Excerpts from a book by Charles Piggot, dated 1795 and written from within his prison cell.

The Letter F from Piggot's Political Dictionary (1795)

Faction, ― in its primitive sense, signifies mischief, conspiracy, opposition to good and lawful government; likewise, secret cabals, or an open, violent contrast between two unprincipled, restless, rapacious parties, for a monopoly of the spoils of a plundered, exhausted people. In another, that is, in the Ministerial sense, faction is virtue; but a virtue liable to the heaviest penalties and punishments. Associations of citizens peaceably met together for discussing the abuses of Government, and for deliberating on the safest and most effectual method of procuring their reform; an enquiry into the measures of their servants, (the Ministers) and an exercise of those privileges, which Englishmen were taught, by some of these ministers themselves, to believe inherent in their free constitution, are now construed into faction, and thus, the word is possessed of two different significations.

Whether Mr. P-tt's modern reading, or the ancient construction be the just one, well deserves the serious consideration of our popular societies throughout Great Britain and Ireland, who would act wisely in affording to their heaven-born Minister, a striking specimen of their opinions on the subject.

Perhaps, after all, the most accurate definition of the word faction, is to be found in the coalition between alarmists and courtiers, in defence of R-y-l prerogative, of extravagant sinecures, supernumerary places, and unmerited pensions; as well as of every other species of corrupt influence, against the rights and liberties of mankind;---in the confederation of Kings against the independence of the French Republic, as solemnly ratified by the people, through the organ of representatives, fairly and constitutionally elected by their own free, unbought suffrages.

Faith, ― credulity, superstition. An article loudly extolled and vehemently insisted on, in all ages, by Priests and Kings. Success has crowned their exertions. Mankind, on every occasion, have opened a gullet wide enough to swallow the absurdest paradoxes, the most glaring impossibilities. Only say, that an army of soldiers was seen last night to pass over the moon, and you will immediately perceive a vast legion of implicit believers, making their comments and remarks on the phenomenon, explaining it on the authority of scriptural prophecies. Nothing too preposterous for popular credulity, which has been always fed and cherished by the great leaders in Church and State; knowing this, on that basis only their empire depends. Thus have nations, by dint of error and superstition, for a vast succession of ages, yielded themselves up to the dominion of r-y-l or priestly authority, which, in most instances, have formed a coalition for the purpose, whereby the community have been plunged into a fathomless abyss of servitude and ignorance, from which patriotism and philosophy have hitherto laboured in vain to rescue them. The faith inspired by priestcraft and state-craft, is the prime cause of that misery and tyranny, which, to this hour, continue to rage through the universe. The scourges of the world are held out by priests, as the viceregents of heaven, and the opinions and consciences of men, till very lately, have been almost entirely directed by priests; but as their empire is terribly convulsed by the revolution in France, which has served so essentially to enlighten the human understanding, may it soon be totally destroyed, and may Wisdom, Peace and Philanthropy erect a lasting throne on the wreck of Faith, Error and Superstition! Their reign has been too long; they have ruled with an iron sceptre. It is time for Peace to fix her residence amongst us. The Millennium, however, can never arrive, till faith in priests and sovereigns be annihilated. Their interest, their ambition is war---the grand engine of Church and State.
Fame, ― a term in general most barbarously misapplied. Murderers have been stiled heroes, and conquerors gods. To immortalize their memory, mausoleums have been raised, the arts of invention ransacked, and the imagination of genius exhausted; while the real benefactor of mankind, cast during his mortal pilgrimage in an humble sphere, may after death, continue to rot in an obscure, neglected grave, without any honourable memorial to preserve his name from oblivion; but it is time such unnatural prejudices and unjust distinctions should cease. Every generous spirit aspires to fame. It should be the virtuous study of philosophy to give to public gratitude a proper direction. Too long have genius and talents been prostituted at the footstool of power, to adulate the crimes of Conquerors and Kings. A brighter example is due. Let us justly bestow the meed of Fame.

Let us strew choicest flowers o'er the tombs of virtue; let us venerate with pious sorrow and affectionate gratitude, the blessed shades of Hampden, Sidney, and Milton, those true heroes, who, during life, had virtue to resist, and fortitude to endure, the fiercest malice of tyrannic power. Let us consecrate to immortality, the memory of all those patriots, who have suffered and bled for the sacred cause of Freedom.

Let us also be liberal in our praise and benefactions towards those generous martyrs for righteousness' sake, who are now groaning in cruel bondage, banished to a far distant, barren, and inhospitable shore, the victims of a most ferocious despotism, Let us pour the calm of consolation on their wounded souls, and ensure to them the noblest enjoyments to which they aspire;---the praise of their fellow-citizens, the applause and admiration of posterity.

Let 'em remember that they carry with them the regret, the esteem, the affection of their countrymen;---of such, at least, whose hearts are not dead to humanity and justice.

Let them cherish the grateful hope, that the system of delusion and tyranny is about to expire, that their sufferings will be of short duration, that their chains will be broken on the heads of their oppressors, and that their return will be hailed with acclamations of joy, by an applauding and regenerated people.

Let 'em also reflect that the breasts of the merciless tyrants who torture them, are themselves tortured;---not by the pangs of sensibility and remorse, but by the scorpion stings of terror, anxiety and alarm, which incessantly goad them, and that, amidst the tempestuous billows of the ocean, with all the devoted victims of evil Government and misfortune before their eyes, they enjoy more serenity of mind, more fearless slumbers, than the unrighteous, hardened J---g---s who passed the sentence against them, or than the inexorable M---g---t---e who consented to the execution of that sentence.

Tremble, ye cruel Potentates, who plunge your subjects in misery and tears, who desolate nations, and convert the fruitful earth into a sterile burying ground. Tremble for your impending fate! It requires not the spirit of prophecy to foretell your d---f---l is at hand. Shudder at the sanguinary traits with which history, incensed, will unfold your characters to future ages,---neither your splendid monuments, nor your imposing victories, nor your unnumbered armies, will prevent posterity from insulting over your execrable remains, and avenging their ancestors on your horrible transgressions.

Such will be your inevitable doom on the approaching æra of light, which promises to break in upon us;---while the virtues that ye have proscribed and banished shall be rewarded, and the memory of the martyrs to those virtues, be consecrated by the grateful voice of just and unperishable fame. They will be remembered by remotest ages, for having stood forth, in a most eventful and dangerous crisis, the intrepid champions of Liberty and Truth;---while you will be only recollected as examples of horror, from the cruelties and enormities ye have committed, under the mask of Piety and Religion: ye shall be consigned to eternal infamy, while they (as we have often repeated) shall flourish in everlasting fame.

Famine, ― For the existence of this word, we are indebted to the magnanimous exploits of Conquerors and Kings. It is generally applied in an extensive sense, signifying whole nations or provinces reduced to a want of the necessary articles of life; a general scarcity. Indulgent nature had liberally provided, throughout the world, every thing requisite for the sustenance and use of its inhabitants; and it is only by an ungrateful abuse of her liberality, by a departure from her mild and equal system, that man is become his own tormentor. The fatal politics which European governments have either preserved, or borrowed, from the old feudal system; the encouragement granted, especially by kingly powers, to exclusive charters and monopolies; an irresistible incentive to avarice and peculation; the miserable distinctions into which they have split society, and the plans invented, under the plausible bur murderous pretexts of commerce, for the purposes of robbery and plunder, have inflicted amongst so many others, this horrible scourge on mankind. Monarchical governments are particularly well skilled in the arts of reducing a nation to a state of famine. When the English bought up all the rice at Calcutta, the natives daily expired by thousands at the doors of the houses inhabited by our countrymen, and the jackals were tranquilly beheld in immense numbers pouring down from the mountains, to regale themselves on their carcases, and to drink their blood; yet this dreadful spectacle made little impression on British sensibility. One individual, Sir Francis Sykes, originally a shoe-black (happy for the poor inhabitants of Bengal, had he never quitted that obscure harmless station) is supposed to have acquired 200,000l. by the above monopoly, by which almost as many Indians are supposed to have perished; so rigidly id they adhere to the purity of their religion, which prohibits, in all cases, the use of animal flesh; nevertheless Sir Francis has been long returned to Europe with his wealth, enjoys unmolested, otium cum dignitate; has a seat in the British senate, boroughs at his command, and has been rewarded, by our cost gracious Sovereign, with the title of Baronet.

Famine is one of the gentlest instruments employed by our heaven-born minister in the present justand religious war with France. All the treasons he has fomented, all the massacres he has planned and caused to be committed, having proved insufficient, he still indulges the hope of being able to starve twenty-five millions of people, and thereby at last to conquer that nation.

It has been well observed by a sagacious writer, that if there were no Kings, there would be no Wars; and, certainly, f there were no wars, there could be no conquests; of course, famine would be unknown; for, nature seldom or never, in the worst of seasons, is herself so rigorous, even in the most barren regions, or where the inhabitants are most addicted to sloth and effeminacy, as to refuse supply of their real wants. Indeed in those countries where the heat of climate disposes the natives to indolence, nature in general yields her gifts spontaneously; whereas, in more ungrateful climes, the people are prone to toil and labour. But war does the business effectually in all countries, however fertile or industrious. During the war previous to the peace of Ryswick, the price of corn was double in England, and in Scotland quadruple its ordinary rate; and in one of the years pending that war, eighty thousand persons died of want in the last mentioned country. Nevertheless, while Kings, Prelates, and Nobles, are not exposed to the horrors of famine, it is perfectly confident that the people should always, as at present, 1794, co-operate with their leaders to inflict it on themselves. When famine rages in the heart of a country, the prodigality of a court experiences no abatement; there it is unfelt; courts are exempt from the calamities which they spread over the universe.

Fashion, ― Whatever custom prevails amongst the great, whatever mode of dress, particular idiom of expression, or cant word, is by them employed, we style Fashion; and, in general, no matter how contemptible, mischievous, or unnatural, we are eager to adopt and practise the absurdity.

This we perceive, what a vast influence Fashion must necessarily have over the morals of society, and how much its welfare consequently depends on the example of the superior orders. It is therefore to be lamented, that those to whom we look up as our betters, should so seldom set up Virtue as a fashion; but that, instead thereof, they should only afford us an example of the most extravagant follies, of the rankest debaucheries. If a Prince of Wales should delight in the most violent excesses of the table, it is then the fashion to be eternally drunk; if he should, on every occasion, display symptoms of heedless and unbounded prodigality, it is then the ton to fix no limits to our expences; or if he should take it in his head to talk nonsense, it then becomes quite the fashion to do like the Prince, and talk like a fool. Hence the contagion immediately pervades every department of the community, from his Royal Highness's Lord in waiting, down to the lowest journeyman shopkeeper.

In like manner if a Duke of York, anxious to make a splendid parade of his great military talents, should cry out for war, the whole British noblesse re-echo the sound, and the nation breathes the same warlike spirit, till after two or three unfortunate campaigns, the treasury drained, commerce decayed, manufactures annihilated, the mass of the people reduced to beggary, they begin to deplore their madness, and to invoke the blessings of pace. Now then is arrived the season of reflection; now is the time for Britons to deliberate on the policy or impolicy of implicitly submitting to the doctrines, or blindly adopting the principles, of the Great. Now is the time for them most seriously to consider whether society owes any obligation to their virtues, whether it ought to entertain any rational hope of improvement, or happiness, either from their exertions or sacrifices; and finally, it becomes necessary now to determine, how far it will be wise or prudent, any longer to abide by those Fashions, which, for so many ages, have been imposed on the world.

Fast, (by proclamation) ― a farce. The people called on to go to church and neglect their business, while ministers are celebrating their carousals, and getting drunk at each others' houses. An impious mummery, or rather blasphemy. We are told of our national fins, and, in expiation of them, are instructed to beseech the God of Peace to bless our exterminating principles of war; to set ourselves up as a people distinct, on whom, exclusively, he ought to shower his benign protection, and to crown our efforts, in destroying countless millions of his creatures. A court juggle; a flimsy, jesuitical contrivance to inflame the public mind, and to give the clergy an opportunity of promulgating their slavish maxims, their political heresies from the pulpit.
xx, (xx) ― xx
xx, (xx) ― xx
xx, (xx) ― xx
xx, (xx) ― xx