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XXXIV.

1785. Internal

France.

of ingenious

character of a gentleman, was now highly refpected. CHAP. Numberless treatifes in favour of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, flowed from the fertile ingenuity of their writers, which, if they did not ftate of much inform or convince acute and diftinguishing understandings, by ftriking ductile imaginations influenced a much more numerous class. The lively fancies, ardent feelings, and impetuous spirits of Frenchmen were now turned to mercantile adventure: they conceived themselves happily emancipated from the old prejudices which had kept many of their forefathers in proud poverty. On other fubjects alfo, they fancied they had dif pelled the clouds of ignorance, and were enlightened by the funshine of reason. There was at this Multiplicity time a great multiplicity of ingenious writers writers. in France, without that patient investigation, research, cautious confideration, and experimental reafoning, which only can lead to juft, found, and beneficial philofophy; to religious, moral, and political wifdom. A few eminent framers of hypothefes had given the tone to the reft; Helvetius, Rouffeau, and Voltaire, taught infidelity to numerous claffes of difciples, who admitted their doctrines upon the faith of their affeverations. Their multiplying votaries, profeffing to difregard all fuperftitious bigotry, were ftill Roman catholics in implicitly reasoning they admitted an infallible authority, if not in the pope, in Jean Jacques; decrees from the mountains of Switzerland were received with no less veneration, than bulls had formerly been received from the Vatican; infidelity was Prevalence become the prominent feature of the French of infidelity. character,

G 2

Doctrines of

Voltaire and

Rouffeau

received.

XXXIV.

1785.

CHAP. religious establishments of Hungary and its appendages, had the ufual effect of fchemes of reform founded on abstract principles, without regard to the character, sentiments, and habits of the people, and produced much greater evils than those which they profeffed to remedy; by violating customs, offending prejudices, annulling prescriptions, and trenching on privileges, he drove his fubjects to diffatisfaction, infurrection, and rebellion: to quell the revolters required powerful and expenfive efforts, nor were they finally reduced till the clofe of the campaign: these various caufes prevented hoftilities from being commenced against the states-general. Pacific overtures were refumed under the mediation of the court of France, and the management of the count de Vergennes, the French prime minifter: the Dutch agreed to pay Jofeph a certain sum of money in lieu of his claims over Maeftricht, which he renounced for ever, and also refigned his pretenfions to the free navigation of the Scheldt: lefs material disputes were compromifed and adjusted, and a treaty of peace was concluded between Auftria and Holland. Treaty be- Before the expiration of the year, the Dutch and France entered into a new alliance, offenfive and defenfive. France was internally occupied in fchemes of diminution of the immenfe debts which she had contracted in the late war, and in the improvement of her manufactures and commerce. A merchant, raised to be prime minifter, contributed to the speedy elevation of the mercantile profeffion in the opinion of Frenchmen; and trade, which before had been confidered as derogatory to the

Abandons the naviga

tion of the Scheldt, and

concludes peace with Holland.

tween France

and Hol

land.

character

XXXIV.

1785. Internal

France.

of ingenious

character of a gentleman, was now highly refpected. CHAP Numberless treatifes in favour of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, flowed from the fertile ingenuity of their writers, which, if they did not ftate of much inform or convince acute and diftinguishing understandings, by ftriking ductile imaginations influenced a much more numerous class. The lively fancies, ardent feelings, and impetuous fpirits of Frenchmen were now turned to mercantile adventure: they conceived themselves happily emancipated from the old prejudices which had kept many of their forefathers in proud poverty. On other fubjects alfo, they fancied they had dif pelled the clouds of ignorance, and were enlightened by the funfhine of reason. There was at this Multiplicity time a great multiplicity of ingenious writers writers. in France, without that patient investigation, refearch, cautious confideration, and experimental reasoning, which only can lead to juft, found, and beneficial philofophy; to religious, moral, and political wifdom. A few eminent framers of hypothefes had given the tone to the reft; Helvetius, Rouffeau, and Voltaire, taught infidelity to numerous claffes of difciples, who admitted their doctrines upon the faith of their affeverations. Their Doctrines of multiplying votaries, profeffing to disregard all fuperftitious bigotry, were ftill Roman catholics in implicitly reasoning they admitted an infallible authority, if not in the pope, in Jean Jacques; decrees from the mountains of Switzerland were received with no lefs veneration, than bulls had formerly been received from the Vatican; infidelity was Prevalence become the prominent feature of the French of infidelity. character,

G 2

Voltaire and

Rouffeau

received.

XXXIV.

CHAP. character, and occupied the principal share of converfation in fashionable focieties. The royal family, 1785. indeed, were not tinctured with the prevalent impiety, but the indulgent liberality of the monarch did not watch and rigorously check such opinions with the vigilance which found policy required, and neither he nor his ministers appeared to be aware of the dangers attending the diffusion of irreligion through a nation.

Great and increafing

Britain.

of the mo

in the talents and integrity of Mr. Pitt.

British commerce continued to increase and exprofperity of tend; the flourishing state of trade, together with the announced project of Mr. Pitt for the difcharge of the national debt, raised the stocks in a fhort time from fifty-four to feventy, in the three per cents. confolidated, the barometer of the other Confidence funds. The mercantile and monied intereft, n ed intereft in its various departments and corporations, evidently repofed in the chancellor of the exchequer a confidence which they had beftowed upon no minifter fince the time of his father. They conceived the highest opinion of his integrity and talents, approved the principles on which he was proceeding, and the regulations he had actually propofed, and were thoroughly fatisfied with the rapid advances of trade, as well as the increasing means of enlarging their capitals. While ministers impreffed the public with a favourable idea of their qualifications to promote the prosperity of the country, the supporters of oppofition were foremost in their efforts to amuse and entertain; wit and temporary fatire appeared with brilliancy and force in the Rolliad, a mock heroic poem, of which the profeffed hero was a respectable and worthy gentleman, Mr. Rolle of Devonshire, a zealous friend

XXXIV.

1785

literature.

of administration, and therefore held up by their CHAP. opponents to ridicule. The notes on the poem difplay confiderable humour, and illuftrate the feelings, fentiments, and opinions of oppofition, concerning the general politics of the times. The death Satirical of Mr. Warton, the poet laureat, alfo afforded an occafion to ingenuity for exhibiting a farcaftic account of minifterial characters in the birth-day odes; performances fatirically inscribed with the names of various gentlemen and noblemen as candidates for the vacant office, and, as in characteristic compofitions, prefenting fpecimens of their poetical powers by odes on the king's birth day. The respective effays painted the alleged foibles of the chief fupporters of the cabinet: viewed together, the Rolliad and the birth-day odes prefented ministerial men and measures in the light in which the fatirifts of oppofition at this period wifhed them to be beheld, and are not therefore unconnected with the serious literature and politics of the anti-ministerial party.

literary pro

perty.

A caufe affecting literary property was this year Question of determined by the court of feffion, the chief civil tribunal of Scotland. The compilers of the Scottish Encyclopedia had inferted in that work large extracts from Dr. Gilbert Stewart's hiftory of Scotland, and his hiftory of the reformation of Scotland: Mr. Stewart prosecuted them for piracy, and the transcripts being long and continuous, the court, having a power of determining equitably as well as legally, gave fentence in favour of the profecutor, on the ground that the defenders had quoted more, and with lefs interruption, than was allowed by the rules of literary property. The

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