« AnteriorContinuar »
tages; and in p. 314, 315, he thus recapitulates his thoughts on the subject :
• In computing the expence of raising a supply of water to a per. pendicular height of nine hundred feet, and of distributing that water perpetually through a twelve inch main to the extent of fifteen hundred miles of national summit level, it will be remembered that the sum allowed, at a full practicable price, amounts to an annual one million and a half. At the same extreme allowance of rate it · may be admitted, that by combining the force of the elevating ma
chinery ten times that quantity of water may be continually distri. buted in the same manner; more especially as there would be a small degree of expence only attached to the repetition of basin work, regulating locks and reservoirs. If we admit the probability of what it seems reasonable to suppose, that one third of this elevation would, at an average, encompass the powers of distribution, then it follows that ten millions of pounds per annum would extend thirty such regulating mains ; which is perhaps equal to all the springs which feed the Thames put together. (qr.) Let an agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial nation contemplate an idea which, however romantic at first sight, is practicable (qr.again) of placing an artificial river, of considerable dimensions, upon the dividing ridges of the country; having its sources fed from the mountain summits; turning mills and machinery by its mechanical powers throughout all the precipices of its descent; filling navigable canals throughout all the numerous roads of interior commerce, dispensing the benefits of pure and wholesome water into every kitchen and dairy in the kingdom ; wantoning in all the sportive fountains of innocent pleasure ; multiplying the means of sup. porting man from the distributive increase of the fiony race; irrigat. ing the thirsty soils of gardening and agriculture, and increasing the human kind by the multiplication of their comforts and supply. I say, let science contemplate these results, and she would probably find the astonishing addition of one hundred millions income per an. Duin a very moderate allowance !
To this proposal, are added hints for employing the vagrants and disorderly classes of the community in works of national irrigation ; viz. by obliging them to turn a vast wheel by the mere act of freading; and a plan for elevating to the roofs of houses that supply which is now delivered from the mains to the several habitations in Bedford Square, for their use in bousehold purposes, and for the prevention of fire. The author concludes with remarking that, if his general scheme be adopted, he sees no reason why the watering of turnpike roads, by means of perforated pipes, should not form a part of the public system.
Mr. Tatham is modest enough to inform us that he does not expect a prompt execution of his great design ;' and we ima. gine, indeed, that he will never see it executed, except in his dreams. We must be permitted to smile at his six-hundred steam
engines, and the other enormous items of his schene : but his ideas respecting the economical use of water, and his statements of the benefits resulting from the application of this element in promoting fertility, deserve general attention; and perhaps his system of elevating water to a great height, in order to promote the safety, accommodation, and luxury of the inhabitants of towns and cities, ought not to pass unnoticed.
Art. XV. Memoirs of the Reign of George 111. to the Commence
ment of the Year 1799. By W. Belsham. Vols. V. and VI.
8vo. 18s. Boards. Robinsons. 1801. Tee author of these volumes has frequently come under our
notice *, and we have willingly bestowed on him that commendation which we considered as due to the liberality of his sentiments, the integrity of his views, and the general merit of his performances. Though his principles were decidedly those of pure whiggism, yet we observed with pleasure that he was just to the virtues of those who were of a different persuasion ; and that he neither concealed nor palliated the failings of those to whose public conduct he was most ate tached. We represented him as an impartial historian ; impartial certainly in the relation of facts, and in the delineation of character, notwithstanding the bias which the influence of particular opinions must necessarily give to his mind. We are sorry that the latter part of this praise cannot be extended to the present volumes, which appear to be written with the most violent spirit of party. The expressions are frequently so coarse and disgusting, that they impress us with the idea that we are reading the invective of an angry disputant, rather than the narrative of a dispassionate memorialist. When we meet with such terms as the superlatively detestable administration,' the unparalleled meanness and baseness of Mr. Pitt's disposition," cum multis aliis, we resign every expectation of candid or unbiassed statement; and where the writer is so strongly influenced by his passions, the reader can entertaire but slight hopes of deriving information or improvement from the work.- We here express ourselves with some severity, because the fault which we reprehend is incompatible with the essential requisites of an historian, and is in the present instance carried to an inexcusable excess. As Mr. Pitt was the person, in whom originated the most important transactions of
* See M. R. N. S. vols. xiii. p. 143. xvii. p. 121. and xxxiv. p. 179, &c. &c.
the period which is here to be illustrated; as by him they were concerted and carried into effect; and as the writer is actuated by so strong an abhorrence of that Minister's character and measures, that it might easily be mistaken for the resentment of an injured individual; the public will naturally be led to imagine that the history, instead of deserving implicit confi.
dence, must be read with the greatest caution. : The plan of these Memoirs, and the manner of their general
execution, having been discussed at some length in our seventeenth volume, we shall now satisfy ourselves with a few ad. ditional remarks, and one or two quotations.
The French Revolution, and the conduct of the different demagogues who obtained and abused the supreme power of the state for a short period, are too important objects, and . aad too great an influence on the transactions of this country, to escape the attention of the present historian. Here, though his love of liberty is ardent and undisguises, he still takes care never to be misled by it to palliate the enormities of its pretended votaries. His attachment to that mighty Revolution was at first warm and sincere, because the event proraised 30 confer happiness on, and restore freedom to, millions of our fellow-creatures : but, when the leaders in that country changed their purposes, and pursued the most unjustifiable ob. jects by the most abominable means, the language of the historian is likewise altered, and he reprobates their savage cruelty at home, and their unprecedented tyranny abroad, in terms of glowing eloquence.
We shall now extract the account of the late state trials; because it is a passage which will at one view shew the defects and the excellencies of this writer's composition:
• Under the first impression made by this ridiculous fable, (of Le Maitre's plot to assassinate the king) the special commission of over and terminer, issued for the trial of the state prisoners confined in the Tower of London on a charge of high-treason, was opened at the Sessions. House, Clerkenwell, by the president, lord chiefjustice Eyre, in an elaborate charge to the grand jury, which, in the course of their proceedings, found a bill of indictment against Tho. mas Hardy, John Thelwall, John Horne Tooke, and ten other persons,—John [Thomas} Holcroft, one of the number, who, by concealment, had escaped the previous tædium of confinement, vo. luntarily surrendering himself in court upon the occasion ; and on the 25th of the same month they were arraigned before the special commission at the Old - Bailey. The members of the jury sworn to try the general issue of this memorable cause were not only very zealous friends of the government, but adherents of the administration, and most of them members of the loyal associations in and near London ; dut, through the admirable precautions of the law, they were also . 14
men impartial, intelligent, and of characters highly respectable. The indictment was of uncommon length, and contained no less than nine övert.acts of high-treason, all resolvable into the general charge, that these persons did conspire to summon delegates to a national convention with a view to subvert the government of the country and to levy war against the king. . .
oly a long established construction of law, the attempt to levy war · against the government, or, in other words, any conspiracy against
the government, is no less high-treason than the actual levying of war, which is declared to be treason by the original statute of Edward III. because it is, by no very harsh interpretation, presumed to involve in it a design against the life of the king, necessarily endangered by such an attempt, and which is also declared to be treason by the express words of that famous statute. The real crime, therefore, divested of the technical phraseology of the law, charged upon these people, was their conspiring to employ means of coertion and force against the government in order to accomplish its absolute subversion, or at least to effect a material change and alteration in it. The attorney-general, sir John Scott, spoke no less than nine hours in confirmation of the accusation, and with the view of proving the overt-acts charged against them in the indictment, which consisted merely in a tedious recapitulation of the whole proceedings of the two associations, which had been long known to the nation at large, and were publicly advertised in the common newspapers. These proceedings, from their palpable want, of decorum, temper, and judgment, had excited the extreme disapprobation of all intelligent persons, and of none more than the advocates of liberal and rational reform ; but that they amounted to the crime of high treason was an idea too extravagant to enter into the head of any man but that of an apostate patriot or a court-lawyer.
• Thomas Hardy, 'shoemaker, the formidable chief of this presended conspiracy, was the first person brought to the bar; and against him was the elaborate oration of the attorney-general pri. marily levelled: but happily for the prisoner, and eventually for the public, Mr. Erskine, so long the ornament of his profession, who was retained as counsel for Hardy, employed his great talents and brilliant eloquence with the most complete success in his defence, and that of his colleagues and associates, from the charge in question. “ The transactions (Mr. Erskine remarked) which constituted the body of the proof were not the peculiar transactions of the prisoner, but of immense bodies of the king's subjects in various parts of the kingdom, assembled without the smallest reserve, and giving to the public, through the channel of the daily prints, a minute and regular journal of their proceedings. Not a syllable had we now heard that we had not been acquainted with for weeks and months before the prosecution was commenced.”
• The principal witnesses against the prisoner were two infamous wretches, spies of government, of the names of Taylor and Gosling. These vile instruments of corruption enumerated several instances of rash and inflammatory expressions, not personally affecting the pri. soner Hardy, used at different meetings of the popular societies, which might, no doubt, come under the vague and general idea of sedition ; but of any formed design of subverting the government, or of using any species of force or coertion respecting it, there existed no shadow of evidence. These democratic and over-heated parti. zans of reform undoubtedly flattered themselves, that, in consequence of the weight which a petition from the national assembly, or ton. vention of delegates, as they affected to style it, and which could be no other than a general committee deputed from the friends of reform in different parts of the kingdom, without the least pretence to ex. ercise legal authority or jurisdiction-would carry with it, the legis. lature would become convinced of the political expediency and necessity of acceding to their prayer: and certainly the sense of the nation must be, in some mode or other, very forcibly expressed, before the parliament will, or indeed ought, to hazard so great, though probably so beneficial, a change. The legality of such a delegation as that in contemplation had never been questioned ; on the contrary, it was justified by recent precedents both in England and Ireland: but to dream of opposing the authority of this conven. tional committee, without arms, without money, without the support of any persons more eminent than Thomas Hardy, shoemaker, John Thelwall, itinerant lecturer, Thomas Holcroft, comedian, &c. would have been the extremity, not of political criminality merely, but of folly, and even cf madness. The grand object at which these associations aimed was unquestionably to effect a reform in parliament upon the visionary, if not pernicious, principles of the duke of Richmond,-universal suffrage and annual election.
. It is true that these associations contained a considerable pro. portion of concealed republicans, converts to the novel and extravagant doctrines of Paine ; and there can be no doubt but that these people hoped, and perhaps, in the height of their enthusiasm, believed, that a radical reform in parliament, upon democratic prin. ciples, would eventually lead to the establishment of a democratic government; but this did not amount to treason, or even scdition, or to any offence against the existing laws at all. Certainly, under the most severe control of the most despotic government, men cannot be amenable to punishment for hoping and believing. As it was, however, well known that these associations were infected with the leaven of republicanism, it became government to keep a watch. ful eye upon their proccedings, to check their licentiousness, and, by a timely interposition, to curb their insolence long before they had reached the limits of high treason ; and their rash and seditious conduct, if the grossest disrespect and the most vulgar and virulent abuse of government deserve the name of sedition, laid them sufficiently open to legal animadversion ; but to accuse them of the crime of treason was to confound things the most easy to distinguish and the most important to be distinguished, and tended to decite a powerful interest in the breasts of all sober and dispassionate persons, in favour of men the tenor of whose public proceedings they had previously and highly disapproved. - Had the ministry succeeded in this infamous prosecution, --- which no attorney general, however respectable his private character, or w?ratcrer plca he might set up