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[162] officers; to seize such persons as were suspected
chap. IX.} 1763. Oct.
by them to be engaged in illicit trade.

The promise of large emoluments in case of forfeitures stimulated their natural and irregular vivacity1 to enforce laws which had become obsolete, and they pounced upon American property as they would have gone in war in quest of prize-money. Even at first their acts were equivocal, and they soon came to be as illegal as they were oppressive. There was no redress. An appeal to the Privy Council was costly and difficult, and besides, when as happened before the end of the year,2 an officer had to defend himself on an appeal, the suffering colonists were exhausted by the delay and expenses, while the treasury took care to indemnify their agent.

The rule adopted for colonizing America, was founded on the uniform principle of grants of lands from the crown, subject to quit-rent; so that the new settlements would consist entirely of the king's tenants,3 and would owe their landlord a large annual rental. In the small West India islands, an agrarian law set bounds to the cupidity for land. Egmont, the new head of the admiralty, an upright and able, but eccentric man, preferred the feudal system to every form of government, and made a plan for establishing it in the isle of St. John. This reverie of a visionary he desired to apply to all the conquered countries, to Acadia and Canada on the north; and to the two Floridas on the south, which were to be divided into great baronies, each composed of a hundred vassals. In each province

1 Edmund Burke, in Annual Register VIII. 18, 19.

2 Governor Bernard to the Secretary of State, 24 December, 1763. Thomas Whately, Secretary of the Treasury, to Commissioners of the Customs, 17 April, 1764. Treasury Letter Book, XXIV. 3.

3 Campbell, 7.

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