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In the preamble to the new Bill the object of that extended Bill was candidly avowed, namely, that when "a restless and popish faction are designing and endeavouring to renew the rebellion in this kingdom and an invasion from abroad, it might be destructive to the peace and security of the Government." The Septennial Bill was, in fact, intended as a purely temporary measure, and, though originated by party spirit, it was really of great advantage in days when every general election meant a fresh exercise of the influence of the Crown and the Lords.

But, scarcely had Howe posted himself at Wilmington, when Washington re-crossed the Schuylkill and marched on the British left, hoping to imitate the movement of Cornwallis at the Brandywine which had been so effectual. Howe, aware of the strategy, however, reversed[239] his front, and the Americans were taken by surprise. In this case, Howe himself ought to have fallen on the Americans, but a storm is said to have prevented it, and Washington immediately fell back to Warwick Furnace, on the south bank of French creek. From that point he dispatched General Wayne to cross a rough country and occupy a wood on the British left. Here, having fifteen hundred men himself, he was to form a junction with two thousand Maryland militia, and with this force harass the British rear. But information of this movement was given to Howe, who, on the 20th of September, sent Major-General Greig to expel Wayne from his concealment. Greig gave orders that not a gun should be fired, but that the bayonet alone should be used, and then, stealing unperceived on Wayne, his men made a terrible rush with fixed bayonets, threw the whole body into consternation, and made a dreadful slaughter. Three hundred Americans were killed and wounded, about a hundred were taken prisoners, and the rest fled, leaving their baggage behind them. The British only lost seven men.

This was going to the very heart of the question with that clear, searching sense for which Chatham was so distinguished. Lord Chancellor Camden, who had himself a strong and honest intellect, but not the moral courage of Chatham, had retained the Great Seal, though disapproving of the measures of his colleagues. Emboldened by the words of his friend, he now rose and expressed his regret for having so long suppressed his feelings. But, he added, "I will do so no longer; I will openly and boldly speak my sentiments. I now proclaim to the world that I entirely coincide in the opinions expressed by my noble friend, whose presence again reanimates us, touching this unconstitutional and illegal vote of the House of Commons.... By this violent and tyrannical conduct Ministers have alienated the minds of the people from his Majesty's GovernmentI had almost said from his Majesty's person!" After these words Camden could no longer remain Lord Chancellor.

Undaunted by this display of prelatical bigotry, Lord Stanhope immediately gave notice of a Bill to prevent a tyrannical exercise of severity towards Quakers, whose principles did not permit them to pay tithes, church-rates, or Easter offerings; this he did on the 3rd of July of the same year. By the 7 and 8 William III. two justices of peace could order a distress on a Quaker for tithes under the value of ten pounds; and by 1 George I. this power was extended to the non-payment of Easter and other dues; but his Lordship showed that of late the clergy had preferred to resort to an Act of Henry VIII., a time when Quakers did not exist, which empowered the clergy, by warrant from two justices of peace, to seize the persons of the defaulters and throw them into prison, where, unless they paid the uttermost farthing, they might remain for life. Thus the clergy of the eighteenth century in England were not satisfied with the humane enactments of William III. or George I., by which they could easily and fully obtain their demands, but they thirsted for a little vengeance, a little of the old enjoyment of imprisoning and tormenting their neighbours, and therefore went back to the days of the brutal Henry VIII. for the means. They had, two months before, thrown a Quaker of Worcester into gaol for the non-payment of dues, so called, amounting to five shillings, and there was every prospect that he might lie there for life. At Coventry six Quakers had lately been prosecuted by the clergyman for Easter offerings of the amount of fourpence each; and this sum of two shillings amongst them had, in the ecclesiastical court, been swelled to three hundred pounds. For this three hundred pounds they were cast into prison, and might have lain there for life, but being highly respected by their townsmen, these had subscribed the money and let them out. But this, his Lordship observed, would prove a ruinous kindness to the Quakers, for it would whet the avarice of the clergy and proctors to such a degree that the people of that persuasion would everywhere be hunted down without mercy for small sums, which might be recovered at once by the simple process of distraint. He declared that he would have all clerical demands satisfied to the utmost, but not by such means, worthy only of the dark ages; and he therefore, in this Bill, proposed the repeal of the obnoxious Act of 27 Henry VIII. But the glutting of their vengeance was too precious to the clergy of this period, and the Bill was rejected without a division.

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On the 21st of January, 1772, the king opened Parliament, and the two divisions of the Opposition under the leadership of Rockingham and Chatham were found to be divided and dispirited. The chief proceeding of this session was one of a very remarkable character. The boasted morals of George III. and of his queen had not defended his family from gross crimes and corruptions. Very notorious was the life of his brother, the Duke of Cumberland. Amongst his licentious intrigues was one with Henrietta Vernon, Lady Grosvenor, a young and beautiful woman, whom he seduced, following her into Cheshire, when her husband took her from town, and meeting her in various disguises. In 1770 Lord Grosvenor brought an action against him and obtained a verdict of ten thousand pounds. With a rapidity of fickleness almost unexampled, he was immediately afterwards paying suit to Mrs. Horton. Cumberland went over to Calais with Mrs. Horton, and there married her according to the[206] rites of the Church of England (October 2, 1771). The Duke of Gloucester also now confessed to a secret marriage (September 6, 1766) with the Countess Dowager Waldegrave. A Bill was brought into Parliament in 1772, since well known as the Royal Marriage Act, by which every prince or princess, descendant of George II., except only the issue of princes married abroad, was prohibited from marrying until the age of twenty-five without the king's consent. After that age they might apply to the Privy Council, and if within a year of such announcement both Houses of Parliament should not express disapprobation of the intended marriage, it might then be lawfully solemnised. The Bill did not pass without violent opposition.