LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter X. 1808

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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Mr. Roscoe’s Tracts on the War.—Publication of the “Considerations on the Causes, &c. of the War with France.”—Character of Mr. Pitt in that pamphlet.—The attach upon Copenhagen.—Poem of “Copenhagen.”—Letter to Mr. Wilberforce.—Success of the pamphlet.—Letter from Mr. Whitbread.—Letter to Mr. Wilberforce.—Impression made by the pamphlet.—Publication of “Remarks on the Proposals for Peace,” &c.—Letter from Mr. Rathbone.—The pamphlet submitted to Mr. Whitbread—letter from him, and reply.—Mr. Roscoe’s defence against his critics.—Letter to Professor Smyth.—Opinions on the pamphlet.—Letter from Mr. J. Graham.—Letters to the Marquis of Lansdowne and to Mr. Whitbread.—Some of his political friends differ from Mr. Roscoe on the subject of peace—he proposes and carries a pacific address at a public meeting at Liverpool.—Letter to Mr. Mathias.

Although no longer actively engaged in the duties of public life, Mr. Roscoe was not insensible to the prospects of the country and to the progress of political affairs. He saw, with sorrow and dismay, that the spirit of hostility, which had given rise to a war almost unexampled in the expenditure of blood and of treasure, still continued to actuate the councils of the English government, and he was impelled, by a sense of the injustice of this protracted contest, and of the dangers which the country incurred by its continuance, to exert whatever influence he possessed, in directing the public mind to more pacific views. From the commencement of the French war in the year 1793 he had, on various occasions, earnestly advocated the cause of peace. In his “Thoughts on the Causes of the late Failures*,” he had denounced the war as the origin of the evils under which the country was suffering; and in the year 1802

* Vide ante, p. 125.

he again exerted himself in the same cause, by the publication of a short pamphlet under the title of “
Observations on the relative Situation of Great Britain and France.”* He now made another attempt to enforce these opinions, in a pamphlet, to which he gave the title of “Considerations on the Causes, Objects, and Consequences of the present War, and on the Expediency or the Danger of Peace with France.”†

Now that Europe has long returned to a state of peace, and that this country has had an opportunity, which she never enjoyed while the contest continued, of weighing the effects of the long and sanguinary struggle in which she engaged, it is unnecessary to recur to the arguments with which Mr. Roscoe enforced his opinions. The result has shown, but too forcibly, the correctness and the foresight of his judgment; and the peace which arrived at last, induced not so much by the wisdom of our own councils or the vigour of our own arms, as by the mad ambition of our enemies, reached us only just in time to rescue the country from destruction. Not one of the objects of those with whom the war originated has been accomplished. The French nation have once more expelled from amongst them those whose fatal

* Reprinted in the “Occasional Tracts on the War.” 1810.

† Reprinted in the Tracts on the War.

maxims of government were the occasion of the Revolution, and have, undisturbed by foreign interference, freely chosen for themselves their own rulers; while, in this country, the principles of freedom and reform, which it was the unceasing endeavour of the war-party to crush, have attained a complete, and, it may be hoped, a lasting triumph. The only effect of the long and bloody contest has been to burden the country with a debt, the weight of which, even now, impoverishes her industrious population, oppresses her best energies, and still threatens her with destruction.

Though the subjects which form the topics of this pamphlet have partially lost their interest, yet the following passage, containing a character of Mr. Pitt, may not improperly be extracted:—

“With the battle of Austerlitz the confederation against France terminated, and with that terminated also the political career and the life of Mr. Pitt—a statesman to whom it would be unjust to deny the endowments of extraordinary talents, and the praise of having improved those talents in some departments, to a most uncommon degree. But these accomplishments, which ought to have rendered him a benefactor to his country, were unfortunately subservient to one predominating passion, which not only counteracted their good effects, but converted them into
implements of danger and destruction. This passion he inherited from his
father, who cherished it in the early years of his son, and directed his infant gaze towards that eminent station which he had himself once occupied. In his education nothing was left undone, that could qualify him to attain this object; and no one certainly entered into public life with equal advantages. There is, however, an essential difference between those qualities which are calculated to obtain power, and those which enable us to make a proper use of it. Unfortunately, the system of education of Mr. Pitt was, in politics, that which Lord Chesterfield’s is in private life. It was founded on too narrow a basis, and aimed too directly at its object. A cultivated mind and a humane disposition will render their possessor truly polite; sound principles and a real love of mankind, truly patriotic; but without these, neither the politeness nor the patriotism is any thing more than a whited sepulchre. The system was, however, successful: the young orator began his career in a manner the best calculated to display his powers. As he spoke, the hopes of freedom revived; corruption shrank before his glance, and the nation hailed him as her deliverer; but no sooner was the prize within his grasp, than he seized it with an eagerness, and retained it with a tenacity, which all the efforts of his opponents could
neither impede nor relax. Having thus obtained the supreme power, the talents which had acquired it were employed with equal success to preserve it. The correction of abuses, the removal of peculation and corruption, the reform of the representation, the extension of religious and civil liberty, were now no longer the objects in view; or were only recalled at stated periods, to show how the minister could blast his promise without breaking his faith. Well schooled in all the routine and arcana of office, an adept in the science of finance and taxation, Mr. Pitt’s great accomplishment was a thorough knowledge of the artificial and complex machine of government, and his great defect, a total insensibility to the feelings of mankind, and a thorough ignorance of the leading principles of human nature. Unfortunately for his fame and for his country, new situations arose, to which the hackneyed rules of a narrow policy were totally inapplicable. A powerful nation, whose slavery had for ages been its reproach, threw off its shackles, and attempted to form for itself a limited monarchy. It was Mr. Pitt’s first misfortune to be insensible to the grandeur of so glorious a struggle, his second to miscalculate its consequences. The first act of France was to hold out her emancipated hands to the free states of England and America; but the coldness of the minister soon convinced her
that in this country she was not to expect a friend. That coldness soon degenerated into enmity and abhorrence, and through every change of circumstance and situation, through all the evolutions and forms of her government, whether monarchical, republican, aristocratical, or despotic, she found in him a decided and an inflexible enemy. With what success his hostility has been attended impartial history will show.”

The attack upon Denmark, a neutral state, not with the view of preventing a possible junction with France, but for the purpose of forestalling that nation in an act of unexampled atrocity, is one of the subjects commented upon in the “Considerations,” and denounced with all the energies of the writer’s mind. Upon the justification of “the cruel necessity which obliged the British sovereign to have recourse to acts of hostility against a nation, with which it was his most earnest desire to have established the relations of common interest and alliance,” Mr. Roscoe observes; “This passage contains the complete avowal of the principle upon which the British ministry acted. It presumes, not only that the laws of morality and justice, and the rules of good faith which attach one individual or one nation to another, may be dispensed with from temporary motives, but that either of the parties has a right to judge of such motives,
and to disregard those rules whenever he may think proper. That this doctrine cannot be supported must be apparent to every one, from the slightest observation of the consequences to which it must lead. At no period of society have mankind been so lost to the dignity of their nature and the interests of their association as to avow it. Even states and sovereigns at war, under circumstances of the utmost exasperation, have rejected it with horror; and it may truly be said, that the establishment of such a maxim, even between belligerent powers, is all that is now wanting to complete the downfal of Europe, and destroy the hopes of mankind. Jealousy, hatred, assassination, poison, treachery, cruelty, and revenge are its instruments, to be indiscriminately employed as necessity requires, and upon these grounds every crime and every atrocity may be equally justified.”

The feelings of Mr. Roscoe, when highly excited, were often poured out in verse; and the sanguinary act which he thus reprobated in his pamphlet, became the subject of the following short poem.

—“Shroud me, shroud me, shades of night,
Save me from the blasting sight!’—
Thus by Murder’s screams awoke,
Britain’s troubled Genius spoke,
Whilst beneath the northern star
Gleam’d the purple cloud of war.—
—Echoing thro’ the midnight skies,
Shrieks of fear and anguish rise,
As the battle’s furious rage
Spares nor infancy nor age—
—“Stay,” she cries, “ye ruthless bands,
Stay your fratricidal hands—
If your breasts with vengeance glow,
Drive its fury on the foe—
But the wise, the just, the brave,
Britain’s glory is to save.”
Hark! the war-shouts louder swell;
Hark! the victor’s tiger yell.
—Now the work of death is o’er,
Suffering Nature bears no more;
O’er the city’s sea-girt steeps
Desolation sits and weeps;
There the mother, wandering wild,
Asks the stranger for her child,
And sacrilegious feet have trod
O’er the prostrate fanes of God.
Wretches! who, in evil hour,
Seized the trident of my power,
For whose guilt no time atones,
Murderers! whom my soul disowns,
Authors of your country’s shame,
Recreants to a Briton’s name;
What could prompt your furious rage
Thus the war with Heaven to wage,
In its decrees refuse to trust,
And boldly dare to be unjust?—
Say, can you pierce with steady eye
The folds of dark Futurity,
Control the stubborn course of Fate,
That good from ill may emanate,
That thus you raise, by fear unaw’d,
Your impious hands against your God?
—Supreme Creator! he with ease
Can smooth the waves and bridge the seas,
Can raise the feeble and forlorn,
And dash the pride of man to scorn.
Earth trembles at his mighty stroke,
At his touch the mountains smoke,
And changing at his powerful call,
Successive nations rise and fall.
Wretches! for whose dark misdeeds.
Thus my soul in anguish bleeds,
By unprecedented crimes,
The reproach of future times;
Know, not long your impious sway
Thus shall blot the face of day.
—Rising from its native steep,
Soon th’ indignant storm shall sweep,
That shall whelm, in dire disgrace,
You and all your blood-stained race.
—Then once more in Britain’s isle,
Suns of brighter glow shall smile,
And the white-robed lustral band
From pollution cleanse the land;
Then again shall Britain’s name
Emulate her former fame,
And her arm be stretch’d to save
The just, the generous, and the brave!

On the subject of the attack upon Copenhagen, Mr. Roscoe had the misfortune to find his opinions at variance with those of some of the political friends with whom he had been accustomed to act,—a circumstance which he deeply regretted, not so much because it placed him in opposition to those whom he loved and respected, as because he was deprived of their assistance in the maintenance of the principles he had so much at heart. In a letter to Mr. Wilberforce,
he has expressed this feeling in strong language. * * * “What is it that has preserved the human race from utter degradation and ruin, but the assertion from time to time of these sacred principles of morality and justice, which are daily and hourly in danger of being lost amongst the violence and the wrath, the prejudices and the passions of mankind? When these principles are combated and denied, the lines of demarcation are drawn between the opposing parties, and the last stand must be made for the preservation of that which is dearer than life. With an ardent spirit, but a feeble hand, I have plunged into the contest, and I naturally look round to those, who have on other occasions shown themselves the firm and fearless friends of truth, of liberty, and of the best interests of mankind, for their countenance and support; or rather for their better and more effectual efforts to release me from a task to which I am unequal. Must I add, that I look with fear, and anxiety, and dread! That even in the small circle, in which I once had the pleasure and the honour of deliberating with you, for the benefit of a distant people and of future times, I am to reflect with sorrow, that there are some with whom I must now differ on one of the most important questions that ever came before a nation?

“I have not the presumption to arrogate to myself a superior delicacy of feeling on such a
subject; far less would I assume the airs of a rhetorical moralist, carrying his ideas to an extreme inconsistent with the nature of human affairs; but, if ever there was a crime that bore upon its forehead its very name in burning characters, and which posterity will regard with peculiar horror, it is that which perpetrated the enormities at Copenhagen. Nor will it long escape notice, that this transaction was, if possible, still more impolitic than it was unjust.”

To another of his political friends who had justified the conduct of the British Government in this transaction, he wrote in language of almost indignant sorrow:—

“I certainly had flattered myself, that if there was a man in the kingdom, in whose sight the opinions avowed in my late publication would have found favour, it was yourself, and I may truly add that if there was any part of it, which I thought more likely than the rest to obtain this honour, it was that which related to the attack upon Denmark.

“I know of no circumstance that could have damped my hopes and depressed my feelings so much as to find that this is not the case; and I naturally ask myself what is to be expected from others, when those, on whose countenance and support I chiefly reckoned, in the humble attempt I had made to inform the judgment of the public,
see this great object in a totally different point of view.”—“But, independently of the particular nature and horrid consequences of this transaction, I must avow my decided opinion, that if the maxims and principles upon which such a transaction can alone be justified, be once established, there is an end of every thing that is sacred, just, and honourable amongst mankind. Treaties are no longer of any avail, and fraud and force will henceforth contend for mastery with each other. If such a pretext as that for the attack on Copenhagen be a sufficient justification, I will forfeit my head if there ever be one wanting to the end of time, for the greatest atrocity that the human imagination can devise. What is the final and essential cause of all the despotism on earth, but the tyrant’s apprehension that if he does not cut off and destroy those around him, some danger, immediate or remote, may be apprehended to himself, and, therefore, his self-preservation, or what is called necessity, compels him to have recourse to bloody and destructive measures. When I reflect that fear has no limits, and that cruelty derives new fierceness from gratification, when I am told that the maxims of
Bonaparte are henceforth to become the maxims of Great Britain, I tremble for the independence and the fate of what yet remains of Europe; and see no repose for mankind till they are absorbed in that dreadful gulf of universal
dominion, or rather of universal subjugation, towards which we are so rapidly tending.”

The success of the “Considerations” far exceeded the expectations of the author. The pamphlet, which was published in January, at the commencement of February had reached its fourth edition; and in the course of the year, eight large impressions of it were demanded by the public. Like every successful political work, it attracted various replies; one of which appeared at Liverpool, another in Edinburgh, and a third in London. Mr. Cobbett also devoted three letters in his “Register” to the consideration of its merits. But the idea that he had contributed in any degree to forward the cause of peace, was a full compensation to Mr. Roscoe for the obloquy and abuse with which his writings were received by his adversaries. “It cannot,” he says in a letter to one of his correspondents, “have escaped your penetration how open my pamphlet is, from the nature of the subjects there discussed, to misrepresentations of various kinds, which I have not thought proper to guard against, as is the fashion of the times, by obtrusive professions of loyalty or continual abuse of our enemies. Having never, either in word, thought, or action, given ground for such imputations as some of my critics have, I find, thrown out against me, I should feel it a humiliation to vindicate that loyalty to my So-
vereign, and attachment to my country, which no one has just grounds to impeach; and shall leave it to the public to judge between me and my assailants, without further answer.” By many of his political friends he had the pleasure of finding his work spoken of in terms of warm admiration; and the following letter from
Mr. Whitbread, who, like himself, had the subject of peace “nearest to his heart,” and whose labours in parliament were at this time especially directed to the same object, afforded Mr. Roscoe the highest satisfaction:—

“I was highly gratified by the attention you were so good as to show me in ordering a copy of your pamphlet to be sent to me, as every testimony of your regard and approbation is of the highest value in my estimation. I read the work with the avidity which my knowledge of the merits of the author in every way was so well calculated to excite, as well as the subject which he had treated, which of all others is the nearest to my heart. You may believe me, when I assure you that (exclusive of the note which is so peculiarly pleasant to me personally, and for which I sincerely thank you) my expectations, however highly raised, were perfectly satisfied, and that I esteem the production worthy of your fame and of the great work respecting which you have written. The positions you have taken are impregnable; the truths you have told are incon-
trovertible: and if anything can give them their due weight in these disastrous times of fright and delusion, it will be the temperate and conciliating manner in which you have stated them. The public of these kingdoms and the world are greatly indebted to you for your labours; would I could hope the English public would allow the rest of mankind to profit by them.

“You will have perceived that I gave notice some days since of my intention of submitting to the House a direct proposition on the subject of peace. I delay it for the purpose of seeing whether any further step will be taken by the French Emperor in consequence of the foolish and insolent refusal of his overtures, and because I think, for some parliamentary reasons, it may be brought forward with greater effect a short time hence. You have given me powerful assistance. I wish you were amongst us, that I might derive further aid from your exertions in the House; and in that wish I am sure I am joined by all who value independence, ability, and integrity. You avowed your opinion of the propriety of my conduct, at a time when I felt myself impelled to act by motives too powerful for restraint. Many who then joined in the attempt to restrain me, now give me the late satisfaction of knowing that they agreed with me in opinion at the time. I thank them for their frankness, and it gives me additional courage to proceed.”


In the course of his speech on bringing forwards his promised motion, Mr. Whitbread took the opportunity of referring to the unceasing labours of Mr. Roscoe in the same cause, a circumstance most pleasing to the feelings of the latter, “As to myself,” he says, in a letter to Mrs. Rathbone, “I will confess to you I am gratified beyond the extent of my hopes by the circumstance which occurred in the House on Thursday night. To be mentioned with approbation by such a man, and on such an occasion, when the eloquence of the tongue was prompted by the best feelings of the heart, is, indeed, a triumph, the more gratifying the more it was unexpected.”

The anxiety experienced by Mr. Roscoe that his pamphlet should be favourably received in quarters where it might produce impressions serviceable to the cause of peace, appears from the following letter, addressed to Mr. Wilberforce, on the 30th January, 1808:—

“Before I had the pleasure of your obliging communication, I had desired my bookseller to send you a copy of my pamphlet, which I hope you have received. How happy should I be, my dear Sir, if I could flatter myself that I agreed with you on all subjects, as precisely as on that on which I have had the pleasure of seconding your efforts; and this, not merely for my own
gratification, though I confess that would be great indeed, but because, from your extensive influence, great talents, and unexampled perseverance in every benevolent purpose, I should yet flatter myself with the hope of seeing the calamities with which this country and mankind are threatened effectually removed. Knowing as I do, through every different shade of opinion between us, the perfect rectitude of your views, with what delight should I see you advocate the cause of suffering Europe, or rather the cause of the civilised world, with the same energy and success as you have done that of the oppressed Africans. I see with terror, not only the political, but the moral horizon daily grow darker, and I look up with anxiety to those few who alone can dispel the gloom, and whom I consider as the lights of mankind. I cannot, however, venture to flatter myself that any representations of mine can influence their determination, nor am I indeed insensible, that the earnestness with which I have enforced my own opinions, may, in many instances, rather give offence than produce conviction. If, however, I have written with warmth, many of those who espouse an opposite opinion have more than set the example, and as I feel the most decided conviction in my own mind, that I am actuated by no other motive than a wish to promote the cause of sacred
morality and the true interests of my country, as far as consistent with the general rights of mankind, I should think myself inexcusable were I to engage in the contest with ‘a cold and unperforming hand.’ At all events, you will, I trust, allow me to retain some share of your indulgence and favourable opinion, assured, as you may be, that no difference as to means, mode, or manner (for as to the main end, and object, and view, it is impossible we can disagree) can ever diminish the high respect, and allow me to add, the affectionate attachment, with which I am, &c. &c.”

The impression made by this pamphlet is noticed in a letter addressed by Mr. Roscoe to Dr. Parr, and dated the 1st of February, 1808:—“May I hope, my dear Sir, that if my hasty publication should engage your attention, I may have your favourable construction, at least as to my intentions and views? It has been already much noticed in London, where it was published a week since, and I have this morning a line from my printer, M’Creery, to say that he has just put to press a fourth edition. By many it is well spoken of; by some, and those amongst my friends in politics, it is complained of as bearing hard on the late administration; and by others, the advocates of war and desolation, it is abused in gross and open terms. I hope, however, that you will find, that on all the great
points of politics and of morality, I have not deserted those principles which I have the pleasure to know we hold in common.”

Soon after the publication of this pamphlet, Mr. Roscoe was induced, in consequence of certain papers respecting the proposals for peace being laid before parliament, to appear again before the public in a short tract intended as a sequel to the “Considerations.” This tract, which he entitled, “Remarks on the Proposals made to Great Britain for opening Negociations for Peace, in the Year 1807,” was written for the purpose of showing that the ministers, whilst they professed themselves favourable to peace, had, in three distinct instances, demonstrated in the most decided manner, their unwillingness even to enter upon a negociation for it. He then states the real nature and tendency of the petitions for peace, and lastly contends, that if, after all, it should be unattainable, the war ought to be conducted in a manner honourable to the country. To this tract he added a preface of considerable length, in which he shows the application of the principles of morals to the intercourse of states, and pleads in strong and feeling language the cause of veracity, good faith, and honour. The following passages are not perhaps exceeded in any part of his works.

“The truth is, that a patriot must be a virtuous man, and a virtuous man will not commit
or encourage injustice for the sake either of himself or others. After having participated his affections with those around him, he will be anxious to promote their interests; but he will promote them only in the same manner as he would his own. Schooled to the restraint of his own passions, he will not flatter and inflame those of the populace. In acting for his country he will seek for no advantages, but such as, under similar circumstances, he would endeavour to obtain for himself. If in the one case he would not waylay and rob an unsuspecting neighbour, in the other he would not enrich his country by piracy, violence, and spoil. In this he would do, not only what is abstractedly right, but what is truly and ultimately for the real interests of his country. The globe is a society of states, and nations as well as individuals have each their peculiar character. To grasp at temporary advantages, to oppress a weaker, or circumvent an incautious neighbour, may frequently, in private life, be attended with success; and states and nations may, in like manner, seem for a while, by a similar conduct, to promote their prosperity. But the foundation is unsound, and the edifice of their greatness is built on sand. By the system of Providence and the constitution of human affairs, a continual barrier is forming against such unjust aggressions, which are counteracted by the influence of public opinion, the
distrust and resentment of surrounding states, and a thousand unforeseen circumstances, that either frustrate the expected advantage or retaliate its injustice, and not unfrequently subject the aggressor to the very evils intended to be inflicted on others. It is, therefore, only by strictly conforming to the eternal principles of right and justice, that we can consult either our own honour or our own interest; and to desert those principles when a particular occasion puts them to the test, is to exclude ourselves, by our own act, from the pale of civilised society, and to render ourselves as it were outlaws to the rest of the world.

“Such appear to be the positive and relative duties of the subjects of a free state; but if they who obey be accountable both to themselves and the public for the propriety of their conduct, they who are intrusted with the executive power of a state have a still more weighty task imposed on them. In claiming from the people a general assent to their measures, and a perfect unanimity of support, they must take care that such measures are consistent with the acknowledged laws of universal justice, and are not subversive of those first principles of morals which are antecedent to every other law of society. As man to man, there are certain duties incumbent on us, the violation of which no pretext of political necessity or national hostility can justify. To
inculcate upon the people ideas of a contrary tendency, and to weaken their faith in the existence of political virtue, is not less impolitic than it is erroneous. That governments as well as individuals are actuated only by selfish motives, and that the professions which they are continually making of veracity, fidelity, honour, and frankness, are merely a cloak for their criminal views, are sentiments which it is thought a mark of penetration to have discovered, and a proof of sincerity to avow. But whatever may be thought of the sagacity of such politicians, to act upon the conviction of such sentiments is dangerous. God has not abandoned his creatures, nor are the common feelings of human nature wholly extinguished amongst mankind. If there be depravity, there is yet integrity; if there be oppression, there is yet sympathy; if there be baseness, there is yet honour; if there be treachery, violence, and rapine, there are still the unextinguishable feelings of virtuous indignation and generous contempt; and they who direct their conduct, either in public or in private life, with a total disregard to these truths, will, whatever may be their temporary success, incur, upon the whole, not only disappointment but disgrace.”

Previously to the publication of this tract, Mr. Roscoe was very desirous of submitting it to the excellent judgment of Mr. Whitbread, whose devotion to the cause of peace was equally
ardent with his own. The readiness with which the latter consented to perform this friendly office rendered the service still more acceptable. “Whitbread, who is a divine man,” says
Mr. Rathbone, who was then in London with the view of forwarding the repeal of the celebrated Orders in Council, “is very anxious you should publish, and confident it will do great good. Do not think I wish to pay compliments: I would avoid them, could I otherwise say what I think. But he says, and I so clearly see, that your name will do much. He expressed the great pleasure it would give him to revise it, and an assurance that he would offer his unfeigned opinion, and you might then do as you thought best. We also agreed that it would prove the most dignified conduct to come forwards boldly and manfully again, and without noticing any attack of Cobbett, or any other person, tell the country what it imports them to know. This we think is the way to keep the high and firm ground on which you stand. You will judge for yourself. Make use of me in what way you please; and with much more effect you may make use of Whitbread. He is, indeed, a delightful man: we have all at once jumped into an intimacy, and I cleave to him as a brother or a bosom friend.” In a letter written shortly after the preceding, Mr. Rathbone says, “Mr. Whitbread told me that he had written to
you, and
Mr. Brougham assured me his remarks should go to you by the post of the 12th (the day on which we left London), which I strongly urged. Mr. W. said you and he had viewed some parts of the subject in different lights; but this did not, in his opinion, lessen the value of your publication. I am strongly of the same opinion. His is an excellent speech; and some parts towards the conclusion are admirably impressive. Yet it does not, on the whole, appear to me calculated to produce conviction in the way that your pamphlet is; nor do I expect it will be so generally read; and this was the opinion of Ridgway. I hope it is now come out, or that its appearance will soon take place, for I think it should follow Mr. Whitbread’s pretty soon; and I hope, also, that you have not pruned it too much, in compliance with the suggestions of very prudential critics. With a large class, we must expect all works of such tendency to be very unpopular; and I see no signs that the violence or the acrimony of party spirit is likely to subside or even abate. This may render caution requisite in respect to the issuing of any publications, or taking any part in public measures; but it appears to me, that if either of these are advisable, then the only line to be pursued is to be explicit, vigorous, and decided.”

The pamphlet was subsequently submitted, in the proofs, to Mr. Whitbread; and most of the al-
terations suggested by him, chiefly relating to matters of fact, were adopted by the author.* The proofs were accompanied by the following letter:—

“At length I take the liberty of returning the pamphlet which you were so good as to submit to my perusal, with such remarks as have suggested themselves to me in the course of it. I have been prevented, by the constant, pressure of material business, from giving earlier attention to it, in the way in which I wished to do it; and, indeed, I was anxious you should see the report of my speech, before you finally decided upon the difference between us, in some of our respective conclusions drawn from the papers. I directed Ridgway to send you three copies of my speech, begging you to accept one for yourself, and requesting the favour of you to give one copy to Mr. Martin and one to Mr. Rathbone, who will, I believe, have quitted London before this time.

“The spirit of equity, toleration, philanthropy, and patriotism, which pervades your pamphlet, is your own, and I have not the

* The copy sent to Mr. Whitbread, and returned by him, was carefully preserved by Mr. Roscoe, who has written on the fly-leaf the following memorandum:—“The late Mr. Whitbread did me the favour of perusing this pamphlet before it was published, and the observations upon it are in his handwriting.”

smallest doubt but that its publication will do essential service to the cause we espouse; and, indeed, it wants assistance.

“If I might suggest any improvement, it would be the compression of the preface, as being rather too long for a work of such a size. The sentiments are admirable throughout, and the language is such as was to be expected from its author.”

“It is upwards of a week,” says Mr. Roscoe, in answer to the above letter, “since I received the proof copy of my intended pamphlet, which had been sent you by my printer, accompanied by your letter and very judicious remarks; but it was not till yesterday that I had the pleasure of receiving the copies which you were so good as to order to be sent me of your speech, for which I beg you to accept my thanks, as well on my own account as for my friends, Mr. R. and Mr. M., who will think themselves much honoured by your remembrance of them. The perusal of this last noble effort on your part, to enlighten our countrymen as to their true interests, has only confirmed the opinion I have so long entertained of the perfect rectitude of your principles and the correctness of your views. How it is possible for sophistry to misrepresent or dulness to misconceive such statements is to me incomprehensible; such, however, is the present state of the public mind, that the stronger the light
becomes the more obstinate the people are in closing their eyes against it. A wilful inflexibility seems to pervade all ranks; and if ever the hearts of a people were hardened, they are certainly those of our own countrymen.

“I have lost no time in comparing the passages marked by you in my pamphlet, with those which touch on the same subject in your speech, and in some instances I have implicitly adopted your recommendations, whilst in others I have ventured to adhere to the views I had before taken of the subject.”

In pursuance of Mr. Whitbread’s suggestion, a portion of the preface was omitted, and amongst other passages the following expression of the writer’s feelings with regard to the attacks upon his former pamphlet:—

“With respect to my own personal feelings, I am well aware that it would have been highly inconsiderate, at a season like the present, for me to have quitted my retirement, and entered on the turbulent stage of political controversy, if I had not been prepared for every consequence to which such a measure might give rise. On this occasion I may be allowed, like the younger Pliny, when he was entreated by his friends to desist from the dangerous task of avenging the cause and bringing to public justice the murderers of Helvidius, to adopt the language of Virgil:—
‘Omnia percepi, atque ammo mecum ante peregi.’”


This tract did not meet with the same degree of attention as its predecessor; and in despite of the exertions of those who, like Mr. Roscoe, laboured in the cause of peace, the supporters of the war continued to make proselytes. A fresh arena was opened for the combatants in Spain, and all idea of pacification was lost in the hope of defeating the enemy in this new struggle. On this topic Mr. Roscoe touches in the following letter to Professor Smyth:—

“My polite critics were never more mistaken than when they assert that I have a rage for writing pamphlets, whilst the fact is, that the hesitation and reluctance I feel on such occasions are inexpressible. Who can have any pleasure in putting his head into such a hornet’s nest? or in being held up to the public as a scarecrow? or what, but an idea (right or wrong) that what I have to say is of some importance, could induce me to undergo such an ordeal?

“I think with you that the last pamphlet was too late, and what interest it had has been wholly taken away by new circumstances and events, in which some persons foresee the liberation of Europe. The liberation of Europe! alas! what can liberate countries sunk in the darkest superstition—the devoted slaves of despotic authority—who dispute only for the right of bringing back their former tyrants, adoring the Virgin Mary,
and burning their neighbours? I execrate the rapacity and ambition of
Bonaparte, and should be truly glad to see his projects defeated; but with respect to Spain and Portugal, if the only result be that which is professed by themselves and confirmed by our government, that they are to return to the authority of their former dynasties, under the wretched governments which have so long oppressed them; if, after having driven out the invader, they are to relapse into the same intellectual and moral imbecility in which they have so long remained, I see little at which liberty can congratulate herself or humanity rejoice. My wishes, however, go with them. They are struggling, if not for civil or political freedom, for national independence; and if they should accomplish it by their valour, it is yet to be hoped that they will not resign, unconditionally, into the hands of their former rulers, those rights which they have preserved from the violation of foreign arms.”

By many of the friends whose judgment he valued, Mr. Roscoe had the satisfaction of knowing that these efforts in the cause of peace were approved.

“The pleasure which I received,” says Mr. James Grahame, the author of the beautiful poem of “The Sabbath,” “from the reperusal of your Considerations on the causes, objects, and consequences of the present war, was alloyed
with some portion of disappointment. The fifth edition is, I see, before the public; and yet the war-whoop is as loud as ever, and was as loud, before the dawn of the Spanish revolution had opened a new prospect to our view. That your impressive, your unanswerable arguments must have sunk deep into the minds of thousands, there can be no doubt; but on the mass of this people I fear that no impression can be made through the medium of their reason. They have ears, but they hear not. They exhibit an instance of that obduracy in folly and in pride which so frequently precedes the downfall of nations. The preface to the remarks had quite an exhilarating effect. Your observations on national ethics are most excellent in themselves, and they are well calculated to impress the two great divisions of mankind, the generous and the selfish. I was particularly struck, and indeed solaced, by a fine passage, of which the following words are a part:—‘God has not abandoned his creatures,’ &c. I thank you most heartily for the present. I prized the ‘Considerations’ very high before they had acquired the additional value which, as coming from yourself, they now possess. I feel, indeed, much honoured by such a gift, and much gratified by the expressions which accompany it To be acknowledged by you as no unworthy ally in the cause of justice and humanity is truly most pleasing.


“The Spanish revolution has undoubtedly produced a conjuncture to which some of your arguments will not apply; yet the general strain of your reasoning will suit all times of warfare; for every war, even this of Spanish freedom against French despotism, ought to be waged (so far I mean as the directing councils are concerned) in the spirit of peace. I own I am sanguine with regard to Spain. I would like to know your opinion.”

The interest which the heroic efforts of the Spaniards to escape the dominion of France excited in the breast of Mr. Roscoe, may be gathered from the following passage in a letter addressed to the present Marquis of Lansdowne:—

“Since the publication of the two pamphlets which your Lordship is so good as to notice, a new aspect of public affairs has taken place, and any interest which they might have excited is lost in the great and unexpected events which have since occurred. Some of our modern politicians seem at a loss to reconcile an attachment to the cause of the Spaniards and Portuguese, with the dislike which every friend of civil and religious liberty must feel for their despotic and intolerant institutions; but this is not the question. The struggle is for national independence, whatever form of government or mode of religious worship they may choose to adopt; and the point in debate is whether they shall submit
themselves like slaves to an imperious usurper, or assert their rights as a nation to adopt such sovereign and such form of government as they may think proper. Upon this subject there can scarcely be a difference of opinion; particularly amongst those who so strenuously contended that France had a similar right, and was very unjustly attacked in the exercise of it by her despotic neighbours. The consequences of the events that have already occurred are highly important to this country, if Spain and Portugal can be considered, as I truly think they may, as freed from the dominion of France; and although such events may not lead to a peace, they will open an intercourse between us and the continents of Europe and South America in the highest degree advantageous.”

Again, in reference to the negotiations which took place in the year 1809, in a letter to Mr. Whitbread he says,—“If Spain, after the glorious struggle she is making, and all the assistance this country can afford her, should be eventually conquered, there is nothing to be done but to submit to unavoidable events, and to wait for better times; but to have abandoned our brave allies, and delivered them over by our own voluntary act to their tyrannical oppressor, would have entailed on this country a degree of infamy never to have been removed. I could not even have supposed that any pro-
posals could have been made for negotiation, in which the independence of Spain was not taken as the basis; and as this now appears not to have been the case, our ministers were, in my humble opinion, perfectly right in terminating the correspondence. If they had always conducted themselves with the same propriety and good faith, I should have been as happy, at least, to have applauded their conduct as I ever have been to censure it.”

It was a matter of regret to Mr. Roscoe that his arguments in favour of peace failed, in some instances, to influence the minds of those whose political principles were in other respects in perfect accordance with his own. To one of his friends, for whose public and private character he entertained the highest esteem, but who differed from him on this subject, the following letter is addressed:—

“Conceiving, as I do, that the very existence of this country depends upon the speedy adoption of pacific measures, and that if ruin does not come from without, it will certainly come from within, I must own I should have been most particularly happy to have had the sanction of your opinion, in favour of the sentiments which I have ventured to lay before the public. It would, however, be unreasonable and absurd in me to expect that any assent should be given to those sentiments, further than the arguments
adduced in their favour irresistibly demand; and if, after the deliberate and impartial consideration which I am sure you are disposed to give them, they have not produced the same conviction on your mind as they have on my own, I can only lament that the cause on which so much depends has not met with a better advocate.

“To attempt to supply in a few words what I have not been able to accomplish in many pages would, I fear, be to no purpose; and if I have not already demonstrated, that a state of warfare is more likely to induce our powerful enemy to attempt the creation of a navy, and to afford him the opportunities of forming experienced seamen, than a state of peace, I have failed in one of my principal objects. Even now the result seems to me to be approaching with a celerity which ought to attract the notice of this country more than it has hitherto done; and what is more extraordinary, the commercial intercourse between France and this country, which has of late been extensive, has been carried on chiefly by seamen belonging either to France or her subject states; and thus, with our usual wisdom, whilst we are provoking or rather compelling Bonaparte to form a navy, we are assisting him in providing skilful navigators to man it, and admitting them daily into our harbours and our ports.

“You will, I hope, do me the justice to be-
lieve that I am not one of those, who upon every difference of opinion are ready to accuse the motives of those who may differ from them, or allow such difference to interfere with sentiments of the sincerest attachment and the highest respect. If I were, the number of those whom I am happy to call my friends would be reduced to very few indeed. But even if I were actuated by any such unjustifiable and arrogant principle, it certainly could not operate with respect to yourself, with whom I have the pleasure of knowing that I agree in all the great points which are essential to the honour and happiness of mankind:—in the love of liberty; the desire to communicate it universally; the hatred of oppression and corruption; the desire of serving our country in the best way we are able; and, let me add what you so kindly refer to, a similarity of studies and pursuits. These, my dear Sir, are surely sufficient to cherish sentiments of kindness and of goodwill, and allow me to say, of friendship and attachment between us, without unreasonably expecting a similarity of opinion in every particular question, the decision on which must, as you observe, depend on the different education, connection, and habits, of those who judge upon it. If, however, in such cases either party had to apologise for the opinion he entertained, I
fear it would fall to my lot; especially if it were put to the vote of the country at large.”

Whilst engaged in these political discussions, an opportunity was afforded Mr. Roscoe of enforcing his opinions amongst his own townsmen. In the early part of the year 1808, Mr. Rathbone and two other gentlemen had been deputed, by some of the merchants of Liverpool, to give their assistance to the opposition at that time making to the Orders in Council respecting neutrals; an interference regarded with much jealousy by another portion of the mercantile community in that town. At the suggestion of the latter, who were desirous of supporting the government in the prosecution of the war, a requisition was presented to the mayor, requesting him to call a general meeting of the inhabitants of the town to address his Majesty, and assure him of their confidence in his present councils and government. The object of the meeting obviously was, under the pretext of expressing confidence in the administration, to throw impediments in the way of the parliamentary opposition then offering to the Orders in Council. An address to the King having been moved by the originators of the meeting, Mr. Roscoe proposed an amendment, in which he expressed a sentiment which he strongly felt, that no difference of opinion, as to the grounds or nature of the war, ought to prevent or invalidate that
perfect union and concurrence of all parties which was necessary to carry on the contest with vigour and success. In other respects the amended address was of a pacific tendency. “To these assurances we are led, as well by the duty and loyalty which we owe to your Majesty, as by a firm conviction, founded on your Majesty’s constant and paternal regard to the welfare of your subjects, that a war requiring such unexampled sacrifices will not be protracted beyond the period that maybe necessary for securing the honour and dignity of your crown and the rights and interests of your people.” The address then submitted the propriety of terminating the war entirely to the wisdom of the King, as the sole constitutional judge, assuring his Majesty, that until that period arrived, the petitioners would spare no sacrifices in its prosecution. The address and the amended address having been put, the latter was most decisively carried by a show of hands; but the mayor, who presided, declaring that he could not ascertain the respective numbers, an adjournment was proposed from the Town Hall, in which the meeting was held, to the more capacious area of the Exchange Buildings. Before this could be effected however, after a short consultation with some of his friends around him, the mayor suddenly declared that the original address was carried. A scene of great tumult and confusion
ensued; and notwithstanding the decision of the chairman, the greater part of the meeting adjourned to the area of the Exchange, where the amended address was read by Mr. Roscoe, and voted by a majority of at least twenty to one.

In thus devoting his mind to political discussions, Mr. Roscoe flattered himself that his labours were also subservient to the cause of letters. In forwarding the two pamphlets which he had lately published to Mr. Mathias, whose sentiments on public affairs did not coincide with his own, he expresses his hope that the interests of literature, to which they were both equally attached, might in the end be promoted by these graver studies.

“That I should have troubled you with the result of my political lucubrations may almost seem to require an apology; but as I should be sorry to write any thing which I could not offer to your perusal, so I relied on your favourable construction, in case of any difference of opinion between us. Nor have my late employments been so remote from my former objects and studies as may at first sight appear. It is, I fear, but too true, that this dreadful war, and the outrages and calamities to which it gives rise, have a strong tendency not only to increase and perpetuate national prejudices and animosities, but to extinguish all relish for literary pursuits. In attempting, therefore, to infuse amongst my
countrymen a spirit of moderation and forbearance, that may eventually lead to pacific sentiments, I feel a conviction, that I am labouring at the only foundation on which the superstructure of national improvement can be built; and when to this I add, that not only the improvement, but the honour, the interest, and the safety of the country, appear to me to rest upon the same basis, you will, I am sure, agree with me, that under such impressions I could not have remained silent, or have asserted my opinions with less earnestness than I have done.”