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meet the military expenses, when properly reduced. The loud burst of rapture dismayed Conway, who sat in silent astonishment at the unauthorized but premeditated rashness of his presumptuous colleague.
The next night, the cabinet questioned the insubordinate minister, “ how he had ventured to depart, on so essential a point, from the profession of the whole ministry;” and he
browbeat them all. “I appeal to you,” said he, turning to Conway, “ whether the house is not bent on
obtaining a revenue of some sort from the colonies.” Not one of the ministry then in London had sufficient authority to advise his dismission; and nothing less could have stopped his measures.
THE BRITISH ARISTOCRACY REDUCE THEIR OWN TAXES.
DEFEAT OF CHATHAM'S ADMINISTRATION BY THE MOSAIC OPPOSITION.
The day after Townshend braved his colleagues, the legislature of Massachusetts convened. Hutchinson, having received his compensation as a sufferer by the riots, restrained his ambition no longer, and took a seat in the council as though it of right belonged to the lieutenant-governor. The house resented his intrusion into an elective body of which he had not been chosen a member. The council, by a unanimous vote, denied his pretensions. The language of the charter was too explicit to admit of a doubt; yet Bernard urged the interposition of the central government.
With unshaken confidence in Hawley, Otis, and Samuel Adams, the people scanned every measure that could imply consent to British taxation. When the governor professed, “ in pursuance of the late act of parliament,” to have made provision at the colony's expense for
roops which had recently touched at Boston harbor, they did not cease their complaints till they wrung from him the declaration that his supply “ did not include articles prescribed by that act,” but was “wholly conformable to the usage of the province." Upon
Upon this concession, the house acquiesced in an expenditure which no longer compromised their rights; and declared their readiness to grant of their own free accord such aids as the king's service should require.
By the authority of the same act of parliament, Gage
demanded quarters for one hundred and fifty-eight recruits, of the governor of Connecticut; but that magistrate refused compliance till he should be duly authorized by the colonial assembly.
To check every aspiration after independence, Carleton, the able governor of Canada, advised to grant no legislative immunities to its people; to keep Crown Point and Ticonderoga in good repair; to have a citadel and place of arms in New York, as well as a citadel in Quebec; and to link the two provinces so strongly together that, on the commencement of an outbreak, ten or fifteen thousand men could be moved without delay from the one to the other, or
to any part of the continent. No pains, no address, no expense, he insisted, would be too great for the
object, which would divide the northern and southern colonies, as well as secure the public magazines.
Chatham, who wished to keep the affections of the colonists, could not suspend the act of parliament ; but, through Shelburne, he enjoined the American commander in chief to make its burden as light, both in appearance and in reality, as was consistent with the public service. He saw that the imperfect compliance of New York would open a fair field to the arraigners of America; and, between his opinions as a statesman and his obligations as minister, he knew not what to propose. The declaratory act was as a barren fruittree, which, though fair to the eye, only cumbers the earth, and spreads a noxious shade.
Shelburne was aware also that, if the Americans “ should be tempted to resist in the last instance," France and Spain would no longer defer breaking the peace of which they began to number the days. Spain was resolved not to pay the Manila ransom, was planning how to drive the English from the Falkland Islands, and called on France to prepare to go to war in two years ; “ for Spain,” said Grimaldi, “cannot longer postpone inflicting chastisement on English insolence.” “ This is the rhodomontade of a Don Quixote,” said the French minister; and Choiseul resolved not to disturb the peace.
Executive moderation might still have saved England
from a conflict. Impressed with the necessity of giving up trifles that created uneasiness, Shelburne proceeded diligently to make himself master of each American question, and to prepare its solution. The subject of the greatest consequence was the forming an American fund. To this end, without exercising rigor in respect to quit-rents long due, he proposed to break up the system of forestalling lands by speculators, to require that the engrossing proprietors should fulfil the conditions of their grants, and to make all future grants on a system of quitrents, which should be applied to defray the American expenses then borne by the exchequer of Great Britain.
Relief to the mother country being thus derived from an income which had chiefly been squandered among favorites, he proposed to leave the Indian trade to be regulated under general rules by the respective provinces, at their own cost.
Resisting those who advised to concentrate the American army in the principal towns, he wished it disposed on the frontiers, where its presence might be desired.
The people of America, even a majority of those who adhered to the church of England, feared an American episcopate, lest ecclesiastical courts should follow; Shelburne expressed his opinion openly that there was no occasion for American bishops.
He reprobated the political dependence of the judges in the colonies; and advised that 'their commissions should conform to the usage in England.
The grants of lands in Vermont, under the seal of New Hampshire, he confirmed; and this decision was not less wise than just.
Massachusetts and New York had a controversy about limits, which had led to disputed land-titles and bloodshed on the border: instead of keeping the question open as a means of setting one colony against another, he directed that it should be definitively settled.
The billeting act for America, which the Rockingham ministry had continued till the twenty-fourth of March, 1768, was contrary to the whole tenor of British legislation for Ireland, and to all former legislation for America.
Shelburne disapproved its principle, and sought to reconcile the wants of the army with the rights of America ; being resolved “not to establish a precedent, which might hereafter be turned to purposes of oppression.”
The American continent was interested in the settlement of Canadian affairs; Shelburne listened to the hope of establishing tranquillity, by calling an assembly that should assimilate to the English laws such of the French laws as it was necessary to retain, and by rendering the Canadian Catholics eligible to the assembly and council.
But the more Shelburne showed his good disposition towards America, the more the court spoke of him as “an enemy.” The king was accustomed “to talk a great deal about America ;” and he told Shelburne plainly that the billeting act “ should be enforced,” though he declined “to suggest the mode.” Besides, the dependence of the colonies was believed to be at stake; and New York “underwent the imputation of rebellion.”
The difficulties that beset Shelburne were increased
by the condition of parties in Great Britain. The old whig aristocracy was passing out of power, with so ill a grace that they preferred the immediate gratification of their passions to every consideration of wisdom and expediency. America was the theme in all companies, yet was discussed according to its bearings on personal ambition. Men struggled for a momentary victory more than for any system of government; and the liberties of two millions of their countrymen, the interests of a continent, the unity of the British empire, were swayed by the accidents of a parliamentary skirmish.
Merchants of New York had sent a very temperate petition, setting forth some of the useless grievances of the acts of trade, and praying for the free exportation of their lumber and an easier exchange of products with the West Indies. Grenville and his friends appealed to the reasonable request as fresh evidence that nothing would give satisfaction to the colonists but a repeal of all restrictions on trade, and freedom from all subordination and dependence. Besides, Townshend, whom Chatham had thrice