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throne of France, has been for some time vacillat. ing between a desire to dissent from the policy of the Holy Alliance, and a fear of the consequences. I have reason to be persuaded, that the omission of king George to pay a visit to Paris originated in a demur on the part of Louis, to a proposition of the British cabinet in relation to the affairs of Greece and Turkey. Much difficulty exists in the French cabinet on this head; and I have but little doubt, that it will lead to a change of ministers, if not of measures, in France.
The emperor of Austria, what between bis fears of Russia and of books bound in Russian leather, has no heart just now to attend to his favourite amusement of making sealing-wax. It is rumoured in the ****
circle, that he fainted not long ago at the smell of a book in Russian binding. The king of Prussia is so busy in warring against the four-andtwenty letters, and prosecuting authors for telling him the truth, that he has no time to attend to any thing else. But he is said to have very uneasy dreams. In fact, I assure you, there never was a set of poor people in such desperate perplexity, between a desire to restrain the projects of Russia, and a fear of the almost inevitable consequences of a war-bankruptcy and revolution.
But amid this scene of perplexity and apprehension, nothing can equal the ludicrous situation of the English ministry. Their oracle, the Courier, has all along assured the world, there would be no interrụption in the present pacific relations of Europe, and fallen into an immense passion with every body who ventured to suggest the contrary. Of late, I have occasion to know, things have put on an appearance, which has caused a remote sort of suspicion on the part of his majesty's ministers, that Russia is playing a double game. It is understood by the way of Tehesan, that there is a strong
appearance of hostility on the part of Persia 10wards the Porte, and that every thing indicates an incursion into the dominions of the latter by the Persians. This has made the ministers', particularly lord Londonderry's, hair stand on end, and occasioned the most serious apprehensions of losing their places. The whole of the East lies open to the ambition of Alexander, who, like his namesake of yore, may march to India with scarcely any opposition, except from those he leaves behind him. The British possessions already tremble in that remote quarter. The enervated and miserable slaves of Asiatic despotism will flee from before the hardy sons of the North, as they have always done, like chaff before the wind. There never was before mortal man, I believe, so extensive a career of conquest as that now presented to the emperor Alexander. If he refrain, it will be the strongest proof yet exhibited of the fears entertained by the Holy Alliance, in relation to their own subjects at home.
In the mean time, the Russian government has been at the same moment negotiating a peace, and making preparations for war. The Russian armies are at present more numerous and efficient than those of all Europe besides, and are stationed on the frontiers of Turkey in such a way, as that Constantinople might be taken before the news of hostilities could reach London. Well may the British ministry tremble if a war take place. They have nothing left for it, but to swear there is no danger until the danger arrives, and then set the Courier and Quarterly Review abusing Alexander like a pickpocket. So soon as I see this, I shall be sure there is difficulty with Russia ; for it is always the signal for some refractory movements on the part of a foreign power. The first indica. tion I had of the probable assertion of its indepenVOL. I.
dence by the French government, was from the abusive article in the Quarterly, which I mentioned in a former letter. It is a bull-dog, which is always set at obnoxious people, before the masters come to blows.
P. S. I must not omit to mention, that during the debate on the slave trade, a member, of the name of Smith, rose to vindicate our government from these cunning and malignant charges, connected with the refusal to admit the right of search. Suddenly, however, the Corinthian members and ministers became so impatient for the question, that Mr. Smith could not be heard.
I imagine the people of every age appear worse in the eyes of their cotemporaries, than in those of posterity. The latter judge from history, which confines itself to the great crimes of great persons, and pays no regard to the common and ordinary transgressions of the multitude. The former, on the contrary, being every day stunned with reports of crimes great and small, and initiated as it were into the secrets of every body, make up their opinions from materials, which, being either never recorded at all, or recorded only in the fleeting publications of the times, perish with the exciteinent and curiosity that at first made them interesting. It is thus, or rather it was thus, that a large portion of the crimes of one age were forgotten by the next, and posterity spared the painful necessity of blushing for the depravity of their forefathers.
But unhappily for the present age, unless the collections of statistical writers, the registers of annual crime, and the reports of missionary, charitable, and bettering societies, be all got together and burnt, it will certainly go down to posterity with as ragged a reputation, as ever fell to the lot of poor human nature. These laborious people, with the best intentions in the world I verily believe, collect together such a mass of misery, such an aggregate of crime, that, if the truth must be told, human nature appears little better than a beast and a monster. When a society is instituted for the relief of the poor, the first object seems to be, to make a large portion of their fellow-creatures as miserable as possible, in order to work on the charity of the rest, and demonstrate the necessity of their own exertions. When a society is formed for distributing bibles, the same care is taken to make a large portion of their fellow-creatures appear as irreligious as may be. When a society is instituted for bettering the morals, the saine care is taken to make a large portion of their fellow-creatures appear as wicked as they can. But when a society is formed for sending missionaries abroad, then whole nations are libelled in a mass, and the innocent Hindoo pictured totally devoid of religion and inorals.
The newspapers, those terrible tell-tales, take good care to repeat every instance of brutal ignorance, unprincipled knavery, or diabolical cruelty, until at length the imagination is overwhelmed with accumulated horrors, and the whole world seems but one vast theatre of wickedness. Thus are mankind unfortunately robbed of their good
name, by the very means resorted to for the
purpose of making them wiser and better. Before I proceed to draw any conclusions from these observations, as to the real state of morals in this country, and the supposed increase of crime, I will give you a case in point, in order to illustrate the mode in which whole nations are calumniated by the too zealous friends of the human race. The substance is compiled from the proceedings of the “ Bombay Literary Society."
Captain Kennedy, an officer of character and talents, long resident in India, laid before the society a memoir, exposing the misrepresentations of British historians and missionaries with respect to the moral and intellectual state of the Hindoos. These describe the upper casts as addicted to every species of fraud and villany; as killing their inferiors with as little scruple as christians do a beast; that the inferior casts are profligate and depraved, committing the greatest crimes with the least possible provocation, and realizing a degradation below tbat of the beasts; that all classes, in the mass, are destitute of every moral and religious principlecunning, deceitful, addicted to flattery, deception, dishonesty, falsehood, and perjury; that they indulge without scruple in hatred, revenge, and cruelty, and give full play to the most furious and malignant passions, fostered by the gloomy and remorseless principles of their religion; that they perpetrate villany with a cool deliberation that astonishes an European; that they are litigious, insensible to the sufferings of others, inhospitable, avaricious, contemptuous, harsh to their women, and altogether devoid of filial, parental, and conjugal affection.
Captain Kennedy justly remarks in his preliminary observations, that such calumnies contradict themselves, since no society can possibly subsist,