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XIX.

1780.

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On the 10th of April, the committee being resumed, Mr. Dunning congratulated the house upon the late decisions, which he however said could avail little unless the house proceeded effectually to remedy the grievances complained of by the people. The alarming and increasing influence of the crown being now admitted by a solemn decision of that house, it was incumbent upon them to from

generals to particulars. With a view therefore of extirpating that corrupt influence, he should move, e that there be laid before the house every session, within seven days after the meeting of parliament, an account of all moneys paid out of the civil revenue to, or for the use of, or in trust for, any member of parliament since the last recess.” This was objected to by lord North, the lord advocate of Scotland, the attorney-general Wedderburne, &c. but was carried without a division. Mr. Dunning then moved, “ that the persons holding the offices of treasurer of the chamber, treasurer of the household, cofferer of the household, comptroller of the household, master of the household, clerks of the green cloth, and their deputies, should be rendered incapable of a seat in that house." This was again opposed, and by the same persons as before; but, on a division, was carried by a majority of 215 to 213 voices. So far the patriotic party in parliament had triumphantly proceeded, to the infinite joy of the disinterested and independent part of the public,

XIX.

1780.

when the sudden illness of the speaker obliged the BOOK house to adjourn to the 24th of April; on which day, the committee being resumed, Mr. Dunning moved for an address, “ that his majesty would be liness of

the speaker. pleased not to dissolve the parliament or prorogue the present session until the objects of the petitions were answered.” When the house, after a vehement debate, came to a division on this important question, it was at once discovered that the unfor. tunate illness of the speaker, “ whose health was never better worth than now," had infected “the very life-blood of their enterprise,"—the motion being rejected by a majority of 254 to 203.

During the recess, a sudden and fatal change had taken place in the temper and disposition of the house; and that influence of the crown which the parliament had determined ought to be diminished, was, as it now appeared, too firmly established to be in danger of diminution. Mr. Fox rose after the division, and in the most poignant language reprobated the conduct of those men who had thus receded from the solemn engagements they had so recently entered into ; and Mr. Dunning scrupled not to charge these members with direct treachery to the nation, considering this resolution as an effectual bar to all future means and efforts of redress. So indeed it proved; for when, on a subsequent The efforts resumption of the subject, he moved “ that the riots prove two resolutions passed on the 10th of April be re-abortive.

XIX.

1780.

BOOK ported," a motion was made from the opposite side

of the house, “ that the chairman leave the chair," which, on a division, was carried by a majority of 177 to 134 voices:--and thus miserably ended those deliberations, which once displayed so fair and flattering a prospect of political reform ; and thus contemptuously were the petitions of more than one hundred thousand electors consigned to everlasting oblivion.

It is necessary to recall to our recollection, that an act of parliament had passed in the course of the session of 1778, relieving the Roman-catholics from some of the heavier penalties inflicted upon them in the last century. This act seemed to be well approved in England ; but the fanatical spirit, unex. tinguished since the days of Knox, and which at the present period discovered itself by unequivocal symptoms in Scotland, prevented the extension of this very defective and imperfect toleration to that kingdom. On the bare suspicion of the intended indulgence, great tumults took place at Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Popish chapel in the metropolis was destroyed, and the houses of the principal catholics attacked and plundered; on which the lord provost, who had taken no steps to restrain these criminal excesses, published a singular proclamation, ascribing the riots to the “ apprehensions, fears, and distressed minds of well-meaning people, and assuring them that no repeal of the Penal

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1780.

Statutes would take place.” Encouraged by this BOOK wretched pusillanimity, the fanatics formed themselves into a society, styled the “ Protestant Association,” to oppose any remission of the present persecuting laws against the Papists, and of this association lord George Gordon was chosen president a man in the highest degree wild, eccentric, and enthusiastical. This association was gradually extended to England, and much pains were taken by inflammatory harangues and pamphlets to prejudice the minds of the vulgar against the late wise and salutary relaxation of the penal code * It was at length determined to prepare a petition for a repeal of the law in question, which is affirmed to have obtained one hundred and twenty thousand signatures, or marks, of men of the lowest orders of society, whose excess of zeal could be equalled only by the grossness of their ignorance ;-a combination of qualities at once ridiculous and terrible. Lord George Gordon, who was himself a member of the house of commons, declined to present this petition, unless he were accompanied to the house by at least twenty thousand men.

A public meeting of the association was, in con- Riots in sequence, convened in St. George's Fields, June 2, cited by the 1780, whence it was supposed that not less than Ace.

London ex

Catholic

* “Those," says Dr. Johnson, " who in this age of infidelity exclaim Popery! Popery! would have cried fire in the midst of the general deluge."

XIX.

1780.

BOOK fifty thousand persons proceeded in regular divisions,

with lord George Gordon at their head, to the house of commons, where their petition was presented by their president. Towards evening this multitude began to grow very tumultuous, and grossly insulted various members of both houses, compelling them, in passing to and from the house, to cry, No POPERY! and to wear blue cockades. During the debates on the petition, lord George Gordon frequently addressed the mob without, in terms calculated to inflame their passions, and expressly stating to them, “ that the people of Scotland had no redress till they pulled down the Popish chapels.” After the adjournment of the house, the mob, on this suggestion, immediately proceeded to the demolition of the chapels of the Sardinian and Bavarian ambassadors. The military being ordered out, could not prevent the mischief, but apprehended various of the ringleaders.

The next day, Saturday, passed quietly ; but on Sunday the rioters re-assembled in vast numbers, and destroyed the chapels and private dwellings belonging to the principal Catholics in the vicinity of Moorfields.

On Monday they extended their devastations to other parts of the town; and Sir George Saville's house, in Leicester Fields, was totally demolished by these blind and barbarous bigots--that distin

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