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T. Lingray, 1,500, and a commissionership of stamps.The superior council was not a very harmonious
Amid this melancholy manifestation of a convicted, yet dogged, treason against the people on the part of their rulers, many motions for reform and improvements in our laws were brought forward. On the part of Mr. Sturges Bourne, a committee brought in a report recommending three Bills for the improvement of the Poor Law: one for the establishment of select vestries, one for a general reform of the Poor Law, and one for revising the Law of Settlement. On the part of Henry Brougham, a Bill was introduced for appointment of commissioners to inquire into the condition of the charities in England for the education of the poor. There were many attempts to reform the Criminal Law, in which Sir Samuel Romilly especially exerted himself. One of these was to take away the penalty of death from the offence of stealing from a shop to the value of five shillings, another was to prevent arrests for libel before indictment was found, and another, by Sir James Mackintosh, to inquire into the forgery of Bank of England notes. There was a Bill brought in by Mr. Wynn to amend the Election Laws; and one for alterations in the Law of Tithes, by Mr. Curwen; another by Sir Robert Peel, father of the great statesman, for limiting the hours of labour in cotton and other factories; a Bill to amend the Law of Bankruptcy, and a Bill to amend the Copyright Act, by Sir Egerton Brydges; and finally a Bill for Parliamentary Reform, introduced by Sir Francis Burdett, and supported by Lord Cochrane, subsequently the Earl of Dundonald. All of these were thrown out, except the select Vestries Bill, Brougham's Bill to inquire into the public charities, a Bill for rewarding apprehenders of highway robbers and other offenders, and a Bill granting a million of money to build new churches. The cause of Reform found little encouragement from the Parliamentary majorities of the Sidmouths, Liverpools, and Castlereaghs. This list of rejections of projects of reform was far from complete; a long succession followed. The Scots came with a vigorous demand, made on their behalf by Lord Archibald Hamilton, for a sweeping reform of their burghs. Municipal reform was equally needed, both in Scotland and England. The whole system was flagrantly corrupt. Many boroughs were sinking into bankruptcy; and the elections of their officers were conducted on the most arbitrary and exclusive principles. The Scots had agitated this question before the outbreak of the French Revolution, but that and the great war issuing out of it had swamped the agitation altogether. It was now revived, but only to meet with a defeat like a score of other measures quite as needful. Lord Archibald Hamilton asked for the abolition of the Scottish Commissary Courts in conformity with the recommendation of a commission of inquiry in 1808; General Thornton called for the repeal of certain religious declarations to be made on taking office; and Dr. Phillimore for amendment of the Marriage Act of 1753; and numerous demands for the repeal of taxes of one kind or another all met the same fate of refusal.
In the autumn the great Congress of Sovereigns assembled at Aix-la-Chapelle. We have already anticipated their chief objectthe final evacuation of France by the Allied troops, and the settlement of compensations. They assembled about the middle of September, and remained together till the middle of November. Their business conferences, however, did not commence till the 30th of September. With regard to the evacuation of France, we need only state that it was greatly promoted by the exertions of the Duke of Wellington. Robert Owen was there to endeavour to enlist the Sovereigns in his schemes of social reform, but did not make any proselytes amongst the crowned heads, though the Czar Alexander told him he fully entered into his views, as he was generally accustomed to tell all reformers and religious professors, leaving them in the pleasing delusion that they had won him to their opinions. Clarkson was there to engage them to sanction the suppression of the slave trade, but with as indifferent a result. This was the closing scene of the great European drama, which opened with the French Revolution and terminated with the capture of Buonaparte. The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle may be regarded as the recital of the epilogue. It is better to prevent crimes than to punish them. This is the chief aim of every good system of legislation, which is the art of leading men to the greatest possible happiness or to the least possible misery, according to calculation of all the goods and evils of life. But the means hitherto employed for this end are for the most part false and contrary to the end proposed. It is impossible to reduce the turbulent activity of men to a geometrical harmony without any irregularity or confusion. As the constant and most simple laws of nature do not prevent aberrations in the movements of the planets, so, in the infinite and contradictory attractions of pleasure and pain, disturbances and disorder cannot be prevented by human laws. Yet this is the chimera that narrow-minded men pursue, when they have power in their hands. To prohibit a number of indifferent acts is not to prevent the crimes that may arise from them, but it is to create new ones from them; it is to give capricious definitions of virtue and vice which are proclaimed as eternal and immutable in their nature. To what should we be reduced if everything had to be forbidden us which might tempt us to a crime? It would be necessary to deprive a man of the use of his senses. For one motive that drives men to commit a real crime there are a thousand that drive them to the commission of those indifferent acts which are called crimes by bad laws; and if the likelihood of crimes is proportioned to the number of motives to commit them, an increase of the field of crimes is an increase of the likelihood of their commission. The majority of laws are nothing but privileges, or a tribute paid by all to the convenience of some few.
* Meules au Ministre 12 Nov, 1684.In the lives of English painters the story of Benjamin Robert Haydon is perhaps the saddest. In youth he devoted himself with such zeal to the study of art that people wondered how he ever found time to eat. He was one of those men of genius who may be called "unlucky." He was always in pecuniary difficulties, though his father allowed him 200 per annum in the earlier part of his career. He applied for admission into the Academy, but did not obtain a single vote; and he got involved in controversies, which continued to embitter his life. He succeeded at last, however, by his energy, in commanding public attention and winning fame. For the "Judgment of Solomon" he received 700, with 100 voted to him by the directors of the British Institution, and the freedom of Plymouth. His pictures were, however, very unequal; here and there was a powerful piece of work, but the whole was generally rough and unfinished. He committed suicide in 1846. Sculpture, which was then at its lowest ebb, was relieved alone from vacuity by the works of Chantrey, Flaxman, and Gibson.