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VEN in the hiftory of the prefent war, fo novel in

both its origin and conduct, the year 1796 is particularly interefting to every subject of the British empire. The fpirit of innovation, imported into this country, from France, became ftrong, rampant, and daring, The established order of affairs was loudly threatened. Outrage, in a quarter that ought to be held the most facred from violence, was actually begun: multitudes of men appeared ready to precipitate themselves into anarchy and rebellion,

In fuch circumftances, the British government deemed it neceffary to take ftrong measures of prevention. On the conduct of administration the nation was divided, according as they were, more or lefs, forcibly ftruck with the dangers to be apprehended from popular encroachments on the one hand, or those of the executive VOL. XXXVIII,



government on the other. The apprehenfions of both parties were abundantly juftified by experience.


It was scarcely poffible, that, in fuch a shock, the balance of our conftitution fhould not, in fome degree, be fhaken, and bent a little, for a time, towards one fide or other. The candour and indulgence with which we have treated the oppofite opinions on this important, delicate, and tender subject, we wish to be confidered, by our readers, as a pledge of that perfect impartiality and freedom from all party fpirit, by which we wish this work to be distinguished. As it extends to many years back, fo we hope it will be continued, and find acceptation in the world, for many years to come. It is not for any party, or temporary humour, or paffion, that we felect and record the tranfactions and events of the paffing years, but for our countrymen, and all men, in all times and circumstances,

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Though we are rather inclined to be of opinion with those who think the measures of administration, to which we have now alluded, were compelled by the dangers and exigencies of the times, we are neither unconcerned, nor unalarmed, at whatever seems to impose restraint on civil or political freedom.

On a due balance between prerogative and liberty has the British conftitution been fupported. When either of thefe has preponderated many evils have been fuffered. But there is fomething in the genius, manners, habits, and character of the English nation, dif ferent from, and paramount to, laws and forms, that, amidst all the deviations of the conftitution, has constantly brought it back to its true fpirit. The fame principles which have enabled England, by the immenfity of its refources, to ftand unfhaken in the midst of the difafters that befel the coalition, and to display greater and greater energy, in proportion to increafing difficulties, will, we doubt not, fave the ftate from the difaftrous confequences which too often flow even from precedents founded in temporary expediency.

In tracing the movements of armies, the revolutions of states, the political intrigues, diffentions, and contests, which mark the year 1796, we have exerted our usual industry, not only in delineating objects, according to their respective magnitude and importance, but in reducing them within the wonted limits of our Annual History of Europe.


To the various hints of fo many of our readers on this head, they will perceive, we have not been inattentive. It is not a minute and circumftantial detail of tranfactions and events that we understand to be wifhed for and expected in our historical sketches; but a narrative brief and rapid, yet clear and comprehenfive one that may give a juft view of what is paffing in the world, without too much time or trouble of reading. The curiofity of fuch of our readers as may have a tafte and turn for more particular information, refpecting various occurrences, will be gratified in the fecond part of the volume.




For the YEAR 1796.







Situation of the French Nation and Government, and Views of the Directory. -Difficulties to be encountered by France at the Clofe of 1795.-State of Parties in England.-Temper of the British Nation.-Assemblies for the Purpofe of a Parliamentary Reform, and Peace with France.-A great and dangerous Scarcity of Provifions.-Meeting of Parliament.-Infults and Outrages of an immenfe Mob against the King, on his Way to the House of Lords.-The regret of all People of Senfe at this Treatment of the King.Speech from the Throne.-Debates thereon.-In the Houfe of Commons.And in that of the Lords.

FTER the death of Robef

pierre, the convention were more at liberty than they had been to declare the voice of the people; and the fentiments of nature, with an inclination to peace, began to appear in the public councils, as well as among the generality of the French nation: but it too often, nay, most commonly happens, in all governments, that the real interests of the many are facrificed to thofe of the few: the dictates of humanity VOL. XXXVIII.

to the views of perfonal aggrandizement and ambition.

Uniformity and steadiness of government may proceed from different and even oppofite causes; the predominant habits and paffions of abfolute monarchs on the one hand; and the virtues of nafcent and juvenile republics on the other: when the external relations of the ftate are neither many nor complicated; when its interefts are easily dif cerned and conftantly purfued, the [B]


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