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denounced to Grafton as “incurable,” was more and more inclined to the same views.
At this critical conjuncture, when nothing but Chatham's presence could restore activity to the administration and draw parliament from its lethargy, the gout had returned upon him at Marlborough, on his way to London. But business would not wait. On the eighteenth of February, there appeared in the account of the extraordinaries, a large and unusual expenditure on the continent of America. Grenville advised to lessen the expense, and charge upon the colonies the whole of what should remain. There was a general agreement that America ought to alleviate the burdens of England. Every speaker of the opposition directly inveighed against Chatham, whom no one rose to defend. Rigby, stinging the self-love of the ministers, reproached them with being but the servile instruments of their absent chief; incapable of acting but on orders from his lips. To prove his independence, Townshend explained his own system for America, and combated Chatham's of the year before. “I would govern the Americans,” said he, “as subjects of Great Britain. I would restrain their trade and their manufactures as subordinate to the mother country. These, our children, must not make themselves our allies in time of war, and our rivals in peace.” And he concluded by adopting substantially the suggestions of Grenville in favor of retrenchment and an American duty. None heeded the milder counsels of Conway. The mosaic opposition watched every opportunity to push the ministry upon extreme measures. A week later, Camden, who had pledged himself" to maintain to his last hour that taxation and representation are inseparable,” that taxation without representation is a “robbery," proclaimed as loudly“ that his doubt respecting the right of parliament to tax America was removed by the declaration of parliament, whose authority must be maintained."
By this time, the friends of Grenville, of Bedford, and of Rockingham, men the most embittered against each other by former contests, and the most opposite in character and tendencies, were ready to combine against the existing
ministry, whatever might be the consequence of its destruction. During the war, and ever since, the land-tax had been at the nominal rate of four shillings in the pound, in reality at but about ninepence in the pound. On the twenty-seventh of February, Dowdeswell, the leader of the Rockingham party, regardless of his own policy when in the treasury and his knowledge of the public wants, proposed a reduction in the land-tax, nominally of a shilling, but really of only about nine farthings in the pound. Grenville, with more consistency, supported the proposal, which, it was generally admitted, must bring in its train a tax on the colonies. The question was debated between the Americans and the landed interest of England; and the chancellor of the exchequer was reminded of his pledge to derive this year some revenue from America. On the division, Edmund Burke, “ too fond of the right” to vote against his conscience, and not enough fond of it to vote against his party, stayed away; the united factions of the aristocracy mustered two hundred and six against one hundred and eighty-eight for the ministry. But not one of those who planned this impolitic act derived from it any advantage. The good sense of the country condemned it; the city dreaded the wound given to public credit ; Grenville, who joyfully accepted the congratulations of the country gentlemen, deceived himself in expecting a junction with Rockingham, and did not moderate the enmity of the king. The ancient whig connection, which still claimed to represent the party of liberty, by creating an apparent excuse for American taxes, only doomed itself more surely to a fruitless opposition. For so small a benefit as a reduction of nine farthings in the pound on but one year's rental, and for a barren parliamentary triumph, it compromised its principles and risked a continent.
This was the first overthrow, on an important March question, which the government had sustained for a
quarter of a century. On hearing the news, Chatham rose from his bed, and, ill as he was, hastened to London. Charles Townshend“ was warm in the sunshine of majesty; but, as Chatham wished to dismiss him, the king readily
assented; and Lord North was invited to become chancellor of the exchequer. Townshend knew well what was passing; and, in the debates on the East India question, with easy confidence gave a defiance. “I expect to be dismissed for it,” said he, openly; but Lord North would not venture to supersede him. Whom will Chatham next recommend ? asked the king, through Grafton; and no other could be named. This was a new humiliation. Chatham saw the shaft which his enfeebled hand hurled at a defenceless adversary fall harmless at his own feet. He could endure no more. “We cannot remain in office together,” said he of Townshend; and he bade the Duke of Grafton call the next council at his own house. The accumulation of grief destroyed what little of health remained to him; he withdrew from business, and became invisible even to Camden and to Grafton. Here, in fact, his administration was at an end. Transmitting to his substitute every question of domestic, foreign, and colonial policy unsettled, the British Agamemnon retired to his tent, leaving subordinate chiefs to quarrel for the direction.
PARLIAMENT WILL HAVE AN AMERICAN ARMY AND AN AMER
ICAN REVENUE. CHARLES TOWNSHEND'S SUPREMACY IN THE ADMINISTRATION.
THE eclipse of Chatham left Charles Townshend the lord of the ascendant. He was a man of wonderful endowments, dashed with follies and indiscretion. Impatient of waiting, his ruling passion was present success. He was for ever carried away by the immediate object of his desires; now hurried into expenses beyond his means, now clutching at the phantoms of the stock market or speculations in America. In social circles, he was so fond of taking the lead that, to make sport for his companions, he had no friendship which he would not wound, no love which he would not caricature. In the house of commons, his brilliant oratory took its inspiration from the prevailing excitement; and careless of consistency, heedless whom he deserted or whom he joined, he followed the floating indications of the loudest cheers. Applause was the temptation which he had no power to resist. Gay, volatile, and fickle, he lived for the hour and shone for the hour, without the thought of founding an enduring name. Finding Chatham not likely to reappear, his lively imagination was for ever devising schemes to realize his own ambitious views; and he turned to pay the greatest court wherever political appearances were most inviting.
In the cabinet meeting held on the twelfth of March
at the house of Grafton, Townshend assumed to dictate to the ministry its colonial policy, and threatened to appeal from its opinion to the house. A letter from Shelburne urged
Chatham to remove Townshend; but Chatham was too ill to do so, or to give advice to his colleague. Shelburne continued, therefore, to protect American liberty as well as he could, but was powerless to control events, and had no support; for Grafton and even Camden yielded to Townshend's impetuosity.
The disappearance of Chatham reanimated the dissatisfied factions of the aristocracy; Rockingham gave assurances that his friends, without whom, he persuaded himself, nothing could be carried by the Bedfords, would not join in any thing severe against America; but he was all the while contributing to the success of the policy which he most abhorred. Since the last winter, America had lost friends both in and out of parliament. Conway, who kept his old ground, was only laughed at. “He is below low-water mark," said Townshend to Grenville.
On the thirtieth of March, two days after news had arrived that in one of their messages the representatives of Massachusetts had given a formal defiance to parliament, as well as encouraged the resistance of their sister colony, New York, to the billeting act, the American papers which Bedford had demanded were taken into consideration by the house of lords. Camden opened the discussion by declaring New York to be in a state of delinquency; and, receding from his old opinions, he justified his change. Grafton said well that“ the present question was too serious for faction," and promised that the ministers would themselves bring forward a suitable measure. But the lords wearied themselves all that day and all the next in scolding at the colonies with indiscriminate bitterness. They were called “undutiful, ungracious, and unthankful ; “traitors,” were epithets liberally bestowed. Some wished to make of New York an example that might terrify all the others; it was more generally proposed by act of parliament to remodel the government of them all. America had not yet finished the statues which it was raising to Chatham; and Mauduit artfully sent over word that the
April. plan for reducing America would be sanctioned by his name.
99 6 rebels,”