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Chapter 52:

The crisis.

February—May, 1774.

The passions of the British Ministry were encour-
Chap. LII.} 1774. Feb.
aged by the British people, who resented the denial of its supremacy and made the cause of Parliament its own.1 The current ran against the Americans; and the Ministry, overruling the lingering scruples of Dartmouth and Lord North, decided that there existed a rebellion which required not conciliation but coercion. Inquiries were made with the object of enabling the King to proceed in ‘England against the ringleaders,’ and inflict on them immediate and exemplary punishment. But after laborious examinations before the Privy Council, and the close attention of Thurlow and Wedderburn, it appeared that British law and the British Constitution set bounds to the anger of the Government, which gave the first evidence of its weakness by acknowledging a want of power to wreak its will.

During the delay attending an appeal to Parliament,

1 Edmund Burke in VanSchaack's VanSchaack, 19, and Vardell 26.

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