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BRITISH AND FOREIGN

HISTORY

For the Year 1803.

CHAPTER 1.

General State of Politics at the Commencement of the Year 1803_Melan

choly Consequences of the French Revolution Conduct of France after the Peace of Amiens, Improbability of the Continuance of Peace-Character of the British MinistryDespard's Con piracy-detected— Despard and his Accomplices brought to Trial Constitutional Conduct of the MinistryTrial, Conviction, and Execution of Despard and his Ac. complices-State of Parties at the opening of the Session-Mr. PittMeeting of Parliament Election of a Speaker-Speech from the Throne Debates on the Address in the House of Lords in the House

of Commons Debate on the Report in the House of Commons. THE

"HE year 1803 will be less equal laws and equal rights at

interesting to posterity for the least among the citizens of a vast immediate events which it pro- empire, and institutions which for duced, than as connected with economy as well as utility were to those which will probably suc serve as models for the rest of the ceed; as the date of a contest world. ur wishes rather than which involves in it the fate of the our hopes, we must confess, accivilised world and the liberties of companied the first revolutionists man. There has been, in the in these benevolent designs ; decourse and progress of the French signs not to be accomplished perrevolution, something singularly haps by human nature, even in its capricious and whimsical. It ori purest state, but certainly much ginated in the apparent but fallaci. too great to be attempted in a ous design of ameliorating the community depraved and corrupt. condition of mankind. It was to ed beyond the common standard demolish tyranny, to establish not of European morals. Almost the only the theory but the practice of first rays of hope which dawned a pure representative government, upon us were clouded and over

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cast

cast by the atrocities which black. the one side ambition was predo. ened even the early stages of this minant, on the other apprehension revolution; and the French nation and distrust. Little hope of tranwas speedily involved in such a quillity could be expected for Eu. vortex of calamity without, and rope from a military chieftain, of cruelty and injustice within, whose renown and character had that the philanthropist could no been acquired by war; who had longer fix any rational expectation manifested such striking proofs of of extensive good upon their ill. an unbounded ambition: and little concerted endeavours. Yet it was faith could be placed on the profesnot unreasonable to hope that after sions of one who had bent every a great convulsion, in an enlight- principle to his personal views; ened age and in a civilised com- who had usurped, equally at the munity, the situation of the peo- expense of monarchy and demo. ple would not be rendered worse cracy, a mighty empire; and who than before. It was fair to hope in every treaty which he framed that some good might have ema- had evinced the most anxious salinated out of such a mass of evil; citude to extend his territories and that some advances towards liberty enlarge his power. England alone, would have been made; that some of all the civilised world, presentfew steps might have been gained ed a barrier to his vast and aspir. in the promotion of public and ing views; and to remove that social happiness. . It is just to ac- barrier, either by conquest or by knowledge that even this expecta- fraud, was naturally the object tion, moderate as it was, has been nearest to the heart of the usurper. completely disappointed. A ty Happily the British nation was ranny far more extensive and se at this very critical period unvere than that which was destroy. der the guidance of a wise, caued, has been established in France; tious, and temperate administraand even the conquests of the pre- tion, which, while it was vigilant tended republicans have servedonly in guarding the country against to widen the scene of human mi- every danger from without, was sery, and to extend an iron slavery earnest in conciliating the affecover countries which before were tions, and assuring the esteem of comparatively free. The friend the people. Unconnected with of liberty, and even the republican, faction, and studying only the true must therefore be no longer the interest of the nation, this upright advocate of France: he may, ministry gained the hearts of all without a violation of principle, parties. The hydra of jacobinism, wish to see restored that milder which had withstood the gigantic form of despotism which existed efforts of the house of Grenville, under an ancient and on the whole which appeared to acquire strength illustrious dynasty, and under a by prosecution, melted into air be. government which if not practic fore that polished and constitucally the best, was at least legiti- tional shield which was now opmated by time and precedent. posed to it, and ceased even to be

In our preceding volume, we a phantom. The people of Engassigned some reasons why the land, characteristically honest, peace concluded at Amiens was placed unbounded confidence in a not likely to be permanent. On minister, whose integrity was con

some

genial to their own; while his with which he studied to conceal
financial arrangements were so ju. his malignant hostility, and they
dicious, that instead of feeling an determined to anticipate his pro-
increase of burdens, they anticia jects ; though it will be seen in
pated the time when they should the ensuing debates that nothing
look for a diminution of them. hostile appeared on our side till the
Yet in this view the task of the month of March, except an in-
minister was Herculean; and it will creased naval and military esta-
hereafter be barely credited even blishment.
on the stubborn evidence of figures, An event occurred early in the
that the first year after the war year, which served to develope the
Mr. Addington funded no less a disposition of the enemy, and af-
sum than ninety-seven millions sterl. forded the ministry a fair opportu.
ing--a mass of arrears bequeathed nity of displaying that constitu.
him by the blunders and extrava- tional conduct, that moderation
gance of his predecessors. The united with firmness, which was
vast additional lead was, however, afterwards their most distinguisha-
by the excellent and equal dis- ing characteristic. It was long
tribution of the public imposts, understood, though it could not,
not a matter of complaint, and in instances, be legally
scarcely of observation.

proved, that the disaffected party Hence that spirit of unanimity, in England held a secret correhence those willing sacrifices on spondence with the French governthe altar of patriotism, which we ment. Among the active and shall have hereafter to relate. The distinguished confederates of this nation for the first time during an party was colonel Despard ; a gen. extended series of years, had a per- tleman who had, in his military cafect confidence in its government : reer, performed some brilliant it felt that the men who were en- exploits, and had been regarded trusted with this sacred charge had as a meritorious officer. His suca common interest with them- cess'was not equal to his ambition; selves; that they were directed by and disappointment at first, aided no partial views ; that they were afterwards by the pernicious prininfluenced by no little, no factious ciples sanctioned by the French motives; and that the general wel- revolution, seems to have profare of the commonwealth was duced in him an inveterate hatred. their only concern. They were for the constitution of his country, not only pure but moderate, and and to have induced him to enter their moderation and constitutional into the most profligate designs for conduct conciliated the minds even its destruction. The government of those who had been adverse to in the year 1797 were said to be the government.

Faction and apprised of the treasonable pracparty

subsided throughout the na- tices of colonel Despard, and protion: it was only seen in parlia-bably of his connexion with France, ment, where the object is well but they could not with 'propriety known and understood.

bring forward evidence for his conThe British ministry were well viction : he was therefore arrested, informed of the intentions of the during the suspension of the act of tyrant of France: they penetrated Habeas Corpus, and imprisoned through the cloud of professions in the house of correction in Spa

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Fields.

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Fields. On his liberation in 1802, the guards were ostensibly placed, he seems to have been industrious of the names of Wood and Franto justify his detention in that pri- cis. They began by administers son; for he was scarcely released ing an oath to every person who before he entered into a conspiracy was admitted a member of the bolder and more violent than any association; and it was chiefly that had been attempted in the among the soldiery that they sought course of the present reign. We for proselytes. Their success aphave been well assured from what pears not to have borne any prowe have always considered as un portion to their diligence; for the questionable authority, that a dic association.seems never to have exrect communication existed between tended beyond the number of thirty the French government and this or forty obscure individuals, and unfortunate man*. We think the even some of these became speedily assertion highly probable: the disaffected to the cause. proofs we have not yet been able to Among the first converts to the procure; but at some future sea new conspiracy were two soldiers son we expect to be able to lay in the guards, of the names of them before our readers.

Blaine and Windsor. These men The plan concerted by Despard had some knowledge of a Mr. was perhaps more feasible than Bonus, an army agent; and to might have been expected from a him they very early imparted the person of his desperate character; plan of the association, and of the and seems, from the nature of it, oath which had been tendered to to carry with it the refutation of them. Mr. Bonus advised them the apology which was offered in to continue to frequent the associahis favour, that his intellects were tion, and to gain a more perfect deranged. The plan was to in- knowledge of the plans of the gratiate himself with the lowest conspirators. Through this meand most profligate of the soldiery, dium, government was made miparticularly of the guards; and nutely acquainted with all the proby forming a strong and compact ceedings of the conspirators, who party in this body, to have at his were however not interrupted till disposal a select corps, accustomed the evidence which charged them and trained to discipline and com- with overt acts of treason was mand, whom he could bring into judged to be complete; and on immediate action, and prepared the 16th of November, 1802, at a for any desperate undertaking.- grand meeting, about thirty of the The active operations of the con- conspirators were arrested at the spirators commenced as early as Oakley Arms, in South Lambeth, the spring of 1802. About the and committed to prison. month of March a society was The plan was altogether conestablished, professedly for what ceived upon military principles, and they most absurdly termed “the was not ill-digested." The conspi. extension of liberty ;' and at the rators were divided into compahead of this society two soldiers in nies of ten men each, to whom

• It was proved in evidence that colonel Despard himself avowed this connerion, and deferred one of his projects because " he waited for news and money fronz France."

was

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