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government on the other. The apprehenfions of both parties were abundantly juftified by experience.
It was fcarcely poffible, that, in such a fhock, the balance of our conftitution fhould not, in fome degree, be fhaken, and bent a little, for a time, towards one fide or other. The candour and indulgence with which we have treated the oppofite opinions on this impor tant, delicate, and tender fubject, we wish to be confidered, by our readers, as a pledge of that perfect impartiality and freedom from all party spirit, by which we wish this work to be diftinguished. As it extends to many years back, fo we hope it will be continued, and find acceptation in the world, for many years to come. It is not for any party, or temporary humour, or paffion, that we felect and record the transactions and events of the paffing years, but for our countrymen, and all men, in all times and circumftances.
Though we are rather inclined to be of opinion with thofe who think the meafures of adminiftration, to which we have now alluded, were compelled by the dangers and exigencies of the times we are neither unconcerned, nor unalarmed, at whatever feems to impose restraint on civil or political freedom.
On a due balance between prerogative and liberty has the British conftitution been, fupported. When
either of these has preponderated many evils have been fuffered. But there is fomething in the genius, manners, habits, and character of the English nation, different from, and paramount to, laws and forms, that, amidst all the deviations of the conftitution, has constantly brought it back to its true fpirit. The fame. principles which have enabled England, by the immenfity of its refources, to ftand unshaken in the midst of the difafters that befel the coalition, and to difplay greater and greater energy, in proportion to increafing difficulties, will, we doubt not, fave the ftate from the difaftrous confequences which too often flow even from precedents founded in temporary expediency.
In tracing the movements of armies, the revolutions of states, the political intrigues, diffentions, and contefts, which mark the year 1796, we have exerted our ufual industry, not only in delineating objects, according to their respective magnitude and importance, but in reducing them within the wanted limits of our Annual History of Europe,
To the various hints of fo many of our readers on this head, they will perceive, we have not been inattentive. It is not a minute and circumftantial detail of tranfactions and events, that we understand to be wished for and expected in our historical sketches; but a narrative brief and rapid, yet clear and comprehenfive: one that may give a juft view of what is paffing in the world, without too much time or trouble of reading. The curiofity of fuch of our readers as may have a taste and turn for more particular information, refpecting various occurrences, will be gratified in the fecond part of the volume.
For the YEAR
CHA P. I.
Situation of the French Nation and Government, and Views of the Directory. -Difficulties to be encountered by France at the Clofe of 1795.-State of Parties in England.-Temper of the British Nation. Afemblies for the Purpofe of a Parliamentary Reform, and Peace with France.-A great and dangerous Scarcity of Provifions.-Meeting of Parliament.-Infults and Outrages of an immenfe Mob against the King, on his Way to the House of Lords. The regret of all People of Senfe at this Treatment of the King.Speech from the Throne.-Debates thereon.In the Houfe of Commons.And in that of the Lords.
FTER the death of Robefpierre, the convention were more at liberty than they had been to declare the voice of the people; and the fentiments of nature, with an inclination to peace, began to appear in the public councils, as well as among the generality of the French nation: but it too often, nay, moft commonly happens, in all governments, that the real interefts of the many are facrificed to thofe of the few: the dictates of humanity VOL. XXXVIII.
integrity and upright intentions of the reprefentatives and rulers being conftantly fupported by a general fimplicity of manners, and a facred regard to the principles of morality and religion. In the newly conftituted government of France both thefe kinds of fteadiness were wanting. It was lefs democratical indeed than that of 1793; but ftill the executive power was configned into five hands instead of one only. It was not stayed as all other republics of any extent and durability have hitherto been, by fome individual power, whether under the name of archon, duke, doge, king, ftadtholder, or the prefident of a congrefs. It was impoffible that five directors, and thefe Frenchmen too, fhould, for any length of time, act with harmony. They fplit into parties hoftile and violent, in proportion to the power with which they were invefted in order to retain which the preponderating party treated their rivals in the directory, and their opponents in the councils with the moft mercilets feverity, and repeatedly violated the conftitution, under the pretence of preferving it. Like their predeceffors in the revolution, in default of fimplicity of manners, and the other requisites to a genuine republic, they had recourte to intrigue and violence, Had their Own manners been more pure than they were, without thofe adventitious fupports in fo great and corrupt a commonwealth, and where all are o prone to direct, but none to be directed, they 'could not, for even a fhort time, have held together any femblance of a regular fabric of government.
There was one point, however, in which the directory on their clevation to power unanimously agreed.
The jacobinical party that had fo long domineered in the public councils, confident as above related, from victory over the fections of Paris, and treading in the very footsteps of Robespierre, had appointed a commiffion of five, for the fafety of the country; and but for the bold and animated efforts of a few men would certainly have effected the flavery of France in the permanency of the convention. The directors, confcious of the general odium they, in common with the other leaders of the convention, had incurred on this attempt, and alfo of their malverfation in precipitating the confideration of the new conftitution, and garbling the reports that had been male concerning its acceptance, determined to divert the minds of the nation from their own conduct, and to exhauft the public difcontents by a profecution of the war. If this thould prové fuccefsful, of which they entertained not any doubt, the merit would, in a very great degree, be reflected on themfelves, and the enemies of the directory would be regarded, by the nation at large, as enemies to the victories and glory of France. They were undoubtedly fortunate in the choice of their commanders. The fuccefles of their generals occupied and dazzled the public mind for a time; but wifdom, confiancy, and purity of defign, without which no profperity can be lafting, were wanting in the fupreme councils, The armies were neglected; the tide of fuccefs was turned; and finally, to fhew how little that temporary fuccefs was owing to any principles inherent in the conftitution, the vaft and ftupendous genius of one man, to which chiefly the directory were indebted for a temporary