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XXXVI.

1786.

CHAP. val arfenal; the works were ftupendous. It was proposed to cover the road, being about a league and a half in length, with a series of moles, leaving only two fufficient openings, one for the paffage of fhips of the largest fize, and the other for trading veffels. Forts, with batteries of the heaviest cannon, were to be erected on the different moles, in fuch fituations as to be impregnable, and to render the approach of an enemy utterly impracti cable. M. Calonne, the prime minister of France, in order to open the way for the introduction of foreign industry, procured the publication of a law, which might be confidered as a counter-part of the noted edict of Nantz. This was a decree, which invited strangers of all chriftian nations and religious perfuafions to fettle in the country, and enabled them to purchase lands and enjoy all the rights of citizens *.. To encourage artists and manufacturers of all countries to fettle in France, another ordinance was published, allowing them the fame privileges which they enjoyed in their native lands, and for a limited time granting them an immunity from all duties on the importation of the

The judicious author of the hiftory of Europe, in the Annual Regifter of 1786, obferves, that it afforded a fingular object of moral and political confideration, to behold fourteen veffels from North America arrive together in the harbour of Dunkirk, freighted with the families, goods, and property of a colony of quakers and baptifts (the most rigid, perhaps, in their religious principles of any among the reformed), who were to come to fettle at that place, in a Roman catholic country, and under the government of the French monarch; two circumftances the most directly oppofite to their ancient fentiments, whether political or religious.

raw

XXXVI.

1786

raw materials that were used in their manufactures; CHAP also exempting them and their workmen from the payment of taxes, and every perfonal impoft. On these conditions they were obliged to continue for a specified number of years in the kingdom, but, at the expiration of that term, they were at liberty to depart themselves, and to move their property wherever they chofe. The king and his miniftry were no less difpofed to favour the native proteft. ants, as far as was confiftent with the well-being and fecurity of the national church: indulgences were likewife extended this year to the peasants, who long had been grievoufly oppreffed; they were relieved from various arbitrary exactions, both of labour and money, and their condition was in general meliorated. The great objects which the mild and benevolent Louis purfued were, the improvement of the strength and productiveness of his kingdom, the alleviation of oppreffions interwoven with the government, as it had defcended to him from his ancestors, and the extension of the blessings of liberty to his people.

The most remarkable domeftic occurrence of the year was an attempt, originating in phrenzy, that fortunately answered no other purpose than to demonftrate the warm affection with which a happy, feeling, and grateful people regarded their fovereign. On Wednesday the 2d of Auguft, his Majesty came to town to the levee; as he was alighting from his carriage at the garden-gate of St. James's-palace, oppofite to the duke of Marlborough's wall, a woman, decently dreffed, prefented to the king a paper folded up in the form of a peti

Alarming

attempt afovereign,

gainst our

1786. providen

tially prevented.

Magnanimous humanity of the king.

66

CHAP. tion; his majefty ftooping to receive it, felt at his XXXVI. ftomach a thruft, which paffed between his coat and waistcoat; drawing back, he said, "What does the woman mean?" At that inftant a yeoman of the guards laying hold of her arm, obferved fomething fall from her hand, and called out, << "Tis a knife!" The king faid, "I am not hurt; take care of the woman; do not hurt her." Much affected by the attempt, his majesty said, in a voice expreffive of tender feelings, "I am fure I have not deferved fuch treatment from any of my subjects!" On opening the paper, when he entered the royal apartments, he found written: "To the king's moft excellent majefty;" the ufual head to petitions; but nothing more. The woman was immediately taken into cuftody, and carried to the guardchamber. Being queftioned how she could make fuch a wicked and daring attempt; her answer was, "That when fhe was brought before proper perfons, fhe would give her reafons." From the hour of twelve to five fhe remained in a chamber to which fhe was conducted, but would not answer one word to any perfon. In the evening, after the levee was broken up, she was examined by the ministers, the law officers of the crown, and several magistrates. Her replies, claiming the crown as her property, and threatening the nation with bloodshed for many ages if her right was denied, indicated an infanity, proves to be which, from appearances, examination, and subsequent inquiry, was foon difcovered to be real: her name proved to be Margaret Nicholfon. It was imagined by many, that disappointment of her own, or fome near connection, concerning a place under . govern

The at

tempter

a lunatic

named

Margaret

Nicholf n

XXXVI

1786.

government, had contributed to her infanity, and CHAP. given her disordered fancy fuch a direction; but when her history was traced, it was found to have no relation to either the court or government. After a fhort confultation, it was refolved that the fhould be fent to Bethlehem hospital, where she has been confined ever fince.

General confterna.

tion on a the attempt.

hearing of

Most providential it was, that this wretched creature made use of her left hand, her other prefent'ing the petition; and that its pofition was such, that she could only aim obliquely. Had her right hand been employed, which, where she stood, could have ftruck directly, dismal might the consequence have been. Even with the aim which fhe took, the happiness of the nation, in the fafety of its revered monarch, was highly indebted to our king's prefence of mind. Had his majesty been thrown into confufion by danger fo unexpected, the fatal deed might have been perpetrated, before the attempt was perceived. Next to his magnanimity, the confiderate humanity of the fovereign fhone most evidently conspiHis benevolent injunction to abstain from hurting a person who had compaffed against him fo atrocious an act, most probably faved the affaffin from the fummary and immediate vengeance of his furrounding fubjects. Similar condu& in fimilar circumstances, this history has ftill to record, concerning the fame exalted character. Fortunately for their feelings, neither her majesty nor any of the royal offspring were prefent. The intelligence of the danger was accompanied by the certain information that it was escaped. The report of the aim excited horror and indignant re

cuous.

fentment

Anxious afall ranks

fection of

for their fovereign,

XXXVI.

1786.

CHAP. fentment through the nation, until the state of the perpetrator's mind was made generally known, and the dreadful impreffion of the calamity threatened yielded to delight that it had threatened in vain. The exquifite pleafure that refults from terrible and impending evil avoided, poured itfelf in adCongratula- dreffes of ardent and heart-felt loyalty from every quarter of the kingdom. His fubjects before knew the escape of that they loved and revered their king; but now

tory ad

dreffes on

the beloved

Lovereign.

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only felt the full force of these affections, when

the impreffion prefent to their minds was the imminent danger of their object.

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