Some Chronicle extracts

26 March  In Portman Square Lord Townshend and other officers made an experiment of a piece of ordnance called the Hand Grenade. It is round like a common ball, of about the weight of twelve pounds, and filled with shell powder and all sorts of combustibles, and when thrown at any distance is supposed to kill a great number of persons. Many thousands of them are made to send to America, and in particular to Quebec.

28 March  Between three and four o’clock in the morning two Custom House officers saw a hackney coach driving furiously on London Bridge, which gave them a suspicion that run goods were concealed therein. On their calling to the coachman to stop, he drove the faster, on which one of them presenting a pistol, and threatening to fire, two men jumped out and ran away, and the coach stopped. The officers proceeded to examine it for their supposed prize, but to their astonishment they found the bodies of an elderly man and woman in separate sacks, quite naked, each with a rope tied round their neck.

8 April  The season at Sadler’s Wells began with the usual diversions of singing, dancing, and tumbling. There was a new performance called La Danse des Oeufs, or the Egg Hornpipe, the whimsical plan of which is to dispose twelve eggs at equal distances on the stage, among which the dancer, being first publickly blindfolded, goes through the various steps of the hornpipe, without breaking one.

2 June  In the morning, as Lord North’s game-keeper was coming to town with venison for his majesty's birthday, he was watched out of Bushy Park by two Custom House officers. They followed him as far as Downing Street, where they attacked him, and a desperate battle ensued.

15 August  At 3 a.m. the Hon. John Damer, aged 32, heir to an estate of over £20,000 per annum, shot himself through the head at the Bedford Arms tavern in Covent Garden. Shortly before he had been in company with four women of the town, and Burnet, a blind fiddler. He drank hard, but did not express the least degree of despondency. After the women were dismissed he ordered Burnet to go down for about twenty minutes. Returning after that time the fiddler was the first who discovered the dreadful event, by the strong smell of gunpowder.

29 November  Near the Victualling Office, Tower Hill, a press gang got two smart girls to sing ballads, who soon drew a great concourse of people about them. The press gang then popped out, secured several useful hands, and carried them on board a tender. The girls narrowly escaped being thrown into Tower Ditch.

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