claimed, with earnest zeal, an exemption from arbitra-
ry taxation; insisted on the indefeasible right of the colonists to the enjoyment of legislative powers, as the birthright of the children of Englishmen; and fortified their demands by the favor of Coventry
, whom they extolled as one of the worthiest of men;1
by the legal erudition of Jones
and by the voices of ‘many great friends,’ won by a sense of humanity, or submitting to be bribed by poor Virginia
But fidelity, justice, and favor, were not enough to secure the object.
The agents were detained a twelvemonth without making any progress; the final failure has been ascribed to tidings from Virginia
; but there is reason to believe, that a secret influence had been irrevocably exerted against the grant of a charter,4
before the news reached England
of the events which involved the Ancient Dominion
in gloomy disasters.
For at the time when the envoys were appointed, Virginia
was rocking with the excitements that grew
out of its domestic griefs.
The rapid and effectual abridgment of its popular liberties, joined to the uncertain tenure of property that followed the announcement of the royal grants, would have roused any nation; how much more a people like the Virginians!
The generation now in existence were chiefly the fruit of the soil; they were children of the woods, nurtured in the freedom of the wilderness, and dwelling in lonely cottages, scattered along the streams.
No newspapers entered their houses; no printing-press
furnished them a book.
They had no recreations but