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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter XII. 1811-1812
William Roscoe to the Duke of Gloucester, [October? 1809]

Vol I. Contents
Chapter I. 1753-1781
Chapter II. 1781-1787
Chapter III. 1787-1792
Chapter IV. 1788-1796
Chapter V. 1795
Chapter VI. 1796-1799
Chapter VII. 1799-1805
Chapter IX. 1806-1807
Chapter X. 1808
Chapter XI. 1809-1810
Vol II. Contents
Chapter XII. 1811-1812
Chapter XIII. 1812-1815
Chapter XIV. 1816
Chapter XV. 1817-1818
Chapter XVI. 1819
Chapter XVII. 1820-1823
Chapter XVIII. 1824
Chapter XIX. 1825-1827
Chapter XX. 1827-1831
Chapter XXI.
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“When misfortunes occur, and I cannot but consider this as a very great one, we are frequently led to examine into the causes which have produced them; and if I were called upon to assign, to the best of my judgment, the true root and origin of all the evils which this country experiences, I should, after the fullest deliberation, attribute them to the corruption of the representation of the people, and the consequent subserviency of the House of Commons. For
this reason, I cannot express my astonishment and regret, that those great and distinguished characters to whom I have before alluded, and many others who, I truly believe, have the welfare, honour, and happiness of their country at heart, should, of late more particularly, have rebuked and discountenanced that strong and virtuous popular feeling which once looked up to them for its guidance and direction, and which, if it had been duly encouraged and segregated from its grosser particles (which would easily have been shaken off as soon as it was sanctioned by its proper patrons), would soon have given to worth and rank, to integrity and talents, that weight and direction in the country, which are now possessed by ministerial sycophants, professional statesmen, and time-serving intriguers. I will venture on your Royal Highness’s indulgence still further, and will dare to say to a prince of the House of Brunswick, that if any thing can yet save us from destruction, and avert the fate that threatens us, it is the solemn and deliberate adoption by men of the highest character and connections in the country, of some plan, which shall relieve the House of Commons from its direct and immediate subserviency to the dictates of the Crown, and shall restore that tone and energy to the popular sentiment which it has now lost. If this could be effected, it would be an honour and a happiness
for a good man to be the chief minister of such a country,—of a country that could acknowledge his virtues, appreciate his talents, and confer on him that best reward, which the public voice alone can give; whilst, on the contrary, to hold even the highest station under the present system, which exhibits a subservient House of Commons, acting under a subservient minister, would, in the calm and deliberate judgment of truth, be a degradation and a disgrace. Your Royal Highness will not, I trust, think this language exaggerated, though strong; but, if any one could think so, let him look at the conduct of our ancestors through a long series of years; let him examine the records of the country, and let him then say, whether the independence of the House of Commons has not been the invariable object of their most anxious solicitude; the very talisman, upon the preservation of which the safety of the country, as a free country, entirely rested. That which they dreaded we have seen nearly, if not entirely, completed; yet, most unhappily, those who are most deeply interested in such an event have stood aloof till the very hope of any effectual remedy is relinquished, and a measure of the most vital importance to the country has taken place, without a single voice being raised against it;—for in what place is it now possible, that a voice could be raised that would produce the least effect?


“When I look back on what I have written, I cannot but feel that I may possibly have presumed too far on your Royal Highness’s goodness, well knowing that, to many persons, the dissemination of sentiments like these might be considered as very dangerous to the peace of the country. One reflection, however, relieves the anxiety I should otherwise feel, and induces me not to withhold from your Royal Highness the warm dictates of my heart,—the hope, that your Royal Highness will still continue to attribute what I say to no improper motive, but will do me the justice to believe, that however erroneous my political opinions may be, I am at least sincere in my wishes for the prosperity of my country.”