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FROM THE FIRST ÍNVASION OF THE ROMANS
TO THE YEAR 1763.
LATE MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE IN FRANCE UNDER THE
REIGN OF LOUIS XVI.
Non criticorum more, in laude et censura tempus teratur,
BACO. DE AUGM. Lib. II. c. 4.
VOLUME IV. @
AND W. MILLER, ALBEMARLE-STREET ;
OF THE AUTHOR, 38, BREWER-STREET,
WILLIAM III. continued.
QUEEN MARY's death did not interrupt the course of parliamentary business. The Lancashire plot, which in the preceding summer had been laid before the commons, was revived early in the present session. One Lunt, a man of a suspicious character, who had once been a day-labourer at Highgate, had given information, June 15th, that he had delivered commissions from king James to several gentlemen in Lancashire and Cheshire; that at their expense he had bought arms, enlisted men, and gone twice over to France to receive the late king's commands concerning the intended insurrection ; and that one Wilson, who had assisted him in delivering the commissions, was privy to the circumstances of the plot. The supposed conspirators were seized and sent to Manchester to take their trials on the evidence of Lunt and Wilson. Lunt being ordered VOL. IV.
thance fabricated bebed all, the prisone so loud in the to
in court to point at the several prisoners, made some mistake, which created a violent suspicion of perjury; and at the instant one Taffe declared publicly that the whole was nothing but a villanous contrivance fabricated between himself and Lunt. The king's council stopped all, the prisoners were acquitted, and the popular clamour became so loud in their favour, that the ministers found it necessary to commit the witnesses to prison, and order them to be prosecuted.
At the opening of the session, the Lancashire gentlemen were induced to lay before the parliament their grievances' respecting this affair ; but the issue of their complaint did not answer their expectations. The commons voted that there had been sufficient grounds for the prosecution and trial of the conspirators at Manchester, and that a dangerous plot had been carried on against the king and government. The witnesses were, however, tried and found guilty of perjury at the Lancaster assizes. They were afterwards indicted for a conspiracy against the lives and estates of the accused gentlemen, but the prosecution was dropped, and Lunt and Wilson were discharged.
The most remarkable business in this session was the discovery of flagrant abuses, acts of corruption, bribery, and venality which had crept into the army, the city, the East-India company, and even into the court and the parliament; agents of regi. ments neglecting to pay the subsistence money they had received from the officers and soldiers, and exacting it in their quarters from the inhabitants on pain of military execution ; a member of the house, secretary to the treasury, receiving a bribe to obtain the king's bounty, and employed, together with the speaker Trevor, as the court agent for securing a majority in the house of commons, were the first offences discovered by the enquiry which
took place on this occasion. The attempts, at first. unsuccessful, of the city of London to carry the orphans' bill into a law, and the facility with which it had been lately passed, created suspicions of corrupt practices respecting it. A comiittee was appointed to inspect the chamberlain's books, and several sums of money appeared to have been expended in gaining votes in parliament. The corruption was traced to the speaker, who had received 1000 guineas, and to Mr. Hungerford, chairman of the grand committee; both were expelled from the house.
One discovery paving the way for another, the committee for inspecting the East-India company's books, found that in the year 1693, when the charter was obtained, the sums granted for secret services amounted to 170,0001. and it was generally believed that a great part of it had been distributed among the members of the house of commons. Sir Thomas Cooke, the governor of the company, being examined respecting the distribution of that sum, refused in the house of commons to give any account of it ; but being brought to the bar of the upper house according to his petition, he declared that he was ready to make a full discovery, in case he might be favoured with an indemnifying vote to secure him against all prosecutions, which being granted, he declared, that whereas both king Charles and king James had obliged the company to make them a yearly present of 10,0001. ; the present king had received it but once, and had re: fused a present of 50,000l. offered to him by the company if he would grant them a new charter; but strong presumptions might be deduced from his account, that the marquis of Caermarthen, now duke of Leeds, had received on this occasion a present of 5000 guineas, and sent them back to sir Thomas Cooke the morning before he was to make