London Debating Societies 1776-1799. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1994.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by London Record Society. All rights reserved.
N.B. The president begs leave to inform the public, that having, in consequence of the unanimous opinion of the society, renounced his design of giving an honorary medal, he has now no pretension to having the price of admission greater than in similar societies, and that in future, Admission six-pence only.'
N.B. The Colonel, Officers and Commander of the Ancient and Honourable Lumber Troop (meeting at New-Street-Square) intend to honour the Academy with a visit, in their Formalities, and with their Regalia.'
'Agreeable to a former advertisement, and to a plan delivered to the public, a large and elegant Room will be opened this present evening at Carlisle House, for the purpose of Debate and Public Speaking; where gentlemen and ladies will not be separated, but may continue in their respective parties, as at other places of public entertainment: and to accommodate those, who, from diffidence, or any other objection, may be discouraged from appearing as public speakers, masques and dominos will be provided and be permitted to be used, under the following restrictions; first, That every person shall put on his domino in a room appointed for that purpose, as no masques will be admitted at the doors. 2dly. That if any improper behaviour or expression shall be used under the concealment of a masque, the person offending shall submit, at the injunction of the President, to unmask or retire.
The question for the evening is, "Whether the art of oratory be of any real utility and importance?" A coffee room will be opened for the reception of company at seven, and the President will take the chair precisely at eight. The debate will be closed at ten.
During the whimsical, though brilliant Reign of Mrs. Cornelys, this very extensive and elegant Building wore alternatively the Appearance of Desolation, and of wild Extravagance and Enchantment. The Proprietors have therefore turned their Thoughts to more useful and permanent Views; and have induced Men of Letters to enter on a Plan of an Academy of Sciences and Belles Lettres, different, in several Circumstances, from any other in Europe. As they mean to make it the Theatre of Merit in all Branches of Learning, and to open their Doors to every Man who has Merit to recommend him, they have not sought Patronage, which is seldom procured but at the Expense of Independence.
The Whole is said to be under the Direction of the Gentleman who furnished them with the Plan; and he is to regulate every Department of it as Rector Academiae, or Principal of the Academy. It is to be his Business to draw together all the scattered Lecturers of this Place, or to appoint others in the several Branches of Philosophy, and to regulate an academick and dramatick Society, from which very beneficial Consequences are expected to arise.
But the more immediate Object of the Academy seems to be that of assisting young Gentlemen in their Preparation for the Senate, the Bar, and the Pulpit. First, by private Lessons, and then by publick Exercises, in a Room open to all the Town.
This Room, called The School of Eloquence, has a Moderator, and it was opened on Wednesday Evening, with a Speech from the Chair, which did Honour to the Institution. The Debate was conducted with very promising Abilities, in several young Speakers. But the mechanical Managers, not having had the Experience of such Undertakings, had disposed the great Room very injudiciously.
We would advise the Chair to be raised higher, and removed to the Centre, and that the Sophas may be disposed of in the Form of a Parallelogram. The Place is so beautiful, the Ornaments so elegant, and the Plan is so good, that it would be Faulty not to give every Circumstance of it the utmost Effect.
'One branch of the institution, to be established at Carlisle-House, under the appellation of Academy of Sciences and Belles Letters, was entered upon last night. The plan itself is simple, comprehensive, and noble; and there seems to be little doubt of its being executed with ability and integrity. The design seems to concentrate, in the Academy, all that scattered learning and merit, which is with some trouble to be found in the various lectures of this metropolis. The school of Eloquence is to be truly a Palaestra for pupils, as well as a place of amusement for strangers. The whole is under the direction of a Principal, who is the author of the plan, and the school of Eloquence under the direction of a President, of whose abilities the public may judge, by the following speech, taken down verbatim.
It may be expected, at the opening of a society professedly instituted in favour of eloquence, that the praises of oratory should be celebrated, by the chair, in the flowery pomp of declamation. The subject would animate, and in any other situation impel me to appear with the most zealous of its advocates. But the properties of oratory being here submitted to investigation, it is not my opinion, but yours, that must determine whether it be an accomplishment to be desired or not. I shall therefore preface the question with a short explanation of the institution, as well for my own credit, as for your satisfaction and information.
It is incumbent on the projectors of every undertaking, which depends on public support, to demonstrate their pretensions to public favour. The entertainment for which you are now assembled, though similar in appearance, to many others, which the prevailing passion of the times hath produced, is peculiar in its nature, and is recommended by an object to which no other society or institution can pretend; it constitutes an essential part of a large, useful and comprehensive plan, which will be faithfully, and I trust ably, executed, in the Academy of Sciences and Belles Lettres, to be established in this house. If debate were proposed with no other view than the employment of an idle hour, or the discussion of questions uninteresting to an audience, and above the comprehension of the declaimers, it would require more courage and greater abilities than I possess to stand here in its defence.
The objects of oratory are as various as the circumstances of men; its exertions as manifold as the incidents of human life, for, though the powers of eloquence are peculiarly essential in the pursuit of fame, fortune, or honour, in any public or professional capacity; yet there is an oratory which belongs, and is adapted to every station, rank, and character, from the monarch who harangues his senate from the throne, to the beggar who supplicates an alms at your gate. - The institutors of this society have therefore considered oratory, not merely as a professional study, but a branch of general education; and this place is the scene of exercise for the pupils of their academy.
The brightest talents, the most brilliant abilities, are rendered, by inexertion, useless to their possessor; and, like the treasure of a miser, unprofitable to the community. In this practical application of the documents of theory, a spirit of emulation will be rouzed; the capacity of every pupil be measured; his daily improvement be manifested; and the habit acquired in this early exertion of abilities will render the delivery of his sentiments, on any future subject or occasion, easy and graceful.
The questions to be agitated in this society will be carefully directed to the discovery of truth, or to the establishment of just opinions, on such temporary subjects of importance, as must daily arise in a country so critically circumstanced as this, in times so replete with danger as these.
In this view we presume to hope that the institution of debate, considered either as an object of utility, a branch of education, or a source of entertainment, will be honoured with your unanimous approbation, and find a friend in every member of this assembly.
We presume likewise to hope, that the expedient adopted to induce modest merit, or gentlemen in particular situations, to engage in the exercise of debate, will remove every obstacle of delicacy or diffidence, and, by calling forth latent abilities, bring credit to the society, honour to the speakers, and benefit to the public. - To what cause will you impute the scarcity of orators in the senate, the want of characters of eminence of the bar, or the almost universal drowsiness of religious assemblies?
If depravation of morals be the cause; if national corruption of manners be the bane of oratory - the cultivation of eloquence may contribute to national reformation - and if this conclusion be admitted, your love of virtue, your love of your country, your love of yourselves, and of your children, will secure your patronage and encouragement to an institution which hath the boldness to cherish science, to explore the recesses of truth, and to meditate the restoration of virtuous times.'
As some inconveniences have arisen from servants keeping places for Ladies at the Forum, the Proprietor, anxious to accommodate the generous Public, has converted a gallery into a range of boxes, which may be taken, or places had, by applying as above, at One Shilling each person.'
'An enquiry into the reasons, causes, propriety and probable effects of the present County Associations, by which will be decided that very important question, "Whether they are efforts of a disappointed faction in opposition to government, or the noble exertion of true patriotism in favour of an oppressed people?"
The Nobility and Gentry are requested to observed, that the Exercises of Debate and public Speaking will be for the future on THURSDAY EVENINGS; that the situation of the chair, the disposition of the sophas, &c. are now so contrived, that no confusion can arise from the fullest company. Dominos and Masques are provided for those who chuse them.
When the time alloted for the Debate had elapsed, the Question was decided in Favour of the Minority; but we must own the Decision was obtained by the disposition of the Audience rather than by the Arguments of the Speakers, for though the Opposition had many Advocates, and Administration had but one, the Weight of Eloquence was in Favour of Administration. The Moderator held the Scale with the utmost impartiality, and kept an Audience of 800 or 1000 People, in a Degree of Order and Decency which we have not often been a Witness to.'
'Which is more eligible, a state of Liberty without Property, or a state of Property without Liberty?' This question was dismissed, and replaced by 'Whether, in the present state of the Empire, a dissolution of Parliament would be of national advantage?'
The Moderator, not presuming to expect such a numerous and brilliant company as honoured the debate on Thursday last, did not think it necessary to take any precautions to favour the introduction of modest speakers, or diffident pupils, into convenient situations to be heard; on receiving the slightest intimation from any Gentleman who intends to speak, he will endeavour to accommodate him.
The Dramatic, as well as other branches of Academic business, are under consideration; but they will require more time than some of the warm friends of the Institution seem to imagine. Gentlemen are instructed in the Principles and Practice of Eloquence, either by private lessons, or by exercises, in small parties, at a Room at the Academy.'
'Thursday last there was a great Overflow of Company at the debating Department of the Academy instituted there. The Efforts of the Moderator and of the other Gentlemen concerned, to suppress the Irregularities and Rudenesses which are connived at in other Places, are commendable; but will require some Time in accomplishing, as they are against the Privileges of the Mob, some of whom find Means to creep into the genteelest Assemblies. The Company on the Whole was very respectable. And we would advise the Proprietors to be very sparing of their Tickets of Admission to those whose Wishes are to see the House; but who, on being admitted into better Company than they are used to, behave with indecent Insolence. The Debate (on Parties) was carried on with great Ability on each side of the Question; and we prognosticate, by the Specimens given of Eloquence on Thursday Evening, and by the resolute Determinations of the Society, that the Debates here will be the Means of considerable Amusement and Improvement.
Mr. B –, the well-known friend of the notorious Jack R – took upon him the heroick Business of disturbing the Entertainment, and frightening two or three Ladies; but at last submitted quietly to be carried out of the Room under the Arm of a Gentleman who took him up like a Monkey.'
'The passion for public speaking is become epidemical, not content with Forums, Apollo's, Lyceum, and Schools of Eloquence, we have now on the tapis La Belle Assemblee, which is to be opened this week at the Hay-market. This plan, we are informed, is set on foot by several ladies of distinguished abilities in the literary world, where public and free debate will be agitated by ladies only.'
The Nobility and Gentry are requested to observe, that the short interruption in the Debate on Thursday last, was suspected by the Moderator to be occasioned by persons who came with that design; that being apprised of such intention, he did not in the first moment of resentment distinguish between the company and the persons he suspected to be the offenders; but being convinced of his mistake, he made an apology, which was received with applause, and restored peace and harmony to the assembly. In such circumstances it would be an insult to the judgment and candour of the assembly, to suppose that any spark of resentment against the Moderator should remain, as his very error arose from his zeal to accommodate and entertain the company. The Nobility and Gentry will therefore have the justice to refer all hints and paragraphs on this subject . . . to their true sources, envy and interested views.'
'Last night there was a very numerous meeting of Ladies and Gentlemen, at the School of Eloquence, opened at Carlisle House; above 1,100 persons being present. The harmony of the assembly was disturbed about nine o'clock, by some persons not deporting themselves in a becoming manner, but interrupting the Speakers repeatedly with hisses and coughing. The Moderator was so provoked, that he lost his temper, and said, there were constables at the door, and that such Gentlemen that made any more interruptions, ought to be kicked out. This threw the meeting into a flame, and it was a very considerable time before the tumult was quelled, and order restored. The Moderator was called on repeatedly, for his apology for his having talked in so unbecoming a manner in so respectable an assembly, but for a long time he persisted in refusing, declaring that he was not conscious of having said any thing that ought to be construed as an offence. At last he said, he meant not to offend, and if any Gentlemen felt themselves hurt at his expressions, he was sorry for it. This quieted the meeting, and the debate proceeded and continued till ten o'clock.'
Nature, Genius, and Art, were a-dancing the hays,
Cutting capers, and winding a mystical maze!
Attention, tho' puzzled, encouraged the ball,
As the vent'rous dancers, by turns, got a fall!
Pretty women betray'd, by their eloquent smiles,
By the look that inflames, and the look that beguiles.
Beauty's look was the Music that set them a-going –
And they danced, 'till they knew not what either was doing.
Frolic came to the door, and he set up a laugh,
Thought the dance was too dull, and too tedious by half.
This rude interruption soon altered the tune,
Debate took a the dumps, and gave way to wild Fun;
Fun called up a Fury in masculine shape,
But the Fury was led int'a devilish scrape!
Hell seem'd to break loose - yet some Angels were there,
Who pitied the Fury, thus cast to despair;
Their Mercy entreated Good Humour to save him.
The Fury ask'd pardon, and Frolic forgave him.'
'There were 700 persons at Mr. Greenwood's Room on Saturday evening to pay their compliments to La Belle Assemblee; some of the ladies spoke well, but the Moderator appeared to be but very moderately qualified for his office. After quitting a post, he gave no proof of his being fit to hold, a sprightly female seized it, and entertained the audience highly by an excellent recital of a well known poetical tale.
Various are the opinions formed by the public, of the entertainments to be presented on Wednesday evening at the Haymarket; some think the fabricators are suborned by the Majority, to ridicule the associations, others, that the protests are their subject of satire, and others, that the Lord-Mayor of London, and Court of Aldermen, are to be virulently abused.
A Correspondent informs us that a most exact representation of the House of Commons, is to be exhibited at the Haymarket next Wednesday evening, and a mock budget to be opened in the manner, and in imitation of the peculiarities of the noble Lord, to whose share this important part of the national business generally falls.'
'Thursday evening the business, at Carlisle House, of that part of the Academy there, called The School of Eloquence, drew an astonishing number of the genteelest company, but whether from the machinations of envy, or interest against so promising an institution, or from accidental causes, several attempts were made to disturb the debate. These attempts were resented by the assembly, and by the moderator, in warm and pointed terms, which were thought to require an apology, and which he handsomely made. The question, however, had not justice done it, for the speakers were heard only on one side. It will require time and prudence in accomplishing the designs of the Academy; for the assembly is too formidable for their pupils, and the number of candidates for fame in speaking will fully occupy them. The passions for oratory are now like the jarring winds in chaos; we hope some spirit will direct them to regular and beneficent purposes.'
The Nobility and Gentry are requested to observe, that the short Interruption in the Debate on Thursday last, was suspected by the Moderator to be occasioned by persons who came with that design; that being apprised of such intention, he did not in the first moment of resentment distinguish between the company and the persons he suspected to be the offenders; but being convinced of his mistake, he made an apology, which was received with applause, and restored peace and harmony to the assembly. In such circumstances it would be an insult to the judgment and candour of the assembly, to suppose that any spark of resentment against the Moderator should remain, as his very error arose from his zeal to accommodate and entertain the company. The Nobility and Gentry will therefore have the justice to refer all hints and paragraphs on this subject (not countenanced or authorized by the advertisement of the Academy) to their true sources, envy and interested views.'
Order, decency, and liberality will be sedulously observed; which it is hoped, together with the central situation and elegance of the room, and other requisites, will amply recommend this institution to the public patronage and esteem.'
The meeting at La Belle Assemblee on Saturday night was exceedingly crowded, many gentlemen being obliged to go away for want of room. Among the female part of the Assembly were many ladies, who, while they struck the sight with the elegance of their persons, displayed in the debate such superior accomplishments and refined understandings, as may truly be said to win the soul - The subject for that evening's discussion was Whether it would be sound Policy to make the Salique Law general?
There were several speakers who took different sides of the question, which, nevertheless, was disputed with the utmost candour and moderation, and with real ability. Those ladies, who were for abolishing a law so tyrannical to the softer sex, instanced the glorious reigns of our Elizabeth, of Margaret of Denmark, and Christina of Sweden, while others, who, with humble modesty, were for declining all female pretensions to imperial sway, urged that from the natural softness and sensibility of their minds, women were too liable to be seduced from their attention to the public weal by the smooth and silken parasites who constantly infest a court, and who leave no artifice unemployed to captivate and ensnare the weaker sex. One of the fair orators asserted in a charming tone, that "there was one ingredient in the cup of sovereignty, which ought peculiarly to discourage females from tasting its flattering contents. It is, said she, when the rigid voice of inexorable justice demands the execution of the guilty delinquent; how shall woman, with all the trembling tenderness and sympathetic pity of her sex, sign the dreadful warrant denouncing death!" - This sentiment, delivered in a most graceful and expressive manner, was received with universal, and repeated tokens of deserved applause. - A most elegant, and beautiful figure in one of the galleries, with a black masque on the upper part of her face, spoke with uncommon propriety, elegance and dignity. - At ten o'clock the lady who opened the debate, rose up to speak some lines in conclusion, which however could not be heard, some persons among the audience, being shamefully noisy and tumultuous, but who on her sitting down called to her to proceed; the lady seemed confused, but replied, with great politeness to the gentlemen, that she should be very happy to entertain them all night, but that she had already finished what she had to say. The unguarded innocence of this expression produced a general laugh, which increasing her confusion, a very general acclamation of applause from the company made amends for the temporary distress which they occasioned.'
'Whether the Bill now depending in Parliament for extending the Privileges of Debtors, has not the strongest tendency to encourage Fraud and Dishonesty, and in consequence to produce effects highly injurious and destructive to the Commercial Interest of this Kingdom?'
'On Friday the 10th instant will be opened, at Mr. Greenwood's Rooms, in the Hay-market, a Society for free and liberal Debate, to be wholly conducted in French. It has been universally agreed upon that we cannot in this country acquire the proper pronunciation of, and a fluency in speaking that language, for want of such an opportunity as is now offered. Gentlemen by study and application in their closets may gain such a proficiency as to be able to read it with ease, and write it with elegance, but it is only by conversation that they can perfect themselves in the idiom, pronunciation, and delivery. The beauties of familiar conversation in any language, are lost to a foreigner; the fitness of peculiar allusions; the elegance of bon mots; the turn of well pointed periods are concealed from the man whose ear is not familiar with the articulation and modes of speaking practiced in the Country. Thus do we find that the big swelling passions of a Corneille are perfectly understood and highly relished by men who are unacquainted with the point, wit, and raillery of a Moliere; the reason is obvious, the passions are common to all countries, while the turn, wit, and humour of conversation are local, and peculiar to each. It is hoped that this institution will be productive of the most salutary advantage in facilitating Gentlemen in the acquisition of the language.
It will be conducted with the utmost regularity, and that the diffident may be invited to overcome their scruples, Masks and Dominos will be provided in an adjourning room. The Institution does not interfere with any other of the Debating Societies. Their principle is to cherish the growth of Eloquence, as it maybe useful to Gentlemen in their profession; this is calculated to perfect them in a language which in every situation of life is necessary as an accomplishment.
Mr. Hopkins respectfully informs the public, that finding his gallery for the Ladies is not sufficient to accommodate the numbers that have generally applied, and being desirous of making every improvement to merit the public approbation, he has erected a convenient department in the Hall for the use of the Ladies. And for the future, to prevent the trouble of applying for Tickets, Ladies will be admitted on the same terms as the Gentlemen.'
The sophas will be gradually raised, so that all the company will be seen at one view. Seats near the centre will be appropriated for those speakers who cannot command the room from every part of it; and some regulations will be proposed to this company to preserve that order and decent attention, without which no modest and ingenious men will be at the trouble of speaking.'
'Is it agreeable to the Constitution that the Commissioners of the Excise should determine Causes without a Jury, when their own Servants or Excise Officers, are always Plaintiffs, and that the said Commissioners' determination is final? and Is not a Reformation of the Representative Body necessary to prevent undue influence?'
'On Friday evening there was opened at Mr. Greenwood's Rooms in the Hay-market, a society under the title of Lycée Francois, for conversation and debate, to be wholly conducted in the French language. A very genteel and numerous company were present, and the debate was supported mostly by English Gentlemen, with great spirit, argument and humour . . . It was exceedingly pleasant to mark with how much personal respect and polite attention the Gentlemen who took up the opposite sides of the question treated each other, as it shewed how well and how successfully argument might be maintained without connecting it with illiberality. The President in a very genteel address, ushered in the debate with some just recommendations of the plan and nature of the institution, and he said, that so long as the society forbore the introduction of religious and political questions, they would not be interrupted in the discussion of such as were moral and philosophical. Science, he said, was of no country, it entered into none of the jealousies and enmities of nations, but even in the midst of war it busied itself in cultivating the acts of peace. The name of the Society was changed from that of Sociétie Disputoire to Lycée Francois.'
'A correspondent says, he is happy to see the School of Eloquence at Carlisle House (in consequence of some judicious regulations, which took place on Thursday night) assume such a degree of good order and decorum, as might be expected from an institution so useful in its plan, and elegant in its institution. - The Question was important, and debated with great ability by several ingenious partisans of opposition; they were replied to by a person in a mask, who with equal ingenuity, and in a train of pleasing irony, professed to support the same side of the question, whilst he proved by arguments drawn from Montesquieu, and other authors, that it is impracticable to communicate to infant colonies, a full participation of the rights of the parent state. - It was whispered, that the mask was a young Gentleman who has upon several occasions contributed to the entertainment of this polite assembly; but we are at a loss to assigning a reason for the disguise of his person and voice.'
The public are respectfully informed, that the suite of rooms, No. 53, Great Marlborough street, known heretofore by the name of the Casino, will be opened on Saturday the 18th instant, under the title of The University for Rational Amusements, one part of which will be appropriated for Elocution, Oratory, and Exercise, not only for those that are proficient in matters of disputation, but where young pupils may improve in that useful science; and although this plan may be supposed to resemble many other institutions, yet upon the whole, it will be found to be new and agreeable, as it is intended to consist in variety, calculated to amuse and instruct, adhering to the motto.
With respect to the rooms, the Proprietors have exerted themselves to render them elegantly commodious, and the strictest attention will be paid to preserve that regularity so essentially necessary to the good order, accommodation, and pleasure of the company.
The Proprietors are bold to say, that this edifice possesses an evident superiority over every other place of the kind; being so well adopted for Public Oratory, that the most timid speaker, or weak voice, need not apprehend being led into embarrassment, from the Company not distinctly hearing; as the ordinary utterance of conversation, may with ease be heard at any part of the room.
The Proprietors of this University, not only mean it as a place for the improvement of Elocution, and the Science of Debate, but likewise as an agreeable substitute for the want of a winter Ranelagh. There is an elegant tea room, situated near the gallery, for the conveniency of the company, and a coffee room, equally desirable, adjoining the debating room.
'A correspondent informs us, that the next question of debate at the Ladies Assembly is, "Whether such public publications as the pamphlet called the Picture Gallery, tend to improve or injure the morals of the sex." As there are near two hundred of the most distinguished women in this kingdom taken notice of in the above pamphlet, and very few of them pleased in an advantageous point of view, it is expected there will be a crouded room and warm debates; it is also said the author of the pamphlet intends to open the business, disguised in women's cloaths, which he has borrowed of Lady L–, who is to accompany him.'
Audience voted for renewal by a considerable majority. 'Carlisle House is now become as much the place of fashionable resort on a Thursday, as it was in the zenith of Mrs. Cornely's popularity. The Company last night amounted to nearly 1,200, among which number, were many persons of rank.'
N.B. It has been thought necessary to make some arrangements: For the future the galleries will be appropriated to Ladies only; and in the other part of the house the Ladies and Gentlemen may sit together.
'Such is the great propensity, as well as the propensity of the great, to frequent La Belle Assemblee, that on Saturday last soon after seven, Mr. Greenwood's room was crowded with persons of the first distinction, and the street rendered impassable by the great number of coaches of nobility, gentry, &c. who had left their homes to hear the ladies argue.'
There was scarcely an Irish Student in town, who did not attend, and pour forth his eloquence in support of the affirmative. It is but justice to say that the Amor Patriae was not more conspicuous in all of these orators, than the power of argument in many. A little closer attention to the real drift of the question will, however, do no harm to the young gentlemen who stood up for the honour of Ireland on Saturday evening; it will, at least, assist them in their endeavours to convince their hearers, which to men who wish to support truth, is surely a better object than barely attempting to amuse.'
'The rage for publick debate now shews itself in all. quarters of the metropolis. Exclusive of the oratorical assemblies at Carlisle House, Free-mason's Hall, the Forum, Spring Gardens, the Cassino, the Mitre Tavern and other polite places of debating rendezvous, we hear that new Schools of Eloquence are preparing to be opened in St. Giles, Clare-Market, Hockley in the Hole, Whitechapel, Rag-Fair, Duke's Place, Billingsgate, and the Back of the Borough.'
'An admirer of every institution which has ever a probability of enlightening the understanding and polishing manners, was much pleased to see the first meeting at the Palladium at Free-Masons Hall, attended by so brilliant and respectable an audience. This institution most undoubtedly completes a system of Oratory, upon a pleasing and rational plan; at the Belle Assemblee, Ladies will accustom themselves to lay aside all mauvaise honte, and gentlemen become familiarized to their pleasing stile: Ladies by attending Carlisle-house, will learn to adopt the eligible part of gentlemen's stile of reasoning: and at Free Masons Hall both will have it in their power to display their talents, and give their unconstrained opinions.'
'Would or would not the depriving the petty boroughs of the liberty of sending Members to Parliament, and adding their quota to the counties and cities, be likely to remove the evils attending an influenced election?'
The new arrangements that were made in the mode of sitting last evening, produced some inconveniencies that will be provided against in future. Several applications to this purpose have been made by Ladies who came with an intention to deliver their sentiments on the question, but who were intimidated by the Company's sitting promiscuously. For the future, therefore, the lower part of the house and the galleries will be appropriated to the Ladies only - the Ladies and Gentlemen may sit promiscuously in the other part of the room.'
'Does Great Britain enjoy an inherent and constitutional right to subjugate and coerce the American Colonies? and, Is the promotion of Men from the Bar, the Desk or the Plough to Military Rank, injurious to the Soldier, or beneficial to the Country?
It was determined . . . almost unanimously, by a respectable assembly of the Nobility and Gentry, that Great Britain had a right to coerce America, and that the promotion of the lawyer, the clerk, or the farmer, to rank in the army, was not injurious to the old soldier, but beneficial to him and his country.'
'Do the Reviews, as they are now conducted, tend to the prejudice or advantage of literature? and, Are the claims of the Irish for repeal of Poynings Law, and of the English Statues enacted to bind Ireland and declaring her dependent founded in right, and on the principles of the English Constitution?
The Rooms are so commodious, that any Lady or Gentleman may, with the greatest ease, retire from the debating room to the coffee-rooms, or to an elegant tea room, situated near the gallery. . .. The Proprietors are bold to say, that this edifice possesses an evident superiority to every other place of the kind; being so well adapted to public oratory, that the most [ ] speaker or weak voice, need not apprehend being left in embarrassment from the company not distinctly hearing . . . the ordinary utterance of conversation may with ease be heard at any part of the room.'
'Notwithstanding the prevailing depravity of manners, and the too great neglect of Religion, yet we have happily a number of well-disposed persons, who would wish to dedicate a few hours to serious disquisitions into the texts of Holy Writ, propose their doubts, receive explanations, and display their eloquence, on the noblest of all subjects. - For the entertainment and improvement of such persons, a Society of Gentlemen propose to open an assembly, under the name of the Religious Association, to be held every Sunday evening at Mr. Greenwood's Room in the Hay-Market. - The chair to be taken at half-past seven, and conclude at half past nine. The text to be explained on next Sunday evening [April 2] is, Romans xvi 17. Mark them which cause divisions, and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. Admittance 6d.
'Charity suffereth long, and is kind; Charity envieth not; Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.' Paul to Cor. ch. viii. v.4. From whence the proposer of the theme adduces the following question:
'The interlude advertised this evening at Drury lane, under the title of the School of Eloquence, threatens the disputing clubs, which have so suddenly filled every large room in the metropolis with a severe check, which will probably be more useful than pleasing to the numerous frequenters who employ their time and attention in pursuits far beyond their knowledge or abilities. The quarter from which it originates, and the great comic strength of the representation, we hope the check will be effectual. Several of the disputing club members have reason to apprehend that the ridicule will be heightened by a personal caricature of the speakers; a liberty, which tho' highly reprehensible when exercised against private characters, is perfectly justifiable when directed against those who place themselves in so absurd a point of view.'
'Whether any restraints can be applied, to the licentiousness of the press, by which its liberty will not be materially affected? and, Is it consistent with the necessary freedom of Parliamentary debate, that the gentlemen should not be accountable in a private capacity, for any expression they may use as members of the Senate?'
'Is the practice of public oratory a fit accomplishment for the ladies? On the decision of the question . . . respecting the propriety of the ladies speaking in public, a numerous company were almost unanimously against it; so that, as our correspondent remarks, that species of female departure from a reserved and modest character is not chargeable on the ladies in general, nor on the public but only on some particular characters.'
'Has not the conduct of opposition been uniformly consistent with public utility these ten years past? and, Is it true, that the people of Ireland have grounded their claims upon the example and conduct of America?'
'A correspondent recommends it to the Proprietors of the several Debating Societies, who have so closely imitated the plans of the rooms in the Haymarket, to persist in their laudable endeavours, and follow the example of generosity, as well as interest, by bestowing the profits of one night at least on the unhappy sufferers by fire.
La Belle Assemblee - The unhappy sufferers by the late fire in Princes-street, Cavendish square, return their grateful thanks to the Ladies of La Belle Assemblee for the sum of Twenty Pounds, which they have this day received from them.'
'Whether it would be more consistent with the interest of the people of Great Britain, to immediately acknowledge the American Independence, upon the terms of a general peace, and a free trade with them in common with the rest of Europe, rather than to continue the war against the allied powers under our present circumstances?'
The Lady who opened the question on Tuesday last being greatly confused by the repeated testimonies of applause given her by the society, it is earnestly requested in future of the Ladies and Gentlemen present to reserve their plaudits to the conclusion of the speech, when they will be more competent judges of the merits of the speakers; which will at the same time prevent the confusion that must obviously occur from the natural timidity of those who have but lately assumed their rights and privileges, by bursting those chains, with which through custom and illiberality, they have hitherto been fettered.'
'Mr. Adam, the famous combatant of Charles Fox, in a speech last Thursday night, at the Oratorical Academy, held at Coachmakers Hall, took an occasion to animadvert, with great severity, upon the Quakers. He was attacked, in reply, with very considerable acrimony, as well as great strength of argument, for the absurdity of pronouncing such vague unproved imputations against general characters and large bodies of men. A little struck with the impropriety of what he had said, Mr. Adam rose again to apologize for his rashness, when a neat, genteel, well dressed, female Quaker, got up and said, "Thou mayst hold thy peace; thou hast already spoken to very little purpose, and thou wilt hardly improve by saying more." This brief rebuke, coming from so engaging a character, was received with the loudest applause, and Mr. Adam was stunned into silence.'
'Is it consistent with the necessary freedom of Parliamentary debate, that Gentlemen should be answerable in a private capacity, for any expressions they may use as members of the Senate? and, If a Senator should differ in opinion from those whom he represents, is he to act on his own sentiments, or those of his constituents?'
'Many of the common speakers, as shopkeepers, etc. at the modern oratorical assemblies, begin to see what coxcombs they have been, to exert their faculties, and exhaust their breath and brains for the mere emolument of other people, who make their fortunes of these affairs; and many of the above orators have begun to form plans of partnership, to occupy large sets of rooms, and divide the spoil all alike. This is said to be carried into execution already at one place, in the western circuit of the town, and will soon be so in the city.
'Has not the conduct of our patriotic opposition been consistent with the public utility these 13 years? and, Is the omnipotence of Parliament a doctrine consistent with reason and the principles of the Constitution? and, Is not a triennial Parliament more conducive to the security of our liberties, than any other?'
Genesis i. - 27 'God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him'. - ii. 16 'And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat.' - 17. 'But of the tree of knowledge of and evil thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.'
20th verse of first chapter of the second epistle of Peter, 'Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.' Intended as a candid inquiry into whether or no scripture is the only rule of faith.
'Is it not a general duty to associate for the restoring of annual Parliaments, and equal representation, as being immediately necessary in order to effectual oeconomy, and constitutional independence, the safety and happiness of the people?'
'Is there not cruelty in the law, that punishes a woman with burning, for the same crime which a man is only hanged for? and, Would not permitting Papists to realize property, and enjoy every other immunity in common with Protestant Dissenters, be the best means to secure their allegiance to a Protestant Prince?'
Hebrews vi. vers. 4, 5, 6 'For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the Heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost. And have tasted the word of God, and the powers of the world to come. If they fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame.'
Previous to the debate, a Lady will sing the favourite Scotch air of 'Johnny and Mary,' introduced by Miss Catley, in Love in a Village: and after the debate, a Gentleman and Lady will sing the favourite duet of 'Dalmon and Clara.'
'That Department of the Academy, called The School of Eloquence, like a young but robust Child, is subject to some violent Indispositions. The Audience last Thursday Evening not finding the usual Entertainment, owing to an Alteration in the Disposition of the Room, called upon the Moderator for Redress. He lamented, that from some unfortunate Perverseness in the Tenants, who depended on the Society for the very Payment of their Rent, he was prevented from doing what by his Contract he had a proper Power to do, and what he sincerely wished to do for the perfect Accommodation of the Company. The Proprietors were called for, and an elderly Man appeared. He faultered, and hesitated, and spoke bad English amidst the Hisses of the Audience; but at last, to complete his Disgrace, said "that every Thing should be put in Order, at the Request of the Audience, but not by Desire of the Moderator, who was only a Servant." The coarse Illiberality and Falsehood of the Insult was resented by the severest Expressions of Detestation. The Moderator was desired to quit the Chair, and a young Gentleman, glowing with a large Portion of the generous fire which animate the whole Assembly, took his Place. The Audience then with cordial Unanimity voted the Moderator Thanks for his impartial, candid, and judicious Conduct, ever since he had presided over that Society; pledged themselves to take him under their Protection, and to see him supported. The Moderator expressed his Gratitude, as well as the Fullness of his Heart would admit him. The Assembly broke up with the most generous good Humour; and we suppose, that having adopted the Moderator as their own, they will in future enforce their own Regulations, and redress their own Grievances.
2. Is the British House of Commons sufficient, without the concurrence of the other branches of the Legislature, to determine any character or description of men to be a disqualification for a seat in that House?'
'Was it politic in England, to assist Russia to become a Maritime Power? And, if the time permit, the second Question, Which is most in danger from flattery, a woman of singular beauty, or ample fortune?'
'On Thursday evening the business of the School of Eloquence at that place was interrupted, in consequence of an alteration in the disposition of the room, and the situation of the chair. The company were seated inconveniently, and the speakers were so discouraged, that all the usual entertainment was lost: they therefore called on the Moderator, to account for their ill treatment. He candidly told them, that his situation was such with a troublesome person who was a tenant in the house, that he could get nothing done as he wished to accommodate an audience by whom he was so much honoured, and by whom the tenants were maintained. The tenants were called for, and one of them appeared, who made many excuses; concluding the whole with saying, that thing should be put in their former situation, in compliance with the request of the audience, but not at the desire of the Moderator, who was his servant! This, from a man who was considered as deriving his subsistence from a society in which the Moderator presided, under a contract with the tenants, threw the whole room into a tumult; and he was forced to engage, and promise a punctual compliance. The Moderator then received an unanimous vote of thanks from the assembly, attended with acclamations, and assurances of support, which may be improved very favourably to the institution. There were some of the very first personages in the kingdom, who did themselves, as well as the Moderator, great honour, by the part they took in the business.'
'1st If a Member of the House of Commons should think differently from a majority of his Constituents in parliamentary matters, ought he to follow their instructions, or the dictates of his own judgment?
'The opening of Carlisle House on tomorrow Evening, for the discussion of a question by LADIES only, being advertised, and the Advertisement concluding in the form with which the subjects to be debated in the School of Eloquence have usually been announced, viz. that "The Moderator will take the Chair at Eight;" I beg leave to inform the Public that neither the Principal of the Academy or myself have any concern in that undertaking; and though I am evidently alluded to in the advertisement, that I received my first information upon the subject from a news paper.
I think it necessary to declare this, not only to prevent a seeming deception upon the public, but to protect myself and the institution from that ridicule which must deservedly follow the introduction of an entertainment so inconsistent with the Academic Plan, which the Public have been assured will be faithfully executed at Carlisle House.
I cannot omit this opportunity of repeating my warmest thanks, for the very flattering and unanimous vote of approbation with which I was honoured on Thursday last by the Nobility and Gentry, assembled at the School for Eloquence; and of assuring them, that I retain the most grateful sense of their favour, and will pay the most respectful attention to their future accommodation and entertainment.'
'Whether the candidates for seats in parliament refusing to sign a test, obliging themselves to exert their endeavours to obtain a reformation in the expenditure of the public money, the more equal representation, and shortening the duration of parliaments, ought to be depended upon as sincere friends of the people?'
'A male correspondent, who was on Saturday evening last at La Belle Assemblee at the Haymarket, was filled with chagrin and admiration; admiration at the very able manner the question then discussed [was] treated; and chagrin to perceive, that with all the disadvantages of education which the fair sex labour under, how infinitely superior those who are formed by nature to excite the tender passions, are to excite every other. In short, not only to lead captive by all the graces of colloquial harmony, of pure diction, of varied and expressive emphasis, of language cloathed in the diversity of the several passions which were felt or wished to be personified, but likewise by sterling sentiments, founded in truth, forcibly directed to ultimate persuasion, and presenting in the whole to the attentive auditor, the unmixed result of well supported facts, or well-presumed premises, sufficient to bring home indubitable conviction to every mind capable of determining upon the only test of all human knowledge, logical conclusion, deduced from facts not denied, or premises not controverted.'
'Can the measure of arming the Third Regiment of Foot, and doubling the Horse Guards, on the day when the fate of the Petitions of the People was to be decided in the House of Commons, be vindicated?'
'Tuesday Evening a Room was opened for Debate by Ladies only, at this House. The Inconsistency of this Measure with the academical Plan delivered to the Publick, and the Advertisement of the Moderator, that neither he nor the Principal of the Academy had any Concern in the Business, gave the Publick a disadvantageous Impression of it, as a desperate Expedient of the Tenants to get Money.
The Chair was not taken till Half after Eight; and we were sorry to see that a Gentleman of Character should be the Person engaged in such unworthy and dishonourable Business. He proposed the Question, to which some Women spoke; or rather read Speeches out of Papers; but the chief Dependence of the Evening was on a Mr. McNally in Woman's Clothes. He squeaked several Speeches to eke out the Time, but the Offence taken at such an indecent Artifice, and the Impatience of the Audience from Want of Entertainment, induced them to precipitate poor Marriott from the Chair, and to place an old discarded Actress in his Stead. She acquitted herself to the Satisfaction of those who surrounded the Chair, and who seemed to wish, like the Praetorian Band, to be occupied in placing and displacing Presidents. Whether the Freedom of her Behaviour, and the Luxuriance of her Language, aided by the Appearance of Men in Women's Clothes, may have any Effect in rendering this Assembly popular, and profitable to the Tenants, we leave to the Determination of the Publick.'
Letter, to the President of School for Eloquence, Freemasons Hall [Schoolboy tells story of how his father took him, and two younger brothers to debate. Remarks on how expensive entry was.] Then says he 'thought, from the shabbiness of the dress of the speakers, they were very extravagant and foolish, to give away that money which would have been better laid out for shoes and stockings.' Says question, which is most liable to flattery, men or women should be who is most liable. Father 'lamented much the temerity of men who expose an ignorance of the simplest rules of language, and the plainest principles of reasoning, and exhibit to the public, for imitation, and a model of eloquence, aukward actions, vulgar idioms, and discordant ideas'.
'Is the British House of Commons, without the concurrence of the other branches of the Legislature, competent to determine any character or description of men to a disqualification for a seat in that House?
2d Is an Address from Parliament immediately to his Majesty, or a proceeding by an Act of the Legislature, the most proper mode to obtain the abridgement of the Civil List, and the economy requested by the present Petitions?'
5th chapter St. Matthew, verses the 11th and 12th. 'Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you for my sake. Rejoyce, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in Heaven; for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you.'
'1st. Is an Address from Parliament immediately to his Majesty, or a proceeding by act of the Legislature, the most proper mode to obtain the abridgement of the Civil List, and the oeconomy requested by the present Petitions?
'In most Instances, when the affections of the female sex are improperly attached, who is most blameable, the man or the woman? Are the people, by the English Constitution, intitled to short or frequent Parliaments? And, Are women in general, most in danger, from men of strong, or weak intellectual faculties?'
'1st. Is an Address from Parliament immediately to his Majesty, or a proceeding by an act of Legislature, the most proper mode to obtain the abridgement of the Civil List, and the oeconomy requested in the present Petitions?
The English are said to be Lions in War, so I believe they are; but in common Life they are Sheep. There is always a Bellwether in our Politicks, Morals, Fashions, and Diversions, who is followed by the Crowd as eagerly as the Bellwether of a Common; the Ton once given, the whole Nation appears running made the same Way. Who had the Merit of giving the present Rage for the Schools of Eloquence I know not, but certainly the Disorder is become so epidemical, that we are in Danger of dying a Nation of Orators.
I have attended several of these Schools, Mr. Baldwin, and have now and then heard a sensible Speaker: but more generally Weak Reasoning, false Conclusions, and illiterate Language. As I write ShortHand I have taken down a few Orations from the scientific lips of Tailors, Shoemakers, Haberdashers, etc. with which I may hereafter amuse that Part of the World who are unfortunately at too great a Distance from these Seminaries of Learning, to have their Minds elucidated by their Labours.
At present I shall confine myself to that one Head of the Hydra, called La Belle Assemblee. I am really, Sir, ashamed. I blush at seeing the lovely, tender, timid Sex, appear in a Light so very disadvantageous; and I am sorry for the Countenance given to their Excentricity by the Men, who, by insidious Applause, encourage the Folly they laugh at.
Were it really a Fact that these female Orators were any Thing more than the hired Reciters of a studied Lesson, it would be very little to their Honour: for what Women of the slightest Pretensions to Modesty, or common Decency could stand up in an Assembly of a thousand Persons, and hazard their Thoughts and Language on Subjects which they are supposed never to have studied till the Moment they begin to hold forth? Would not such Assurance and Effrontery render them absolutely disgustful? Is there a Man on Earth who from such a Set of Women would choose a Wife? or a Husband, Father, or Brother, who would not be shocked to find his Sister, Daughter or Wife in this garrulous Society?
But the Truth is (and it is a Fact in Favour of the Women who speak) their Lessons are all composed for them; so that they have no more to do with the Arguments they utter, than my Pen has with the Characters I force it to trace. But this though in Favour of the Speakers, is no Sort of Recommendation of the Society, for our Newspapers and Magazines present us infinitely better Essays on the same Subjects, and these we may enjoy in our Parlours, without the Disadvantages of hearing them from Mouths where they seem unnatural (for not the least Trace of feminine Thinking is to be found in these female Orations), or having them clipped and murthered by a vulgar pronunciation.
The arguments adduced by the fair orators were genteel and sprightly, free from that censure and invective which so ample a field might have afforded, and the question was unanimously carried, that stage exhibitions, well regulated, tend more to the promotion of virtue.
'Whether the Discovery of America has been productive of Benefit or Injury to Europe? - If, of Benefit; what are the best means to preserve and encrease it? - if, of Injury; What are the best means to remedy it? In order to associate Genius, and give every Encouragement to an Institution founded on the most liberal Principles, that ever gave rise to any Society in this Country, the Select Committee have resolved, that those who may wish to subscribe for the remaining Nights of this Season, shall not be obliged to pay the full subscription, as if they had been Members from the Beginning: - But to preserve a proper Degree of Respect in the Company, the Subscription will never be lower than HALF A GUINEA.'
Question was carried, that Platonic love cannot exist between the sexes. At the present period, when eloquence is become the favourite object of public attention, little need be said to recommend an establishment of this kind, as to its general nature or tendency; but it is proper to observe, that no Oratorical Society whatever has hitherto opened up with so fair a prospect of entertainment as the RURAL ASSEMBLY may challenge. The season is now arrived, when the confinement of the town must be irksome enough to depreciate its most favoured amusements: that the moments of relaxation should then be allotted to Rural Entertainment, seems to be the suggestion of true taste, and will be found to be most conducive to health and pleasure, which this institution is well calculated to promote . . . those who chuse to attend this institution, previous to their visiting Vauxhall Gardens, will not be precluded, by reason of the early hour at which the debates conclude, and may find thereby an agreeable variety in their evening's entertainment. NB the introduction of Masks in societies of this kind have been attended with several inconveniences, none will be admitted.'
And bar'd that breast where modesty repos'd.
Anxious in every course to win the bays,
They start, undaunted, candidates for praise!
But this ambition asks not for redress,
If human acts are measured by success!
Not Fletcher fills the Senatorial Chair
With more applause, than when a B–'s there.
Even in this infancy of female fame,
A Fox already lisps, and Burkes declaim!
An embryo minister the sex shall yield,
And young Minorities dispute the shield.
Ah! long victorious in the realms of Wit,
In all to thee must humbled man submit?
Content not Phoebus' envied heights to reach,
Ye claim the dormant privilege of speech! -
Ierned-like, the lucky moment seize,
Gain what ye ask, and ask what'er ye please!
Thus the immortal Amazons of yore,
In Mar's red field, the palm of conquest bore;
Even he, whose labours filled earth's circuit wide,
Here first in arms a foe superior try'd.
To pining youths, who left the myrtle bough,
And plucked the laurel from the warrior's brow!'
'The following text will be investigated: "Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers; and then, at my coming, I should have received mine own, with usury." St. Matt. ch xxv. v. 27.'
The discussion of the most interesting and entertaining subjects by the people at large, is a recreation not only rational in itself, but particularly adapted to the taste of an English audience. To accommodate the public with an amusement that has received the sanction of the sentimental and polite, Mr. Smith has opened his great room, under the direction of a person of literary talents, where moral and political questions will be investigated, lectures regularly delivered, and orations on eminent characters occasionally pronounced.'
'Does the account of the late engagement in the West Indies, contained in the Gazette, justify the encomiums passed therein on the French Officers? Do not the late official dispatches throw too general a reflection on the officers of the British Fleet?'
'A Society of Gentlemen, who propose to meet weekly, during the Winter, at the Mitre Tavern, Fleet Street, for the discussion of Political, Moral, and other Interesting Subjects, take this opportunity of announcing to the public, that the following important question will be debated Monday next [September 11]:
The chair will be taken precisely at eight o'clock; and as it is meant
that the Middlesex Forum should be conducted upon the most liberal
plan, as an incitement to Elocution, and an honourable testimony
A most capital GOLD MEDAL
will be given to the best Speaker, to be delivered to him at the close of the evening by the Moderator, upon the vote of the company present.
Previous to, and during the time of debate,
which has so much excited the public curiosity and resort, will be exhibited, representing a Court of Justice in full display of all their oratorical proceedings; together with many more capital characters.
'The intention of presenting the best speaker of the Middlesex Forum next Wednesday with a Gold Medal, seems to meet with the general idea and approbation of the public, who have long thought some mark of distinction necessary on such occasions, as an incitement to oratory and elocution, than which nothing can more conduce to the reputation of an individual, or the honour of the state.'
'The debating Society at Coachmakers'-hall was opened on Thursday
evening last to a genteel and respectable auditory, when the Chairman,
with great propriety, addressed the company in the following well
Little needs to be said in commendation of public disputation conducted upon a liberal plan: it is as ancient as the days of Demosthenes and Cicero; for it was then, and ever since has been considered in a most advantageous light.
A liberal discussion of subjects political and philosophical must tend to increase the stock of human knowledge, and to open and expand the ideas of mankind. A mutual exchange of sentiments, in a friendly society, can only be productive of advantage; such an intercourse pleases while it instructs, and in the end the mind is furnished with that firmness and cool stability which can only be acquired in public debate.
Public disputation was revered as an invaluable blessing at a time when Rome was at the highest pitch of greatness: Philosophers and Politicians of all ages have ever considered it of the greatest consequence to mankind. For to dispute candidly, to discuss liberally, what means it? but that a society of friends have met for the very laudable purpose of discovering truth. Human genius cannot wish for a superior field to exercise in: it draws forth ideas which would never have arisen in the closet, and stimulates to such discoveries as would ever have been buried in retirement. Public disputation acts on genius as the flint does on steel - they both produce rays which would ever have been hidden, but for collision and friendly intercourse.
Much indeed ought to be said as an apology for your Chairman - but as it is his sincere intention to act with care and with impartiality, he deems it unnecessary to apologize for his want of abilities in a society of gentlemen, met for no other purpose but candid and liberal disputation. He will, therefore, not trouble you any further, conscious that he shall experience that candour which has ever so particularly distinguished this respectable Society.'
As 'twas lately determin'd, that no one from hence,
When taking a wife, should accept of few pence;
'Tis presum'd, that the ladies in gratitude ought
To prefer the poor lover, who's not worth a groat:
That thus destitute both, they both may be sure,
Themselves are alone, not their purses the lure.
Then contemplate ye lads, and ye lasses, the blisses!
When sans bread and cheese, you exist but on kisses!
And if love, in nine months, a fine boy should compleat,
They who live but on love, sure its produce may eat!
So cherish your wives, all as much as you're able,
As you value the sight of a joint at your table.
'Are those nations of Europe justifiable, who, in the critical moment of danger in which this country stands, have formed a maritime confederacy, under the pretense of preserving the neutrality of the seas?'
'One of the first objects of consideration of the new Parliament, it is said, will be, a restriction upon public debating societies, particularly those in which theological questions are discussed. It cannot be doubted, but that such assemblies are exceedingly productive of both religious and political profligacy.'
'On Saturday evening La Belle Assemblee opened for the winter season, and were honoured with a very brilliant and respectable audience. The debate was admirably supported, and many pointed good things said which would be no discredit to a much higher assembly. Several Ladies who evidently came as auditors with no intent to speak, could not refrain from favouring the audience with their sentiments, in a language remarkably chaste, elegant and convincing. - A well wisher to this nouvelle and rational amusement, recommends to the Proprietors to make three prices instead of one, and have boxes, pit, and gallery, for which the place is well calculated. Thus would the pockets and persons of each class be more agreeably accommodated.'
'Would it not be for the honour and interest of Great Britain to release immediately the Hon. Henry Laurens, late President of the American Congress, who was taken on his embassy to the States of Holland?'
'A correspondent says he was last Saturday night at the opening of La Belle Assemblee. The speeches of the Ladies now, in general, are well delivered; but, like some tavern wines, have too much Perry in their composition; and others seem to Hunt after humour. The President recapitulated the arguments of the speakers in such a manner, that the auditors were like poulterers' turkies, first fed with corn, and then afterwards crammed with Pollard.'
'Whether if on an investigation of the claims of private sufferers by the rioters in June last, damages should be recovered against the Chief Magistrate of this City - he ought to be reimbursed by the inhabitants of this metropolis?'
'A correspondent observes with pleasure, that the wise resolution of the Common Council to exclude their wives from the Lord Mayor's feast, is to become the subject of debate and ridicule of the Ladies of La Belle Assemblee. He should not be surprized, if it should turn out that the question originated with one of the offended Ladies, that they might have an opportunity of making reprisals. There is no doubt but that it will afford ample scope for laughter and ridicule, and should Mrs. —, who has been a constant patroness of La Belle Assemblee, take it into her head to communicate her sentiments on the subject, she will undoubtedly be able to give the most highly-finished picture of the Aldermanic body, as she is certainly more acquainted with the constitution and abilities of the Court than all the Poets or Poetesses of England.'
Acts ch. 8, vers. 36 & 37 'And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, see here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized. And Philip said, if thou believeth with all thine heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'
644. November 5, 1780 School for Theology, Museum, Spring Garden 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.' St. Mark, chap. x, ver. 25.
'Whether the late advertisement of persons calling themselves a Committee of Association for a certain great city, signed by a Right Honorable Member of the H—e of C—ns, is the effect of real patriotism and calculated to promote the interest of the country?'
'Can the Rev. Mr. Madan's doctrine of a plurality of wives be justified either by the laws of policy or religion? and, Whether is the man of learning, fortune, courage, or politeness, most acceptable to the ladies?'
'Whether the advertisement of a Committee of Association of the City of Westminster, signed by the Hon. Charles Fox, dated Nov. 3, is the effect of real patriotism, and calculated to promote the interest of this country?'
After a debate of three hours, it was carried in the affirmative by a very large majority. 'It was determined that "neither in his professional nor political character had his very enlightened understanding occasioned so much good as evil to this country".'
'Indeed I baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.' St. Matthew ch. iii, vers. 11.
Jam. cha. v, ver. 12 'But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither the earth, neither by any other oath, but let your yea be yea and your nay nay lest ye fall into condemnation.'
'A noble Lord having stated in the House of Commons, with his usual accuracy, that the decrease of people in this country within the last ninety years has been one million eight hundred thousand; therefore the question is, "Whether this decrease is more owing to the manners of the Ladies or of the Gentlemen?"'
'Whether any encrease of population on the Rev. Mr. Madan's plan would compensate for the confusion, Polygamy would create in society? And (if time permits) Would not the present aspect of American affairs justify Parliamentary thanks to the Ministry for their PERSEVERANCE in the national cause?
'A Society of Gentlemen, whose views are to the Senate and the Bar, and whose studies are principally employed on the constitution of this country, has been for some time under the direction of the Rev. David Williams. The design of the society is to acquire the art of composing, and delivering Orations, &c. by such exercises, as an intimate knowledge of the human heart, by a study of its passions, alone can suggest. This design does not interfere with the purposes of those who are usefully occupied in removing defects of pronunciation, or improving the ear and modulating the voice for declamation. The business of the Society commences when the members have availed themselves of any assistances they may have wanted on such accounts; and its exercises, though in the circumstances they were first entered upon they had the fullest claim to originality, are similar to those which were given in Athens and Rome, in the periods of their highest lustre.
Though there are some reasons which induce the Society to make its design known; though it may be desirous to increase the number of its members, by the first and noblest youth of this country; yet the importance of its views, the harmony which prevails in it, and the satisfaction arising from the proper direction of its pursuits, are circumstances not to be hazarded merely to become numerous. Every nobleman or gentleman, therefore, must be proposed, in order to be admitted, if two black balls do not appear against him.
'Last night the Pantheon society met for the discussion of the adjourned question, 'Can the conduct of Lord George Gordon respecting the Protestant Association be construed into High Treason?' . . . After a full discussion, it was moved and unanimously agreed to, that in respect that most of them who spoke against him, meant only to afford an opportunity to his friends, of clearing him from any shadow of guilt, the question should be dismissed unanimously in his favour.'
681. December 13, 1780 Carlisle House, The School of Eloquence 'Can an officer, whose military service is peculiarly essential to the service of the state, excuse himself in honour from such duty, on account of a conceived affront or injury received from the rulers of its councils?'
The decision was, that 'the true patriotic hero will abate every feeling of interest or resentment to venture himself totally in the service of his country; at the risque not only of his life but fame.
It was impossible, in the course of the debate, tho' contrary to the general rules of the School, to avoid some reprehension being made on the voluntary retirement of Admiral Keppel from his public character, which was seconded by the general opinion of the room, amidst many pleasing compliments to his personal courage and abilities and private virtue.'
'Last Tuesday evening a society for debate by Ladies only was opened at the late King's Arms Tavern, Cornhill, under the name of the Female Congress. The company was splendid and respectable, and so very numerous, that there was a considerable overflow. The chair was taken by a Lady, who made an elegant exordium, which lasted near twenty minutes. She traced the practice of eloquence through the medium of the debating societies, till at length Ladies were admitted to speak. She paid a delicate compliment to the Belle Assemblee, as the first institution in which women were restored to their natural rights, and declared the Female Congress was not opened from any spirit of rivalry or opposition, but solely to accommodate the Ladies of the east and south ends of the town, whom the distance of the Haymarket deprives of hearing Ladies debate so frequently as they might wish. She then mentioned the common objections, or rather cavils, against women speaking in public, and very ably defended the propriety of it, as well as the character of such who spoke. During the whole evening she maintained the dignity of the chair, and filled it with astonishing ability, so as to convince all present, that where a woman can be found equal to the task, a woman alone ought to preside over a female society. The debate that ensued was carried on with great spirit and vivacity. Some of the Ladies were capital in wit, humour, and eloquence, and all were agreeable, though it was apparent that three of them spoke under the disadvantages consequent on a first attempt: in short, the company were entertained with twelve pleasing speeches, and departed after giving every mark of general approbation.'
'The numerous disputing societies and forums for harangue have had such an effect on public opinion, that peoples of abilities and knowledge are now likely to be determined by the fluency of speech. But if we may believe a judicious writer, the common fluency of speech in many men, and most women, is owing to a scarcity of matter; for whoever is a master of language, and hath a mind full of ideas, will be apt in speaking to hesitate upon the choice of both; - whereas common speakers have only one set of ideas, and one set of words to cloath them in, and these are always ready at the mouth; so people come faster out of a church, when it is almost empty, than when a croud is at the door.'
'If the Legislature of these kingdoms were to frame a law concerning marriage agreeable to the system recommended by the Rev. Mr. Madan, in a late publication, would it not tend to prevent the ruin of the female sex, in all its horrid consequences, both to the public and individuals?'
From an accident of a Gentleman mistaking the question as "Whether the Member was obliged strictly to pursue the mandates of his constituents." The question, in the midst of a very spirited and entertaining argument, was carried away for the remainder of the night with a torrent of wit and humour, from out of its proper channel; but being thought worthy of a more serious discussion, a motion was made and consented to, that it should stand over.'
'A celebrated Dutchess having invited the nobility to attend her route at 12 o'clock at night, which, in the vulgar regulation of time, is considered rather as an unseasonable hour for the beginning of an entertainment; therefore the question to be discussed is, Whether a Woman of Fashion can do wrong?'
'After the close of the Debate, the Lady in the Chair will commence a Series of Characters of Living Ladies. - That for Tomorrow night, the Character of Miss Hannah More, Authoress of the Tragedy of Percy, &c. &c.'
The Question 'was renewed in debate with much precision and judgment, to the great amusement of the company. In short, no argument ever gave more pleasure in its discussion. It was determined in the negative.'
'If the Legislature of these kingdoms were to frame a law concerning marriage agreeable to the system recommended by the Rev. Mr. Madan, in a late publication, would it not tend to prevent the ruin of the female sex, with all its horrid consequences, both to the public and individuals?'
'Whether, during the continuance of the war, it is becoming in the ladies to encourage the produce, manufacture and fashions of France? and, Whether the recent legal decision in the Court of Chancery, "That without an equality of fortune there can be no just basis for wedlock" is consistent with the laws of nature, reason and equity?'
16th verse of the second chapter of St. Paul to the Galatians 'That we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.' And James 2nd, 24th verse 'Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not faith alone.'