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lower class, and threats of physical violence, were likely to overawe the middle class, and supersede public opinion. The Septennial Act was probably the most unpopular measure of this reign; but it seems to have originated in similar motives to the other..

The attempt made under George II. to repeal the Test Act, which barred the admission of Protestant dissenters to civil employments*, may be mentioned as an instance of the increasing liberality of the age. It failed at the time, because public opinion was not as yet sufficiently enlightened; but the bringing forward such a measure evinced clearly that at no distant period it would be carried.

As other proofs of the regular, though gradual advance of civilisation, the following proceedings in the House of Commons (1747) may be adduced. "We are taken up," says Horace Walpole, "with the Scotch Bills for weakening clanships and taking away heritable jurisdictions." Again, "We had a good-natured bill moved to-day by Sir William Yonge, to allow counsel to prisoners on impeachments for treason, as they have on indictments. It hurt every body at old Lovat's trial, all guilty as he was, to see an old wretch worried by the first lawyers in England, without any assistance but his own unpractised defence. The bill had not the least opposition; yet this was a point struggled for

* March, 1736.

in King William's reign, as a privilege and dignity inherent in the Commons, that the accused by them should have no assistance of counsel. How reasonable, that men chosen by their fellow subjects for the defence of their fellow subjects, should have rights detrimental to the good of the people whom they are to protect! Thank God, we are a betternatured age, and have relinquished this savage privilege with a good grace!"

About this period another circumstance occurred, demonstrating the progress of civilisation. The English code of laws was released from part of that load of absurdity and ignorance, which had so long disgraced it, by the repeal of James the First's cruel statutes against conjuration and witchcraft. The judicial murders these occasioned in former centuries will be noticed in the progress of our inquiries.

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CHAPTER XI.

GEORGE III.

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Length and Importance of this Reign. - General Warrants declared to be illegal. Letters of Junius. Fate of the Toleration Bill. - Riots of 1780.- Bill to reform Parliament. -Peace-ministers and War-ministers. - The American Revolution. Public Opinion on this Subject. Its Vacillations. - Unpopularity of the War with America. Its Impolicy.Declaration of the Commons. - The India Bill. The Troubles in Holland. Attempts to abolish the Slave Trade. Mr. Pitt's Speech in favour of the Abolition. - Measure for Relief of Roman Catholic Disabilities.

THE length of time occupied by the reign of this monarch, and the peculiar situation in which Great Britain was placed, render it one of singular importance, not merely in the history of this country, but as relating to several events which demonstrate the increased influence of the subject under our investigation.

In the reign of George III. facility of communication, and the other requisites for civilisation, increased in an unusual degree. Although

public opinion in this country was sufficiently powerful in 1688, to occasion not only a change in the government, but security for, or rather establishment of, a constitution, yet this sentiment was then weak as compared to its subse

quent strength. If a mechanical comparison may be allowed, a given power in 1688 was able to effect a certain purpose: since that period this power has nearly doubled itself; but being in a state of quiescence, it is not so perceptible, and therefore can only be estimated by inference.

Let us consider the several events bearing on our subject, as they present themselves in chronological order.

It was deemed, in the early part of this reign, that general warrants were not in accordance with the liberty of the subject. Without entering minutely into the discussions on this question, which caused considerable sensation at the time, it may suffice to recur to the fact, that the practice of issuing general warrants was, by a resolution of the House of Commons, declared to be illegal.*

The excitement created by the Letters of Junius, and the tumults and disorder that followed, show that popular clamour had yet some influence, and that by many it was mistaken for the contrary sentiment. †

This took place in 1766. General warrants were warrants issued by one of the secretaries of state to arrest any person; in some measure resembling the "lettres de cachet" prevalent in France until the Revolution.

†The letters of Junius appeared in 1769; the publisher, Woodfall, who had been brought to trial under an ex-officio bill, was found by the jury "Guilty of printing and publishing only," which was tantamount to an acquittal. Alluding to these letters, an historian observes, "The writer did not hesitate, in

Perhaps the fate of the Toleration Bill, as brought into the House of Commons*, may show that the influence of public opinion has much increased since that time.

This bill was received by the Commons not merely with approbation, but applause. There was a warm and animated debate; a very considerable majority of the House passed the bill, with the full concurrence of ministers, almost by acclamation. But when introduced into the other House, it was rejected by a considerably majority †, and the measure was consequently thrown out. It is scarcely necessary to say more on this subject; the change that a few years have made will be sufficiently apparent!

The next session the motion was again brought forward, and in the course of the debate that arose,

numerous instances, to insinuate charges the most heinous and criminal against persons the most distinguished in life, without pretending to support them by even the shadow of proof, though loudly and repeatedly called on. The Princess Dowager of Wales he abused most grossly, styling her the abandoned inamorata of the detested Mortimer; Sir W. Draper he accuses of having sold the companions of his victory; another, in a tone of still more impudent and contemptible abuse, with having, as ranger of one of the royal forests, refused the king's timber to the royal navy. When a man brings forward anonymous accusations of this nature, and basely shrinks from the subsequent investigation, he stands recorded to all future times a liar, an assassin, and a coward.". - Belsham's Hist. of Great Britain, vol. i. p. 329.

*This bill was brought into the Commons House in 1772. † Non-contents 102, Contents for the bill 29.

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