University of Virginia Library

Search this document 


expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
collapse section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 


I have some farther Thoughts to communicate, which, I promise my self, will be found agreeable to the Honest Intention of your Paper.

MY Worthy Friend seems unacquainted with the Methods that were used to pass the Bills against the Bishop of Rochester and Mr. Kelly; The Zeal which appears in most Parts of his Letter, would make it necessary for me, in Gratitude, to lay the Whole of the Evidence for and against the Bishop of Rochester before him, were that at present Convenient, as well for his Satisfaction, as for the Justification of the Nineteen Bishops, who, I presume, would neither be afraid or ashamed to see that publish'd: Such an Opinion I entertain of their Steadiness and Firm Adherence to what they profess!

THE Letter from Lincolns-Inn, dated June the 17th, came safe to Hand; and the Author returns his Thanks for the kind Advice given him in it: But assures his Friend, That he don't fear the Power of the Persons he mentions, any more than he doubts their Malice.

2. The True Briton No. 9 (1 July 1723) Introduction

The True Briton No. 9 addresses the controversy surrounding the recent election for sheriffs in the City. As the Daily Journal (25 June 1723) announced: “Notwithstanding the great Appearance for Sir Richard Hopkins and Mr. Feast, the others were declared.... The D--- of W------ appear'd Yesterday at Guildhall, holding up his Hat with some Livery-Men for Sir


Page 207
John Williams and Richard Lockwood, Esq;.” Despite the efforts of the Walpole government on behalf of Hopkins and Feast, the Liverymen prevailed with their candidates; and the author of TB No. 9 defends the winners from the aspersions printed in various advertisements during the election campaign. Since the sheriffs have the responsibility for selecting jurymen, Wharton quotes the dire warning from the Daily Post (26 June 1723): “you cannot but desire, that Juries, who have, in some Degree, the Disposal of your Lives, your Liberties, and your Properties, should be impanelled fairly and indifferently, and free from Byass and Prejudice.” He points out that Williams and Lockwood, being “Eminent Turkey-Merchants, and great Proprietors in the Publick Funds,” are not likely to be enemies of constitutional government as their libellers had claimed. “But this Calumny proceeds from the Old Method, that has been the Constant Maxim of One Party, to brand every Subject with Jacobitism, who opposes their Measures in the least Instance.” Wharton ends by reminding his readers that the majority of the jury that found the Jacobite conspirator Christopher Layer guilty of treason were Tories.

For his part, the author of the letter signed “A.B.” and appended to this article on the election stresses the illegal and violent methods used by the supporters of Hopkins and Feast. Basically, it protests against the barely disguised attempt by the Walpole government to curb the freedom of the City to elect its own representatives. Only a year later that attempt finally succeeded when Wharton over-reached himself politically after the death of Felix Feast and Walpole moved in for the kill. By December 1724 Walpole succeeded in persuading some prominent aldermen to cut back on their historically democratic election process; and a bill passed early the next year gave the aldermen veto power and stripped three thousand poorer liverymen of their right to vote (Plumb, 2:109).

Other than generally attacking Walpole's infringement on the historical rights of the City, this letter may be connected to Richardson in more particular ways. The printer's first employer, the Tory Archibald Hutcheson, was the staunchest defender of free elections; and one item that issued from the Salisbury Court shop (Sale, p. 180) only two years before the appearance of this letter was even in the same rhetorical form of questions while attacking his opponent in the House of Commons: Some Queries proposed to Sir Thomas Crosse to be Answer'd, for the Satisfaction of the Electors of the City and Liberties of Westminster. [1] Just as Hutcheson was attacking the


Page 208
corruptions of a national election, so A.B. in TB No. 9 is protesting the government's interference with the City's election of its representatives. Wharton's vigorous defense of the City's ancient rights and privileges, to the extent of his becoming a member of the Wax Chandlers' Company, goes far in explaining Richardson's interest in this mercurial Tory aristocrat.


AS I was concluding this Paper, I receiv'd the following Letter.