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Reign of George III. (Continued) page 13

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On the 15th of April, notwithstanding Luttrell's signal defeat, the house of commons, on the motion of Onslow, son of the late speaker, voted, after a violent debate by a majority of fifty-four, that "Henry Lawes Luttrell, Esq., ought to have been returned for Middlesex." The debate was very obstinate. The whole of the Grenville interest, including lord Temple, was employed against government, and the decision was not made till three o'clock on Sunday morning. Doctor, afterwards judge Blackstone, the author of the celebrated "Commentaries on the Laws of England," at this time solicitor-general, supported the government in destroying the very rights he had maintained in his book! Grenville retorted this upon him, but Junius humbled him more severely. He said, in his fourteenth letter, "We have now the good fortune to understand the doctor's principles as well as writings. For the defence of truth, of law, and reason the doctor's book may be safely consulted; but whoever wishes to cheat a neighbour of his estate, or rob a country of its right, need make no scruple of consulting the doctor himself."

The government might justify this decision on the ground of Wilkes's incapacity to serve during that parliament, but the country saw with alarm that it was establishing a precedent for annulling the most precious defences of the constitution by a mere resolution of the commons. For this reason the words of Mr. Henry Cavendish, the ancestor of the present lord Waterpark, which he used in the debate, were received with enthusiasm out of doors as "Mr. Cavendish's Creed:" - "I do, from my soul, detest and abjure, as unconstitutional and illegal, that damnable doctrine and position, that a resolution of the house of commons can make, alter, suspend, abrogate, or annihilate the law of the land."

To such a pitch of folly and despotism had the Grafton ministry been driven by the events of the session of 1769, by their conduct towards the Americans and Wilkes. The Rockinghams and Grenvilles were combined against the Grafton cabinet, and thus acquiring popularity at its expense. Lord Camden, though still retaining his place, utterly disapproved of their proceedings. The people everywhere held meetings to express their total loss of confidence in both the ministers and parliament, and to pray the king to dissolve the latter. In the autumn, the action of Wilkes against lord Halifax, for the seizure of his papers, was tried, and the jury gave him four thousand pounds damages.

But, gloomy as were the aspect of affairs at home, they were far more so in America. There, the insane conduct of the government had gone on exasperating and alienating the colonists. True, the cabinet, on the close of parliament, held a meeting to consider what should be done regarding America. Grafton proposed to repeal the obnoxious duties at the commencement of the next session, but he was overruled on the motion of lord North, and it was agreed to repeal all but the tea-duties. Within a few days after the close of the session, therefore, lord Hillsborough wrote this news in a circular to the governors of the American colonies. As was certain, the partial concession produced no effect, the principle being still retained in the continued tea- duty. Moreover, Hillsborough's circular was composed in such harsh and uncourteous terms, that it rather augmented than assuaged the excitement. In the month of May the new Virginian assembly passed strong resolutions against the right of taxation without representation, and sent copies of them to the other colonial assemblies. It also petitioned the king against the employment of the act of Henry VIII. against the colonists. Amongst the leaders on this occasion, we find first the name of Thomas Jefferson, combined with those of Peyton Randolph, Patrick Henry, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, and others, who became the great actors in the revolution. Maryland and South Carolina followed the example. Georgia and Rhode Island were censured for not standing firm for the general rights, trade was prohibited with them, and they and North Carolina soon joined the association. Such merchants as continued to sell British goods were assailed by the mob, and their property and lives threatened. In the cause of liberty the colonists did not hesitate to practise the most unmitigated compulsion.

In Massachusetts the colonists were more exasperated against governor Barnard, on account of his letters reflecting on the Bostonians in the matter of the late riots, these letters having been laid before parliament, and copies of them by some means procured and sent on by their agents. They declared that it was beneath their dignity to deliberate in the midst of an armed force, and requested Barnard to withdraw the troops, but he refused; and they, on their part, declined to vote supplies, on which he adjourned them to Cambridge. There, however, as Cambridge was only separated from Boston by an arm of the sea, they continued to protest against an armed force, as an invasion of the national rights of the colonists, and highly dangerous. Barnard soon announced to them his intention to sail for England, to lay the state of the colony before the king, and the house immediately voted a petition to his majesty, praying him to keep him from coming back again. Barnard then called upon them to refund the money expended for the quartering of the troops; but that they pronounced quite as unreasonable as the stamp act, and finding them utterly intractable, Barnard prorogued the assembly, and quitted the colony, leaving the administration in the hands of lieutenant-governor Hutchinson. Scarcely had he departed, when the grand jury of Suffolk county found indictments against him for libel, in slandering the representatives to the king's ministers. Before he was actually gone, a violent scuffle betwixt Robinson, one of the commissioners, and James Otis, the patriot, took place in a coffee-house; numbers of others rushed to take part in it, and nothing but the absence of soldiers from the scene could have prevented bloodshed. The Bostonians had commenced the practice of tarring and feathering informers, of any who attempted to assist government, and the condition of the colony was everything but actual warfare.

Yet, in that blind and defiant policy, which he continued to show till he had lost the colonies, George created Barnard a baronet on his reaching home, for having, in effect, brought Massachusetts to the verge of rebellion; and, to show his emphatic sense of these services, he paid himself all the expenses of the patent.

Before closing the session, a new bargain was made with the East India Company, on still more advantageous terms to the company. They were still to pay four hundred thousand pounds a-year to government, if their dividends continued more than six per cent.; but if they fell to that sum, the payment was to cease altogether - a premium, in fact, on bad management. The company was allowed to raise its dividends, if it saw fit, to twelve and a half per cent., but only at the rate of one per cent, per annum; and they were bound to take out a certain quantity of manufacturing goods. Scarcely was this bargain concluded, when news from India arrived which made the extinction of the annual payment very probable. The successes of Hyder Ali threatened the very existence of our power in India; but as the narrative of our great American conflict will be for some time the all-engrossing topic, we shall defer the events of India till the termination of that period.

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