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But the farmers and tenantry, in truth, begin to be quite tired with the amusement of these yearly tunes played over to them, for the purpose of filling their stomachs, and swelling their anticipations of the future. The political doctors and the mass of agriculturists are now precisely in the situation of the piper and his cow :
There was a piper had a cow,
And he had nought to give her ;
The cow considered very well,
And to him gave a penny,
The “ Corn riggs they are bonny."
Something to eat, something to relieve the wants of nature, instead of the tune of “Consider, cow, consider," is now required by the people of the country. I have the best grounds for believing, that, in a few months, somewhere about the sitting of Parliament, there will be meetings in many of the counties, not of radicals, but of the principal landholders, for the purpose of remonstrating against the wasteful prodigality of the government. The landlords, at least considerable numbers of them, have been unable to get any thing from their tenants, for the last year or two, and, in addition to this, are beginning to be alarmed with rumours of another income-tax, with a view to relieve the distresses of the tenantry, by deducting from their taxes, and putting the amount upon the landlords. Such is the wretched state to which Mr. Pitt's policy; his system of funding, borrowing, and wasting, has brought Old England, the favourite of philosophy and song. All the mystery consists in relieving one class at the expense of another; bleeding until the patient is Vol. I.
near fainting, and then filching a smelling bottle from his neighbour's pocket, to afford him a temporary resuscitation. It is thus that the present ministry supports itself, by playing off alternately the wants of the poor against the fears of the rich; arraying them from time to time in opposition to each other, and holding the balance of victory in its own hands. Should this income tax be laid, the consequences are pretty obvious. The landlords, who have been duped into the support of every arbitrary measure of late, and thus entirely lost the affections of the poor, will be unable to make head against ministers; while the tenantry will very probably laugh in their sleeves, and sup. port the very ministry they have been accustomed to denounce and revile. Had the landlords made common cause with the tenants, they could have done what they pleased; but they were frightened at the “ Spencerean system," and will ere long feel the consequences. They will have the privilege of being next devoured.
THERE cannot be a more clear indication of a low state of religion, than the practice of insulting the Deity, by building churches, or making donations to pious objects, not as an atonement for past transgressions, but to obtain a dispensation for future ones. It is a miserable expedient of a miserable hypocrisy, to blind the people and bribe the church : the one to forget, the other to forgive the transgressions of a whole life of open and shameless profligacy. It was originally the invention of an age of ignorance, and answered the purpose of converting a robber and murderer, a spoiler of nations, a man, in short, who lived in the open violation of all moral principles, into a saint. In this way the calendar of saints became crowded with such worthies as St. George of England, and a hundred others, who would, otherwise, have figured in the Newgate Calendar of the times. This kind of atonement, without either repentance or amendment, is little better than an attempt to bribe the Judge. Something similar to this is attempting to be brought about, at the present day, by the advocates and supporters of legitimacy. It is their cue to be exceedingly pious, because they want the support of the established church, against the just complaints of the people. But as it is beneath the dignity of a legitimate sovereign to restrain his passions, or rein in his royal impulses, the clergy have graciously been pleased to allow them absolution for all offences, except those against the church, at the price of supporting their privileges, pretending a great regard for the propagation of religion, building a few churches, and creating a few new bishoprics. The consequence is, that there is a greater number of extremely pious profligates among the present royal race of legitimates, than were ever before known and that while there is a greater fashion of religion in this country, or at least in the newspapers, magazines, reviews, and partypamphlets, there is quite as much profligacy and extravagance among the great, and crime among the little, as was ever before witnessed.
This example of reconciling the warmest piety with the coolest departures from the precepts of morality, is too convenient not to be extensively followed. A profligate nobleman subscribes liberally to build churches, support missionaries, and convert jews, and he receives a tacit dispensation for what he has done or may hereafter do. Those who are too poor to give any thing, make all the amends they can by talking, and are pardoned their wicked actions in virtue of their pious words. Hypocrisy and cant, are, therefore, the order of the day; and the divorce of religion and morality is now as common among these people as other divorces are in Doctors' Commons. An age of superstitious observances is always an age of slavery, since the same ignorance which makes the people subservient to the one, fits them for the endurance of the other. It is for this reason, that the enemies of human freedom are so zealous in the propagation of a religion independent of good morals, and sustained by a privileged devotion, which gives to
the rich a latitude of indulgence extremely convenient, and takes from the poor all disposition to question the infallibility of the priesthood, or the divine right of the king.
" But let us view these truths with closer eyes” -although it is scarcely possible to question the excesses or abuses of religion, without being suspected of having no religion at all. And yet, when we examine the subject dispassionately, it cannot be denied, that among the best and truest friends of religion, will be found those who are most opposed to the wiles of hypocrisy and the excesses of fanaticism. I mean by fanaticism, that misguided feeling which reconciles a course of conduct directly in opposition to the laws of God and man, with true piety. Men, who have learn. ed lessons from history and experience, are sufficiently aware of the great principle of reaction, not only in the elements, but in morals and religion. They have observed, that in every stage of the progress of mankind, the abuse of a good, almost invariably leads to the opposite extreme of bad; and that fanaticism and skepticism succeed each other, with the regularity and certainty of night and day. The great principle of gravitation is in reality scarcely more universal than that of reaction, physical and moral. The excessive rigour of the Puritans, which might be said to approach sometimes almost to fanaticism, was succeeded by the total disregard of morals and religion, manifested in the court of Charles the Second. That monarch and his courtiers, it would seem, disdained even the affectation of morality and religion, because the Puritans, who had overturned his throne, and brought his father to the block, were distinguished for rigid morals and high-wrought piety. So also, because the revolutionists in France, in their headlong zeal to destroy those