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HOW GREAT BRITAIN ESTRANGED

AMERICA.

CHAPTER XXV.

THE CHARTER OF MASSACHUSETTS IN PERIL. THE FALL

OF THE ROCKINGHAM ADMINISTRATION.

MAY-JULY, 1766.

1766.

THE satisfaction of America was not suffered to continue long. The king, regarding the repeal of the stamp act as “a fatal compliance,” which had “planted

May. thorns under his pillow and for ever 66 wounded the majesty" of England, preferred the hazard of losing the colonies to tempering the British claim of absolute authority. Their denial of that claim and their union were ascribed by his friends to the hesitation of his ministers, whose measures, they insisted, had prevailed by “ artifices" against the real opinion of parliament; and “the coming hour” was foretold, “when the British Augustus would grieve for the obscuring of the glories of his reign by the loss not of a province, but of an empire more extensive than that of Rome; not of three legions, but of whole nations."

A reaction necessarily followed. Pitt had erected no stronger bulwark for America than the shadowy partition which divides internal taxation from imposts regulating commerce; and Rockingham had leapt over this slight defence, declaring the power of parliament to extend of right to all cases whatsoever. But they who give absolute power give the abuse of absolute power; they who draw the bolts from the doors and windows let in the robber. When the opinions of Bedford and Grenville became sanc

1766.

There ap

tioned as just principles of constitutional law, no question respecting their policy remained open but that of its expediency; and country gentlemen, if they had a right to

raise a revenue from America, were sure that it was May.

expedient to ease themselves of one fourth of their

land-tax by exercising the right.“ The administration is dead, and only lying in state,” was the common remark. Conway was eager to resign; and Grafton not only threw up his office, but, before the house of lords, called on the prime minister, who regarded the ascendency of the old whig aristocracy as almost a part of the British constitution, to be content with an inferior station, for the sake of accomplishing a junction with Pitt.

On the resignation of Grafton, Conway, with his accustomed indecision, remained in office, but escaped from the care of America to the northern department. peared a great and general backwardness to embark with Rockingham. Lord North had hardly accepted a lucrative post, before he changed his mind and excused himself. Lord Howe would not serve, unless under Pitt. Lord Hardwicke refused the place left vacant by Grafton; so did his brother, Charles Yorke; and so did Egmont; till at last it fell to the husband of Conway's step-daughter, the liberal, self-confident Duke of Richmond, who added grace and courtesy of manners to firm affections, but was swayed by an ambition that far outran his ability. He, too, shunned the conduct of American affairs; and they were made over to a new department of state, which Dartmouth was to accept. Once, to delay his fall, Rockingham suggested a coalition with the Duke of Bedford. Female politicians, at their game of loo, divined the ruin of the ministry, and were zealots for governing the colonies by the hand of power.

In America, half-suppressed murmurs mingled with its transport. Taxation by parliament began to be compared with restrictions on industry and trade; and the latter were found to be “the more slavish thing of the two,” and “the more inconsistent with civil liberty.” The protesting lords had affirmed that, if the provinces might refuse obedience

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