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State of Public Affairs.

A short debate in the House gives rise to many melancholy reflections, and this was introduced by a member mentioning the number of persons confined at present in Newgate under sentence of death. This is owing to the fate of those convicted at each sessions, not having been regularly laid before the Regent in council, so that his next determination will be upon an accumulation of sessions. This destroys a great deal of that solemnity which ought to attend every execution under criminal law; and it becomes cruel at last to execute persons, who have been for a great length of time in suspense between life and death. The language used in the House of Commons upon this occasion will prevent in future the recurrence of a similar evil.

All accounts of France concur in their accounts of its degraded state. We may judge of their views of justice in that country by a prefect declaring his determination whenever a riot takes place in his district, to send out some one principal man from the class of agitators. By this title the prefect probably means some possessor of national domains, whom he may thus get rid of. We have au instance of the king's clemency in the pardon of General Boyer, who had hoisted the tri-coloured flag in the West Indies, on the news that the king had absconded, and Buonaparte had taken his place in the Thuilleries. The guilt of the general is very problematical; but however the Court-martial sentenced him to death; and out of regard to the many services of the general's family, and some good deeds of his own, to his evident contrition and various other items, the king commutes this sentence of death to imprisonment for twenty years. We need not wonder at the sentences of imprisonment for five, seven, ten and more years, so continually occurring in their tribunals. In fact it seems to be true, what they say of themselves, the nation is demoralisée, the same want of humanity prevails in all classes. Expatriations are very numerous, and the horrors of Europe will be the cause probably of a numerous establishment on the banks of the Ohio.

The House of Commons at Paris is engaged in a similar manner to ours. They examine the minister's budget with a degree of attention, which might be well imitated here. Every article goes through a committee. Items are not passed in the lump. Remarks are made upon each; and if a saving can be made there is no difficulty in suggesting it. All this it is to be observed is done not by the opposition, as would be the case in England, but by the majority, by that body of overzealous royalists, who are for making the crown every thing, yet in their superabundance of zeal are attacking its influence in the most violent manner. At present no

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idea can be formed of the future government of this strange people, which after such great exertions will probably fall back into its ancient frivolity, and be the jest of surrounding natious for its grand monarque and its wooden shoes.

Our countrymen have not yet been brought to their trial: but it seems that the plan of trying them for high treason did not succeed. It is a case of misdemeanor only. The curiosity of the public is great both as to the supposed offence itself, and the manner in which Englishmen will conduct themselves in such strangely constituted courts; courts in which every man is considered guilty till his innocence is proved, and every step in favour of innocence is resisted with the most indefatigable industry.

In France the tribunals are at any rate open. Spain retains its horrible Inquisition, and the inquisitor-general has issued a proclamation of no small import to that miserable country. It is probable, that this infamous tribunal could not have entered upon its functions, without creating too great a ferment in the country, and its prisons would not have been sufficient to contain the victims, that would have been brought in the first week within its grasp. An unexampled degree of clemency is therefore displayed. After deploring the wretched state to which the country had been subjected for so many years by the heretics contaminating its soul, and pointing out the necessity of a thorough cleansing and expiation, the falsely-called holy office allows a term for all that have lapsed in any degree from Catholic purity to return to the bosom of the church. This term expires with the close of this year, which will consequently be a busy one, and one very profitable to the Priests. Every one, who is conscious to himself, that he has used any free expressions, must make his bargain with his confessor, and they two together will settle an explanation with the Inquisition. Numbers will act in this manner, and be esteemed good Catholics. No small quantity will free themselves from trouble by becoming officers of the Inquisition, and probably at the end of the time many really good Catholics will be thrown into prison from the calumnies of their enemies. A total purgation of booksellers' shops takes place immediately. This is one of the wretched effects of what has been called the deliverance of Europe.

Of the remaining countries of Europe Prussia occupies most attention. The spirit of inquiry is there much alive, but before they can establish their desired constitution it must be seen, how it will suit the different parts of this straggling kingdom. They are dividing their country into departments, such as that of Saxony, which being dissevered from its former

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New Publications.-Correspondence.

kingdom is now to be the department of Saxony in the kingdom of Prussia. Our country has shewn how easily such departments may be joined together by representation, for not one of them will form so great a mass as that of Scotland or Ireland. The difficulty will be to give a spirit of liberty and independence to the as. sociation when formed, that they may concur in making laws, which shall be

equally useful to king and subject. However most parts of this straggling kingdom have in general been so ill governed, that we cannot but expect some good from their being united together, and if they get rid only of their military system, that basest of slaveries, they will gradually improve, and deserve a higher rank among the nations.

NEW PUBLICATIONS IN THEOLOGY AND GENERAL LITERATURE.

The Tendency of the Human Condition to Improvement, and its ultimate Perfection in Heaven. A Sermon, preached before the Unitarian Church, Hackney, on Sunday Morning, Feb. 18, 1816, on occasion of the lamented Death of Mr. James Hennell. By Robert Aspland, Minister of the Church. 8vo. 1s. 6d.

God the Author of Peace. A Sermon preached at Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds, on the Thanksgiving Day, Jan. 18, 1816. By the Rev. Thomas Jervis.

The Happiness of Great Britain. A Sermon at Newbury on the Thanksgiving Day. By John Kitcat. 8vo. 1s.

Moral Discourses, principally intended for Young Persons. By Wm. Pitt Scargill. 12mo. 1s. 6d.

The Claims of Misery, or Benevolence its own Reward. A Sermon, preached at

Marble Street, Hall, Liverpool, on Sanday, Dec. 31, 1815, in behalf of the Distressed Seamen. By John Wright. 8vo. 6d.

A New Edition of the Greek Testa ment, chiefly from Griesbach's Text. Containing copious Notes from Hardy, Raphel, Kypke, Schleusner, Rosenmuller, &c. in familiar Latin: together with parallel passages from the Classics, and with references to Vigerus for idioms and Bos for Ellipses. By the Rev. E. Valpy, B. D. Master of Norwich School. 3 vols. 8vo. 21. 12s. 6d. L. P. £4.

The Origin of Pagan Idolatry, ascertained from Historical Testimony and circumstantial Evidence; by the Rev. G. S. Faber, Rector of Long Newton, Yarmouth. 3 vols. 4to. £6, 15s.

CORRESPONDENCE.

Our Publisher has received a parcel from Mr. White, of Carmarthen, we presume bookseller, containing a number of the Monthly Repository which was sent down imperfect. Mistakes unavoidably happen in the hurry of stitching up the sheets, and these are easily rectified by means of the booksellers. In the present instance, however, Mr. White has put us to the expense of a parcel by the Mail, amounting to five shillings and twopence. We might retaliate by sending down the number of the Magazine, set right, by the same conveyance; but we think it best to leave the parcel for him at Messrs. Lackington's, his booksellers, presuming that he will make good the unwarrautable expense to which he has put our publishers.

Mr. Howe's account of the late, Francis Webb, Esq.; the original Letter of Dr. Watts's, communicated by Mr. Kentish; the paper on Natural Theology, and various other interesting articles too late for the present number will be given in our next.

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ORIGINAL LETTERS, &c. Sketch of the Life, Character and Writings of the late Francis Webb, Esq. By the Rev. T. Howe.

Bridport, March 23, 1816. MR. EDITOR, SINCERELY do I join with your correspondent in the Repository of February, (p. 71.] in the regret he expresses, that no Memoir of the life of the late FRANCIS WEBB, Esq. has yet been presented to the public. His papers, I am informed, he left to an intimate friend, the Rev. Mr. Racket, a clergyman of liberal principles, great scientific knowledge, various literature, and what is still more to his honour, of a pious and virtuous character, than whom no one is better qualified to become his biographer. Whether he intends to engage in this office or is restrained by the wish expressed by his deccased friend, that " he may not be made the object of posthumous praise," I cannot determine. An injunction or request of this nature, must in the view of the present writer, be greatly outweighed by the consideration of utility to the public, if a faithful memoir of departed worth be really calculated to be both instructive and gratifying. Should Mr. Webb have kept a journal of the circumstances of his varied life, (as I am told he did, written in short-hand) a large volume might be furnished, abounding no doubt with interesting information and rational entertainment. He was a native of Taunton; but of his early days I can say nothing. When he first came out into the world, a dissenting minister among the General Baptists, it could not have been expected that he would afterwards move in so different a sphere. The two little volumes of elegant Sermons he published, to which your correspondent refers, do credit both to his head and to his heart. His inducements to resign the minis

VOL. XI.

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terial office must be a matter rather of conjecture than absolute certainty. Mankind in general are influenced, I believe, by mixed motives. Conscious of talents which qualified him for almost any department in the State, it is not improbable that Mr. Webb was actuated at that time of his youthful ardour, in some degree at least, by the spirit of worldly ambition. Whe ther the change in his situation rendered him more useful to mankind, or really happier in himself, than he otherwise would have been, is a point which the present writer will not attempt to decide. Many interesting circumstance of his life, I have heard from his intimate friends and associates, and some of them from himself, though unable to state them in the precise chronological order in which they took place. Recommended to the late Duke of Leeds, he was for some time, I believe, Secretary to his Grace, who greatly respected him for the powers of his mind and the qualities of his disposition. Sent by our government on a private embassy to one of the petty Courts of Germany, the recital of the scenes he then passed through has often fixed the attention and interested the feelings of many a social circle. One of the circumstances I have heard him relate of his narrow escape from robbery and murder, which was prevented, under the Protection of an overruling providence, by his courage and presence of mind, I shall en

To the Prince of Hesse, respecting the treaty for some of his human subjects called Christian soldiers, whom we British Christums had hired of him a Christian Prince to kill or be killed in our service, fighting with our Christian brethren in America; all the

professed followers of a leader" meek and fowly in heart," who has declared, "By this shall all men know that ye are my dis. ciples, if ye love one another."

Sketch of the Life, Character, &c. of the late Francis Webb, Esq.

190
deavour to state as accurately as my
recollection will permit.

Travelling in Germany to the place
of his destination, he was one day
overtaken by the shades of night be-
fore he could reach the town where
he had proposed to sleep. He there-
fore stopped at a solitary inn on the
road. His bed-room was an inner
chamber. He had the precaution, not
only to lock his door, but also to secure
it by some other contrivance. As he
travelled armed, he put his sword and
a brace of pistols, which he had with
him, on the table. He kept a light
burning in his chamber, and instead
of undressing, he merely took off his
coat, and wrapping himself up in his
roquelaure, lay down on the bed. In
the space of about two hours, he was
roused by the sound of steps in the
outer room, and a violent push at his
door. He immediately started up, took
his sword in one hand and a pistol in
the other, and calling with a loud
thundering voice to these disturbers of
his repose to desist, he told them,
"the first that entered was a dead
man, and that he was prepared to en-
counter with half a dozen of them."
Upon this they thought proper to with
draw. He then made the door still
more secure, and expecting another
attempt, gave neither sleep to his
eyes or slumber to his eyelids," but
sat down, waiting and preparing his
mind for whatever might happen. In
about an hour, he heard what appear
ed to him a greater number of footsteps
in the outer chamber than before, and
immediately an assault was made at his
door with so much violence as would
have forced it open in an instant, had
it not been for the additional security
which his prudence had devised. He
again addressed them as before, when
the villains retreated, some of them
uttering the most horrid imprecations.
As soon as the day began to dawn, he
called his servants, and before he left
the house told the attendant that he
wished to speak with his master, who
however excused himself from making
his appearance by pretending he was
very ill in bed. When Mr. Webb
came to the next town he waited on
the magistrate and acquainted him
with the transaction, who promised
that notice should be taken of it, and
congratulated him on his deliverance
from so imminent danger of losing
his life; for murdering on the Conti-

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nent more generally attends robbery, than in this country. Having fulfilled the object of his mission he returned to England, but how much time elapsed before he was again employed in a diplomatic capacity I cannot determine. After the peace of Amiens, however, in 1802, when Mr. Jackson was sent on his embassy to France, (Napoleon Bonaparte being then only Chief Consul) Mr. Webb was ap pointed his Secretary; but the state of his health obliged him to return at the end of a few weeks, During the short time he was in Paris, his office leading him to frequent intercourse with those persons who then made the most conspicuous figures in the French government, his penetrating genius enabled him to acquire considerable knowledge of their characters and political views, of which he used afterwards to communicate to his friends many interesting particulars.

From this period he retired wholly from public life. His places of residence have been various within the last thirty years. He took a house in the neighbourhood of Crewkerne, where he lived for a short time and attended the religious services of his beloved friend, and, if I mistake not, quondam fellow-student in the Daventry Academy, the late Rev. Wm. Blake, to whom was peculiarly applicable the character which the Apostle John gives of a pious and amiable man, "Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself." For some years Mr. Webb resided at Litchet, a pleasant village between Poole and Wareham, and became an attendant on the worship of the Unitarian Dissenters (I use the term Unitarian in its most extensive signification, as distinguishing from Trinitarian) either in the former or latter place. Quitting Litchet in 1809, he went to Norton sub Hamdon, in the neighbourhood of South Petherton. In 1811 he removed to Lufton, in the vicinity of Yeovil, a delightful retreat which Mr. Webb would gladly have retained to the end of his life. Whilst in this place he joined the society of Unitarian Dis senters in the town last mentioned, under the pastoral care of my highlyvalued friend, the Rev. S. Fawcett. His residence being a parsonage house, and the clergyman to whom it belonged giving him notice to quit it, his removal to Barrington, in 1814, was the

Sketch of the Life, Character, &c. of the late Francis Webb, Esq. 191

last stage of his eventful journey, which, as you have already announced, was terminated on August 2, 1815, in either the 80th or 31st year of his age. About two years before his death he became a member of the Western Uni tarian Society, and at its meeting in Yeovil in 1814, when the late venera ble Dr. Toulmin preached, a respect. able company of gentlemen dined together, and Mr. Webb was requested to take the chair. This office he discharged with much propriety, and with more spirit than might have been expected in a person on the verge of fourscore. He declared, that "though he had often presided at different meetings, he never did it with so much pleasure and satisfaction, as on the present occasion."

No man ever possessed a more inde-
pendent mind than the subject of these
remarks. He never hesitated to think
freely on all subjects of human inquiry,
and to speak unreservedly on proper
occasions what he thought. In poli-
tical sentiments he was a staunch
Whig, though this did not prevent
him from esteeming a conscientious
Tory; in religion, a Unitarian Protes-
tant Dissenter, though of too liberal
and enlarged a mind to confine his
friendly regards, much less the Divine
favour and future salvation, to those
merely of his own denomination. He
was a man of a delicate moral taste and
strong feelings, which led him to per-
ceive clearly and to expose forcibly the
deformity and baseness of vice in
whomsoever found. A mean, cringing,
time-serving disposition his soul utter-
ly abhorred; while he could not re-
frain from expressing, in terms of rap-
ture, his approbation of noble, gene-
rous,
disinterested actions.

Cui pudor, et justitiæ soror
Incorrupta fides, nudaque veritas.

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utile et jocundum. His stock of information seemed to be inexhaustible. There was in his conversation always something new and interesting.

In manners, Mr. Webb had the address of the polished gentleman. In stature, he appeared to be not less than six feet high; of an athletic make; well proportioned; upright in his gait, with a fine, open, manly countenance, expressive both of intelligence and good humour.

The writings of Mr. Webb which have appeared before the public, (few in number) evince a lively imagina tion, elegant taste, an enlightened mind, and rational, fervent piety. The best Greek and Roman classics were familiar to him, and his memory was so retentive as enabled him to make appropriate quotations from them on all subjects. His allusions to them and the heathen mythology indeed are so frequent, as to cast a veil of obscurity over some parts of his poetic composi tions, except to those who are themselves well versed in classic lore. The same however may be said of his favourite Milton, and many other poets; but which I think cannot be justly ranked among their greatest excellences. Besides the two volumes of sermons already mentioned, in the year 1790 he published a quarto pamphlet of poems, on Wisdom, on the Deity, and on Genius, the two first in blank verse, and the third in rhyme, enriched with many valuable notes, containing the sentiments of the most celebrated ancients on these sublime and important subjects. In the year 1811, appeared from the same pen, a Poem, termed Somerset, written in blank verse, with the spirit of a young Poet, (though he says "time has pluck'd my pinions,") and an enthusiastic admirer of Nature, through which he delighted to look up to Nature's God. The following lines will illustrate the truth of this observation, and furnish a specimen of his poetic powers and devotional feelings.

Hail, Nature! in whose various works ap

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