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look back on the splendid accounts of history with an eager curiosity, and review its most harrowing details with a careless indifference. We are apt to gaze on the most powerful nations of the world in all their pristine grandeur, and dwell with delight on the extent of their territory, and wealth of their state. It is somewhat pleasing to refer to their palaces towering in the skies to their cities glittering in magnificence-to their libraries filled with labour and talent-to their marts stocked with the choicest luxuries-to their powerful and victorious armaments— a long chain of seducing combinations lead us to divest the accounts of their truth. We read of armies-of legislatures-of conquerors and kings shining in all the splendour of a ravaged world, and we overlook in all this glorious array the galling slavery-the vassalage-the feudal oppression-the famine and the poverty which lurked among its people, and grovelled at the foundation of its prosperity, and finally overthrew the fabric. When we read of a government we are apt to admire its financial greatness and military power, we are seldom led to inquire into the thousand instances of broken faith, of violated friendship, and deliberate perfidy which rose it to its strength. In reading of a conqueror we admire his undaunted courage-his unbroken fortitude his coolness or his skill; we slightly pass over his coldblooded massacres, and the petty ambition which alienates him from his best friends, and the rights of the country he has sworn to defend. These associations ought to be considered in connexion with all the boasted kings and states we meet with in history; it is only by this scrutiny we are enabled to investigate those political institutions, which under the garb of protection have divested mankind of every happiness which falls to the lot of humanity. The fact that posterity can sanctify a man black with crimes, is not less true than singular: we frequently find that men, whom an unbiassed judgment would stamp with the worst character of human nature, excused for their enormities on the ground of policy or expediency. We are led by one act to overlook a multitude of crimes, and to regard many measures of the basest kind as mere errors of a venial nature. This view of history is incorrect! Our investigation should be vigorous, and then we should find nothing but one dark catalogue of misery and woe.

It is impossible to find any thing more important than government in any of our studies; it is the groundwork of all the developments and changes of society. If a people are poor, it is from the vices of their rulers; if they are inmoral, it is from the example of their superiors; if they are ignorant and barbarous, it is still owing to the oppression and intolerance of their government-so much so, that a people cannot be even moral without freedom. Slavery and happiness, ignorance and virtue, poverty and morality, have no connecting links-they are all extremes.

If a people are poor and abject and degraded, they have no incentive to virtue. If they are removed from poverty, they have then the highest stimulus to morality. Where a man is subject to the peculation of a privileged and pampered class, or persecuted because he has the honesty to express what he cannot help thinking, that is the state in which no good honourable feeling can exist.

In opening this question, I certainly think that that government under which a people are calculated to be most happy, most moral, and most enlightened, is the best adapted for the interests of society. It is easy to show how a monarchical government is calculated to destroy the principles of society; whilst a free representation is on the contrary a system of tacit co-operation, every way fitted for the comfort, safeguard, and condition of a community. A good government is the root of all principle; a bad one, the womb of vice and ignorance. Innumerable instances might be adduced to corroborate the truth of these assertions. Why has war and bloodshed, devastation and misery, become the proverbial associates of government? Why are our histories full of the adventures of kings, conquerors, and heroes, of millions destroyed, and provinces desolated? From the nature of government! From the want of a system of representative right! The glory of Cæsar cost Rome 1,200,000 of. her citizens; the conquests of Sylla was followed by the assassination of 7000; and Marius deluged the streets in the blood of the Romans; the wars of the Romans in Italy lasted 400 years, and the struggle with Carthaginia 200 years. The history of England may be adduced as one record of blood, from the landing of the Norman to the present: foreign_wars, crusades, invasions, and civil anarchy, stain every page. Even in our own times, this avarice of power is forcibly pourtrayed in the late war. What was it to me, as an individual, whether Louis or Napoleon was tyrant of France? What could I gain by the government of either? What have I to do with the quarrels of kings, or the disputes of conquerors? Why should I be called upon to fight their battles, or labour to support their tyranny? Society was not formed for my oppression, it was formed for my protection. Princes have been known to quarrel and waste thousands of lives for a few acres of territory. And what have I to do with their fears and jealousies? What interest have I in either of them obtaining a conquest? If my prince is defeated, I am not less a slave! If he conquers, I am a loser by his victory! Whoever conquers, there is still the same oppression-the same intolerance; there is no change, but a change of masters. And what matter is it to me, whether I am enslaved by a Turk, a barbarian, or by one of my own countrymen? There is this difference only-I may generally expect the worse treatment from the latter.

Does not all monarchy tend to the aggrandizement of one

class, and the depression of another? Does it not encourage the wealthy and despise the poor? Does not its law wink at the rapacity of the rich, and rigorously punish the vices and follies of the poor? In fact, is not its very latent spring the encouragement of luxury, of tyranny, and every baser passion of our nature? The opulent and the powerful are always the makers of the laws; and consequently the working-classes are precluded, and are made the tools of those enactments which ensure to the higher classes the continuance of their power. That it can have nothing but a decidedly injurious effect on the morals of society, requires little elucidation. How can that man be moral, who rigorously industrious, half-fed, and half-clothed, sees the pampered fool of fortune dissipating the money obtained from the sweat of the poor man's brow? This is the bane to moral character-and this is government. The people are the prop of all political institutions; and yet they either pine in feudal chains, or linger in abject poverty, to contribute to the luxury and extravagance of the rich. It is impossible for any redeeming feeling to take root in such a state of things, where the wealthy and the powerful are always screened from justice.

Government is only the safeguard of the powerful. Look at the haughty demeanour with which the people are always treated-they are scarcely considered as the same species-never treated otherwise than a sort of live-stock. All men are originally the same; but this is forgotten. An embroidered vest does not cover a nobler heart than the tatters of poverty: the sceptre and the beggar's staff are only different grades of society-they are not the symbols of constitutional difference. The king may die on a velvet couch; lingering eyes may watch his decay, and thousands with affected grief deplore his doom. The beggar crawls to his dunghill, and gasps and dies alone! Where then is the dignity of one, or the wretchedness of the other. Nature has restored her stern equality, and the idle distinctions of an hour are blighted. It is government that gives one his pride, and the other his misery. This is the step that raises one to a demigod, and sinks the other to a slave. What personal accomplishments or mental powers can give me a right to oppress another, or compel him to labour to pamper my luxury? If circumstances smile at my birth, am I to wring the produce of his labour from his toil-worn hands; and yet government is the origin and support of this infamous aristocracy; and if any one dares to murmur or rebel, the law must punish him, or the sword destroy him.

A representative government is on the contrary formed on the broad basis of liberty. Society is formed for mutual comfort, protection, and happiness. Every man, as a contributor to that society, and as a member of it, is entitled to a voice in its laws, and a share in its interests. Under this system no man could be great but by goodness, nor eminent but by wisdom. There would

be little avarice, because wealth could give no superiority. There would be no ambition, but that of an honourable distinction. This would be the state of society, in which truth would shed its benign beams; and every man would see the proper road to eminence in moral uprightness and rectitude, and could draw no happiness but in the practice of virtue.

For any further illustration, we need only refer to the government of our own country. Was there ever a more extravagant government in ancient or modern times? Look at its expenditure, and at its war; and as a contrast, look at its present distress. Are not thousands now oppressed with famine, while others are draining its resources and fattening on its ruins. The last war, on a reasonable estimate, cost England 100l. a minute; and at the present day, hundreds are starving in our streets; and the means of making thousands happy at this day, is squandered on splendid trifles. Its laws are boasted of-where is their justice or impartiality? Here, as well as every where else, where monarchy is established, corruption is the order of the day. Look at our taxation-corn-laws, game-laws, hereditary House of Lords, rotten boroughs, mock elections, Church and State, courts of Chancery-our bishops, sinecurists, placemen and pensioners, and then our poor-laws. Such is English freedom!-such is English government! The wealthy are allowed to form societies to put in force oppressive laws. Such is the society for the Suppression of Vice; whilst the poor for forming a society to resist oppression, and keep up the price of labour, are put down as combination. Such is a nation cried up for its liberality, its refinement, and its freedom formed, like others, on the principles of tyranny and injustice. It becomes obvious that every individual member of a community is entitled to a share in its interests; and no one can have any right to vote or decree away another's privileges. This view of the subject will lead us at once to representation.

Under a monarchy all the better feelings of the mind are deadened. There is a check upon the intellect, and no encouragement to virtue or morality held out; consequently, the population becomes sordid and debased-the artisan and the peasant have no inspiring inducement to awaken them from error-ignorance lies like midnight on the people-fraud and perfidy are taught in the higher classes-and the honourable feelings of the workingclasses are trampled upon, or obliterated. Under a monarchy, a people can be neither happy, moral, or intelligent.

Under a free representation, each man can sit under his own fig-tree he is not galled by the sting of poverty or the rod of tyranny, his noblest sentiments are fed ; and no "divine right of kings to govern wrong," or immaculate priestcraft, are there to grind him to insignificance, or frighten him to compliance. He can worship the Deity after his feelings, with a heart unbroken by treachery. It is here where true Christian benevolence can alone

exist. It is here where the original equality of man,can be restored, where a proper amalgamation of interests can subsist.. B.

After this opening, a very animated discussion took place on the nature of government. The opinion of the mover was opposed very strongly on the head, that in monarchy there were seldom any of the various factions which disturb the representative government, and several of the ancient republics were cited as instances; but others, in support of the mover's opinion, dwelt on the destructive principles of monarchical power, on the infatuated auxiliaries of bigotry and superstition, which generally were its harbingers. After two hours' interesting discussion, the question was adjourned to the meeting-night (Thursday) following.


On the Real and the Supposed Origination of the Christian Religion,
Preached in the School of Free Discussion, on
Sunday Evening, December 20,


Matthew xxii. 42.—What think YE of Christ?

In this dawning of free inquiry-in this incipient state of free discussion-in this the declining moment of religious insanity-in these the first days of England, in which honest searchers after truth can speak it, and be allowed to live, under this new state of things, this strange thing in the land, it is a very important consideration to be able to answer knowingly, freely, and without fear, the very simple question-What think ye of Christ? I shall not put this question in the spirit in which questions are commonly put from pulpits. I mean that you should answer my adopted question, if it please ye to answer; and by way of encouraging ye to answer the question, I mean to set you a good example, by first answering it myself. If any of you dislike my answer, then give me yours, and let us debate the matter, This is a school of free discussion, in which we will not shrink from asking what is what, and from answering that is that. We will ask, What is man? We will ask, What is woman? We will ask, What is the earth? We will ask, What is the moon? We will ask, What is the sun? We will ask, What is Christ? We will ask, What is God? And if we find any thing greater than the sun, we will not keep it a secret; we will not make it a mystery-we will not deceive the vulgar with itwe will teach one another—we will teach it to our childrenwe will teach it to the stranger. There shall be no priestcraft in it. Priestcraft is villainy. It is a system of cheat and lying-it never meant good to man, nor to woman. It is detected-it is No. 26. Vol. 4.



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