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plan is a plan of union with your grace; words are useless; God prosper our joint labors, and may our mutual trust, affection, and friendship grow from every act of our lives.” Thus he professed himself a devotee to Pitt and Grafton, being sure to do his utmost to thwart the one and to supersede the other.
The lead in the house of commons was assigned to Conway, as one of the secretaries of state; the care of America, to the Earl of Shelburne. The seals of the highest judicial office were confided to Camden, who had called taxing America, by act of parliament, a robbery; the former chancellor became president of the council; while the prime minister's own infirmities, which should have forbidden him to take office at all, made him reserve for himself the quiet custody of the privy seal. Taken as a whole, the cabinet, of which the members were Pitt, Camden, Grafton, Conway, Shelburne, and the now inactive Northington, was the most liberal that had been composed in England. "If ever a cabinet,” wrote a sagacious observer, “ can hope for the rare privilege of unanimity, it is this, in which Pitt will see none but persons whose imagination he has subjugated, whose premature advancement is due to his choice, whose expectations of permanent fortune rest on him alone.”
Of the friends of Rockingham, Lord John Cavendish set the example of refusing to serve under Grafton; but he insisted to Conway that acts of civility would satisfy the heads of his party. At this suggestion, Pitt, on the twenty-seventh of July, went to pay Rockingham a
July. visit of respect; and had passed the threshold, when the young chief of the great whig families refused to receive the venerable man of the people. But he was never afterwards able to resume office, except with the friends of the minister he now insulted.
The old whig party, which in 1746 deserted the public service only to force their restoration on their own terms, which eleven years later kept England, in time of war, in a state of anarchy for ten weeks, till their demands could be satisfactorily compromised, had, in 1765, owed office to the king's favor, and now fell powerless, when left to them
selves. The administration of Rockingham brought Cumberland into the cabinet ; took their law from Mansfield; restored Lord George Germain to public life; and would willingly have coalesced with Bedford. Yet a spirit of humanity
ruled their intentions and pervaded their measures ; while their most pernicious errors sprung from their
attempt at a compromise with the principles of their predecessors. They confirmed the rights of persons by condemning general warrants, and adhered to those friends of liberty who had run hazards in its cause. They abstained from some of the worst methods of corruption usual to their party in its earlier days; they sold no employments and obtained no reversions. Opposed by place-men and pensioners, they had support in the increasing confidence and good-will of the nation. Still, they had entered the cabinet in violation of their essential doctrine, at the wish of the king superseding men who were dismissed only for maintaining privilege against prerogative; and, if they mitigated taxation in America by repealing the stamp act, they boasted of having improved the revenue raised there from trade, renewed the unconstitutional method of making parliamentary requisitions on colonial assemblies, and in the declaratory act introduced into the statute-book the worst law that ever found a place there, tyrannical in principle, false in fact, and impossible in practice.
The incapacity of Pitt's new administration was apparent from its first day, when he announced to his astonished and disheartened colleagues his purpose of placing himself as the Earl of Chatham in the house of lords. During the past year, such an elevation in rank had often been suggested. He was too much “shattered” to lead the commons; and he might wish to secure dignity for his age. But, in ceasing to be the great commoner, he veiled his superiority. “My friend," said Frederic of Prussia, on hearing of it, “has harmed himself by accepting a peerage.” “It argues,” said the king of Poland,“ a senselessness to glory to forfeit the name of Pitt for
title." “The strength of the administration,” thought all his colleagues, “lay in his remaining with the commons." “ There was but one voice among
us,” said Grafton, “nor, indeed, throughout the kingdom.” The lion had left the forest, where he roamed as monarch, and of himself had walked into a cage. His popularity vanished, and with it the terror of his name. He was but an English earl and the shadow of a prime minister; he no longer represented the nationality of the British people. He had, moreover, offended the head of every faction, whose assistance he yet required; Camden had not the qualities of a great statesman ; Grafton, on whom he leaned, was indolent and easily misled; Conway always vacillated ; Shelburne, bis able and sincere friend, was regarded at court with dislike ; and the king agreed with his minister in nothing but the wish to humble the aristocracy.
In August, just at the time of Chatham's taking office, Choiseul, having assigned the care of the navy
Aug. to his brother, had resumed that of foreign affairs. He knew the gigantic schemes of colonial conquests which Pitt had formerly harbored, and weighed the probabilities of an attempt to realize them by a new war against France and Spain. The agent whom he had sent, in 1764, on a tour of observation through the British colonies, was just returned, and reported how they abounded in corn, cattle, flax, and iron; in trees fit for masts; in pine timber, lighter than oak, easily wrought, not liable to split, and incorruptible; how the inhabitants, already numerous, and doubling their numbers every twenty years, were opulent, warlike, and conscious of their strength; how they followed the sea, especially at the north, and engaged in great fisheries; how they built annually one hundred and fifty vessels to sell in Europe and the West Indies, at the rate of seven pounds sterling the ton; and how they longed to throw off the restraints imposed on their navigation. New York stood at the confluence of two rivers, of which the East was the shelter to merchant vessels ; its roadstead was a vast harbor, where a navy could ride at anchor. The large town of Philadelphia had rope-walks and busy ship-yards; manufactures of all sorts, especially of leather and of iron. In the province to which it belonged, the Presbyterians outnumbered the peaceful Quakers; and Germans, weary of
subordination to England and unwilling to serve under English officers against France, openly declared that Pennsylvania would one day be called Little Germany. In all New England, there were no citadels, from the people's fear of their being used to compel submission to acts of parliament infringing colonial privileges. The garrison at Boston was in the service of the colony. The British troops were so widely scattered in little detachments as to be of no account. England,” reasoned the observer,“must foresee a revolution, and has hastened its epoch by emancipating the colonies from the fear of France in Canada."
Simultaneously, Choiseul read in the “Gazette" of Leyden the answer lately made by the assembly of Massachusetts to its governor, and learned with astonishment that colonies which were supposed to have no liberties but by inference spoke boldly and firmly of rights and a constitution.
Could Chatham have regained health, he would have mastered all difficulties, or fallen with dignity. Jealous of the Bourbon courts, he urged the improvement of the harbor of Pensacola, which, it was said, could shelter at least forty ships of the line, and hold in check the commerce of Vera Cruz. The rival statesmen, with eyes fixed on America, com
peted for European alliances. No sooner had Chat
ham entered on the ministry, than he rushed into Sept.
the plan of a great northern league to balance the power of the Bourbons, and hastily invited Frederic of Prussia and Catharine of Russia to connect themselves intimately with England; but Frederic, doubting the fixedness of his ministry, put the invitation aside. Choiseul was as superior in diplomacy as his opponent had been in war; and was establishing such relations with every power of Europe that, in the event of new hostilities respecting America, France would have Spain for its partner, and no enemy but England.
Chatham grew sick at heart, as well as decrepit. To be happy, he needed the consciousness of standing well with his fellow-men ; but he whose voice had been a clarion to the Protestant world no longer enjoyed popularity at home
or influence abroad or the trust of the colonies.
The sense of his loneliness, on his return to power, crushed his vigor of will. He who had been most imperative in command knew not how to resolve. Once, at Grafton's earnest solicitation, Charles Townshend was permitted to attend a consultation on European alliances. The next day, Chatham, with the cheerful consent of the king, retreated to Bath ; but its springs had no healing for him. He desired to control France by a northern union, and stood before Europe without one power as an ally. He loved to give the law to the cabinet, and was just admitting into it a restless intriguer, who would traverse his policy. He gloried in the unbounded confidence of his sovereign; and the king wanted nothing of him but “his name.” He longed for the love of the people of England; and he had left their body for an earldom. He would have humbled the aristocracy; and “the nobility” not only “hated him,” but retained strength to overwhelm him.
Yet the cause of liberty was advancing, though Chatham had gone astray. Philosophy spread the knowledge of the laws of nature. The empress of Russia with her own hand minuted an edict for universal tolerance. tell me,” writes Voltaire, in October, to D'Alembert, 6 what will come, within thirty years, of the revolution which is taking effect in the minds of men from Naples to Moscow ? I, who am too old to hope to see any thing, commend to you the age which is forming.” But, though far stricken in years, Voltaire shall himself witness and applaud the greatest step in this progress; shall see insurgent colonies become a republic, and welcome before Paris and the academy of France a runaway apprentice as its envoy:
Meantime, Choiseul dismissed from the council of his king all former theories about America, alike in policy and war; and looked more nearly into the condition of the British colonies, that his new system might rest on the surest ground.
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