourses, which arises from acting upon the prudential maxim, that what is every man's business is nobody's; whence mischief in preparation escapes any check, and is enabled to break out into action. Had one such Abdiel stood forward at the commencement of the Ely riots, the gregarious feelings of our nature would not have been excited into mischievous activity; the proposal of a drunkard would have been received with merited disgust, and those lives would have been spared which were necessarily exacted by justice. So slight are the causes, so small the obstacles which regulate human feelings and human conduct!

But the general subject here under contemplation must not be suffered to lengthen this essay in proportion to its own immense importance, and we hasten to conclude with a brief retrospect of the remedial measures which we have ventured to propose in alleviation of the burthen of the poor-rates. The simple principle, that no pauper shall have a right to insist on relief in any other form than as the magistrates, or parish-officers, shall think his conduct and situation deserve, is a corrective of the existing poor laws, which cannot be deemed very violent by the advocates for their continuance under certain modifications.Among those advocates we beg leave to range ourselves. We confess indeed that, considering the unexampled wealth, and the commercial and manufacturing activity of England, (the latter cir




cumstance especially placing the subsistence of a large portion of our population in a state which may be termed, in the language of the insurance offices, doubly hazardous,') we are happy to believe that a judicious modification of the poor laws will be more suitable to the existing state of society, and more easy to establish, thau if at present we had to consider of the necessity of originating some such insurance against the changes and chances of mortal life, whereby Christian charity, in the largest sense of the word, might be brought into practice, for the encouragement of industry and good conduct, and the discouragement of idleness and vice.

The measures of precaution, under which all the advantages we have in view may be safely attained, cannot fail to be approved by the well-disposed part of the community; for nothing can be more congenial to the spirit of the British constitution than an armed civil force so large and so imposing, as to supersede the necessity of maintaining a standing army at home; if we look to public economy, nothing is so effectual; or if for a moment we imagine ourselves in the situation of a well-intentioned administration, nothing could be more satisfactory than an absolute exemption from all dread of popular tumult, and the consequent power of doing what is best for the people, without regarding the opinion of the populace.— In fine, we may venture to anticipate that this part of the plan will obtain the suffrages of all who are not the open or the secret advocates of mob-government and public anarchy-of all who are sincere friends of that constitution which has been handed down to us by our ancestors, and which is secured to us against all but internal dangers by our insular situation, and the high reputation of the British arms.

ART. II. Account of a Voyage of Discovery to the West Coast of Corea and the Great Loo-choo* Island; with an Appendix containing Charts and various Hydrographical and Scientific Notices, by Basil Hall, Esq. Captain R. N. F.R.S. L.& E. And a Vocabulary of the Loo-choo language, by H. I. Clifford, Esq. Lieutenant R. N. 4to. London. 1818. THE objectionable manner in which scientific travellers usually

communicate the result of their observations to the world, and which, in our review of the last volume of the Baron de Humboldt's travels, we were disposed to consider as operating to the disadvantage of their labours, is judiciously obviated in the volume before us--we allude to the practice of interweaving the details of science with the general narrative-which, by breaking the thread

Few places can boast such a variety in the orthography of the name as these islands. It has been written Lequeijo, Lekeyo, Lieou-keiou, Lieu-chieu, Lew-chew, Loo-choo, Doo-choo, and even Riuku.


of the story, necessarily lessens the general interest. Captain Hall appears to be so well aware of this, that he has abstained from the introduction of every subject, (even those of a professional nature,) that could in any way interrupt the progress of the narrative; and has thrown his nautical and meteorological observations into an Appendix, which, with Mr. Clifford's copious vocabulary of the Loochoo language, the charts, &c. will be found of infinite service to those whom chance or design may hereafter throw on this unexplored part of the Yellow Sea.

Though the ground gone over by Captain Hall had been previously occupied, and the main facts and incidents of the voyage already stated in the unpretending volume of Mr. M'Leod, the objects were so new and of a nature so interesting that we wished for something more, especially on certain points, respecting those amiable islanders, with whom no Europeans (with the single exception of Captain Broughton) had before held any intercourse. Captain Hall besides appeared to us to be in possession of many advantages which Mr. M'Leod could not be supposed to enjoy. His rank in the service afforded him more frequent opportunities of seeing, and conversing with the higher classes of the people selected to hold communication with the strangers: and his friend, Lieutenant Clifford, who had made very considerable progress in the Loo-choo language, seems, as well as himself, to have minuted down whatever occurred, with a view to future publication.

The style of Captain Hall is more measured and elaborate than that of Mr. M'Leod; it is in fact that of a man accustomed to literary composition, and such as cannot always be expected from a naval officer, whose early life must necessarily be spent in the laborious duties of his profession, while other youths are prosecuting their studies at school. Mr. M'Leod, to use his own expression, is a straight-forward sort of a fellow, who tells his story in just the same plain and homely terms which he would make use of to his mess-mates in the ward-room; and this easy and familiar manner constitutes in fact the charm of the narrative, and has contri buted not a little to the wide circulation of his book. Add to this, that Mr. M'Leod is sometimes excursive, and talks not only of what he has himself observed, but of what he has read, and heard from others; while Captain Hall adheres with rigid inflexibility to his immediate subject-the coast of Corea and the Loochoo islands:-not that we consider this restriction as an advantage, except as it may admit of more ample details: that however which constitutes the principal value of Captain Hall's book is his able delineation of individual character, and the dramatic effect arising out of the action and dialogue with which he has skilfully invested the narrative. Far be it from us to disparage, in the slight

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