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character of a gentleman, was now highly respected. CHAP Numberless treatises in favour of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, flowed from the fertile

1785. ingenuity of their writers, which, if they did not ftate of much inform or convince acute and distinguishing understandings, by striking 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 subjects also, they fancied they had dispelled the clouds of ignorance, and were enlightened by the sunshine of reason. There was at this Multiplicity

of ingenious time a great multiplicity of ingenious writers writers. in France, without that patient investigation, research, cautious consideration, and experimental reasoning, which only can lead to just, found, and beneficial philosophy; to religious, moral, and political wisdom. A few eminent framers of hypotheses had given the tone to the rest; Helvetius, Rousseau, and Voltaire, taught infidelity to numerous classes of disciples, who admitted their doctrines upon the faith of their asseverations. Their Do&trines of multiplying votaries, professing to disregard all su- Rouleau perstitious bigotry, were still 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.



Voltaire and



Great and


CHAP character, and occupied the principal share of con

versation in fashionable societies. 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 sound policy required, and neither he nor his ministers appeared to be aware of the dangers attending the diffusion of irreligion through a nation.

British commerce continued to increase and exincreafing prosperity 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 short time from fifty-four to seventy, in the three

per cents. consolidated, the barometer of the other Confidence funds. The mercantile and monied interest, ned interet in its various departments and corporations, evi.

dently reposed in the chancellor of the exchequer a tegrity of confidence which they had bestowed upon no mi

nilter since 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 proposed, and were thoroughly satisfied with the rapid advances of trade, as well as the increasing means of enlarging their capitals. While ministers impressed the public with a favourable idea of their qualifications to promote the prosperity of the country, the supporters of opposition were foremost in their efforts to amuse and entertain ; wit and tem. porary satire appeared with brilliancy and force in the Rolliad, a mock heroic poem, of which the professed hero was a respectable and worthy gentleman, Mr. Rolle of Devonshire, a zealous friend

in che fålents and in

Ms. Pitr,



of administration, and therefore held up by their CHAT. opponents to ridicule. The notes on the poem difplay considerable humour, and illustrate the feel- 17852 ings, sentiments, and opinions of opposition, concerning the general politics of the times. The death Satirical of Mr. Warton, the poet laureat, also afforded an occasion to ingenuity for exhibiting a sarcastic account of ministerial characters in the birth-day odes; performances satirically inscribed with the names of various gentlemen and noblemen as candidates for the vacant office, and, as in characteristic compofitions, presenting specimens of their poetical powers by odes on the king's birth day. The respective essays painted the alleged foibles of the chief supporters of the cabinet : viewed together, the Rolliad and the birth-day odes presented ministerial men and measures in the light in which the fatirists of oppofition at this period wished them to be beheld, and are not therefore unconnected with the serious literature and politics of the anti-ministerial party.

A caufe affecting literary property was this year Quefi·n of determined by the court of session, the chief civil literary protribunal of Scotland. The compilers of the Scottilh Encyclopedia had inserted in that work large extracts from Dr. Gilbert Stewart's history of Scotland, and his history 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 sentence in favour of the prosecutor, on the ground that the defenders had quoted more, and with less interruption, than was allowed by the rules of literary property. The



G 3


CHAP. principle of the judgment appeared to be, that large

and connected passages copied from a literary work, 1785.

tend to injure the sale of that work, and consequently lessen the value of the property to the rightful owner.

Peace having been now completely established inys, a great between the East India company and Tippoo Saib, subject of

tranquillity was diffused over British India. During the recess, Mr. Hastings, the governor general, returned ; and the periodical writings of the times teemed with attacks and vindications of his cha, racter,

Return of
Mr. Hatt-

temporary literature.


Meeting of parliament.King's Speech.-Views of Mr. Fox

concerning continental alliances.-The duke of Richmonds scheme for fortifying the dock-yardssubmitted to parliament-Arguments for and against.-Speech of Mr. Sheridan on the fortifications —The bill is rejected by the casting vote of the speaker.-Alteration in the mutiny bill.-Mr. Pitt's plan for appropriating an annual million to the payment of the national debt.—Mr. Sheridan takes the most active part in controverting the minister's financial propofitions.--Farther measures of the minister for preventing frauds against the revenue. ---Proposes to subject foreign wines to the excife.--A bill for the purpose is paffed into a law.Bill appointing commissioners to examine the crown lands.-The conduct of Mr. Hastings becomes a subject of enquiry.-- Public opinion concerning Mr. Hastings.- Mr. Burke opens the subject.--His introductory speech.-Proposes to proceed by impeachment.Prefents a suinmary of the alleged criminal acts.A majority, including Mr. Pitt, finds ground of impeachment in the proceedings agains Cheyht Sing.—Mr. Dundas's bill for improving the govern

ment of British India.-Supplies.---Sesion terminates. ON In the 24th of January 1786, parliament was c H A P.

assembled. The speech from the throne mentioned the amicable conclusion of the disputes 1786. which had threatened the tranquillity of Europe, parliament


Meeting of and the friendly dispositions of foreign powers to

king's wards this country: it expressed the royal fatisfac- speech. tion, that his majesty's subjects now experienced 'the growing blessings of peace in the extension of trade, improvement of revenue, and increase Ꮐ Ꮞ



and the

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