Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the king to prosecute him a-new, in consequence of an "Essay on Woman," a gross, indelicate, and flagitious publication; of which, however, only twelve copies appear to have been printed; while the one now produced (the only one ever published) had been obtained by the bribery and subornation of a domestic. The intrepidity of Mr. Wilkes did not succumb under the greatest misfortunes that can attend a man; on the contrary, he boldly returned to his native country; and this exile, and outlaw, who had spent his own patrimony, dissipated his wife's fortune, and was accused of cheating an hospital, now offered himself as a candidate for the first city in the empire. Nothing daunted by a repulse there, he next determined to represent that county which was the seat of the laws he had violated; of the parliament by which he had been expelled and prosecuted; and of the prince to whom he had rendered himself personally obnoxious.

Such was the desperate state of Mr. Wilkes's affairs, when his cause was advocated by the minister of New Brentford. That gentleman soon proved, that he enjoyed considerable influence, not only in his own immediate neighbourhood, but, also, throughout the whole county; and, as he possessed but little property,

and few connexions there, it is but fair to attribute his unexampled success to zeal, character, and talents alone.

Accordingly, while Dr. Demainbray, who had married his own sister, and all those attached to the court, were busily employed on the other side, he was active, laborious, and indefatigable. Scarcely allowing himself time for the usual refreshments which nature requires, he was em→ ployed, sometimes on foot, and sometimes on horseback, in canvassing the county, enumerating the merits and the sufferings of Mr. Wilkes, palliating his errors, and apologising for his follies. Such animated and unceasing exertions were attended with correspondent effects; but so notorious was the poverty of the candidate, who had been lately repulsed in his attempt to represent the metropolis, that he did not possess either money or credit sufficient to open a single house at the usual place of election. This deficiency was instantly supplied by the enthusiasm of Mr. Horne, who pledged himself, on that occasion, to the amount of all that. he was then worth in the world, and thus obtained the two best inns at Brentford.

It was he who infused a portion of his own spirit and ability into the committees for managing the contest; it was he who, sometimes

in company with the popular candidate, and sometimes by himself, addressed large bodies of the electors, who had been collected in different places for that purpose. In short, in opposition to calculation, and as if to set experience and precedent at defiance, Mr. Wilkes, whose fortune was desperate, and whose person was liable every moment to be seized by a tipstaff, proved finally successful. In consequence of a generous burst of indignation, excited by a clergyman of the church of England, whose whole income arose out of a small benefice, the latter thus suddenly, as if by magic, found means to return an outlaw, as knight of the shire for the county of Middlesex, by the votes of a great majority of freeholders.

On this, as on all future occasions, he carefully avoided every appearance of force, constraint, and violence. Although the populace were decidedly on the side of Mr. Wilkes, yet no encouragement whatsoever was given to tumult. A similar moderation, however, was not displayed on the part of those who managed the election of the unfortunate candidate; for ruffians, designated from their arms by the appropriate name of bludgeon-men, were hired and embodied; and these were let loose on the unoffending multitude, several of whom were

desperately wounded, while a person of the name of Clarke perished on the occasion.

On the other hand, Mr. Horne, who, as may be easily supposed, was a man of strong passions, being now in the full possession of youth, health, and animal spirits, like many others of the same age and temperament, doubtless both did and said what would not have obtained the sanction of his maturer judgment. Accustomed to feel acutely, and express himself energetically, he was not altogether calculated either to forget or forgive with so much promptitude as M. de Chauvelin, a counsellor of the parliament of Paris, who, about this time, established a perpetual mass, to return God thanks for preserving the life of Louis XV, who had banished him from his native country for his attachment to the laws.

On the contrary, he went somewhat into the opposite extreme on one memorable occasion, and appeared nearly as violent as the curé of Rosainvilliers, who, during the disputes about the bull Unigenitus, exclaimed, from the pulpit, "that he himself would be the first to dip his hands in the blood of the Jansenists *." In short, during the Middlesex election, an expres

* Le Siecle de Louis XV.

sion dropt hastily from his mouth, which had never seriously entered his heart, "that, in a cause so just and so holy, he would dye his black coat red!" This, coming from a clergyman in full orders, and within hearing of his own parishioners, produced a considerable sensation, was carefully recorded by his enemies, and afterwards repeatedly quoted by his quondam friends, when they wished to lessen his influence with the public.

$

}

The two ministerial candidates, upon this occasion, were sir William Beauchamp Proctor, and Mr. Cooke; the former of whom seems to have rendered himself the most odious. To that gentleman, Mr. Horne addressed a series of letters, which appear to have been of a very warm complexion, as may be gathered from the following quotation :

"Were I to adopt the coarsest language which is used by honest indignation to the most prostitute and abandoned characters, I think I should be justified in this address to you."-The author, who, as usual, affixed his signature, added: "I have yet a character to lose; for 1 have never signed my name to a lie."

[ocr errors]

On this, as on many other occasions, he appears to have been incited chiefly by his attachment to the knight of the shire for Middlesex,

VOL. I.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

H

« ZurückWeiter »