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The next morning London was thrown into consternation by the announcement of this conspiracy, and by a reward of one thousand pounds being offered in the Gazette for the apprehension of Thistlewood. He was captured before eight o'clock that morning, whilst in bed, at the house of a comrade, in Moorfields. But his arrest did not diminish the wild alarms which not only seized the capital but the country. This was immediately believed to be only the centre of that universal conspiracy of which Government had taken so much pains to propagate an impression. People everywhere were arming for the defence of their own neighbourhoods, and magistrates and yeomanry were turning out by night to keep watch against a surprise, whilst people in town took great care to lock and barricade their houses against the invisible foe. Thistlewood and nine others were put upon their trial on the 13th of April, and, after a trial of three days, he and eight of them were pronounced guilty, and himself and four of the most desperate were condemned to death; the others were sentenced to transportation for life; but one man, who was proved to have been amongst them without being aware of their object, was pardoned. Thistlewood and the four others were executed on the 1st of May. The next day Alderman Wood moved in the House of Commons for an inquiry into the conduct of Edwards, but it was rejected by a large majority. On the 19th he again returned to the subject, and supported his motion by producing depositions from many persons brought before him as a magistrate, demonstrating, in the plainest manner, that Edwards had recommended to them the murder of Ministers and the destruction of Parliament, had furnished plans for these objects, and had done all in his power to seduce needy men into these measures. He proved, also, from the same depositions, that Edwards himself had been living for six weeks in great affluence in the house of a schoolmaster in St. George's Street, Hanover Square, who was not aware of the occupation of Edwards till the wretch himself informed him of it. Alderman Wood called on Parliament to act on this unquestionable evidence, and purge itself of any sanction of such disgraceful transactions. But Ministers again resisted all inquiry, and their friends openly defended them in the use of such means, even ridiculing Alderman Wood, and those who supported his motion, for supposing that Lord Sidmouth would proceed against Edwards through any depositions furnished by magistrates. The motion was, of course, thrown out.

The great struggles going on through the reign of George III. were not so much for the advancement of religion, as to obtain release from the impositions and restrictions on both liberty of conscience and political liberty by the Church of England, and its ally, the State. With the exception of the reign of Queen Anne, no reign since the Revolution has taken so high a tone of Toryism as that of George III. We have had to detail the evidences of that fact; and it is equally true that, with Toryism in the State, Toryismor what is called High Churchismprevailed coincidently in the Establishment. True, the[159] Indemnity Acts, the suppression of Convocation, the spread of Dissent, and especially of Methodism, had in some degree clipped the talons of the hierarchy, but these very things made it more tenacious of its still existing powers. At the very opening of the reign the Church was alarmed by a proposal by one of its own members to abolish subscription to the Thirty-Nine Articles. This question had been a matter of controversy from the time of Bishop Burnet's "Exposition" of these Articles; but in 1766 a very able work appeared, entitled "The Confessional; or, a Full and Free Inquiry into the Right, Utility, Edification, and Success of Establishing Systematic Confessions of Faith and Doctrine in Protestant Churches." This was traced to the hand of Archdeacon Blackburne, of Richmond in Yorkshire. It produced much excitement and discussion amongst the clergy of the Establishment, as well as amongst Dissenters, who were entirely shut out of one of the national universities by these subscriptions, and their education at the other hampered and impeded. An association was formed amongst the established clergy, favourable to Blackburne's views, and in 1771, at its request, he drew up "Proposals for Application to Parliament for Relief in the Matter of Subscription." The association, from its place of meeting called the "The 'Feathers' Tavern Association," determined to address Parliament on the subject, and drew up a petition, which was presented to the House of Commons, in February, 1772, by Sir William Meredith. It was signed by two hundred clergymen, and fifty other individuals, chiefly lawyers and physicians. A keen debate ensued, but the motion for taking the subject into consideration was negatived by two hundred and seventeen against seventy-one. Sir William Meredith, notwithstanding, again introduced the subject in February of the following year, only to be defeated by a majority of one hundred and fifty-nine against sixty-seven; and a third attempt, the year after, was met by such an overwhelming number of "Noes" that he declined to divide the House. In all these debates, Burke, who now was grown excessively Conservative, supported subscription with all his power.

(From the Picture by Franz Defregger.) JEDBURGH ABBEY. (After the Painting by Sir George Reid, P.R.S.A.) Mr. Canning, who had been on terms of intimacy with her Majesty, declined to take any part in the proceedings, declaring that nothing would induce him to do anything calculated to reflect upon the honour and virtue of the queen. The queen intimated to the Lord Chancellor that she meant to come in person to the House of Lords when her case should next be discussed there. He answered that he would not permit her to enter without the authority of the House, for which she must previously apply. She then desired that he would deliver a message to the House in her name, which he declined, stating that "the House did not receive messages from anybody but the king, unless they were sent as answers to Addresses from the House." The petition was presented by Lord Dacre, on which occasion the Lord Chancellor declared that he had no objection to its being submitted to the consideration of the House, adding that "he would sooner suffer death than admit any abatement of the principle that a person accused is not therefore to be considered guilty." Mr. Brougham and Mr. Denman were then called in to support the petition, which prayed that their lordships would not prosecute a secret inquiry against her. The powerful pleading of these two orators had an immense effect upon the public mind. On the following day Lord Grey moved that the order for the appointment of a secret committee should be discharged. His motion was negatived by a majority of one hundred and two to forty-seven. This was the first division on the proceedings against the queen, and so large a majority naturally gave great confidence to the Government. The secret committee accordingly set to work, opened the green bag, and examined the charges. On the 4th of July they brought in their report, which stated "that allegations supported by the concurrent testimony of a great number of persons in various situations of life, and residing in different parts of Europe, appeared to be calculated so deeply to affect the character of the queen, the dignity of the Crown, and the moral feeling and honour of the country, that it was indispensable that they should become the subject of a solemn inquiry, which would best be effected in the course of a legislative proceeding." On the 5th Lord Liverpool introduced the Bill of Pains and Penalties against her Majesty, which, having recited in the preamble that she carried on an adulterous intercourse with Bergami, her menial servant, enacted "that she should be degraded from her station and title of queen, and that her marriage with the king should be dissolved." Counsel were again heard against that mode of proceeding, a second reading was set down for the 17th of August, when the preamble was to be proved, and the trial to begin.