THOUGH Franklin was blandly unaware of it, in 1768 he might as well have been an earnest fly trying to butt through a window pane as to get his propaganda successfully before mass opinion in the London of that day. The reason was that, in the world of politics, the London man-in-the-street could see nothing, hear nothing, but the magic, the incandescent, figure of John Wilkes, one of the most astonishing individuals produced by the eighteenth century.
" London was illuminated," wrote Franklin to his friend, Joseph Galloway, "two nights running, at the command of the mob, for the success of Wilkes in the Middlesex election. The second night exceeded anything of the kind ever seen here on the greatest occasions of rejoicing, as even the small cross-streets, lanes, courts, and other out-of-the- way places were all in a blaze with lights, and the principal streets all night long, as the mobs went round again after two o'clock, and obliged people who had extinguished their candles to light them again. Those who refused had all their windows destroyed. The damage done and the expense of candles have been computed at fifty thousand pounds."
That wasn't all the mob did. It made "gentlemen and ladies of all ranks, as they passed in their carriages, to shout