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Monthly Retrospect of Public Affairs.
It is with the deepest regret that we are compelled to record the treasonable practices which have been manifested in districts suffering, indeed, from the depression of trade, but suffering more from the influence of depraved and desperate principles. At the commencement of this month the manufacturing population of Scotland, and of the north of England, was in one state of feverish excitement, of desperate activity, of wild and vindictive opposition to the local and general authorities of the country. The universal heart of this great district was throbbing with the most irregular pulsations. At Glasgow the proclamation of some agents of sedition, calling upon their victims from some lurking-place of darkness and safety, suspended for days the industry of thousands of manufacturers; and plunged the sufferers from low wages, into the deeper afflictions of positive idleness, while they lingered about in breathless expectation for some rallying cry that might lead them (as they ignorantly thought) to victory and fortune. At Greenoek, the committal to prison of some leaders of revolt was a signal for the most daring tumult;-the laws were openly spurned at by a furious mob hastily collected, and the aggressions of the populace were punished with military execu• tion. Every where, if we may trust to the accounts of those who live among these scenes, there was an array of the working classes against their employers, against the magistracy, against the head and fountain of authority.
Those who happily live in peaceful districts read these fearful narratives with a mixture of terror and astonishment; they ask if it be in our own country that these commotions are threatening to shake the frame of civil society to it's foundations? Is it in our own land that men assemble together under the cloud of night, to deliberate upon projects of insurrection, and to practice the discipline of attack and defence? Is it in our own land that at midnight the bugle of armed bands is heard to sound in the once peaceful vallies, aod their Watch-fires are kindled on the silent hills ? Is it in our own land that the soldiery are attacked on their march, and that mortal conflicts take place in the highways? Is it, in fine, Great Britain that is trembling at these open beginnings of Civil War ?
However the partizans of opposite factions may differ as to the inferences to be made from these appearances, we believe that reflecting men of all parties must at length agree, that a most dangerous spirit is abroad in the country; that there is truly cause for - VOL. I.
watchfulness and firmness; that Parliament has not legislated to meet the evil upon false foundations. The evil is manifest in its fearful extent, and its incautious presumption. We hear at length the enemy at our gates;-shall we hesitate in our resolutions to defend the citadel ?
Our limits will not allow us to detail the several partieulars of these unhappy approaches to insurrection. They have been sup. pressed, as might have been expected, by the vigilance of the ma. gistracy, assisted by the military power. It is of more importance to shew how this evil disposition is encouraged and set in motion, A Glasgow paper thus describes the recent progress of this disaffec, tion: . For five months past the people of this place have been every now and then menaced with projected risings of the Radicals. The public. meetings, the music and caps of liberty, flags and female re, formers, caused no slight degree of terror in those unacquainted with the weakness of the mock-insurgents. Since an end was put by the Legislature to public meetings, the leaders of the disaffected have had recourse to other modes of intimidation. Under the management of some itinerant apostles of anarchy from England, 6 Union Societies were formed through most of the manufacturing districts; and from 1-80th to 1-100th part of the population was foolish enough to become members. Every adherent readily contributes a sum to the funds of the society. Weekly meetings are held, and delegates regularly organized to and from England to convey the necessary instructions, that their brethren through the whole kingdom may act at the same instant, and pursue the measures most likely, in their insane apprehension, to ensure success to their designs upon the Government and property of the country. The delegates get from 5s. to 7s. 6d, a-day allowed for expenses, and have their families maintained in their absence. At their return, knowing there can be no appeal from their testimony, they tell their credulous supporters grand stories of growing strength and dreadful preparations. Thus the poor workmen, who are silly enough to listen to their tales, are wheedled out of part of their earnings, at a time when the whole are unhappily inadequate to the wants of their families.' · The two Houses of Parliament met on Friday the 21st.-- There never was a period in the history of our country when the assem. bling of the Legislature was more anxiously looked forward to by every well-disposed subject ;-there never was a period when the duties of the Senate were more essentially connected with the very existence of our laws and institutions.
The new Parliament has met at a time when the country is alarmed by the designs of the disaffected, beyond any former period of alarm. In the Metropolis, a number of unhappy and misguided men are upon trial, for alleged offences which, in their atrocity, have seldom been paralleled. Several of the principal offenders are already convicted. In the North the prisons are crowded with men charged with treasonable practices : several districts are exposed to the aggressions of formidable conspirators ;-and the magistracy are kept in a continued state of watchfulness and fear.
To stop the diffusion of those principles of which we now behold the fruits, Parliament legislated with promptitude and firmness previous to its recent dissolution. We anxiously trust that it will be considered unnecessary either to add to the restrictive measures which are at present in operation, or to suspend the usual course of justice and constitutional law. What then, it may be said, has the Legislature to deliberate upon, as far as regards these unhappy distractions? It has much to do. It has to watch over the progress. of the disease with an eye of patient and considerate benevolence. It has to collect from the public and unbiassed testimony of men possessing a great stake in the country, their opinions of the popular temper in their immediate neighbourhood. It has to pronounce with its voice of authority upon the aggregate feelings of the nation ;-to intimidate the turbulent and factious— to encourage the peaceful'. and contented. The very discussions of that assembly have a natural tendency to produce settled opinions, and consequent calmness, in the public mind. In the conflict of adverse sentiments delivered with the most perfect freedom, we look for truth. We compare one set of principles, and one mode of argument, with its opposite : and the very conviction that intelligence and honesty are not the exclusive possession of any set of men, induces a spirit of charity and good temper, which are insensibly communicated to every portion of society.
We have already stated that several of those wretched conspirators, whose designs filled the country with so much shame and sorrow, have already been convicted. The evidence upon these important trials is not yet published ;-the Court having very properly prevented its publication till the whole of the trials be completed, from considerations of justice towards those accused. It is understood to be perfectly convincing; and of a nature well calculated to shew the rapid progress of criminal intentions, when the mind has once çast off the fear of God, and the belief in his Revelation. - ..
The great and sudden change of the Political System of Spain has not been unaccompanied by some of those sanguinary consequences wbich are eyer to be expected in violent collisions of opinion. A frightful massacre has taken place at Cadiz, in which the military appear to have acted with the most wanton ferocity. But it is satisfactory to know that this sanguinary event did not proceed from any secret commands of the partizans of the late despotic system; but was the consequence of the jealousy of an intoxicated and furious soldiery. This event is a fearful example of the bitterness of political sentiment, and of the abuse of military power, without any of the ordinary provocations to which such events may be usually assigned. It is quite inexplicable. We haye all along had considerable fear for the quiet establishment of Constitutional Government in Spain ; and of the permanency of that Government when the popular
enthusiasm shall have passed away. The events at Cadiz confirm these fears. , It is quite impossible for a people who have grown up amidst a tyranny of the most degrading character, and a superstition still more opprobious, to pass at once to the practice of a liberal policy, and a tolerant faith. The only security for any form of Government is its adaptation to the habits of the people ; for the realization of any theory of laws must be the work of individuals either in families or municipalities. It has been said that the great blessing of the English Constitution is that it works well;—that it forms à part of every man's feelings and habits, and is associated with every man's civil duties. We owe this advantage to the gradual Progress amongst us of the principles of Government, and the knowledge of the reciprocal rights and duties of the governors and the governed. We apprehend that these advantages cannot be hastily and completely applied to any people totally unprepared for understanding or receiving them. We therefore are not sanguine in our hopes of the immediate regeneration of Spain.. EDITOR-I.
NOTICE FROM THE EDITOR
SEVERAL of the Original Articles in the present Number, occupy. ing a greater space than was contemplated, have excluded others which were announced. Though we have been favoured with many valuable communications, and are furnished with sufficient materials ourselves, to fill several of our succeeding Numbers with matter wholly original, we think it right not to depart from our plan of selecting largely from the standard productions of our language. :.
The following Original Articles will appear in succeeding
Numbers :-Dialogues between Euhesius and Alciphron ;-being a continuation of 5 A Few Minutes' Conversation with an Unbeliever.'
. Account of the Destruction of Jerusalem. Lives of Latimer-Ridley-Melańcthon. Account of the great Naval Victories. · History of the French Revolution. Accounts of the most interesting Public Charities in Great Britain, On Saving Banks. Explanation of the Funding System. Ristory of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Lives of Sir Philip Sidney–Howard - Ignatius Sancho-Bartho.
lomew Las Casas. Account of the Popular Music of various Nations. . .. . Account of the Discovery and Progress of Vaccination,