Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

little doubt which must be overpowered. Revolution will probably soon take place in the Protestant part of Germany; perhaps even in the Catholic part.

England may avert Revolution : but it can only avert it by a Reform of the House of Commons. I will acknowledge, that I have accustomed myself to think, that this Reform might be effected by correcting abuses, and repairing on the old foundation; and that I have listened with aversion to the proposal of Universal Suffrage. The new Spanish Constitution seems to hold out something, which approaches very near to Universal Suffrage: it remains to be seen whether it can be carried into effect. But when the People of England see a pure Representative Government established in the United States of America, in Spain, in France, perhaps even in Portugal ; can it be supposed, that they will be content with that mutilated and disfigured Representation, which now exists in the House of Commons ? They certainly will require a more perfect Representation of the People. They will be led to call for this, not : solely from theoretical reflections, but from their sufferings under that immoderate load of taxes, which has been imposed on them in consequence of the unnecessary wars of George III.

A question. Will not the hatred excited by Kings against the principles of Liberty, excite, in the course of its re-action, hatred to the Magistracy of Royalty ?

CHAP. XVIII.

On the Consequences of the Transition from

an Agricultural to a Manufacturing and Commercial Character.

Ar the commencement of the Rebellion, in 1640, England must be considered as an agricultural nation. The cod fishery on the banks of Newfoundland was scarcely discovered; and the herring fishery, at that time the great fishery of Europe, was in the possession of the Dutch. The Dutch also possessed the carrying trade. The French were the manufacturers of Europe. England possessed scarcely any manufacture, except that of woollen. This she owed to the refuge which Queen Elizabeth had afforded to the manufacturers driven out of the Low Countries by the Duke of Alva. The Navigation Act, established by Oliver Cromwell, gave the first spring to English commerce ; and from that period to the present day, we have gradually relinquished the character of an agricultural, and assumed that of a manufacturing and commercial nation. From the

peace of. Aix la Chapelle, in 1748, to the commencement of the seven years war, in 1756, England seems still to have retained its agricultural character. The price of corn was low. The Journals of the House of Commons show, that, during that period, a large sum of money was annually granted to assist the export of our

corn.

The wars, during the reign of George III., seem to have had the greatest effect in producing the change. I will not presume to state how they have produced this change; but I believe they have produced it. They have changed the nature of

property from real to personal; for the National Debt, as well as the increased moveable, is all personal property. This transition has changed the national character. War has been so advantageous to many individuals, that the people have been easily de

luded into unnecessary wars.

From the commencement of the year, 1775, to the present time (a space of forty-five years) we can scarcely be said to have had more than ten years of peace.

An immense debt has been the consequence. During the war begun in 1793, the opposition concurred with the ministry in the wish for war : taxes were, therefore, laid with very little consideration of the manner in which they bore upon the people. The only object was to destroy those French principles, on the destruction of which certain great nobles had persuaded themselves that their power depended. Their efforts failed: the principles of the French Revolution have been established ; and Great Britain is left with a debt, a great part of which she must either get rid of, or relinquish her station among

the other nations of the world. Dividends payable by the public are of the nature of pensions; with this difference, that dividends have been sold by the public, while pensions have been gratuitously granted. But whether sold or gratuitously granted, if they exceed what the public revenue can pay, they

« ZurückWeiter »