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[18] care of what was called the Southern Department,
chap. I.} 1748.
which included the conduct of all relations with the Spanish peninsula and France. The Board of Trade, framed originally to restore the commerce and encourage the fisheries of the metropolis, was compelled to hear complaints from the executive officers in America, to issue instructions to them, and to receive and consider all acts of the colonial legislatures; but it had no final responsibility for the system of American policy that might be adopted. Hence from their very feebleness the Lords of Trade were ever ready to express their impatience at contradiction; easily grew vexed at disobedience to their orders; and were much inclined to suggest the harshest methods of coercion, knowing that their petulance would exhale itself in official papers, unless it should touch the pride or waken the resentment of the responsible minister, the crown and parliament.

The effect of their recommendations would depend on the character of the person who might happen to be the Secretary of State for the South, and on his influence with the parliament and the king. A long course of indecision had hitherto multiplied the questions, on which the demands and the customary procedure of the colonies were utterly at variance with the maxims that prevailed at the Board of Trade.

In April, 1724, the seals for the Southern Department and the colonies had been intrusted to the Duke of Newcastle. His advancement by Sir Robert Walpole, who shunned men of talents as latent rivals, was owing to his rank, wealth, influence over boroughs, and personal imbecility. For nearly four-and-twenty years he remained minister for British America; yet

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