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Bristol, Feb. 5, 1831.
I have little or no intelligence to communicate, farther than that our city is much agitated by political discussion and the strife of parties. A meeting was lately held of the friends of reform, to petition on its behalf; but it was most stormy and tempestuous. Though all concurred in the general object, violent disputes arose on minor points, which distracted the discussion, and rendered it a scene of tumult and uproar. Such, of late, has been the general character of public meetings at Bristol. For my part, I never attend them. Indeed, the complaint in my back renders it impossible for me to stand; and to lie down would neither be decent nor practicable.
Conversation is almost entirely occupied by the all-absorbing theme of politics; nor is it to be wondered at, when we consider the equivocal and anomalous state of this and of almost all other countries. Some great crisis appears to be approaching, which will probably shake Europe to its centre, and produce some entire new order of things. Shall we ultimately escape a war ? I have great confidence in the pacific views of our present ministry, but less in their continuing in power; nor do I perceive what measures they can adopt that will materially alleviate the distress of the lower orders; and, unless this can be done, a [great convulsion] is, I fear, inevitable. At all events, one great source of consolation remains : “ the Lord reigneth; and blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
By the way, it gives me pleasure to find that attempts are making in London to dissolve the union between the orthodox and the socinian [dissenters.] I most heartily wish them success. It is a most unnatural and preposterous union, and tends, above any thing else, to give an imposing air of importance to the socinian (party), which, but for this coalition, would sink into insignificance. It is odious in the eyes of pious churchmen, and tends to throw a disguise over the real state of the dissenters, in relation to their religious tenets. But I must close, and am afraid I have already occupied too much of your valuable time.
Mrs. Hall and my family are in tolerable health, and desire to unite with me in most affectionate regards to you and your family, and to your dear brother and his family, Mr. -- and his lady, &c. &c. I would just add, that I [derived] considerable benefit, in relation to the determination of blood to the lungs, [from] my visit to Cheltenham.
I remain, my dear Sir,
* This letter was written only four days before Mr. Hall's last illness, and sixteen before his death.-ED.
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