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[86] minister excuse his own acts of despotic legislation by
chap. IV.} 1751.
his neglect to enforce them? The administration of Sir Robert Walpole had left English statutes and American practice more at variance than ever. Woe to the British statesman who should hold it a duty to enforce the British laws!

In 1740, Ashley, a well informed writer, had proposed to establish a fund by such ‘an abatement of the duty on molasses imported into the northern colonies,’1 as would make it cease to be prohibitory. ‘Whether this duty,’ he added, ‘should be one, two, or three pence sterling money of Great Britain per gallon, may be matter of consideration.’ The time was come when it was resolved to discard the policy of Walpole. Opinions were changing on the subject of a stamp-tax; and the Board of Trade, in 1751, entered definitively on the policy of regulating trade, so as to uproot illicit traffic and obtain an American revenue.2 To this end, they fostered the jealous dispute between the continental colonies and the favored British West Indian Islands; that, under the guise of lenity, they might lower the disregarded prohibitory duties, and enrich the exchequer by the collection of more moderate imposts.

But the perfidious jealousy with which the Duke of Newcastle plotted against his colleague, the Duke of Bedford, delayed for the present the decisive interposition of parliament in the government of America. Besides, Halifax with his Board was equally at

1 John Ashley's Memoirs and Considerations concerning the Trade, &c., of the British colonies, with proposals for rendering those colonies more beneficial to Great Britain.

2 Bollan's Sketch of his Services.

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