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Reign of George III. (Continued.)


New East India Bill - Lord North's Tea Bill - Case of the "Gaspee" Schooner - Andrew and Peter Oliver - The Caucus - Franklin's Satirical Tracts - Whately's Letters purloined and carried to America - Their Effect - Franklin dismissed from Office - Proceedings against Horne Tooke - The Tea Riot at Boston - Recall of Governor Hutchinson - The Yankees - Death of Louis XV. - Proceedings in Virginia - Solemn League and Covenant - Proceedings in various parts of America - Declaration of Rights - Address to the People of Canada - Dissolution of Parliament in England - Wilkes Lord Mayor - Interview betwixt Chatham and Franklin - Chatham's Conciliatory Bill rejected - Franklin and Lord Howe - First Blood shed at Lexington - Yankee-Doodle - Blockade of Boston - Surprise of Ticonderoga Fort - The Meeting of Congress at Philadelphia - Arrival of Franklin - Mustering an Army in America - Washington appointed Commander-in-Chief - Battle of Bunker's Hill - Proceedings in Congress- Accession of Georgia - Washington's Camp - State of Feeling in England - Mission of Richard Penn ill received - Duke of Grafton retires from Office - Proceedings in America - Burning of Falmouth - Americans invade Canada - Attack on Quebec - Defeat and Death of the American General, Montgomery.
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The year 1773 opened with an inquiry in parliament into the abuses of the administration of affairs in India. There were great complaints of the wholesale rapacity and oppression perpetrated on the natives by the company's servants. Before the close of the preceding year, a secret committee had been appointed to inquire into these abuses, and to take the matter out of the hands of government, the company proposed to appoint a number of supervisors to go out to India, and settle the causes of complaint. The secret committee proposed a bill to prevent this, as a scheme for merely evading a thorough inquiry and continuing the atrocities. Burke, who was a holder of India stock, defended the company, and declared that such a bill would annihilate the company, and make the house of commons the company itself and the speaker its chairman. He reminded them that the company paid to government four hundred thousand pounds a-year, and that government had connived at the mal-administration which had been carried on. This certainly was, so far from a reason against the bill, a reason why they should connive no longer; and the bill was carried by a large majority.

The company was then compelled to reduce its dividends to six per cent, and apply to parliament for a loan of a million and a half to meet its pecuniary difficulties. This, ministers and parliament complied with, and proceeding to relieve the company of its embarrassments, lord North proposed and carried a measure, by which the company, which had no less than seventeen millions pounds of tea in its warehouses, should, without limit of time, be authorised to export its teas to the British colonies of America duty free. This was thought a great and conciliatory boon to the Americans, but it proved otherwise. The import duty of threepence in the pound was still stubbornly retained, and the Americans, looking at the principle of taxation, and not at a mere temptation of a cheapened article, saw through the snare, and indignantly rejected it. The principal tea merchants declared that this would be the case, and that the whole government scheme was wild and visionary.

Before there was time, however, for the teas, under the new regulation, to reach America, several minor matters occupied parliament. There were loud complaints made to the commons by Alderman Trecothick, of terrible cruelties practised by our troops and the planters on the Caribs, in the island of St. Vincent, and colonel Barre and Thomas Townshend complained as strongly, that our troops there had been subjected to even worse sufferings than they had inflicted on the natives. It appeared that generals Wooten and Trapaud, who should have been commanding the troops there, were, much after the fashion of the times, enjoying themselves in England, whilst their soldiers had been perishing from sickness and neglect. On examining into the circumstances, it appeared that the French, to whom we had restored at the peace of Fontainebleau most of their West India islands, had repaid us by exciting insurrections in St. Vincent's among the Caribs. To put them down, the campaign had cost us four hundred men, but news now came that the natives had laid down their arms and submitted to our rule.

Lord Howe, in February, 1773, brought forward a motion for a trifling increase of the half-pay of the naval officers during peace. The whole amount of it reached only six thousand pounds per annum, and his lordship showed that there had been no advance of pay since 1715, whilst the value of all articles of life was much increased. Reasonable as the demand was, lord North bluntly opposed it, but it was carried by a large majority against him, and he then assented to the motion.

At the same time colonel Barre was most invidiously passed over in brevet promotion.; he had been formally dismissed from the service for his parliamentary conduct, but had been permitted to retain his half-pay and nominal rank, and had been assured by lord Barrington that he should receive brevet promotion in due course. On some young officers now being put over his head, by the advice of Pitt he tendered his entire resignation, which was laconically accepted by the king. As Barre had served with distinction in three quarters of the globe, this conduct of the government gave great disgust to all liberal men, as it showed that the ministry calculated on the implicit support of military or naval officers in parliament, or would punish them for any independence.

The question of the thirty-nine articles was again discussed, and the public was now astonished to find the body of methodists take part with the rigid section of the church, and petition in favour of the maintenance of the articles against the dissenters. The public was not prepared for that display of conservatism which the ministers of the Wesleyan Methodists have always since manifested, and which they have firmly, as an ecclesiastical body, maintained over their own people.

In the city, John Wilkes continued his agitation. He endeavoured to incite the corporation to present an address of congratulation to the king on the birth of a princess, the princess in question being a daughter born to the duke of Gloucester by his wife, whom George and the queen had ignored. Failing in this, he succeeded, however, in procuring an address to be presented complaining of the old grievances of the imprisonment of the lord mayor, the Middlesex elections, and praying for a dissolution of parliament and the dismissal of ministers. The king received the address with unconcealed resentment, and did not allow the city dignitaries the luxury of kissing hands.

Meantime, the storm was rising in the American colonies again, with symptoms of wrath more ominous than ever. Whilst the ministers fondly fancied they had been conciliating, they had been putting the last touch to the work of alienation.

Though there had appeared a lull in American affairs for some time, any one who was observant might have seen that all the old enmities were still working in the colonial mind, and that it would require little irritation to call them forth in even an aggravated form. Lord Hillsborough was no longer governor, but William Legge, lord Dartmouth. He was a man of a high character for upright and candid mind; Richardson said that he would be the perfect ideal of his Sir Charles Grandison, if he were not a methodist; and the poet Cowper, not objecting to his methodism, described him as "one who wears a coronet and prays." But lord Dartmouth, with all his superiority of temper and his piety, could not prevent the then stone-blind cabinet and infatuated king accomplishing the independence of America.

Another favourable circumstance would have been found in the fact - that in Hutchinson, Massachusetts had a native governor, a man of courteous manners and moderate counsels. But even out of Hutchinson's position arose offence. His brothers-in-law, Andrew and Peter Oliver, were appointed lieutenant-governor and chief justice of the province. Lord North thought that the payment of these officers should be in the hands of government, to render them independent of the colonists; but this the colonists resented as an attempt to destroy the charter and establish arbitrary power. The Massachusetts' house of assembly declared on this occasion, in their address to the crown: " We know oi no commissioners of his majesty's customs, nor of any revenue that his majesty has a right to establish in North America." They denounced the declaratory act passed at the suggestion of Chatham, and the attempt to make the governors and judges independent of the people, and the arbitrary instruments of the crown. In Virginia the same spirit was conspicuous.

Whilst these things were fermenting in America, their faithful agent in England - Benjamin Franklin - was labouring in the same spirit. He published two articles in the " Public Advertiser" - the vehicle of Junius. One was styled "An Edict of the King of Prussia," calling on the English, as a Teutonic colony, to contribute to the Prussian revenue. The other was entitled " Rules for reducing a great Empire to a small one." It compared a great empire to a great cake, which was most easily diminished at the edges; and it recommended England to get rid of her remotest provinces, to make way for the rest following. But these were innocent squibs compared with the bombshell which Franklin now threw into the excited state of Massachusetts.

During the years 1767, 1768, and 1769, Mr. Thomas Whately - at one time private secretary to Grenville, and several years under-secretary of state to lord Suffolk, but during these years out of office, and simply member of parliament - had maintained a private correspondence with governor Hutchinson, and his brother-in-law, Andrew Oliver, the lieutenant-governor. In these letters Hutchinson and Oliver had freely expressed to their old friend their views of the state of things in the colony; and, of course, said many things never intended to come to the public eye, or to operate officially. On the death of Whately, in 1772, some villain purloined these letters and conveyed them to Franklin. Who this dishonest firebrand was, was never discovered. Franklin pledged himself to secrecy, both as to the letters and as to the name of the person who so basely obtained them. The name of this person he faithfully kept; but the contents of the letters were too well calculated to create an irreconcilable rancour in the minds of "the Americans, for him to resist the pleasure of communicating them to the Massachusetts assembly. He accordingly forwarded them to Mr. Curling, the speaker of the assembly.

The whole mode of coming into possession of these papers has something in it revolting to all honourable minds. Franklin, aware of this, insisted that they should not be printed nor made public, but only circulated amongst a select few. But the same motives which had induced Franklin to break his pledged secrecy, operated on the assembly. They determined to make them public, and therefore pretended that other copies of them had reached them from England, and that they were thus absolved from all conditions of secrecy. This was totally false. The story was invented for the occasion, and the letters, without the name of Whately, to whom they had been addressed, were published by the assembly. It was left to be inferred by the public, that they had been sent officially to England by the governor and lieutenant-governor, and the assembly voted the writing of them ample evidence of a fixed design on the part of the English government to destroy the constitution and establish arbitrary power. A petition was dispatched to be presented by Franklin to the king, calling for the removal of Hutchinson and Oliver from their posts.

When these letters were read under these false impressions, sentiments were found in them which assumed a wholly exaggerated character, and the flame produced was, as Franklin and the assembly intended, of the most furious kind. In one of them, Hutchinson said, u I doubt whether it is possible to project a system of government, in which a colony, three thousand miles from the parent state, shall enjoy all the liberty of the parent state. I wish the good of the colony when I wish to see some further restraint on liberty, rather than that the connection with the parent state should be broken." Such sentiments, addressed in strict confidence to a private friend, were innocent enough, but read as addressed by their governor to the English cabinet, they appeared most mischievous. Yet there were plenty of evidences in them to have convinced any calm readers - which the people of Massachusetts were not - that they were only private confidential observations.

Oliver, in one, remarked - " If I have written with freedom, I consider I am writing to a friend, and that I am perfectly safe in opening myself to you."

The whole of this transaction right-minded Americans would wish to blot from their annals, but they answered the purpose of Franklin, which, it is clear, was now to sever the union betwixt the mother country and colonies at any cost, even of those of honour and upright principle.

When these letters were published in America, their real character concealed, and every means taken to represent them as official dispatches to the officers of government in England, the public rage was uncontrollable. A committee was formed to wait on governor Hutchinson, and demand whether he owned the handwriting. Hutchinson freely owned to that, but contended very justly that the letters were of a thoroughly private character, and to an unofficial person. Notwithstanding, the House of Assembly drew up a strong remonstrance to the English government, charging the governor and lieutenant-governor with giving false and malicious information respecting the colony, and demanding their dismissal.

This remonstrance, accompanied by copies of the letters themselves, was immediately dispatched over all the colonies, and everywhere produced, as was intended, the most violent inflammation of the public mind against England, The Bostonians had for some time established what was called a corresponding committee, whose business it was to prepare and circulate through the whole of the colonies papers calculated to keep alive the indignation against the English government. This committee quickly was responded to by other committees in different places, and soon the plan became an organisation extending to every part of the colonies, even the most remote, by which intelligence and arguments were circulated through all America with wonderful celerity. From this sprang one general tone of feeling, and that tone, it is not to be denied, was essentially revolutionary. Not a man who adhered to the mother country could travel anywhere but his presence was announced from these committees; he was marked, and he was often insulted.

That the spirit of the Bostonians had ripened into actual rebellion was unequivocally shown in the course of the last year. The Gaspee government schooner, commanded by lieutenant Dudingston, had been singularly active in putting down smuggling about Rhode Island. The Rhode Island packet coming in one evening from Newport to Providence, instigated by the general anger against the Gaspee - for the Rhode Islanders were great smugglers - refused to pay the usual compliment of lowering the flag to the schooner.

Dudingston fired a shot across her bows, and, on her paying no regard to that, gave chase. The packet, however, ran close in shore, and the Gaspee following too eagerly, ran aground. It was on a sandy bottom, and the return of the tide would have lifted her off undamaged; but the smuggling population of Providence put off to her in the night, whilst she lay in a position so as to be incapable of using her guns, surprised, boarded, and set fire to her, carrying the lieutenant and the crew triumphantly on shore. Government offered a reward of five hundred pounds for the discovery of the perpetrators of this daring outrage; but though it was well known who the perpetrators were, including a merchant, named John Brown, and a captain Whipple, no one would give any information. On the contrary, the most violent threats were uttered against any one who should. It was clear that things had come to such a pass, that an able government would have attempted no further legislation in these colonies till it had well reinforced its military strength there. This, the most important of all measures, under the circumstances, never appeared to occur to the English king or ministry; and this country, which had forced such hundreds of thousands of men into the Netherland and German wars, neglected most insanely to transport to this scene of insubordination a military power amply capable of supporting its authority.

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.)

Boston Boys
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John Adams
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North American forest scene
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The skirmish at Lexington
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George Washington and his mother
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Flag of the Colonists
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Plan of the battle of Bunkers Hill
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A Canadian Indian
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View on the river St. Lawrence
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Near Quebec
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The cauldron rapids, near Ottawa
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Waterfall of Montmorency
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First house erected at Quebec
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