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John Wilkes, Esq. (Jan. in the management of public affairs, and lifh liberty. It was the latter circumstance, that the jealoulies which he occasioned be- indeed, that gave a colouring to the future tween king and people, gave rise to many pursuirs of his life ; to the former, he was if not al the misfortunes of the present indebted for a seat in parliament, and a reign. Certain it is that his conduct regiment of militia. created a most formidable opposition, bot- A ftanding army has alıvays been con- 1 tomned on constitutional motives, and that sidered as the opprobrium of liberty, and the most zealous advocates for the house a disgrace to a free country. To counterof Brunswick, entrenching themselves in balance this palpable defcét in the system the revolution principles of 1688, com- (for it is not inherent in our polity; some bated the doctrines and proceedings of generous spirits conceived the idea of a the favourite, with the fame zeal that national and conftirutional defence. This that their ancestors had oppoled the ty- plan, fo long scouted, and since, in a great ranny of the house of Stuart. It was this measure, emasculated by subsequent regusingular circumstance that gave birth to the lations, was at length carried into effiêt, political career of the subject of these me- but not without inuch opposition, and moirs; and not only his own biography, considerable dissatisfaction on the side of 1 but the history of the present times, is inci- the people. mately connected with the foregoing events. Mr. Wilkes, who was a great stickles
The father of Mr. Wilkes was an emi. for the measure, made an otier of his fer. nent distiller in Clerkenwell, where John vices in Buckinghamshire on this occais supposed to have been born, on the fon; and as he lived in great intimacy 28th of October, 1725. The eider fon with earl Temple, the then lord lieutenant, Ifracl, who is still alive, followed the same he soon became member for Ayleibury, business, and ultimately failed. The re- and colonel of the county reyiment. It is cond, of whom we now urcat, and who to be recorded among the other singular had received a liberal education early in anecdotes of his life, that nearly at the lifc, was a brewer ; but as he had, in a same time, he was expelled from the one great nieasure, become unfitted by claf- office by the House of Commons, and dis. fical pursuits from obtaining wealth as a missed from the other by a mandate from tradelian, it is more than probable that the first cxecutive magistrate. he would not have succecded in his coin- The inember for Aylesbury foon par. mercial pursuits. For, is it poflible to ticipated in the general resentment against fuppose, that the enthusiallic admirer of Jord Bute, and, portelling a happy talent the elegant Tibullus, Mould relish the for tatire, contributed not a little to in. dull round of business, in the neighbour- crearune haired which lie hadevery where hood of St. Scpulchre's ? that he who excited. Bit this was not ail; in the banished care like Anaccron, and daily bitterness of his relentment, he accused quaffed the Falernian of Horace, should the nation, among whom that nobleman pay such a sedulous attention to the pro- was born, of an hereditary attachment 10 cers of fermentation, and be conversant in flavery, and, without much ceremony, st. all the properties of two-penny,porter, and tacked certain perfons, who fondly hoped brown-stout? Disgust, accordingly, foon that their rank was not only too lofty for succeeded, as a necessary conscquence, and plebcian animadversions, but even dit the golden dreams arising from the min- folved all conncelion between guilt and gica fumes of hops and malt, vanished with shame. the math-tub and the conipting-houte. Mr. Wilkes began his carcer, as an
Mr. Wilkes was calculated, by nature, author, in 1762, and his first political cducation, and habit, for far different pur- publication, at present known with cersuits, and he foon gravitied his inclinacions. tainty, was intitled, “ Obicrvations on Having married a daughter of the celebrat. the Papers relative to the Rupture with ed Dr. Mcad, the author of the Treatise on Spain." On the sth of June, in the same Poisons we find him exchanging the dull and year, he became the editor of a periodi. foggy atmosphere of the city for the thin- cal paper of much notoriety, called the ner and politer air of the west end of the " North Briton," which are a particular town. Possessed of a genteel fortunc, clou turn to, and not only influenced, the fue gant manners, and a sparkling wit, he ture progress of his affairs, but actually easily obtained the acquaintance of many decided the tenour of his whole life. No of the most fashionable people of the age. publication that ever came from the Eng. Educated in Whig principles, he was at lich press was read with more intereit, the same time an ardent aftertor of Eng. or circulated with greater avidity than whis, 3
*.798.] Original Anecdotes.- John Wilkes, Esq.
45 he Letters of Junius, and the works The crown - lawyers were accordingly :of Paine, alone excepted. Nor were the on the watch, and tome unguarded, pereffcêts disproportionate either to the end haps, improper expressions in No. 45– with which it was launched on the ocean for 1 write not an eulogium--afforded of popular opinion, or the high expec- ample opportunity for a prosecution. tations that were conceived of its success. It has luckily been always the fortune It was in vain that the minifters attempted of arbitrary councils, not only to render to opate its progre's, by means of the the means disproportionate to the end, but " Briton +” and tht " Auditor;' the lat- to have recouric ro odious measures for ter of which was conducted by Mr. Mure the attainment of their object. It was phy, a man of confiderable parts, who, this very circumstance, that, in one age, in the course of his variegated life, has bercaved Charies of his life, James of his defended the arbitary principles inculcated crown ; and, in another, endeared Mr. by a Tory administrarion, and presented Wilkes to the nation. us with a Whig version of Tacitus. His · Had a common action taken place against pen, however, on this occasion, was made the editor of the North Briton, and, after to drop from his hand, by the mere force due conviction, a moderate sentence been of ridicule alone, and his journal itseif inflicted, Mr. Wilkes would have been expired in the tiames of his own Floriciae branded as a recorded libeller. It was turf +. He, however, did not fail alone, the illegal proceedings which occasioned for his patron foun lay protrate by his that gentleman to be considered as a sufside ; and although he was fulpected of fering patriot, through whose fides the regulating the notions of the ministerial liberties of a whole nation were wounded. puppets long after he left the stage, yet, His, therefore, from that moment, ceased lo obnoxious had he rendered himiclf, to be a private cause it was the cause of that, from this moment, he was forced to the people. bid adieu, at leail, to the oienlible ex. On the soth of April, 1963, he was ercise of power.
arrested in the street, by a king's messenThe Thune was succeeded by Mr. ger, in consequence of a general warrant *, Grenville, the father of the present lord against the authors, printers, and pubGrenville and the marquis of Bucking- lishers of the North Briton, No. 45, and ham ; who, partly from hatred to the au. carried to his own house. The publicity thor, and partiv from animosity to his of the act having occalioned much noise, owo brother, with whim he had quar- he was instantly visited by a number of his relled (he is also said to have been intti- friends, and, among others, by Charles gated by another motive) determined, if Churchill, a fellow-labourer in the pohe could not suppress, the publication, litical vineyard, whom he saved from im. that he should, at least, punith the editor. prisonment, by that presence of mind
which never deserted himn on trying oc* Smollet was the editor.
cafions. In the mean time, he delired two + Such as with to be better acquainted with other gentlemen to repair to tne court this intance of literary jockeyshij, are referred of Common Pleas, and live out a writ to a note in p. 52, vol. 1, of Bell's second of Habeas Corpus, in consequence of his edition of Churchill's works, or to the Nrth being detained a prisoner in his own Briton. Here follows the epitaph occasioned by the discomfiture of the « Auditor;" and it house, by an illegal arrest.
As lord Halifax did not choose to promay be necessary to premise that this event was produced by a waggifh letter signed “Viator," in which the advantages derived from the pol
* (Copy) feflion of Florida (ubiained by the peace of
L. S. “George Mountague Dunk, Earl of Paris) are ironically pointed out, particularly
“ Halifax, Viscount Sunbury, &c. the peats and turf, that were to warm the poor
“ These are in his maje:ły's name to autho4merican planters in the winter season!
rise and require you (taking a constable to your SISTE, VIATOR.
aflistrace) to make itrict and diligent search “ Deep in this bog, the Auditor lies ftill,
after the authors, printers, and publishers of a se. His iabours finithd, and worn-out his quill; Britôn, Number 45, Saturday April 23d, 1763,
ditious and treasonable paper, entitled the North His fires extinguiin'd, and his works unread, In peace he sleeps with the forlaken dead !
printed for George Keartley, Ludgate-street, With heath ani sedge, oh! may his tomb London, and them or any of them having found, be diert,
to apprehend and reize, together with their And his own turf lie light tpon his breast."
papers, and to bring in iafe custody before me,
&c. El quocunque riolunt animum Auditorisagunto.
“ Dire led to Yathan Carrington, &c. HOR. (Signed) 6 Dunk Halifax."
Original Anecdotes.-John Wilkes, Esq.
[Ja ceed dire&tly to extremities, he sent fe- all the rigour of royal vengeance, haria veral police messages to Mr. W. request. been actually diliniiled from his fatuatie ing his company; but the latter relolutely of colonel of the Buck's Militia, by setused, and could nor be prevailed upon mandate *, with which the lord lieutenasi
其 to repair to his lord thip’s house, until he reluctantly complied. But this was r was threatened with personal violence, all; an attempt to disgrace, was soon fol. and given to understand, that a regiment lowed by another, calculared to ruin hin: of guards would, if necessary, be called it proved, however, contrary to all be in. On this, he proceeded in a chair, at- man calculation, to be the basis on which tended by the messengers and their fol. he erected the cdifice of his future fa. lowers ; he, however, refuled to answer tune. any questions whatever, and treated lord In the course of next term, an informe Egremont, the other secretary of frate, ation was filed againit him, in the King's who exhibited too much of the infolence of Bench, as author of the North Bri: office, in his demeanour, with great No. 45,; and, on the meeting of print fpirit.
ment, being voted 6.a fa fe, fcandalo On his being committed to the Tower, and sedirious libel," it was ordered to je he was pressed to ctler bail; but he stre: burned by the hands of the common hange poully refused, as it would have looked man; a sentence which was carried into like an acquiescence in the injuítice of ex cut on with much difficulty ,in the cit"; the proceedings against him, alıhough two when Mr. Sheriff Harley, who displayed publemen offered to become fureties to the great ze l on the occafion, was mal-treates amount of 100,000!. each. In confe. and even wou.ided by the populace. quence of strict orders for that purpole, Mr. Wilkes haviny, in his turn, com. he was kept a close proponer; and earl Ten- plained to the house of a breach of pris. ple, and the rett f his friends, denied ac. lege, was not only refused redress, but a ceis to him, untit tuvu bubrajis were refolurion passer, " that the privilege of ifiued, the first having been evaded by parliament des not extend to the cate of clienery. Ac, lengi), on Tuetday, the writing and publishing feditious libek, 3:n tav, he was brought up to the bar por ought to be allowed to obilruct the of 12 Common Pleas, where, in an ap- ordinary course of the laws, in the steady peface feach, he com, lained of the vio- and effectual profecution of so heinous and lation of the laws, an alerted, that he dangerous an offence.” hali itin treated forte" chan if he had Some word that pomid on this occa. been a Scotch rubel."
fon, in conjunctia wiek! Tage in the live The court hasing taken time to dei Norih Brilon, occafix a duel between berare, he was remanded, and brough: M. Will and Mr. Martin, meinber up once more, on the 6th, when the lord for C-melford, and late fecretary to the chief justice, fir Charles Pratt, after wards Treatury, which took place in Hyde Park, lord Cimden, ordered him to be dif. the 16th of Dumber. The representas charged Fluthed with this victory, in tive of Aylesbury behaved with great gathe course of that very night, he wrote a lanty on his occafion, and the wound he birter and sarcastic letter to the two fecre• received in the groin greatly encreasid taries of state, in which, after recapitu- the number of his partisans, who were Jaring the circumstances relative to the pleased with his fpirit, and considered him feizure of his papers, he demanded the as a inartyr in the public caule. reftitution of thein, under the title of Soon after he found it neretīary. to re“ftolen gonds, and acquaily applicd to tire to France ; but this did not in the Bow-freer, for a warrant to search their leat tend to aba:c the viodictive Spirit of houses, in order to recover puffullion of his property, which had been feloniously
* (Copy) raken away. It may be casily lup porell,
". My lord, Whitehall, May 4, 1763. that a magißra:e, under the immediaie
* The king having judged it improper, that influence of the ministry, refused his John Wilkes, Esq. ih uld any longer continue countenance to this proceeding; but re- to be colonel of the militia for the county of coulife was foon hij 'to a luglier auth- Buckingham, I am commanded to fignify his ding, riy, and airple fatisfaction received. majesty's pleasure to your lordship, that you do While Mr. Wiikes was yet
the forth with give the neceflary orders for displacTower, unlawfully imprisoned, and un- ing Mr. Wilkes as an officer for the militia, convicted, therefore, in the eye of the for the county of Buckingham."
“ I am, &c. law, fupp led to be at once innocent and
* To the Earl Temple."
11 EOREMONT e;pietid, he was domed to experience
Original Anecdotes. John Wilkes, Esq.
is enemies : for on the 19th of January, bench itself, although surrounded by mace 764, we find him expelled the Com- bearers and tipstaves, sacred from the hons, and a new writ was immediately fury of an incensed inultitude. rdered to be issued for Aylesbury. The No sooner was this neceffary prelimi, louse of Peers also thought its privi- nary achieved, than the action agairft Jord eges violated, in the perlons of the bi. Halifax, who had hitherto pleaded the hop of Gloucester, whose name had been outlawry as a bar, was recomincnced, fixed, as editor to an obscene pamphlet, and a verdiet of 4000l. obrained. This winted at Mr. Wilkes's private press and fum, together with 1000l. recovered from xhibited a remarkable relentinent on that Mr. Wood, the under secretary of state, ccount. In addition to this, he was
and the amount of the verdiets, damages, ound guilty, in the court of Kings and costs of fuit, were all paid out of the Berich, of the republication of the “North civil lift, by an express order of counBriton, No 45, with notes," and for cil! winting and publishing the “Effay on
To balance the victory, he was doomed Woman.” of the firit of these produc- to suffer a fresh prosecution. His long ions, he was avowelly, the editor ; and rigorous imprisonment having cojut as to the second, which is a parody on sured the indignation of all liberal and inPope's Effay on Man, he was no farther dependent meo, and enflamed large boriminal than by allowing twelve copies to dies of the populace to a degree of frenzy ke printed at his apartments : the real au
little thort of madness, many riots took hör was a son of an archbishop of Can- place, and St. George's-fields became the trbury! In both in fiances, the works scene of much confufion. There were a question were obtained by the bafest
two legai modes of proceeding in this fraud, bis own servants having been cafe. The first, molt gracious and af. vibed and suborned for that very pur- suredly most politic, would have been a rose.
spontaneous exercite of the royal mercy, At length, a change of ministry having which, by its extenson'to the prisones, aken place, and the parliament being would have difToived the affociations endiffolved, Mír. W. returned to his native tered into for his protection and support, country, and notwithstanding the terrors and left him without complaint, and, > an outlawry, actually Itood candidate consequently, without adocrents. The for the firft city in the empire, and only ficond was the constitutional employment lost his ele&tion by a Imali majonity. He of the civil power, in order to keep the proved more fuccesful in the first county, peace, and, in case of infraction, to punilla as he was returned a koight of the thire the offenders. A third was, however, for Middlclex, after a great and decitive recuríců co, unknown to our ancient law, conteft.
equivocal in its nature, and problema:iThe violated laws were, however, till cal in its application; this was the calling te be atoned for, and, accordingly, the in a military force, a measure ftrenuoully new member, with his usual intiep.diry, recommended by lord Weymouth, then voluntarily surrendered himself, in the secretary of state, and as warnıly comcourt of King's Eench, on April 20th, bated by Ir. Wilkes. This produced 1968 ; and on Saturday morniog, June a second expulfion, and as one injustice.
18th, sentence was pronounced ; in con- naturally leads to anorher, gave birth to * fequence of which he was imprisoned for the nomination of Mr. Luterèil
, now twenty-two calendar months, and oblig, lord Carhampton, as the fiering member ed to pay a fine of 100cl. He found for Middlef.x, although Mr. Wilkes was nieans, however, to get his out-lawry duly returned jy the thuriffs, and fairly reveried, and this was accomplified elect.d by an imienie majority. with less difficulty than had been cx
If he was excluded however from pected, as lord Mansfield, who, on great parliamentary, civic honcurs poured occasions, exhibited evident symptoms of thick upor hiin. While immured withtimidity, was alarmed at the odium at
in the walls of a priton (in 1759) ne tached to all those cacerned in tne pro- was elected alderman of Farringdon ceedings, and did not, perhaps, think the Without, the most considerable and.
patriotic ward in the metropolis. Two A fumi'ar cafe to that of Capt. Perry, ftill years afterwards, he aspired to nd obLanguiding in the prison of Newgate, had not then tained the dignity of the thrievaltv, ara occurred, or it might have been urged as a pre- in 1774, he wa.clevated to the city chaico cedent!' The fituation of this gentleman is in all these siitcreneitherions, he exer:
While oppressed by the accusation of cer part of his life, that his limbs (temie ministers, the gale of popular attachment cadaverous. His complexion was set in strongly in his favour, and he was low, and he had an unfortunate cast of ti never so great, or perhaps so happy, eyes, that rendered his face particulars as when afflicted by the persecution of liable to be caricatured. The miniftry che court. His cause was supported by of that day were fo fenfible cf the 24 the best and ablelt men in the kingdom; vantages to be derived from this per his debts were more than once paid by the of ridicule, that Hogarth * was actuar generous care of his friends, and every bought off from the popular party, in immediate want was anticipated by the means of a pension, and camned id ardour of their bounty t. But this was honourablc reward, by employing 2 not all: they were determined to procure graver in facrising his former friends him a more permanent provision, and Norwithitanding the defects of his peria according v staricd him as a canuidate for Mr. Wilkes at one time actually lute the lucrative office of chamberlain of the fashions, and introduced blue rur pret, city of London. Mr. Hopkins however on his return from France in 1769. prevailed, norwithtanding his character Towards the latter part of his life, was tainted rep:eling Toinc money ne- became regardleis of his dress, and !! gotiations with a minor; and an annual wardrobe für the last fifteen years feet conteft took place until his death, which to have consilicd of a faded farlet csal, occurred in 1779, fince which period white cloth waistcoat and breeches, and Mr. Wilkes occupied that fituation, for a pair of military boots, in which he es the remainder of his lite.
accustomed to walk three or four tino! Duricg the whole of the American a week, from henington to Grofveys' war, he was a ftrenuous opposer of lord square, and from Grosvenor square North's administration, and heartily Guildhall. Like most of the old joined his own personal enemies in op- never descended from the dignicy of ac i paling the measures, aud displaying the bat, and it is but of late that he ahjured the guiltnf that justly odious stateiman. long explod d fathion of wearing a good No sooner was the noble ferd hunied bu'ton and loop. into the toils, and brought within the His ready vit was proverbial, and ! reach of a punishment, from which he never mitted an opportunity of being escaped, in consequence of the cagerness jocular, at the expence of his colleasts displayed in dividing the spoils of the Sometimes he would discui.core the predelinquent, than Mr. Wilkes seized that vity of a city feasi by his fatire ; opportunity of procuring justice to the when he told the late alderman Burr. public and to himself, respecting the (formerly a brick layer) who seemed Middlesex election. The day this fcan- be unable to manage a knife, in the fro dalons decision was refcinded from the journals of the house of commons, may " When that great charter which hat be laid to have been the last of his poli
fathers bought, tical career. Indeed, from that moment,
With their best blood, was into question broup.* he seems to have fuppoled his milion at
When big with ruin, o'er each Englith head,
Vile lavery hung fuspended by a thiead, an end, and in his own expreis words to
When liberty, all trembling and azhaft,
Fcard for the future, knowing what was pafi. * These were the only debes incurred in the When ev'ry breaft was chill'd with deep deipe, public fervice, and I underitand i hat they have Til! reason pointed out that Pratt was there, been all liquidated.
Lurking most ruffian-like behind a screen,
What was the cause of liberty to him,
Churchill's cpif. to Hogarth