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the Inspectors were wrong, and that in refusing his vote they had violated his rights as an Elector. On the 24th July, 1806, as appears by recurring to my Register, a suit was commenced against the Inspectors by Mr. Paine. “From causes, which it is unnecessary to explain, the trial did not take place until the Circuit held for the County of West Chester in May, 1807, when a verdict was given in favour of the plaintiff. The Jury thus establishing, as far as they could, the rights of Mr. Paine as an American Citizen.
“ The defendants reserved the question of law, to be decided by the Supreme Court. Mr. Paine died soon after the trial, which prevented a formal decision by the Court. He was satisfied with the finding of the Jury. He seemned only to wish to assert his rights as an Elector, and he presumed that there could be no doubt as to the final judgment of the Court.
“In consequence of Mr. Paine's death, bis Executors agreed to pay the costs which had accrued on his part, and the defendants paid theirs. “ John Fellows, Esq.”
These transactions relating to Mr. Paine took place but a few miles from the residence of Mr. Cobbett when in this country: and he proposed to write the life of Paine. Had he done so, and in as careless a manner as he has collected the foregoing anecdotes of him, what reliance could have been placed upon his history?
I know nothing of the charges brought against Mr. Binns, but presume that they arose from the effervescence of party spirit; and that the Legislature, considering them unworthy of notice, passed, as Mr. Cobbett says, “ to the order of the day.”
There is corruption no doubt in all Governments; Republics are not exempt from it, and probably never will be till the nature of man is changed at the millennium, the exact commencement of which cannot at this time be accurately ascertained. It is however, I believe, generally conceded, that there are much better places and bargains to be had in Monarchies than in Republics. The people bear fleecing better under the former than under the latter from habit, and because they cannot prevent it. A great noise is made in this country if legislators are found tripping, er others are discovered tampering with them. A man was condemned in this State to three years' imprisonment for attempting to bribe members of the Legislatnre to vote for a banking institution. An agent for a number of unfortunate citizens, whose property was burnt on the western frontier in the time of the late war, in order to prevent being detained at the seat of government, at great expence, offered a Member of Congress to remunerate him for any special trouble he would take to gain an early hear-' ing of his case. This Member, either from conscientious motives, or affectation, I will not pretend to say which, made a great outcry in Congress about this business. The agent was brought by the sergeant-at-arms before the House, was reprimanded, and had to beg pardon of that honourable body for his indiscretion.
And this circumstance, it is said, operated very much against his interest in promoting the just claims of his constituents.
It will therefore appear, that if Mr. Binns has been guilty of corruption with impunity, he has been more fortunate than others, and that it is not always winked at in this Republic.
The ridiculous anticipations of Mr. Cobbett of the consequences that would attend the issuing of papers in America, dated in the peculiar manner that some of yours are, are hardly worthy of serious notice. He could not expect to be understood literally. The barbarous customs to which he alludes, I suppose, we inherited from our common ancestors, the Saxons; but they have been obsolete in this country some forty years. The last instance, to my knowledge, of their being resorted to, was in the times of the Revolution; when the regular course of law was partially abandoned; when the question of liberty or unconditional submission was to be decided, some few Tories were exhibited partly in the manner he represents. But under our Government, as now constituted, no such acts would be tolerated for a moment. As one of our journals lately, in speaking of the affair of Kean and the Boston Theatre, has well observed,
“ We are free in this country; but how free? Dare we give loose to unbridled passion ? Dare we break the laws? Dare we disturb public tranquillity? Dare we wantonly take away and destroy public or private property? Dare we brutally assault or maltreat a fellowcreature ? Thank Heaven, we dare not. We are a country of laws. We respect those laws, which we ourselves enact for our own government; and a respectful submission to those laws is the very essence of the liberty we enjoy.”
It must be confessed, that the fracas at the Boston Theatre, of which you have no doubt been informed, is disgraceful to the country: but as we inherit from England our laws, our religion, and most of our customs, it is probable that the actors in those scenes will cite precedents from the London Theatre in justification. A stupid opinion seems to have prevailed, both in England and America, that people had a right to do as they pleased at theatres, in respect to the managers and actors. Prosecutions, 1 understand, have been commenced against the delinquents in the above case.
In closing my remarks upon Mr. Cobbett's letter, I take this opportunity, as an American and friend of liberty, of expressing my gratitude to him for his able support of the cause of freedom in his Register published in this country. In my opinion, no writer in the United States vindicated that cause with superior, if equal effect.
I shall now take notice of your reply to Mr. Cobbett, and must observe that, although it is in general very appropriate and well expressed, still you labour under prepossessions that have induced conclusions irreconcileable to reason, and the eternal connection
of cause and effect. You say, “ As to the anecdotes, they are not in point; they decide nothing as to the principle of a Republican form of Government, and if they did, how easy would it be for me to take a series of Mr. Cobbett's Registers, and overwhelm them by a selection of abuses practised under the Monarchical Government of this Island and its colonies. Surely, upon this view of the case, Mr. Cobbett will give the preference to the sys.tem that generates the fewest abuses. Besides, I did not contrast the Government of the United States with any other Government: I stated objections to the manners of the people of the United States, and to their form of Government, in the very article that has drawn forth this letter from Mr. Cobbett. I consider them a people who stand in need of moral and social reformation, in a much greater degree than do the people of this Island. The inhabitants of the United States are semi-barbarous in manners, when compared with the inhabitants of Great Britain, but for reasons in giving a preference to their form of Government, I refer every man to the pages of Mr. Cobbett's Registers. During his late residence in the United States, it was the constant boast of Mr. Cobbett, that there were no internal taxes worth mention, and that the same quantity of salt which cost in England twenty sbillings, was there imported and retailed for half-a-crown! He was continually contrasting the state of living among the industrious in that country with their state of starving in this, and we are as often told, that a beggar was an anomaly there, unless it were a negro, or an immoral and profligate emigrant from Europe. In the United States of America, the form of Government is much less corrupt than the people ; in Great Britain, the people are much less corrupt than their form of Government.”
The United States declared themselves free and independent of the Government of Great Britain, and of all others, on the 4th of July, 1776-nearly 56 years ago. The present race of people may therefore be said to be brought up under the Republican rule; and if they are in the condition which you represent them to be, they present but poor encouragement for other countries to follow their example. if immorality and corruption prevail to a greater extent in Republics than in Monarchies, in the name of God let us recommend, with all our power, the support of kings, orders of nobility and priesthood, as the lesser evil of the two.
This dilemma you did not anticipate ; writing, I presume, under irritated feelings at the supposed ill-treatment of that friend of humanity, Thomas Paine. "Perhaps also you had read the writings of other English travellers who have treated us with more virulence than even Mr. Cobbett. Many of whom, no doubt, have been sent here by the Government, like the Jewish prophets of old, to curse the country. It is consistent with its policy to do so, both to check emigration, and to prevent our system of government becoming popular in England.
As your remarks, however, have gone forth to the world, and may have an ill effect upon the British public, it may not be amiss to examine the subject more fully.
I ask, in the first place, whát is the natural cause of immorality in a nation, but the oppressions of Government, producing poverty, misery, and distress ?* What rendered the ancient Jews the most wicked nation upon earth, but the vindictive, persecuting spirit of the Government, which tbey denominated a Theocracy, decidedly the worst Government that has ever been introduced among mankind ? Because the vice-governors and subagents were the most infamous of men.
What has reduced the Spanish nation to its present degraded state, but the tyranny of its Government?
Mr. Cobbett, in a work that he is now publishing, which he calls, “ A History of the Protestant Reformation,” in contrasting the present condition of England with what it was in the time of Alfred, says, “ In the days of Alfred there were no paupers; no miserable creatures compelled to labour from month's end to month's end, without seeing meat; no thousands upon thousands made thieves by that hunger, which acknowledged no law, human or divine."
If the following brief comparison of the condition of the United States with that of Europe be correct, it is not difficult to determine which has the greatest tendency to promote the social virtues. It is extracted from a discourse lately delivered by Bishop Hobart to his congregation in New York. The Bishop had been absent nearly two years in Europe, on account of impaired health. He left this country a high-toned federalist, and bas returned, it is said, a convert to republican sentiments.
“ The traveller in America,” he says, “ is not astonished at the splendour that beams from the immense structures which wealth has erected for the gratification of private luxury or pride, But he can see one feature of every landscape here, one charm of American scenery, which more than repays for the absence of these monuments of the power, and the grandeur, and the wealth, and the taste of the rich and the mighty of the other lands; and which no other land affords; the sloping-sides and the summits of our hills, and the extensive plains that stretching before our view, are studded with the substantial, and neat, and cominodious dwellings of freemen-independent freemen-owners of the soil; men who can proudly walk over their land, and exultingly say, it is mine. I hold it tributary to no one; it is mine. No landscape here is alloyed by the painful consideration, that the castle, which towers in grandeur, was erected by the hard labour of degraded vassals;
To which I would add, as paramount to all others, religion and an excessive use of intoxicating liquors.
or that the magnificent structure, which rises in the spreading and embellished domain, presents a painful contrast to the meaner habitations, and sometimes the miserable hovels that mark a dependant, always a dependant, alas! sometimes a wretched peasantry.”
I think I can safely say, that I am divested of all national prejudices. I fully concur in opinion with Robert Owen (who, by the
way, is doing infinite good in the world), that man by nature is the same in all quarters of the globe, with the shades of difference caused by climate ; and that his character is formed by the circumstances which surround him. His likings and hatred's are created by education and the influence of habits.
The grand policy of the European monarchies has been to keep the great body of their subjects in the most profound ignorance, and to cherish the most deadly hatred against each other respectively. Many experiments have been resorted to in order to continue this animosity; but the greatest source of delusions has been the curse of religion. No later than the wars against the French Republic, the constant cry of the English Ministry was that “our holy religion is in danger.” Because the French people chose to put down that damnable mummery called Catholicism, which consigns to eternal torments a poor fellow-being for eating meat on a Friday, the English were called upon to go and cut their throats.
An anecdote is related here, which is an excellent commentary upon this pretext for war; and is, that on an English sailor's being told that the French would probably overcome Great Britain, he exclaimed to his comrade, "D-n my eyes, Jack, in that case, what will become of our holy religion."
These governments, in order to keep up their war establishments, take care, by their exactions, to render the condition of the people such as to induce them to prefer risking the loss of limbs and life in the trade of human slaughter, to following their usual occupations at home. In the army or navy, they are provided, at least, with a sufficiency to supply the cravings of nature.
But the most inveterate, unforgiving, and cruel spirit has been carefully instilled by monarchs in the minds of their subjects towards those who should rise up in rebellion to their tyrannical sway. Here humanity, and every principle that distinguishes the human species from the brute creation, is outraged, without the least compunction or regret. It was this malevolent spirit that caused the British army to commit cruelties in this country shocking to human nature, both in the revolutionary and late
In the revolutionary war, many thousands of Americans were suffocated in the holds of prison ships, appropriately called Floating Hells. In one of these, the Jersey-ship, stationed in the