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The approaching marriage of the Queen was anticipated by the nation with satisfaction. We have seen, from the height to which party spirit ran, that it was extremely desirable that she should have a husband to stand between her and such unmanly attacks as those of Mr. Bradshaw. An occurrence, however, took place in the early part of the year very painful in its nature, which added much to the unpopularity of the Court. This was the cruel suspicion which was cast upon Lady Flora Hastings by some of the ladies about the Queen, and is supposed to have caused her early death. She was one of the ladies in attendance on the Duchess of Kent; and soon after her arrival at Court it was generally surmised, from the appearance of her person, that she had been privately married, the consequence of which was that, in order to clear her character, which was perfectly blameless, she was compelled to submit to the humiliation of a medical examination. Shortly afterwards she died of the disease which was suspected to be pregnancy, and the public feeling was intensified by the publication of the acrimonious correspondence which had taken place between her mother on the one side and Lady Portman and Lord Melbourne on the other.

In Massachusetts the colonists were more exasperated against Governor Bernard, on account of his letters reflecting on the Bostonians in the matter of the late riots, these letters having been laid before Parliament, and copies of them by some means procured and sent on by their agents. They declared that it was beneath their dignity to deliberate in the midst of an armed force, and requested Bernard to withdraw the troops, but he refused; and they, on their part, declined to vote supplies, on which he adjourned them to Cambridge. There, however, as Cambridge was only separated from Boston by an arm of the sea, they continued to protest against an armed force, as an invasion of the national rights of the colonists, and highly dangerous. Bernard soon announced to them his intention to sail for England, to lay the state of the colony before the king, and the house immediately voted a petition to his Majesty, praying him to keep him from coming back again. Bernard then called upon them to refund the money expended for the quartering of the troops; but that they pronounced quite as unreasonable as the Stamp Act, and finding them utterly intractable, Bernard prorogued the Assembly, and quitted the colony, leaving the administration in the hands of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson.

The news of this astonishing cowardice of the soldiery caused great consternation in Paris. Lafayette and Rochambeau wrote complaining of Dumouriez and the Gironde Ministry; the Girondists accused the Jacobins of inciting the troops to this conduct; and the Jacobins blamed the incompetence of the Gironde. The king proceeded to dismiss his Girondist Ministry, and to rule with something like independence. In the early part of July it was known at the Tuileries that the Prussians, having joined the Austrians, had marched on Coblenz, to the number of eighty thousand men, all old soldiers of the great Frederick, and commanded by the Duke of Brunswick, the nephew of Frederick, who had won so much distinction in the Seven Years' War. Marshal Luckner, not deeming himself strong enough to resist this force, had retired upon Lille and Valenciennes. The Court was in high spirits; the queen told her ladies, in confidence, that the Allies would be in Paris in six weeks. The king wrote to the allied camp recommending moderation. In this moment of effervescence appeared the proclamation of the Duke of Brunswick as commander of the allied armies, and in the name of the allied monarchs. This proclamation arrived in Paris on the 28th of July, though it was dated Coblenz, July 25th. It was far from being of the reasonable nature which the king had recommended, and was calculated to do the most fatal injuries to his interests. It stated that the Emperor and the King of Prussia, having seen the manner in which the authority of the King of France had been overturned by a factious people, how his sacred person and those of his family had been subjected to violence and restraint, in which those who had usurped his Government had, besides destroying the internal order and peace of France, invaded the Germanic Empire, and seized the possessions of the princes of Alsace and Lorraine, had determined to march to his assistance, and had authorised himself, a member of the Germanic body, to march to the aid of their friend and ally; that he came to restore the king to all his rights, and to put an end to anarchy in France; that he was not about to make war on France, but on its internal enemies, and he called on all the well-disposed to co-operate in this object; that all cities, towns, villages, persons, and property would be respected and protected, provided that they immediately concurred in the restoration of order. He summoned all officers of the army and the State to return to their allegiance; all Ministers of Departments, districts, and municipalities were likewise summoned, and were to be held responsible, by their lives and properties, for all outrages and misdemeanours committed before the restoration of order; and all who resisted the royal authority, and fired on the royal troops or the Allies, should be instantly punished with all rigour, and their houses demolished or burned. Paris, in case of any injury done to the royal family, was to be delivered up to an exemplary and ever-memorable vengeance; that no laws were to be acknowledged as valid but such as proceeded from the king when in a state of perfect liberty.

On the 6th of May Burke had brought forward a measure for the benefit of his long-oppressed country, to the effect that Ireland should enjoy the privilege of exporting its manufactures, woollen cloths and woollens excepted, and of importing from the coast of Africa and other foreign settlements all goods that it required, except indigo and tobacco. The Irish were to have the additional privilege of sending to England duty-free, cotton-yarns, sail-cloth, and cordage. Parliament, for once, looked on these demands with favour. They recollected that the Americans had endeavoured to excite disaffection amongst the Irish by reference to the unjust restrictions on their commerce by the selfishness of England, and they felt the loss of the American trade, and were willing to encourage commerce in some other direction. Lord Nugent co-operated with Burke in this endeavour. But the lynx-eyed avarice of the English merchants was instantly up in arms. During the Easter recess, a host of petitions was[254] got up against this just concession. The city of Bristol, which was represented by Burke, threatened to dismiss him at the next election, if he persisted in this attempt to extend commercial justice to Ireland; but Burke told them that he must leave that to them; for himself, he must advocate free trade, which, if they once tried it, they would find far more advantageous than monopoly. They kept their word, and threw him out for his independence. At the same time, the English merchants, as they had always done before by Ireland, triumphed to a great extent. They demanded to be heard in Committee by counsel, and the Bills were shorn down to the least possible degree of benefit. [See larger version]

Paine, in his "Rights of Man," was far from restricting himself to the courtesies of life in attacking Burke. He had been most hospitably received by Burke on many occasions at his house, and had corresponded with him, and must therefore have seen sufficient of him to know that, though he might become extremely enthusiastic in his championship of certain views, he could never become mean or dishonest. Yet Paine did not hesitate to attribute to him the basest and most sordid motives. He branded him as the vilest and most venal of apostates. Paine had, in fact, become a monomaniac in Republicanism. He had been engaged to the last in the American Revolution, and was now living in Paris, and constantly attending the Jacobin club. He was hand-in-hand with the most rabid of the Republicans, and was fast imbibing their anti-Christian tenets. Paine fully believed that the French were inaugurating something much finer than any millennium; that they were going to establish the most delightful liberty, equality, and fraternity, not simply throughout France but throughout the world. Before the doctrines of the French clubbists and journalists, all superstition, all despotism, all unkindness were to vanish from amongst mankind, and a paradisiacal age of love and felicity was to commence. To those who pointed to the blood and fury already too prominently conspicuous in this business, he replied that these were but the dregs of corrupt humanity, which were working off in the great fermentation, and all would become clear and harmonious.