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his neighbours; that, with respect to religious discussion, there are, to say the truth, no sins of the tongue-in a word, that our law of blasphemy, mitigate it as we will, is a gross outrage on the rights of man, and that even the most holy places of our constitution ought to be thrown open, without screen or barrier, to the polluting trample of the atheist and the misbeliever.
To those, however, who are content with notions less enlightened-to those who believe that freedom of opinion in common with all other civil privileges, must so be enjoyed, as not to encroach on the privileges of others who believe that freedom of opinion is not more effectually sacrificed by subjecting it to the persecutions of monarchical or aristocratical power, than by laying it open to the outrages of vulgar fury--to those, in short, who admit, within whatever limits, the principle of restriction—we would earnestly submit it for consideration, whether that restriction can be condemned as a wanton and arbitrary application of the principle whether that regulation can justly be deprecated as a death-blow to the liberties of the press, and a revival of the darkness of the middle ages—which, while it somewhat abridges one or two much abused channels of political or religious disputation, leaves wholly untouched the rest—which also leaves untouched, all the other thousand fields of literary exertion-all art, all science, all criticism, all history, all philosophy, all political economy, all the highest heaven' of imagination, all compositions devoted to the institution of youth, all that is instructive in morals, edifying in piety, or elevating in devotion. Such are the lights which still shine onclouded, while the measure seeks to exclude only a species of knowledge which may be complimented with the name of light, but which is, in truth, but darkness visible, and a thousand times more dangerous than the blankest and most credulous ignorance.
It is the profound remark of Madame de Staël on the policy of Bonaparte, that, finding it impossible, in a country so enlightened as France, to erect the fabric of despotism on the foundation of national ignorance, he attempted to found it on a depravation of the national manners.* The observation may convey a salutary lesson to all countries, and to none more than to the most enlighted country in the world. Even for England, there is no absolute insurance against the peril of despotism; no covenant against the return of that mighty deluge, which it has been the labour of cen
* 'Le plus grand crime de Napoléon, toutefois, celui pour lequel tous les penseurs, tous les écrivains dispensateurs de la gloire dans la postérité, ne cesseront de l'accuser auprès de l'espèce humaine, c'est l'établissement et l'organisa. tion du despotisme. Il l'a fondé sur l'immortalité; car les lumières qui existoient en France étoient telles, que le pouvoir absolu ne pouvoit s'y maintenir que par la dépravation, tandis que d'ailleurs il subsiste par l'ignorance.'
Considérations sur la Révolution Francoise, 4me partie, chap. 15.
turies to bank out and oppose. But, should an event so dreadful, ever take place should that day of wrath, ever arrive, (and late be its arrival !) when heaven, hitherto so propitious to us, shall open upon us its windows in anger-when the very seat of liberty shall be subverted, and
With all his verdure spoil'd,'it is at least apparent, from what quarter the desolation may be apprehended. The progress of knowledge, neither ministers nor parliaments, were they capable of entertaining a project so detestable, can, in any sensible degree, impede. On this point, indeed, we feel ourselves re-assured by some of those who have been the most strenuous, not only in imputing the design, but in anticipating its success. In
In their denunciations against the proposed restrictions on the liberty of the press, if they began with an alarming picture of the fatal efficiency of the restrictions, they not seldom ended with a triumphant prediction of their futility. Whatever may be thought of the consistency of these disputants, it must at least be conceded to them, that neither the measures before us, nor any other similar regulations, will ever have power to arrest the extension of intellectual light among the people. The voice of knowledge has gone forth, never to be recalled. It would be as easy to restore the rain to the cloud from which it has parted, as to re-expel from the bosom of an immense and educated society all those streams of instruction which have sunk into it, insinuating themselves into every crevice, reaching every root, and mingling with the moisture of every rising spring. But there is a danger, though of a different kind, and arising from another cause. If the sources of our national virtues are to be contaminated by the essential virus of radicalism,-if the rational and practical religion of our fathers is to be exchanged for a spurious and heartless pantheism,-if their sound Christian devotion is to be converted into the most detestable spirit of blasphemy,-if their firm and sedate love of liberty, beautifully combining the sentiment of a high selfrespect, with that of a steadfast and habitual reverence for the laws, is to give place to a turbulent, conceited, revolutionary restlessness, having its source in a contempt for existing institutions, and its end in a subversion of them then, indeed, however we may boast of our intellectual illumination, a tyranny founded on the basis of moral darkness, is close at hand. The extinction of the 'great light' of Christianity will once more be the signal for the celebration of orgies too dire for description; and the paroxysms of a sanguinary anarchy will again find a dreadful sedative in the still, pess of a military despotism.
At the moment when we are rising from these reflections, we are' suddenly arrested by the general groan of the yet uncorrupted part of the nation, at the discovery of the most atrocious plot which has ever disgraced and saddened English history. Of the individuals accused we say nothing :-their several cases, with all the qualifying or mitigating circumstances that attach to each, will be weighed by the calumniated justice of England, in a balance which was never made to swerve by the influence of partiality, nor to tremble by the contagion of popular alarm. But that the most horrible crime has been meditated, has been agreed upon by numbers, has been matured for execution, has been only not committed, -all thinking men, of whatever political sentiments, believe; and it is a circumstance which we are unable to contemplate without the profoundest emotions of grief, anxiety, and apprehension.
When an illustration so cogent is afforded of the progress made by the doctrines, or rather by the impiety of assassination, must we not fear that the shocking industry with which the crime has been recommended by one portion of the press, and the lamentable ingenuity with which it has been palliated by another from which better things might have been hoped, have produced a much more extensive effect than has yet betrayed itself in action? This, this is our fear and our grief;-unless the utmost vigilance is employed, we feel the dreadful apprehension that other explosions of crime barely unperpetrated, or even- -but we dare not finish the sentence -may inflict on us sensations of a yet acuter sorrow than now agitates the bosoms not only of all the good, but of all not wholly reprobate. Deep impressions sedulously made on the minds of too many of the vulgar, -criminal suggestions, long familiarized, the instinctive horror of crime first relaxed, and then wholly laid aside,—these are by no means negative agents ; in times of public distress or commotion, their tendency is to be fatally in action. They are living principles, and they live for the destruction of society. These horrible stains, then,—these foul concretionsmust be removed, or they will canker fatally; they must undergo a timely lustration, or they will perhaps force on themselves a lustration of Gre,
penitusque necesse est • Multa diu concreta modis inolescere miris.' In what manner this purification may best be accomplished, there is no need to discuss as a question of legislation or policy, The legislature will, we trust, never want promptitude in upholding the cause of order and morals; and the vigilance of the Executive Government, on the recent occasion, has been beyond praise. Our concern is with individuals; that is, in the proper and constitutional sense of the term, with the people. It is on the minds of these that we wish to enforce the impression of the noxiousness and
atrocity of the new creeds of reform. The propagation of such doctrines is not a matter of indifference to any member of society, is, on the contrary, most deeply interesting to us all. What a degree of insecurity, for example, would the prevalence of the practice of assassination alone, shed over the whole surface of private life! What a loss of that social confidence hitherto so characteristic of England! No expedient can be unnecessary, for the purpose of expelling such principles,- of blunting these envenomed arrows that fly by noonday,-of exorcising this malignant spirit, whose deeds affront the sun. Let all then who have power or influence, be persuaded, that no worthier occasion will ever exist of employing either. By precept, by example, by the generous appli
cation of all the means within their reach, let them labour to up- hold the national morals and religion under one of the severest persecutions by which they have been assailed since the period of the Reformation. It is not by instructing the people in geometry and arithmetic and philosophy and political economy, (though we certainly would not debar them from a ready access to liberal knowledge of any description,)—but by inculcating on their minds, according to the extent of our respective opportunities, a reverence for those sound and tried principles from which the virtues and the great achievements of their ancestors equally sprung,—that we can hope to render them thoroughly proof against the contagion of the disorganizing maximos of radicalism. All other defences against such an enemy are likely to prove unavailing. This kind goeth not out, but by the use of arms of immortal temper.
The following passage will be interesting to our readers,-animadverting upon
the article from the Edinburgh Review which precedes,--and giving a specimen of ministerial notions upon the policy of Louis XVIII.-
From Blackwood's Edinb. Mag.–March, 1820.] The political offences of Lord Grenville are traced up by his reviewer to their source, in the school of Edmund Burke, whose hallowed shade is impiously evoked to sustain the insolence of Whiggish derision. The student of his works, upon whom the loftiness of his imagination, and the serene grandeur of his intellect, have left a suitable impression, will fancy to himself the scornful composure with which he would have bidden away from him the tame vulgarity of his assailant's arguments, and the impertinent freedom of his buffoonery. He will imagine how the high and haughty thought, solicitous of the real dignity, and prescient of the coming destiny of the species, would, as it rushed through the fervid spirit of the sage, have embraced and dissolved the petty cavils of the earth-born critic. He will imagine him absorbed in
kigh communion with the spirit of wisdom, undisturbed by the inaudible murmurs of dissent, as they rise from the immeasurable depths, at the bottom of which it has been the will of nature to station this pert censor of his opinions, and forward detracter from his fame. It is not to the man who can quibble about the failure of emigrant expeditions, or exult over the partial success of Jacobin audacity, that it has been given to fathom the mighty mind of Burke-to sound the depth, or appreciate the magnificence of his views. It was Burke's to grapple with the undying and allpervading spirit of the mighty evil of which he devoted himself to the abatement; the power of this narrow and acrimonious censor is bounded to the humbler function of toiling after the material shapes and sensible details in which it developes itself. The critic is of earth, earthy,”—and let him not be forgetful, therefore, of the humility of his caste, and the insuperable mediocrity of his destination. Although, with the common perspicacity of a peasant's gaze, he may have marked the movements and recorded the vul- . gar epochs of revolution, let him not presume, in any other attitude than that of reverence, to approach the mighty spirit of him, who has left in his works an entire chart of the interesting phenomena, exact in science, perfect in comprehension, and richly illuminated with the unfading colours of genius.
We know not, we confess, why the partial abandonment of Mr. Burke's system by the restored government of France, should be welcomed with such an air of triumph as it appears to be by this reviewer. The unmeasured abuse of the French emigrants has ever been a favourite topic with our English Jacobins, just because they have been unfortunate, we suppose, and may, it is thought, be abused with impunity. The gentle and forgiving temper of the Revolutionists and Bonapartists, so fully exemplified in the late history of Europe, has ever been discreetly and modestly contrasted with the bloody and vindictive spirit of the Royalists, thirsting for power and plunder, and eyeing in perspective the mangled victims of their superannuated rage. The Jacobins of France knew well that they had committed crimes to satiety, and that some slight retaliation might be expected, even from the subdued and broken spirit of their Royalist victims; and while their hands were yet red with blood, and their hearts all but glutted with plunder, they began to set up a cry about the horrors of retaliation, which they pretended to deprecate, although they did not dread them, just that they might have a pretext for trampling in the dust those who had already been so long bowed down by adversity. The English Jacobins loudly echoed the cry of their French brethren, and have endeavoured to misrepresent the Royalists as an epitome of all that is stupid and implacable. The restored monarch of France, if he did not, as indeed he could not believe those