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rized the magiftrate to commit to immediate imprifonment whomever they thought proper to charge with fe litious language, or behaviour, in any popular meeting. This they afferted was to conftitute them, at once, judges and jury. The earl of Moira took pointed notice of an expreffion that had been used by the earl of Weftmorland. The words of that nobleman were "fend the people to the loom and to the anvil, and there let them earn bread instead of wafting their time in feditious meetings." This, faid lord Moira, was degrading men below the condition affigned to them by the Almighty, who certainly could not have intended that any part of mankind should be doomed merely to work and eat like the beafts of the field. They too were endowed with the faculty of reafoning, and had certainly the right to use it.

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Strong and cogent arguments were produced by lord Thurlow, to prove that the government of England could not, in juftice to the nation, fetter it with new laws, merely to prevent the poffible confequences, in this country, of thofe principles, the importation of which, from France, was apprehended. After fignifying his general difapprobation of the bill, he pointed out its variations from the provifions of the acts of Charles II. and George I., refpecting feditious proceedings. By the latter, known by the name of the riot-act, people unlawfully aflembled did not, however, expofe themselves to capital punishment, unlefs they perfifted in acting in a diforderly and tumultuous manner during a whole hour after the act had been read to them. But, by the prefent bill, if people were affembled, in order to take a fubject relating to the public into confideration, and con

tinued together, however peaceably to the number of twelve perfons, an hour after proclamation made, they were adjudged guilty of felony,without benefit of clergy; and the prefiding magiftrate was authorized to ufe violence, even to death, in apprehending them. This claufe was fo unjuftifiable, that he thought himfelf bound to oppofe the bill, were it folely from this motive.

The lord chancellor made a long and elaborate reply to lord Thurlow's objections, without advancing, however, any thing new in fupport, of the bill. The queftion for its going into a committee was carried by one hundred and nine votes against twenty-one.

The houfe of lords went, accordingly, into a committee upon the bill, on the eleventh of December, when the duke of Norfolk oppofed the claufe extending the operation of the bill to three years, and moved that it fhould be limited to one. He was feconded by lords Scarborough, Darnley, Radnor, and Romney. But the term of three years was fupported by lords Grenville, Spencer, and Mulgrave, and voted by forty-five: to eight. On the fourteen of December, 1795, the bill was read a third time and finally paffed.

No law, enacted by the British: legislature, was ever received by the nation with fuch evident and general marks of ill will and difapprobation as thefe two celebrated bills, on which the public beftowed the appellation of the Pitt and Gren- ville acts, in order to fet a mark upon their authors, and hold them out to the odium of the people.

Thele two acts were confider-,. ed the most restrictive of any that have been paffed by an English parliament fince the reigns of the Tudors; a family of which the remembrance

membrance is far from being agreeable to the people of England; notwithstanding that it produced an Elizabeth, whofe tyrannical difpofition and maxims tarnished the luftre of all her great qualities. The defpotifm of that houfe was indignantly recalled to notice on this occafion, and the feverity of the two acts in question, compared to the moft arbitrary and oppreffive proceedings of the fovereigns of England, previous to the commencement of the seventeenth century.

It was owned, at the fame time, by every candid mind, that if, on the one hand, there was danger to be apprehended, from measures tending to defpotifm, there was on the other, danger in allowing an unreftrained freedom of haranging the populace; a freedom that tended to anarchy and confufion. If, on the one hand, it be the nature of power to mount, with hafty steps, into the throne of defpotifm, it seems to be infeparable from liberty, on the other, to push its claims beyond a juft and reafonable degree of freedom. Amidst a fcarcity of grain; an accumulation of taxes; an unfuccefsful, not to fay unneceflary, war; difficul ties abroad; diftrefles at home :when the elements were troubled, and a form fo greatly threatened, filence was impofed on the fhip's crew, and each man was fixed to his particular ftation.

The danger to be apprehended from the operation of thofe laws did not confift fo much in any immediate, reftraint they might impofe on a reafonable freedom of difcuffion, and prefentation of petitions to the legiflature, whether for the redress or the prevention of grievances, as in the tendency they had to enervate the fpirit of liberty. The confequences

of many, nay moft, innovations aré not prevented at firft: otherwife they would, in many inftances, be immediately refifted. By the time that pernicious innovations are perceived, cuftom and habit have rendered. them lefs odious and intolerable. Precedents, growing into authorities, rife into abfolute dominion, by flow degrees: by acceffions and diftant encroachments, each of which, fingly confidered, feemed of little importance. The vanity of refiftance at last breaks the fpirit of the people, and difpofes them to unreferved fubmiffion. Their political importance being wholly gone, they are degraded, more and more, and fubjected to greater and greater oppreffions and infults.-It was obferved by many, even of those who were difpofed to admit the temporary expediency of the two unpopular and odious acts, that the greater part by far of our new laws have a reference, either to public revenue or to the fecurity of the monarchical part of the conftitution; and that few, of any extenfive operation, are of the clafs that may be denominated popu lar and paternal.

The only alleviation that accompanied the two acts, was the time li mited for their duration. This kept up the fpirits and hopes of the people, that however their reprefentatives might have been prevailed upon to fufpend the exercife of thofe privileges, on which the national freedom depended, they were too wife, as well as too honest, to trust them in the hands of the executive power, any longer than they might be çonvinced was requifite for the fermentation of the times to fubfide, and for the people to revert to their former temper.

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CHA P. III.

1

In the House of Commons, Regulations respecting the Sale of Flour, and the Making of Bread.-Motions by Mr. Lechmere and Mr. Whitbread, refeating the Causes of the Scarcity of Wheaten Flour, and the Hardships incident to the Labouring Poor-Negatived.-Bill for Encouraging the Cultivation of Wafle Lands.-Motions for the Support of the Land and Sea Service-Strictures on the Conduct of Miniftry in the War Department.Replied to by Mr. Wyndham.-Debates on the Erection of Barracks.→ A Statement of the Expences of 1796, amounting from twenty-feven to twenty-eight Millions ferling.-Debates concerning the Terms of the Loan. -Vote approving the Conduct of the Minister on this Subject.-New Taxes.-Debates thereon.-Meffage from the King, intimating his Difpofition to enter into a Negociation with the prefent Government of France. -An Addrefs moved, expreffing the Readiness of the Houfe to concur in fuch a Meafure.-Amendment thereon, moved by Mr. Sheridan.-This rejected, and the Address carried-Motion for Peace, by Mr. Grey,Negatived.

URING thefe parliamentary

houfes were not unmindful of the critical ftate of the country, through the alarming fcarcity of corn that had prevailed for fome time. On the thirtieth of October, 1795, the fecond day of the feffion, Mr. Pitt moved, that the bill, allowing the importation of corn, duty free, fhould be extended to another year. He

propofed at the fame time several

flour, and the making of bread,

It was obferved by Mr. Lech, mere, that no remedy could be applied to the fecurity without invettigating its caufes; the principle of which he believed to be the mo nopoly of farms, and the jobbing in corn. Public granaries ought, he faid, to be erected, where every

one

It is one of the most pleasing as well as important tasks imposed on the journalitę to record, with due approbation, and point out as much as poffible, fuch public counfels and actions as originate in found patriotism, and are eminently conducive to the public good. We with that Mr. Lechmere's obfervation on the baneful effects of monopolization of land had met with more attention, and been made a subject of parlia mentary inquiry and regulation. It is with great fatisfaction that we notice the efforts of feeling and enlightened men, who, whether by speaking or writing, recommend at tation to the labouring poor. Whoever perufes Mr. Newte, of Tiverton's Tour in England and Scotland,” and “ An Effay on the Right of Property in Land,” afcribed to profeffor Ogilvie, of Aberdeen, will be abundantly fatisfied, that by a due encouragea ment of agriculture, and the fisheries, which may be confidered as a fpecies of agricul care, fources of unfailing profperity might be opened to this island, amidst all the poffible

veerings

one might purchase without the therefore moved for an inquiry into intervention of corn-dealers. He the causes of the scarcity.

veerings of commerce, and even under progreffive taxes. But the beft ftimulant to agriculture, according to the just obfervation and reasonings of the very worthy, as well as ingenious and well-informed authors just mentioned, that could poffibly be devised, would be to invent fome means, whereby the actual labourer might be animated with the hope of rifing to the fituation of an actual cultivator of the foil; fuch as reftraints on the exceffive monopolization of land; long, and in some cases perpetual leases; a judicious diftribution of wafte lands, and various contingencies improveable by the legislature in favour of the peafantry of this country, without injuring the great proprietors of land, but even promoting their intereft in particular. That this is practiable has been experimentally proved by the duke of Bedford, the earl of Winchelfea, the carl of Suffolk, and other real patriots and benefactors to their country. There is a ftrong temptation to throw different farms into one, in the circumftance, that by this means the landlord avoids the expence of keeping up different farm-fteads. In order to counteract this inducement, to the excesive enlargement of farms, it was wifely enacted, in the reign of king Henry Vill. that the landlord fhould be at liberty to difpofe of his lands as he pleased, but that he must nevertheless keep up in good repair all the ancient manfions and farm-fteads. The preamble to this law, which has now unfortunately become obfolete, is worthy of ferious attention at the prefent day.

It is a melancholy confideration, that the most profperous career of arts, manufactures, and commerce, in any individual nation or empire, (not their migration into different countries,) carries in itself the feeds of corruption. Mechanical arts and manufactures, bringing together great crowds of people into factories and great towns, confining their bodies to close and narrow spots, and their minds to a very few ideas, are prejudicial to the health, the morals, and even the intellectual powers of a people. There is more ftrength, felf-command, natural affection, and general knowledge and contrivance among tillers of the ground, paftoral tribes, and even favage nations; all of which conditions of men are accustomed to employ their cares, and to turn their hand to a vast variety of occupations.

While the wants of men are encreased by luxury, their natural refources are di minished: they become inactive and flothful, less and lefs fitted to bear up under hardfhips, and to adapt their labour to different exigencies and circumflances. They know but one art. The manufacture in which they are employed fluctuates with the artificial ftate of fociety, out of which it fprung. The enervated artifan is thrown on the mercy of the public. A fimilar ratio holds with regard to nations; each fucceeding generation becomes more luxurious than the last; each becomes lefs capable of exertion. There is for a long time a curious ftruggle between the wants and exertions of men and of nations: but the exertions at last yield to the enervating influence of luxury, and hence we may fay of the reign of the arts, what Salluft obferves of political empire, "that it is in the courfe of things always transferred from the bad to the good." The immenfity of our national debt, which impofes on the hand of industry the fetters of immoderate taxation, added to all these confiderations, cafts an air of melancholy over our political horizon.

This gloom, however is not a little brightened up by three circumstances. First, there is yet a very large scope in this inland for the extenfion and improvement of agriculture, which breeds a race of men innocent, healthy, and hardy.

Secondly, there is ftill a greater fcope for the extenfion and improvement of our fisheries and navigation, which nourish a hardy race of mortals, maintaining great activity and virtue, amidit occafional exceffes.

While any land remains to be cultivated, cultivation is better than manufactures, not only in refpect of the health, happiness, and morals, of the people, but of public revenue. This reafoning is confirmed by the wife economy of America; by the economifts of France, and the writings of their disciples in this and other countries. See particularly "The Lidential Principles of the Wealth of Nations, illuftrated in oppofition to fome Falfe Doctrines of Dr. Adam Smith, and others."

After

After a long difcuffion of the taufes of the carcity, they were found to be of fo complicated a nature, that it proved difficult to remove them. A bill was however brought in to prohibit the manufacture of ftarch from wheat and other grain; to lower the duties on its importation, to prevent the diftiling from it, and all obftructions to its free tranfportation through every part of the kingdom.

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It appeared, in the mean time, from the information laid before the committee of inquiry into the high price of corn, that, with an exception to wheat, the harvest had been very productive: thus by mixing flour of different grains good bread might be made; a meafure the more indifpenfible, that from a variety of caules no fufficient fupplies of corn tould be expected from abroad; a bounty of twenty fhillings was however agreed to for every quarter imported from the Mediterranean, until the importation amounted to three hundred thoufand; a bounty of fifteen fillings a quarter upon that from America, till it amounted to five hundred thoufand; and five fillings a quarter on Indian corn, till it amounted alfo to five hundred thoufand.

The hard hips incident to labourers, tradefmen, and manufacturers, were, on the twenty-leventh of November, brought before the confideration of the houfe by Mr. Whitbread, who obferved, that the higheft extent of wages to husbandmen was fixable by the magiftrate, but not the loweft. On the ninth of December he brought in a bill to authorife juftices of peace to regulate the price of labour at every quarter feffion. Herein he was fupported by Mr. Fox, Mr. Jekyll, Mr. Honeywood, and other memVOL. XXXVIII.

bers; and opposed by Mr. Burdon, Mr. Buxton, Mr. Vanfittart, and nion, that in a matter of this kind Mr. Pitt. The latter was of opithe operation of general principles. ought to be attended to, preferably to uncertain and precarious remedies. It was dangerous to interfere, by regulations, in the intercouse between individuals, engaged in the various bufineffefs of fociety. Many of the diftreffes complained of originated from the abufes that had crept into the execution of the laws relating to the poor, which required much amendment.. They did not fufficiently difcriminate between the unfortunate and the idle and diffipated. All application for relief fhould be founded upon unavoidable misfortune, and, if poffible, the relief fhould confift of employment, individual applying, but the comwhich would not only benefit the munity itfelf, by an increase of labour and induftry to the common ftock. He recommended the inftitution of friendly focieties, to relieve poor families proportionably the loan of fmall fums, payable in to the number of their children, and two or three years. After a laborious difcuffion of this fubje& Mr. Whitbread's motion was negatived, as well as that which had been made for the benefit of the actual labourers, or cultivators' of the foil, by Mr. Lechmere.

coincide with that of miniftry. The The opinion of the public did not wages of labourers and of workmen in all fituations ought, it was univerfally affirmed, to bear portion to the price of the necefiaa due prories of life. This alone would prevent diftrefs, and ultimately diminish for according to law. In order to the number of poor to be provided alleviate the wants of the indigent [E]

claffes,

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