the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part
of mankind all over the earth.’1
This vision was drawing near its fulfilment.
Afraid to meet parliament on the naked proposal of the expediency of taxing America, Grenville
, with consummate art, resolved to place it ‘upon the most general and acknowledged grounds of whig Policy.’2
The king, therefore, on opening the session on the tenth of January, most wisely for the immediate gain of great majorities by his ministry, most unwisely for his own peace and the welfare of his realm, presented the American
question as one of ‘obedience to the laws and respect for the legislative authority of the kingdom.’
The raising such a question was dangerous in the extreme; if passed by undecided, it must leave the administration of the colonies in confusion; if denied, it must heighten their daring; if asserted, it must wound their affections beyond remedy.
The words of the king were echoed by the Lords
and by the Commons, with the promise of that ‘temper and firmness which would best conciliate due submission and reverence.’3
The ministry were confident of a triumphant session and confirmed power.
The impending measure drew attention from all quarters.
In private, the arguments of America
were urged with persuasive earnestness.
found that America
was in their debt to the amount of four millions of pounds sterling.
sought to relieve their fears by the profuse offer of