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had repressed, but not crushed the doctrines of Paine and his coadjutors. Of the new theories, there were gradations and casses, adapted to different kinds of readers or hearers. For the vulgar there were the vehement declamation, the unqualified invective, the poignant abuse, the well-ained sophistry of Paine himself, and on his plan. As genius invents, humbler talents imitate. There were thousands of Jacobinical writers, who endeavoured to accommodate his notions, speculations, and precepts, to the varying circumstances of affairs, in order the more effectually to inflame. Demagogues, calling themselves political lecturers, did their best to promote the same end of exciting disaffection, desire of innovation, and the consequent action. As the lessons of Paine and his imitators in writing, and the efforts of Thelwall and his fellow-labourers, could produce effect among only the very lowest and most ignorant, there were authors of a higher cast of literature, though much beneath the abilities of Paine. By these novels were constructed to misrepresent the
existing institutions, orders, and classes, to readers of a taste above relishing the coarseness of Paine, or the feebleness' and ignorance of itinerant lecturers. . There were others to devise systems of philosophy, to please those that dabbled in what they supposed metaphysics. These set themselves about overthrowing the doctrines of religion and a future state; free agency, natural affection, friendship, and patriotism; that thus philanthropy might not operate in the cases in which it was most likely to produce happiness,—as a moral improvement: they proposed the dissolution of all government, the annihilation of property, and the levelling of ranks and distinctions;—as a political improvement. To excite, foment, or increase discontent among
the uninformed, there were Paine and coadjutors; for persons of more taste and knowledge, but with confined views of mankind, there were Holcroft's novels; for those that had a glimmering of metaphysics, and who, engaging in what they did not understand, forgot what they did, there was Godwin. Paine, Holcroft, and Godwin had established three great banks of anarchy and infidelity (there might be much greater capitalists that did not avow themselves) whose notes inferior dealers took, and circulated for current cash.
Inflamed by teachers and ministers of sedition, many of the populace conceived themselves to be totally deprived of their rights, and that nothing would restore them but a national convention. A plan of this sort having been tried in Edinburgh, and a meeting having taken place, under that name, in which also the subordinate phraseology of the French was adopted, to shew the model of imitation; the meeting having been dispersed by the activity of the chief magistrate, and the leaders punished, an assembly of the same kind * was preparing to be held in England. While the societies,
* A national convention of delegates having, by our con, stitution, no authority to alter the government; but, according to Paine's Rights of Mati, necessary tu regenerate the government of Britain.
their committees, and sections, by their pro. ceedings, severally and jointly, shewed the object to be a change, not indeed exactly defined, but obviously not consistent with the existing constitution of this country, and by means not warranted by its laws.
These plans verified the predictions of Burke respecting the effect of wild theories in this country, as the whole system of the French operations, in principle and detail, in every transfer of power, had verified his predictions concerning their effect in France. On the bill for detaining suspected persons, which Ministers found necessary, in order to detect and overthrow the designs of democratic malecontents, Mr. Burke took a very active part; and displayed at once his eloquence and his wisdom. The issue of the trials that followed the inquiry concerning the proceedings of the societies, does not, in the least, affect the predictions of Burke.
All that the acquittal proved, was, that the jury did not receive the legal definition of treason in the same sense in which the Attorney-General used it as the ground of the
indictment; or the grand jury as the ground for finding a bill. There might be devised by the fertile invention of wickedness many modes of conduct of equal moral culpability and political hurt with those that are pule nishable capitally. Every impartial man will see grounds for inference in cases where there are not grounds for verdicts.
Burke had resolved to retire from Par-'. liament when the trial of Hastings should be finished. This summer a sentence was passed, and Burke soon after resigned his seat.
During the important period of Burke's parliamentary life, the eloquence of the senate had received very considerable improvement. Able men took a wider
range of knowledge; investigated more profoundly; and thus their discussions, besides their immediate applicability to the questions at issue, contained a much greater quantity of general truth. Although this effect may be in some degree owing to the