Page images
[ocr errors]

all the people, except a few pensioners or some of the clergy, were agains the measures of government.

There was a strange indifference and want of feeling prevailed at this time among all ranks of people, with regard to public affairs, through all the country; of which there was a strong proof given which will readily recur to every body's memory, that the accounts of many of the late military transactions, as well as political proceedings of very great importance, were received with as much indifference, and canvasfed with as much coolness and unconcern, as if they had happened to two nations with which they were no ways connected. We must, from these observa . tions, except the people of Scotland, who almost universally, so far as they could be described or distinguished under any particular denomination, not only applauded, but offered their lives and fortunes in support of the present measures. The same approbation was also given, and assurances made, tho' with less earnestness and unanimity, by a great number of towns in England. One thing which may be considered as a political barometer with respect to the sentiments of the lower ranks of people in cases of thař nature, was at this time exceedingly low, namely, the recruiting service.

This went on flowly, and very few either in England or Ireland were fond of either the land or sea service, though great encouragement was given, and no means was left untried for making extraordinary levies. In the midst of all these po. Àitical commotions, the city of London made a capital figure in opposition to the ministry and the meafures which they were now pursuing. A petition and remonstrahce was agreed upon by the livery of that city, which strongly reprobated the measures that were

[ocr errors]

going on, but as the King would not receive it upon his throne, it was not presented.

Some short time before these transactions of the city of London which related to the petition and remonstrance, a letter was received from the committee of New York, addressed to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and common-council, together with a copy of their association, a recital of most of those grievances and complaints which we have often taken notice of in this history. In this paper they rejected and censured severely Lord North's conciliatory propositions. They declared that the colony was willing and ready according to the antient constitution, and upon equi. table emergencies, to contribute to the support of the empire ; but also declared, that as Englishmen, they would do it of their voluntary gift, and not by arbitrary compulsion. They testified their fidelity and inviolable loyalty, with their affection to their country; they stated the great danger of further provoca. rion with respect to the colonies, declaring the unanimity of their citizens in defending their rights at all risques, and they signified their confidence and trust in the vigorous exertions of the city of London towards restoring union, mutual confidence, and peace to the whole empire. All these proceedings marked the spirit and temper of the people both at home and in the colonies, but the ministry being bent upon their own schemes, remained callous to all notices, advice, petitions, remonstrances, and exhortations. It appears that this was to them and their party the hour and power of darkness.

The officers in the army were not altogether fond of the American war; some persons of the first rank who had commissions, resigned and refused to serve


[ocr errors]

any longer in a service so unnatural in itself and ruinous to the British empire. Among these the Earl of Effingham made the first figure. This nobleman whose military genius had led him, when a youth, into the army, and since prompted him to ripen theory with practice, wherever real service was to be found, by acting as a volunteer in the war between the Turks and Russians, had since his return, as a peer in parliament, uniformly opposed the whole system of measures pursued against the Americans, and finding that it was inconsistent with his character, and unbecoming his dignity to inforce the measures with his sword, which he had utterly condemned as a legillator. He accordingly, after declaring his readiness to serve his King and country against their ene. mies, resigned his commiffion.

The Earl of Effingham's resignation, or rather the cause from which it proceeded, gave great offen ce, and his request of retaining his rank in the army was not complied with. Several officers had not shewn that willingness in going upon this service that they would have shewn upon any other occasion. A few who could not overcome their repugnance to it, now quitted and gave up. But the majority thought, that where the superior power of King and parliament had decided, it was no part of their military duty to enquire into the justice and policy of the quarrel, The conduct of Lord Eflingham rendered him extremely popular among those who held similar opinions with regard to American measures, and who composed a numerous body in England and Ireland. This soon appeared in the city of London, where among the resolutions passed in the common hall on


[ocr errors]

Midsummer day, and which were afterwards presented to the King, pablic thanks were ordered to be given to the Right Honourable the Earl of Effingham, who having consistently with the principles of an Englilhman, refused to draw the sword which has been employed to the honour of his conntry, against the lives and liberties of his fellow-subjects in America. And soon after an address of thanks, but still in stronger terms, was presented to him from the guild of merchants in Dublin.

This last body, who in Dublin form a corporation, presented also an address of thanks to the several peers, who, as they observe, in support of the constitution and in oppofition to a weak and wicked administration, protested against the American restraining bills. This address to the protesting Lords, to which was affixed the corporation seal, was sent to each fe. parately, and a separațe answer given, all of which were published at that time. The sheriffs and com. mons of the city of Dublin had for some time endea, voured to obtain the concurrence of the Lord May, or and board of aldermen, in a petition to the throne against the measures pursued with respect to the colo, nies, but were answered by the latter upon their first application that the matter was of the highest importance, and therefore inexpedient. Upon a subfequent occasion however they seem to have concura red in the measure, as a committee of fix aldermen, with as many commoners, and the recorder, were appointed to draw up a petition and address. talk being at last accomplished, was arrested in its progress by a negative from the mayor and aldermen. This occafonal dispute between the the


riffs and commons, and the mayor and court of ele dermen, which was carried on with great warmth, and ended in some serious resolutions and declarations.

The impossibility, of purchasing and providing for negroes, which the present dispute had occafioned in our West India islands, together with the loss of the American markets for slaves, and the impediment caused by the proclamations of council against the exportation of arms and ammunition, had, altogether, nearly extinguished our American trade. This loss was more particularly felt by the port of Liverpool, which had possessed a much greater part of that commerce, than any other in the kingdom. When the Guinea fhips arrived, they were laid up, in an uncertainty of their future disposition, while their crews looked in yain for other employment. All the branches of commerce were also flackened in a great degree, and the crews of the Greenland ships upon their return in July and in the beginning of August, were according to custom discharged, the number of seamen out of employment in that town became great, and according to some calculations amounted to near 3000.

In this situation the seamen complained that an attempt was made by the merchants to lower their wages, in consequence of which a'violent commotion was raised among them, in which they cut the rigging of some ships to pieces, assaulted some houses, and committed other acts of violence. They at last dispersed, and all became quiet. But they seizing a number of them, and sending them to prison, rekindled the flame with greater violence, so that nothing could have been expected but the destructiou of that flou., risting town. · The failors immediately assembled, procured not only fire arins, but cannon, and were pro


« PreviousContinue »