Madam, You may certainly always command me and my house. My common custom is to give a ticket for only four persons at a time but it would be very insolent in me, when all laws are set at nought, to pretend to prescribe rules. At such times there is a shadow of authority in setting the laws aside by the legislature itself; and though I have no army to supply their place, I declare Mrs. Abington may march through all my dominions at the head of as large a troop as she pleases. I do not say, as she can muster and command; for then I am sure my house would not hold them. The day, too, is at her own choice; and the master is her very obedient humble servant.
(390) Now first printed.
My dear lord, If the late events had been within the common proportion of news, I would have tried to entertain your lordship with an account of them; but they were far beyond that size, and could only create horror and indignation. Religion has often been the cloak of injustice, outrage, and villany: in our late tumults,(391) it scarce kept on its mask a moment; its persecution was downright robbery; and it was so drunk that it killed its banditti faster than they could plunder. The tumults have been carried on in so violent and scandalous a manner, that I trust they will have no copies. When prisons are levelled to the ground, when the Bank is aimed at, and reformation is attempted by conflagrations, the savages of Canada are the only fit allies of Lord George Gordon(392) and his crew. The Tower is much too dignified a prison for him-but he had left no other.
I came out of town on Friday, having seen a good deal of the shocking transactions of Wednesday night—in fact, it was difficult to be in London, and not to see or think some part of it in flames. I saw those of the King’s Bench, New Prison, and those on the three sides of the Fleet-market, which turned into one blaze.(393) The town and parks are now one camp—the next disagreeable sight to the capital being in ashes. It will still not have been a fatal tragedy, if it brings the nation one and all to their senses. It will still be not quite an unhappy country, if we reflect that the old constitution, exactly as it was in the last reign, was the most desirable of any in the universe. It made us then the first people in Europe—we have a vast deal of ground to recover—but can we take a better path than that which King William pointed out to us? I mean the system he left us at the Revolution. I am averse to all changes of it—it fitted us just as it was.
For some time even individuals must be upon their guard. Our new and now imprisoned apostle has delivered so many Saint Peters from gaol, that one hears of nothing but robberies on the highway. Your lordship’s sister, Lady Browne, and I have been at Twickenham-park this evening, and kept together, and had a horseman at our return. Baron d’Aguilar was shot at in that very lane on Thursday night. A troop of the fugitives had rendezvoused in Combe Wood, and were dislodged thence yesterday by the light horse.