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2259 animadversion. It is now near a year since this remarkable event took place, and I do not recollect to have heard it animadverted upon either in conversation or in writing. I blame not the minister for this, he knew to whom he. spoke. It certainly gave an additional proof of his saga. city to those he had on former occasions displayed.
The wonderful part of this day's proceeding, however, does not rest here; what follows seems to be equally deserving of reprehension. When a question had been put, and clearly decided by a majority of votes, in a grave afsembly, it seems to be a procedure of a very singular nature, to per mit the same question, in the same day, in the same meeting, to be a second time brought to the vote. Yet this was done. If it can be brought to the vote a second time, why not a third, or a thirtieth time, if you will? What security does. this give to men. that they may not be circumvented? A person who thinks he has an interest in a question, attends when that question is debated, stays till the vote is passed,and hears the decision; he is then satisfied, and goes about.. other business. But when he, and those who think with him, are gone,—when a packed junto, taking advantage of this security, feel themselves superior in numbers,-then one of these has only to rise up, and move the question a second time, and the whole is reversed.. Such a mode of procedure is certainly inconsistent with every principle: of equity and candour; and were the principle to be a-dopted, either in parliament, in courts of justice, or in any other public concerns, universal confusion and distrust must ensue. I freely own it excites my astonishment: that it should have been permitted for once to be practi sed, without the severest reprehension.. I do not pretend: to say, whether, according to the rules of parliament, the same question, under the same form, can ever be brought to a second decision in the same assembly;, but surely, if ́ it can, material justice requires, that it fhould only be in consequence of due intimation being given, that all con-cerned may have an opportunity of attending at the time..
Two of the greatest bulwarks of freedom, are a strict adherence to law in courts of judicature, and the most. scrupulous observance of forms of procedure, in other.ree
spects. To admit of the smallest dispensing power in judges, is to institute a set of legislators, which the constitution does not allow, whose laws are not promulgated, and which must be productive of the very worst consequences. Every lover of freedom will therefore guard against this inlet to opprefsion; but it often makes its appearance in such an amiable form, by moderating the severity of harsh laws, as to escape the censure of the people. Artful men have, therefore, often employed it imperceptibly, to extend the bounds of arbitrary power. No engine of despotism, indeed, has been adopted so often, or so successfully, in this country, particularly in regard to revenue laws; nor has any thing been productive of such grievous calamities to the people; though its approaches have been so well disguised, as never to have been much taken notice of by them. It has been long an established system in Britain, to make the revenue laws so severe, as that it is impof sible they can be strictly enforced. The consequence is, that officers, in the discharge of their duty, and judges, in their official capacity, think themselves often, from justice and humanity, authorised to make an arbitrary mitigation.. But cruel is the kindnefs thus obtained!-Men, trusting to this mitigation, are tempted to transgrefs the law oftener than they would do, and having once begun to do so, they know not where to stop. The revenue is thus greatly diminished, fraud and chicanery is encouraged, and honest integrity in businefs is reprefsed. Room too is given for the pafsions of revenue officers, and of judges, to influence their conduct; those who have disobliged the one, or incurred the ill-will of the other, are chastised according to the utmost severity of law; while others, in the same circumstances, who are favourites, are allowed to escape with impunity. Thus is the fortune and prosperi ty of any man at the mercy of others, and in this manner have very many honest men been ruined, while others have been enriched.
In this manner room is given for individual opprefsion in every part of the country. Nor is this all: If the minister fhould take a particular prejudice against the ma nufacturers of one part of the country, and wish to cherifh those of another, in preference to them, he has only
to issue his mandate to the revenue officers of the proscri bed district, telling them that complaints are loud that the revenue laws are not strictly enforced in that district, with regard to that particular article, and requiring them, at their peril, to see the laws more strictly enforced in future; while no such mandate is sent to other districts, or perhaps a mandate of an opposite tendency. The consequence is, that the minister, by a secret manœuvre, which altogether escapes the public eye, can thus deprefs or encourage at pleasure, whatever part of the country he inclines. That this may be done, cannot be disputed; and that it has been done, will not, I think be denied, in this country at least.
A strict adherence to forms of procedure, in other respects, is also a barrier to despotism, which wisdom has contrived, and which ignorance cannot perceive, that ought to be rigidly adhered to. The pafsions of men are often violent, and when a popular tide runs high in favour of a particular object, it seems to be impofsible to go too far in its favour. In these moments of national phrenzy, what barrier can be conceived for moderating its violence, except old established forms? Reasoning, by those. who are capable of it, would be always ineffectual,—often dangerous. Break down, therefore, this single fence that stands in the way to stop procedure for a time, and every thing must give way to the popular torrent ;-but let this be respected as sacred, and reason may have time to resume her throne. Often have ministers complained of the tediousness occasioned by the forms of procedure in the legislative afsemblies of the Belgic confederacy; but these states owe their very existence to these forms. Who can compute the number of wars from which they have been saved by these forms? The very difficulty of getting over these, prevents even an attempt to seduce them on many occasions; and similar difficulties will produce similar ef fects in other cases. For these reasons, I conceive that old established forms of procedure in government ought to be accounted the palladium of a state, and ought ever to be deemed so sacred, as on no occasion to be made to yield to the prefsure of the present moment. They may pofsibly, at times, be productive of a real inconvenience;
but the evils to which the removal of them would give rise: will generally be a thousand times greater; but for the most part it will be found, that the supposed evils they produce, have been real benefits of great importance.
From these considerations, I cannot help warning my countrymen, never to permit the smallest infraction of established forms, if they value their freedom, and to guard against the dispensing power of revenue officers, and of judges, as the greatest political malady that can attack the state. Where the laws are too severe to admit of being strictly enforced, let them be mitigated" by the authority of the legislature ;"-but let no one else attempt to do it. When Britain fhall seriously adopt this system, fhe may mark that period as the æra from whence fhe is to date the commencement of her prosperity. Till she does so fhe may boast of freedom, but the pofsefses it not. She may vaunt of her prosperity, but it must be a prosperity of a sickly and distempered hue, which owes even the very notion of its existence, rather to the compara, tive weakness of others, than to her own health and vigour.
To be continued.
DURING the late war, eighty old German soldiers, who, af. ter having long served under different monarchs of Eu rope, had retired to America, and converted their swords into ploughfhares, voluntarily formed themselves into a company, and distinguished themselves in various actions, on the side of liberty. The captain was nearly one hundred years old, and had been in the army forty years, and present in seventeen battles. The drummer was ninetyfour; and the youngest man in the corps on the verge of seventy. Instead of a cockade, each man wore a piece of black crape, as a mark of sorrow for being obliged, at sø advanced a period of life, to bear arms: But," said the veterans, we fhould be deficient in gratitude, if we did mat. act in defence of a country, which has afforded us a
generous asylum, and protected us from tyranny and opprefsion." Such a band of soldiers never before, perhaps, appeared in any field of battle.
THE magistrate of a little village in the marquisate of Brandenburgh, committed a burger to prison, who was charged with having blasphemed God, the king, and the magistrate. The burgomaster reported the same to the king, in order to know what punishment such a criminal deserved. The following sentence was written by his majesty in the margin of the report:
"That the prisoner has blasphemed God, is a sure proof that he does not know him: That he has blasphemed me I willingly forgive; but, for his blaspheming the magistrate, he shall be punished in an exemplary manner, and committed to Spandau for half an hour."
THE communication by K. is received, and shall have a place with the first conveniency.
The two respectable communications by M. C. came safe to hand; and fhall be properly attended to. The hints on chivalry are rather long; and seem to have been gathered chiefly from one popular writer. The Editor, however, is much indebted to this correspondent for his obliging . attention, and will endeavour to do all manner of justice to his remarks. The interesting paper by a young observer is received, and shall have a place in its turn.
The spirited performance of Thunderproof is come to hand. always the Editor's wish to correct real abuses; but not to excite a spirit of dissatisfaction. Though some persons will think the animadversions of this correspondent too severe; yet they seem to be too well founded, and will tend to lead the attention towards some objects of great importance; on that account they fhall have a place.
The Editor is much obliged to a friend to Thomson and to justice, for his account of the family of that worthy poet. It fhall be inserted without lofs of time.
The communication by Philo is received: It came too late to admit of its being applied, as the ingenious writer intended.
A Wilberforcite is also received, and though the Editor, for very obvious reasons, has avoided entering on that subject, he believes he may venture to insert this small morsel.
The Informer, No. 2. is came to hand. As the performances of another correspondent, in a strain somewhat similar to his writings are now a the prefs, this number will be necefsarily postponed till a more convenient