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“ kingdom." Thus the question came on incidentally ; and, when once raised, was keenly discussed. Certainly the cause of liberty in Ireland was promoted, in after years, by the stand successfully made on this occasion ; but, as it appears to me, there is no evidence to show that this cause was either the original, or at any time the principal, motive with the opponents of Wood.
The sequel is, however, highly honourable to the warm-hearted and generous Irish. Believing, however erroneously, that Swift had delivered them from a great public danger, their gratitude to him knew no bounds, nor ended even with his powers of mind. “The sun of “his popularity,” says a great poet, “ remained unclouded, “ even after he was incapable of distinguishing its radi« ance.”
.”* The Drapier's Head became a favourite sign ; his portrait, we are told, was engraved, woven upon handkerchiefs, and struck upon medals (not of copper I presume). His health was quaffed at every banquet, his presence every where welcomed with blessings by the people. They bore with all the infirmities of genius, all the peevishness of age. In vain did he show contempt and aversion to those who thus revered him : in vain did he deny them even the honour of his birth-place, frequently saying, "I was not dropped in this vile country, “ but in England." In vain did he sneer at the “savage “ Old Irish." No insult on his part could weaken their generous attachment. Even at this day, as I am assured, this grateful feeling still survives ; and all parties in Ireland, however estranged on other questions, agree in one common veneration for the memory of SWIFT.
Scarcely were the disturbances in Ireland appeased, before others broke out among the Scots. I have elsewhere mentioned the great unwillingness of that nation to bear their proportion of the Malt Tax, and the violent motion to which they had recourse in 1713. Since that time they had contrived, under various pretences, to evade payment of the duty, to the great envy and indignation of the English country gentlemen; until, in 1724, the subject was brought before the House of Commons by Mr. Brodrick, who proposed that, instead of the duty on
* Sir Walter Scott's Life of Swift, p. 304.
Malt in Scotland, there should be paid a duty of sixpence on every barrel of ale.* Walpole was by no means inclined to stir this agitating question ; but finding the sense of the House against him, he acquiesced, taking care, however, to reduce the duty to three-pence, or one half of what Brodrick proposed. The money, it is said, was wanted partly to defray an allowance of ten guineas weekly, which Walpole used to give to every Scottish member during the Session, in order, as was alleged, to support the charge of their residence in London. These Scottish members were now told by Walpole, when they waited upon him, that they must find or acquiesce in some mode to make up this expense from the Scottish revenue ; or else, as he expressed it, they must in future “tie up “ their stockings with their own garters !” |
But though the Scottish members might have excellent reasons for yielding to this impost, the Scottish people unhappily had none; and its result was a general irritation throughout the country, and a serious riot at Glasgow. The mob assembled in large numbers, shouting “ Down with Walpole,” and “Up with Seaforth !” they broke open and plundered the house of Mr. Campbell, of Shawfield, member for the City #; and his cellar being unfortunately well-stocked, added fresh incitement to their fury. Two companies of foot, under Captain Bushell, had been sent from Edinburgh at the first apprehension of a tumult; these were now surrounded by the mob, and fiercely assailed with stones and other missiles, until the soldiers, being compelled in self-defence to fire, killed nine persons, and wounded many more. Nevertheless, the mob seemed exasperated rather than dismayed; and Captain Bushell was compelled to retire to Dumbarton Castle, still pursued, and pelted by the rabble during a part of the way.
Commons' Journals, vol. xx. pp. 359. 374. † Lockhart's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 141., and Sir Walter Scott's 'Tales of a Grandfather, third series, vol. ii. p. 150.
† “ Had Mr. Campbell himself been in town,” says Lockhart, " they had certainly Dewitted him.” (Mem. vol. ii. p. 162.) He coins this new term from the savage murder of the two De Witts by the mob in Holland. Thank God! we have no such English word.
Under these circumstances, the Commander-in-Chief for Scotland, General Wade, seeing the necessity of prompt measures, marched to Glasgow with so large a force as to disarm all opposition. Not content with seizing some of the rioters, he apprehended the chief magistrates, and sent them prisoners to Edinburgh, under the charge, certainly well-founded, of either timidly or treacherously conniving at the riots. But, being brought before the Lords Justiciary, they were declared innocent, and set at liberty*; and this acquittal, being considered a victory over the Government, revived the zeal of the people. A combination was formed amongst the brewers at Edinburgh, engaging not to give security for the new duty, nor to brew if the duty were demanded.
The Duke of Roxburgh was at this time Secretary of State for Scotland; he had been attached to Carteret, and was accused by Walpole of fomenting these disturbances.f Whether this was really the case, or whether Walpole merely seized the opportunity to acquire a more supple colleague, the Minister now obtained not merely the dismissal of Roxburgh, but the abolition of the office of Secretary for Scotland. Henceforth he centred the power of that department in his own hands; deputing, however, no small share of it to his devoted follower the Earl of Isla. It was Isla who, on the fall of Roxburgh, was despatched to Edinburgh with the view of allaying the storm : he came armed with full powers from Government, and with no small prudence of his own. So firm, yet so skilful were his measures, that the threatening combination of brewers was speedily dissolved. They at first attempted to make terms; but being told that none would be accepted but an immediate return to their duty, “ various opinions” (I quote the words of Walpole)" began “ to arise among themselves in their assembly, and at last they unanimously agreed to be determined by a ques
- Brew or not. Which, being put by the chairman, he began to take their votes, SERIATIM, at the right hand; but his right-hand man thought it a hardship upon
him to be obliged to speak first, his left-hand * Culloden Papers, pp. 86–98. † Walpole to Townshend, August 17. 1725.
66 tion :
“man thought so too, and they could get nobody to give “ his vote first. At last, one Gray declared he thought “ they had nothing now left to do, but to return to their “ trades; that he would not be bound by the majority, “ but began the vote, and voted BREW! He was imme
diately followed by another, upon which two warm ones “ hoped they would hold out till their brethren were set " at liberty; but those not being supported, the assembly “ broke up, and such of them as had their things in “ readiness fell to brewing that night ; and next day, at
noon, above forty brewhouses were hard at work in Edinburgh, and ten more at Leith.”* It is probable that the argument which had most weight with the brewers, was that, after all, the ultimate loss must fall not on them but on the public. This happy termination is mentioned by Walpole, with much satisfaction and high praises of Lord Isla: he adds, “I think we have once
more got Ireland and Scotland quiet, if we take care to “ keep them so."
The Session of Parliament, which began in November, 1724, was distinguished by three important transactions
the impeachment of the Lord Chancellor, — the partial restoration of Lord Bolingbroke, and the first public breach between Walpole and Pulteney.
Enormous abuses had crept into the Court of Chancery: the offices of Masters were set up to sale; and the buyers, in consequence, attempted to turn them to their own advantage. The price of these offices having latterly been augmented, the extortions of the holders grew in the same proportion. The suitors' money, the estates of widows and orphans, became a source of private peculation; and the public voice was loud against the Chancellor, Parker, Earl of Macclesfield. In January, he resigned the Great Seal, but did not thereby escape the national resentment. His impeachment was moved in the House of Commons by Sir George Oxenden; his trial took place at the Bar of the House of Lords, and continued twenty days. He was unanimously found Guilty, and sentenced to a fine of 30,0001. ; a motion to disable him from sitting in Parliament, or holding any future office,
* To Lord Townshend, Sept. 3. 1725.
being, moreover, very nearly carried.
His Majesty struck off his name from the List of Privy Counsellors; and Sir Peter King, now created Lord King, was appointed Chancellor in his place. The unanimity of his judges might seem decisive as to his guilt; yet it may perhaps be doubted, whether they did not unjustly heap the faults of the system on one man ; whether Parker had not rather, in fact, failed to check gradual and growing abuses, than introduced them by his authority or encouraged them by his example.
Lord Bolingbroke was still at Paris. “ Tired,” as he says, "with suspense, the only insupportable misfortune 6 of life, and with nine years of autumnal promises and “ vernal excuses," * he had, early in 1724, another painful subject of embarrassment in the villany of a banker. His wife, Madame de Villette, had invested 50,0001. in the English funds through the hands of Sir Matthew Decker, who now pretended to make a discovery of it to the Government as a forfeiture, upon proving her married to Lord Bolingbroke. This brought the lady to England under the name of Villette, and ready, if required, to deny her marriage ; and Lord Townshend, who abhorred all dishonesty, and considered Decker's reasons
very bad ones,” gave her his zealous and successful aid. † But she also seized the opportunity to ingratiate herself at Court, and obtain Bolingbroke's long-desired restoration. The King was by no means fascinated with her; he declared that she talked too much, and without respect f; but a well-timed present of 11,0001. to the Duchess of Kendal smoothed many difficulties. A complete restoration was now earnestly and positively pressed upon Walpole by the Court. Walpole, seeing the unpopularity of the measure among his own friends, and afraid of Bolingbroke's future ascendancy, for a long time refused, and made every opposition in his power ; but at length, being threatened with dismissal, compromised matters by agreeing to a restoration of fortune,
* To Swift, July 24. 1725.
* “ Elle parle trop, et sans respect. (Lord Lansdowne to James, July 10. 1724. Appendix.) He adds, “ You can tell, Sir, whether “that is a just character ; she is your old acquaintance.”