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Reign of George III. (Continued.)


Proceedings in the British Parliament - Trials of Muir, Palmer, Margarott, Skirving, and other Reformers - Arrest of Hardy, Thelwall, and Horne Tooke - Howe's Victory at Sea: Capture of various French West India Islands - Corsica annexed to Great Britain - Subsidy to Prussia - Campaign of 1794 betwixt the Allies and French in all Parts of Europe- Feud betwixt Robespierre and the Hèbertists - Arrest of Hébert and his Colleagues - Nineteen Executions, including those of Hebert and Clootz - Executions of Danton, Desmoulins, with Seventeen others - A fresh Batch of Nineteen, including Gobel, Chaumette, and the Widows of Desmoulins and Hébert - Sixty-four more Victims, including Malesherbes and Lavoisier - Twenty-five more, including the Princess Elizabeth - Fifty-four more, including Madlle. Renault - Festival of the Supreme - Eleven Hundred and Eight more Victims - Catherine Theot - Overthrow and Execution of Robespierre - Deaths of Couthon, St. Just, &c. - A new Batch of Eighty-four Victims - The Thermidoriens - The Jacobin Club shut up - The Remains of Mirabeau and Marat thrown out of their Graves - Execution of Carrier - Liberation of many Senators and other Prisoners - Final Subjection of Poland - Acquittal of Home Tooke, Thelwall, and Hardy, &c. - Execution of Watt, the Spy - Business of Parliament - 1795 opens with large Demands for Army and Navy in England - Marriage of the Duke of Sussex - Declared Null - Marriage of the Prince of Wales - Miserable Commissariat of our Army in Holland - Successes of Pichegru - Flight of the Stadtholder - French in Possession of Holland - War on the Dutch Settlements - Capture of Cape of Good Hope - Prussia makes Peace with France; followed by Spain and Tuscany - English Treaties with Russia and Germany - Sea Fight off Corsica between Hotham and the French - French take St. Eustatius and St. Lucie from us - Campaign of 1798 on the Continent - War in La Vendée, aided by the English Fleet - Reaction of the Girondists - Collot d'Herbois and Billaud Varennes transported - Triumph of the Thermidoriens - Death of the Dauphin - A New Constitution - Insurrection against it - Insurgents dispersed by Buonaparte - Directors of the Republic appointed - Bread Riots in London - The King shot at - Calls for Peace - Dutch West India I lands captured in 1796 - Naval Affairs - Campaign on the Continent - Buonaparte's Victories in Italy - Terrible Increase of National Debt - Difficulties of the Bank of England - Mutiny in the Navy - Second Mutiny at the Nore - Victory of Duncan at Camperdown - French land in Wales-Continental Campaign of 1797 - Victories of Buonaparte - Austria makes Peace with France - Buonapartist Coup-d'Etat in Paris - Rebellion in Ireland - Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Emmet, and Wolfe Tone - Capture of Minorca - Invasion of Switzerland by the French - Entry of Rome by them - Seizure of the Pope - Buonaparte's Expedition to Egypt - Battle of the Nile, August 1st, 1798 - French seize Naples - Campaign of the Austrians and Russians in Italy - Naples recovered - Duke of York in Holland - The Siege of Acre - Buonaparte made First Consul of France- Death of Tippoo Sahib, and Seizure of his Territories by England and her Allies, in May, 1799 - The Union with Ireland carried in February, 1800 - French Campaign in Italy - Battle of Marengo - Naples makes Peace with France - Resignation of Pitt - The Addington Administration - The Battle of Copenhagen - Assassination of the Czar Paul - Convention betwixt England, Russia, Denmark, and Sweden - Battle of Alexandria- Death of Abercrombie - Flight of Buonaparte - Surrender of the French Army in Egypt - Buonaparte invades Portugal - The Peace of Amiens, March, 1802.
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The British parliament met on the 21st of January, 1794. The opposition, on the question of the address, made a strong remonstrance against the prosecution of the war. They urged the miserable conduct of it, and the failures of the allies, as strong arguments for peace. They did not discourage the maintenance of a proper system of self- defence, and therefore acceded to the demands of ministers for raising the navy to eighty-five thousand. The production of the budget by Pitt, on the 2nd of February, gave additional force to their appeals for peace. He stated that the military force of England, including fencibles and volunteers, amounted to a hundred and forty thousand men, and he called for nineteen million nine hundred and thirty-nine thousand pounds for the maintenance of this force, and for the payment of sixty thousand German troops. Besides this, he asked for a loan of eleven million pounds, as well as for the imposition of new taxes. This was an advance of annual expenditure of fifteen million pounds more than only two years ago; and when the manner in which the money was spent was inquired into, the objections became far more serious. It thus appeared that we were not only fighting for Holland and Belgium, but that we were subsidising German princes to fight their own battles. There had been a large subsidy to the king of Prussia, to assist him, in reality, to destroy Poland. We were, in fact, in the commencement of that stupendous system of Pitt's, by which England was engaged to do battle all over Europe by money as well as men - as if the nations of Europe were not bound to take care of themselves. But all remonstrance was in vain. Fox, Grey, and Sheridan, and their party in the commons, the marquis of Lansdowne, the duke of Bedford, and the whigs in the peers, made amendment after amendment on these heads, but were overwhelmed by Pitt's majorities. Burke, in the commons, was frantic in advocacy of war, because France was revolutionary and impious - as if it were our duty to fight all the battles of the world against them.

The anti-Gallic spirit was at the same time made violent use of to crush opinion at home. It is true that there was a foolish zeal on behalf of the French revolution in a certain portion of the English public, which ought, by this time, to have been cooled by the too obvious nature and tendency of that revolution; but this might readily have been prevented doing any harm, by a fair exposure of the folly of the admirers of so bloody and dishonest a system as that of the French jacobins. But it was more in accordance with the spirit of government at that time to endeavour to crush the freedom of the press and of speech, under cover of the repression of a Gallic tendency. The attempt to crush these Anglo-jacobins, and their societies and clubs, began in Scotland.

The first indictment was preferred against James Tytler, a chemist, of Edinburgh, for having published an address to the people and their friends, complaining of the great body of the people being wholly unrepresented, and, in consequence, being robbed and enslaved; demanding universal suffrage, and refusing to pay taxes till this was granted. However strange such a charge would appear now, when the truth of all this has long been admitted, it was then held by government and the magistracy as next to high treason. Tytler did not venture to appear, and his bail, two booksellers, were compelled to pay the amount of his bond and penalty, six hundred merks Scots. He himself was outlawed, and his goods were sold off. Three days after, namely, on the 8th of January, 1793, John Morton, a printer's apprentice, and John Anderson and Malcolm Craig, journeymen printers, were put upon their trial for more questionable conduct. They were charged with endeavouring to seduce the soldiers in the castle of Edinburgh from their duty, urging them to drink, as a toast, " George the Third and last, and damnation to all crowned heads; " and of endeavouring to persuade them to join the "Society of the Friends of the People," or a " club of equality and freedom." They were condemned to nine months' imprisonment, and to give security in one thousand merks Scots for their good behaviour for three years. Next came the trials of William Stewart, merchant, and John Elder, bookseller, of Edinburgh, for writing and publishing a pamphlet on the " Rights of Man and the Origin of Government." Stewart absconded, and the proceedings were dropped against the bookseller. To these succeeded a number of similar trials, amongst them those of James Smith, John Mennings, James Callender, Walter Berry, and James Robinson, of Edinburgh, tradesmen of different descriptions, on the charges of corresponding with reform societies, or advocating the representation of the people, and full and equal rights, declaring the then constitution a conspiracy of the rich against the poor. One or two absented themselves, and were outlawed; the rest were imprisoned in different towns. These violent proceedings against poor men, merely for demanding reforms only too much needed, excited but little attention; but now a more conspicuous class were aimed at, and the outrageously arbitrary proceedings at once excited public attention, and, on the part of reformers, intense indignation.

The persons now indicted were Thomas Muir, esq., and the reverend Thomas Fyshe Palmer. Muir was a young advocate, only eight-and-twenty years of age. He was brought to trial at Edinburgh, on the 30th of August, 1793. He was charged with inciting people to read the works of Paine, and " A Dialogue between the Governors and the Governed," and with having caused to be received and answered, by the convention of delegates, a seditious address from the society of united Irishmen in Dublin, to the delegates for promoting reform in Scotland. He was also charged with having absconded from the pursuit of justice, and with having been over to France, and with having returned in a clandestine manner by way of Ireland. To these charges Muir replied, that he had gone to France after publicly avowing his object, both in Edinburgh and London, that object being to endeavour to persuade the French convention not to execute Louis XVI. That when in Paris he urged this both on the ground of humanity and good policy, as tending to make constitutional reform easier, as well as the keeping of peace with England. That the sudden declaration of hostilities whilst there had warned him to return, but had closed up the direct way. That was the reason of his taking a vessel from Havre to Ireland. That he had, however, returned publicly, and surrendered himself for trial at the earliest opportunity.

The most respectable witnesses testified in his favour, that he had always argued that the monarchy of the country was good; the government far superior to that of France; that many opinions of Paine were unsound and untenable; that an equal division of property was a chimera, and that we here wanted no revolution, but only moderate reform. The chief witness against him was a woman-servant, who had lived in his father's family, who deposed to his telling people to read the " Rights of Man; " to giving an organ-man something to play "Ça ira! " and the like. It is clear that Mr. Muir was what would now be considered a very moderate reformer indeed. But the lord-advocate treated him with the most scurrilous indignity, calling him " that unfortunate wretch at the bar; " " that demon of mischief; " " that pest of Scotland." The very proofs of Muir's moderation were turned by the lord-justice-clerk into crimes; it was only " policy; " and he proceeded to pass on him the monstrous sentence of transportation for fourteen years!

This base and disproportionate sentence startled the people of England. In Scotland then party spirit ran furiously high. As there were clubs for advocating thorough reform, so there were others for discouraging and crushing it. The tory arbitrary principle was rampant, and Muir was the victim of it. The English government, however, ought to have interfered, and mitigated the sentence; we shall see that it did not, but left the modern Jeffreyses of Scotland to perpetrate still more abominations of the kind.

Mr. Fyshe Palmer was not tried till the 12th of September. He was then brought before the circuit court of justiciary at Perth, and charged with writing and publishing an "Address to the People," which had been issued by the society of the friends of liberty, at Dundee. Palmer was an Englishman of good family, in Bedfordshire. He had taken his degree at Cambridge, and obtained a fellowship at Queen's College; but he had afterwards joined the unitarians, and had resided and preached some time at Montrose and Dundee, and had delivered lectures on unitarianism in Edinburgh and Forfar. It appeared that Palmer was not the author of the address, but had only been asked to correct the proof of it, and that he had, whilst so doing, struck out some of the strongest passages. One Mealmaker, a waiver, acknowledged himself the author of the address; but Palmer was a unitarian, and this, to the bigoted presbyterianism of his judges, was rank poison. His advocate pleaded that he was not quite sane, but neither did this avail; the jury brought in an instant and unanimous verdict of guilty, and the judges condemned him to be transported for seven years! This was a still more outrageous sentence than that of Muir, for Palmer had corresponded with no French or reforming societies whatever; he had simply corrected a proof!

Not at all dismayed by this unrighteous severity, the Scotch friends of the people met in convention, in Edinburgh, on the 9th of October. At this convention dele- gates appeared, not only from most of the large towns of Scotland, but also from London, Sheffield, and Dublin. Letters were also received from the societies in England. Mr. William Skirving, a friend of Muir and Palmer, as secretary to the convention, read these letters, and other papers, demanding annual parliaments and universal suffrage. As the British parliament was considered, and truly, merely a corrupt clique of the representatives of borough- mongers, they proposed to apply directly to the king, that he might urge those necessary reforms on the legislature. In Scotch fashion, these reformers opened and closed their sittings with prayer, presenting a striking contrast to the French revolutionists. On the 6th of November delegates Hamilton, Rowan, and Butler appeared from the society of united Irishmen, and Margarott and Gerald from the society of friends of the people in London. Margarott stated that five hundred constables had beset the meeting in London, to prevent any delegates getting away to this convention, but that the manufacturing towns of England were almost to a man reformers; that in Sheffield alone there were fifty thousand; that a general union of the reformers of the United Kingdom would strike terror into their enemies, and compel them to grant annual parliaments and universal suffrage.

The Irish delegates described the condition of Ireland as most deplorable. That the government interest, through the landed aristocracy, was omnipotent; that the manufacturera were unemployed; that an infamous coalition had taken place between the Irish opposition and ministry; that catholics and all had been bought up - a truth which we shall presently have to demonstrate - and that all these parties were united to crush reform; that the united Irishmen were everywhere fiercely persecuted, and that one of them had only just escaped from a six months' imprisonment.

Amongst these, for the most part working men, sate a number of gentlemen, and even one lord, lord Dacre, who had lived in Paris, and was a regular revolutionist. The convention sate unmolested till the 5th of December, arranging for a future meeting in England, and organising committees and correspondents in different towns. They also recommended to all reform clubs and societies to invoke divine aid on their endeavours for just reform. On meeting on the morning of the 5th, the président, Paterson, announced that himself, Margarott, and the delegates, had been arrested, and were only out on bail. Immediately after this, the lord provost appeared with a force to disperse the meeting, and though Skirving informed him that the place of meeting was his own hired house, and therefore constitutional, and that it met for a purely constitutional purpose, the provost by force broke up the meeting, and drove out the members. That evening they met again at another place, but only to be turned out again. Still they did not disperse before Gerald had offered up a fervent prayer for the success of reform. Mr. Skirving then issued a circular inviting the delegates to meet in his private house, and for this he was arrested on the 6th of January, 1794, brought before the court of justiciary, and sentenced to fourteen years' transportation. On the 13th Margarott received the same sentence: and, in the month of March, Gerald likewise.

Muir and Palmer, on the 19th of December, had been conveyed on board the hulks at Woolwich, preparatory to their being shipped to the antipodes, and were put in irons; but, before they were sent off, the matter was brought before parliament. It was introduced by Mr. Adams, on the 14th of February, moving for leave to bring in a bill to alter the enactment for allowing appeals from the Scotch court of justiciary in matters of law. This was refused, and he then gave notice of a motion for the revision of the trials of Muir and Palmer. Sheridan, on the 24th, presented a petition from Palmer, complaining of his sentence as unwarranted by law. Pitt protested against the reception of the petition, and Dundas declared that all such motions were too late; the warrant for Palmer's transportation was already signed and issued. Wilberforce moved that Palmer's being sent off should be delayed till the case was reconsidered, but this was also rejected by a large majority. Such was the determined spirit of Pitt and his parliamentary majority against all reform, or justice to reformers. On the 10th of March Mr. Adams again moved for a revision of the trials of Muir and Palmer, declaring that "leasing- making," their crime by the law of Scotland, was punishable by fine, imprisonment, or banishment, but not by transportation, and that their sentence was clearly illegal. Fox exposed the violent and rancorous spirit with which the trials had been conducted, and to which the judges had most indecently made themselves parties; that the lord-justice clerk, on Muir's trial, had said, " A government in every country should be just like a corporation; and, in this country, it is made up of the landed interest, which alone has a right to be represented. As for the rabble, who have nothing but personal property, what hold has the nation on them? They may pack up all their property on their backs, and leave the country in the twinkling of an eye! " Lord Swinton said, "If punishment adequate to the crime of sedition were to be sought for, it could not be found in our law, now that torture is happily abolished." The lord% advocate was in his place to defend his conduct and doctrine in court, and Pitt and Dundas supported these odious opinions. The house also sanctioned them by a large majority, and Adams's motion was rejected. In the Upper house, similar motions, introduced by earls Lansdowne and Stanhope, were similarly treated.

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.)

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