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    The domestic serenity of the realm was, however, greatly disturbed at this moment by Dean Swift, who seized on the occasion to avenge himself on the Whig Ministry for the defeat and punishment of his party, and especially of his particular friends and patrons, Oxford and Bolingbroke. There had long been a great deficiency of copper coin in Ireland. The Government undertook to remove this pressing want of so useful a medium, and they set about it in an honest and honourable manner as regarded the quality of the coin. Tenders were issued, and various offers received for the coining of farthings and halfpence to the value of a hundred and eight thousand pounds. The proposal of Mr. William Wood, an iron and copper founder, of Wolverhampton, was accepted; but the quality of the coin, both as to weight and fineness, was determined by the advice of Sir Isaac Newton, then Master of the Mint, and Wood was bound under heavy penalties to furnish it according to this stipulation. Every care was used by the Ministers and the Solicitor- and Attorney-General to insure the supply of a much better copper coinage than Ireland had ever possessed before. The year 1771 opened in circumstances which greatly diminished the interest in Parliamentary proceedings. As all reporting was excluded from the House of Lords, the chief speakers there felt that they were no longer addressing the nation, but merely a little knot of persons in a corner, and consequently the stimulus of both fame and real usefulness was at an end. In the Commons, the desire of the Ministry to reduce that popular arena to the same condition of insignificance produced a contest with the City as foolish and mischievous in its degree as the contests then going on with Wilkes and America. George Onslow, nephew of the late Speaker, and member for Guildford, moved that several printers, who had dared to report the debates of the House of Commons, should be summoned to the bar to answer for their conduct. Accordingly, these mediums of communication between the people and their representatives were summoned and reprimanded on their knees. One of their number, named Miller, however, declared that he was a liveryman of London, and that any attempt to arrest him would be a breach of the privileges of the City. The Serjeant-at-Arms dispatched a messenger to apprehend this sturdy citizen, and bring him before the House; but, instead of succeeding, the Parliamentary messenger was taken by a City constable, and carried before Brass Crosby, the Lord Mayor. With the Lord Mayor sat Alderman Wilkes and Alderman Oliver. It was delightful work to Wilkes thus to set at defiance the House of Commons, which had made such fierce war on him. The Lord Mayor, accordingly, was fully confirmed in his view that the messenger of the Commons had committed a[204] flagrant violation of the City charter, in endeavouring to lay hands on one of its liverymen within its own precincts, and they held the messenger accordingly to bail. The House of Commons was fired with indignation at this contemptuous disregard of their dignity. They passed a resolution, by a large majority, ordering the Lord Mayor and the two aldermen to appear at their bar. Wilkes bluntly refused to attend the House in any shape but as a recognised member of it. Crosby pleaded a severe fit of the gout; and Oliver, though he appeared in his place, refused to make any submission whatever, but told them he defied them. The House, in its blind anger, resolved that Oliver should be committed to the Tower, and Crosby to the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms. But Crosby declared that he would not accept this indulgence at the hands of the House, but would share the incarceration of his honourable friend; and he was accordingly sent also to the Tower. The people out of doors were in the highest state of fury. They greeted the City members on their way to and from the House, but they hooted and pelted the Ministerial supporters. Charles James Fox, still a Government man, as all his family had been, was very roughly handled; Lord North's carriage was dashed in, and himself wounded; and had he not been rescued by a popular member, Sir William Meredith, he would probably have lost his life. The Commons had engaged in a strife with the City, in which they were signally beaten, and no further notice being taken of the printers, from this time forward the practice of reporting the debates of Parliament became recognised as an established privilege of the people, though formally at the option of the House; and so far now from members or Ministers fearing any evil from it, the most conservative of them would be deeply mortified by the omission of their speeches in the reports. The termination of the Session also opened the doors of the Tower, and liberated the Lord Mayor and Alderman Oliver. They were attended from the Tower to the Mansion House by the Corporation in their robes, where a banquet celebrated their restoration to freedom, and the populace displayed their sympathy by bonfires and illuminations.

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