THE SPECTATOR'S LIBRARY.
THE Life of Mr. Muir is the history of the trial and transporta- tion of a gentleman of education, integrity, and benevolence, for being that which the King of England now is—a Reformer. The occurrence took place in the dark times of Ninety-three. In all its points—in the innocence of the victim, in the baseness of the judges, in the servility of the jury, the tyranny .and cruelty of the ruling oppressors—this black deed rivals the atrocities of JEFFE- RIES, SCROGGS, and CHARLES the Second. It will be the eternal disgrace of Scotland, that tools were found, among her highest officers, for the perpetration of acts so hellish, that indeed they far outstrip the popular notions of Pandzettionian horror. There is still a lower hell than the place of physical suffering, the Gehenna of the Jews—it is a moral hell—the hell of a Scottish court of justice (laugh, ye imps !) in the years corresponding to the epoch of the French Revolution.* None are so cruel as tyrants and cowards combined : fear for ill-gotten and ill-used power turned the rulers of those days into fiends.
The portrait of Muni—calm, enlightened, intelligent, benevolent, resigned—standing up before a jury of slaves and a bendh of
tyrants, is one of finest pictures in the world. 111unt was an advocate, learned and eloquent ; and he made his own defence, in an admirable speech, which the jury scarcely would sit out : the wretches were so conscious of the whole being a mockery, that they grew impatient of the length of the ceremony. Munt would not be condemned without giving his executioners a little trouble—imper- tinent criminal! The auditors showed their sympathy with the accused ; and thereupon a judge (where do his bones lie? what epitaph is over his grave ? have the Serviles of the Modern Athens erected a monument to his memory ?) spoke thus, in giving sen- tence—he has long ago received his own- " The indecent applause given the panel last night, convinced him that a spirit of discontent still lurked in the minds of the people, and that it would be dangerous to allow him to remain in this country. His Lordship said, this circumstance had no little weight with him, when con- sidering of the punishment Mr. Muir DESERVED I" Mr. Muin's crime was that of being a Reformer: but to be a Re- former, in those days, was sedition ; wherefore he was seized, tried, condemned—sent to the hulks in chains, and thence conveyed in a transport to New South Wales, in the same hold and in promis- cuous intercourse with thieves, housebreakers, pickpockets, and murderers. Edinburgh cast out from her righteous bosom at the same instant of time, HENDERSON for the murder of his wife- . Munt for being a friend of the people! Suffering endowed MUIR with the gift of prophecy- " Were I," said he, " to be led this moment from the bar to the scaffold, I should feel the same calmness and serenity that I now do. My mind tells me that I have acted agreeably to my conscience ; and that I hare , engaged in a good, a just, and a glorious cause—A CAUSE WHICH SOONER OR LATER WILL PREVAIL, AND, BY A TIMELY REFORM,. SAVE THIS COUNTRY FROM DESTRUCTION."
• The adventures of this mild and virtuous man were not doomed to end in. Botany Bay. WASHINGTON fitted out a ship to rescue him, and, it is supposed, his fellow-sufferers, poor GERALD, PALMER, and others. MUIR alone, however, was taken away from the colony. The ship was wrecked in Nootka Sound ; and every soul on board perished, except MUIR and Iwo sailors. MUIR was kindly treated by the savages (a race of beings of a far nobler stamp than your Lord Chief Justice Clerk Itel`QuEEN and his as- ' sociates); and he ultimately made his way to the Isthmus of
• Darien, by walking four thousand miles along the western coast of America. The Spanish Governor (instinctively hating a Reformer) sent him home to Spain : the vessel was attacked by British cruisers, and the crew severely handled. Munt was found on a heap of slain, with his face partly knocked away, including one eye, and the Bible his parents had given him clasped in his hands.
' Scotland escaped the sin of a similar atrocity at the close of the year 1819. Mr. KINLOCH of Kinloch, a country gentleman, able. accomplished, amiable, useful—but a Reformer, a Radical I who had dared to call the Manchester massacre by its proper name, and to prophesy of Reform as the alternative of Revolution—was indicted to be tried for " spoken sedi- tion," by the same Court of Justiciary that condemned Mum. Other judges occupied the bench, but some of the identical jury were alive and on the panel ! The judges were already (before the trial) settling in their coteries the fate of the accused—" the unfortunate gentleman must go to Botany Bay 1" said old Lord HERMAND—when Mr. KINLOCH'S counsel, of whom, we believe, the present Lord Advocate was one, advised their client to leave the country, as he had no chance of an impartial trial. He took their advice, and spent several years in France. That reign of terror passed away ; Mr. Kimocies outlawry was recalled, and he returned to his pleasant estate in Strathmore : he is now a candidate for the honour of representing Dundee in the Parliament about to be reformed. A British officer took up the book, and saw inscribed in it the name of " Thomas Muir"—his old friend and schoolfellow. MUIR was attended to, and signs of life appeared. He was put on a Spanish shore with the other wounded, and ultimately recovered. At Cadiz, he was honourably claimed by the French Directory, presented with the citizenship—and died of his hard treatment, his wounds, and his woes.
The blood of martyrs is the seed of a good cause. Let all melt read the Life of Thomas Munt. The veins of the young man will swell with indignation at the wrongs inflicted by irresponsible power; and the man of more extensive experience will smile at the impotence of unjust doers, and upon the slow but irresistible pro- gress of human improvement.
Mr. MACKENZIE deserves well of his country for this spirited sketch of the life of a good man and great sufferer in a righteous cause. The moment of publication is auspicious.