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of rank nor enemies to property. They were generally poor, simple artisans, who believed that they had a right to be represented in the assembly that imposed the taxes which they had to pay; and who were illogical enough to confound the maintenance of a restrictive duty on corn with a denial of food.
They thought that Parliament had legislated for the interests of the few rather than of the many; and what they felt more keenly than every thing besides, was the cold indifference of the aristocracy to the comforts and the happiness of the poor. In an age, which is erecting wash-houses and baths for those who otherwise could neither wash nor bathe-which regards the sewerage and ventilation of cottages as objects of natural solicitude to the proprietors of wealthy mansions—and which holds a happy and contented poor to be among the essential elements of any great and flourishing community—these feelings will neither be despised nor condemned. But Lord Sidmouth's age judged differently; and Lord Sidmouth was not before his age. He looked only to the outward and visible show; he saw not the inward and universal yearning. The show was one of threatening and defiance: the yearning was for comfort, and for that homely
well-being, without which no household knows content, and no empire can be safe. It is painful to think how fruitful exalted ignorance may be of crime. And it is impossible not to think of this while we go over that familiar page of our domestic history, where Lord Sidmouth's name most frequently recurs. His biographer, however, belongs in this respect to the olden time ; and extols him for the very acts by which our own feelings are so provoked, that we find it difficult to make the allowance, which, nevertheless, we know ought to be made, for the character of his understanding and the policy of his age. .
Lord Sidmouth, however personally active in his younger days, had been singularly lax in arming and encouraging the yeomanry, when there was a prospect of foreign invasion. But he now made amends for this, by calling them out against the
people in a time of civil commotion. The working classes through the North had organized themselves into clubs. Their object was to petition for Parliamentary Reform. But Lord Sidmouth was convinced then, as his biographer is convinced now, that Reform was only a specious pretext' for rebellion and revolution. Accordingly, he suspended the Habeas Corpus Act against the Reformers, as he had against the Luddites. But his policy was not limited to coercive laws or yeomanry enrolments. He abetted a system, of which, we believe, he himself did not know its cruelty and baseness. Documents published within the last few years have established, that amongst the Radical Re
• formers' of that day, many men were introduced who professed to be identified with the principles of their societies, but by whom their secrets were systematically betrayed. This horrible system was carried on under the patronage of the Home Office and the Treasury. The Dean of Norwich is at great pains to show that Lord Sidmouth was not a party to the diabolical plans that were too successfully used for trepanning the ignorant and the credulous into conspiracies, for which they answered with their lives. There was no occasion for this. No gentleman-no man of common feeling—would in England lend the sanction of his authority to so base a plot. But Lord Sidmouth encouraged and rewarded a system, the springs of which he did not set in motion, and the working of which he could neither follow nor control. He rewarded informers. He thereby encouraged men to concoct conspiracies, that they might betray the conspirators they had made. lidem auctores conjurationis, iidem delatores, has been from time immemorial the symbol of a despotic government. Men who are to be paid for detecting crimes, will assist in their concoction : And this accordingly was the case during the whole of the disastrous period which succeeded the conclusion of the war.
Men were prosecuted for conspiracies, into which they had been betrayed by villains artful enough to deceive their victims and mislead the Government.
The result of such tactics may easily be conjectured. The Crown and the Executive became associated in the minds of the people with chicanery, malevolence, perfidy, and cruelty. Every convicted traitor who was left for execution or transportation, was looked upon as the victim of Castlereagh and Sidmouth. All faith in the honour and integrity of the ruling classes was as completely destroyed, as that in their benevolence and kindness had been before. The effects of this on
ablic liberty w even worse than the effects on public confidence. As loyal men as ever lived may be made disloyal by oppression; they are the most likely, perhaps, to be so. The poor and the untaught were rendered savage by all they saw and suffered. The gulf between them and their superiors became wider and deeper. They threw themselves into the arms of artful and selfish demagogues. They shouted, they subscribed money, they underwent penalties, and losses, and degradation, for men who preached the destruction of property and rank, but who never sacrificed their own interests for their confiding followers. The influential and wealthy members of the Liberal party got frightened. They held aloof from publicly supporting principles to which they were devoted, through a horror of the company into which their interposition would necessarily bring
them. Thus, all the weight of money, station, and opinion was, for a time, thrown into the scale of unconstitutional severity. Men, whose liberalism had brought on them the imputation of republicanism in the stormy days of the French revolution, shrank from the prospect of subjecting England to a triumvirate of Hunt, Cobbett, and Carlisle. Never had authority such a latitude; and seldom did it proceed so far. But in the end it overleapt itself.
In 1819 came the crowning act of folly and excess. A partial tranquillity had been followed by fresh disaffection. Public gatherings were assembled all over England. The northern counties were historically pre-eminent in the move
Government was more than usually on the alert. A great meeting was convened near Manchester. Fifty thousand people, many of them women and children, collected together under the auspices of Hunt. On a sudden was heard a murmur, a rustling, and the tramp of horses. A cry was raised, the • soldiers are coming,' and quickly the sabres of an armed force were fileshed in that weak and unresisting multitude. Never since the tragedy of Glencoe had the kingdom known such a day as that of · Peterloo.' As in the one case the traditionary hate of a rival clan, so in the other the cherished animosity of a rival class, was stained by bloodshed. The master manufacturers and the Cheshire tenantry wreaked their vengeance on the manufacturing artisans. All enquiry was resisted. The authors of the massacre were thanked by the Regent, before and without enquiry. Dr Pellew devotes several pages to a laudation of the magistrates, of the heroes of the Home Office, and of all who were anyway parties to this brutal act of power. The best commentary on it is the history of the few succeeding years.
That frightful day was never forgotten or forgiven. . It rankled in the memory of thousands. It made further restrictions and further coercion absolutely necessary;
After the magistrates had been thanked by the ministry, and the ministry commended by the Regent, and Lord Fitzwilliam dismissed from his lieutenancy by both, the whole drama was fitly consummated by the Six Acts. From that moment Parliamentary Reform became a certainty.
So far the Liverpool ministry is entitled to the gratitude of posterity. It procured for us Reform, in the same way that Leo X. was the author of the Reformation, and James II. of the Bill of Rights. But, though the end was certain, and the prize fore-destined, the way was long, and the struggle hard. Disappointments were to be borne; and the keenest of all disappointments to men whose soul is in the cause they advocate ; the disappointments which spring from the guilt, the folly, and the falsehood of their associates. The progress of human freedom is like the journey of the Son of Anchises through the shades of Hades
• Hinc exaudiri gemitus, et sæva sovare
His demum exactis
Devenêre locos lætos et amana vireta,' &c. First, the misery which fosters crime, then the daring which champions affliction-next, the gibbet, the prison, and the martyrdom of the forward few-lastly, the glorious triumph of the combined many:
But before the object which the reformers sought was obtained, the 'vigour' of the ministry drove men to acts of the greatest folly and wickedness. The last three or four years of Sidmouth's public life were spent in watching, detecting, and punishing conspiracies. He had to deal with real plots against the life of the King, and the lives of the ministers. Every great occasion, from a cabinet dinner to the coronation of George IV., or the funeral of his Queen, suggested or confirmed suspicions of treasonable plots and insurrectionary movements. Scarcely had he done prosecuting the Radicals, when he had to prosecute the Cato Street gang. And to prosecution and punishment he limited all his exertions and all his cares. He applied the actual cautery to the affected part--and thought he had recruited a morbid constitution ! He had, as we have previously observed, no guess at the origin of the social malady which was before him. Hang, fine, or banish !-these were the three courses open to him, and none besides. In vain did parents and wives intercede for the ignorant dupes of cunning cowardice, or for the wretched victims of unalleviated suffering. To appeal to the rights of constitutional hostility directed against a mock representation, was vainer still. He was inflexible. He neither pardoned, nor encouraged the hope of pardon. Still he was not a cruel man. He delighted not in the shedding of buman blood. Like the tyrant of old, jussit scelera, non spectavit. His personal feelings, though not warm, were kindly; he sacrificed them, notwithstanding, to his theory of administration with the less remorse, because he did not witness the torture which be inflicted. He was a creature of method; and one of the methods in vogue at the Court where he was a favourite, was to put naughty people to death. Mrs Fry has recorded in her diary the deep disgust which she felt at his refusal to intercede for a poor woman, whose case deserved a more lenient judgment than that of death.
Such a life, if not painful to his better nature, must certainly have been inconsistent with his personal comfort. He was officially the most unpopular man in England, except Lord Castlereagh. No man of ordinary courage and ability, willingly bears the thankless burden of universal obloquy one day longer than he can help it. Dissensions in a cabinet which has no real head, are inevitable: and therefore Lord Liverpool's cabinet was divided against itself. This— with the odium to which he found himself exposed-supplied Sidmouth with valid reasons for finally resigning. Besides, the ties which had once bound him to office had been snapped by the death of the old King. He was not so old as many who have continued ministers of state ; but he was old enough to avail himself of the plea of age for retiring. Accordingly, in January 1822, and the 65th year of his life, he delivered up the seals of office into the hands of George IV., who gave him his warm thanks for his long services, and a pension of L.3000 ayear. This pension Sidmouth, who was not a covetous man, voluntarily surrendered, when he came into possession of a fortune by his second wife, a daughter of his old friend Lord Stowell.
The remainder of his days he passed at the White Lodge in Richmond park, in the society of many friends, whose esteem he retained through all the vicissitudes of politics. Lord Wellesley, Lord Exmouth, Lord Eldon, the Duke of Gordon, and Mr Tierney, were his most constant and intimate companions. Into their ears he poured his reminiscences of the past, and his forebodings of the future. When he did quit the peaceful retreat of Richmond for the House of Lords (which was not often,) it was to vote for the good old principles' which he had learned while young, and which he never unlearned. He voted against Catholic Emancipation and against the Reform Bill, as if George III. were still alive, and O'Connell had never agitated. The progress of the age—its toleration-its demand for education and for political privileges-he viewed with a horror almost religious. He regarded Lord Grey's ministry as the most dangerous, and Sir Robert Peel's opposition as the most patriotic, in the annals of England. This creed clung to him to the last. Politically, he had ceased to exist many years before his natural death. The wiser conservatism of a later generation rapidly disencumbered itself of Sidmouth as it disencumbered itself of Eldon. After 1830, he was a xãoov ogóownov in the drama of party. Without office and without influence, he glided down the declivity of age, on a quiet footpath ; neither lonely, however, nor unlovely; happy in the recollection of a well-intentioned life—in the treasured memorials of his sovereign's love-in the devoted affection of bis children, and in the consolations of a natural piety. He survived all