The triumvirate ministry pursue the plan of taxing America by parliament.
April, May, 1763.
George the Third was revered by his courtiers as
realizing the idea of a patriot king.1
He would espouse no party, rule ‘by no faction,’ and employ none but those who would conduct affairs on his own principles.
The watchword of his friends was ‘a coalition of parties,’ in the spirit of dutiful obedience, so that he might select ministers from among them all, and he came to the throne resolved ‘to begin to govern as soon as he should begin to reign.’2
Yet the established constitution was more immovable than his designs.
did not retire from the ministry till the country was growing weary of ‘his German war,’ and a majority in the British
cabinet opposed his counsels.
, so long the representative of a cabal of the oligarchy, which had once been more repected than the royal authority itself,3
did not abandon
office till he had lost weight with parliament and
the people; and the favorite, Bute, after making the peace with general approbation, had no option but to retire from a place which neither his own cabinet, nor the nation, nor either house of parliament, was willing he should hold.
In the midst of changing factions the British constitution stood like adamant.
, who was never personally agreeable to the king,4
was chosen to succeed Bute in the ministry, because, from his position, he seemed dependent on the court.
He had no party, and was aware of it.5
— No man had more changed his associates: entering life as a patriot, accepting office of Newcastle, leaving Newcastle
, and remaining in office when Pitt
and Temple were driven out. The head of his own house now regarded him with lively hatred, and one of his younger brothers had repudiated his conduct as base:6
so that he derived no strength from his family.
Moreover, he loved office, and loved it for its emoluments,7
and so inordinately, that, even against the utmost endeavors of his own brothers, he had for many years nourished a rankling grudge against Pitt
, and secretly questioned his friendship, honor, and good faith, because Pitt
had conferred upon him the very lucrative office of treasurer of the navy, at a time when he himself was lusting after the still more enormously lucrative one of paymaster to the forces.8
And, in 1762, he had suffered himself to
be summarily thrust out of the office of secretary of
state, and had accepted another from avarice,9
and in the hope of still higher preferment.10
was no venal adventurer, and in his love of money retained the cold austerity that marked his character.
He never grew giddy with the hazards of the stock-market, nor made himself a broker of office, nor jobbed in lottery-tickets and contracts.
His desire was for solid and sure places; a tellership in the exchequer, or the profits of a light-house, the rich sinecures which English law and English usages tolerated; so that even in the indulgence of his strongest passion, he kept a good conscience, and men regarded him as a model of integrity,11
and the resolute enemy of corruption.
Nor was he aware that the craving for wealth led him to penurious parsimony.
He was the second son; and his childless elder brother, whose title would fall to his family, could break the entail of some part of his great possessions;12
saved always all his emoluments from public office, pleading that it was a disinterested act, which only enriched his children;13
as if a miser hoards money for any others than his heirs.
His personal deportment was always grave and formally solemn and forbidding; and in an age of dissoluteness, his apathy in respect of pleasure made him
appear a paragon for sanctity of morals.
praised him for his constant weekly attendance at the morning service.
He was not cruel; but the coldness of his nature left him incapable of compassion.
He had not energetic decision, although he was obstinately selfinterested: as a consequence, he was not vengeful; but when evil thoughts towards others rose up within his breast, they rather served to trouble his own peace with the gall of bitterness.
He would also become unhappy, and grievously repine at disappointment or the ill success of his plans, even while his self-love saved him from remorse.
Nor was he one of the king's friends, nor did he seek advancement by unworthy flattery of the court.14
A good lawyer, and trained in the best and most liberal political school of his day, it was ever his pride to be esteemed a sound Whig,15
making the absolute supremacy of parliament the test of his consistency and the essential element of his creed; and he rose to eminence through the laborious gradations of public service, by a thorough knowledge of its constitution16
and an indefatigable attention to all its business.
Just before his death, after a service in the House of Commons of about thirty years,17
he said with pride that to that house he owed all his distinction; and such was the flattering self-conceit of this austere and rigidly inflexible man, that he ascribed all his eminence to his own merits, which he never regarded as too highly rewarded.
Gratitude, therefore, found no place in his nature; 18
but now that he was at that period of life when the
gentler passions are quiet, and ambition rules without restraint, he was so much like the bird that croaks whilst enjoying the fullest meal, that towards those even who had benefited him most, there remained in his heart something like a harsh willingness to utter reproach for their not having succeeded in doing more.
And when he looked back upon the line of his predecessors in office; upon Bute, Newcastle
, and even Pelham
, under whom he had been trained, it was easy for him to esteem himself superior to them all. Yet Grenville
wanted the elements of true statesmanship and greatness: he had neither a creative mind to devise a system of policy, nor active powers to guide an administration.
His nature inclined him not to originate measures, but to amend, and alter, and regulate.
He had neither salient traits nor general comprehensiveness of mind; neither the warm imagination, which can arrange and vivify various masses of business, nor sagacity to penetrate the springs of public action and the consequences of measures.
In a word, he was a dull, plodding pedant in politics; a painstaking, exact man of business, capable of counting19
the Manilla ransom if it had ever been paid.
In his frequent, long, and tedious speeches, it has been said that a trope20
never passed his lips; but he abounded in repetitions and explanatory self-justification.
He would have made a laborious and an upright judge,
or an impartial and most respectable speaker of the
House of Commons; but at the head of an administration, he could be no more than the patient and mepthodical executor of plans ‘devolved’21
upon him by the statute-book of England
or by his predecessors in office.
The stubbornness with which he was wont to adhere to them sprung from the weakness of pride and obstinacy, that were parts of his nature, not from the vigor of a commanding will,22
which never belonged to him.
With the bequest of Bute's office, the new minister inherited also the services of his efficient private secretary, Charles Jenkinson
, who now became the principal Secretary of the Treasury
He was a man of rare ability.
scholar without fortune, and at first destined for the Church
, he entered life on the side of the whigs; but using an immediate opportunity of becoming known to George the Third while Prince
, he devoted himself to his service.
He remained always a friend and a uniform favorite of the king.
Engaged in the most important scenes of political action, and rising to the highest stations, he moved with so soft a step, that he seemed to pass on as noiselessly as a shadow; and history was hardly aware of his presence.
He had the singular talent of being employed in the most delicate and disagreeable personal negotiations, and fulfilling such trusts so calmly as to retain the friendship of those whom he seemed commissioned to wound.
Except at first, when still very poor, he never showed a wish for office, till the time arrived when it seemed to seek him; and
he proved how an able man may quietly gain every
object of his ambition, if he is but so far the master of his own mind as to make desire wait upon opportunity and fortune.
His old age was one of dignity, cheered by the unabated regard of the king; and in the midst of physical sufferings, soothed and made happy by the political success of one son and the affectionate companionship of another.
The blot on his life was his conduct respecting America
; the thorough measures which Charles Townshend
had counselled with dangerous rashness, and which George Grenville
in part resisted, Jenkinson
was always ready to carry forward with tranquil collectedness.
The king wished to see Townshend
at the head of the admiralty.23
‘My nephew Charles,’ reasoned Newcastle
‘will hardly act under George Grenville
;’ and it proved so. A sharp rivalry existed between the two, and continued as long as both lived; each of them, in the absence of Pitt
, aiming to stand first in the House of Commons, and in the Government
, though, for the present, he declined office, took care to retain the favor of the king by zeal against popular commotions.25
, too, refused to join the ministry after the advancement of Egremont
, who, at the time of his negotiating the peace, had shown him so much ill-will.
He advised the employment of the old whig aristocracy.
‘I know,’ said he, ‘the administration cannot last; should I take in it the place of
of the Council, I should deserve to be
treated like a madman.’26
So unattractive was Grenville
The triumvirate, of whom not one was beloved by the people, became ‘a general joke,’27
and was laughed at as a three-headed monster,28
quieted by being gorged with patronage and office.
The business of the session was rapidly brought to a close.
's bill for the effectual enforcement of the acts of navigation received the royal assent.
The scheme of taxing the colonies did but lie over for the next session; but at the prorogation, the king's speech announced the purpose of improving the revenue, which, as the de bates during the session explained, had a special reference to America
It was not ‘the wish of this man or that man;’29
each house of parliament, and nearly every body in Great Britain
, was eager to throw a part of the public burdens on the increasing opulence of the New World.
The new ministry, at the outset, was weakened by its own indiscreet violence.
In the speech at the close of the session, the king vauntingly arrogated merit for the peace which Frederic of Prussia
had concluded, after being left alone by England
, a man who shared the social licentiousness of his day, in the forty-fifth number of a periodical paper called the North Briton, exposed the fallacy.
The king, thinking one
of his subjects had given him the lie, applied30
ministry for the protection to which every Englishman had a right.
How to proceed became a question.
as a lawyer, knew, and ‘declared that general warrants were illegal;’ but conforming to ‘long established precedents,’ Halifax
, as one of the secretaries of state
, issued a general warrant for the arrest of all concerned in a publication which calm judgment32
pronounces unworthy of notice, but which all parties at that day branded as a libel.
was arrested; but on the doubtful plea that his privilege as a member of parliament had been violated, he was set at liberty by the popular Chief Justice Pratt
The opponents of the ministry hastened to renew the war of privilege against prerogative, with the advantage of being defenders of the constitution on a question affecting a vital principle of personal freedom.
The cry for ‘Wilkes
and Liberty’ was heard in all parts of the British
In the midst of the confusion, Grenville
set about confirming himself in power34
by diligence in the public business.
‘His self-conceit,’ said Lord Holland afterwards,35
‘as well as his pride and obstinacy, established him.’
For the joint secretary of the treasury he selected an able and sensible lawyer, Thomas Whately
, in whom he obtained a firm defender and political friend.
His own secretary as Chancellor
the Exchequer was Richard Jackson
; and the choice
is very strong evidence that though he entered upon his task blindly, as it proved, and in ignorance36
of the colonies, yet his intentions were fair;37
was a liberal member of the House of Commons, a good lawyer, not eager to increase his affluent fortune, frank, independent, and abhorring intrigue.
He was, moreover, better acquainted with the state of America
, and exercised a sounder judgment on questions of colonial administration, than, perhaps, any man in England
His excellent character led Connecticut
to make him their agent; and he gave the latter province even better advice than Franklin
He was always able to combine affection for England
with uprightness and fidelity to his American employers.
To a mind like Grenville
's, the protective system had irresistible attractions.
He saw in trade the foundation of the wealth and power of his country, and embraced all the prejudices of the mercantile system; he wished by regulations and control to advance the commerce and public credit, which really owed their superiority to the greater liberty of England
He prepared to recharter the bank of England, to connect it still more closely with the funding system; to sustain the credit of the merchants, which faltered under the revulsion consequent on the return to peace; to bind more firmly the restrictions of the commercial monopoly; to increase
the public revenue, and in its expenditure to found
a system of frugality.
America, with its new acquisitions-Florida
, and the valley of the Mississippi
, and Canada-lay invitingly before him. The enforcing the navigation acts was peculiarly his own policy, and was the first leading feature of his administration.
His predecessors had bound him by their pledges to provide for the American
army by taxes on the colonies; and to find sources of an American revenue, was his second great object.
This he combined with the purpose38
of so dividing the public burdens between England
as to diminish the motive to emigrate from Great Britain
for, in those days, emigration40
was considered an evil.
In less than a month after Bute's retirement, Egremont
, who still remained Secretary of State
for the southern department, asked the advice of the Lords
of Trade on the organization of governments in the newly acquired territories, the military force to be kept up in America
, and in what mode least burthensome and most palatable to the colonies, they can contribute towards the support of the additional expense which must attend their civil and military establishment.41
The head of the Board of Trade was the Earl
He was at that time not quite six and twenty years old, had served creditably in the seven years war, as a volunteer, and, on his return, was ap pointed aide-de-camp to George the Third.
He had supported the peace42
of 1763, as became a humane and
liberal man; in other respects he was an admirer of Pitt
While his report was waited for, Grenville
, through Charles Jenkinson
began his system of saving, by an order to the Commander-in-Chief
of the Forces in America
, now that the peace was made, to withdraw the allowance for victualling the regiments44
stationed in the cultivated parts of America
This expense was to be met in future by the colonies.