Abbildungen der Seite

known in London until the 22d inst.: it was kept secret, probably to allow time for its reaching America first. -The commercial regulations adopted in Holland seem to prove, as we ventured to suggest in our last number, that Bonaparte's schemes are directed to the depression of the English trade and shipping, and the encouragement of those of the continent; and it is to be feared, that the system adopted by this country, of granting licences almost indiscriminately to foreign ships to bring hither the produce of the continent, is directly calculated to forward the views of our enemy. Almost every article of continental growth or manufacture may be exported from the ports of Holland. Indeed, every vessel which leaves those ports is obliged to have a cargo of those articles on board. On the other hand, all colonial produce, and all merchandize proceeding from the soil and manufactures of England, are strictly excluded.—The following are the only goods permitted to be imported : naval stores of all kinds, drugs, Russia tallow, train oil, specie and metals of all kinds, potash, mats, shunack, myrtle wood, ivy, and wainscotting. It will be seen, therefore, that while, by our system of licences, we afford a free vent to the pro‘ductions and manufactures of the continent, by which they are brought into competition with our own in the market of the world;

[blocks in formation]

cause. But we are wholly unable to trace in the map of Spain any of the effects of success. In the north, Astorga has been taken by the French, who have advanced in force to Ciudad Rodrigo, and were, by the last accounts, within sight of the English hrmy. In the south, though they have raised the siege of Valencia, yet Carthagena, it is said, will certainly fall into their hands. The ships of war lying in the harbour have quitted it, bringing with them a great number of the inhabitants. Cadiz is closely invested, and the fort of Matagorda has been forced, though most gallantly defended, is yield to a bombardment. In short, the whole of Spain is in the hands of the enemy, excepting a few places on its skirts. The great object seems now to be, to provoke Lord Wellington to advance: to effect this, bodies of men approach within sight, and when any movement is made by the English they retire. They also threaten the siege of places which they hope the English will be induced to relieve. They taunt Lord Wellington with his inactivity, and endeavour to represent it as a cowardly and selfish desertion of the Spanish cause. Doubtless they endcavour, at the same time, to give a false intpression of their own numbers, in order to veil their real purposes. In the mean time there is in Cadiz a powerful garrison of 30,000 men.

There are strong indications of its being the intention of France, in conjunction with her allies, to make an attack on the Ottoman empire. Great disorder reigns at the same time in Constaustinople and in the Illyrian provinces.


, false iu, prisonment.


1. We said so much in our last number on the case of Sir Francis Burdett, and on the question which he has raised respecting the privileges of the House of Commons, that we shall not deem it necessary to go at present into much detoil on that subject. In the action ite has brought against the Speaker, he has laid his damages at 30,000l. and in that against the Serjeant-at-Arms at 20,000l. He has likewise entered an action against Earl Aioi, a, the coustable of the Tower, for A committee was appointed by the Commons to search for precedeos, as w ł as to consider the best course Their re; or', which has boea adopted, recommends that use speake, and Serjeant should appear

to be " on this new occasion.

in Court, and plead, that what they did, ho ing in obedience to the orders of the Heis of Commons, was not only strictly legal, ls was not to be questioned in the courts below Former precedents would have justião them in recommending that une attooi who had served the notice, should be co mitted ; but this course was thought uns viseable, inasmuch as the privileges at to House appearing to admit of no doubt, would be, on the whole, advantageous nati have obstructed the opponents of those of vilegos in their attempts by course of lawi invalidate them. In the various discussions which taken place in the House of Counsas a this important subject, and a tii, h have conducted with go toer, we have to hoppy to see an usest eative ceecurrence;

sentiment among the various parties who compose it. No one has spoken upon it more ably or more decidedly than Mr. Ponsonby, the present leader of the opposition, who not only shewed that the law and the practice hitherto had uniformlyrecognized the privileges of the House of Commons, and, among others, their right of committal for a breach of those privileges; but that the existence of these Privileges was indispensably necessary, both to the exercise of the high functions of the House, and to the maintenance even of general liberty. These discussions have tended geatly to enlighten the public mind; and we are persuaded, that the prevailing and increasing sentinent, both in and out of parliament, among persons of iatelligence, is, that the privileges claimed by the House of Commous ought to be maintained with the most jealous care; although, at the same time, there are probably few who do not wish that their tzercise should be limited to cases in which the interference of the House is by * circuiustances rendered unavoidable. The case of John Gale Jones does not appear to us to have been one of that description: 2. Petitions bawe been presented to the House of Commons from the Livery of London, the inhabitants of Westuninster, and the freeholders of Middlesex, which with more propriety may be called romonstrances, applying for the liberation of Sir F. Burdett and Mr. Gale Jones, complaining of the proceedings of the House, and also of its constitution, and demuanding reform. In the subject matter of these petitions there certainly was nothing which rendered them inadmissible; that from Westminster, therefore, though couched in strong terms, was received. Those from London and Middlesex, however, manifested so clearly an intention of insulting and degrading the House, that they were rejected. * The violence displayed by these petitioners, and the tendeucy of their proceedings to produce disaffection and disorder, have led in the metropolis to a counter-declaration on the part of those who entertain more moderate views of constitutional subjects. It declares their deteriniuation, while they look to parliament for au economical euployment of the national resources, and a gradual reform of existing abuses, to maintain unimpaired the privileges of parliament; to resist all tactious attempts at innovation ; to place their unshaken confidence in the virtues of the king, the wisdom of the legislature, and the purity of the judges ; and to exert their best endeavours to inpress on the uinds of all counected with them, are

werence for and willing obedience to the laws, and an unalterable attachment to the true interests of their country. This declaration was signed by about 2500 of the most respectable of the livery. 3. On the 16th iust. the Chancellor of the Exchequer laid before the House a general view of the finances of the country. The supplies voted for the present year were as follows, viz. Navy (exclusive of Ordnance for

the Sea Service) . . . . . . . . .419,238,000 Army (including Barracks and Commissariat) for England and

Ireland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20,337,000 Ordnance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,411,000 Miscellaneous (about) . . . . . . . , 2,000,000 Vote of Credit for England and

Ireland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,200,000 Sicily. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400,000 Portugal. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - . . . . . 980,000

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

Annual IDuties, Land and Malt 3,060,006 Surplus Consolidated Fund, 1809 2,661,602 Ditto . . . . . . . • . . . . . . . . . .1810 4,400,000 War Taxes- - - - - - . . . . . . . . . . . . 19,500,000 Lottery. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 350,000 Exchequer Bills. . . . . - - - - - - - - • 5,311,600 Vote of Credit - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3,000,000 Loan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8,000,000 -


[blocks in formation]

for Ireland, has been contracted for on terius more favourable to the public than have ever been known before. For every 100l. subscribed, there have been given 130l. of three per cent. reduced aunuities, and 101.7s.6d. of three per cent, consolidated annuities, being a rate of interest of only 41.4s. 3d. per cent.; 15s. 9d. below the legal interest. The sum to be provided for the interest of the loan, and of the exchequer bills funded, and on account of the one per cent. sinking fund, and the charges attending it, is 970,833. This sum Mr. Perceval expressed his intention of charging on the consolidated fund; of the surplus of which, for the last year, 5,637,000l., he had only taken credit in the ways and means for 4,400,000l.;leaving a sum unappropriated of 1,237,000l. From this large excess, which appeared to have arisen partly from the additional stamp duties imposed in the last session, and partly frons an improvement in the mode of collecting the former stamp duties, he proposed to pay the above charge of 970,833l., which would render any additional taxes in this year unnecessary. We will here stop for a nonent, to remark, that considerable doubts are entertained by some of our ablest financiers respecting the propriety of this novel mode of providing for the accruing burdens of the nation, by a charge on the consolidated fund, which has hitherto been kept sacred from any such appropriation. The question, however, is one which necessarily involves much d tail, and we must therefore postpone the statement of it to our next number. In the mean time, we will notice briefly a few of the other points in Mr. Perceval's speech. The consolidated customs in the year ending the 5th of April last, produced 5,241,419.; in the preceding year, only 3,719,000l. The consolidated excise produced in the last year 24,476,000l.; in the preceding year, about 23,000,000l. The taxes of last year produced 6,459,000l. The stamp duties of last year produced 5,193,000l., being 1,236,907 l, more than had been produced in the former year. These are the component parts of the consoJidated fund, the whole of which in the last year amounted to between forty-one and forty-two millions. The official value of the imports last year was 36,355,2091. The prosperous year of peace (1802) was only 31,442,318i, being an increase of nearly 5,000,000l. The exPorts of British manufactures last year amounted to 35,107,000l. In 1802, they *** *ly 26,998,1991. being a dilierence of


millions for Great Britain and four millions

between eight and nine millions in favour of last year. The export of foreign mannsactured goods was last year 15,194,000L being less than the amount of foreign exports in 1802, which was 19,127,000l. But it was most satisfactory to observe, that though the exports of foreign goods had decreased, the export of British manufactures had risen in a greater proportion, and that there was an increase upon the whole of 4,180,000l. the amount of all the exports having been last year 50,300,000l.; whereas, in 1802, they amounted to but 46,120,000l. In Yorkshire alone the manufacture of cloth had increasled in the last year to the extent of 1,500,000 yards. But the growing prosperity of the country was also manifest from the great public works which were undertaken and the extensive docks which were establishing on als sides. The progress of such undertakings,

with as much spirit, activity, and enterprise,

as in a time of the most profound and prosperous peace, was a certain indication of the flourishing condition of our trade, mamusactures, and commerce. But it was not only in our internal resources, but, in our external means and strength, that the progressive prosperity of this nation was to be traced. This too had happily been made out to the conviction of our enemy. It was but a few years since that enemy had declared that all he wanted were ships, colonies, and commerce. If the attainment of such objects were his wish, what progress had he

made towards their accomplishment? It

was only by acquisitions from this country

that he was to realize any one of them, and

yet all the commerce that belonged to his empire he had lost; all the colonies that had belonged to him he had lost; and the few ships he had remaining were kept pent up in his ports without even daring to put to sea.

Mr. Perceval added, that that wise measure,

of the orders in council, much as they had been abused in this country, had had the effect of reducing the receipts of the customs in France from two millions and a half sterling to half a million, a fifth of their usual amount; a circumstance which shewed how unavailing all the measures of the French ruler were to the accomplishment of his darling object. 4. A resolution wes proposed by Mr.Bankes for the abolition of sinecures, which was negatived by a majority of ou!y six, 93 voting sor the measure and 99 against it. While we regret the fate of this motion, we cannot but congratulate our readers on some facts which were brought to light during the discussion. It appeared, that since Mr. Per

ceval's appointment to the situation of First

[merged small][ocr errors]

Lord of the Treasury, he had declined to receive any salary as Chancellor of the Exchequer. It also appeared that Mr. Yorke, who has been appointed First Lord of the Adiniralty—in the room of Lord Mulgrave, who has been made Master-general of the Ordnance—has declined to accept the annual 2000, which was added to the emoluments of his vice about four years ago Such instances of disinterestedness are well calculated to nake a favourable impression on the country, and to disprove much of the abuse which is thrown on our public men, as solosh and corrupt. 5. The only additional point which we mean now to notice (we are obliged to omit several that are in portant) is the motion brought forward by Mr. Brand for Parliamentary Reforiu. His statement amounted to this: that a moderate reform of parliament was a measure desired by a great majority of the nation, and essential to its welfare; and that it was necessary, in order to regain the confidence of the country, that parliament should be more identified with the people. It was notorions that there were seventy members of that house nominated by the proprietors of boroughs, and not chosen by the people, and who therefore represented, not the people, but such proprietors; while, at the same time, many populous places returned no members atall. To remedy this and other evils, he should move for a Committee to inquire into the state of the representation. If this motion were agreed to, he should propose in that Com-> mittee to disfranchise such boroughs as no longer possessed property or population enough to entitle them to send members to parliament, giving a compensation to the proprietors; and to transfer their rights of election to more opulent and populous places. The only chauge he would propose in the counties would be, to allow a vote to copyholders as well as freeholders. In the metropolis, and other populous towns, he would give the right of voting to all resident householders paying parochial and other taxes. In the counties and towns of Scotland, he should wish to assimilate the rights of elective franchise as much as possible to what they were in England. With respect to the duration of parliament he was disposed to recommend triennial instead of either annual or septennial parliaments; and, in concurrence with this measure, he should further reconmend that the votes should be taken in districts or parishes, so as to avoid the expence, delay, and confusion attendant on the present inode of conducting elections. The only other thing he should propose

would be, to diminish the number of persons. in that house holding offices to which no responsibility was attached. The motion for a Countaittee was negatived by a majority of 234 to 115. The arguments brought against the measure were to the following effect. That the members of the House of Commons, as now constituted, though not absolutely the delegates of the people, were virtually its representatives; and that if it were: more popular it would absorb the whole power of the state, and be apt to be influenced by every popular prejudice, and every turn of public opinion ;-that whenever the experiment had been tried, as in the time of Charles I. and in France, of infusing a preponderance of democracy into the constitution, the issue had been the overthrow of the constitution, and in the end a military despotism;-that whatever defects there might be in the construction of the House, the system went on well;-that whatever new plan was

substituted, evils, analogous to those now in .

existence, would be found to spring from it,

so long as men continued the same and were

actuated by the same selfish passions;–that those who thought the worst of this country might be challenged to compare it with any other in the world; or, with the exception of the accuuulation of taxes (by means of which, however, we had been saved in that struggle with Trance, under which every other country had sunk), there was nothing of which to complain ;-that the national prosperity, in spite of every disadvantage, had advanced in an astonishing degree; and that it would be the height of rashness by untried innovations to put all our comforts and enjoyments to hazard, and to run the immiment risk of being driven, through storms of anarchy and confusion, into the gulph of despotism. It was further remarked, that at no period whatever of our history which could be named, had parliaments been in a better state than now ; if so, let that time be specified to which it was wished to bring parliament back: if not, it was too perilous an enterprize, to throw the British constitution into any coininittee of reformers in the world, in order to be new modelled, or rather mangled, at their pleasure;—that the present time was particularly unfavourable for a measure of this sort, as the minds of men were heated by recent transactions, and had been taught to carry their ideas of reform to such heights of extravagance;—that however moderate might be the plan now sketched out, there was no security that a committee would stop there; they might go on to universal suffrage; and certain it was, if they did not, that they would give no satisfaction to the great reformers of the day;-that with respect to the elective franchise, through the diminution in the value of money it was now much more widely diffused than ever it had been before;—that as to the proposed reform, it would produce no diminution of taxes; these must still be paid, if we would exist as a nation; and there was this security against unnecessary and oppressive taxation, that the house, in taxing the nation, taxed itself also ; —that people were deceive in supposing that the country at large panted for parliamentary reform ; that there was indeed a party who clamoured for it, but who, pretending reform, sought anarchy; that these, however, were a low and degraded set, whomagnified themselves into the nation, and diminished

the nation into a faction; who declared

their own infallibility, and depreciated the judgment of all others; who affirmed that they alone were pare, and all others corrupt; —that as to the alleged passion of parliaments for war, the wars into which we had entered for the last century had been the wars of the people rather than of parliament: —in short, that if obliged to choose between the capricious chances of theoretical reform, and the ancient edifice which had so long

upheld our rights and secured our interests,'

there was no room for hesitation. Let the venerable fabric which had sheltered us for so many ages, and stood unshaken through so many storins, remain unimpaired, sacred from-the rash frenzy of those ignorant innovators who would tear it down, careless and incapable of any adequate substitution. To these arguments it was replied, That the extravagant lengths to which certain demagogues carried their views of parliamentary reform, so far from being conclusive against the motion that had been made, was the best reason for entertaining it; that by effecting, through the constitutional ulcdium of parliament, such moderate and reasonable changes as had been proposed, all pretenee for disorder and clamour would be taken away —that the real cause why so many governments had been overturned of late, was not that plans of reform had been deliberately adopted by the constituted authorities of the state, but that all approach to reform

had been resisted by those authorities, un

til the storm of popular disaffection liad reached its height, and with unmeasured fury levelled to the ground every ancient

institution;–that if this dreadful issue was to be deprecated, it behoved parliament calmly and uprightly to survey our state, and to consider what could be done to correct existing abuses, and thus to deprive disaffection of its aliment;-that by this proceeding, the number of the disaffected would be so diminished as to become pcsectly in-ignificant;-thal, for instance, it was impossible for any one to maintain that peers and others should continue notoriously to nominate to seats in that house, or that seats in that house should be openly bought and sold as an article of merchandize, while both the letter and the spirit of the coustitution stood directly opposed to such a prac. tice; while every honourable and patriotic feeling militated against it;-that it was also obviously unjust and inexpedient that a number of boroughs, boroughs only in name, with scarcely an inhabitant, should be represented in that house, while Birmingham, Manchester, I.eeds, &c. &c. were not represented at all; or, that in extensive counties, as in Scotland, the right of voting should be confined to thirty or forty individuals;–that the necessary effect of such a system was corruption; and that of all imaginable political evils, corruption was most to be dreaded: it was what gave its deathblow to public spirit in those who managed the affairs of the state; to whom also it gave an interest in propagating its poisonous taint through every class of the community; while it furnished to the enemies of social order a foir pretext for carrying on their plans of revolution and anarchy. But we find ourselves compelled to cut short the argument, from want of room to enlarge farther. From all that passed, we are inclined to thisk that the appointment of a committee is not perhaps the most adviseable course of preeedure; and therefore we do not particularly regret that that notion should not have been carried. But we do hope that the business of reform will be taken up, as it were, piece-tueal. and that one useful regulation after another will be attempted, for correcting the anomalics and abuses of our constitution, until what is unconstitutional in principle, and dishonest or injurious in praet ce, shall be checked and discountenanced, as far as the provisions of law can effect that important object. But we must take another opportunity of explaining ourselves more fully on this important topic.

[ocr errors]

For “...hiswers to Correspondents,” see the 2d page of the Cover.

« ZurückWeiter »