Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

Conduct of France. Opening of the Scheldt. The French Decree of Fra

ternity. Clubs and Societies of Republicans and Levellers. Associations formed to counteract them in London and every part of the Kingdom. Militia embodied. Parliament summoned. Internal condition of France. Diminution of the Party in Opposition. Speech from the Throne. The Address moved. Debate on the Address, in the House of Commons and House of Lords. Debate in the House of Commons on bringing up the Report of the Address. The Motion of Mr. Fox for sending a Minister to negociate with France. Debate on that Motion. General Reflections.


E now approach the period ary principles; the emissaries which

when Great-Britain relin- it encouraged in this country; the quished its neutral character, and connection it had formed with cerbecame a party in the war that had tain political societies established traversed the Austrian Netherlands, in London; and the manner in and threatened the dominions of which deputies from them had been the United Provinces.

received at their har, had already, The zeal with which the French it was alleged, excited the vigiConvention propagated revolution- lance of the British government,



and compelled it toemploy such mea- people who wish to procure liberty; sures as the important and extraor- and they charged their generals dinary circumstances of the country to give assistance to such people, appeared to demand: that, at length, and to defend such citizens as however, France, disdaining to con- have suffered, or are now suffertinue its base and artful designs ing, in the cause of liberty.” This against the constitution and go- decree, which was ordered to be vernment of Great-Britain, or de- printed and translated in all the spairing of any final advantage be- languages of Europe, contained a ing reaped from them, had risen at formal declaration to extend unionce into an avowed intention of versally the new and destructive provoking it to war, and that in this principles of government adopted in view, among others, it was deter- France, and to encourage revolt in mined by the executive power of all other countries ; even in those France, to set aside the law of na- which possessed the exclusive sanctions, and to trample on treaties, tions of a neutral character. by declaring not only its design, The alarm of danger which had but its right, to open the naviga- been spread throughout this kingtion of the Scheldt. It was added, dom, not only to the public peace, that the French had already obtain- but the constitution itself, began to ed possession of the Belgic Pro- yield to the means which were now vinces by force of arms, and were employed to unfold and controul impelled by their mad ambition to those practices by which it had encroach on Holland, with a view been produced. It was said to to a similar subjugation of that have arisen from the pernicious country: that the Convention, there- principles of the rights of man, fore, as a preparatory step to this first propagated by the French, and continuation of their aggrandizing since disseminated through this project,had made known in Novem- country: that under various preber 1792, their design of opening tences, but particularly that of parthe Scheldt, in direct opposition to liamentary reform, clubs and societreaties of which England was a ties were established, which met in guarantee, and to the manifest dis- various parts of the kingdom, and advantage of the commerce of the circulated the doctrines of the United Provinces, who were the French Convention, among the allies of England, to whom they middle and lower classes of the naturally looked for that protec- people, to make them discontented tion, which they had a right to de. with the government beneath which mand.

they lived, and those who admiIt was further declared, that nistered it: that thus they hoped the French Convention also, as a to prepare their minds for any atkind of general declaration against tempt that might be hereafter all subsisting governments, had, on made to overturn the government the 19th of November, issued a of the country: that in some of decree in the name of the French these works, which artifice conRepublic, “that they would grant trived to convey into the lowest cotfraternity and assistance to all those tage, the constitution was mention

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

ed with some degree of distant re- suggested, we know it was first spect, but represented as lost amid entered upon by a Mr. Reeves, for the abuses of those whose duty it the avowed purpose of protecting was to administer its benefits : liberty and property against the while others described the consti- daring attempts of republicans and tution of Great-Britain, which had levellers, which immediately enso long been the admiration and creased into a very numerous body envy of Europe, and afforded such of subscribers, among whom were unrivalled happiness to those who many respectable characters in the had lived beneath it, as an invasion kingdom. The merchants of Lonof those rights, to which every one don followed the example; and had an equal claim, and of which associations, for the support of the the wealthy and the powerful as- constitution, sprung up, not only in sumed the power of disposing, un- different quarters of the metropolis, der the pretence of ancient custom but in every part of the kingdom. and hereditary privilege.

The effects of these associations That such preceedings required were such as might be expected to be checked, controuled and pu- from the spirit and zeal with which nished, could not be denied by any they were conducted and mainwho possess just notions of the na- tained; but we must defer a preture of man in his social state; and cise description of them till we therefore government employed come to that period of our history such measures as appeared to be which will particularly require it. the best calculated to correct this It was, however, deemed necessary growing and threatening mischief. to take some general notice of these His Majesty's proclamation, and establishments as being preliminary the vigilant attention of ministers, to, and co-operative with, those checked its career. But though measures of government which the the arm of law is sufficiently circumstances of the moment apstrong to keep the open invader of peared to demand, and these pages the constitution in awe, it was are about to display. not altogether enabled to sift These circumstances were of such out the secret arts which were a nature, that the King availed working under ground, and by himself of the power he possessed hidden approaches were undermin- by law, to embody the militia, to ing the fabric of public happi- convene parliament before the time ness. It became necessary there- to which it was prorogued, and to fore to aid the more unwieldy ef- call on the representative wisdom forts of law in counteracting the of the people for aid and council in operations of these secret enemies, such an important crisis. by employing their own weapons From the memorable 10th of against them. Accordingly, in No- August, when Louis XVI. lost the vember last, an association was poor remains of former power, to instituted at the Crown and An- the period when he was about to chor-tavern in the Strand. This lose his life, the interior governmeasure was first, we believe, ment of France offered nothing to



the view of mankind but scenes of and determined spirit of resistance. atrocity and horror, that make hu- Such was the general state of public manity shudder in the recollection affairs at the meeting of parliament of them. But though republican which took place on the 13th of fanaticism might triumph in these December, 1792. This meeting of proceedings; though it might de parliament, therefore, will be dislight in the murder of one sove tinguished by two extraordinary reign, and appland the menaces circumstances. Some of those memwhich were uttered against every bers of both houses who had been other, the wise, the good, and the for years the opponents of governhumane of all countries, could not ment, will be seen to support its but execrate the conduct of the measures not only with their votes French government, and consider but their eloquence; and the prime with horror the mischief it por- minister will not possess a seat in it. tended surrounding nations. Mr. Pitt having accepted the office Visionary men, whose heated fan- of warden of the Cinque Ports, cies can work up imaginary good . was obliged to wait for the forms from the blackest seenes of human of re-election ; so that the very distress; or those who, ruined by important debates, of which some their excesses, may, hope to derive account will be immediately given, individual advantage from general did not receive the advantage of confusion ; or mischievous spirits, his superior talents and splendid who consider evil as their good, eloquence. could alone delight in the view of The speech from the throne dethose pictures which France pre- clared, that his Majesty having sented, to satisfy their frantic judged it necessary to embody a hopes, or their diabolic malig- part of the militia, he had called nity.

the parliament together within the Among the circumstances of this time limited for that purpose. It eventful period, we cannot omit attributed these measures to sedinoticing the change which took tious practices that had already place in the state of the opposition been discovered, and a spirit of party. Some of its most distin- tumult and disorder that had shewn guished supporters imagining that itself in such acts of riot and insurthis was a time of alarm and dan- rection, as to require the interpoger, when all party spirit should sition of a military force to supsubside, when all party contentions port the civil magistrate. It con

and when all men of tinued to mention, that the inall parties should unite to support dustry employed to excite disconthe government of the country, tent, on various pretexts, and in considered our external as well different parts of the kingdom, apas internal enemies, to be of a peared to proceed from a design species which had never yet been to attempt the destruction of our encountered; and that no weapon happy constitution, and the subcould so effectually oppose their version of all order and governdiabolic designs as an unanimous ment; and that this design has


should cease,

evidently been pursued in connec- and honourable peace; and which, tion and concert with persons in from their tendency, prontised to foreign countries.

secure the future tranquillity of His Majesty declared, that he the British dominions in that part had observed a strict neutrality in of the world. After directing the the present war, on the Continent, attention of parliament to such and uniformly abstained from any measures as might appear necessary interference with respect to the in- for the future government of those ternal affairs of France; but that valuable possessions, and to secure it was impossible for him to see, the important advantages which without the most serious uneasiness, might be derived from thence to the strong and encreasing indica- the commerce and revenue of this tions which appeared there, of an country, intention to excite disturbances in The speech concluded with reother countries, to disregard the commending to parliament to adopt rights of neutral nations, and to such measures as might be necespursue views of conquest and ag- sary, under the present circumgrandisement, as well as to adopt, stances, of enforcing obedience to towards his allies, the States-Ge- the laws, and for repressing every neral, measures which are neither attempt to disturb the peace and conformable to the law of nations, tranquillity of these kingdoms. nor to the positive stipulations of In endeavouring (added his existing treaties. Under all these Majesty) to preserve and to transcircumstances, he felt it to be his mit to posterity the inestimable indispensable duty to have recourse blessings which, under the favour to those means of prevention and of Providence, you have yourselves internal defence with which he was experienced, you may be assured of entrusted by law; and that he my zealous and cordial co-operahad also thought it right to take tion; and our joint efforts will, I steps for making some augmenta- doubt not, be rendered completely tion of his naval and military effectual, by the decided support of force, being persuaded that these a free and loyal people." . exertions were necessary in the pre- The address was moved by sir sent state of affairs, and were best James Saunderson, the lord-mayor calculated both to maintain inter- of London. nal tranquillity, and to render a In his speech, the right hon. firm and temperate conduct effec- magistrate particularly stated, that tual for preserving the blessings of the seditious practices which had peaee.

been considerably checked by his In the conclusion of the speech, Majesty's proclamation at the close his Majesty expressed the great of the last session, were renewed pleasure he felt in mentioning the with angmented force. That nubrilliant successes of the British

merous societies being established arms in India, under the able within the city of London, correconduct of Marquis Cornwallis, sponding and confederating with which had led to the termination other societies in different parts of of the war, by an advantageous the united kingdoms, all formed


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »