The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 2

Allen, Thomas
1828

History of London continued to the Union.

History of London continued to the Union.

 

On the , the chamberlain was ordered by the court of common-council, to lay before them an account of the monies paid out of the chamber, on account of the lord mayor; which being produced, a motion was made and carried in the affirmative, that the sum of , paid on account of the lord mayor's view of the river, and expedition to Windsor, ought not to be defrayed by the city; being totally unnecessary and highly extravagant.

In consequence of its being mentioned that the audit-dinners were, in general, very extravagant, a motion was made, and unanimously agreed to, that, in future, the expenses of auditing the city and bridge-house accounts, do not exceed .

A motion was also made, that the chamberlain do not pay the lord mayor more than the sum of , the balance due to his lordship, out of the ample allowance given by the city. The lord mayor refused to put the question for some time, but, having consented, it was resolved in the affirmative.

97

 

On the the court proceeded in the plan of retrenchment they had begun, and limited the expences of the conservancy to , in every mayoralty. It was also resolved, that no money be paid out of the chamber, without the special direction of the court of common-council.

On the , came on in the court of King's Bench, the trial of lord George Gordon, who was accused as the author of the late riots, of high treason, in

levying war, by assembling great multitudes together, and striving, by terror and outrage, to compel parliament to repeal a law.

The jury acquitted him; and of them afterwards told his lordship in court, in reply to some remarks on the objects of the prosecution, that

their decision had turned upon a very nice point.

In the month following, Benjamin Kennet, esq. the late lord mayor, was tried in , for not using the proper means and authority for suppressing the riots in an early stage of the tumult. The jury returned a verdict of

guilty,

in

neglecting to do his duty,

but not

wilfully and obstinately.

The court refusing to record this verdict, another of

guilty,

generally, was given; the decease of alderman Kennet, however, before sentence was pronounced, put a stop to further proceedings.

The ruinous progress of the public affairs, the decay of trade, and the increasing discontent of the nation at the long continuance and ill success of the American war, at length produced a change in the measures of government, which for a short time seemed to move in unison with the wishes of the people. In , a very pointed remonstrance was presented by the citizens of London to the king, in which they deprecated the

intention

manifested in his majesty's speech,

of persevering in a system of measures, which had proved so disastrous to the country;

exhorted him

no longer to continue in a delusion from which the nation had awakened;

and implored him to

dismiss from his presence and councils all the advisers, both private and public, who had deluded him into such an unfortunate and unnatural war.

The city of followed the example of that of London; and similar petitions and remonstrances flowing in from most other places in the kingdom, the premier thought proper to give way; and in the course of March and , anew ministry was chosen under the auspices of that able and illustrious statesman, the marquis of Rockingham. Negociations for peace were soon afterwards commenced, and preliminaries were settled on the : the definitive treaties were signed at Paris on the following; and on the , the peace was proclaimed at the accustomed places in London, with the usual ceremonies, and amidst the reiterated acclamations of an immense multitude of people.

The gleam of sunshine which these occurrences had spread over the horizon of political liberty, was soon overclouded by the death

98

of the marquis of Rockingham, and the divisions which that fatal event admitted to break out among his party. Mr. Pitt, the eloquent son of the late earl of Chatham, acceded to power; and though an act of apostacy marked the outset of his career, that is, the abandonment of the cause of parliamentary reform, of which he had previously been an ardent supporter, his youth and splendid talents, but, above all, his fascinating eloquence, had such an effect upon the multitude, that for some time, he may be said to have become the

idol of a people's hope.

The Coalition Administration was dismissed in , and Mr. Pitt became prime minister; yet, from that period to the dissolution of parliament, about the end of March, he was left in a minority on almost every question debated in the house of commons. During the elections for a new parliament, the metropolis presented an almost constant scene of uproar and confusion; but particularly in , where the struggle between the ministerial candidates and Mr. Fox was unparalleled, and the poll was kept open from till . This latter circumstance occasioned the passing of an act, by which the duration of all future elections was limited to days.

The grandest musical performance ever attempted in any country, was exhibited in Westminster-abbey, in May and June of , in commemoration of Handel. It originated in a conversation between some amateurs, in which it was lamented, that no public occasion existed for collecting all the vocal and instrumental performers of eminence into band, which would produce a performance on so grand and magnificent a scale as no other part of the world could equal. The birth and death of Handel, the former of which was a complete century, and the latter exactly a quarter of a century, before this period, was immediately recollected as offering a desirable opportunity for making the attempt. The plan was speedily communicated to the different musical societies in the metropolis, and coming, at length, to the knowledge of the king, was honoured with his sanction and patronage. Westminster-abbey, where the remains of the great musician were deposited, was selected as the most proper place for the performance: and it was determined to appropriate all the profits arising from it to charitable purposes. No sooner was the project known, than the greater part of the practical musicians in the kingdom manifested their zeal for the enterprise; and many of the most eminent professors, waving all claim to precedence, offered to perform in any subordinate station. The performance took place on the ; the number of performers amounted to , and that of the audience to nearly ; of which, at least thirds were ladies; feathers, and all extraneous ornaments being forbidden, the neatness and simplicity of their dresses added charms to their

99

natural beauty, and produced such an assemblage of elegant women as no other country in the universe could boast of. There were performances in the whole, the of which was at the Pantheon, in ; and the total amount of the receipts for tickets, including rehearsals, was guineas; after payment of the expences, which amounted to upwards of , the remainder was given to charities, as follows: to the Musical Fund ; to the Westminster-hospital .

The attention of the metropolis was excited in a high degree, on the , by the aerial voyage ever undertaken in this kingdom. Mr. Lunardi ascended from the Artillery-ground with a balloon, feet in diameter, amidst the admiration and dread of an immense concourse of spectators, about o'clock in the afternoon; and, after a voyage of hours, descended in a meadow, miles beyond Ware in Hertfordshire.

A remarkable occurrence happened in the court of King's Bench, , on the . In consequence of a very high wind, some of the stones from the upper part of the building fell through the sky-light; the fragments of the glass falling among the judges on the bench, and a considerable part of the ceiling was scattered about among the barristers and officers of the court. Impressed with the idea that the whole fabric was tumbling, their lordships, and all the bar, made a precipitate retreat: but soon finding that it was a premature alarm, the court was resumed. In this confusion, several gentlemen of the bar were much hurt; particularly a Mr. Stebbing, who, being thrown backwards on of the benches, was trampled over by his affrighted brethren, and received several severe bruises.

The long-contested question relative to the power of the court of aldermen to remove of their body, was finally determined in the court of King's Bench, on the in this year. Some years before, in consequence of several accusations brought against alderman Wooldridge, repeated summonses were sent to him to attend in his place in the court of aldermen, to answer to them; all of which being unattended to, he was declared to have forfeited his seat, and a wardmote was held for the election of an alderman in his stead. At a subsequent period, he attended and claimed to be received as alderman; which being refused, he obtained a from the court of King's Bench to be restored: the return to this mandamus had been argued in November preceding, but the court required further time to decide upon it; and, on this day the final argument was heard, when the court unanimously pronounced judgment in favour of the city, declaring their opinion that the court of aldermen had the power to remove of the aldermen, upon a just and reasonable cause; and that, in the present instance, their exercise of that right was perfectly legal.

H

100

 

Early in the morning of the , a fire broke out in a room adjoining to the chamberlain's office, in , and, notwithstanding speedy assistance, burnt so furiously for some time, that the whole of that office was destroyed, together with all the books of accounts, several bonds, and a considerable sum in bank-notes and cash. Part of the court of King's Bench was also damaged; but the fire was at length got under, without communicating to the other offices.

A cause was tried at the Lent assizes for the county of Surrey, which lasted days. It was brought by the corporation of the city of London, as conservators of the river Thames, against a shipwright at , for obstructing the navigation by erecting a floating dock; the jury, after hours' deliberation, found the defendant guilty.

In August, an attempt was made on the life of his majesty, by an insane woman, named Margaret Nicholson; who, under the pretence of presenting a petition, struck at him with a concealed knife, as he was alighting from his carriage at St. James's. The blow was warded off by a page, and the woman seized; she was afterwards sent to a mad house, where she continued till her death. On this occasion, addresses of congratulation at the king's escape were transmitted from all parts of the kingdom. The address from the corporation of London was carried by the lord mayor, and other officers, attended by a numerous body of citizens.

On the , a violent storm of rain and thunder arose at o'clock in the afternoon, and continued to rage incessantly for hours. The thunder was terrific; and the rain poured down so fast, that the streets were wholly impassable for foot passengers; and in places where there happened to be a descent of ground, as near Northumberland-house from , the current run so strong, that even carriages could not be driven through it. Many kitchens and cellars were inundated in different parts of the town; and in , , the windows of several houses were broken by a fire-ball, and other damage done.

The ensuing winter was very remarkable for a severe frost, which began on the , and lasted exactly weeks. On the , the thermometer stood at ° below the freezing point, in the very midst of the city. The river Thames was completely frozen over below London-bridge; and from the variety of booths, &c. erected on the ice, it assumed all the appearance of a fair; even puppet-shows and wild beasts were exhibited. The thaw was sudden, and the confusion which it occasioned was extreme. The large bodies of ice that floated down the river made it necessary to moor the shipping to the shore; yet, notwithstanding every precaution, many vessels broke away by the weight and pressure of the shoals and tide. vessel that was lying off , and partly fastened to the main beams of a house, was

101

among the latter number. By this accident, the whole building gave way, and unhappily persons, who were sleeping in their beds, were killed. The distresses of the poor in London, during this inclement season, were very great; and though liberal subscriptions were raised for their relief, many perished through want and cold. On this occasion, the city subscribed towards supporting those persons who were not in the habit of receiving alms.

On the , ( Day) the metropolis displayed a most splendid scene of festivity and show, in celebration of his majesty's recovery from the calamitous state of insanity, which had attacked him in the preceding October. This event had given birth to the celebrated question respecting a restricted regency, which, after many animated debates in both houses of parliament, was carried in the affirmative. The arrangements proposed, however, were rendered useless, by the gradual restoration of the king's health, under the judicious treatment directed by Dr. Willis. The official notification of a complete recovery was published on the ; and all ranks of people seemed to vie with each other in testifying their joy. In the morning the Park and Tower guns were fired, the bells were rung in the churches, and all the shipping in the river were decorated with the colours of their respective nations, streamers, devices, &c. At night, the metropolis was illumined throughout, and many appropriate transparencies were exhibited by the more affluent inhabitants. Shortly afterwards, Saint George's day was appointed by authority for a general thanksgiving; and their majesties on that day went in great state to , accompanied by both houses of parliament, the great officers of state, and the corporation of London. The universal joy and loyalty which pervaded the cities of London and , the grandeur of the spectacle exhibited, in the more than triumphal entry of a beloved sovereign, filled the mind with the most sublime ideas.

The procession began a quarter before , by the house of commons in coaches ( members attending), followed by the speaker in his robes, seated in his state-coach, with his mace-bearer and chaplain, from Palace-yard; and, passing through the entrance at the horse-guards into , went out at the Stableyard, and ranged along and Charing-cross, followed by knights-marshalmen, the clerk of the crown, masters in chancery, and the judges, in the capacity of assistants to the house of peers. After them, the peers in coaches, in the order of precedency, as they were marshalled by the black rod; beginning with lord Malmesbury, as youngest baron, and ending with the duke of Norfolk, the premier duke. The lord high chancellor, in his robes of office, and his state-coach, closed this part of the procession.

Soon after the members of both houses had passed, the male branches of the royal family appeared in different carriages, in due order of precedency. Their majesties set out from the queen's

102

palace soon after , in the order previously arranged by his majesty himself. Between and , the king's carriage arrived at Temple-bar, where the lord mayor was in waiting, attended by delegates from the corporation: viz. sheriffs Curtis and sir Benjamin Hammett, as aldermen, and deputies Leekey and Birch, with Messrs. Wadd and Dixon, as commoners. The lord mayor and his associates came thither in coaches soon after , and were politely accommodated, by the banking-house of Mr. Child, in the great room immediately over the Bar, till, on notice of the king's approach, they all mounted their beautiful white palfreys, which were richly caparisoned, the saddles and bridles new for the occasion, silver-stitched, silver roses, and silk reins; the furniture blue and gold, with tassels of gold fringe; the front of the bridles richly embroidered with the words

God save the King!

White fur caps to the holsters, richly wrought with gold; and each horse decorated with dozen of favours, blue and white. The lord mayor was in a rich gown of crimson velvet; the aldermen in their scarlet gowns, and the commoners in their mazarine gowns, dressed uniformly in dark blue coats, white waistcoats and breeches, with purple roses in their shoes, and at their knees. Each of them had a walking page, carrying a hat, adorned with a beautiful cockade of purple and gold, inscribed,

Long live the King!

After they had taken horse, the lord mayor dismounting in form, surrendered the city sword to his majesty; who having graciously returned it, the lord mayor, on horseback, carried it bare-headed before the king to . The sheriffs and commoners rode also bare-headed.

Nothing could exceed the magnificence of the procession from Temple-bar.

Immediately after the lord chancellor's carriage, the arrangement of the procession was as follows:

High bailiff of Westminster.

Master of the Horse.

Duke of Cumberland.

Duke of Gloucester.

Duke of York.

Prince of Wales.

Attendants.

Six Pioneers.

Colonel Sir Watkin Lewes, on horseback.

The Artillery Company.

Music.

Two pair of colours.

Fifteen of the Toxophilites, or ancient society of Archers, dressed in a green uniform, with their bows in their hands, and elegant belts to their quivers, on which were embroidered Long live the King!

City Arms.

City Marshal, four Common-councilmen, and the Sheriffs on horseback.

Lord Mayor on horseback.

His mace-bearer on foot, and six servants in rich liveries of purple and silver.

The city counsel.

THEIR MAJESTIES,

Drawn by eight cream-coloured horses, attended by six pages and six footmen; in a private carriage, pannels and front of glass instead of leather.

The Princesses in two carriages.

Attendants in two coaches.

The different guards of honour in the procession were formed from the Oxford Blues; and the whole was closed by a troop of the royal regiment of horse guards.

All the charity children entered the church at the north and south doors, by o'clock in the morning, and remained till the church was cleared. They had a place appropriated for their appearance, much in the same manner as at their anniversary meeting. This was at the particular desire of her majesty.

The clergy, with the minor canons, and their friends, entered the church, at the Dean's-gate, at o'clock.

The aldermen, with their ladies, and the principal city officers, between and , proceeded from the Mansion-house, along , to the south entrance of .

The corporation were represented in the procession from Temple-bar, as we have already stated, by a deputation. The other members of the body corporate assembled at o'clock, in , whence, in about half an hour, they began to parade on foot, in their mazarine gowns, through , , the , and . They were in divisions, each attended with a suitable standard, and an excellent band of music. The division was led by Deputies Hillier, Nichols, Wrench, and Mr. Pope; the other by deputies White, Merry, Mr. Box, and Mr. Slade; all with wands, painted blue and gold, and elegant cockades of purple and gold. Entering the church at the northwest gate, they remained in the morning prayer chapel, until the king's arrival was announced; when they ushered his majesty into the choir, and immediately took their seats.

The peers and members of the house of commons soon after entered the west door of the church.

The female nobility, gentry, and others, came down , proceeded along and , down Warwicklane, along , and were set down at Cannon-alley, opposite to the north door of the church, where an awning was erected; their carriages then proceeded to the end of Pater-noster row, turned round to the left into , down , into , where they waited.

104

 

Their majesties were met at the west door of , by the bishop of London, the dean of (bishop of Lincoln); the canons residentiary, garter king at arms, and the rest of the heralds; the band of gentlemen pensioners and the yeomen of the guard. The sword of state was carried before his majesty by the marquis of Stafford into the choir, where the king and queen placed themselves under a canopy of state, at the west end of it, opposite to the altar.

The peers had their seats in the area, as a house of lords; and the commons were in the stalls. The upper galleries were allotted to the ladies of the bedchamber, the maids of honour, and such ladies of distinction as attended on the occasion. The foreign ministers were placed in the lower galleries next to the throne ; and the lord mayor and aldermen, in the lower galleries, near the altar.

Immediately on their majesties being seated, divine service commenced. The sermon was preached by the bishop of London; after which, an anthem, selected for the occasion, by the king, was sung by the gentlemen of the choir. The whole was finished about o'clock, when their majesties returned with the same state to Buckingham-house.

The streets through which the procession passed, were filled with rejoicing spectators. Before most of the houses were placed temporary galleries, crowded with beauty and fashion. Every precaution which prudence could suggest was taken to guard against the accidents which might have been expected from such a numerous assemblage of people, but they were unnecessary: good humour had so completely taken possession of every individual, that the military, who were stationed to keep the multitude in order, had nothing to but to see the procession with their fellow-citizens in the rear.

On the following evening, a general illumination took place throughout London and , which, for splendour and magnificence, surpassed all former exhibitions. All the public offices, the houses of the nobility and gentry, as well as many of those of private individuals, were decorated with transparencies, or elegant designs in coloured lamps; while, even in the humble garret of the indigent, the gleam of loyalty and affection twinkled as cheerfully, if not as brightly, as in the splendid mansion of the opulent.

The repeal of the shop-tax, which was obtained in the course of this session of parliament, was celebrated on the , by a dinner at the London tavern, to which the representatives of London, , Middlesex, and , were invited, in testimony of the respect and gratitude of the tradesmen, for their exertions to relieve them from this burthen.

A dreadful fire consumed the Opera-house, on the night of the

105

. The performers were rehearsing a ballet on the stage, when they were suddenly alarmed by flakes of fire falling on their heads. In a few minutes after, the whole building was in a blaze, which, from the vast quantity of combustible materials on the premises, and the calmness of the evening, ruse in a spiral column to an extraordinary height. The light was so powerful that, for a few minutes, the whole western front of was as minutely visible as at noon day.

On Midsummer-day, serjeant Adair resigned the office of recorder, John William Rose, esq. was elected his successor on the , and his salary fixed at per annum.

The endeavours of the Protestant Dissenters to procure a repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, having failed in the last session, by a very small majority, they were this year renewed with increased ardour; and, in the hope of strengthening their interest, the claims of the Roman Catholics were also included in their application to parliament. This junction of opposing interests, added to the violent political conduct of their leaders, induced moderate men to withhold that support, which the great body of the dissenters were, perhaps, entitled to; and induced the friends of the established church to exert a greater degree of vigour in opposing their pretensions. Among other measures calculated to give weight to this opposition, a common council met, on the , for the especial purpose of taking into consideration the steps taken by the dissenters to obtain the repeal of these acts, and whether any and what proceedings were necessary to be taken by that court; when, after a calm and dispassionate investigation of the subject, the following resolutions were carried by a very great majority.

I. That it is the indispensable duty of this court to support the rights and privileges of the church of England, as by law established; they being essentially connected with, and forming a part of our happy constitution.

II. That a full, perfect, and free toleration in the exercise of religious duties, must be the wish and glory of every liberal mind; but to remove the bulwarks to our sacred constitution, in church and state, by a repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, would tend to produce that civil anarchy, which at pointed out to the legislature the necessity of making such wise and salutary restrictive laws.

III. That this court do consider themselves called upon to strengthen the hands of those friends to the established church, in the house of commons, who have, twice, successfully opposed the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, by expressing their public thanks for such conduct; and to solicit the members of this court who have seats in parliament, strenuously to resist every attempt that shall be made to obtain that repeal.

On the discussion of the question in the house of commons,

106

the motion, which last year was lost only by , was now negatived by .

About this period, the streets of the metropolis were infested by a villain of a non-descript species in this country, and, for that reason, known by the appellation of the Monster. It was his practice to follow some well-dressed lady, whom he found unaccompanied by a man; and sometimes, after gross language, sometimes without saying a word, to give her a cut with a sharp instrument concealed in his hand, either through her stays or through her petticoats behind. Several ladies had been thus attacked and wounded by this fellow, who had always the address to escape undetected; when, on the , a Miss Porter, who had been assaulted by him in the manner described, was walking in the Park, in company with a gentleman, and met him. She immediately exclaimed,

The wretch has just passed us!

and pointed him out to the gentleman, who followed and apprehended him. On the , he was brought to trial at the , and found guilty upon the clearest evidence; but the judge reserved the sentence upon a point of law. The decision of the judges on this point being that the indictment was defective in form, he escaped the capital part of the charge; but was afterwards tried for this, and other assaults, and, being convicted of the whole of them, was sentenced to years imprisonment.

The death of Mr. Nugent, who had held the office of common-serjeant from the year , occasioned a vacancy for that office; the election for which came on the , when Mr. Sylvester was chosen, during pleasure. But this limitation being thought inconsistent with the nature of his office, part of which is to act as judge in the criminal court in the kingdom, it was rescinded by the next court.

A cause was tried in the sheriffs court, at , on the , in which John Wilkes, esq. as chamberlain of the city of London, was plaintiff, and John Pardoe, esq. defendant. The action was brought to recover the penalty of , which is ordained by a bye-law of the court of common-council, to be paid for declining to serve the office of sheriff, to which Mr. Pardoe had been elected in the year , but refused to serve, on the ground of his being incapacitated. As it appeared that Mr. Pardoe, when he was chosen sheriff, was years of age, in an infirm state of health, and totally unfit to serve the office, the jury, which was special, gave a verdict in his favour.

The month of December was remarkable for violent storms of wind; the was on the morning of the , by which considerable damage was done; and the , which was much more destructive, began between and o'clock in the morning of the , and was attended with successive flashes of lightning, and continued rolls of loud thunder. Part of the copper roofing of the new stone buildings, in Lincoln's-inn, was blown over the

107

clerk's office, into , and some pieces of it over the roofs of the houses on the opposite side of the lane, so that it must have been carried upwards of a feet through the air. Many houses were much damaged by stacks of chimnies falling through the roofs, and some lives were lost; and, in the country, the effects of the storm were equally violent: its severity was also felt in France.

The case of the city of London against the corporation of Lynn, came on to be argued in the court of King's-bench, on the . It was a writ of error, from the court of Common pleas, where a trial at bar was had on a writ (of being quit from toll), brought by the city of London, to assert the right of their citizens to be exempted from a toll on corn, demanded by the corporation of Lynn. The cause was tried in , by a special jury of the county of Norfolk, who found a verdict in favour of the citizens of London: and the errors were now assigned on the informality of the declaration, which did not state, that the city of London had received an injury, on which an action could be maintained, the corporation of Lynn having demanded, but not received, or distrained for, the toll in question. On this defect in the declaration, the judgment was reversed ; but the rights of the citizens of London were not at all affected by this decision.

On the , the river Thames overflowed its banks to a greater extent than ever had been remembered. All the low grounds adjacent to the stream were inundated, and immense damage was done along the wharfs and in the warehouses on both sides of the river. In Palace Yard the water was nearly feet deep, and boats were rowed up from the Thames to Westminster-hall-gate. The Scotland Yards and the were entirely under water, and many parts impassible for hours. and fields between Westminster-bridge and Blackfriar's road, were in a similar state; and Bank-side, , Thamesstreet, , , &c. with most of the intermediate wharfs were alike overflowed.

A general meeting of the royal academicians was held at Somerset-house, on the , for the election of a committee for the purpose of determining on the propriety of the subjects and situations of the monuments to be erected in , by order of parliament; when Messrs. West, Hamilton, Nollekins, Banks, Dance, and sir William Chambers, were chosen, who, with the president of the Royal Academy for the time being, were invested by the lord chancellor, the archbishop of Canterbury, the bishop of London, and the dean and chapter, with the sole power of adjudging situations.

On the night of the , there was an alarming insurrection in the King's-bench prison; an attempt being made by the greater part of the prisoners to escape. Much mischief was done to

108

the inner part of the building, and the outer door would have been forced, had not a party of horse and foot arrived, very opportunely to restore order, which they effected, happily without bloodshed, before o'clock. The principals in this riot were removed to Newgate on the following day.

The right of the liverymen to be exempted from the operation of press-warrants, was again discussed, on the , in the court of Common-pleas, in the case of of the livery, who, having been impressed, were brought into court by writs of . The main question, however, was not determined; the men being discharged by consent, on their own recognizances, to appear on the day of the following term, if called upon.

A court of common council was held at on the , to take into consideration a question adjourned from the former court, relative to the standing order, viz.

That no member shall be permitted to be put in nomination as a candidate for any place of emolument, in the gift of this court, unless he shall, previously thereto, have engaged to take the

first

opportunity to resign his seat, in case he prove successful.

After a warm debate, the court divided, when the numbers appeared to be, for retaining the standing order , for suspending it, .

The long depending cause between the magistrates of Surrey and the city of London, was argued before the court of King's-bench, on the lth of November, on a special verdict. The facts were that a general meeting of the justices of Surrey was held on the , for the purpose of granting licenses to publicans; that the magistrates of London did not attend this meeting, but met on a subsequent day, and granted licenses to certain publicans, who had been refused them by the justices of Surrey. For this conduct the magistrates of London were indicted, and the question for the decision of the court was,

whether the city of London had an exclusive jurisdiction to grant licenses in the borough of

Southwark

, or possessed only a concurrent jurisdiction with the justices of Surrey?

the case had been argued on both sides, the court determined that the city of London had not an exclusive, but a concurrent jurisdiction, and therefore had acted illegally. This question was therefore determined against the city.

Between and o'clock, on the morning of the , the Pantheon, in , was discovered to be on fire; and the flames, which issued from the painter's room, spread so rapidly through the building, that not a single article could be saved. The brilliant light from the scenery, oil, and other combustible materials, illuminated all the western parts of the metropolis: and when the roof fell in, the flames rose in immense column to a great height, and continuing to ascend for several minutes, formed a sublime, though fearful spectacle. The thickness and elevation of the walls prevented the conflagration from spreading to the contiguous houses. The damage was estimated at about

109

 

An attempt was made to set the house of commons on fire on the , which was happily rendered abortive by the diligence of the watchman of the house. On perceiving a smell of something burning, he communicated his suspicions to Mr. Bellamy, who caused a search to be made, and found the ceiling of a water-closet, immediately under the house, had been broken, and a pair of worsted breeches, stuffed with combustible matter, burning between the joists. But for this providential discovery, it is probable that both houses of parliament, with the whole of Westminster-hall, and the court of Requests would, from the quantity and dryness of the timber contained in them, have fallen a sacrifice to this destructive element.

During the years , , and , the metropolis was greatly agitated by political contention. The French revolution had given a new tone to popular feeling, and associations were pretty generally formed for the purpose of obtaining a more pure representation of the people in the house of commons. The principal of these associations, viz. the Society of the Friends of the People, and the Corresponding Society, held their meetings in London. The former was principally composed of the most distintinguished opposers of the ministry, as members of parliament, &c.; the latter, and by far the most active, included an immense number of the middle and lower classes of the people. The avowed object of these societies was parliamentary reform, though the advocates of corruption stigmatized them by the appellation of Republicans and Levellers.

On the a proclamation was issued for the suppression of seditious meetings and publications. This was followed by addresses of thanks to the king from both houses of parliament, from the lord mayor and common-council of the city, and from many other public bodies; and various informations, , were laid by the attorney-general against the writers of presumed libels.

A very dangerous riot took place on the of this month, in , , occasioned by the apprehension of a number of servants who had assembled at a public-house in the neighbourhood to make merry on the king's birth night, by a dance. On the following morning, a mob assembled in front of the watch-house, and demanded their release, which, not being complied with, they broke the windows. In the mean time some magistrates met at the watch-house, and examined the servants, all of whom were discharged, except , including the publican and fiddler. The mob continuing to increase, the military were sent for, and the riot act being read, the crowd dispersed. Tranquillity appearing to be restored, the soldiers were ordered away in the afternoon. In the evening the mob assembled again, and attacked the watch-house, which they broke into and began to demolish, throwing the benches and furniture into the street. A party of guards reached the spot in time to prevent the total destruction of it, but had much difficulty

110

to disperse the rabble, who proceeded immediately to the attack of a house in , belonging to of the constables, where it was also necessary to require the assistance of the military, to prevent mischief. Happily the tumult ended here without bloodshed; for those who assembled on the following day appeared to have no motive but curiosity, to see the devastation of the former night.

It had been long acknowledged, that some reformation in the police of was wanted, though the mode of effecting it, so as to unite general security with general liberty, had not been agreed upon. With a view to accomplish this most difficult of the labours of the legislation, a bill was introduced into parliament, early in the month of March, in pursuance of which, regular offices were to be established for the administration of that branch of justice, which falls within the jurisdiction of a justice of peace. justices to be appointed to each office, with fixed salaries, and the fees taken in all the offices to be consolidated in fund for the payment of them; and to annihilate that reproach to the magistracy, known by the name of trading justices, no person in the commission of the peace was to receive any fees, except at the established offices.

Some opposition was made to this bill in its progress; but as it was only proposed for an experiment, being limited in its duration, and parliament would be enabled to judge of its expediency at the expiration of the term, and continue it or not, as the result should warrant, it was passed.

The act was carried into execution on the , being extended to the other suburbs of the metropolis, and the following offices were appointed; viz. , ; ; Hatton-garden; , ; Lambeth-street, , Shadwell; and , .

The numerous atrocities committed in France during the progress of the Revolution, particularly in the months of August and September this year, and the total abolition of the French monarchy by a decree of the National Convention, had a vast effect on the public mind in this country. These causes led to the establishment of the famous

Crown and Anchor Association:

the avowed purpose of which was the protection of

liberty and property, against the daring attempts of republicans and levellers.

This society met on the , and assuming as facts, that the clubs associated for obtaining a more equal representation of the people, were, by the forms of their associations,

always seditious, and very often treasonable ;

and that the

equality of rights

contended for was only a pretext to cover an intended criminal

equalization

of property,

proceeded to decry any alteration in the existing state of Government, and to impede the circulation of all political writings, that bore the character of free inquiry.

The means employed by the Crown and Anchor Association were not always the most honorable; yet, aided as it covertly was, by the support of administration, it quickly obtained great influence, and similar associations were formed under its patronage in many parts of the country.

Among the methods resorted to by the supporters of popular liberty, was that of propagating their opinions through the medium of debating societies, political lectures, &c. wherein, although the nominal subject might relate to some event in the ancient history of Greece or Rome, or the more recent transactions of France, the deductions were generally allusive to the actual state of affairs in Great Britain. Such a meeting was publicly announced to be held at the King's Arms tavern, in , on the evening of the ; yet, when the orators and their auditory assembled, they found the staircase in the occupation of a number of peace-officers, who refused them admission into the debating-room. This occasioned some slight tumult; but, by the exertions of the lord mayor, sir James Sanderson, who attended with the city marshals, the crowd was prevailed on to depart. At a full meeting of the common council, held a few days afterwards, sir James received the thanks of the court for his conduct on this occasion; though it was thought by many to be an arbitrary stretch of magisterial power.

At the same court was also passed the following resolutions:--

I. That it is the duty of all corporations to preserve their fidelity to their sovereign, to be watchful for the safety of the sacred constitution of the country, and to maintain, to the utmost of their power, the peace, the property, and the personal security of every freeman living under its protection; as it is equally the duty of every freeman to bear true allegiance to the king, and be obedient to the existing laws of the land.

II. That this corporation, regarding the blessings which the subjects of the British empire enjoy, under the present mild and happy government, as inestimable, will strengthen its exertions by every possible means, to suppress all unlawful and seditious assemblies within this city, and to bring to justice every disturber of the public tranquillity.

III. That this corporation, in the most solemn manner, doth hereby call upon every good citizen to co-operate with them to the same salutary end; to discourage every attempt which may be made to excite the fears of the metropolis, by weak and designing men; and each in his own person, to be ready at all times to accompany and assist the magistrates of the city in the suppression of every tumult.

IV. That this court doth remind their constituents, the freemen

112

of London, of the oath by which they are bound, to this purpose; viz. the , , and last clauses of a freeman's oath.

Ye shall swear that ye shall be good and true to our sovereign lord king George. Obeysant and obedient ye shall be to the mayor and ministers of the city. Ye shall also keep the king's peace in your own person. Ye shall know no gatherings, conventicles, nor conspiracies, made against the king's peace, but ye shall warn the mayor thereof, or let it to your power.

V. That it be recommended to the aldermen and common-council, in their respective wards, to consider of the best means of preserving tranquillity, and of securing obedience to the laws.

VI. That these resolutions be printed in all the public papers of the united kingdoms, signed by the town-clerk.

The apprehensions of some sudden insurrection was at this time so strong among the friends of administration, that it was thought expedient to make great preparations for the defence of the Tower, by opening entrenchments, raising parapets, and mounting cannon on the walls. All the breaches were filled up; and, on the west side of the Tower, some hundreds of old rum-puncheons, filled with earth, were placed as a barricade. At the same time the Bank was double guarded; the villages, in the environs of the capital, were filled with soldiery, sufficient to protect the lives and property of the inhabitants of the metropolis, in case of a sudden alarm; and the court of lieutenancy of the city ordered a company of the London militia to be constantly on duty at the Artillery-house, night and day, to be ready at a moment's notice, in case of a disturbance.

In this ferment , the merchants, bankers, traders, and other inhabitants of London, thought it necessary to come forward, with a public declaration of their firm attachment to the constitution, and of their resolution to support the same. A meeting, for this purpose, was accordingly held, on the , at Merchant Taylors'-hall, which was attended by upwards of persons; when, the declaration being twice read, and unanimously agreed to, was left at the hall, for receiving the signatures of all the above descriptions who should approve of it. In a few days it was signed by upwards of persons of the consequence in the metropolis.

This declaration, and similar resolutions entered into by the capitalists and principal corporate bodies in the kingdom, mainly contributed to plunge the country into that ruinous and expensive war, the fatal effects of which are felt to the present time.

On the , the trial of Thomas Paine, for sedition, in writing and publishing the part of the

Rights of Man,

was brought on before lord Kenyon and a special jury, at ; and a verdict of guilty having been given, the defendant was subsequently outlawed, he having recently left the country to go to France, where he had been elected a member of the National Convention.

113

 

Early in , the Alien Act was passed; in of the debates on which, in the house of commons, much effect was produced by the theatrical oratory of Mr. Burke, who drew a concealed dagger from his coat, and threw it with great violence on the floor; falsely affirming, that of those weapons had been ordered at Birmingham, for the purpose of assassination.

During the months of December and January, several attempts were made by Monsieur Chauvelin to renew the political intercourse between Great Britain and France, which had been suspended from the preceding August, when the French king, Louis the Sixteenth, was imprisoned by his subjects. The administration, however, refused to acknowledge him in his new character of minister plenipotentiary from the republic of France; and on the , days after the decapitation of Louis, Chauvelin was ordered to quit the kingdom. On the very eve of his departure, Monsieur Marat, under secretary for foreign affairs in France, arrived in England, with enlarged powers, but he also was hastily ordered to leave the kingdom, without being permitted to open the object of his mission. These circumstances, with the warlike preparations in the British ports, &c. leaving no doubt as to the intentions of the British ministry, the French republic, on the , declared itself

at war with the king of England.

On the , the court of common council presented an address to his majesty,

thanking him for his paternal care in the preservation of the public tranquility, and assuring him of the readiness and determination of his faithful citizens to support the honor of his crown and the welfare of his kingdoms, against the ambitious designs of France,

&c. Previous to this, a bounty of to every able seaman, and to every able landsman who should enter the navy at was voted out of the city chamber, in addition to the bounties given by the king.

The commencement of the war was marked by great distress in the commercial world, and the number of bankruptcies which took place within a few months, as well in the other principal trading towns as in the metropolis itself, was unprecedented. Through the general stagnation of trade and credit, a vast number of families were reduced to beggary, and the consequences would have been still more deplorable, had not the legislature interfered, and enabled his majesty to institute a commission, under which

exchequer bills, to the amount of

five

millions, were directed to be issued, for the assistance and accommodation of such persons as might apply to the commissioners, and give proper security for the sums to be advanced for a time to be limited.

This measure was chiefly founded on the recommendation of a committee of of the principal merchants of London, who met at the Mansion-house on the .

114

 

During the progress of this year, numerous prosecutions were carried on, under the direction of the Attorney General, against divers persons in the metropolis and elsewhere, for seditious libels and expressions; yet the issue was not always favourable to the government, and more dissatisfaction, perhaps, was excited by the attempts made to fetter the liberty of the press and the right of free discussion, than could have resulted from the licence complained of in these proceedings. In the month of November, the city voted towards supplying the British troops on the continent with warm clothing and other necessaries, during the winter; and ward committees were also appointed to receive subscriptions for the same humane purpose.

On the , the whole range of warehouses, at Hawley's-wharf, near Hermitage-bridge, , was destroyed by fire, together with several adjoining houses, and vessels, with other small craft, that were lying in the dock; great quantities of sugar, rum, and hemp were destroyed; of the sugar, nearly casks were melted by the intense heat, into mass, and flowed through the streets in a bright stream of liquid fire.

On the , a dreadful accident happened at the little theatre, in the , through the pressure of the crowd, who had assembled in great numbers, in consequense of the play on that night having been commanded by their majesties. On opening the pit-door, the rush was so strong, that a number of persons were thrown down, and those that immediately followed were carried over them, by the irresistible pressure from behind; so that many, who were literally trampling their fellow-creatures to death, had it not in their power to avoid the mischief they were doing. The cries of the dying and the maimed were truly shocking; and before the confusion could be remedied, persons were deprived of life, and upwards of others materially injured, by bruises and broken limbs. Most of the sufferers were respectable characters; among the dead were Benjamin Pingo, esq. York Herald, and J. C. Brooke, esq. Somerset Herald.

The alarm which had been so zealously spread by the ministry and their partizans, in the latter end of the year , concerning the traitorous conspiracies of the democratic societies in England, had for some time been suffered to subside; but in the spring and summer of , they were again excited into new consistency and strength. Government, indeed, seemed now determined to try its power, and to check the influence of adverse opinion by the edge of the sword.

On the , Mr. William Stone, a coal-merchant of Rutland-place, , was apprehended, and, after several examinations before the privy-council, he was committed to

115

Newgate, on a charge of high treason. On the , Mr. Daniel Adams, formerly clerk in the auditor's office, secretary to the Society for Constitutional Information; and Mr. Thomas Hardy, a shoemaker in , who had acted as secretary to the London Corresponding Society, were apprehended for treasonable practices, and had all their books and papers seized. On the same day, a message from the king was brought down to the house of commons, stating that

seditious practices had been carried on by certain societies in London, in correspondence with other societies; that they had lately been pursued with increasing activity and boldness, and been avowedly directed to the assembling of a pretended general convention of the people, in contempt and defiance of the authority of parliament, on principles subversive of the existing law and constitution, and tending to introduce that system of anarchy prevailing in France; that his majesty had given orders for seizing the books and papers of these societies, which were to be laid before the house; and that it was recommended to the house to consider them, and to pursue such measures as were necessary, in order to prevent their pernicious tendency.

On the following day, the voluminous papers which had been seized, but which chiefly consisted of the original copies of resolutions and proceedings that had long been known to the public, were referred to a committee of secresy, which, on the , made their report, wherein it was stated, generally, that

It had appeared to the committee, that a plan had been digested and acted upon, and was then in forwardness for its execution, the object of which was to assemble a pretended convention of the people, for the purposes of assuming the character of a general representation of the nation, superseding the representative capacity of the house, and arrogating the legislative power of the country at large.

On these, and other grounds specified in the report, the premier, Mr. Pitt, recommended the suspension of the act, and moved for leave to bring in a bill for that purpose. This was vehemently opposed by the leading members of opposition, who ridiculed the idea of a treasonable conspiracy; and Mr. Sheridan expressly declared his belief,

not only that no treasonable practices existed in the country, and that ministers and their friends knew this to be the case;

but that the measures they were now pursuing,

was to create some new cause f panic, to gain a continuation of power over the people.

It was determined, however, that the suspension should take place, and the ministry, having thus freed themselves from the principal bar to despotic rule, proceeded with their arrests. In the course of the week, the celebrated John Horne Tooke, esq. the Rev. Jeremiah Joyce, private secretary to lord Stanhope, Mr. John Thelwall, a political lecturer, and Messrs. Bonney, Richter, and Lovett were all apprehended on charges of high treason, and conveyed to

116

the Tower, strongly guarded. Various other persons were also arrested, and were confined in different prisons.

On the , the French colours which had been taken on the surrender of Martinique, and had been previously brought to , were, by the command of the king, deposited in , to which they were carried, in a military procession, by serjeants, escorted by detachments of the horse and foot guards.

On the , intelligence arrived of the memorable victory obtained by lord Howe, on the , over the French fleet, and, on the following nights, the metropolis was illuminated with great splendour. Almost immediately afterwards, a subscription was opened at Lloyd's Coffee-house, for the relief of the wounded on board the British fleet, and for the widows and children of those who had fallen in the battle. The subscriptions soon amounted to a vast sum, towards which, the proprietors of , gave a clear benefit, producing upwards of and the city The freedom of the city, in a gold box of guineas value, was also voted to the gallant Howe by the court of common council.

On the , about o'clock in the afternoon, a dreadful fire broke out at , Ratcliffe, which, in its progress, consumed more houses than any conflagration since the great fire of London, in . It was occasioned by the boiling over of a pitch kettle, at a barge-builder's, from whose warehouses it communicated to a large barge laden with salt-petre, and from that to the salt-petre warehouses belonging to the East India company. The scene now became dreadful; the wind blowing strong from the south directed the flames towards Ratcliffe ; which being narrow, took fire on both sides, which prevented the engines from being of any service. From hence, it extended towards Stepney, until, having reached an open space of ground, it stopped for want of materials to consume. About o'clock at night, its devastations on the side next were checked by the great exertions of the firemen and inhabitants. It was a very remarkable circumstance, that an extensive building, the dwelling-house of a Mr. Bere, standing almost in the centre of the conflagration, remained uninjured, not even a single pane of glass being cracked. On making a survey of the extent of the damage, it appeared that, out of houses of which the hamlet consisted, not more than were preserved from the destructive element. About families were deprived of their all, and thrown on the public benevolence. In this distress, government sent tents from the Tower, which were pitched in an enclosed piece of ground, adjoining to Stepney church-yard, for the reception of

117

the sufferers, and provisions were distributed among them from the vestry. A subscription was also immediately opened at Lloyd's coffee-house for their relief; and some of the gentlemen in the neighbourhood attended at the avenues leading to the desolated scene, for the purpose of solicting the benevolence of those whom curiosity might lead to witness the distresses of their fellow-creatures; and it may be recorded among the instances of universal charity peculiar to this nation, that the collection from the visitants on the Sunday following, amounted to upwards of ; of which was in copper, and in farthings. The total sum collected was upwards of .

The oldest inhabitant of London never witnessed so dreadful a storm as that which took place on the , about o'clock in the afternoon. The rain fell in torrents, and was accompanied by long and tremendous peals of thunder, and vivid flashes of lightning. of these was seen to come down and strike the street on the east side of Temple-bar, producing an effect similar to an explosion of gunpowder; every particle of straw, mud, and even the water, being completely swept from the pavement, while the houses on both sides of the street were violently shaken, and the doors of some of them forced open: fortunately, the rain had driven every person from the street. Among other damage done by the violence of this storm, the centre beam of the roof of Lloyd's coffee-house was split, and great part of the ceiling fell into the coffee-room, followed by a torrent of rain, which in a few minutes covered the whole floor. Many balls of fire fell in the streets, particularly at the west end of the town, by which several people were thrown down, but only person was killed.

About the middle of August, the metropolis was, for several days, a scene of great confusion, in consequence of the accidental death of an unfortunate man, who had been inveigled into a house in , Charing-cross, kept for the double purpose of debauchery and recruiting. This house had communications by secret avenues with others, all of which were in the occupation of a wretched female, called Mrs. Hanna, whose inmates frequently alarmed the neighbourhood by the cries of violence and murder. On the morning of the , a young man, named George Howe, who had before been heard to cry out for mercy,

was seen on the roof of the house in his shirt, in apparent great agony, as if closely pursued from within; and, upon the approach of his pursuers, he threw himself in despair from the tiles, and was dashed to pieces on the flags of the court.

This event raised the indignation of the people, and a great mob began to assemble

118

in the vicinity; but their threatened vengeance was for a few hours appeased by the exertions of Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Grey, whom curiosity had attracted to the spot. The former being in the commission of the peace for , signed a warrant to search the residence of a notorious crimp, called Jaques, where a poor wretch, the son of a farmer near Maidstone, was found smothering in the height of the small-pox, in a loathsome cellar. In the evening, the crowd was, with some difficulty, dispersed by the military; but, on the next morning, the populace re-assembled, and completely gutted all the crimping houses in the court, with loud cries for vengeance against all crimps and kidnappers. They were at length driven off by a detachment of the horse guards, and in the course of the day the coroner's inquest returned a verdict on the body of Howe, of

accidental death in endeavouring to escape from illegal confinement in a house of ill-fame.

This was so little satisfactory to the lower classes, that, on the or following days, different mobs collected, and various recruiting offices in different parts of the town were assailed, and more or less demolished, accordingly as the people met with interruption from the soldiers, large bodies of whom, both of horse and foot, were now constantly patrolling the streets. At last, by the prudent exertions of the lord mayor and other magistrates, and the firm but temperate conduct of the military, the disturbance gradually subsided; and though some shots were fired, no person appears to have been particularly hurt.

On the , a special commission of Oyer and Terminer was issued for the trial of the prisoners charged with high treason in May, and it was opened on the , at the Sessions-house, Clerkenwell. In the course of the proceedings, the grand jury found true bills against Thomas Hardy, John Horne Tooke, J. A. Bonney, Stewart Kydd, Jeremiah Joyce, Thomas Wardell, Thomas Holcroft, John Richter, Matthew Moore, John Thelwall, R. Hodson, John Baxter, and John Martin.

Whilst these affairs were in progress, a new alarm was excited by the rumours of a base conspiracy to assassinate the king by means of a poisoned arrow, which, according to the information of an infamous and perjured wretch, named Upton, was to have been blown through a hollow brass tube, inserted in a walking-stick. The poison with which the dart was to have been envenomed was to be of such a subtile and powerful nature, that the slightest wound would occasion death. John Peter Le Maitre, a watchmaker's apprentice; William Higgins, an apprentice to a chemist; and Smith, who kept a book-stall, were the

119

persons implicated by Upton, (who was also a watchmaker, and a very ingenious though vicious man) and after a long investigation before the privy council, they were committed to prison. That some idle conversation in respect to public affairs had passed among the persons thus charged, there is reason to believe; but that there was the slightest attempt made to fabricate a plot of this kind, unless by the informer himself, was never proved. Certainly nothing appeared in evidence to justify the tale; for when Le Maitre was to have been tried, Upton could not be found, and it was said that he was accidentally drowned in the Thames a day or previous; but the greater probability is, that he did not dare to appear. After a close confinement for some months, the prisoners were liberated; and thus ended the part of the famous Pop-gun plot.

On the , of the persons against whom bills for high treason had been found, were arraigned at the ; and, on the day following, the trial of Thomas Hardy was commenced. After a laborious investigation of days, in which all the eloquence of the attorney and solicitor-generals, aided by a vast mass of papers, and strengthened by the testimony of hired spies, was exhausted to criminate the prisoners, the jury pronounced a verdict of Not Guilty. The effect of this verdict in removing the gloom which had spread over the country at the continued efforts of government to govern by despotic power, was most remarkable. In the metropolis, the news flew with a sort of electric rapidity, and all ranks seemed to participate in the sentiment, that the liberties of Britain could never be effectually destroyed, whilst the invaluable privilege of

trial by jury

was still maintained inviolable.

On the , John Horne Tooke was brought to trial. The proceedings lasted nearly days: the evidence was similar to what had been offered against Hardy, and the issue was the same. These defeats led to the liberation, on , of Bonney, Joyce, Kydd, and Holcroft; yet the ministry determined on making more attempt to secure a victim, and on the same day was begun the trial of John Thelwall, who, in his political lectures, had been known to employ some very strong language against the measures of government. Here, however, they were again foiled; and a verdict of

not guilty

shamed them into a feeling of the moral turpitude which must accompany any further attempts to sacrifice men's lives on charges so repeatedly proved to be ill-founded. Those in custody for treasonable practices were therefore discharged on different days, and the commission itself was finally dissolved in January.

During the continuance of the proceedings on these trials, the

120

strongest agitation prevailed among the people, yet by the judicious conduct of the city magistracy, tranquillity was effectually preserved through the exertions of the civil power alone. Every day the vicinity of the was crowded by a countless multitude, and the counsel on the popular side, Messrs. Erskine and Gibbs were drawn to their homes in triumph. The popular joy on the acquittal of the prisoners was displayed by loud and reiterated acclamations, and even the interior of the court itself partook of the general feeling.

In the course of the or preceding years, the minds of the credulous part of the public had been much disturbed by the prophecies of Richard Brothers, who had been a lieutenant in the navy, and whose writings, founded on erroneous explanations of the scriptures, had made so much noise, that government judged it expedient to interfere, and on the , he was apprehended at his lodgings in , under a warrant from the secretary of state, grounded on the of Elizabeth, in which he stood charged with

unlawfully, maliciously, and wickedly writing, printing, and publishing various fantastical prophecies, with intent to create dissentions and other disturbances within this realm, and other of the king's dominions, contrary to the statute,

&c. Among other extravagancies promulgated by Mr. Brothers, he styled himself the

nephew of God,

and predicted the destruction of all sovereigns, the downfall of the naval power of Great Britain, and the restoration of the Jews, who, under him as their prince and deliverer, were to be re-seated at Jerusalem. All these events were to be accomplished by the year . After a long examination before the privy council, in which Mr. Brothers persisted in the divinity of his legation, he was committed into the custody of a state messenger. On the , he was declared a lunatic, by a jury appointed under a commission, on a writ , and assembled at the King's Arms, in Palace-yard. He was subsequently removed to a private mad-house at , where he was kept till the year , when he was discharged by the authority of the lord chancellor Erskine.

On the , vessels, cut from their moorings by the large bodies of ice drifting in the river, were driven with such force against London-bridge by the tide, that of them, a large West Indiaman, carried away all her masts against the balustrades of the bridge, knocked down of the lamps, bending the irons in an astonishing manner; and, with a crash that shook the whole fabric, passed through the centre arch with incredible velocity, and drifted up the river to Blackfriar's bridge, which she also went through, and continued her course till she came above Somerset-house, where she drove on shore, and was

121

secured. The crew, perceiving their danger, took to the boat a few minutes before she reached the bridge. The other vessel struck against the starlings of of the smaller arches, and did not go through.

On the , the marriage of his royal highness the prince of Wales with the princess Caroline of Brunswick, was solemnized at the chapel-royal, St. James's, in the presence of their majesties, the princes and princesses, the state officers, &c. In the evening the metropolis was partially illuminated.

On the of this month, the long depending trial, in Westminster-hall, of Warren Hastings, esq. who had been impeached by the house of commons for

high crimes and misdemeanours,

whilst governor-general of India, was brought to a conclusion; and he was declared

not guilty

by a considerable majority of the few peers (only ) that voted. The proceedings had began on the , and continued by successive adjournments through every sessions of parliament to the above time; so that upwards of years and months had elapsed before the end of the trial; a circumstance unparallelled in the annals of judicature.

About the middle of July, fresh tumults were excited in the metropolis by the rashness of a fifer, named John Lewis, who, having been refused liquor at the King's Arms, Charing-cross, (then deprived of its licence) and turned out of the house for his insulting behaviour, raised an immense crowd round the door, by falsely asserting, that

his companion had just been kidnapped, and was then chained down in the cellar, with

three

others; whence they were to be conveyed away by a secret door, that communicated with the Thames.

This tale was so fully credited by the mob, that, notwithstanding the house was submitted to search, and nothing of the kind discovered, all the furniture was destroyed or carried off, before the military could disperse the rioters. Lewis, however, was taken into custody by some persons who had witnessed his improper conduct.

On the following days, a mob again assembled at Charing-cross and in fields, where they partly demolished the recruiting offices, and made bonfires of the furniture. They were at last dispersed by the horse guards, who, after enduring a great deal of insult, were forced to ride their horses among them, by which several were trampled on and severely wounded; and some of the more active rioters were apprehended. On the succeeding morning, another great multitude collected, and several parts of the town were threatened with disturbances; but the judicious distribution of the soldiery had the effect of intimidation, and the tumult ceased without the necessity of using particular violence. The unfortunate instigator of these disorders was afterwards capitally convicted for the offence, and was hanged at Newgate

122

in November: some other persons also suffered for participating in them.

In the afternoon of the , the beautiful church of St. Paul, Covent-garden, was destroyed by fire. The neighbouring buildings were with difficulty preserved, as the heat thrown out by the flames, which arose from the interior of the building in a vast pyramid, was most intense. Nothing was saved but the communion plate. This accident was occasioned by the negligence of some plumbers, who had been employed in finishing the lead work of the new cupola, the whole edifice having just undergone a complete repair.

The general dearness of provisions, and particularly of bread in the summer and autumn of this year, occasioned various meetings of the privy council, and of corporate and other bodies, through whose recommendations the consumption of the finer sorts of flour was somewhat reduced. Subscriptions for the relief of the necessitous were also opened; and the court of common council gave to be distributed among the industrious poor in the different wards of the city.

On the , an assemblage of the people was convened in a field between Pancras church and Copenhagen-house, by the London Corresponding Society, for the purpose of preparing an address and remonstrance to his majesty on the subjects of peace and parliamentary reform. The meeting consisted of between and persons, and every thing was conducted with propriety and good order; yet the effervescence thus excited among the populace was most probably the immediate cause of a most daring attack upon the king's person, made days afterwards, when the sovereign went, as customary, to open the parliament. A strange rumour, that a riot was likely to take place, had been industriously circulated, and this contributed greatly to increase the multitude of spectators; so much so, indeed, that the numbers assembled in , and its leading avenues, were computed at about . Instead of the loud huzzas which generally greeted the king in his way to the parliament-house, the predominant exclamations on this day were

Peace! Peace!-Give us bread!-No Pitt!-No Famine!-no war!

--and a few voices were heard to exclaim,

Down with George!

or words to that effect. As the procession advanced along the park, and in , the clamours of the mob were mingled with indecent hissings and hootings, and several stones were thrown at the royal carriage, of the glass pannels of which was at length perforated by a stone or bullet, near the ordnance office, in . Similar outrages attended the king's return from the house of lords; and though the gates of had been shut to exclude the mob, great numbers had procured access by the other passages, and by them

123

the insults and reviling were kept up till his majesty alighted at St. James's. The state coach was afterwards attacked by the populace with stones and bludgeons, on its way through to , and almost demolished.

After the king had remained a little time at , he proceeded in his private carriage to Buckingham-house, without any military escort, and attended only by footmen. In this unprotected state, he was again beset by a gang of ruffians, who, before the carriage could get through , attempted to force open the door; but the king's footmen having beckoned to a party of the horse guards, which was fortunately in sight, the guards galloped up, relieved the sovereign from his new danger, and conducted him in safety to the queen's palace.

This atrocious attack, whether it was really the consequence of a premeditated design, or whether, as the greater probability is, it merely resulted from the ebullition of the moment, awakened the strongest feelings of abhorrence throughout the country; and his majesty received addresses on the occasion from both houses of parliament, from the city of London, and from numerous other bodies in all parts of the kingdom. or persons who had been most active in hooting the sovereign, were taken into custody on the day of the tumult; but the proffered reward of offered by a royal proclamation, failed in bringing to justice any of the rabble who had personally insulted the king.

The trial of Kyd Wake, of the gang who followed his majesty's coach on the day of the sessions, hissing and otherwise insulting him, came on in the court of king's-bench, on the , when the facts charged in the indictment being fully proved, the jury, without hesitation, returned a verdict of guilty. The judgment of the court, which was pronounced on the day of the next term, was, to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour in Gloucester gaol for years, and to stand on the pillory in of the public streets of Gloucester, on a market-day, within the months of his imprisonment, at the expiration of which, he was to find security for , for his good behaviour for years.

At a court of common council, held on the , the sum of was voted to that excellent institution, the Humane Society.

On the and , Mr. William Stone, coal-merchant, was tried in the court of King's Bench, for high treason, in corresponding with his brother in France, &c. when a verdict of not guilty was returned, to the complete satisfaction of a crowded assembly.

In the course of May, this year, the last part of the Pop-gun plot was played off, by the trial of Richard Thomas Crossfield, a surgeon, who had been implicated in the charge of intending to

124

assassinate the king; but after an investigation of days at the sessions-house, in the , he was declared not guilty. Le Maitre, Smith, and Higgins, who, after the apprehension of Crossfield, had been re-committed to prison in rather an unprecedented manner, were finally liberated, without trial, on the of this month.

At a court of common council held on the , a committee was appointed

to take into consideration the high price of flour, whilst grain was cheap, and to make a speedy return of the best means of removing so oppressive an evil.

This measure was founded on the relative prices of wheat and flour in London, at different periods, viz. in , when wheat was d a quarter, and flour ; in , when wheat was sold at at and flour at ; and in , when wheat was and the price charged for flour

Among the measures resorted to by the ministers to meet the increasing exigences of the government, toward the close of this year, was that of a voluntary loan of sterling; and such was the success of this scheme, that though it was only communicated on the to the lord mayor, with a request that he would make it known to the corporation and public companies, the subscriptions were made with such eagerness, that the books, which had been opened at the Bank were closed within days; and though was voted by the court of common council on the , in the afternoon, it was only by

especial indulgence

that this subscription was admitted. At this period, the sentiments of the livery and of the common council were decidedly hostile; and whilst the former, on the , assembled in , and instructed their representatives to vote

a censure upon ministers, for sending money to the emperor of Germany, during the sitting, and without the consent of parliament ;

the latter, on the , resolved, that

the pecuniary aid so furnished to the emperor had been productive of great advantage to Great Britain, and given a decided and favourable turn to the war!

The beginning of the year was distinguished by the extraordinary circumstance of the stoppage of Bank payments in , a measure rendered necessary by the alarming state of public affairs, which had caused such a demand for cash that it was feared a sufficiency would not be left for the emergencies of government, unless further issues were restricted.

The leading causes of this unprecedented event originated in the great advances that had been made to government, during the years and , on the security of Treasury bills, and which fluctuated from about to upwards

125

of millions and a half sterling, besides other advances under different heads, which made the entire sum amount to more than The remittances that had been sent during the war to the emperor of Germany, and other foreign powers, were found to press so heavily upon the Bank, that as early as , the court of directors informed the chancellor of the exchequer that it was their wish

that he would arrange his finances for the year in such a manner, as not to depend on any further assistance from them.

Similar remonstrances were made in April and June, and on the , the directors addressed a written paper to the minister, which concluded by stating

the absolute necessity which they conceived to exist for diminishing the sum of their present advances to government, the last having been granted with great reluctance on their part, on his pressing solicitations.

On the of the same month, in an interview which took place with the chancellor of the exchequer, on the loans to the emperor being mentioned, the governor of the Bank assured Mr. Pitt,

that another loan of that sort would go nigh to ruin the country.

In , on the strong representation of the minister that without the accommodation of

it would be impossible to avoid the most serious and distressing embarrassments to the public service,

the Bank directors agreed to advance that sum, towards the end of August; at the same time, they expressly stated that

the court granted this accommodation with great reluctance, and contrary to their wishes;

and that

nothing could induce them, under the present circumstances, to comply with the demand now made upon them, but the dread that their refusal might be productive of a greater evil, and nothing but the extreme pressure and emergency of the case, can in any shape justify them for acceding to this measure.

On the , Mr. Pitt hinted that it would be necessary for him to negociate a loan for Ireland in this country; and, in a subsequent conversation, on the , he stated, that the sum wanted would be about million and a half. The governor immediately replied, that such a scheme would

cause the ruin of the Bank,

by the drain which it would occasion in the specie; and, on the next day, he further informed him, on the authority of the court of directors, that,

under the present state of the Bank's advances to government, such a measure would threaten ruin to the house, and most probably reduce them to the necessity of shutting up its doors!

During these conferences, the cash in the Bank was very rapidly lowering, partly through dread of the threatened invasion from

France which had induced the farmers and others resident in the parts distant from the metropolis, to withdraw their money from the different banking-houses in which it had been deposited.

The run, therefore (to employ the technical language of the money market) commenced upon the country banks, and the increasing

126

demand for specie soon. reaching the capital, it became evident to the court of directors that, without some essential expedient, the Bank would be wholly unable to withstand the shock. In this critical moment, also, the expected invasion seemed about to take place, by the appearance of some French shipping in Cardigan Bay, and the landing, at Fishguard, of about men, all of whom, however, surrendered at discretion, to lord Cawder, without blood-shed.

At this alarming conjuncture a message was sent to his majesty, at Windsor, to request his immediate attendance in town, to assist at a privy council, which was accordingly held at St. James's, on Sunday, , when an order was made to prohibit the directors of the Bank from

issuing any cash, in payment, until the sense of parliament can be taken on that subject, and the proper measures adopted thereupon for maintaining the means of circulation, and supporting the public and commercial credit of the kingdom.

This order was promulgated on the next morning, annexed to a notice from the Bank, stating that

the directors meant to continue their discounts, for the accommodation of the commercial interest, paying the amount in Bank notes, and the dividend warrants in the same manner ;

and further,

that the general concerns of the Bank were in a most affluent and prosperous situation, and such as to preclude every doubt as to the security of its notes.

Notwithstanding these assurances, the metropolis, and indeed the whole kingdom, was for some days in a state of the greatest agitation, and the stoppage must have had the most fatal consequences, but for the judicious steps that were immediately taken. The merchants, bankers, &c. of London, as in the year declared their unanimous resolution to receive bank notes as cash, and to make their payments in the same manner; and many of the lords and other members of the privy council signed a similar declaration. The parliament also, which was fortunately sitting at this period, immediately proceeded to investigate the affairs of the Bank, and a secret committee was appointed by each house for that purpose. The discussions as to the policy of the measure, were particularly animated, and especially in the house of commons; but the majorities in favour of administration were always considerable.

On the , Mr. Pitt introduced a bill for empowering the Bank to issue notes for sums lower than , to which amount they had hitherto been restricted; and this was passed into a law with such rapidity as to receive the royal assent on the day afterwards. On the same day the committee made their report, in which they stated, that they had examined the outstanding claims against the Bank, with the corresponding assets, and found, that on the , the day to which the accounts could be made up with accuracy, the total amount of demands on

127

the Bank, was ; and that the assets (not including the sum of of permanent debt due by government) amounted to ; so that the surplus in favour of the Bank was A report was made on the , in which the committee recommended that the

order of council should be continued and confirmed for a time to be limited;

and on this recommendation, &c. an act was passed confirming the restriction, and making Bank notes a legal tender in every case, except the payment of the navy and army, which was to be continued in specie. This bill received the royal assent on the d of May.

In , an attempt was made by the lord mayor, Brook Watson, esq. to subject the power of convening the livery in common hall, to the authority of the court of common council; and in this manifest endeavour to violate the rights and privileges of the livery, he was assisted by of the city representatives, viz. sir James Sanderson, and the aldermen Curtis and Lushington. The liverymen who signed the requisition for a meeting which led to this event, immediately addressed a paper to the mayor, stating various unanswerable arguments in defence of their inherent right; and so little was the court of common council itself inclined to invade it, that when the question came to be argued, the following motion, made by Mr. Waithman,

That it would be highly improper in this court to give any opinion respecting the propriety or expediency of convening a common hall,

was carried by a great majority. About a week afterwards, d, at a very full meeting of the livery in , it was resolved, that

An humble address and petition should be presented to his majesty, upon the present alarming state of public affairs, and praying him to dismiss his present ministers from his councils for ever, as the

first

step towards obtaining a speedy, honourable, and permanent peace.

Only voices opposed this resolution, out of a body of persons; and the petition was ordered to be presented

to his majesty, sitting on his throne,

by the lord mayor, the sheriffs, and the parliamentary representatives. When the sheriffs attended at St. James's, to know when his majesty would receive the address, they were informed by the duke of Portland, that

the king would receive it at any levee, in the common form; but that his majesty received addresses on the throne from the city of London as a corporate body only.

128

 

On the , at another common hall, the livery after hearing this answer, directed the sheriffs, attended by the city remembrancer, to wait upon the king personally, agreeably to their undoubted right as sheriffs of London, and to enquire of him when he would be pleased to

receive the said address, upon the throne :

they were also instructed to inform his majesty, if necessary,

that the lord mayor, aldermen, and livery of London cannot deliver their address in any other manner than to the king on his throne.

His majesty's reply was similar to that given by the duke of Portland; and he professed his readiness to receive it, provided it

was presented at the levee by no more than

ten

persons.

When the sheriffs made their report at another common hall, held on the , the livery came to the unanimous resolution,

That the lord mayor, aldermen, and livery of London, have from time immemorial enjoyed the right and privilege of addressing the king upon the throne, and have never before been denied that right, except under the corrupt administration which occasioned and persisted in the American war.

They likewise proceeded to discuss another resolution, strongly reprehensive of the measures of government; but after much altercation, the lord mayor refused to submit it to the livery, as being contrary to the precept by which the meeting had been convened, and at last, he formally dissolved the assembly. Another common hall on this subject was convened on the , when several strong resolutions were entered into, declaratory of the rights of the livery, and of the profligate and wanton conduct of his majesty's ministers,

who had evinced a disposition to sacrifice the blood, treasure, and liberties of the kingdom, in support of measures repugnant to the principles of the constitution, derogatory to the dignity and safety of the king, and inconsistent with the happiness of the people.

The late conduct of the lord mayor was also highly censured; but some days afterwards, a counter declaration was signed by liverymen, expressive of their disapprobation of the proceedings in the last common halls, &c. and of their approval of the measures of government.

The war about this period had become extremely unpopular, excepting with the monied men; and on the d of April, a crowded assembly of the inhabitants of was held in Palace-yard, and a strong address and petition to the king unanimously voted, on the subject of the war, and the conduct of administration.

Your ministers,

said the address,

have tarnished the national honour and glory. They have oppressed the poor with almost intolerable burthens. They have poisoned the intercourse of private life. They have given a fatal blow to public credit. They have divided the empire, and subverted the constitution.-We humbly pray your majesty, therefore, to dismiss them from your presence and councils for ever.

Several peers and members of parliament attended at this meeting; and many similar ones were held in the course of the spring in various parts of the kingdom.

129

 

On the a message was delivered from his majesty to both houses of parliament, on the mutiny among the seamen at the Nore, which at this time had raged for or days, and threatened the most serious consequences. The commerce of London was particularly obstructed by the mutineers, who acted with a boldness and determination, unparallelled in the naval history of Great Britain. Their whole force amounted to between and ships of war, mostly line of battle ships, and their proceedings were directed by a committee of delegates, from each ship, of which Richard Parker, a brave seaman, and as appears from his conduct, a man of strong natural talents, but with little education, was appointed president. Some of their demands were similar to what had been recently granted to the seamen of lord Howe's fleet at Portsmouth, but others were of a description wholly incompatible with the discipline of the navy. After a fruitless attempt, therefore, to persuade the fleet to submission, made by a deputation of the lords of the admiralty, it was determined to reduce them by force; to this end, a proclamation was issued, declaring certain ships in a state of mutiny, and an act was passed, imposing death upon any person having

any wilful and advised communication

with the ships' crews so declared to be mutinous. In this desperate situation, the seamen thought proper to concentrate their forces, which they did at the great Nore, where they drew up the squadron in a line. The men of war being ranged at about half a mile from each other, with their broadsides abreast. To enforce compliance with their demands, they stopped all shipping trading to and from the port of London, except colliers, neutral vessels, and a few small craft; those which were detained were obliged to cast anchor in the intervals between the line of battle ships. The appearance of such a multitude of shipping, the London trade included, under the orders of a body of mutinous seamen, formed a singular and awful spectacle. In the mean time, government made the most vigorous preparations to reduce them to a state of duty, and lest they should form the desperate scheme of standing out to sea, all the buoys from the mouth of the Thames and the adjacent coasts were removed. Both shores opposite the fleet were lined with batteries, the forts at Sheerness, Tilbury, and Gravesend were furnished with furnaces for red-hot shot, and the Neptune of guns, partly manned by volunteers, raised by a subscription among the merchants of London, with other vessels and gun-boats, dropped down to Long-reach, with a view to act offensively against the mutineers. Happily, however, this last resource was unnecessary; the seamen began to feel the hopelessness of their situation, and on the night of the , the Repulse, the Leopard, and the Ardent separated from the rebel fleet, and submitted. Between that and the , several other ships struck the red flag and hoisted the union; and the detained merchantmen were allowed to proceed on their respective destinations. On the following day, more

130

quitted the rebel lines, and ran for protection under the forts of Sheerness; and lastly, the Sandwich surrendered: in this ship the delegates had held their meetings, and Parker, the president, with about others, was now delivered up to justice. On the , the trials of the mutineers commenced with that of Parker, before a court martial, on board the Neptune, off Greenhithe; on the day he was solemnly adjudged guilty, and a few days afterwards, he met his death with great fortitude, on board the Sandwich. He was at buried at Sheerness, but his wife, with some other women, having found means to obtain the body, had it conveyed to London, where the curiosity of the public leading them in crowds to view it, the magistrates were at last obliged to interfere, and by their orders it was finally deposited in Whitechapel church-yard. Many others of the mutineers were condemned to die, and all the principal ringleaders were executed; yet a considerable number remained under sentence, confined in a prison-ship in the river, till after the signal victory obtained by admiral Duncan in October, when they received his majesty's pardon.

The election for sheriffs on Midsummer-day, in this year, was marked by the singular circumstance of a peer offering himself a candidate for that office. From what has been said above, it will be seen that party politics ran high in the city: this election was considered, by both sides, as a criterion to judge of their comparative strength. The popular party were strengthened by the addition of the earl of Lauderdale, who had purchased his freedom a few days before, and had become a member of the Needlemakers' company, in order to qualify him to become a candidate. Mr. S. F. Waddington joined his lordship, and their pretensions were supported by those who had led the resolutions of censure against administration, and against the lord mayor, at the late common halls; but the show of hands gave them so little hope of success that no poll was demanded.

On the night of , occurred of the most tremendous storms of thunder, lightning and rain, ever remembered in this metropolis. The lightning commenced about o'clock in the evening, and continued without intermission till , illuminating with its corruscations and vivid flames of scarlet and blue light every quarter of the heavens. The thunder came on about , and continued till about half past , with incessant and most loud and awful peals, so near as seemingly to burst over the head, and accompanied the whole time with the heaviest and most uninterrupted falls of rain: at o'clock the storm had passed over, but its fury was felt in many other parts of the country, as well as on the continent.

On the of this month, of the last public meetings of

131

the London Corresponding Society, was held in the fields behind Somers-town, for the purpose of proposing a petition to the king. The multitude was extremely numerous, and tribunes had been erected for the accommodation of the speakers, who had called the meeting under the provisions of the late acts. The district magistrates, however, had thought proper to declare, that the assembly had not been legally convened; and though the crowd was perfectly peaceable, sir William Addington, who had surrounded the principal tribune with a large body of police officers, announced that the riot act had been read, and gave orders that several persons should be taken into custody. This was immediately done, the tribunes were knocked down, and the people began rapidly to disperse: a measure that was accelerated by the appearance of a troop of horse, which was ordered to enter the field, and galloped up and down for some time. Several other military detachments had been drawn round the neighbourhood; the West London militia were stationed in the Veterinary College, and the London and light-horse volunteers in the Foundling fields. In the evening, the persons who had been taken into custody were admitted to bail. An action was afterwards brought against sir William Addington for his conduct, but it failed through an informality in the process.

Soon after the commencement of the session of parliament in November, the emergencies of the government occasioned the minister to resort to a new mode of raising the supplies, viz. by direct contribution, and it was proposed to increase the assessed taxes to nearly a triple amount. This was strongly opposed in a common hall, held at , on the , and the city representatives were instructed to prevent it passing into a law, as being

partial, oppressive, arbitrary, and unconstitutional;

and in its principle

destructive of the dearest interests of the people, and subversive of social order.

The city of , and the principal wards and parishes of the metropolis, held meetings about the same time, and came to similar resolutions. By this plan and its modifications, on which income was made the basis of taxation, a double weight was imposed upon the industrious, whilst the spendthrift and the idle were almost exempted from its effects; yet, Mr. Pitt persisted in the measure, and the bill was finally passed.

On the , the day appointed for a national thanksgiving, for the great victories obtained by lord Howe over the French, in ; by sir John Jarvis over the Spaniards, in ; and by admiral Duncan over the Dutch, in ; their majesties, with most of the royal family, officers of state, principal nobility, &c. attended divine service at . The procession was extremely splendid, and was conducted with great order, notwithstanding the pressure of an immense multitude of spectators which lined the

K

132

streets, and thronged every avenue. It began with the naval colours taken from the enemies of Britain, viz. from the French, from the Spaniards, and from the Dutch, mounted on artillery waggons, each attended by a party of lieutenants, who had fought in the respective engagements in which they were won. A large detachment of marines, with music followed; and after them a number of gallant admirals in carriages. Next came the speaker of the house of commons, with many of its members; the clerks of the crown, the masters in chancery, the judges, and the house of peers ranged according to etiquette, and followed by the lord chancellor; after came the royal family, in carriages drawn by caparisoned horses. At Temple-bar, the procession was joined by the lord mayor, with the sheriffs, and city deputation, gorgeously attired, who, after the ceremony of delivering up the city sword to the sovereign, rode bare-headed before the royal carriage to the cathedral church.

When the procession reached , the lieutenants taking the flags from the waggons, attended by the seamen and marines, divided themselves for their superiors to pass up the body of the church; and the colours were next carried in under loud huzzas, and grand martial music, to the middle of the area below the dome, where they were ranged in a circle. The princesses, with the dukes of York and Clarence, prince Ernest, and the duke of Gloucester, and their respective suites, on their alighting, remained near the great west door, within the church, to receive their majesties; the lord mayor, sheriffs, aldermen, and admirals standing opposite. The king was received by the bishops of London and Lincoln, who walked on each side his majesty, preceded by the heralds at arms, and the prebendaries of the cathedral. Her majesty, led by earl Morton, followed with her suite; and next the princes, princesses, &c. in procession. On the arrival of the royal family within the circle, the colours were lowered, and their majesties were greeted with the loudest shouts and acclamations. The company then took their seats, the common council, with their ladies, being accommodated with spacious galleries, under the circle of the dome, and the service was began. At the end of the lesson, the flag officers entered in divisions, right and left of the king's chair, bearing the captured trophies, which were deposited in succession upon the altar. At half past , on a signal being given from , that the service was concluded, the Park guns were fired. In returning the royal cortege went , and fortunately the day closed without any particular accident. The military behaved with much propriety, notwithstanding the pressure of the crowd, and the whole business of the day reflected great credit on those who superintended its arrangements. The brigades of foot guards, with parties of the horse-guards, were stationed in a double line from St. James's to Temple-bar; within the bar to , the streets were lined with the regiments of the city militia, the East India volunteers,

133

and several other parochial corps of the same description, whilst the light horse volunteers of London and paraded as occasion required.

The death of alderman Wilkes, which happened on the , occasioned a vacancy for the office of chamberlain. A common hall, for the election of his successor, was held on the , when the candidates were sir Watkin Lewes and alderman Clark. On the show of hands, there was a great majority in favour of Mr. Clark; but a poll was demanded in favour of sir Watkin; which began at half-past , and closed for the day, at , when sir Watkin Lewes declined giving the livery any further trouble; the numbers being to . The unusually great number polled in this short space is an ample testimony of the high esteem in which the unobtrusive merits of the present venerable and highly respected chamberlain are held by his fellow-citizens; there being, perhaps, no instance of so many liverymen having voted in the same time, on any other occasion.

A meeting of the most respectable merchants and traders of London, was held at the , on the , for the purpose of entering into a voluntary subscription for the service of the country. The lord mayor, accompanied by a considerable number of the principal bankers, merchants, &c. appeared on a temporary hustings, about o'clock, and in a short speech, stated the object of the meeting. He was followed by Mr. Bosanquet, who entered more fully into the propriety and necessity of the measure, and proposed that books should be opened at the Exchange, for receiving subscriptions, which was unanimously agreed to. separate books were then opened on the hustings, and, at the close of the day, the exact sum subscribed was . days afterwards, was subscribed by the court of common council; and several of the members, also gave large sums as individuals, as soon as the court broke up. were subscribed by the Bank, and considerable sums were given by other public companies. The gifts of many noblemen and gentlemen increased the contributions, and was subscribed by his majesty.

The continued threats of invasion from France, and the distracted state of Ireland, rendering a great increase of the military force expedient, government, in the beginning of this year, devised a plan for a more powerful defence of the kingdom than had ever yet been called into action. This occasioned the passing of several acts of parliament, tending to this end, and various armed associations were, in consequence, organized in different parts of the country. On the , the lord mayor informed the common council, that he had received a letter from the secretary of state, and had also had a

134

conference with the duke of York, at that time commander-in-chief of the British army, respecting the formation of armed associations, in the several wards of the city. At the next meeting of the court, the committee of aldermen, to which the business had been referred, made their report, and, on the , the inhabitant householders met in the respective wards, when the following propositions were generally adopted, viz.

that the inhabitant house-holders of each ward should choose a committee to form regulations, and recommend officers; that the more able men should learn the use of arms, and those not capable to bear arms, be sworn in as special constables; and that the whole force thus raised should, in case of necessity, be united into

one

body, under the direction of the lord mayor and court of aldermen.

Whilst these measures were in agitation in the city, parochial, and other meetings, for the same purpose, were general throughout the metropolis; and, in the course of a few months, a very considerable volunteer force was established, and the protection of the capital, by that means, pretty effectually secured.

On the , a bill, which particularly affected the seamen, &c. belonging to the port of London, was brought into parliament, and carried through both houses; and, on the next day, it received the royal assent. This was the very era of the insurrection in Ireland, and was founded on the evident necessity of having a numerous fleet in readiness, to prevent the insurgents receiving succour from France. It was intituled, a bill for

the more effectually and speedily manning the navy;

and the principle of the measure was to supersede the force of all protections, for a certain time. During the discussions in the house of commons, whilst the bill was in progress, the minister accused Mr. Tierney, the popular representative for , of opposing this measure from

a desire to obstruct the defence of the country,

and he afterwards refused either to explain or retract his expressions. This led to a duel between the parties on the following Sunday, which terminated without injury to either; Mr. Pitt having fired his last pistol in the air. The meeting took place on Putney heath.

On the , James O'Coigley, alias Fever, who had been recently condemned at Maidstone for high treason, in maintaining a treasonable correspondence with the French Directory, was exeon Pennenden-heath. He had been apprehended about the end of

135

February, at Margate, whilst endeavouring to obtain a passage to France, together with the celebrated Arthur O'Connor, esq. nephew to lord Longueville, John Binns, secretary to a division of the London Corresponding Society, John Allen, and Jeremiah Leary: the latter was O'Connor's servant. On the , the prisoners were brought to London: and several other persons, suspected of being connected with them, but who were afterwards discharged, were taken up in the course of the week. On the , they were examined before the privy council, and on the following morning, O'Connor, O'Coigley, Binns, and Allen were committed to separate apartments in the Tower. In April, a special commission for their trial was opened at Maidstone; and the grand jury having found a true bill, they were tried on the and , when O'Coigley only was found guilty; an absurd but treasonable paper having been discovered in his possession, purporting to be

an address from the secret committee of England to the executive directory of France.

O'Connor and Binns were detained in custody on other charges. During these proceedings, Roger O'Conner, esq. was arrested at his apartments in , and. remanded to Dublin, under a warrant from the secretary of state; and divisions of members of the London Corresponding Society, which still continued its meetings, though not so openly as formerly, were apprehended in different parts of the town. These arrests, however, led to no particular discoveries: they appear to have been made more to keep up the spirit of alarm than for the sake of substantial justice,

On the night of the , the metropolis was visited by a most tremendous storm of wind, which did considerable damage in various parts of the town and its vicinity, as well as on the river. In some of the streets, the current of air was so violent as to break the lamps; in Hyde-park and Kensington-gardens many trees were torn up by the roots, and shattered branches were carried through the air to remote distances; at , several houses were unroofed, and chimnies blown down. On the river, at the turn of the tide, the greatest confusion ensued, the wind being directly contrary, and many boats were dashed to pieces and sunk. Below bridge several ships were driven from their moorings, and much damaged; and the Castor, West Indiaman, having a cargo on board, valued at parted her anchor, and drove on shore at Limehouse-reach, where she received considerable damage and filled with water.

On the , intelligence arrived of the ever-memorable victory obtained over the French fleet by sir Horatio Nelson, off the mouth of the Nile; and, on the same day, a subscription was opened at Lloyd's coffee-house, for the relief of the wounded, and of the widows and orphans of those who had fallen. days afterwards, the hon. captain Capel waited on the lord mayor, with the sword of the surviving French admiral, Monsieur Blanquet, which was surrendered in the naval action at the Nile, admiral Brueys

136

having been blown up in the l'Orient, and intended by sir Horatio Nelson as a present to the city of London, accompanied by the following letter.

Vanguard, Mouth of the Nile, Aug. 8.

My Lord,

Having the honour of being a freeman of the city of London, I take the liberty of sending to your lordship the sword of the commanding French admiral (M. Blanquet), who survived after the battle of the 1st, off the Nile; and request that the city of London will honour me with the acceptance of it, as a remembrance that Brittannia still rules the waves; which, that she may ever do, is the fervent wish of your lordship's most obedient servant,

H. NELSON.

This letter, and the sword, were laid before a court of common council, on the , who referred it to a committee, to consider the best manner of disposing of the sword, and report to the next court. It was then unanimously resolved to address his majesty on the glorious victory over the French, off the Nile, on the , by his majesty's fleet, under the command of sir Horatio, now baron Nelson, of the Nile; which was presented on the , and very graciously received.

The report from the committee was laid before the court on the , and unanimously agreed to. It was, that they had come to the following resolution

:--

That the sword, delivered up to our gallant hero, lord Nelson, by the French admiral, M. Blanquet, be put up in the most conspicuous place in the common council chamber, with the following inscription engraved on a marble tablet:--

The sword of Mons. Blanquet, the commanding French admiral, in the glorious engagement off the Nile, on the 1st of August, 1798, presented to the court by the Right Hon. Rear Admiral Lord Nelson.

The lord mayor was then requested to communicate to lord Nelson the high sense which the court entertain of this invaluable present. After which, the thanks of the court, with a sword of guineas value, were voted to lord Nelson; and also the thanks of the court to captain Berry, the captains, officers, and seamen, for their important services; and the freedom of the city was voted to captain Berry, to be presented in a box of guineas value.

The night of the , was distinguished by a dreadful storm, from which great injury was sustained by the

137

shipping in the river Thames. Many vessels were driven from their moorings, and run foul of each other, and great numbers of small craft, boats, &c. were sunk or dashed to pieces.

His majesty's birth-day, , was this year celebrated with more than customary splendour, the common ceremonies of rejoicing being increased by a grand review of the associated volunteers of London and its environs, who assembled in Hyde-park about o'clock in the morning, and were formed into lines, with the exception of part of the cavalry, which was employed to keep the ground. At , his majesty entered the park, accompanied by the prince of Wales, and the dukes of Kent and Cumberland, and the review commenced; the queen and the princesses beholding the spectacle from the houses of lady Holderness and lord Cathcart, in . The whole of the evolutions having been gone through, a royal salute of guns was fired, and his majesty, after expressing the highest satisfaction at the martial appearance, patriotism, and conduct of the gallant bands, whom the threatened violation of their country's independence had thus associated in arms, left the ground about o'clock, amidst the joyous shouts of a concourse of spectators, supposed to amount to nearly . The day was extremely unfavourable, through the fall of a heavy rain, with much wind; yet the display of female beauty was not inconsiderable. The walls, trees, and contiguous houses, were all loaded with people, and the interest of the scene was much increased by the patriotic sentiments which seemed to prevail in every bosom. The total number of volunteers under arms on this day was , of which were cavalry.

On the , a yet greater body of volunteers was assembled about the metropolis, for the purpose of undergoing a royal inspection at different stations, previously fixed on as being near their accustomed places of exercise. His majesty, accompanied by the prince of Wales, and the royal dukes, and a numerous suite of general and other officers, left the queen's house at o'clock, and proceeded towards fields, where, between the Asylum and the Obelisk, the Surrey volunteers, amounting to , were drawn up. Thence going to Blackfriar's, he was received on the bridge by the lord-mayor, sheriffs, &c., who preceded him in his subsequent progress through the city. In , volunteers were assembled; in , ; at the and Bank, ; at the East India-house, ; on , ; in , ; and at , . After inspecting the latter corps, his majesty proceeded to the lord chancellor Loughborough's, where he waited for the arrival of the queen and princesses, who came about o'clock, attended by the duke of Clarence, and with them, and his own suite, he partook of an elegant collation. About his majesty again mounted, and with the whole of the royal family, proceeded down , where of the Tower hamlet and Mile-end volunteers

138

were drawn up, to the Foundling-hospital, in front of which were the Bloomsbury, , Somerset-place, Hampstead, and other corps, amounting to , drawn up in parallel lines. During the inspection here, the queen and princesses entered the hospital, and viewed the children's apartments, &c., and were soon joined by his majesty, with the royal brothers: the

Children's Hymn,

and

God save the King,

were afterwards sung in the chapel, before the whole family. On his departure from the Foundling, the king went onward to Hyde-park, where the cavalry, volunteers, &c. were assembled, to the number of ; and having passed these, he rode down to the queen's palace, where he arrived about o'clock. The whole number of volunteers inspected on this day, was . His majesty expressed himself highly gratified at the impressive display of loyalty and public spirit, which this day had afforded him: and the city received his particular thanks for the attention and order with which his progress had been attended. Vast numbers of spectators filled the streets on this occasion, and the windows and house-tops were every where crowded with people. On the , a dreadful fire broke out within the , in the north wing, and for some hours raged with the utmost violence. The prisoners themselves made every exertion to extinguish the flames, without attempting to escape; and at length, by the assistance of the engines, the fire was subdued, yet not till between and a of the lodging rooms were entirely consumed, and other considerable damage done.

The severity of the season, and the great distresses of the poor from want of employment, and the growing dearness of provisions and coals, occasioned a meeting to be held at the London Tavern, on the , to take into consideration the best means of giving them assistance during the continuance of the pressure. It was then resolved to open a general subscription for the relief of the industrious poor, in all parts of the metropolis, &c.; and that the most effectual way of aiding the distressed would be, by selling provisions at reduced prices, as had been done in the year ; through which measure great benefits had resulted. It was also resolved to increase the number of soup-houses, the erection of which had particularly contributed to extend the advantages of a former subscription; insomuch, that in the course of the winter and spring months of , about families had been supplied with meals, at the soup-houses in Spitalfields, at an expence of only to the funds subscribed, exclusive of the costs of the erection and repairs; and in the winter and spring months of , the number of persons who received benefit from the fund was , and the number of meals distributed , at the aggregate expence of only

The dearness of corn at this period was in a great degree occasioned by the unfavourable state of the seasons, and particularly by

139

the heavy rains, and continuance of wet weather for many weeks together; yet it was the opinion of many well-informed persons, that the alarm of scarcity, which had been very industriously propagated, had its full share in advancing the price. It was thought, also, that a circular letter, sent by the duke of Portland to the lord lieutenants of counties, in which, after adverting to the various means used in the metropolis for relieving the poor, it was strongly recommended to enforce the statute of the of George the , empowering the justices in quarter sessions to

direct, that no finer bread shall be made than such as is called by the name of standard wheaten bread,

&c. had very much contributed to extend the alarm. However this might be, the increasing dearth engaged much of the attention of parliament in the beginning of the year ; and in consequence of a previous report, a bill was passed with unexampled rapidity through both houses, and received the royal assent on the same day, , to prohibit, for a limited time, any bakers in the cities of London or , or within miles of the , from selling bread till it had been removed from the oven at least hours, under a penalty of for every loaf sold. On the same day, the archbishop of Canterbury moved in the house of lords,

That their lordships should oblige themselves, by a voluntary engagement, not to suffer more than a quartern loaf of bread a week, for each person, to be consumed in their families, from the

twenty-fourth of February

till the

twenty-fourth of October

next;

and after the substitute of

recommendation

for

engagement,

this measure was adopted. The average price of wheat in Middlesex, at this time, was per quarter; and of rye

The great importance of the subject induced the house of commons to pursue their investigation into the causes, extent, and means of supply; and on there port of a committee, recommending

the allowance of a bounty on corn imported from the Mediterranean and America; the substitution of a new assize of bread, with new regulations respecting the millers; the stoppage of the distilleries; the encouragement of the importation of rice and fish, and the culture of potatoes; the prohibition of manufacturing starch from wheat,

&c. those measures were successively adopted, and passed into laws. In March, also, a committee was appointed to enquire into the state of the coal trade. The price of wheat in London markets on the of this month, was from . to a quarter; the price of rye, from . to . a quarter; and the price of barley, from to

On the evening of the , an attempt was made by James Hatfield, a lunatic, to assassinate the king, in the Theatre-royal . At the moment when his majesty entered the box, a man in the pit stood up, and fired a pistol at him. The

140

house was immediately in an uproar, and the cry of

seize him

burst from every part of the theatre, The king, apparently not the least disconcerted, came forward in the box; and the man who committed the crime was conveyed from the pit. The indignation of the audience could not be tranquillized until after repeated assurances that the culprit was in custody. On his examination he proved to be insane. He had been a soldier in the light dragoons, and had received wounds in his head, from which it was believed his malady arose. He was tried for the offence on the , and acquitted on the ground of insanity, after which he was conveyed to a mad-house to be taken care of.

The celebration of his majesty's birth was again commenced with a review of the volunteer force of the metropolis and its vicinity, which differed in nothing from that of the preceding year, except in an increase of numbers, nearly being under arms on this day.

Soon after the prorogation of parliament, which took place on the , apprehensions of tumult and riot alarmed many of the inhabitants of London. About the middle of August a refractory spirit had manifested itself among the felons in the prison in Cold Bath-fields. This was attributed to various publications on the state of this prison, which had appeared a short time before. But, however this may be, the keepers began to entertain serious apprehensions; and the prisoners' turbulence at length assumed a serious aspect; for on the evening of the , when the bell rung as the signal for locking up, instead of retiring to their cells, they collected together, appearing to have some design in agitation. However, after a trifling resistance, they were compelled to separate, and submit to being locked up. Immediately they began the most dismal exclamations of

Murder! Starving,

&c. which collected a considerable mob round the prison, who answered them with loud shouts. Thus encouraged, they continued their cries, beseeching the mob to force the gates, and pull down the walls to release them. In this dilemma, it was found necessary to apply for assistance from the civil magistrates and the military associations in the neighbourhood, by whose exertions tranquillity was again restored.

The attempts of the disaffected to incite the populace to outrage were but too successful in the month of September. Written handbills were thrown about at this time, provoking the people to rise, and, in particular, large ones, of the above tendency, were stuck on the Monument, on Sunday, the , inviting them,

as they valued their rights as Englishmen, to attend at the Corn-market on Monday, which would soon reduce the price of bread to

six-pence

the quartern loaf.

These incitements to popular outrage induced the lord-mayor to take the necessary precautions to secure the public peace; he collected the civil officers, and applied to the volunteer corps, from whom he received assurances of support, and that they would await his orders. In the morning of Monday the mob assembled

141

at the Corn-market, to which the lord-mayor immediately repaired, and persuaded them to disperse, which they did; but as soon as he quitted the spot, they returned. Several of the dealers in corn were ill-treated by them, and the windows of some houses in the neighbourhood were broke; and when, in the end, they were driven off by the volunteers, they attacked the houses of some bakers and corn-factors, at , Whitechapel, and Blackfriar's-road. This spirit of riot and discontent continued during the whole week; but the vigour and promptitude of the magistrates, seconded by the firmness and humanity of the volunteers, prevented the mistaken multitude from effecting any greater mischief, than the breaking of windows and lamps; which was happily accomplished without bloodshed.

At a full meeting of the livery of London, in common hall, held on the d of October, an address and petition to his majesty was resolved on praying him to convene the parliament, for the purpose of considering of the most salutary measures for remedying the sufferings of the poor, in consequence of the exorbitant price of every article of life. This petition the king refused to receive, excepting at the levee; on which, at a subsequent common hall, it was voted,

That whoever advised his majesty to persist in refusing to his faithful subjects free access, in these times of peculiar difficulty and distress, is equally unworthy of his majesty's confidence, and an enemy to the rights and privileges of the city of London.

A few days afterwards, an address and petition of similar import to that of the livery, was agreed to by the court of common council; though in the intermediate time the parliament had been summoned to meet for the dispatch of business.

On , a great fire, occasioned by the boiling over of a pitch kettle, destroyed upwards of private houses and other buildings at , and several persons were killed by the explosion of some barrels of gunpowder. The damage was estimated at upwards of

The parliament assembled on the , and immediately proceeded to pass different acts to prevent the scarcity from merging into famine; and on the d of December his majesty, at the request of both houses, issued a proclamation, exhorting,

all persons to employ the strictest economy in the use of all kinds of grain, to abstain from the use of pastry, and to reduce the consumption of bread in their respective families, as far as possible.

During the summer and autumn of this year great quantities of corn were imported from foreign countries; and, though a temporary reduction in price took place in August, it was almost immediately followed by a considerable advance, and in the last week of this year the average price of wheat in , was per quarter.

 
 
Footnotes:

[] Brayley's History of London, i. 542.

[] Lambert's History of London, ii. 309.

[] So called from the place of its meetings, the Crown and Anchor Tavern, in the Strand.

[] Brayley's History of London, i. 555.

[] Plowden, Short. Hist. p. 255.

[] Now Earl Grey.

[] This gentleman, who had heard from public report that he was to be included in the charges for high treason, voluntarily surrendered himself whilst the grand jury was sitting.-Brayley's Hist. of London, i. 560.

[] Brayley's London, i. 561.

[] Sir John Scott (now Lord Eldon) and sir John Mitford.

[] The late lord Erskine.

[] The late sir Vicary Gibbs, and attorney-general.

[] One hundred thousand pounds towards the loan was subscribed by the Bank, in its corporate capacity.

[] From a table which was given in to the house of commons, professing to show the scale of cash and bullion in the Bank, from 1782 to 1797, it appears, that the quantity of specie remaining on February the 25th, in the latter year, was less than at any former period since December 1783. What the exact sum was remained hidden from the public, under certain arbitrary numbers, at least for some time; but it was at length discovered that the mean number 660, denoted four millions; and by pursuing the calculations, and comparing the different accounts, that when the order of council was issued, the amount of the cash and bullion did not exceed 1,272,000l.

[] Brayley's Hist. of London, i. 573

[] Brayley's History of London, i. 578.

[] In the summary of ways and means for the year, the minister estimated the voluntary subscription at a million and a half; its total produce, however, was upwards of two millions.-Brayley.

[] Mr. Brayley justly remarks, that the cause for hastening on the formation of volunteer corps at this period, was doubtless, that the regulars and militia might be more at liberty to leave this country to oppose the projected insurrection in Ireland, which, as afterwards appeared from the confession of ministers themselves, was purposely accelerated by the measures of the Irish government! How much more to the interests of humanity and of the British empire, would it have been had the same pains been taken to remove the grounds of complaint, as were thus exercised to goad disaffection into rebellion.

[] Brayley's Hist. of London, i. 591.

View all images in this book
 Title Page
 Dedication
 CHAPTER I: History of London, from the Accession of William and Mary, to the reign of George the Second
 CHAPTER II: History of London during the reign of George the Second
 CHAPTER III: History of London from the Accession of George the Third, to the year 1780
 CHAPTER IV: History of London continued to the Union
 CHAPTER V: History of London from the Union to the Jubilee, 1809
 CHAPTER VI: History of London from the Jubilee to the Peace of 1814
 CHAPTER VII: History of London continued to the accession of George the Fourth
 CHAPTER VIII: Account of the Civil Government of the City by Portreves, Bailiffs, and Mayors, with a list of the latter...
 CHAPTER IX: An account of the Aldermen and Sheriffs, with a list of the latter
collapseCHAPTER X: Lists and brief Accounts of the various Officers and Courts within the City
collapseCHAPTER XI: Some account of the Ecclesiastical Government of the city of London, with a List and Biographical Notices of the Bishops of the see
collapseCHAPTER XII: Some Account of the Military Government of London, and the Artillery Company
collapseCHAPTER XIII: An Account of the twelve principal Companies of the City of London
collapseCHAPTER XIV: An Account of the Companies of the City of London, alphabetically arranged
 CHAPTER XV: An Account of the River Thames
collapseCHAPTER XVI: Historical and topographical account of London Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Southwark Bridge, and the Thames Tunnel
collapseCHAPTER XVII: Topographical and Historical Account of the Tower of London
This object is in collection:
Edwin C. Bolles papers
Subjects
London (England)--History
Antiquities
Permanent URL
http://hdl.handle.net/10427/44305
ID: tufts:UA069.005.DO.00067
To Cite: DCA Citation Guide
Usage: Detailed Rights