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they were huddled close together to keep each other warm. What a situation in colder weather !and what effects must it then have in destroying health, and in shortening life! We remarked that their slumbers were very light: some even started up as we passed : ever ready and on the alert, when an errand was to be performed, or a pocket to be picked. Among them was one boy with an Italian countenance full of intelligence and animation. other evening we might have examined him as to his habits and course of life-his wants and wishes-the extent of his knowledge, or rather ignorance :—but we could not stop for that purpose to-night: as we felt that we must already have an apology to attempt for our late appearance."
Here Urbanus concluded : and the President, after thanking him for his account, observed that, having heard the tale, he had three morals to deduce from it.
First, that an inquiry into the state of the Police was a matter of the most urgent necessity; and that a Committee of the House of Commons, sitting upon the subject, could not fail to be of eminent service to the nation.
Secondly, that however arduous, however incessant, and however well-directed might be the efforts of the humane and charitable, there must always remain behind much to be accomplished ; a dreadful load of misery to be removed, a portentous mass of crime to be eradicated.
Thirdly, that it must be well worthy the attention of the Council to look narrowly to the state of the metropolis, and report upon it from time to time.
“ As morning,” he continued, addressing himself to the Major, the Traveller, and Urbanus, “is beginning to dawn upon us, we must reserve the measure of your punishment to a future meeting. Taking, however, all the circumstances into consideration, I think I can assure you that it will not be a heavy one."
COUNCIL OF TEN.
LOREDANO. We have decided.
The Ten in Council.- LORD BYRON.
ON THE PRESENT SYSTEM OF POLITICAL
What will this come to?-TimOX OF ATHENS.
It is our firm belief that there has arisen and flourished, within the last two or three years, a system of political writing utterly disgraceful in itself, and pregnant in its consequences with infinite and incalculable mischief. It must play havoc with the repose of individuals, the wellbeing of society, and the general interests and character of the country. Such is the leading proposition, which appears to us certain and demonstrable, and with regard to which we are most anxious to impress our own conviction upon the minds and hearts of our readers. For, satisfied as we are of its truth, and feeling, as we do, its almost awful importance, it would ill become us, in the character which we have assumed, to neglect entering our public protest in the face of the nation. It would ill become us to be diverted from a task, which does not so much present itself to us, as force itself upon us, by any motives of interest or apprehension. To content ourselves with silent passive indignation would be a mean and pitiful desertion
of our duty. Our pledge, too, has been already given ; this system we have promised to denounce,-to expose, if it be possible, to destroy : and that promise we now hasten to redeem.
Our object, we are aware, cannot be accomplished by general assertions; or indiscriminate and sweeping abuse. The present inquiry will, probably, demand more space, than we can usually devote to the consideration of a single topic. We have, therefore, broken it into the four following divisions ; which may serve as resting-places for the lazy, and have, at least, the appearance of regularity for the methodical.
The First Division will contain an exposition of the whole system ;
The Second, some particular strictures on that notorious paper which has pursued it with most emolument and success ;
The Third, a few words of advice to the supporters and encouragers of such papers, either by writing or purchasing, by literary or pecuniary contributions.
The Fourth, three or four concluding remarks by way of inference and deduction.
ON THE GENERAL SYSTEM.
The system may be defined generally to be a plan organized, arranged, and “all-compact,” for the purpose of attacking private character through the medium of the press; and of filling the columns of public journals with slander instead of argument, calumny instead of discussion.
Shall we be expected to demonstrate the truth of this definition ? It would be idle to corroborate by proofs, what is evident of itself. We refer to the pages of " Blackwood's Magazine,” to the “ John Bull," “the Beacon," “ the Glasgow Sentinel,” “ the Edinburgh Correspondent ;' and again, to whiggish and radical papers, which are at once too numerous and too obscure for mention ; we refer to the late duels in England and in Scotland ; to the public trials; to the debates in Parliament; to the confessions of the parties themselves, who only attempt to palliate what they dare not deny.
To prevent misconception, we shall here, at the outset of our investigation, repeat our former opinion, that the castigation of individuals often becomes a duty imperative upon political writers, and more particularly upon the censors and supervisors of literature. In many cases personality is not merely defensible, but laudable ; not merely justifiable, but necessary. We freely offer this concession; and our opponents are at full liberty to take any advantage which they can of it. We agree on the whole with Junius and Pope, when the former says
66 Measures and not men is the common cant of affected moderation, a base counterfeit language, fabricated by knaves, and made current among fools. Such gentle censure is not fitted to the present degenerate state of society. What does it avail to expose the absurd contrivance, or pernicious tendency of measures, if the man who advises, or executes, shall be suffered not only to escape with impunity, but even to preserve his power ?"-and the latter, “ To reform and not to chastise, I am afraid, is impossible ; and that the best precepts, as well as the best laws, would prove of small use, if there were no examples to enforce them. To attack vices in the abstract, without touching persons, may be safe fighting indeed; but it is fighting with shadows.” Such most assuredly shall never be our method of fighting. When we hear a man entirely disapprove of all personality, we immediately suspect either his honesty, or his courage. It is to be feared, that in this world we must always be content to make enemies if we would do good. As long as actions are perpetrated by men, to condemn the former, and leave the latter unassailed, to pour forth the phial of our wrath upon the crime and not the culprit, the delinquency and not the delinquent, must always have the
appearance of a wish at once to strike the blow, and to avoid the consequences. In order to put a stop to the offence, it is necessary to awe, and shame, and punish, the offender.
It has often been the business of good citizens, either by their writings, or their political conduct, to drag public criminals to the bar of public justice. We admire the worthies of past times, who have stood forward at the risk of their lives and fortunes, against corruption, its patrons, and its tools. When Cicero declaims in language almost superhuman against Antony, or Catiline, or Verres; or when Demosthenes darts the lightning of his eloquence against Philip and his intrigues; or against the hireling orators of Athens, who were alarmed by the power, or bribed by the gold, of the Macedonian; we catch the contagion of their noble anger, and burn with the same honest detestation of extortion, and dishonesty, and treason. Nor are these feelings weakened, when we find the fire of their oratory lighted by the torch of personal indignation and contempt. When again we behold the true patriots of modern days involve themselves in trouble and peril by impeaching the most powerful domestic enemies of their country, we honour their motives, we kindle with their spirit, we almost adore their self-devotion.
But very different in its origin and its end is the personality of which we now complain. And the same reasons which may induce us to applaud it, when it is rendered necessary by the circumstances of the case, and dictated by a stern sense of public duty, must compel us to discountenance and scorn it, when it has its impure and filthy source in wanton malevolence, or greediness of gain. If, indeed, personal invective is then only allowable, when it tends to some great and worthy aim, which cannot be attained without its use, how must every honest man despise and abhor it, when the object which it has in view is as illiberal and mean, as the terms which it employs are intemperate and disgusting !
There is, in fact, something original in the baseness of the present system. It is of a blackness hitherto undiscovered. The " nigri succus loliginis" was never before of so deep a dye. In all free states, it is true, political animosities have been carried on with little reciprocity of forbearance, or attention to decorum. But the worst traits, by which former periods were dishonoured, are the perfection of grace, and comeliness, and manly beauty, when compared with the vile features, which are supposed to dignify and adorn the literature of this enlightened age. Let us look for a moment at a few of the disgraceful peculiarities. It is a picture, from the contemplation of which