« AnteriorContinuar »
PRINTED FOR BALDWIN, CRADOCK, AND JOY;
J. OTRIDGE; J. CUTHELL; LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN;
THE domestic annals of the year 1819 are replete with subjects of deep, but, on the whole, of painful interest. Pecuniary distress has been nearly universal: the agricultural, the commercial, and the manufacturing interests, have all labored under depression and embarrassment seldom equalled, and none of them yet appear to have attained the crisis of their difficulties.
That portion of the people engaged in the labors of husbandry, little susceptible, from their dispersed habitation and rustic manners, of political excitement, endured the evils of their lot without audible murmurs, or any expression of hostility against the established order of society, or the conduct of government. In some manufacturing districts also, severe distress was sustained with mute resignation; in others the case was widely different: Political agitators, taking advantage of the general misery to gain the attention of the laboring class, went about industriously disseminating their doctrines through the great centres of manufacture in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Warwickshire, and the south-west of Scotland; and field-meetings of hundreds and thousands were repeatedly assembled to listen to harangues on the abuses of government, and on the necessity of a radical reform of the House of Commons as a first step towards the alleviation of the distresses of the country. A spirit was thus excited among the people which was contemplated by the administration, and by the higher classes in general, with jealousy and alarm. The Prince Regent issued a proclamation against seditious meetings, and soon after, an assemblage at Manchester, summoned to petition for parliamentary reform, was dispersed by military force. This act of power, followed up by various strong measures on the part of government, and especially by the enactment of five new bills, restricting in several important points the liberty of the subject, put a sudden check upon the active measures of the