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As late as eight-and-twenty years since,
across the open road at the great western
entrance into London, between the triple
archway and screen of the Park and the triumphal
gateway of Constitution Hill, there
stretched a turnpike with double lodges. To
that turnpike, half a century earlier, I wish
the reader to accompany me. An unusual
number of people are collected (it is Thursday,
the 3rd of August, 1775) to see the king
and queen returning from the drawing-room.
It is not much of a show. Not even a gilt
coach figures in it, or a prancing horse, or a
company of lancers or dragoons. Only a stir
is perceived at the further end of the crowd,
two lines are formed, and through them come
two sedan chairs, each surmounted by a crown
and borne by two men in the royal liveries
majesty in the one exhibiting itself in very
light cloth with silver buttons; and in the
other wearing lemon-coloured flowered silk
on a light cream-coloured ground. And so,
between the two lines, observing, smiling, and
bowing as they pass, George the Third and
Queen Charlotte move awayand the sight
is over.

But even then, for one person in the crowd,
the scene appears not to lose all its interest.
He is a small, thin, precise-looking man, in a
dress of grave square cut, with a large bush
wig, very sharp features, long nose and chin,
a keen restless eye, a step as active and firm
as though it carried sixteen instead of sixty
winters, and a complexion certainly not
tanned by an English sun. But he speaks
English; and, asking of one who stands near
what that noble red-brick house is that bears
the look of having sprung up quite recently
at the gate of Hyde Park, is told that it has
just been built by the Lord Chancellor
Apsley, on ground taken out of the park, and
given him for the purpose by the king.

The stranger had probably more interest in
the answer than he expected when he put the
question. Within that house, he could hardly
fail then to remember, there lived with Chancellor
Apsley his father Lord Bathurst, the
celebrated friend of Pope and Swift; from
whose life, wanting now but nine years to
complete its cycle of a century, Burke had
drawn the happy illustration which he had
thrown out six months ago in the House of
Commons, in a speech already admired of all
men, but to the man now standing by Apsley
Gate more than commonly impressive. Having
to move certain resolutions for a basis of
conciliation with our American colonies in
the dispute at this time raging, the great
orator had pointed to Lord Bathurst's venerable
age, for proof that within the short
period of the life of man our commercial and
colonial prosperity had risen, and for warning
that the same brief space might suffice for its
not less rapid fall. Here was one, said Burke,
who had lived in days when America served
for little more than to amuse Dutch William's
subjects with stories of savage men and uncouth
manners; who had survived to days
when as much as England had won through
the civilizing conquests and settlements of
seventeen hundred years, had been added to
her by that very America in the course of half a
century; and who yet might be spared to see
these fruits of man's energy blasted by man's
folly, and all this glorious prosperity
withered and passed away. As merely a
burst of eloquence, this was a thing to be remembered;
but to the stranger of whom I
speak, it possessed a nearer interest. For if
the resolutions with which it closed had not
been contemptuously rejected, the revolution
which had driven him here into exile might
not in his days have begun. If concession
to those American colonies of the right of
taxing themselves, of the right of trial in
places where offences were committed, and of
the privilege of juries in Admiralty courts,
had found more than seventy-eight supporters
in a house of three hundred and forty-eight
members, the peal of musketry which had
broken over Lexington might not have been
heard by that generation; and Mr. Samuel
Curwen, prosperous merchant and Judge of
Admiralty at Salem in New England, would
not have found himself, a sudden fugitive
from home, standing before Apsley House
that August afternoon.

Two days after the Lexington affair he had
taken flight from the port of Boston. His
little native town of Salem was then in a
flame. Some weeks earlier he had been
pointed at and denounced for an ardent loyalist;
but when the new militia bands had once
crossed arms with the king's troops, this feeling