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ears. Surely all these, and many other difficulties that might occur, would require more deliberation, than cani be bestowed upon them at the present crisis.
Neither can it be difiembled, that the preferit state of the country is very unfavourable to such an attempt. The minds of men are now as much divided about political subjects, as they have long been about matters of religion. Some are for a reform, and others against it. Some will have it now, and others at a more conveni. ent time. Some will have royalty abolished, and all titles of honour; and some will be satisfied with a more equal representation in the House of Commons. Some will have annual Parliaments, and some with them only triennial. Some cry out of one thing, and some of another: every one complains moft loudly of what bears hardest upon himself. And perhaps our reformers themselves would not easily agree among themselves, as to what degree of reformation should be adopted.
But what, above all other things, renders this at: tempt unfeasonable at this time, is, that they who are moft clamorous for a reform, only wish for it as a step towards the total overthrow of our constitution, and the teducing to practice the whole fyftem disseminated by Thomas Paine and his followers. Charity obliges us to think, that there are many who are prevailed with, in the fimplicity of their hearts, to join the cry for reform, who would abhor the thoughts of destroying the conftitution. But is there any doubt that the leaders of our new affociations, adopted Paine's principles with out referve, and avowed themselves advocates for a total revolution, till they found government in earnest to punish the feditious? And if they durst, would they not be as loud still for a revolution, as they now are for a reform ? They hope, that if a reform to their mind
could be obtained, a few more men might be got into: Parliament, of their own kidney; and then they would find it easier to execute the rest of their plan. We have a few atheists, murderers, and pick-pockets; a few discontented, ambitious, and turbulent men in Britain, as well as in other nations. These men fee: what success their brethren elsewhere have had, in worming themselves into power, in overturning all-government and all religion, in destroying liberty, property, and personal security, and in bringing to the guillotine all who were objects of their emulation or refentment. Their ambition is hereby set on fire. They long to taste the sweets of arbitrary power: and they do not yet despair of turning this land of liberty into another scene of confufion, blood, and horror, for that purpose. While such hopes are entertained, is this a time to talk of reform?
7. If this reform were both necessary and season able, the methods taken to obtain it are far from being warrantable. They are pregnant with mischief. To form focieties or associations, in different parts of the united kingdom, under whatever designation, to choose deputies in these societies,--of these deputies, together with others from a neighbouring kingdom, to erect a convention, and in that convention to discuss the business of the nation at large, and concert measures, in avowed opposition to the constituted authorities ;-what is all this, but to set up a government within a government? Do not these men usurp the authority of parliament; and practically declare, that if parliament will not come into their measures, they mean to carry them by force; yea, to execute,, as well as to enact by their own authority, if they can but make their party strong enough? If such proceedings are not punishable by
law, it must only be, because nothing of the kind hav, ing ever been attempted in former times, there has never been occasion to make any law against them. The permission of such enormities is the strongest evidence, that, instead of a tyrannical government, we live under the mildest on earth *.
For the meeting of the French convention there was Come reason; because the second national affembly had fo much wisdom left as to diffolve themselves, and defert the helm which they could no longer guide : and they left no constituted authority in France. But to fet up the image of the French convention among us, while the known and established authorities remain, is the mof flagrant attempt that ever was made, to subvert all order, and introduce confusion and every evil work.
The British people have an unquestioned right to petition the king or either house of parliament. Their petitions, kowever unreasonable, if but conceived in decent terms, will be received: and if they are reafonable, I hope they will be granted. But surely the legisJature must have a right to determine whether petitions shall be granted or not: otherwise why petition them? It is among the other excellencies of our constitution, that it has the principles of reform within itself. If de, fects fhould be found in it, or fhould creep into it, through the lapse of time, as nothing human is either perfect or permanent,-it belongs to the legislature to reform thefe defects: they have power to do it; and I bope they will do it, if dutifully applied to,
Since writing the above, I am happy to hear that the Magistrates of the city and county of Edinburgh, have prohibited the meeting of the pretended convention in their bounds: for which they defervedly have the thanks of the friends of tranquillity and order ; both there and in other places,
attempt to over-awe the legislature, and influence by clamour, or by the appearance of numbers, their decifions, --what is it, but an attempt, an impotent attempt I hope it will prove, to destroy their authority, and put the actual exercise of sovereignty in the hands of the populace ?
From the time that the Jacobine Club at Paris, in concert with other associations of the fathe fort in other parts of the kingdom, and in conjunction with the mob of Paris, took upon them to decide upon the general business of the nation, and to prescribe measures to what was called the legiflative assembly, -every thing has rushed into confusion in France. "The present convention, ever since it met, has been no more than a tool in the hands of the Jacobin Club and the Paris rabble : and the world has been witness to the dreadful consequences. Similar causes will always produce fimilar effects. If ever our clubs and conventions shall be come so powerful as to be able to dictate to parliament, or if parliament shall become so weak, in point of intellects, as to suffer them to attempt it with impunity, that day will put an end to all regular government and Tubordination among us. Our happy constitution, the work of ages, and the admiration of mankind, will go to wreck in one hour : and the saine scene will be acted here, that has been in rehearsal, for eighteen months past, on the other side of the channel.
6 WHAT!” say our modern innovators, “ shall we
“ be precluded from seeking the redress of « our grievances, in what way, or by what means
we please? Are not liberty and equality the natural
rights of men ? And who shall deprive us of the one, " or of the other ?” Liberty is, doubtless, one of the most valuable earthly blessings; but, like all others, it is liable to be abused. Often has it been employed as a cloke of licentiousness: but it is only of late, that it has been coupled with equality. Let us examine, with candour, this new association.
Liberty is one of those things of which every man has some kind of conception, but which no man finds it easy to define. Passing over the various descriptions that have been given of it, it is manifest that perfect liberty must congst in an unlimited power of doing what one pleafes: or of following the dictates of one's own will, without any restraint from without himself. But it is equally manifeft, that this sort of liberty is competent to God only: because none but he has a right to make his own sovereign will the sole rule of his actions.