« PreviousContinue »
IN THREE BOOKS.
PUBLISHED IN JANUARY, 1764.
HE North Briton, with its usual acrimony of stricture
ministration, had in some of its numbers incidentally introduced some characteristic sketches, supposed to allude to the hero of this poem, Samuel Martin, Esq. M. P. for Camelford, Secretary to the Treasury, and Treasurer to the Princess Dowager of Wales. In that strain of personal abuse, which forms the predominant feature of that scurrilous journal, mention is made in No. 37, published 12 Feb. 1763, of "The secretary of a certain board, a very apt tool of ministerial persecution, who, with a spirit worthy of a Portuguese inquisitor, is hourly looking for carrion in every office to feed the maw of the insatiable vulture. Imo etiam in senatum venit, notat et designat unumquemque nostrum: he marks us and all our innocent families for beggary and ruin. Neither the tenderness of age, nor the sacredness of sex is spared by the cruel Scot." And again, in the 40th Number, notice is taken "of the most treacherous, base, selfish, mean, abject, lowlived and dirty fellow that ever wriggled himself into a secretaryship."
Of these passages Mr. Martin took no notice until the first day of the session of the ensuing parliament, when, in the debate upon the proceedings which had been adopted during
* This debate occasioned the longest sitting which had ever then taken place in the House of Commons. The Speaker was twenty hours in the chair, the House not adjourning until between seven and eight in the morning.
the recess against the persons concerned in the North Briton, he observed, with pointed expression towards Mr. Wilkes, that the author of that paper was a malignant, infamous scoundrel, who had stabbed him in the dark.
On the breaking up of the House, the following letter to Mr. Martin threw the desired light upon the subject of his complaint:
Great George Street, Westminster, Nov. 16, 1763. SIR-You complained yesterday, before five hundred gentlemen, that you had been stabbed in the dark by the North Briton, but I have reason to believe you was not so much in the dark as you affected and chose to be. Was the complaint made before so many gentlemen on purpose that they might interpose? To cut off every pretence of ignorance as to the author, I whisper in your ear that every passage in the North Briton, in which you have been named or even alluded to, was written by your humble servant, JOHN WILKES.
To this letter the following answer was returned :
SIR-As I said in the House of Commons yesterday, that the writer of the North Briton, who had stabbed me in the dark, was a cowardly as well as a malignant and infamous scoundrel; and your letter of this morning's date acknowledges that every passage of the North Briton, in which I have been named or even alluded to, was written by yourself; I must take the liberty to repeat, that you are a malignant and infamous scoundrel, and that I desire to give you an opportunity of shewing me whether the epithet of cowardly was rightly applied or not.
I desire that you meet me in Hyde Park immediately with a brace of pistols each, to determine our difference.
I shall go to the ring in Hyde Park with my pistols so concealed that nobody may see them, and I will wait in expectation of you one hour. As I shall call in my way at your house to deliver this letter, I propose to go from thence directly to the ring in Hyde Park, from whence we may proceed, if it be necessary, to any more private place, and I mention