Графични страници
PDF файл
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

colonial government by the loss of a continent. Fifty-five reso- have been treated only as the expression of chagrin in lutious, prepared by a committee of ways and means, were Barré, who had just been deprived of his regiment. But Isid by him on the table of the House of Commons at an | Barré, on many other occasions, spoke in the same strain, early day of the session, imposing on America nearly the without effect. No eloquence, however divine, could have same stamp-duties as were already in practical operation in turned these stupid Pharaohs of England from the work England. These resolutions being adopted, were embodied of national dissection. They went on, rejecting all inforin a bill; and when it was introduced to the house, it was mation, all remonstrance. English merchants, connected received with an apathy which betrayed on all hands the with these colonies, and others who had interests in them, or profoundest ignorance of its importance. No ordinary had been in them, sent in petitions which were treated turnpike act ever went through it with half the indifference. with contempt. The agents of Connecticut, Virginia, Horace Walpole, in his private correspondence on all the Rhode Island, Carolina, and Jamaica, begged to be heard, topica of parliament, never alludes to it but once, and that but were refused, and on the 22nd of March the fatal is to say that on the 7th of February " there was a slight stamp act became law. day ou the American taxes." Walpole confessed his utter Grenville, when afterwards upbraided with this disastrous ignorance of American affairs, and almost every other measure, said, “I did propose the stamp act, and shall have member of parliament might have done the same. This no objection to have it christened in my name." Posterity stolid apathy is only equalled by that of our own times has taken bim at his word. Yet it would be unjust to which attached to East Indian affairs. In vain did gentle charge all the blame upon him. Nearly every other member men out of doors, and in-doors, too-well acquainted with of the ministry and parliament were equally impercipient of the ruinous and wicked policy in progress in India-warn the mischief or equally indifferent. Barré, Grenville admits, and expostulate. They awoke no feelings but impatience did anticipate that the Americans would be angry, but he and disgust till the tempest burst upon us in all its horrors. denied that Barré, or any one, had prophesied beforehand 80, then, all was apathy and stolid unconsciousness. Burke, what they spoke loud enough after the event. Pitt himself who was a spectator of the debates in both houses, in a was quite as undiscerning, or as culpable. During all this speech some years afterwards, stated that he never heard a time, when his voice should have been heard in its most more languid debate than that in the commons. Only two potent tones, it was silent. Either he did not see the extent or three persons spoke against the measure, and that with of the mischief, or he lay wilfully and criminally still, in great composure. There was but one division in the whole order to allow his opponents to commit themselves irreprogress of the bill, and the minority did not reach to more vocably with the nation. Nay, what is still more singular, than thirty-nine or forty. In the lords, he said, there was, the cool and sagacious Franklin undoubtedly gave up the to the best of his recollection, neither division nor debate! question as inevitable. Writing to Mr. Charles Thompson, With such ease are empires thrown away, whilst a question in America, July 11th, 1765—a letter preserved in the of contemptible party interest will convulse parliament Biography of Jared Sparks-he says, “ There is no use in and nation.

any further opposing this act. We might as well have Yet, if we are to believe colonel Barré, Grenville having bindered the sun's setting. That we could not do. But spoken of the Americans as our children, planted by our since it is down, my friend, and may be long before it rises care, and nourished by our indulgence, he burst out again, let us make as good a night of it as we can. We " Children planted by your care! No; your oppression may still light candles. Frugality and industry will go a planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny, great way towards indemnifying us." He even consented, to a then uncultivated and inhospitable wilderness, exposed at Grenville's request, in conjunction with the other agents, to all the hardships to which human nature is liable. They to nominate such a person, for his own province, as the nourished by your indulgence! No; they grew by your most suitable distributor of stamps in America, under the Deglect of them. Your care of them was displayed, as soon act! as you began to care about them, by sending persons to rule But a very different spirit displayed itself in America on them who were the deputies of deputies of ministers; men, the arrival of the news of the passing of the act. Franklin's whose behaviour, on many occasions, has caused the blood friend Thompson replied to him, that, instead of lighting of those sons of liberty to recoil within them-men, who candles, there would be works of darkness. The rage of the have been promoted to the highest seats of justice in that American public burst forth in unequivocal vigour. At country, in order to escape being brought to the bar of a New York, the odious stamp act was represented sur. court of Justice in their own. I have been conversant with mounted with a death's head instead of the royal arms, and the Americans, and I know them to be loyal indeed, but a was hawked through the streets with the title of “the folly people jealous of their liberties, and who will vindicate of England and the ruin of America.” At Boston the them, if ever they should be violated; and let my prediction colours of the shipping were lowered half-mast high, and the of this day be remembered, that the same spirit of freedom bells of the city were muffled and tolled funereal knells. which actuated that people at first will accompany them Everywhere there was a frenzied excitement, and the Etill."

provincial assemblies resounded with the clamour of inUnfortunately, so far as can be discovered from Debrett's dignant patriotism. It was the fortune of that of Virginia parliamentary debates, and the evidence of Burke, it is to give the leading idea of union and co-operative resistance, doubtful whether this spirited appeal was made at the time. which led to the grand conflict, and to eventual victory over Had it been 80, it would have produced no effect. It would | the infatuated mother country. There a very different man to Franklin, started up, and kindled by his fiery breath the ministers the propriety of a provision for a regency, in casa torch of confederate resistance, which was soon sent, like of any recurring malady which should incapacitate him for the fiery cross, through every state, and lit the conflagration business. His eldest son was not yet quite three years old. which burnt England and all her follies and despotisms | He did not wish to nominate any particular person now, from the country.

but to authorise, by an act of parliament, at any time when Patrick Henry, like Franklin, was an American born. he might deem it expedient, such person as he thought He saw the light at Mount Brilliant, in Virginia, in 1736 ; proper. The matter was discussed in the cabinet, and it consequently, he was now twenty-nine years of age. He was agreed that such a bin should be prepared, empowering had tried his hand at a little shop, at farming, and other the king to name, if deemed necessary, “either the queen, things, and failed in all. He then commenced as barrister, or any other person of the royal family usually residing is on a six weeks' study of the law, but soon found that, Great Britain." though he could not be heavily laden with law, he had On the 24th of April, accordingly, the king proposed, in eloquence and strong sense, and they gave him immediate a speech from the throne, the measure to the houses in these popularity. He rose at once to the head of his profession ;/ words. Both houses sent addresses of affection, and the he became a member of the assembly of burgesses, at bill was introduced into the house of lords; and it was Williamsburg, and then he burst out on the stamp act with there contended that it was too vague, no person being that fire and impetuosity which carried all before him. directly named, except the queen. To remedy this, the " Cæsar," he cried, with indignant vehemence, “bad his king sent a new message, naming the five princes of the Brutus: Charles I. had his Cromwell; and George royal house, with the power of nominating others in the III.- " “ Treason !” cried the speaker. “Treason ! case of the deaths of any of them. Still, on the second treason !" resounded from all sides of the house ; but Henry, reading, lord Lyttleton declared that this left it perfectly pausing only for a moment, added, “may profit by their uncertain who would become regent; and he moved as example. If that be treason, make the most of it."

address to the king to name which one of the persons Catching the contagious fire, the assembly passed a series specified he would nominate as regent. But here the duke of resolutions, denying, in the most unqualified language, of Richmond asked, whether the queen were naturalised; the right of the mother country to tax them without their and if not, whether she were capable of acting as regeni. consent, and demanding the repeal of the obnoxious statute. He asked, also, who were, strictly speaking, the royal

The governor hastened to dissolve the assembly; but the family? The earl of Denbigh replied, "All who were prayed resolutions were already passed, and set the example to the for;" but the duke of Bedford contended that those only o other assemblies. But it was at once seen that, to acquire the order of succession constituted the royal family. Tha their full weight, the colonies must unite. Speeches, went at once to exclude the princess dowager of Wales, the pamphlets, articles in newspapers, all called for co-operation. king's mother; and Halifax, his colleague, agreed with lim. A print was published exhibiting a snake cut into a number The question was proposed to lord Mansfield, but he wardol of pieces, each piece inscribed with the name of a colony, and it off by saying, that he had his own thoughts wbo were ! with the motto, “ Join or die." In consequence, several of and who were not, of the royal family, but he did not choose the states sept representatives to a general congress, to be to express them. The question of the queen's naturalisaheld at New York in the month of October, to take tion was then referred to the judges, who reported that she measures for a general resistance to the stamp act.

was capable of acting without any formal naturalisation. Whilst the American colonies were thus stimulated, by The lord chancellor, Henley, also declared that the royal unwise taxation, into a temper which never again could be family was not confined to the persons merely in course of entirely allayed, and which concession only made more succession, as the duke of Bedford supposed. Amidst all determined, because it gave them a heightened idea of their this confusion, lord Halifax hastened away to the king, and own strength, the king was suddenly attacked with an advised him to have the name of his mother omitted, less illness, that startled himself and the kingdom from that the lords should strike it out, and thus make it appear a security which his apparently robust constitution had in- public insult. The poor, bewildered king, taken by surprise, spired. The disorder was attributed to a humour which said, “I will consent, if it will satisfy my people." appeared in his face, and which means had been employed Halifax, possessed of this authority, returned to the house to remove which only repelled it inwardly, and threw it of lords, and announced that, by the king's permission, be upon his lungs. He was said to labour under cough and proposed the re-commitment of the bill, with the names fever; but it became pretty well understood, after a time, that only of the queen and the sons of the late king now living. it was something more alarming-that it was, in fact, an Thus, the princess dowager was publicly stigmatised, on the attack of that insanity which recurred again and again, and authority of her own son, as incapable of reigoing, wisilat held him for years, during the latter part of his reign, in its such men as the butcher Cumberland were made capable fearful power. This time it was of short occurrence; and The amendment, as the royal pleasure, was agreed to. Tho the moment it was past, George held a levee at St. James's, country was struck with astonishment. The date d and appeared at it with a cheerful air, as if to dissipate all | Bedford is represented by Horace Walpole as a incat alarm. The real nature of the attack was kept as close buried dancing about for joy; the consternation of Buto and as possible in the inner circle of the palace. But the king his party was indescribable. To cover the disgrace, they himself immediately proposed a measure, which showed that represented it as the wish of the princess dowager herseli. it lud awoke serious thoughts in him. He submitted to ! But, when the king was left to his own reflections, it

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

began to flash upon him that he had, by his weak com- they pursued it with yells, and dirt, and stones. One of tho pliance, openly insulted his own parent in the grossest stones struck the duke, and that and the glass wounded him manner. He bitterly upbraided Halifax with having thus on the hand and the forehead. stolen his consent by a surprise. He expressed his niorti- Bedford learned that the mob was not contented with fication to lord Mansfield amid torrents of tears, and this display of their resentment. They returned on the demanded Grenville to reinstate the princess's name in the evening of the next Friday, May 7th, to attack his house on house of commons. But Grenville, with his usual obstinacy, the north side of Bloomsbury-square. He therefore got todeclined to do it, unless it were strongly pressed upon him gether his friends and dependents to assist in its defence, and in the house. He trusted, however, thas the opposition, procured detachments of soldiers, both horse and foot. The obo hated the princess, would relieve him of this necessity incensed people appeared at the appointed time, and began by voting against the reinsertion of the name. But he was to pull down the wall of his court. The riot act being mistaken. Mr. Morton, the chief justice of Chester, one of read, the cavalry rushed out, and, striking right and left the Bute party, moved for the insertion of the princess's with the flat of their sabres, and riding resolutely amongst name in the bill, and the opposition made no objection; them, soon cleared the square. Whilst this was going on, they only too much enjoyed Grenville's embarrassment. He | however, another army of the rioters had attacked the house Tas therefore compelled to insert the name, which--thus in the rear, and were marching up the garden when they alsifying Halifax's assertion to the king, that, if left in, it were met, and encountered, and put to the route by another would be struck out by parliament was carried by an over- body of soldiers. The mobs were all dispersed without any whelming majority.

loss of life, but with a great many injuries. The circumstance sank deep into the mind of the king, The duke and his friends continued their watch, under the and, resenting especially the conduct of Grenville—who had protection of the military, all night, but no fresh attempt acted as though he held a monopoly of office-he determined was made. The exasperated weavers had bent their way to to be rid of him. He therefore consulted with his uncle, the city, and demolished the windows of Carr, a fashionable tre duke of Cumberland. Besides this public affront, and mercer, who dealt largely in French silks ; but they were the pertinacity with which Grenville was accustomed to prevented doing further mischief by the soldiers. For some enforce his measures on the royal mind, he had just vexed days, indeed, the streets were thronged with military, and the monarch in another particular. George had desired a with the lowering and disappointed weavers. The City grant of £20,000, to secure a piece of land behind the gardens was also full of alarming reports of similar riots in Norwich, cf Buckingham House, foreseeing the danger of buildings of gatherings in Essex and in Lancashire, and mutinies springing up there,—as they afterwards did, in the present amongst the sailors at Portsmouth. The most prominent Grosvenor Place,-overlooking the gardens, and destroying statesmen and members of parliament seriously were afraid their retirement. Grenville opposed it. To this might be of a rebellion. Two days after, when Horace Walpole paid added the public discontent. Grenville had succeeded as a visit to Bedford House, he found soldiers still posted there, little as Bute in securing the goodwill of the public. There and all in alarm and confusion, and was himself hooted and was an under current of popular displeasure, and, whilst the pelted, when he turned into the court, by the mob. The ministers and parliament were thinking little but of their duchess of Bedford declared that the mob had been set on party feuds, the people were on the verge of outbreak. by lord Bute, in revenge for the duke procuring the erasure That outbreak, to a certain extent, immediately followed of the princess's name from the regency bill; others were this miserably managed regency bill. On the very day that sure that Wilkes had a hand in it. The weavers were not it passed the lords, a bill was sent up to it, from the commons, appeased till a subscription was raised for their relief, and an forimposing high duties on foreign silks. The duke of Bedford | association entered into by the silk mercers to countermand made a speech against this bill, and was particularly severe all their orders to the foreign manufacturers on what he termed the folly and selfishness of those concerned All parties were decidedly of opinion that it was high in the domestic silk trade. But the fact was, that vast time for the king to be rid of his present ministers. They nounbers were thrown out of work by the influx of silks from had grossly insulted him in the regency bill; they had misFrance-through the stipulations of the peace of Paris—and represented his opinions and desires to parliament; and bungry men are not patient listeners to lectures on political their incapacity was fast running the nation into fearful Economy, much less to taunts, when they are famishing difficulties. Pitt was the man who could extricate king and

The next day three or four thousands of these poor men, people out of their dilemmas, if his enormous pride did not with their ragged garbs and emaciated looks, marched off to prevent him; and the king, having consulted his uncle, the Richmond to petition the king in person for redress. They old and fast-declining Cumberland, that prince, to whom found him gone to a review at Wimbledon, and they age and infirmities seemed to have given a degree of wisdom, followed him there. The king evinced great compassion declared the offer of the ministry to Pitt to be the necessary for them, and declared he would do all in his power to step, and willingly undertook to make it. But he knew Contribute to their relief. They returned in apparent that Pitt would not even listen to the proposal without satisfaction, but the next day assembled about Whitehall, Temple ; he dispatched a summons to Stowe for that nobleCarrying red and black flags, and denouncing the peers in man, and himself, extremely infirm as he was, went to furious language. They stopped several of their carriages Hayes, to learn the will of the great commoner personally. ax they went to the house, and demanded if they were for or No sooner did this circumstance transpire, than thero against the bill. On seeing that of the duke of Bedford, I arose extreme public excitement and expectation. Edmund

Burke, who was now fast rising into notice, in a letter, on that general warrants should be declared illegal; the the 18th of May, stated clearly how much lay in the power officers dismissed on account of their votes be restored; and of Pitt. "Nothing but an intractable spirit in your friend an alliance with protestant powers, and especially with Pitt can prevent a most admirable and lasting system of Prussia, should be formed, to counterbalance the family administration from being put together, and this crisis will compact betwixt France and Spain. This was asking a show whether pride or patriotism be predominant in his great deal; but Pitt demanded more in the particulars of character; for you may be assured he has it in his power appointments, namely, that Pratt, who had opposed the

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

to come into the service of his country upon any plan of court so decidedly as regarded Wilkes and general warrants, politics he chooses to dictate, with great and honourable should be lord chancellor, and he opposed the cont desire terms to himself and every friend he has in the world, and that the duke of Northumberland should be at the head of with such a strength of power as will be equal to anything the treasury. Northumberland was a Mr. Smithson, who but absolute despotism over king and kingdom. A few had married the heir of the Percies, and received the title, days will show whether he will take this part, or continue but was a man of no particular talent. Pitt, moreover. on his back at Hayes, talking fustian."

designed the treasury for Temple. But, when Temple Pitt showed himself disposed to accept office, on condition | arrived, he refused to take office at all. He pleaded a

[merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]


« ПредишнаНапред »