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ear in startling distinctness in the speeches and conduct of Fox, who put all at hazard on the omnipotence of parliament, and yet excelled in the clear statement of the attitude of America. Both lay in irreconciled confusion in the politics of Rockingham, whose administration signalized itself by enacting the right of the king, lords, and commons of Britain to bind America in all cases whatsoever, and humanely refused to enforce the claim. The aristocratic party of liberty, organized on the pron unrepresented colonies. This was the first step in the renovation of English liberty. The next was, to recognise that parliament as then composed did not adequately represent the Chap. I.} 1778. nation; and statesmen of the connection of Rockingham desperately resisted both these cardinal principles of reform. This unyielding division among the opponents of Lord North prolonged his administration. Besides, many men of honest intentions, neither wishing to see English liberties impaire
announced its retirement, he proposed to the Earl of Shelburne to take the administration with Thurlow, Gower, and Weymouth, Camden, Grafton, and Rockingham. This Shelburne declined as absolutely impracticable, and from an equal regard to the quiet of the sovereign and the good of the country he urged that Rockingham might be sent for. The king could not prevail with himself to accept the advice, and he spoke discursively of his shattered health, his agitation of mind, his low opinion of Rockingham's understanding, his horror of Charles Fox, his preference of Shelburne as compared to the rest of the opposition. For a day 22. he contemplated calling in a number of principal persons, among whom Rockingham might be included; and when the many objections to such a measure were pointed out, he still refused to meet Rockingham face to face, and could not bring himself further than to receive him through the intervention of Shelburne. In this state of things the latter consented to be
Chapter 27: Rockingham's ministry Assents to American independence. 1782. the hatred of America as a self-existent state Chap. XXVII.} 1782. became every day more intense in Spain from the desperate weakness of her authority in her transatlantic possessions. Her rule was dreaded in them all; and, as even her allies confessed, with good reason. The seeds of rebellion were already sown in the vice-royalties of Buenos Ayres and Peru; and a union of Creoles and Indians might prove at any moment fatal to metropolitan dominion. French statesmen were of opinion that England, by emancipating Spanish America, might indemnify itself for all loss from the independence of a part of its own colonial empire; and they foresaw in such a revolution the greatest benefit to the commerce of their own country. Immense naval preparations had been made by the Bourbons for the conquest of Jamaica, but now from the fear of spreading the love of change Florida Blanca suppressed every wish to