« PreviousContinue »
FOR THE YEAR 1820.
THE NINETEENTH VOLUME.
PRINTED BY ELLERTON AND HENDERSON,
PUBLISHED BY HATCHARD & SON, 187, PICCADILLY; TO WHOM COMMUNICATIONS
IN LONDON, BY SEEley, fleet streET; AND SHERWood, neely, and JONES,
AND BY ALL OTHER BOOKSELLERS, AND BY THE NEWSMEN,
We entered upon the year which has just closed with hopes, we lament to say, that have not been realized. At its commencement, the alarm excited in every Christian, and patriotic mind, by the tumultuous meetings and other inflammatory proceedings of the disaffected, had begun to subside; and we ventured to hope, that the laws which had just passed for repressing these evils, and especially for checking the licentiousness of the press, would afford a salutary respite, until the wisdom and paternal care of the Legislature and the Government should, by the blessing of God, be enabled to adopt remedial measures of a more permanent and efficient character.
Scarcely, however, had the past year opened, when the revered Monarch who had so long swayed the sceptre of these realms was called, as we trust, to a brighter crown. The new reign was ushered in under circumstances of a very distressing kind. It had scarcely commenced, when a severe though short illness threatened the life of the King, and a band of assassins had nearly effected the murder of all the members of his cabinet, with a view to the entire overthrow of the government.
That most perplexing domestic question was then also raised, which has since so greatly agitated the Nation, and which has produced this injurious effect, among others, that almost all those great measures, for the general benefit of the country, to which we have so often alluded, continue in abeyance. Besides this, serious mischiefs of a moral kind must have resulted from the painful inquiry which has been the popular subject of conversation for so long a time. The blasphemous pages of Carlile, whose conviction towards the close of the preceding year had given general satisfaction, b
were confined to comparatively few readers; but this contaminating topic has polluted every newspaper, and found its way to every hamlet in the kingdom.
Nor have the political ill effects been less visible than the moral. The seditious press, taking advantage of this disastrous subject, has exerted its utmost influence (with what success let facts speak) to revive and increase a spirit of disaffection to the constituted authorities in church and state, and to bring into hatred and contempt all that had hitherto been deemed most sacred among us.
There is, however, one favourable result, which, we venture to hope, may eventually issue from these mournful occurrences they will, we trust, rouse to new and combined exertion those who may have hitherto looked with indifference upon the awful indications, both civil and religious, of the times in which we live. Something, indeed, has been - already done, both by individuals and by benevolent institu¿tions, to stem the torrent of evil. We have witnessed, 'for -example, with much pleasure, the labours of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, aided by persons of influence in various parts of the country, in preparing and distributing suitable antidotes to the infidel poison which has been circulated 'so extensively throughout the land. We have also seen the Jaudable and, so far as its ability extended, the successful efforts of the Society for the Suppression of Vice to restrain these evils; and, in consequence of the eminent services which, with its slender means, that body has rendered to the community at large, we have observed with satisfaction a striking change in the general opinion respecting it. That muchabused Society has on the present occasion well vindicated its claim to public confidence. It has stood in the gap, and stayed, in some measure, the pestilence of blasphemous and infidel publications. But we would hope that its efforts will now become far more extended and decisive; and that such of our nobility, prelacy, and other influential classes as may have hitherto looked with apathy upon the aspect of the times, will at length feel themselves called upon to unite in zealous, active, and persevering exertions for the public welfare. -While every thing seems shaking around us; while, in the course of a single year, we have witnessed no less than three Revolutions in the South of Europe; and while there are not wanting those who would be glad to effect a similar convulsion in our own land, let each ask himself, "What am I doing to alleviate distress, to impart knowledge, to conciliate