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Immediately after this debate the Government took active steps to crush that spirit of free discussion in books, pamphlets and associations, which no doubt had been greatly stimulated by the excitement of the French Revolution, and which they professed to believe was aiming at the same objectthe destruction of the monarchy. But in attempting to check this spirit, they adopted the un-English plan of fettering the press and individual opinion. Pitt's Government issued a proclamation against seditious books, and societies corresponding with the Republicans across the water; and magistrates were desired to make diligent inquiries as to the authors of seditious books and pamphlets, to put down all mischievous associations, and to take the promptest means of suppressing and preventing riots and disturbances. An Address in approbation of this proclamation was moved by Mr. Pepper Arden, the Master of the Rolls, in the Commons, and a short debate was the consequence. In this Grey and Fox declared that the proclamation was unconstitutional, mischievous, and oppressive; that it was a stimulus given to hot-headed and bigoted magistrates all over the country to invade the freedom of the press and of private life, on pretence of preventing disturbance; that the true constitutional remedy for any wrong opinions promulgated by the press was their regulation by right and sound opinions; that the blow was aimed against the Society of the Friends of the People, and intended to crush Reform, and divide the Whig party; that, in truth, the riots and instigations to anarchy came not from the Reformers, but from the Church, the magistracy, and the Tories; and they appealed for the truth of this to the disgraceful scenes which had occurred at Birmingham. They reminded Government that in 1782 Pitt had joined the Duke of Richmond, Major Cartwright, and Horne Tooke, in a meeting, at the Thatched House Tavern, for Reform; that they, the Whigs, had never gone to the length of Cartwright and Horne Tooke in their principles of Reform, as Pitt had done; and they reproached the Minister with his shameful inconsistency. Lord John Russell, Francis, Lambton, and others, supported Grey and Fox; and Windham, Lord North, Dundas, etc., supported Pitt. The Address was carried; and when sent up to the Lords produced another striking exhibition of the change going on in the Whig party; for the Prince of Wales, who had hitherto been in such close union with them, and had been so zealously supported by them, now rose and gave his decided approbation to the Address, declaring that he had been educated in admiration of the established Constitution, and was determined, so far as in him lay, to support it. These words were received with triumph by the Government party, the Address was carried almost unanimously, and was followed by an immediate prosecution of the "Rights of Man," by the Attorney-General, which caused it to be far more generally read than it otherwise would have been. Among the other causes which contributed to the unpopularity of the Duke of Wellington and the weakness of his Administration was the prosecution by the Attorney-General of Mr. Alexander, the editor of the Morning Journal. A series of articles had appeared in that paper, which were considered so virulent and libellous, so far surpassing the bounds of fair discussion, that the Duke felt under the same necessity of ordering a prosecution that he had felt to fight the duel with Lord Winchilsea. It was regarded as an inevitable incident of his position, one of the things required to enable him to carry on the king's Government. He obtained a victory, but it cost him dear: a sentence of fine and imprisonment was inflicted upon his opponent, and the Morning Journal was extinguished; but, in the temper of the times, the public were by no means disposed to sympathise with the victor in such a contest. On the contrary, the victory covered him with odium, and placed upon the head of the convicted the crown of martyrdom. Mr. Alexander was visited daily in the King's Bench prison by leading politicians, and a motion was made in the House of Commons with a view to incriminate the Government who ordered the prosecution. In another instance also, but of a nature less damaging, the Government received a warning of its approaching downfall. Mr. Peel, anxious to mitigate the severity of the criminal code, and to render it less bloody, proposed to inflict the penalty of death only on persons committing such forgeries as could not by proper precautions be guarded against. It was a step in the right direction, but one too hesitating, and stopping short of the firm ground of sound policy. Sir James Mackintosh, therefore, on the third reading of the Bill, moved a clause for the abolition of the penalty of death in all cases of forgery, which was carried by a majority of 151 against 138. Thus the Session wore on, in a sort of tantalising Parliamentary warfare, with no decisive advantages on either side till the attention and interest of Parliament and the nation were absorbed by the approaching dissolution of George IV. and the dawning light of a new reign.

Whilst Chatham was heading the Opposition in a determined onslaught on the Government, the latter were also compelled to face the awkward American question. Great hopes had been entertained that the people of Boston would be much calmer after the departure of Governor Bernard. Hutchinson, the Deputy-Governor, was not only an American, but a man of a mild temper. But the temper of the Bostonians was now so much excited, that the leaders of the non-importation Act were more vehement than ever. The English merchants presented a petition to Parliament showing that, in consequence of the import duties and the combinations of the colonists to resist them, the exports from England to these colonies had fallen off in 1769 by the amount of seven hundred and forty thousand pounds; that the revenue received from duties paid in America had fallen off from one hundred and ten thousand pounds per annum to thirty thousand pounds.