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[248] The character of his disease was concealed; it was
chap. XI.} 1765. Mar.
believed that the malady was ‘no trifling one;’1 that he was ‘very seriously ill, and in great danger.’2 At one time pains were taken ‘to secrete him from all intercourse with his court.’ His physician hinted the propriety of his retiring ‘to one of his palaces in the country.’3 To a few only was the nature of his illness known. Be every sentiment of anger towards the king absorbed in pity. At the moment of passing the Stamp Act, George the Third was crazed.4 So, on the twenty-second of March, it received the royal assent by a commission. The sovereign of Great Britain, whose soul was wholly bent on exalting the prerogative, taught the world that a bit of parchment bearing the sign of his hand, scrawled in the flickering light of clouded reason, could, under the British constitution, do the full legislative office of the king. Had he been a private man, his commission could have given validity to no instrument whatever.

It was Grenville's purpose to exercise the assumed right of taxing the colonies with great tenderness; supposing it ‘prudent to begin with small duties and taxes, and to advance in proportion as it should be found the colonies would bear.’ For the present he attempted nothing more than to increase the revenue from the colonial post-office by reducing the rate of postage in America.5

1 Lord Chesterfield, 22 April.

2 Walpole to Hertford, 26 March, 1765.

3 Walpole's George III., 83.

4 Adolphus's History of England, i. 175. London Quarterly Review for June, 1840.

5 Hutchinson to a friend, 9 April, 1765: ‘I have a letter from a member of parliament, who, although he says this right of taxing the colonies is to be exercised with great tenderness, yet, in another place, supposes it prudent to begin with small duties and taxes, and to advance in proportion or degree as it shall be found the colonies will bear.’ This is excellent authority. Take, also, Calvert to Sharpe: ‘Last year the first stone was laid, this year another, and will be succeeded by every ministerial builder, until the whole American structure of their folly is, by the mother country, completed on them.’

‘The Commons was full, but not a member against taxation of them, nor an advocate that could or did offer a better lenitive scheme.’

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