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July 12, 2010

A Week with Burney & The Rehetoric of Strong Beer

My first update since Easter, I will attempt to make these more regular now I'm on holiday! 

Mainly I've been focusing on the Burney database of 18th Century newspaperssearching for various keywords which may help me locate information on how the petitioning was organised and gathered. So far I've mainly discovered that the Protestant Association used lots of Classified Ads to get the message out; at least in London anyhow!

I've had some help from Prof. H. T. Dickinson up in Edinburgh with areas to research and some materials from the petition for which I'm very grateful indeed!

Looking forward I'm going to be using ECCOto locate pamphlets and other documents to see if I can discern any more about petitioning. Already I've found one from 1780 called 'The Sense of The People':

'The petition, ready framed and copied, is then produced, and immediately
signed by the predisposed adherents of the party. The few whole weak minds
may be influenced by weak, though inflammatory argument, and the many who,
having no minds of their own, submit the direction of their opinions to
the bystanders. A committee is appointed by whom the petition is handed
round the county to such of the cabal as, by the rhetoric of strong beer,
or the art of varying hand-writing, can procure a number of subscribers.
Another committee of correspondence and association is named to be ready
for further mischief; and then the very same leaders adjourn to another
county, where they act over again the same play (tragedy or comedy, the
event must determine) make the same speeches, produce the same petition,
and promote the subscription of it in exactly the same way, citing always
the example of the last county they performed in as an inducement for the
next, and exhibiting the long roll of names, no matter how obtained, as
unquestionable evidence of The Sense of The People.'

More to come soon! I welcome any comments!

Charlie

Source of quote:
The sense of the people: a letter to Edmund Burke, Esq. on his intended motion in the House of Commons, the 11th inst. Containing also, some observations on the petitions now fabricating, and the proposed associations.London,  MDCCLXXX. [1780]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. University of Warwick Library. 12 July 2010 
<http://find.galegroup.com/ecco/infomark.do?
&contentSet=ECCOArticles&type=multipage&tabID=T001&prodId=ECCO&docId=CW3304997056&source=gale&userGroupName=warwick&version=1.0&docLevel=FASCIMILE>

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