Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER XI.

Another Remonstrance from the City of London ; with

the King's Answer, and Beckford's Reply-View of Wilkes's political Career-Dispute with Spain relative to Falkland Islands-Proceedings of the Commons against Printers; and Commitment of the Lord-Mayor, and of Alderman Oliver to the TowerBill for disfranchising the Members of the Christian Club at New ShorehamMore Remonstrances to the Throne from the City of London, Unsuccessful Attempt to enlarge Religious Liberty-Act for restraining the future Marriages of the Royal Family Carolina Matilda falls a Victim to the Intrigues of the Queen Dowager of Denmark-Changes in the British Ministry-Committee of Secrecy- The Embarrassments of the East India Company-Charges brought against Lord Clive ; his Acquittal ; and Suicide-Bill" for Management of the East India Company's Affairs-Summary of other Proceedings of the SessionsExpedition against the Caribbs in St. VincentAlarming Events in AmericaMeasures adopted by Parliament for maintaining the Authority of Great Britain over the Colonies--Proceedings of the General Congress at PhiladelphiaThe Sense of the Nation taken, by dissolving the Parliament at this Juncture-Dr. Franklin's conciliatory plan-Petition of the City of London

-State of Affairs in America-Battle of Lexington-Battle of Bunker's HillMeeting and Proceedings of Congress-General Washington appointed commanderin-chief-His character- Expedition to Canada-Forts taken-Quebec besieged General Montgomery defeated and killed.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

CITY OF LONDON'S SECOND REMON. lord-mayor would abuse such an instance

STRANCE, AND LORD-MAYOR BECK- of the gracious condescension of his sove-
FORD'S REPLY TO THE KING.

reign. But the opportunity was too flatter
After having weathered so severe and ing to Beckford's democratic pride: he re-
stormy a season with unremitted exertions, peated the heads of the remonstrance, be.
it was natural for the ministry to expect ginning, as that did, in a strain of affected
some little interval of calmness and repose. humility, and concluding with this bold as-
But if they amused themselves with these sertion, " that whoever had already dared,
fond hopes, they were very much disappoint- or should hereafter endeavor, by false insin-
ed. In four days after the rising of parlia- uations and suggestions, to alienate his ma-
ment, the throne was assailed with another jesty's affections from his loyal subjects in
remonstrance from the city of London, still general, and from the city of London in
more reprehensible than the former, con particular, was an enemy to his majesty's
verting an humble request into an imperi- person and family, a violator the public
ous dictate, and urging the dissolution of peace, and a betrayer of our happy con-
parliament and the removal of his majesty's stitution, as it was established at the glo
ministers as the only means of reparation rious and necessary revolution." The dig.
that were left for the injured electors of nity of the throne was well sustained by
Great Britain. As it also contained some a total disregard of such presumptuous lan-
very disrespectful strictures on the king's guage.
answer to the late address, his majesty was WILKES DISCHARGED FROM PRISON.
again reduced to the painful necessity of A LITTLE before this event, Wilkes was
declaring, that he should have been wanting discharged from the king's-bench prison, the
to the public, as well as to himself, if he had term of his confinement having expired, and
not expressed his dissatisfaction at such an securities being given for his future good
address; and that he should ill deserve to behavior. The committee of “the support-
be considered as the father of his people, i ers of the bill of rights," as they called
if he could suffer himself to be prevailed themselves, who had received subscriptions
upon to make any use of his prerogative, for his relief from different parts of the
which he thought inconsistent with the in- kingdom, and even from America (1), com-
terest, and dangerous to the constitution of promised all his debts, which amounted to
the kingdom. Beckford, who presented the very near twenty thousand pounds, besides
remonstrance, and who might easily foresee supplying him with a thousand pounds for
the manner in which it would be received, his maintenance, paying off his two fines
begged leave to answer the king. The re- of five hundred pounds each, and defraying
quest, though unprecedented, was complied the expenses of his three last elections for
with, as it could not be imagined that the Middlesex, which did not fall much short of

two thousand pounds. But these were not return from his famous voyage round the the only fruits which Wilkes reaped from globe in 1744, that the possession of a port his audacity and impostures, as well as from to the southward of the Brazils would be of the prevalence of faction, the inconceivable signal service to future navigators for refitfolly of the multitude, and the ill-timed, ting their ships, and providing them with though highly provoked severity of govern- necessaries, previous to their passage through ment. A single glance at his farther pro- the Straits of Magellan, or the doubling gress will be sufficient to illustrate this re- Cape Horn; and among other places eligimark. The week after his release from ble for this purpose, he specified Falkland prison, he was admitted alderman of Far-islands. About ten years after, on his lordrington-Without: he then rose, at very short ship's advancement to the head of the admiintervals, to the honors of sheriff in 1771, ralty, a plan in conforinity to his ideas was and of lord-mayor in 1775: his next care on the point of being carried into execution; was to secure for himself the more lucra- but strong remonstrances against it being tive and permanent office of chamberlain : made by the king of Spain under the old in the year 1774, he and his friend serjeant pretence of his exclusive right to all the Glynn were returned for Middlesex without Magellanic regions, the project, though not any opposition : in 1780, he was rechosen expressly given up, was suffered to lie dor. for the same county; and in 1783, upon a mant. It was revived in the year 1764, total change of ministry, he succeeded in a under the auspices of lord Egmont, who motion for having all the declarations, or- then presided at the admiralty board, and ders, and resolutions of the house of com- by whose advice commodore Anson being mons respecting his former incapacity and sent out to take possession of those islands, the decision in favor of colonel Luttrell, ex- executed the order with the usual formalipunged from the journals. The close of his ties; made a settlement; and erected a political career did not prove quite so flat- small fort in the vicinity of a commodious tering to his vanity. When he ceased to be harbor, to which the name of Port Egmont a supposed object of persecution, he quickly was given. It happened that about the same sunk, as Grenville had justly predicted, into time a settlement had also been made, and his original insignificance. At the general a fortress erected by the celebrated French election in 1790, he met with the most scorn- navigator M. de Bougainville on another of ful and humiliating rebuff from that very those islands to the eastward of the Engcounty, and those very people of whom he lish settlements, under the name of St. Lewhad been so long the idol.

is. But in consequence of the representaDISPUTES WITH SPAIN RESPECTING THE tions of the court of Madrid to the court of FALKLAND ISLANDS.

Versailles, this was yielded up in 1766 to At this time the attention both of the the Spaniards, who changed its name to that public and of government was called off to of Port Solidad. Towards the close of the the probability of a rupture with Spain. A year 1769, captain Hunt of the Tamer frigfrigate from the southern ocean, which ar- ate, cruising off the islands, fell in with a rived at Plymouth on the third of June, Spanish schooner belonging to Port Solidad, brought advices of a formal warning given and, agreeably to what he conceived to be by the Spaniards to the English to quit a his duty, charged the commander of the settlement lately made at Falkland islands, schooner to depart from that coast, as it was though sanctioned by the double right of the property of his Britannic majesty. The discovery and possession. These islands schooner obeyed; but soon returned with an which are situated at a small distance from officer on board, bringing with him a letter the southern extremity of America, were from the governor of Buenos Ayres, adfirst observed by captain Davies in the year dressed to captain Hunt, in which the gov1692, but did not receive their present name ernor in his turn warned the captain to detill the reign of William III. They were part from a coast belonging to the king of afterwards visited by some ships belonging Spain; but on the supposition that captain to St. Maloes, whence they were called the Hunt's touching at these islands was merely Malouines by the French, rather from an accidental, the governor expressed his earnimpulse of national vanity, than from any est desire to show him all possible civilities. conviction of the validity of their title. The Captain Hunt in reply again asserted his rigor of the climate, the sterility of the soil, sovereign's right with some warmth, and and the exposure of all the islands on that threatened to fire into the Spanish schooner, coest to almost perpetual storms even in the upon her attempting to enter the harbor. summer months, were such discouraging This produced a long altercation by letters circumstances, that above a century and å between the captain and governor, during half elapsed before any European nation which two Spanish frigates, with troops on attempted to make a settlement there. It board for their settlement, arrived at Port was first remarked by lord Anson, on his Egmont, under pretence of wanting water. The commander-in-chief wrote to captain While things were going on in this train, Hunt, expressing great surprise at seeing the Favorite, one of the sloops which had the usual appearances of an English settle- been left at Port Egmont, arrived off the ment there, charging him with a violation Mother-bank near Portsmouth, on the twenof the last peace, and protesting against the ty-second of September, and brought intelact in all its parts, at the same time declar- ligence, that soon after captain Hunt's deing that he would abstain from any other parture, five Spanish frigates and some proceeding, till he had acquainted his Cath- smaller vessels, with all the apparatus necesolic majesty with this disagreeable transac- sary for a regular siege, appeared before tion. Captain Hunt repeated his former Port Egmont. Captain Farmer, the comarguments on the question of right: but mandant, made some preparations at first to as soon as the Spanish frigates, after re- defend the place, but finding it utterly unceiving a supply of water, proceeded on tenable, submitted, after a few shots were their course, he set sail for England, in or- fired, to a capitulation, by which he and the der to inform government of what had garrison were allowed to evacuate the settaken place, not thinking it advisable to run tlement, and to carry with them what stores any farther risk on his own authority. Two they could, the governor of Solidad being small sloops, the Favorite, captain Maltby, made answerable for the remainder. The and the Swift, captain Farmer, formed the Spanish commodore, not choosing however whole force that remained upon the station. that very early intelligence of this outrage

When Captain Hunt's advices were laid should be conveyed to England, enjoined before the public, they excited no small the two captains Farmer and Maltby not to alarm; for though the Spaniards had not sail without his permission; and in order to made use of any hostile menaces in direct insure compliance, caused the rudder of the terms, yet their warning him to quit that Favorite to be taken off and kept on shore coast was generally considered as prepa- for twenty days, when it was restored, and ratory to a formal declaration of war. This the sloop permitted to depart. opinion was farther strengthened by a va- It is astonishing with what indignation riety of other circumstances. Spain had the whole kingdom seemed to be inflamed been for some time very attentive to put at this insult on the British flag. The speech her West India possessions in the best pos- from the throne at the meeting of parliature of defence, and a formidable armament ment on the thirteenth of November, inwas known to be fitting out at the Havan- formed the nation that satisfaction for the nah. Vigorous preparations were making injury had been demanded from the court in the French and Spanish ports at home; of Spain; that, in case of refusal, necesand though these might have been more im- sary preparations were making to enforce mediately occasioned by the jealousy arising the demand; and that they would not be from the progress of the Russians in the discontinued till proper reparation was obLevant, they did not appear to indicate a tained, as well as unequivocal proof that very friendly disposition towards Great Brit- other powers were equally sincere with his ain. A fire also which broke out at this majesty in the resolution to preserve the juncture in Portsmouth dock-yard, and general tranquillity of Europe. The adwhich in its consequences might have dresses of both houses on this occasion, in greatly obstructed any sudden maritime ef- spite of all the efforts of faction and malevforts, was looked upon as part of a settled olence, contained the most hearty approbaplan for the ruin of the British navy. Many tion of the steps which had been taken by persons fancied they could trace in it the his majesty, with assurances of effectual deep-laid design of an insidious and invete- support in the progress of such an importrate enemy, whose ambition had ever been ant affair. Supplies for the augmentation boundless, and had in general been but of the army and navy were cheerfully voted; little restrained either by the laws of honor and the increase of the land-tax from three or of nations, when they interfered with the to four shillings in the pound met with no gratification of it. In the midst of these great opposition. fears and suspicions, the British government 1771.—Though the language of the Spanacted with great discretion, neither neglect- ish ministry, on the very first remonstrance, ing the proper means of asserting its right, was condescending and pacific, yet unexnor precipitately plunging the nation into rected obstacles arose in the course of the any vast or unnecessary expenses. It was negotiation, which rendered their sincerity resolved in the cabinet that firm, yet tempe- somewhat questionable. As the doubts of rate representations on the subject should the English cabinet on this head had greatly be made to the court of Madrid; and orders increased before Christmas, it was deemed were in the mean time issued for the man- advisable to adjourn parliament till the ning and equipment of sixteen sail of the latter end of January, to allow time for deline.

termining the grand question of peace or war, and that the minister might then bel. The other proceedings of parliament duenabled to announce decisively on the al- ring this session, which ended the eighth ternative. Lord Weymouth having resign- of May, afford very few subjects of intered the office of secretary of state for the esting detail. The debates did not lead to southern department, the correspondence any one important measure. Endeavors with Spain was now carried on by his suc- were used to bring the courts of law into cessor, the earl of Rochford, whose place contempt, and to spread abroad a dangerous in the northern department was filled by opinion that the constitutional essence of lord Sandwich. But the latter being soon trials was destroyed by the corruption or after removed to the head of the admiralty, servility of the judges, and that the right in the room of Sir Edward Hawke, the sec- of juries in particular to examine into the retaryship for the north was conferred on innocence or criminality of pretended libels lord Halifax, who gave up the privy-seal to had been restrained by illegal dictates from the earl of Suffolk. The great seal was the bench. Public curiosity was greatly taken out of commission, and given to judge excited by an altercation on this subject, beBathurst; and de Grey was appointed chief tween lord Cambden and lord Mansfield, in justice of the common pleas. Some other the house of peers; but after the boldest changes took place about the same time; challenge given on one side, and as resoand several of the late Mr. Grenville's friends lutely defied on the other, both parties seemwere introduced into office; by which the ed disposed to bury the matter in eternal ministry gained no inconsiderable accession silence. of talents, as well as of numbers.

CONTEST BETWEEN SOME PRINTERS But lord North was enabled to face par- AND THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. liament with still more confidence, having FORMAL complaints having been made in accomplished the grand object for which the house of commons against two printers the recess had been protracted to a greater of public papers, Wheble and Thompson, length than usual. The very day the com- for breach of privilege by misrepresenting mons met after their adjournment, (January the debates; they were summoned to ap22,) he informed them, that the Spanish pear at the bar of the house to answer the ambassador had that morning signed a de- charge. As the printers took no notice of claration, with which his majesty was satis- this summons, a second order was issued fied, and which should be laid before the and declared to be final. No more regard house. The like information was commu- being paid to the second order than to the Licated to the lords by the earl of Rochford. first, a motion was made and agreed to, that After the papers relative to this affair had they should be taken into the custody of the been submitted to the inspection of both serjeant-at-arms. But the parties having houses, warm debates arose on the terms of absconded, a proclamation appeared, offerthe Spanish declaration, which the members ing a reward of fifty pounds for apprehendof the opposition asserted to be inadequate ing them. In the mean time, six other printand insecure, because though it contained ers were, for similar offences, summoned to an explicit disavowal of the violence used the bar of the house, five of whom, obeying at Port Egmont, and an engagement to re- the summons, were reprimanded and disstore everything there precisely to the state charged; and the remaining delinquent, in which it was before the tenth of June Millar, was ordered to be taken into custody 1770, it still left room for future disputes, for contempt of the notice given him. by adding “ that his Catholic majesty did Wheble being apprehended in consequence not consider this restitution as anywise af- of the proclamation, and carried before fecting the question concerning the prior Wilkes, the sitting alderman at Guildhall, right of sovereignty of the islands.” But was discharged, and bound over to proseaddresses of thanks and approbation were cute the person who apprehended him. concurred in by a majority of almost three Thompson also was apprehended, and disto one in the lords, and of nearly two to one charged in the same manner by alderman in the commons. They affirmed that the Oliver. Millar, being taken into custody atonement made for the aggression was as by the messenger of the house of commons ample as could justly be required; and that at his own dwelling, was carried before the ministers would have been in the highest lord-mayor (Brass Crosby) and the aldermen degree reprehensible, had they involved the Wilkes and Oliver at the Mansion-house. nation in a war for the sake of so insignifi- The deputy serjeant-at-arms attending to cant an object as the reserved pretensions demand the prisoner, the legality of the of Spain to one or two barren spots under warrant was denied, and the printer not a stormy sky, in a distant quarter of the only discharged, but the messenger of the globe. The possibility of a similar dispute house, on pretence of a false arrest, ordered was precluded by the total evacuation of to be committed to prison, in default of bail, that settlement about three years after. which was at first refused, but at length reVOL. IV.

12

luctantly given. The thanks of the corpo- in fact the abject, senseless tools of a few ration of London were voted to the three factious demagogues. After Mr. Beckford's magistrates; but two of them, the lord- death,Crosby, Sawbridge,Townsend, Wilkes, mayor and alderman Oliver, being members and Oliver succeeded to the ostensible diof the house of commons, incurred its se- rection of all the city proceedings. In the verest censure for such a daring opposition first month of Crosby's mayoralty, another to its authority. Every part of their pro- remonstrance in the usual strain, and the ceedings was voted to be a breach of privi- third of the kind delivered the same year, lege: the lord-mayor's clerk, having attend- was agreed to, chiefly through alderman ed with the minute-book, was obliged to Sawbridge's persuasions. It was little more erase the recognisance of Whittam, the than the renewal of the former complaints messenger; and, after several hearings on and the former requests, accompanied with the subject, the two magistrates, instead of a very humble hint, “ that the good effects concession or apology, resolutely persisting of his majesty's innate goodness had been in the justice of their conduct, they were intercepted by a fatal conspiracy of malevocommitted prisoners to the Tower. Wilkes lent influence round the throne." His mahad also been ordered to appear at the bar jesty, however, told the remonstrants, “that of the house; but in a letter which he ad- he could not comply with the prayer of their dressed to the speaker, he said he could at- petition, as he had no reason to alter the tend only in his place as member for Mid- opinion expressed in his answer to their last dlesex. The house, unwilling to give him addresses on the subject.” The beginning fresh consequence by a renewal of former of Crosby's mayoralty was distinguished by severities, ordered another summons for the another strong proof of disaffection to goveighth of April, and at the same time ap- ernment. Though the manning of the navy, pointed the ninth as the first day of meet- on the eve of an expected rupture with ing after the Easter recess. The lord- Spain, was the first and most important conmayor and Oliver remained in the Tower cern of the state, he refused to back the till the rising of parliament, when their lib-press-warrants issued for that purpose; and eration was celebrated by the tumultuous sought to screen himself from the indignarejoicings of the populace.

tion of all real friends to their country, by Among the bills that received the royal alleging that the ready concurrence of his assent on the last day of the session, there official predecessors in the like measures were two which particularly engaged the did not remove his doubts of the legality of attention of the public. One was a bill for the practice, and that the city-bounty for disfranchising several electors of New Shore- the encouragement of seamen was intended ham in Sussex, and for extending the right to prevent such violences. Alderman Wilkes of voting to the contiguous hundreds. It had just before discharged an impressed appeared in evidence before the select com- man; and this at a time when “ the rotten mittee, appointed under the Grenville act to condition of the navy, the defenceless state try the merits of the late election for this of the British dominions, and the inevitable borough, that a great number of the free- necessity of going to war,” under all these men had formed themselves into a society, disadvantages, were the constant themes of under the name of the Christian Club.' seditious declaimers. The affair of the This Christian club, notwithstanding its printers afforded the lord-mayor a fresh oppious appellation, was no better than a mart portunity of holding himself out as the of venality. A junto was appointed to dis- champion of the city charters. During the pose of the borough to the highest bidder. debates in parliament on his and Oliver's These agents of corruption did not vote conduct, all the avenues to the house were themselves, but gave the necessary orders frequently crowded with turbulent mobs, to the rest of the society; and after the and the lives of several of the ministry were election was decided, the profits were shared endangered. After the commitment of the equally amongst the whole. The spiritual two delinquents to the Tower, writs of haand constitutional tendency of the bill for beas corpus were obtained for them, merely incapacitating all the members of such an to flatter their vanity by triumphal or rather infamous club were highly and deservedly riotous processions to and from Westminster applauded.

hall,—not with any hope of their being disCITY OF LONDON'S THIRD AND FOURTH charged by the judges, as it was well known

REMONSTRANCES TO THE KING. that no court of law could interfere with the Ar that period, the freemen of London constitutional authority of the house of comseemed to have suspended all exercise of mons over its own members. Their release heir own will, as well as of their own rea- from the Tower, at the close of the session, son; and while they flattered themselves was celebrated, as before observed, by acts with the idea of setting an example of pub- of outrage; and at the Midsummer eleclic spirit to the whole kingdom, they were tion of sheriffs, the ductile citizens were

« PreviousContinue »