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LONDON CRITICAL JOURNAL.
ART. I.-Memoirs of the public Life of John Horne Tooke,
Esq. containing a particular Account of his Connections with the most eminent Characters of the Reign of George III. his Trials for Sedition, High Treason, &c. with his most celebrated Speeches in the House of Commons, on the Hustings, Letters, 8c. By W. Hamilton Reid. Svo. pp. 192. London: Sherwood, Neely, and Jones. 1812.
In this age in which every man living considers himself as qualified for a biographer, one has only to die to become a hero. The obsequies of no man are now complete without his biographer as well as his undertaker, and to consecrate to fame the virtues of the deceased, is as much in the order of things, as to commit his body to the dust.
In times so liberal of encomium on the dead, it would have been strange, indeed, if Mr. Horne Tooke had left nobody behind him to take care of his memory, and to acquaint those that remain with the full extent of their loss. The gentleman who has piously executed this task, and whose work is now in our hands, was not, we must confess, at all known to us in his literary character, until we met with this specimen of his talents and taste: and probably we shall remain in ignorance of the full extent of his merits, unless we shall happen to live long enough to read his claims to our gratitude in the pages of his own biographer. As reviewers, however, we have sonie present obligations to the author. He has written a very little book; and has therein afforded so decisive' a proof of his qua
VOL. IV. NO, VII,
lifications for judging of the merit of Mr. Horne Tooke, both as a politician and a philosopher, that we are spared the trouble of making one critical observation on his work. It will be quite enough to produce a single passage from the book, at once to fix the intellectual character of the writer in the estimation of every reader of the smallest intelligence. The following passage exhibits a fair average specimen of the genius, the spirit, the reasoning, and the dialect of some of our reforming patriots.
“ But notwithstanding all the plausibility of these gentlemen, and the pretended loyalty of those who stigmatize every complaint with the name of croaking, stubborn and unyielding facts, which mark the present period as without any precedent in the annals of our history, with real dearth and absolute scarcity, have frequently for a time afflicted this and other kingdoms, to the ruin and distress of thousands. But the perpetuation of famine was reserved for Mr. Pitt and the friends and advocates of eternal war. If the cause of the high price of provisions is asked--the answer is ready in one word, and that is-war. A war unprecedented in its causes as well as its effects. As to its causes, they are unhappily concealed in consequence of the length of its duration. The minds of men are mostly made up from the most recent, and not from distant occasions.
“ The length of any contest renders its origin so comparatively dark and complicated, that few have time or patience to make the necessary enquiries. The indolent mapy, therefore, adopt the opinions of the active and interested few. It is the same with the common ideas of the rise and results of the present war; of which too many argue as if a proposition not perfectly demonstrable in the whole, might not be allowed to be so in part. And thus if a house is evidently falling, we must not say so till it is evidently a heap of ruins.
« One truth is clear, that unless the price of provisions quickly fall, that of labour rise, or trade recover its original vigour, many thousands more of aged persons and children must fall upon the parishes. The number of paupers already amount to a fifth part of the population. It was lately hinted to government in an ex. amination relative to a town in the north, where
hundred manufacturers are out of employ, that it would be a favour to provide them with implements of husbandry, and send them to New South Wales! The every day appearance of many once busy towns, is now become that of Sunday, for its stillness and absence of business. In countries where many little farms have been envee loped in great ones, the surrounding cottages have mostly disappeared; the young men are in the armies, and the old ones in the workhouses. But this is not all; the symptoms of decay have reached the capital, the heart of the country. It is no exaggera. tion to say, that half of the counting houses in London are shut up, or nearly deserted: these and warehouses are now every where