« PreviousContinue »
zeal for the present government.
It alarmed the friends of the revolution to see all things pur into their hands when they were certain they still held the fame principles which gave occafion to the revolution, It was faid that they had seen their error, and were now friends to government, from a principle of conviction ; but such as knew them were certain that this was false ; for in their private cabals, and among their friends, they fully discovered their sentiments concerning the good old cause. It gave great ground of fufpicion that this address was a mere delusion, when the town of Manchester, remarkable for its rebellion in the year 1745, took the lead in this proceeding.
The opposition on this occasion set forth the conduct of the addressers in the strongest colours, and perhaps all the charity that was neceffary was not praca tised in their descriptions. It was said that the ads dressers were the legitimate offspring of tory towns, though they sprung up accidentally in others from the tory party ; and all the reproach of encouraging civil war and devastation was thrown upon them: and it was added, that distraction at home and dishonour abroad were the constant effects of the predo:ninance of tory councils. These charges were laughed ar on the other side, who being strong in the fanction of authority, turned the tables upon the whigs, and charged them not only with causeless opposition, but with disaffection to government; that if they appeared ta support it for a time, it was only because they had rendered it fubfervient to their own faction ; but that whenever it was put upon an independent and refpectable foundation, their eternal enmity could not be concealed. About this time the preachers began,
after a long intermission to enter upon politics. Some of these distinguished by the name of Methodists began to revive the doctrines of passive obedience and non-resistance, nearly as it had been asserted in the last century. By degrees this mode of preaching tent higher, and all the jargon of Sir Robert Filmer was retailed in several pulpits. On the other hand, several clergymen, especially amongst the diffenters, espoused the cause of liberty with much fervour..... Among all the champions on either side of the quela tion, none distinguished themselves so much as Dr Price, who professedly defended civil liberty, upon principles that all his opponents, who have been vea ry numerous, were never able to confute. Many in. genious things have been said by Dr Johnson and Dr Shebbeare, but it is easy to perceive a pension operating through the whole of their discussions.
The whigs were now divided into two parties, or rather fories, under colour of that name, opposed the real whigs. Their disputes took now a new turn...-The court whigs, as they were called, reproached the other with having abandoned their principles..-They said that true whigs were the strongest supporters, not the mean beļrayers of the rights of parliament, That formerly whigs opposed the crown when it set up prerogative in opposition to parliament, but that now corrupt degeneratę whigisin, maliciously and unconstitutionally opposed the crown, because it acted in concurrence with parliament, and in support of its inherent rights. That those whom the opposition called tories, (at a time when toryism is loft in loyalty and love of liberty) were much more deserving the appellation of whigs, than they who now prostituted its name, and disgraced its principles, by abetting an
infolent and flavish rebellion against the fole guardians of freedom and order.,
The other party retorted these charges with scorn. They said that the court whigs were so fond of their new allies, the tories, that they had perfectly gleaned their opinionsarguments, and language, and that they denied foryism to exist, because they had become. tories themselves. It was afferted that whigjím did not confilt-in supporting the power of parliament, or any other power, but of the rights of the people: That as long as parliaments protected those rights, long was a parliament sacred : But if parliament, fhould become an instrument of invading them, it was no better in any respect, and worse in some, than any other instrument of arbitrary power ; and that the antient whigs, like the moderns, contended not for names, but for things. They affirmed further, thay the tories now, as well as formerly, are true to their principles. They never quarrelled with a parliament of their own party; that is, a parliament subfervient on the crown, arbitrary, intolerant, and an enemy to the freedom of mankind. That if parliainent destroy the liberty of the subject in America, they are turuing its principles every where. They said, that to be burdened by parliament is not law and liberty, as the tories, in the mask of whigs, have the effrontery to affert; but to have the public exigencies judged of, and its contribution affeffed by a parliament or some assembly (the name is immaterial) of its own choice, this is law and liberty, and nothing else is so. Such they saw were whig principles ; because if they were different, the whig principles could not form a scheme of liberty, but would be just as slavith as any that were imputed to the rankest slavery.
The natior by this method of reasoning was divided and subdivided, and for a time became so much engaged in debates, that they forgot their own interests,
Towards the meeting of parliament, they began to revive a little, and to throw off that langour which had for fome time seized them. Petitions now meri the addresses from various parts of the kingdom, and it was for some time doubtful which way the scale would preponderate. From the cities of London and Brillol very long reprefentations were presented, dwelling chiefly upon the inefficacy of all the late co. ercive and restrictive measures; the mischiefs which were ineveitable to our trade from the destruction of the American commerce, and the advantage which our rival neighbours would derive from our divisions.
The distresses of the Newfoundland fishery be came now an object of attention : government had not considered a point that every ordinary discerner might have perceived with half an eye. The Americans by way of retaliation had cut off all provisions frona the fishers in that part of the world, which threw them into the greatest confusion, and brought distress upon all those who were employed by sea or by land, --To prevent the dreadful consequence of famine, a number of ships, instead of being loaded with filh, were necessarily sent off light to procure flour and provisions where they were to be found.
Upon the whole, it was computed, that to the value of a full half million sterling was left in the bowels of the deep, and for ever lost to mankind, by the first operations of the fishery bill. Those who were averse to the American measures considered the calamities which fell on the British fishery as a sort of judge ment from Heaven against those who made laws to
deprive mankind of the benefits of nature. To the fame cause they were ready to attribute a dreadful tempest, the fury of which was chiefly discharged on the shores of Newfoundland. This awful wreck of nature, was as singular in its circumstances, as fatal in its effects. The sea is said to have risen thirty feet almost instantaneously. Above seven hundred boats with their people perished, and several ships with their crews. Nor was their mischief less on the land, the waves overpassing all mounds, and sweeping every thing before them. The shores presented a shocking spectacle for some time after, and the fishing nets were hauled up loaded with human bodies:
The circumstances together with the ill fuccess of the last campaign, and the difficulty of recruiting at home, seemed for a while to cast a damp upon the spirit which had been raised and kept alive with fo much industry, for carrying on the American wat. But the court was not discouraged. Through all obstacles they proceeded directly to their object. They opened several negociations on the continent of Europe, in order to supply the deficiency at home. It was however a matter ofidifficulty to procure the aid they wanted. The greatness of the distance, and the adventuring into a new world were terrifying, and rendered the prospect of return doubtful. Germany was the only open market for that fort of merchandize : but the fending of its people to such a distance being liable to be construed as contrary to the constitution of the empire, might have happened to be re. fented by the emperor, or by fomo other of the princes of the empire. And provided the opinions or desires of men, who were restrained to act like machines, had been matters at all to have been considerechy the idea of such a voyage to an linland people, who