Thursday, March 30, 2006

Item of the Day: James Callender's History of the United States for 1796 (1797)

Full Title: History of the United States for 1796 ; Including a Variety of Interesting Particulars Relative to the Federal Government Previous to that Period. Philadelphia: From the Press of Snowden & McCorkle, 1797.

[Scottish nationalist James Callender is best known as the pioneering muckraker journalist who first broke the story of the Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings affair in 1802. During the 1790s, however, Callender enjoyed the confidence of Jefferson and other leading Democratic-Republicans who shared with Callender their distrust of the Federalists, especially John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. As a radical democrat, egalitarian, and Calvinist, any politician who fell short of Callender's rigorous moral standards risked being skewered by Callender's favorite weapon, an accusation of sexual impropriety. In 1797 Callender published a compilation of his political pamphlets entitled The History of the United States. The book included a secret transcript dating from 1792 revealing a scandalous affair between Alexander Hamilton and a married woman, Maria Reynolds. Congress had become aware of payments made between then Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton to Reynolds' husband, James. Seeking to clear himself of any hint of financial mismanagement, Hamilton confessed to his marital indiscretion and revealed that James Reynolds had been blackmailing him. Callender, however, looked askance at Hamilton's admission and suggested that the payments to Reynolds had more to do with covering shady financial dealings than any misguided love interest. Hamilton vehemently denied Callender's charges but the public exposure of the liaison had its deleterious effect. Historians have noted that following Callender's accusations, Hamilton's political authority steadily waned.]


The unfounded reproaches heaped on Mr. Munroe, form the immediate motive to the publication of these papers. They are here printed from an attested copy, exactly conformable to that, which, at his own desire, was delivered to Mr. Hamilton himself. Not a word has been added or altered, and the period of four years may, surely, have been enough to furnish the ex-secretary with materials for his defence. In the letters of Camillus, the most sublime principles of action are every where inculcated. But we shall presently see this great matter of morality, though himself the father of a family, confessing that he had an illicit correspondence with another man's wife. If anything can be yet less reputable, it is, that the gentlemen to whom he made that acknowledgement held it as an imposition, and found various reasons for believing that Mrs. Reynolds was, in reality, guiltless. An attentive critic will be led to enquire what has become of her husband, and why the indignant innocence of Mr. Hamilton, did not promote the completion of public justice against a person, who had treated his name with such gross dissrespect? What a scandalous imputation was it for this culprit to cast upon our secretary, that he had gained thirty thousand dollars by the purchase of army certificates, that this fellow could bring him to capital punishment &c. &c.? It is to be wished that Reynolds may still be found, and that, to borrow the words of his friend, Dr. William Smith, The Secretary may come out of this matter, "as fair as the purest angel in heaven!"

. . .

In his letter last copied, Mr. Hamilton speaks of an explanation. He gave nothing meriting that name. The short way to exculpate himself was, by confronting Reynolds and his wife, who accused him of fraud, with the gentlemen who undertook the enquiry. Instead of that, he sent Reynolds and his wife out of the way, to prevent any such personal exculpation. That he packed them off, there can be little doubt, since the suddenness of the disappearance of Reynolds can be accounted for upon no other ground. The letter from Reynolds to Clingman mentions a promise of that kind, and Mrs. Reynolds had previously declared, that this was a scheme in contemplation. Reynolds could not fly from fear. The prosecution against him was closed, and his chief resource for subsistence had been by applying to Mr. Hamilton. That he he was removed, to keep him from a meeting with Mr. Monroe and his friends, bears the strongest marks of probability. It may be said, the the infamous character of Reynolds, made him unworthy of credit. Taken by itself, his testimony was, indeed, worth little; but, when supported by various circumstances, it might merit more attention. The profligate manners of the accuser afforded an additional reason why Mr. Hamilton, if innocent, should have brought him forward, since it would have been proportionally a more easy talk to convince Mr. Monroe of his falsehood. But the secretary sealed the importance of the accuser's testimony, by forbearing to produce him to the gentlemen enquiring after him. When persons of so much weight and respectability had entered upon this business, every principle of common sense called for the clearest explanation. In place of that the chief evidence was concealed, and sent off, while the mass of his correspondence with Mr. Hamilton was, by desire of the latter, abruptly committed to the flames. You will determine whether these fugitive measures look most like innocence, or like something else. . . In place of smothering testimony, he should have courted it. In place of burning letters, he should have printed them. Publicity was the only basis by which he could maintain the ground that he was in danger of losing. Yet this was the very mode of defence which he chose to avoid.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Item of the Day: Gordon's Geographical Grammar (1719)

Full Title:

Geography Anatomizd: or, the Geographical Grammar. Being a Short and Exact Analysis of the Whole Body of Modern Geography, After a New and Curious Method, Comprehending, I. A General View of the Terraqueous Globe. Being a Compendious System of the true Fundamentals of Geography; Digested into various Definitions, Problems, Theorems, and Paradoxes: With a Transient Survey of the Surface of the Earthly Ball, as it consists of Land and Water. II. A Particular View of the Terraqueous Globe. Being a clear and pleasant Prospect of all Remarkable Countries upon the Face of the whole Earth; shewing their Situation, Extent, Division, Subdivision, Cities, Chief Towns, Name, Air, Soil, Commodities, Rarities, Archbishopricks, Bishopricks, Universities, Manners, Languages, Government, Arms, Religion. Collected from the Best Authors , and Illustrated with Divers Maps. The Eighth Edition, Corrected and Somewhat Enlarg’d. By Pat. Gordon, M.A. F. R. S.

Written by Patrick Gordon. Contains 15 folded maps. Printed for J. and B. Sprint, and S. Burroughs, in Little Britain; R. Knaplock and D. Midwinter in St. Paul's, and R. Cruttenden in Cheapside, 1719.

From the Preface:

My principal Design in publishing the following Treatise, is, To present the younger sort of our Nobility and Gentry, with a Compendious, Pleasant and Methodical Tract of MODERN GEOGRAPHY, that most useful Science, which highly deserves their Regard in a peculiar Manner. It be alledg'd, That the World is already overstock'd with Composures of this Nature; I freely grant the Charge; but withal, Ill be bod to say, That there's none as yet publish'd, which is not palpably Faulty, in one or more of these Three Respects. Either they are too Voluminous, and thereby Fright the Young Student from so much as ever attempting that Study: Or, Secondly, too Compendious, and thereby give him only a bare Superficial Knowledge of Things: Or finally, Confus'd (being writ without any due Order or Method) and so confound him before he is aware. But all these are carefully avoided in the following Treatise; for in framing of it, I've industriously endeavour'd, to make it observe a just Mean, between the Two Extreams of a large Volume and a narrow Compend. And as to the Method in which it now appears, the same is (I presume) so Plain and Natural, that I may safely refer the Trial thereof, to the Impartial Judgment of the Severest Critick.

From the Contents:

Part I. Giving a General View.

38 Geographical Definitions.
48 Geographical Problems.
41 Geographical Theorems.
39 Geographical Paradoxes.
Concerning Land and Water

Part II. Giving a Particular View, Comprehends,

Chap. I. Of EUROPE.
Concerning:
Scandinavia, containing Sweden, Denmark, Norway
Muscovia
France
Germany, divided into Lower Holland and Flanders and Upper Germany
Poland
Spain and Portugal
Italy
Turky in Europe as Hungary, Greece, Tartary, Danubian Provinces
European Islands as Britain (Scotland, England, and Wales) and Ireland

Chap. II. Of ASIA
Concerning:
Tartary
China
India
Persia
Turky in Asia
The Asiatick Islands

Chap. III. Of AFRICA
Concerning:
Egypt
Barbary
Biledulgerid
Zaara, or the Desart
Negroeland
Guiney
Nubia
AEthiopia
African Islands

Chap. IV. Of AMERICA
Concerning:
New Spain
Nova Granada
Florida
Terra Canadensis
Terra Arctica
Terra Firma
Peru
Amazonia
Brasil
Chili
Paraguay
Terra Magallanica
Terra Antarctica
The American Islands

Appendix

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Item of the Day: The Ballance of Power (1781)


Click to enlarge.


Title:

The Ballance of Power

London, Published as the Act directs, January 17.1781 by R. Wilkinson, at No. 58 in Cornhill.

Britannia, holding "The Sword of Justice," says "No one injures me with impunity." On the other side of the scales, the Spaniard says, "Rodney has ruined our Fleet." Frenchman: "Myneer assist or we are ruin'd." American: "My Ingratitude is Justly punished." Dutchman: "I'll do any thing for Money." The pile of coins under the Dutchman reads, "Ill Got Wealth."

Underneath the cartoon are the following lines:

America, dup'd by a treacherous train,
Now finds she's a Tool both to France and to Spain;
Yet all three united can't weigh down the Scale:
So the Dutchman jumps in with the hope to prevail.

Yet Britain will boldly their efforts withstand,
And bravely defy them by Sea and by Land:

The Frenchman She'll Drub, and the Spaniard She'll Beat
While the Dutchman She'll Ruin by Seizing his Fleet.
Th'Americans too will with Britons Unite,
And each to the other be Mutual Delight.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Item of the Day: Burke's Speeches at Bristol (1774)

Full Title:

Biographical, Literary, and Political Anecdotes, of Several of the Most Eminent Persons of The Present Age. Never before Printed. With an Appendix: consisting of original, explanatory, and Scarce Papers. By the Author of Anecdotes of the Late Earl of Chatham. Historiam, Omnium Secretorum Memoriam Dico. -- Cicero. In Three Volumes. Volume III.

Printed in London for T.N. Longman and L.B. Seeley, 1797.

Bristol, October 18, 1774.
The following is Mr. Burke's Speech to the Electors of Bristol, from the Hustings.

"Gentlemen,

I am come hither to solicit in person, that favor which my friends have hitherto endeavoured to procure for me, by the most obliging, and to me the most honourable exertions.

I have so high an opinion of the great trust which you have to confer on this occasion, and by long experience, so just a diffidence in my abilities, to fill it in a manner inadequate even to my own ideas, that I should never have ventured of myself to intrude into that awful situation. But since I am called upon by the desire of several respectable fellow subjects, as I have done at other times, I give up my fears to their wishes. Whatever my other deficiencies may be, I do not know what it is to be wanting to my Friends.

I am not fond of attempting to raise public expectation by great promises. At this time there is much cause to consider and very little to presume. We seem to be approaching to a great crisis in our affairs, which calls for the whole wisdom of the wisest among us, without being able to assure ourselves, that any wisdom can preserve us from man and great inconveniences. You know I speak of our unhappy contest with America. I confess it is a matter on which I look down from a precipice. It is difficult in itself, and it is rendered more intricate by a great variety of plans of conduct. I do not mean to enter into them. I will not suspect a want of good intention in framing them. But however pure the intentions of their authors may have been, we all know that the event has been unfortunate. The means of recovering our affairs are not obvious. So many great questions of commerce, of finance, of constitution, and of policy, are involved in this American deliberation, that I dare engage for nothing, but that I shall give it, without any predilection to former opinions, or any sinister bias whatsoever, the honest and impartial consideration of which I am capable. The public has a full right to it; and this great city, a main pillar in the commercial interest of Great Britain, must totter on its base by the slightest mistake, with regard to our American measures. Thus much however, I think it not amiss to lay before you: That I am not, I hope, apt to take up or lay down my opinions lightly. I have held, and ever shall maintain to the best of my power, unimpaired and undiminished, the just, wise and necessary constitutional superiority of Great Britain. This is necessary for America, as well as for us. I never mean to depart from it. Whatever may be lost by it, I avow it. The forfeiture even of your favour, if by such a declaration I could forfeit it, though the first object of my ambition, never will make me disguise my sentiments on this subject.

But I have ever had a clear opinion, and have ever held a constant correspondent conduct, that this superiority is consistent with all the liberties a sober and spirited American ought to desire. I never mean to put any colonist, or any human creature, in a situation, not becoming a free-man. To reconcile British superiority with American liberty shall be my great object, as far as my little faculties extend. I am far from thinking that both, even yet, may not be preserved.

When I first devoted myself to the public service, I considered how I should render myself fit for it; and this I did by endeavouring to discover what it was, that gave this country the rank it holds in the world; I found that our prosperity and dignity arose principally, if not solely, from two sources; our constitution and our commerce. Both these I have spared no study to understand, and to endeavor to support.

The distinguishing part of our constitution is it s liberty. To preserve that liberty inviolate seems the particular duty and proper trust of a member of the House of Commons. But the liberty, the only liberty I mean, is a liberty connected with order: that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them. It inheres in good steady government, as in its substance and vital principle.

The other source of our power is commerce, of which you are so large a part, and which cannot exist, no more than your liberty, without a connection with many virtues. It has ever been a very particular and a very favourite object of my study in its Principles, and in its details. I think many here are acquainted with the truth of what I say. This I know, that I have ever had my house open, and my poor services ready for traders and manufacturers of every denomination. My favourite ambition is to have those services acknowledged. I now appear before you to make trial, whether my earnest endeavours have been so wholly oppressed by the weakness of my abilities, as to be rendered insignificant in the eyes of a great trading city; or whether you chuse to give a weight to humble abilities, for the sake of the honest exertions with which they are accompanied. This is my trial to-day. My industry is not on trial; of my industry I am sure, as far as my constitution of mind and body admitted.

When I was invited by many respectable merchants, freeholders, and freemen of this city, to offer them my services, I had just received the honour of an election at another place, at a very great distance from this. I immediately opened the matter to those of my worthy constituents, who were with me, and they unanimously advised me not to decline it; that they had elected me with a view to the public service; and that as great questions relative to our commerce and colonies were imminent, and in such matters I might derive authority and support from the representation of this great commercial city; they desired me therefore to set off without delay, very well persuaded that I never could forget my obligations to them, or to my friends for the choice they had made of me. From that time to this instant I have not slept, and if I should have the honour of being freely chosen by you, I hope I shall be as far from slumbering or sleeping when your service requires me to be awake, as I have been in coming to offer myself a candidate for your favour."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Item of the Day: Almon's Prior Documents (1777)

Full Title:

A Collection of Interesting, Authentic Papers, Relative to the Dispute between Great Britain and America; Shewing the Causes and Progress of that Misunderstanding, from 1764-1775.

Assembled by John Almon (1737-1805). The so-called Prior Documents. Spine reads: Collection of papers. Other titles: Remembrancer, or impartial repository of public events. Printed for J. Almon, 1777.

The bill laying a a stamp duty in America, passed in March 1765.

The following was printed at the time as part of the Debates on the bill:

Mr. Grenville, after speaking long in favour of the bill, concluded with saying, "These children of our own planting (speaking of the Americans) nourished by our indulgence, until they are grown to a good degree of strength and opulence, and protected by our arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy load of national expence, which we lie under?"

Colonel Barré replied, "Children planted by your care! No! your oppression planted them in America; they fled from your tyranny, into a then uncultivated land, where they were exposed to almost all the hardships to which human nature are liable, and among others, to the savage cruelty of the enemy of the country, a people the most subtle, and I take upon me to say, the most truly terrible, of any people that ever inhabited any part of GOD'S EARTH; and yet, actuated by principles of true English liberty, they met all these hardships with pleasure, compared with those they suffered in their own country, from the hands of those that should have been their friends.

"They nourished up by your indulgence? They grew by your neglect of them: as soon as you began to care about them, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule over them, in one department and another, who were, perhaps, the deputies of some deputy, sent to spy out their liberty, to misrepresent their actions, and to prey upon them; men, whose behaviour, on many occasions, has caused the blood of those sons of liberty to recoil within them; men promoted to the highest seats of justice, some to my knowledge, were glad, by going to foreign countries, to escape being brought to a bar of justice in their own.

"They protected by your arms? They have nobly taken up arms in your defence, have exerted their valour amidst their constant and laborious industry, for the defence of a country, whose frontiers, while drenched in blood, its interior parts have yielded all its little savings to your enlargement; and believe me, remember I this day told you so, That the same spirit which actuated that people at first, will continue with them still; but prudence forbids me to explain myself any further. God knows, I do not at this time speak from motives of party heat. However superior to me, in general knowledge and experience, any one here may be, yet I claim to know more of America, having seen and been more conversant in that country. The people there are as truly loyal, I believe, as any subjects the King has; but a people jealous of their liberties, and who will vindicate them if their should be violated;--but the subject is delicate. I will say no more."

Item of the Day: History of a French Louse (1779)

Full Title:

History of a French Louse
; or The Spy of a New Species, in France and England: Containing a Description of the most remarkable Personages in those Kingdoms. Giving A Key to the Chief Events of the Year 1779, and those which are to happen in 1780. Translated from the Fourth Edition of the revised and corrected Paris Copy.

Published anonymously; attributed to Delauney. Translation of: Histoire d'un pou françois./ A political satire including Benjamin Franklin's mission to France. In imitation of Richard Tickell's: The Green Box of Monsieur de Sartine. Printed in London for T. Becket, Adelphi, Strand, 1779.

Chapter I: The birth of a Louse in the head of a courtezan. The happiness of his early life. He marries and has children, from whom he is obliged to fly by a general pestilence that overspreads his country.

I WAS born in a region very fertile and prolific, of which my ancestors had been more than a year in possession, and in which they had lived with all the happiness of royalty in the head of a charming girl of about eighteen. She lived with a commodious matron at Paris, Montigny by name, whose house was filled with the most spendid young people of the capital. The honour of my young mistress requires me to say, that I have known few heads so fine, or so well covered. It was an extreme and mighty forest, abundantly sufficient for all our wants, though our colony was very populous. In my childhood I made a great figure, my size visibly increased from minute to minute: my mother, who loved and adored me, would often say, when she pressed me in her arms, that she never knew a child of so much strength, and so good a constitution, for that in eight days I should be equal to my father.

When I came to the age proper for marriage, I got me a wife, chusing a female of my own age, fat and strong, for my taste is for plumpness: in four days time I was able to count ninety children, half boys and half girls; and was so pleased with my condition, that I did not suppose the world to contain a being more happy than myself; when an unexpected accident brought the first of my calamities upon me.

This region so plentiful, and so well replenished with juicy fruits, which I considered as a place of complete felicity, we found dried up almost all at once: I saw the trees of that vast forest dropped off by the roots one after another; a mineral smell, which broke out from the pores of that once happy head, was to us a destructive pestilence. I saw my relations and friends dying every minute of strong convulsions; I soon lost my father, and that valuable mother who had folndled me so much, together with three fourths of my dear children: my poor mistress herself, who had entertains us with such generous hospitality, was now in a condition to be pitied--her breath was become intolerably fetid, her teeth were no longer fast in her head, her mouth was covered with froth, her nerves were broken, and her body trembled so as she could scarce either stand or sit.

Of this terrible disaster I was determined on finding the cause; and one morning winding my way with a great deal of trouble through that vast forest, I climbed to the tip of an ear which had been once white, but which the infected air had now blackened.

From thence I saw the proceeding of a cursed operator, who stroking the delicate limbs of my mistress with his greasy fingers, filled her whole body with his dreadful contagion.

Resolving now to go back no more to this cursed and corrupted country, I called my few children that were left together, and we hid ourselves for a while in the doubles of a curtain which hung round my mistress's bed.

Here we staid two days and a half, without provision, without relief, and without knowing what course to take, when my poor mistress, languid and sinking, was taken from her bed, and conveyed to a hackney coach, as I have heard, to the royal mansion of Bissexter.

Her bed was supplied with clean linen; and I had the horror to see the cruel matron shake out of the foul clothes an innumerable body of my country-men, whom the plague had carried off; some of them were yet living, and crying out for help; but she, in all the rage of cruelty, pushed them together, and threw them headlong into a pan of burning coals, which put at once an end to their misery and existence.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Item of the Day: Gilray's American Rattlesnake (1782)

Title:

The American Rattlesnake.

Drawn and written by James Gilray (1757-1815). The large snake that has already encircled the British at Saratoga and Yorktown has a third empty circle on the left, indicating that there is still room for another captured British army. Published in London by W. Humphrey, 1782.



(Click on picture to view full size.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Item of the Day: John Wilkes' The North Briton (1770)

Full Title:

The North Briton. From Vol. I to No XLVI. Complete. With several useful and explanatory Notes, Not printed in any former Edition To which is added, a copious Index to every Name and Article. Corrected and Revised by A Friend to Civil and Religious Liberty. Vol. II Printed in London.

Number XLV. Saturday, April 23, 1763.

The following Advertisement appeared in all the Papers on the 13th of April.

[John Wilkes' famous essay Number 45 outraged George III, resulted in his arrest for seditious libel under a general warrant (in which the crime but not the criminal was named) and landed forty-nine other people in jail. The arrests incited Wilkes to bring a counter-suit against his arrestors for trespass, forcing the courts to examine the legality of Wilkes' seizure as a member of the House of Commons. The court vindicated Wilkes but more importantly the incident signaled a "momentous shift in the locus of power in government from the privileged to the masses." Colonists idealized the radical Wilkes as their champion of liberty whose cause celebre demonstrated to their great satisfaction that the British government was all too eager to curtail freedom of the press and the people's lawful rights.]


The King's Speech has always been considered by the legislature, and by the public at large, as the Speech of the Minister. It has regularly, at the beginning of every session of parliament, been referred by both houses to the consideration of a committee, and has been generally canvassed with the utmost freedom, when the minister of the crown has been obnoxious to the nation. The ministers of this free country, conscious of the undoubted privileges of so spirited a people, and with the terrors of parliament before their eyes, have ever been cautious, no less with regard to the matter, than to the expressions of speeches, which they have advised the sovereign to make from the throne, at the opening of each session. They well knew that an honest house of parliament, true to their trust, could not fail to detect the fallacious arts, or to remonstrate against the daring acts of violence committed by any minister. The speech at the close of the session has ever been considered as the most secure method of promulgating the favourite court-creed among the vulgar; because the parliament, which is the constitutional guardian of the liberties of the people, has in this case no opportunity of remonstrating, or of impeaching any wicked servant of the crown.

. . .


This week has given the public the most abandoned instance of ministerial effrontery ever attempted to be imposed on mankind. The minister's speech of last Tuesday is not to be paralleled in the annals of this country. I am in doubt, whether the imposition is greater on the sovereign or on the nation. Every friend of his country must lament that a prince of so many great and amiable qualities, whom England truly reveres, can be brought to give the sanction of his sacred name to the most odious measures, and to the most unjustifiable public declarations, from a throne ever renowned for truth, honour, and unsullied virtue.

. . .

A despotic minister will always endeavor to dazzle his prince with high-flown ideas of the prerogative and honour of the crown, which the minister will make a parade of firmly maintaining. I wish as much as any man in the kingdom to see the honour of the crown maintained in a manner truly becoming Royalty. I lament to see it sunk even to prostitution. What a shame was it to see the security of this country in point of military force, complimented away, contrary to the opinion of Royalty itself, and sacrificed to the prejudices and to the ignorance of a set of people, the most unfit, from every consideration, to be consulted on a matter relative to the security of the house of Hanover!

. . .

The King of England is only the first magistrate of this country; but is invested by the law with the whole executive power. He is, however, responsible to his people for the due execution of the royal functions, in the choice of ministers, &c. equal with the meanest of his subjects in his particular duty.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Item of the Day: Junius Revisited (1769)

Full Title:

Letters of Junius. Printed in London by Henry Sampson Woodfall, 1772.
Letter XXXV.

[By December 10, 1769, the name "Junius" was well known in London. For nearly a year Junius' elegant invectives had been appearing in The Public Advertiser, excoriating officials whom he viewed as corrupt and contemptible, most especially the Prime Minister, the Duke of Grafton. A Whig and supporter of Grafton's predecessor, George Grenville, Junius took up Grenville's campaign for the public's right to elect the radical John Wilkes. Wilkes had been expelled from the House of Commons four years earlier on the grounds of seditious libel after attacking the king and his ministers in his newspaper, The North Briton. To Junius, Grafton's refusal to re-seat Wilkes after his legal re-election was a clear sign that the king was illegally manipulating his ministers and restricting the people's right to elect their own representatives.

In the following letter, Junius has shifted his focus from publicly lacerating Grafton to appealing to King George III himself on Wilke's behalf . The letter stirred significant indignation against Junius and his publisher, Henry Woodfall. Grafton resigned his ministry in 1770 but the victory did not go to Junius. The King replaced Grafton with an even more conservative supporter, Lord Frederick North, best known as the architect of the Intolerable Acts. Although Junius' real identity is widely believed to be that of Sir Philip Francis, it has never been unequivocally established.)


19. December, 1769

Sir:

It is the misfortune of your life, and originally the cause of every reproach and distress, which has attended your government, that you should never have been acquainted with the language of truth, until you heard it in the complaints of your people. It is not, however, too late to correct the errors of your education. We are still inclined to make an indulgent allowance for the pernicious lessons you received in your youth, and to form the most sanguine hopes from the natural benevolence of your disposition. We are far from thinking you capable of a direct, deliberate purpose to invade those original rights of your subjects, on which all their civil and political liberties depend. Had it been possible for us to entertain a suspicion so dishonourable to your character, we should long since have adopted a style of remonstrance very distant from the humility of complaint. The doctrine inculcated by our laws, That the King can do no wrong, is admitted without reluctance. We separate the amiable, good natured prince from the folly and treachery of his servants, and the private virtues of the man from the vices of his government. Were it not for this just distinction, I know not whether your Majesty's condition, or that of the English nation, would deserve most to be lamented. I would prepare your mind for a favourable reception of truth, by removing every painful, offensive idea of personal reproach. Your subjects, Sir, wish for nothing but that, as they are reasonable and affectionate enough to separate your person from your government, so you, in your turn, should distinguish between the conduct, which becomes the permanent dignity of a King, and that which serves only to promote the temporary interest and miserable ambition of a minister.

. . .


Far from suspecting you of so horrible a design, we would attribute the continued violation of the laws, and even this last enormous attack upon the vital principles of the constitution, to an ill-advised, unworthy, personal resentment. From one false step you have betrayed into another, and as the cause was unworthy of you, your ministers were determined that the prudence of the execution should correspond with the wisdom and dignity of the design. They have reduced you to the necessity of choosing out of a variety of difficulties; -- to a situation so unhappy, that you can neither do wrong without rui , nor right without affliction. These worthy servants have undoubtedly given you many singular proofs of their abilities. Not contented with making Mr.Wilkes a man of importance, they have judiciously transferred the question, from the rights and interest of one man , to the most important rights and interests of the people, and forced your subjects, from wishing well to the cause of an individual, to unite with him in their own. Let them proceed as they have begun, and your Majesty need not doubt that the catastrophe will do no dishonour to the conduct of the piece.
. . .

These sentiments, Sir, and the stile they are conveyed in, may be offensive, perhaps, because they are new to you. Accustomed to the language of courtiers, you measure their affections by the vehemence of their expressions; and when they only praise you indirectly, you admire their sincerity. But this is not a time to trifle with your fortune. They deceive you, Sir, who tell you that you have many friends, whose affections are founded upon a principle of personal attachment. The first foundation of friendship is not the power of conferring benefits, but the equality with which they are received, and may be returned. The fortune, which made you a King, forbad you to have a friend. It is a law of nature which cannot be violated with impunity. The mistaken prince, who looks for friendship, will find a favourite, and in that favourite the ruin of his affairs.

The people of England are loyal to the House of Hanover, not from a vain preference of one family to another, but from a conviction that the establishment of that family was necessary to the support of their civil and religious liberties. This, Sir, is a principle of allegiance equally solid and rational; fit for Englishmen to adopt, and well worthy of your majesty's encouragement. We cannot long be deluded by nominal distinctions. The name of Stuart, of itself, is only contemptible; armed with the sovereign authority, their principles are formidable. The prince who imitates their conducts should be warned by example; and, while he plumes himself upon the security of his title to the crown, should remember that, as it was acquired by one revolution, it may be lost by another.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Item of the Day: Police of the Metropolis (1797)

Full Title Page:

A Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis; Containing a Detail of the Various Crimes and Misdemeanors By Which Public and Private Property and Security Are, at Present, Injured and Endangered: And Suggesting Remedies for Their Prevention. The Fourth Edition, Revised and Enlarged. By a Magistrate, Acting for the Counties of Middlesex, Surry, Kent, and Essex. -- For the City and Liberty of Westminster -- and for the Liberty of the Tower of London. Meminerint legum conditores, illas ad proximum hunc finem accommodare; Scelera videlicet arcenta, refraenandaque vitia ac morum pravitatem. Judices pariter leges illas cum vigore, aequitate, integritae, publicaeque utilitatis amore curent exequi; ut justitia et virtus omnes societatis ordines pervadant. Industriaque simul et Temperantia inertiae locum assumant et prodigalitatis.

Written anonymously by Patrick Colqhuoun. Containing a fold-out chart, "A Summary View of the Prisoners committed, tried, punished, disposed of, and discharged in the Metropolis, in One Year, ending in October 1795" listing statistics for Newgate, Poultry Compter, Giltspur Compter, Bridewell Hospital, New Prison at Clerkenwell, House of Correction in Cold Bath Fields, Tothil Fields Bridewell, and New Gaol, Southwark. Printed in London by H. Fry, Finsbury-Place, for C. Dilly, Poultry, 1797. From "To the Reader":

In contemplating this shocking catalogue of Human Depravity, (which however still does not include every description of Fraud or Dishonesty which is practised) before the mind shall imbibe unfavourable impressions, it may be necessary to remind the Reader, that in order justly to appreciate the moral turpitude which attaches to such a host of individuals, in many respects deluded and misled by the numerous temptations which assail them, it must be measured by a scale proportioned to the unparalleled extent and opulence of the Metropolis, and to the vast amount of moving property there. London is not only the grand Magazine of the British Empire, but also the general receptacle for the idle and depraved of almost every Country, and certainly from every quarter of the dominions of the Crown; --where the temptations and resources for Criminal Pleasures--Gambling--Fraud and Depredation, as well as for Pursuits of honest industry, almost exceed imagination; since besides being the seat of Government, and the centre of Fashion, Amusements, Dissipation, Extravagance, and Folly, it is not only the greatest commercial City in the Universe, but perhaps of the first manufacturing Towns that is known to exist.

Under these circumstances, while immorality, licentiousness, and Crimes, are known to advance in proportion to riches, it is much to be lamented that in the rapid and progressive increase of the latter, sufficient attention has not been bestowed on the means of checking the enormous strides made by the former.

This is to be attributed principally to those deficiencies and imperfections in the System of Police, which are explained and pointed out in the Treatise, now offered to the attention of the Reader.

It opens a wide field for doing good, to men of opulence, talents, and virtue; to Patriots and Philanthropists who love their Country and glory in its prosperity.

Such men will speedily discover through this medium, that, like the Roman Government when enveloped in riches and luxury, the National prosperity may be of short duration; that the same calamities are to be dreaded wherever public morals are neglected, and no effectual measures adopted for the purpose either of checking the alarming growth of Depravity and Crimes, or of guarding the rising generation against evil examples; which are exhibited in the Metropolis, perhaps in a greater degree than was ever before experienced, particularly among the lower ranks of Society.

It is therefore earnestly to be wished, that the subject of this Treatise may excite in the public mind an ardent desire for the adoption of such Remedies as shall apply to the improvement of the morals of the People, as well as to remove the danger and insecurity, which at present exist; and which unquestionably must be greatly augmented at the conclusion of the war, by the return of a multitude of Delinquents to their associates in iniquity.

The sole intention of the Author, in pointing out these accumulated wrongs, is to secure the inhabitants of the Metropolis against the alarming consequences to be dreaded from the existence of such an atrocious and criminal Confederacy. --That this may be the more easily effected, in all instances where Evils are represented to exist, Remedies are uniformly proposed: And these are such as have forced themselves upon the mind, more from practical observation, than by indulging in speculative theories. --They are suggested under a conviction that they perfectly accord with the spirit of the Laws; and that their adoption will be practicable; without disturbing, in any material degree, the System of Criminal Jurisprudence which at present exists.

The object is to extend to that System a greater portion of energy and effect, by establishing agencies, regulations and restraints, rendered necessary by the great magnitude and extent of the enormities committed.

It is by the operation of legal and proper restraints, that the possession of all things valuable in Society is secured.

It is by the general influence of good Laws and regulations, that the blessings of true Liberty and the undisturbed enjoyment of property is preserved; as far as Legislative Authority, aided by a well-regulated and energetic Police, can prove a security against iniquity and depredation.

The restraints, however, proposed in this Work as the means of preventing Crimes, are such as must produce this salutary effect, without abridging the privileges of innocence; since they apply to those classes only, the nature of whose dealings, from being in many instance both unlawful and immoral, immediately affect not only the useful and innocent inhabitants of their Metropolis, but in the remoter consequences, the Country at large.

If the pressure experienced, joined to a more extensive information relative to the Evils and the Remedies, shall operate as a spur to men of influence, property, and consequence, to employ means for improving the Police of the Capital -- the purpose of the Author will be attained. -- The morals of the People will experience a favourable change; and that species of security will be extended to the inhabitants of this great Metropolis, which has not heretofore been experienced, while many evils will be prevented, which, in their consequences, threaten to be productive of the most serious mischiefs to the Liberty of the People, and the happiness and security of the whole Nation.