Abbildungen der Seite

berty all the other prisoners to the number of about 300, 1780. and fired the inside of the jail which was wholly consumed. They afterward went to New-prison Clerkenwell, and to Clerkenwell Bridewell, and released the several prisoners at these places. From the moment that the great number of prisoners was let loose, the spirit of the depredations took a different turn. Religion was no longer the sole subject of resentment; the jails, the police, and plunder were also incentives. A party appeared before justice Fielding's house about midnight, and breaking into every room, seized all they could meet with, brought the same into the street, and making three fires, the whole v. a consumed. Another party \ went to lord Mansfield's. All the furniture, his lordship's invaluable papers and library of books, his pictures, and every moveable, was brought into the street and burnt; after which the house itself was set on fire. A party of the guards fired on the mob several times, and a/ew were killed and several wounded; but the conflagration was not thereby prevented, nor would the rioters disperse till the destruction was completed. Many other houses belonging to papists were also destroyed.

The directors of the bank took the precaution to obtain in time a party of soldiers to secure that grand repository of the national treasure: which was a happy circumstance, as the attention of the mob was invited toward it by a paragraph in one of the public papers, mentioning that the papists had carried all their plate to the bank for security: though this was false, the assertion was calculated to produce the fame effects as if true. It is said, that the officer who commanded the soldiers was jealous, whether he could depend upon them in

E e 3 case

1780. case of an emergency, because of their being chiefly Scotch, and possessing the national bigotry of their coun try against the act for relieving the papists. He was glad when freed from his apprehensions, by the arrival of the militia in the metropplis. June The house of commons met at twelve, but instantly 7* adjourned to the 19th. Though the military were pouring into the town on every side, the mob continued, even during the day time, in different parties. In the j evening and night, the capital exhibited such a dreadful ', spectacle of calamity and horror, and experienced such ; real danger, terror and distress, as it had never before j known. A vast number of rioters assembled before the Fleet prison in the evening, and set fire to its different apartments, so that it was wholly consumed. A party went from thence and burnt the distilleries and dwellings of Mr. Langdale in Holborn, who was a Roman catholic. The flames communicated to a number of adjacent houses, which were also consumed. Another party repaired to the King's-bench prison, which was burned after the prisoners had removed their effects. A different party that had assembled to the east of the city, and had burnt some houses in Whitecross-street, Houndsditch, &c. proceeded into it, and down Threadneedlestreet with an intent of attacking the bank, but were fired upon by the soldiers, who killed several, and drove the rest back. Government observing that the maa:istracy of the city did not exert themselves in suppressing the riots (though individuals united in forming a military association which was of service) orders were issued from the adjutant-general's office, in obedience to an order of the king's council, for the military to act without out waiting for directions from the civil magistrates, and17*0, to use force for dispersing the illegal and tumultuous 1 assemblies of the people. When once the troops began to act with vigor agreeable to these orders, the different mobs were speedily suppressed, and the rioters scattered. Put in the effecting of this service, 210 were killed, and. 248 wounded, 75 of whom have died in hospitals.

During the night, the city was beheld from one spot, as reported, blazing in thirty-six different parts. Some of these conflagrations were truly tremendous from their magnitude. v Of these, the burning remains of Newgate, the King's-bench prison, the new Bridewell in St. George's-fields, the Fleet prison, and the houses and great distilleries of Mr. Langdale, presented spectacles of the most dreadful nature. The natural darkness of the night, the gleam of the distant fires, the dreadful shouts of the rioters in different quarters, the frequent firings of the soldiers, and the groans of the dying, formed altogether a scene so dreadful that no description can easily reach.

London the next day presented in many places, the ^ image of a city recently stormed and sacked. All business was at an end; houses and shops were shut up; the Royal Exchange, other public buildings, and the streets, were possessed and occupied by the troops; ruins were still burning and smoking; and a dreadful void and silence reigned, where scenes of the greatest hurry, and noise, and business were habitual. From this day the riots were totally at an end, and every thing remained quiet. A number of persons were taken up; and about five o'clock in the afternoon of Saturday the 10th, lord George Gordon was secured, conveyed £p the horse.

E e 4 guards,

1780. guards, and between nine and ten conducted to the Tower. I The news of the taking of Charlestown arrived very

Junei opportunely for ministry a few days after, and served in a considerable degree to erase the memory of past disappointments, and to revive all the sanguine hopes of the speedy subjugation of the United States. But it did not prevent administration's being severely censured on account of the preceding disturbances. The mischiefs that had happened were charged to their neglect and delay, in not calling forth the civil power in time, and in not employing the military until it was too late. The censure passed upon them was amply counterbalanced by other effects that the riots produced. The scenes of enormity exhibited by the rioters, struck all men. with horror; and inspiring a prevailing dread of popular meetings, however peaceable or legal, threw a general damp on all endeavours whatever for reformation. Thus the cause of ministry was eventually strengthened by a most disgraceful tumult, which for a while appeared to threaten the subversion of all government.

Notwithstanding Sir George. Rodney Y success in January, the siege of Gibraltar has been continued. The vigilance and industry of the Spaniards, in their endeavours to cut off all relief by sea, were redoubled; and the difficulty of supplying the garrison was continually increasing. They attempted by means of seven fire ships to burn the Panther and Experiment men of war, and a royal stoop that lay in the bay; of which the British commanders had not the smallest notice, till they were alarmed at one in the morning of June the 7th, by the approaching flames of the burning vessels. The

capcaptains with the most immediate presence of mind, in- 1780. stantly manned their boats; and the officers and seamen with their usual intrepidity, met and grappled the firefhips; and then amid the bursting of shells, and the horrors of a scene teeming with destruction, boldly towed them off, and ran them on different parts of the more, after much labor and expence had been bestowed upon their equipment.

The empress of Russia, having accompanied the great duke and duchess on their way to make the tour of Europe, proceeded, according to a concerted appointment, to Mokilow in Poland, .where she had an interview with the emperor of Germany in the month of June. After some stay there, the emperor accompanied the Czarina on her return to Petersburgh. When he had continued for a while in that city, he returned to Vienna, and was visited by the prince royal of Prussia. The king of Sweden made a visit about the same time to Holland.

Admiral Geary sailed from Spithead early in June with 23 ships of the line, and was afterward joined by five or six more; but he was not in time to prevent the junction of the French fleet from Brest with the Spaniards at Cadiz, by which the two nations have acquired such a superiority as affords them the apparent dominion of the European seas. The admiral however on the 4th July of July, fell in with a rich convoy from Port au Prince, ** of which he took 12 merchantmen; the rest, with the ships of war, escaped.

July 16, the Belle Poule frigate, commanded by the 16. chevalier Kergariou, was taken by the Nonsuch os 64 guns, Sir James Wallace captain, after an obstinate defence

« ZurückWeiter »