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tify me. It had neither effect. I only thought of Mr. Chamberlain's consolation."
One of the curious features in connection with the imprisonment of Mr. Laurens in London Tower was his being compelled to pay rent for his little rooms, and find his own food, fuel, bedding, and candles. When the situation became clear to his perceptions, he said to his jailor, “ Whenever I caught a bird in America I found a cage and victuals for it."
The experiences of Mr. Laurens in London Tower were of an interesting as well as of a thrilling character. He was ill with the gout and other maladies when he entered his prison, but no medical attendance was provided, not any of the ordinary comforts of a sick room were allowed him, and it was more than twelve months before he was granted pen and ink to draw a bill of exchange to provide for himself. He obtained a pencil, however, from one of his humane attendants, and frequent communications were carried by a trusty person to the outside world. He even corresponded with some of the rebel newspapers. His son Henry, and some other visitors, were permitted to see him occasionally for a few moments at a time under cautionary restrictions. But just as he was gaining a little in his jail limits he unluckily fell in one morning with Lord George Gordon, then a state prisoner, awaiting his trial, who invited him to walk by his side. Mr. Laurens declined, and returned immediately to his apartment. But the governor hearing of it, through one of his spies, made the accidental meeting the pretext for turning the key closely upon his American prisoner, and Mr. Laurens was actually locked into his little apartment forty-seven consecutive days. General Vernon finally heard of this, paid Mr. Laurens a visit, and gave orders that he should " walk when and where he pleased” -within his prison boundaries—and on the 22d of February (1781), he walked abroad for the first time since the 3d of December.
Richard Oswald used his utmost efforts to obtain the release of Mr. Laurens on parole, offering to pledge his entire fortune as security, but the lords of the realm would listen to no such propositions. Overtures of various kinds were made, however, through Oswald and others, to Mr. Laurens which he resented with much spirit. On one occasion he was told that if he would “write two or three lines to the ministers," and barely say he was “sorry for what is past, a pardon would be granted." But the response from Mr. Laurens was quick and decisive in the negative. When advised “to take time and weigh the matter properly in his mind,” Mr. Laurens exclaimed : “ An honest man requires no time to give an answer where his honor is concerned.”
When his brilliant son, John Laurens, a young man of twenty-seven, and the hero of many a deed of valor, appeared in Paris, in the spring of 1781 as a special minister of the United States, to negotiate a loan from
France, there was sensible commotion in the British atmosphere. Oswald hastened to tell Mr. Laurens that the event "would prove very injurious” to his interests. Manning wrote to him that his "confinement would therefore be the more rigorous, because the young man had now openly declared himself an enemy to his king and his country.” Oswald suggested that if Mr. Laurens would advise his son to withdraw from the French court, it would be extremely well taken at the British court. Mr. Laurens replied to both that his son was of age, and had a will of his own ; that he was a man of honor ; and while he loved his father dearly, and would lay down his life for him, he would not sacrifice his honor to save his father's life, and he applauded him for it.
A full year rolled round and still Mr. Laurens occupied the little rooms in the Tower. On the 8th of October a message was brought to him that provoked his hearty laughter. The governor sent a man to collect £97 10s. due to the two wardens for one year's attendance upon the prisoner. It was such a grotesque claim that Mr. Laurens answered with cutting satire : “This is the most extraordinary attempt I ever heard of! It is enough to provoke me to change my lodgings. I was sent to the Tower by the Secretaries of State, without money in my pockets (for aught they knew). Their Lordships have never supplied me with a bit of beef nor a bit of bread, nor inquired how or whether I subsisted. It is upwards of three months since I informed their Lordships the fund which had, up to that time, supported me was nearly exhausted. I humbly prayed for leave to draw a bill on Mr. John Nutt, a London merchant who is indebted to me, which they have been pleased to refuse by the most grating of all denials, a total silence; and now, sir, when it is known to everybody that I have no money, a demand of this nature is made for £97 1os! If their Lordships will permit me to draw for money when it is due, I will continue to pay my own expenses, so far as respects myself, but if I were possessed of as many guineas as would fill this room, I would not pay the wardens, whom I never employed, and whose attendance I shall be glad to dispense with. Attempts, sir, to tax men without their own consent, have involved this kingdom in a bloody seven years' war. Upon the whole, sir, be pleased to deliver to the governor as my answer; the demand or application you have made, appears to me to be extraordinary and unjust, and I will not comply with it.'”
Within a day or two Mr. Laurens contrived to insert an account of this transaction in the newspapers. It appeared so amazing to people that many refused at first to believe it ; but Mr. Laurens found means for confirming it. The idea of changing his lodgings became an amusing topic for some days. On the 25th of October, while the news of the capture of Cornwallis with his entire army was crossing the ocean, Mr. Laurens penciled these lines in his journal: “I have been so unwell since my confinement as to be deprived of appetite for eating; yet, for the honor of the United States I have kept up a well-spread table, paid a guinea per week for marketing and cooking, and had three full suits of new clothes made,
which I was not in want of.... Maladies increasing upon me: my money expended ; nothing to eat except what might be sent to me, which I accounted as nothing and which did not come every day. An account of my wretched condition appeared in the public prints, which, I was informed, gave the administration much uneasiness, and brought loud reproaches upon them. Sir John Dyer, commandant of the Tower battalion, inquired of the people of the house, if the printed accounts were true. They answered in the affirmative. He went to Governor Gore and admonished him, “if Mr. Laurens should die you would be indicted, for he has been neglected.' The governor was alarmed; made a virtue of necessity ; came immediately, and in language to which I had not been accustomed from him, offered to go to the Secretaries of State with any message I should be pleased to send. I replied: The Secretaries of State, sir, do not want information ; it is upwards of four months since they received my representation and prayer for the use of pen and ink, to draw a short bill for money. I have also been a man in authority, Governor Gore; I have treated British prisoners in a very different way from that which I have experienced : their Lordships have been fully acquainted with my conduct by British officers, and can give proof of this. I thought myself an humble man before I came here, but I now find I had mistaken myself. I am one of the proudest men upon earth; I will not condescend to apply to their Lordships again.' The governor withdrew and looked as if he was of my opinion, that I was a very proud and saucy chap. I was neither; I spoke not my own, but a language becoming the dignity of the United States. I was very sick ; this is truth; but I was in no danger of starving. I might have had as much money as I wanted from Mr. Oswald or Mr. Manning; the latter had a considerable balance of mine in hand. I had a large sum deposited in France, but I had resolved to drive their Lordships either to make proper provision for me, or to allow me the use of pen and ink to draw upon John Nutt, on whom only I would draw. In the evening the governor returned ; said the secretaries had considered I should have the use of pen and ink. The next morning, October 30th, pen and ink was brought to me, and taken away again the moment I had finished a draft on Mr. Nutt for fifty guineas. The bill was paid.”
On the 25th of November the tidings reached London of the surrender of Cornwallis. Lord Germain was the first to read the dispatch. Lord Walsingham, Under-Secretary of State, being present, the two entered a hackney-coach to save time, and drove to the house of Lord Stormont. He joined them in the vehicle, and the three drove rapidly to the residence of Lord North. The prime minister received the news, said Germain,
as he would have taken a musket ball in the breast." He threw his arms apart. He paced wildly up and down the room in the greatest agitation, exclaiming, “ It is all over! it is all over!” Parliament reassem