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1774. DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT IN ENGLAND. 19
cedent afterwards followed both by other Colonies and by the Congress, and at a later period by the Comites Du Salut Public in France.* Above all they drew up a plan for their defence; they provided ammunition and stores for twelve thousand Militia; they appointed as chiefs Artemas Ward and Jedediah Preble, who had seen some service in the late Canadian war; and they enrolled a great number of selected Militia or Minute-men, So called from their engagement which was to appear in arms at a minute's warning. — To guard against such projects a Royal Proclamation was issued in England forbidding the export of arms and ammunition to the Colonies. The news of that Proclamation added fuel to the flame. Several riots ensued, which, though not serious, were significant. In Rhode Island the people seized a train of artillery belonging ito !the Crown. In New Hampshire they surprised a small fort, named William and Mary, garrisoned only by an officer and five men.
While thus each packet-ship which in succession reached England from America brought gloomier and gloomier tidings to the friends of peace, the English people were involved in the turmoil and conflict of a General Election. The Parliament now approaching its Septennial period was dissolved by Proclamation on the 30th of September Several seats continued to be bought and sold; thus earlier in the year the estate of Gatton comprising the nomination of two Members for that borough had been disposed of for 75,0001.** But upon the whole we hear much less of venality at this General Election than in the preceding one. In most of the populous places where the public feeling could be shown it was shown clearly and beyond dispute on the side of Ministers. Thus in Westminster Burke who desired to stand couldmeetwith no encouragement.*** Two gentlemen
* On the appointment and powers of this first "Committee of 8afety" see the American Archives, vol. i. p. 843.
Annual Register, 1774, p. 81. I have heard it said that in 1830 the late Lord Monson paid 180,0002. for the same estate.
i *** Observe his angry expressions in writing to Lord Rockingham; (Correspondence, vol. i. p. 471—477.) The rumour which he heard through who did stand — Lord Mahon as the kinsman of Chatham, and Humphrey Cotes as the friend of Wilkes — were utterly defeated by the Court candidates, Lord Thomas Clinton and Lord Percy. The common sentiment was that the Government during the last few years had been justly provoked by the misconduct of Massachusetts and the other New England provinces, — that conciliation had been tried and had failed,—that at all hazards the refractory and rebellious . spirit of that country must be quelled. Such at this period were the feelings of the people; such also were the feelings of the King. In such feelings, as in the contrary feelings of America, there was no doubt a foundation of truth. But unhappily the two nations on the opposite shores of the Atlantic, like the two Knights in the old legend, would look only to the colour on their own side of the shield.
The result of these Elections therefore was not only to confirm but to increase the general majority of Ministers. Not of course that their opponents were everywhere alike defeated. At Bristol after a severe contest Burke was triumphantly returned. In Middlesex no competitor ventured even to appear against Wilkes and Glynn. In London the City men were keen as ever on the side of Opposition. Already a year before had they shown their tende.ncy by selecting for their Sheriffs two natives of America, Sayre and William Lee.* They now chose for their Members four thorough-going adversaries to Lord North; and further still, at this same period nominated Wilkes as their Lord Mayor.
Thus at length had Wilkes attained two high objects of ambition. In November he was installed as Lord Mayor of London. In November also he was permitted to take his
Dr. Morris thnt "a Spanish nobleman has left Lord Mahon 50,0007." was a mere (may I not add an Electioneering?) fable.
* In 1775 Stephen Sayre was committed to the Tower on a charge of Hifrh Treason. He had many other adventures, some at Berlin and St. Petersburg; (see the Malnicsbury Papers, vol. i. p. 328.) returned to America, where he became on active opponent of General Washington's ad^ ministration; and survived till 1820. Note to the Reed Correspondence, vol. i. p. 27.
1774. WILKES INSTALLED AS LORD MAYOR. 21
seat as Member for Middlesex. The Government had wisely determined to consider his alleged disqualification as terminated by the Dissolution, and they interposed no further obstacle in the way of his admission. But as the ablest politicians had all along predicted, the moment his persecution ceased so did also his importance. When quietly allowed to be a Lord Mayor and a County Member he became — nobody. Having neither talent in his speeches nor yet weight in his character he quickly dwindled to an insignificant and for the most part a silent vote. Some time afterwards the office of City Chamberlain becoming vacant, the people of London remembered their ancient favourite; and that lucrative and easy post was held by him until his death in 1797.— Fortune, however, had yet in store for Wilkes one further triumph. In 1782 he moved in the House of Commons, as he had often done before, that all the Resolutions relative to his expulsion should be expunged from the Journals, and (thus variable is the temper of popular assemblies) the expunging was then carried by as large a majority as the expulsion had once been! Subsequently, as a Member of Parliament, Wilkes became an habitual supporter of Mr. Pitt's administration. Sometimes he appeared at the King's Levee and found himself graciously received. On one of these occasions the King addressed to him an inquiry respecting his friend Serjeant Glynn. "Pray, Sir," answered Wilkes, "do not call Serjeant Glynn my friend; "he was a Wilkite , which I can assure Your Majesty I never "was!"
The newly elected Parliament met on the 29th of November. Amendments to the Address , claiming the fullest information on American affairs, were moved in the Peers by the Duke of Richmond, in the Commons by Lord John .Cavendish. They could muster only thirteen votes in the Upper House; in the Lower only seventy-three; a decisive proof of the weakness of Opposition at that period. The essential business was postponed until after the Christmas holidays. Then it was that Lord Chatham emerged from his Tetirement. Tor some time past he had seen in the clearest light the urgent necessity of reconciliation with America. Not indeed that he could be blind to the manifold grounds of provocation which Massachusetts had afforded. But he felt that provocation could no longer be treated as such when it came from one united province, and when it was supported by eleven provinces more. He felt, as Burke at the same period truly and finely said, that he did not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people.* There remained then only the hope, perhaps too sanguine, yet such as full success had crowned in the case of the Highland regiments, to disarm inveterate hostility by generous confidence. With these views Chatham appeared in the House of Lords on the 20th of January, without any previous notice of his precise object, having only in general terms announced a motion on American affairs. The Bar was crowded with Americans, amongst others, by Chatham's own invitation, Dr. Franklin. The other hearers comprised young William Pitt, who writing to his mother next morning gives an animated account of the debate. "No wonder," says he, "my father is lame from standing so long; his first "speech lasted above an hour, and the second half an "hour, — surely the two finest speeches that ever were made
"before, unless by himself. The matter and manner
"both were striking; far beyond what I can express."** Chatham moved an Address to the King praying that in order to open a way towards allaying the ferments and softening the animosities in America His Majesty would send orders to General Gage to remove his troops as soon as possible from the town of Boston. "Laying of papers on "yourtable," he cried, "or counting numbers in a division, "will not avert or postpone the hour of danger; it must
* Works, vol. tii. p. 69. ed. 1815. ** Chatham Papers, vol. iv. p. 377. A good report (good at least for that day) of these celebrated speeches was taken by Hugh Boyd and first published in 1779. It was on this occasion that Dr. Franklin used the remarkable expressions of praise which I have elsewhere cited• (vol. lii, p. 20. sec. ed.)
1775. CHATHAM MOVES AN ADDRESS TO THE KING. 23
"arrive, my Lords, unless these fatal Acts of last Session
"are done away; it must arrive in all its horrors But it
"is not merely repealing these Acts of Parliament, it is not "cancelling a piece of parchment, that can win back America "to our bosom; you must repeal her fears and her resent"ments, and you may then hope for her love and gratitude. "But now, insulted with an armed force at Boston; irritated "with an hostile array before her eyes; her concessions, "even if you could force them, would be suspicious and in"secure But it is more than evident that you cannot
"force them, united as they are, to your unworthy terms "of submission. It is impossible; and when I hear General "Gage censured for inactivity, I must retort with indigna"tion on those whose headlong measures and improvident "councils have betrayed him into his present situation. His "situation reminds me, my Lords, of the answer of a French "General in the civil wars of France, — Monsieur de Conde* "opposed to Monsieur de Turenne. He was asked how it "happened that he did not take his adversary prisoner as he "was often very near him. 'Because,' — replied Conde1 very "honestly, — 'because I am afraid he might take me!' - "When your Lordships look at the papers transmitted us "from America, when you consider their decency, firmness, "and wisdom, you cannot but respect their cause, and wish "to make it your own. For myself I must declare and avow "that in all my reading of history, — and it has been my "favourite study; I have read Thucydides and have ad"mired the master-states of the world, — no nation or body "of men can stand in preference to the General Congress at "Philadelphia. All attempts to impose servitude on such "men, to establish despotism over such a mighty Continent, i'must be vain, must be fatal. We shall be forced ulti"mately to retract; let us retract while we can, not when we "must. I say we must necessarily undo these violent op"pressive Acts; they must be repealed; you will repeal "them; I pledge myself for it that you will in the end repeal f them. I stake my reputation on it. I will consent to be