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fortunate and alarming, in the midst of this general diffatisfaction, was, that it had arifen, in many, to fuch a degree of rancour at the authors and abettors of the war, that the attachment, which men naturally feel for their country, and its concerns, had given way to fentiments of the most violent hatred and hoftility to government. It was no longer a fimple disapprobation of the war; it was a fervent defire that it might terminate to the difadvantage of this country, and that the French might prevail against the English. So extraordinary and unnatural an antipathy arofe, however, from other caules befides the war with France: the perfuafion that no reforms would take place in the government, while it was able to maintain its ground against France, prompted the determined advocates of these reforms, to exprefs, with marked anxiety, their withes for the fuccefs of this inveterate enemy to England. They feemed unconscious, or heedlefs, of the confequences that must neceffarily follow, were the French to fucceed in their defigns against this country, to that extent which they had projected, and which the generality of their well-wishers in England appeared to defire with no lefs fervour than themselves.

But the animofities, produced by internal divifions, had, in truth, taken fuch unhappy poffeffion of moft men, that thole who fought to reconcile them to moderation, became equally odious to both parties: no medium was allowed; whoever deplored the war, as pregnant with calamities that might have been avoided, was reputed a foe to his country; whoever pronounced it just, and neceffary, was deemed a confpirator

against its liberty, and an abettor of arbitrary power.

In this unfortunate difpofition of mind the nation continued during the whole year 1795. The fummer, in particular, was marked by a variety of tumults and riots. These were occafioned by the methods practifed in the enlifting of men for the army what with the general averfenefs of the common people to the war; what with the iniquity of the practice itfelf, thofe who were concerned in it became fuch objects of execration to the multitude, that their perfons and dwellings were equally expofed to its refentment and fury. Several houfes, either tenanted, or made ufe of, by those who are vulgarly known by the appellation of crimps, were demolifhed, or ftripped of their furniture, and the owners put in danger of their lives. So great was the rage of the populace, that it was not without fome difficulty thofe riots were fuppreffed by the foldiery. Several of those who had been active in thefe difturbances were executed"; but the public highly difapproved the condemnation, to death, of individuals, guilty of no other offence than giving way to a fudden impulfe of indignation at the violence offered to their fellow subjects.

Such was the temper of the commonalty, previous to the meeting of parliament, about the clofe of October, 1795. A fermentation of the moft alarming kind feemed to pervade the whole mafs of the people. The various affociations of individuals, united for the purpofè of obtaining a parliamentary reform, were, at this period, peculiarly noticed for their boldnefs and activity. That which was known by the name of the correfponding fo [B 4]

ciety,

ciety, diftinguished itself, by the refolute fpeeches of its principal members, at the feveral meetings that took place in the courfe of the year. That which was held near Copenhagen-house, in the neighbourhood of Iflington, was the most remarkable. The numbers that attended, either through zeal in the cause, or through curiofity, were computed at about fifty thousand. Some very daring addreffes were made to the multitude: the conduct of minifters was arraigned in the moft unqualified language, and a remonftrance to the king, on the neceffity of peace, and of a reform in parliament, was univerfally agreed on.

The proceedings, in these affemblies, were highly offenfive to miniftry. As they confifted of individuals void of all hopes of rifing by intereft or favour; and who, to a man, were inimical to the measures of government, they condemned them with a freedom of fpeech that knew no bounds. Often times too, those meetings were attended by perfons of parts, who feized thofe opportunities of venting their difcontent at the fyftem of the times, and of reprefenting adminiftration in the fouleft colours, and imputing to them the most flagitious designs. Nor were there wanting, among the members of those focieties, though almost entirely compofed of the commonest classes, individuals, who, though deficient in education, had received talents from nature, which frequently fhone through coarse and vulgar language. The avowed aim of the divers inftitutions of this nature was to oppose government, and to bring about the two great objects, at this time, in general contemplation; a peace with France, and a reform in parliament. Thefe

two objects being incompatible with the views of miniftry, the point at iffue between these, and the various affociations that were increafing in every part of the kingdom, was clearly this, that either the latter would overturn administration, or that administration would overturn them.

Prompted by this confideration, the principal heads of government had, it was rumoured, come to a determination, to take the first plaufible opportunity of putting an end to the meetings of thefe focieties, which they reprefented as wholly made up of the loweft populace, ready to imbibe every notion offered to them by evil-defigning men, and to break out into the most dangerous exceffes of fedition. Under the pretext of inftructing them in their rights, the difaffected availed themselves of their ignorance, tʊ misrepresent the conduct of government, and to excite them to hold it in hatred and contempt; but a circumftance, ftill more alarming, was, that among those who took fuch pains to inflame the paffions of the multitude, there were emiffaries from France, who, though natives of Great Britrin, or Ireland, had thrown off all attachment to their country, and were become its most violent and rancorous enemies. The danger accruing from fuch characters was obvious; the difficulty of detecting individuals connected with our foes, enabled them to affume the appearance of patriotifin, and to delude, with faci lity, the majority of their hearers, into a perfuafion that they fpoke and acted from principle, and had no other intention, than to expose abuses, and to induce the people, at large, to affert their rights.

Such was the defcription, given by the adherents to government, of

the

the numerous affemblies, and affociations, that had been inftituted in oppofition to its meafures. It was not on the other hand denied, that the outrages, ftill adopted in most of the popular meetings, was an object that called for fuppreffion. The warmeft friends to the principles inculcated by them, did not deny the impropriety of attacking the ruling powers with fuch acrimony of fpeech, and prognofticated, that, through want of moderation in their invectives, thefe meetings expofed themselves to certain diffolution, as the powerful adverfaries they were continually provoking, would certainly labour to filence them, and probably find the means of doing it. To the agitation occafioned by political difputes, another was, at this period, fuperadded of a ftill more dangerous confequence. A fcarcity prevailed throughout the kingdom, and was woefully felt by the poorer fort, feveral of whom perifhed for want. The means of procuring fuftenance were narrowed from various caufes; but the difcontented attributed this evil to the war; and the fufferers, through defect of employment, were ready enough to believe those who reprefented all the calamities that afflicted the nation, as proceeding chiefly, if not folely, from that caufe. This prepared them for the commiffion of thofe exceffes, to which men are fo prone, when they find themfelves aggrieved, and imagine they are punishing the authors of their griev

ances.

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The state of the nation, from these various circumstances, appeared fo critical, that it was judged neceflary to call parliament together at an earlier period than ufual. It met, accordingly, on the twenty-ninth of

October, a day that will be long remembered, on account of the events that attended it, and of the confe quences that followed them, and of which they were the immediate caufe.

A report had been fpread, that an immenfe multitude, of difcontented people, had agreed to take this opportunity of manifefting their fentiments to the king in perfon. This, of courfe, excited the curiofity of the public, and the park was crowded in a manner unprecedented fince the king's acceffion to the throne. In his way to the houfe of lords, which lay through the park, his coach was furrounded, on every fide, by perfons of all defcriptions, demanding peace, and the difmiffion of Mr. Pitt. Some voices were even heard exclaiming no king, and ftones were thrown at the state-coach as it drew near to the Horfe-guards. In paffing through Palace-yard, one of the windows was broken, it was faid, by a bullet, discharged from an air-gun. Thele outrages were repeated on the king's return from the houfe, and he narrowly escaped the fury of the populace, in his way back from St. James's Palace to Buckingham House.

All reasonable people were deeply affected at this treatment of the king. They were duly fenfible that it would produce effects highly difagreeable to the public, and, instead of anfwering the purpofes propofed, by those who were fo mifled as to approve of it, that, on the contrary, it would tend to ftrengthen the hands of minifters, by enabling them to bring forward fuch reftrictive meafures, as would confiderably abridge the freedom of speech and action, hitherto enjoyed by the people at large.

The

The fpeech from the throne, was, in the mean time, allowed to be as well appropriated to the circumftances of the time, as any that had been delivered fince the commencement of the war. It mentioned the difappointment of the French in their attempts in Germany, and the internal difficulties under which they continued to labour. Their prefent fituation afforded a well-founded prefumption, that they would liften to equitable and moderate terms of peace. In order to obtain fuch terms, it would be neceffary to fhew that Great Britain was able to maintain the conteft, till fuch a peace enfued, as accorded with its dignity and intereft. The other particulars of the fpeech referred to the preparations for a vigorous continuance of the war, the treaties concluded with foreign powers, the profperous flate of commerce, and the means of providing against the prefent fcarcity.

Lord Dalkeith moved the addrefs, and was feconded by Mr. Stuart: the latter gentleman dwelt chiefly on the exhaufted fituation of France, and the oppreffive methods it was reduced to adopt for the raifing of fupplies. The fituation of this country was the reverfe: whatever money was demanded was inftantly found, without oppreffing the fubject; the confidence of monied men in government keeping pace with all its exigencies. Much had been faid of the conqueft of Holland by the French, but they were obviously indebted much more to fortunate cafualties, than to their own prowess, and could place little reliance on the attachment of the natives, who were now convinced of their imprudence, in trufting to the friendship of the French.

Mr. Sheridan was extremely fevere in the reply which he made on this occafion. Among other invectives, he reproached minifters for their unfkilful management in the Weft Indies, where the force employed was totally inadequate to the objects propofed, and numbers of the men had been loft through negligence, and want of medical affiftance, in that unwholefome climate. He accufed minifters of defigning to restore defpotism in France. He called upon them to act as Spain and Pruffia had done, by treating with those perfons whom the republican armies looked upon as entitled to their obedience. He advised minifters to beware of a connection with the houfe of Bourbon. It was through fuch connections that the Stuart's had been expelled. The Bourbons had invariably proved the enemies to Great Britain; and this, enmity would revive, were they to be re-established on the throne of France. The rafh, and fruitless, attempts to restore that family ought, therefore, to be totally relinquifhed, and government fhould declare itself willing to treat with the French republic.

He was replied to by Mr. Jenkin fon, with the many arguments, fo frequently repeated, in juftification of minifterial meafures. He added, that the retention of the United Provinces, by the French, rendered all treating with them inadmiflible. It was neceflary, therefore, to compel them to abandon this new conqueft, or to make fuch acquifitions as might counter-balance it, and induce them to give up the poffeflion of that country. Had the members of the coalition acted with fidelity to the caufe they had efpoufed, the French would, by this

time, have been forced to abadon their lofty pretenfions.

In anfwer to this, the profpect of affairs was reprefented, by general Tarleton, as very difadvantageous. The numerous army, with which the French had lately obliged the king of Spain to come into their own terms, would now be employed in the invafion of Italy, while our efforts against the French poffeffions, in the Weft Indies, would probably be frustrated, as they had been on the coaft of France, through mifconduct on our fide, and the difficulty of the very attempt itfelf. It was vain to repeat exertions that had been fo fucceffively foiled. Minifters were no longer deferving of confidence; their evident incapacity required their immediate difmiifion, and the trial of new men, as well as of new measures.

He was followed by Mr. Fox, who inveighed, with great animation, against the affertions made by miniftry, as fallacious and delufive. Inftead of the flattering defcription they had given of the fituation of - this country, the fact was, that one hundred millions had been added to the national debt, and four millions a year to the ftanding taxes. In lieu of reducing the enemy within his former bounds, he was mafter of all the Auftrian territories on the weft of the Rhine; nor was there any well-grounded hope of our recovering them. He was preparing to invade Italy with a great and victorious army. The fcarcity that afflicted the kingdom had been foretold; but minifters difdained to liften to the warning, though enforced from the most refpectable quarter. The propriety of perfifting in the war was argued from the diftrefs to which France was reduced by

the depreciation of its paper cur-
rency: but was this an argument
proper to be adduced by men ac-
quainted with the tranfactions of the
American war, and who must be con-
fcious of the futility of pecuniary
calculations, when people were de-
termined to fuffer every hardship
that human nature could bear, and
to try every expedient that necef-
fity could fuggeft, rather than admit
the idea of fubmiffion? It was time
to abandon fo hopeless a caufe as
that of the royal family of France.
The opinions of fo mighty a nation
were not to be fubdued by force
of arms. When pressed to listen to
pacific language, minifters alleged
the incapacity of the French govern-
ment to maintain the ufual rela-
tions of harmony between different
ftates: but had such objections held
good in the caufe of Spain, Prussia,
and even the king of Great Britain
himself, in the quality of elector of
Hanover. Had not this far-fetched
and abfurd obstacle vanished before
the reasonableness of putting an end
to the calamities of war?
It was
ridiculous to infift upon danger from
treating with the French, because
they had fubverted their former, and
adopted a new conftitution: the
permanence of a treaty depending
on its equitablenefs, and correfpon-
dence, with the reciprocal interests
of the contracting parties. It was
become nugatory to talk of our al-
lies: we had, indeed, mercenaries
in our pay, whom we could only
retain by exceffive bribes, and
who were, every moment, hefita-
ting, whether to accept of them, or
of the terms proffered by our ene-
mies, to detach them from this coun-
try. Adverting to the fcarcity fo
heavily complained of, Mr. Fox ob-
ferved, that war, and its fatal con-

comitants,

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