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at Buckingham House, where Bute had the first and the last word in every consultation, and where discussions were conducted in a jargon unintelligible to Southron Privy Councillors, was an established article of faith with the majority of patriotic Englishmen. Every odious measure, and every unexpected and exorbitant demand on the Exchequer, was habitually attributed to the machinations of a phantom conclave which passed by the name, sometimes of the Junta, and more often of the Thane's Cabinet. London was reminded several times a week, with a free use of capital letters, that the ruinous and unnaturally wicked conflict in consequence of which English families were mourning the loss of Husbands, Sons, and Brothers was a Scotch WAR; engineered by the relentless Bute, and the bloodthirsty Mansfield. If once peace were restored, that crafty and cruel Caledonian Judge would no longer be able to harangue the House of Peers about the duty of killing men, and would be reduced, like Domitian, to kill flies. Despatches from Scotch colonial governors had kindled the war; Scotch counsellors had promoted it; Scotch violence had conducted it; and pamphlets from the pens of Scotch gazetteers, — whose necessities had taught them to write, though they could not talk, so as to be understood by Englishmen, — had deluded simple people into believing that the unconditional submission of America was necessary for the honour and safety of Great Britain. Those were the doctrines preached three times a week by Anti-Sejanus, and Historicus, and Politicus, and a whole tribe of able and uncompromising exponents, whose credit with the public steadily grew as hostilities went forward, and
1 Ever since Lord Mansfield uttered his unfortunate sentence about killing Americans, he passed in newspapers by a name the use of which is the most cruel insult that can be offered to a British Judge. In January 1776 it was reported that the distress inside Boston exceeded the possibility of description, and that our troops were eating horse-flesh, and burning the pews for fuel. “ But the goes to the play, and laughs as usual ; Jemmy Twitcher sings catches with his mistresses at Huntingdon ; and sly old Jeffreys drops hints for shedding more blood.”
the cloud of misfortunes thickened. When Burgoyne had been captured, and when half Europe was on the eve of joining in an attack upon England, the newspapers authoritatively announced, in paragraphs marked by a semi-official turn of phrase, that the private Cabinet, of which the Earl of Bute was President, had met at an Honourable Lady's house, and had finally resolved to prosecute the war rather than part with their employments.
Burke, in a sentence which has been quoted in famous debate, laid it down that an indictment cannot be brought against a nation. Nor, on the other hand, can a nation commence an action for libel; or else Scotland, in any year between the Second and Twentysecond of George the Third, might have secured emplary damages from her traducers. The ball of vituperation, set rolling by Churchill and Wilkes, was kept in motion by less skilful, but far more unfair and ill-natured, players, long after Wilkes had grown lazy and indifferent, and when death had silenced Churchill. Scotland, and all that appertained to her, was the stock subject for the gall of the lampooner and the acid of the caricaturist; until the most omnivorous collector of eighteenth-century broadsheets and woodcuts turns aside in disgust when he espies the syllable " Mac" in a political ballad, or the flutter of a kilt in the corner of a coarse engraving. The storm of obloquy rose perceptibly higher when the American war began, and waxed more fierce as it proceeded. Sometimes a crafty adversary, - meeting Scotchmen with their own weapons, and affecting the character of a political economist whose feelings had been wounded by ministerial extravagance, — put forth a mass of exaggerated statistics
1 That was the quotation with which Mr. Gladstone began his reply to a chivalrous and heart-felt speech, by Mr. Gathorne Hardy, just before the division on the Second Reading of the Irish Church Bill. Mr. Hardy had made two yet finer orations in the course of the two preceding years ; but those, who then heard Mr. Gladstone, find it difficult to believe that he ever had more profoundly and pleasurably stirred his audience than on that early morning in March 1869.
clustered round a particle of fact. One day it was affirmed that the Scotch did not pay a fiftieth proportion with the English towards the Revenue, while, upon the most moderate computation, they enjoyed above half the emoluments of Government. On another morning the newspapers published a return of Scotchmen in receipt of public money, accompanied by an apology to the effect that the catalogue was unavoidably incomplete. But, even so, the placemen and pensioners whose names appeared on the list, were represented as drawing incomes from the Treasury to the tune of one hundred thousand a year more than the annual receipt of land-tax from the whole of Scotland.
Anti-ministerial writers vehemently contended that the continuance of the war, which was ruining the larger nation, brought nothing except gain to the smaller; and almost daily proofs were adduced in support of that assertion. The Prohibitory Act, forbidding importation from America, had advanced the price of tobacco seventy per cent. Glasgow merchants, (it was alleged,) to whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer had dropped a hint, had laid in great quantities of that commodity, and were selling at their own prices; since the Junta would not let slip such a favourable opportunity of enabling Scotch iniddlemen to fatten on the plunder of English consumers. Government inspectors were said to have passed without examination all the stores provided by Scotch contractors, who accordingly supplied the army with food too bad to be eaten by any except Scotch soldiers, who fed worse at home. It was a standing rule,
1“A miserable remnant of English nobility, with a few unprincipled commoners, are cunningly employed to bear the odium of the business ; while embassies, governments, contracts, regiments, and all the profitable jobs and employments created by the calamities of the war, are wiihout exception reserved for Murrays, Mackenzies, Stuarts, and Frazers ; Scotchmen who have been marked as enemies to liberty, and the vile instruments of two late horrid rebellions." Letter from an Essex Farmer; July 21, 1776.
2 “A correspondent asks whether General Howe has any horses to draw his artillery and waggons, without which he will never get to Philadelphia. The horses sent by Mr. Fordyce are all dead. This is a pretty
(so the story ran,) both at the War Office and the Admiralty, that, when things went wrong, it was never the fault of a Scotchman. The Greyhound frigate, a vessel of a class that in the last war used to capture privateers with thirty-six guns, had been beaten off by an American ship carrying only twenty-six cannon; but the captain was a Scotchman, “and the Ministry would sooner, once in a while, confess Americans to be brave than admit their favourite Scots to lack courage.'
South-countrymen, who wished to live out of the taxes, could not be expected to welcome the incursion of a fresh and hungry herd into the very pick of the Treasury pastures. But even those quiet and unaspiring Englishmen, who were honourably contented to carry their labour into the open market, sincerely believed that the bread was taken out of their mouths by Scotch competition; and, if they failed to perceive the injury which was inflicted upon them, it was not for want of telling. A man of spirit, (so they were informed,) would endeavour to explore new lands until times grew better, and would cross the seas on a butcher's tray, if he could not afford a Thames wherry, rather than starve at home under a reign when none except Scotchmen might thrive in England. A correspondent, signing himself Hortulanus, related a sorrowful tale which was calculated to inspire uneasiness in a very large and estimable body of workpeople. He described himself as having been dismissed, with seven English gardeners who had worked under him, by a country gentleman, a kind and good master, who had been perverted by the example of a great person in the neighbourhood. This unpatriotic nobleman, a member of Lord North's Administration, was extremely fond of Scotch architects, Scotch politicians, and Scotch butlers and footmen; and he employed no fewer than
job; but Mr. Fordyce is a Scotchman, and intends to be member for Colchester. He has canvassed the toone, and prepared aw things in readiness. Contracts are fine things! How many millions of English money will the Scotch profit by in this war ?” London Newspaper of October the rith, 1776.
fourteen of the ten thousand Scotch gardeners who had ousted Englishmen from all the most expensively equipped establishments in the south of the island. Why, (the indignant writer asked,) should men born in a cold region, where neither plants, fruits, nor flowers, could flourish, where the sun could not ripen a grape, and where half-starved spiders fed upon half-starved flies, -- be preferred to the inhabitants of a country for which nature was more generous, and the sun more warm and prolific? “Old as I am and encumbered by a family, I offered to work under these Caledonian favourites; but my offer was not accepted. The Steward, who pitied my case, told me I should lead a wretched life with the Scots, who would consider me, and treat me, as a foreigner; for it was their usual custom, on getting into a family, to introduce their own countrymen, and turn out all the old servants.” 1
Hortulanus, in all probability, never cultivated any. thing except the flower-pots outside an attic window in Soho; but he, and plenty like him, had mastered the easy trick of handling those topics of international prej. udice, and trade jealousy, which go straight home to the apprehensions of common men. The majority of readers, alarmed and sore, accepted in good faith these provocative statements, which were often deliberately invented, or dishonestly over-coloured. They relished their newspaper all the more when it contained an appeal to the memory of a prince who, alive or dead, was incomparably the most popular member of the reigning family throughout the country, and especially in the capital. It has been wittily said that, from the time Lord Bute took office, many Englishmen, and most Lon
1 The letter is in the London Evening Post of September 11, 1777. Macaulay, among his collection of newspapers relating to the American war, had acquired all the volumes of the London Evening Post on which he could lay his hands. That was part of the preparations made for continuing his History of England down to a time which was within the memory of men still living, and for relating “how imprudence and obstinacy broke the ties which bound the North American colonists to the parent state."