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like the same state of suffering and exhaustion, have that very prospect opened to their view! If any sense of justice towards them, any regard for the dictates of sound policy, any reverence for the real wisdom of past ages, has influence over our councils, they must be enabled and invited to approach that hemisphere, and partake in the numberless benefits which flow from such an intercourse. Upon our good pleasure it depends to command the virgin resources of that mighty expanse of territory, variegated with every species of soil, exposed to all the gradations of climate, rich from the fallow of centuries, sufficiently peopled to raise every variety of the produce we want, yet too thinly inhabited to threaten our own industry with any rivalry, watered in all directions by seas rather than rivers, studded with harbours through which to distribute its wealth over the Old World.”
Lord Castlereagh, in pursuance of a recommendation from the throne, at the opening of the session, made an exposition of the state of the finances ; and moved a committee of finance, which was appointed accordingly. He proposed to make reductions of expenditure to the amount, on his showing, of two millions and a half, but the revenue fell short between nine and ten millions of that of the preceding year.
The sum of 500,0001.,. in exchequer bills, for public works and fisheries in Great Britain, 250,000l. out of the consolidated fund for the same purposes in Ireland, were voted in April, as means of alleviating the public distress.
The speaker of the house of commons, Mr. Abbot, insigned, from ill health, on the 30th of May; re
ceived, as usual, a peerage, by the title of baron Colchester; and was succeeded in the chair of the commons by Mr. Manners Sutton.
Lord Sidmouth had subjected popular meetings to such shackles as nearly took away the right, and substituted arbitrary imprisonment for the British liberty of the subject. Not content with this stretch of authority beyond the constitution, he issued a circular to the lieutenants of counties, calling their attention to what he called blasphemous and seditious publications, and announcing to them, on the authority of the attorney and solicitor general, that a justice of peace might apprehend and hold to bail any person charged on oath with the publication of " such libels.” The liberty of the press, and the question of libel, thus became dependent on the simple conjunction of a justice and an informer. He had, it is true, the authority of the law officers,-placemen during pleasure, political nonentities, and of no repute as constitutional lawyers. This remarkable circular was brought under the notice of the house of lords by lord Grey. It is a singular fact, that lord Grey, on this occasion, made an able and erudite law argument; which all the law lords, including lord Ellenborough, made vain efforts to refute; and which lord Ellenborough had the manliness to eulogise. A large majority, nevertheless, did not scruple to negative lord Grey's motion for a copy of the opinion of the law officers. of the crown.
The subject was brought before the house of commons by sir S. Romilly, whose argument was equally triumphant, and as unscrupulously disposed of.
The country became somewhat more tranquil as the summer approached. It was not that there was less of distress, or even that the power of imprisonment at discretion vested in ministers had this tranquillising effect; but rather that the spies were now suspected or detected by the people, and that the harvest of sedition in consequence fell off. Lord Sidmouth, however, still pursuing his career of timid violence and arbitrary imbecility, and haunted, it may be supposed, by phantoms of danger, which he took for realities, said the prevailing tranquillity was 'but a treacherous calm; produced two supplementary green bags, the contents of which were examined and reported on as before by the same secret committees ; and the suspension of the habeas corpus act was continued beyond the sitting of parliament.
The ministers had an easy game whilst their measures underwent no other criterion than that of majorities in the two houses; but they had yet to encounter that touchstone of truth, and palladium of liberty, - a British jury. They had obtained one verdict; but the sacrifice of a solitary victim, whilst it vindicated public justice and the peace of society, proved nothing for lord Sidmouth. The sailor Cashman may have justly suffered as a capital felon, but most assuredly was not a treasonable conspirator. Whilst the supplementary green bags were revealing to the committees the further progress of treason, and the reports upon them were yet pending, the ministers brought to trial, in the King's Bench, the four culprits confined under a charge of high treason in the Tower. This was a momentous crisis. If
the accused were to be tried for their lives, the ministers were, at the same time, on trial for their measures and reputations.
On the 9th of June, the four prisoners — Watson (the elder), Thistlewood, Preston, and Hooper -- were conveyed from the Tower, and placed, with all the pomp and circumstance” of prisoners of state, at the bar of the king's bench. They asserted their right of challenge, and were put singly upon their trials. Watson, the only one of them who had any appearance of education or intelligence, was taken first. He was defended by Messrs. Copley (lord Lyndhurst) and Wetherell. The trial lasted several days, and was attended by the leading opposition members of both houses.
The principal witness for the crown was an accomplice or spy named Castles. He underwent direct and cross examinations at great length, and deposed to acts of unequivocal conspiracy and treason without number; but the infamy of his character, and the monstrous improbabilities of his narrative, stripped him of all credit in the eyes of the jury. The prisoner, after a short deliberation, was pronounced “ not guilty;" and Westminster Hall rang with the tremendous cheering of a great concourse of people which awaited the event. The case having thus failed, the prosecution of the remaining prisoners was abandoned, and they were all instantly discharged. This result covered the ministers with
• The able defence made by Mr. Copley led to his promotion, and Mr. Wetherell left his practice in chancery to defend prisoners in the king's bench, by way of wreaking his vengeance upon the government for a recent neglect.
derision and hatred. It was observed, that even supposing the prisoners guilty, yet their designs were so utterly senseless and contemptible, so indicative of raving imbecility, that an able minister, far from suspending the constitution, would not put off on their account his morning gown and slippers.
In the course of the summer, disturbances were revived, but easily suppressed, in some of the midland and northern districts. At the York assizes several persons were taken up on charges of treason. The informations against some were dismissed by the grand jury; and the rest, on their being brought to trial, were acquitted, with the exception of two persons who were detained in prison under the suspension of the habeas corpus act. The result of a special commission sent down to Derby in October was different. Three men were capitally convicted, and executed. Several others were permitted to plead guilty, and had their lives spared. But supposing even here that the prisoners were guilty of a capital crime, and had even brought themselves within the legal construction of the crime of treason, the evidence for the crown fell far short of proving the case put forward by ministers in their secret papers, as set forth in the reports of the secret committees.
The last exploit, and one of the most unlucky, was the prosecution of some parodies, in a political sense, of the Litany, and other parts of the church service, as blasphemous libels. The real crime of these parodies was not that they were blasphemous, but that they personally galled lord Castlereagh upon a point which was never touched, however