Thomas Gray to James Brown, [20 May 1765]
The Revd Mr Brown,
President of Pembroke Hall
I can not help writing a line, whereas you have reason to expect a volume, wch indeed could not contain the history of this wonderful period. we are at the eve, I fear, of some great event, & perhaps a very tragical one. the bill of regency brought in by the ministry against their own will, afterwards turn'd by them to serve their own purpose, & that purpose afterwards drop'd & aukwardly disavowed by them, are things, that you must have heard already in gross, & the detail I have not time to give you. I shall only tell you, that yesterday the D: of C: was sent in the morning to Hayes at eleven, & did not come back till past four. when you know he undertook the embassy, you will imagine, what the terms were. he carried a Carte Blanche with him, honours, offices, absolute & unlimited power. all wch (to the astonishment of all mankind) were sent back as they came, with a peremptory refusal. whether from resentment of their former craft & little unworthy dealings with him, or that he may be press'd & intreated in a more submissive manner to accept the uncontroll'd guidance of the nation, is hard to say. I hope the latter, for then he will yield, & if he does not, God knows what may be the consequence. Bedford House is like a fortress besieged. soldiers looking over the walls, & patrolling round all the avenues. he immured within, & the Dutchess ill with fright. the mob curseing him without & his garrison murmuring at the service they are forced to do within. at the time of the great disturbance the Ministers were all there in the house, & had not risen from table. had it not been for the Guards, the house had certainly been pull'd down, & all the family murther'd. they say, there were few or no weavers among the mob, but in these times of scarcity & general discontent, it is no wonder, if all the villainous populace of London should join them. I saw the Weavers at the door of the house of Lords on Thursday. as far as my eye can judge, I do not believe, they were 5000, & they neither appear'd insolent, nor intimidated. the noise was great, & I assure you, there were many blank faces in fine coaches to be seen, & much bowing & smiling, & civil words thrown at random among the ragged regiment. tomorrow is the day, when worse is expected, & it is certain numbers are flocking to Town from Norfolk, Essex, &c: the London Militia are order'd out, & no one can say, where this may end. if Mr P: accepts, all this may vanish into smoke.
Don't shew my letter to any but Mr Talbot.
MS. Montagu d. 17, fols. 95-96, Montagu papers, Special Collections, Bodleian Library, Oxford University , Oxford, UK <http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/weston/finding-resources/locations>