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Chapter 12:

The ministry offend the king as well as the colonies— administration of Grenville continued.

April—May, 1765.

events within the palace delayed the conflict with
chap. XII.} 1765. April
America. The king, in his zeal to give the law to his ministers and to govern as well as reign, lost his opportunity of enforcing the stamp act. No sooner had he recovered from the illness, of which the true nature was kept secret even from the members of his cabinet, than, bearing in mind that the heir to the throne was an infant of but two years old, he fearlessly contemplated the contingency of his own incapacity or death; and though his nerves were still tremulous from mental disease, he, with the aid of Lord Holland, framed a plan for a regency. The manifest want of confidence in his ministers roused their jealousy, and when they received his orders to prepare a bill for carrying his design into effect, they thought to fix in the public mind their hostility to Bute and win popularity by disqualifying the princess dowager. To this end, in the choice of the regent, the king was to be ‘restrained to the queen or any other person of the royal family.’ He approved the minute entirely, not knowing that, in the opinion of Bedford, Grenville, Halifax and Sandwich, his own [254] family did not include his mother. At the request
chap. XII.} 1765. April.
of the duke of Cumberland, the king, again without consulting his four ministers, gave directions, that his uncle and his brothers, five in all, should be specially designated as fixed members of the council. This they refused to approve; and yielded to his wishes only on condition that he should renounce the privilege which he had reserved of appointing four others To Grenville he refused this concession; but afterwards accepted it in concert with Northington. Grenville had certainly just cause of complaint, and on Sunday, the twenty-eighth of April, ‘with a firm and steady countenance,’ and at very great length, he expostulated with the king on his withholding confidence from his ministers. The king at first started and professed surprise; and as the conversation proceeded, grew ‘exceedingly agitated and disturbed, changed countenance, and flushed so much that the water stood in his eyes from the excessive heat of his face;’ but he neither denied nor admitted the charge; used no words of anger, of excuse, or of softening; and only put on a smile, when, at a ‘late hour,’ the tedious minister ‘made his bow.’ The bill for the regency was committed to Halifax, to be presented to the House of Lords. On the second reading, they consented, by a large majority,
to leave to the king the naming of the regent. ‘But who are the royal family to whom the selection is restrained?’ asked the duke of Richmond, in the debate of the first of May. ‘Does it include the princess Amelia and the princess dowager?’ Talbot, one of the king's friends, answered, that it included both, and such was the opinion of the chancellor. [255] ‘The royal family are those who are in the
chap. XII.} 1765. May.
order of succession, one after another,’ answered Bedford, unmasking the malice in which the bill had been conceived. Richmond wished that, in the doubt, the judges should be consulted. On this, Sandwich moved the adjournment.

The king, who had never intended to appoint his mother, was anxious to save her name from disagreeable discussion in parliament. When, therefore, he

May 2.
received the report of the occurrence, Halifax was authorized to use words whose meaning would admit of no dispute. But before he could deliver his message, Richmond proposed to include among those eligible to the regency, ‘the princess dowager, and others descended from the late king.’ The motion was rejected by the ministers; after which Halifax, using the king's authority, renewed the same motion, except that he omitted the princess dowager. In this way the bill passed the House of Lords. The ministry had not intended so much; they had circumvented the king, and used his name to put a brand upon his mother. Bute's friends were thunderstruck, while the duke of Bedford almost danced for joy. The king's natural affection was very strong; he suffered the utmost agitation, even to tears; and declared that Halifax ‘had surprised him into the message.’ When on the fifth of May, he admitted Gren-
May 5.
ville, he colored with great emotion, complained of the mark of disregard shown to his mother as an offence to her which he could not bear; and with the embarrassment of a man who begs a favor which he fears may be denied, entreated its removal. Grenville obstinately refused himself to make the necessary [256] motion; but true to his character as the man
chap. XII.} 1765. May.
of compromises, always wishing to please everybody and always balancing one thing against another, he consented with no good grace that the name of the princess dowager should be inserted in the House of Commons by one of her own servants. This was done, and he advocated the alteration in a speech, which, however, seemed chiefly designed to shield the ministry from the charge of inconsistency. ‘If Lord Halifax is even reprieved,’ it was said, ‘the king is more enslaved to a cabal than ever his grandfather was.’ The ministers believed themselves strong enough to compel their sovereign to conform in all things to their advice. Bedford, therefore, in defiance, tried the experiment of mentioning to him his suspicions, that Bute had been ‘operating mischief to overthrow the government.’ Grenville also was earnest that the king's ministers should be suffered to retire, or be seen manifestly to possess his favor. But they got no satisfactory answer; though Grenville was led to believe his own services indispensable, and admitted into his mind the pleasing delusion, that they would be required, even should his old enemy, the duke of Bedford, be dismissed. On the thirteenth of May, the king, in his impatience of ministers, who did not love each other and only agreed to give him the law, invoked the aid of his uncle, the duke of Cumberland, and authorized negotiations with Pitt, with Temple, and the great Whig families, for constructing a new administration, in which Charles Townshend should be one of the secretaries of state, and Northumberland, Bute's sonin-law, at the head of the treasury. [257]

On that same day the regency bill, with the

chap. XII.} 1765 May 13.
amendment, rehabilitating the princess dowager, was accepted by the House of Lords. It so happened, that in the same sitting a bill came up, raising the duties on silks, for the benefit of English weavers. In the Commons it had been countenanced by Grenville, who was always the friend of the protective policy; and it had the approval of the king. But Bedford having, like Edmund Burke, caught the more liberal views of political economy which were then beginning to prevail, especially in France and in Scotland, spoke on the side of freedom of trade; and the bill was refused a second reading.

The silk weavers were exasperated; professing to believe that Bedford had been bought by the French. On Tuesday they went in a large body to Richmond

to petition the king for redress. Cumberland, at that time, was explaining his commission to Rockingham and Newcastle, both of whom were zealous for the proposed change. The Earl of Albemarle, therefore, communicated, in his name, with Pitt, who terminated a conversation of four hours without an engagement, yet without a negative. Edmund Burke, as he watched the negotiation, complained of Pitt's hesitancy, and derided his ‘fustian.’

Temple and Grafton were summoned to town. Of Grafton, Cumberland asked, if a ministry could be formed out of the minority, without Pitt; and received for answer, that ‘nothing so formed could be stable.’ ‘The wings of popularity were on Pitt's shoulders.’

Lord Temple, who had not one personal quality

that fitted him to become a minister, but derived all [258] his importance from his rank and wealth, some popu-
chap. XII.} 1765. May 15.
larity and his connection with Pitt, already began to be estranged from his brother-in-law, whom he envied and disliked, and reconciled to Grenville, his brother and apparent heir, whom he was now well pleased to see in office. His mind, like Bedford's, was haunted with the spectre of Bute's influence, and the whim seized him to gratify his capricious resentment to the utmost, and show his importance by creating embarrassments. He scouted the idea of placing at the head of the Treasury a man like North umberland, whom he looked upon as Bute's lieutenant; while in his heart he was resolved to prevent the dismissal of his brother. Yet, at Cumberland's request, he agreed to hold a consultation with Pitt.

This happened on Wednesday, when the king, on his way to accept the act for a regency, found himself followed by a crowd of weavers, who beset the House of Parliament. They piqued themselves on showing him respect; but they vowed vengeance against Bedford, whom they insulted, and stoned in his chariot, so that he narrowly escaped with his life.

The next day, while Temple, avoiding every

pledge on his own part, was concerting with Pitt preliminary questions, the mob of weavers paraded the streets of London. Bedford himself repaired with complaints to the king, and Grenville also remonstrated; but the king's emotion and disorder betrayed his settled purpose of changing the government. The ministry had never been, and was not then, a thoroughly united body: Grenville, whom the king had originally chosen as a counterpoise to Bedford, [259] transacted the business; but the secretaries of state
chap. XII.} 1765. May 16.
claimed equal power, as in the months of the triumvirate; in the language of Woburn, Bedford was my minister; and, in point of fact, the ministers were four. Now, however, Bedford took the undisputed lead, insisting that they all should act in perfect union; and Grenville, concealing his deep distrust of his colleagues, gave and received promises to withstand the court with inseparable fidelity.

On Friday, Albemarle repaired once more to Pitt,

but met no success. In London, the weavers, threatening death to the duke of Bedford, assembled in the evening round his house, which they might have sacked and destroyed but for the timely presence of an armed force. The town was in commotion, and persons of all parties hastened to Bedford House to mark their abhorrence of the riot and their joy at its suppression. The dismissing Bedford at such a moment had the aspect of inviting the mob to dictate a new ministry. Public sympathy turned on the side of the duke. ‘To attempt changing the government,’ said Lord Mansfield, ‘is madness, infatuation, and utter ruin to the king's authority forever.’

But the king had all the impatience of offended

pride, excited by sleeplessness and nervous disease. Having received the report of the questions concerted between Pitt and Temple, he said to the duke of Cumberland, on Saturday, in the kindest terms and most explicit words: ‘I put myself wholly in this affair into your hands.’ Early, therefore, on Sunday, the nineteenth of May, the prince hastened to visit Pitt, inviting Temple to join them at a later hour. His journey was a [260] public proclamation of the king's parpose. While
chap. XII.} 1765. May 19.
the royal envoy was negotiating with the Great Commoner at Hayes, Grenville, Bedford, Halifax, and

Sandwich, confident that no new ministry could be formed, each by himself, went in to the king. Grenville insisted upon receiving orders relating to the change of government. ‘I would have you adjourn the Parliament till Monday fortnight,’ said the king.‘cannot do it,’ answered Grenville. ‘I trust you will put nothing upon me that is disgraceful and dishonorable. Parliament must be adjourned by the man whom your Majesty destines to be my successor.’

The duke of Bedford went in next. He spoke of his personal relations from the moment of his consenting to go into France to make the peace; his resolution on his return to live in quiet retirement. He had yielded to the king's earnest solicitations to enter into the ministry; but only on the promise that Lord Bute should not be consulted on any matter. Having reminded the king ‘how very unfaithfully the conditions proposed by himself had been kept,’ he proceeded to sketch the character of the favorite, as of one who was at once very ambitious and altogether incompetent to conduct business. ‘For me,’ he continued, ‘I have served you well. All Europe is witness to the strength which your present ministers have restored to your authority, that was tottering under that of my adversary. The opposition is every day becoming more and more feeble. But since I can no longer be useful, I entreat you not to lose a moment in replacing us all, for the harmony which has subsisted between us does and will continue.’ Here the king interposed to say, ‘It is not yet time.’ Bedford [261] intimated that the mob had been instigated to attack

chap. XII.} 1765. May 19.
him by Lord Bute; for he saw the hand of Bute in every thing that he disliked. ‘Believe no such thing,’ said the king. ‘I shall give every order necessary for your safety.’ ‘Sir,’ said Bedford, ‘I believe it; for your honor is pledged to do so, and your authority is already but too deeply wounded by the daily attacks on one of your ministers, and a peer of the realm, for having given his opinion in parliament.’

‘Thus,’ says the duke, ‘I left him.’ Bedford was blunt, as suited his open nature, warm as one who felt himself wronged, excited, as the bravest man might have been, after the risk of having his house torn down about his family. Unabashed, he meant to be plain-spoken, but not to be insolent, and, if he had been so, he did not know it. He was more independent than his royal master. The latter must have a ministry; the former was under no necessity of being of it. He went about, vowing vengeance on the courtiers who had exposed him to such unworthy treatment, and resolved to remain in power in spite of the king. ‘I can depend,’ said he, ‘on all my friends as well as colleagues. There have been examples of new ministries that have not been able to last more than four-and-twenty hours.’

Meantime, the royal envoy at Hayes was making the Great Commoner every offer. ‘I am ready to go to St. James's,’ said Pitt, ‘if I can carry the constitution along with me.’ Since his health was no longer equal to the post of secretary of state, he might select any station. For measures, he might balance the Bourbon alliance by any alliance that he should [262] judge the most valid, and direct the foreign course of

chap. XII.} 1765. May 19.
England at his pleasure. His views of the course to be pursued at home implied the condemnation of general warrants, a peerage for Pratt, and the restoration of Conway and other officers, dismissed for their opinions. ‘The terms,’ said Cumberland, ‘are perfectly just, and must be agreed to.’ For the treasury Temple was declared acceptable. ‘Chalk out a list of such as you would wish to fill all the posts of business,’ thus Cumberland earnestly entreated him, ‘and I answer for it, the king will instantly adopt it.’ And it is certain, that in the conduct of this negotiation no obstacle arose from the palace. But the wayward Temple had taken part in the interview. ‘I did not want inducements,’ said he, ‘to accept of the great post that presented itself as a supplicant at my gate;’ but, in his excessive jealousy of Bute, and his newly revived affection for his brother, he refused to royalty the small alms which it begged; and without the concurrence of Temple, Pitt could not overcome his own well-founded scruples.

The ministry now set no bounds to their arro-

gance; and resolved to brave and overcome the still obstinate resistance from the king. Exaggerating the danger from the continuance of the riots, Halifax, on Monday, obeying Bedford's directions about the disposition of the troops, wrote to the king to appoint the Marquis of Granby, their partisan, to the command in chief, insinuating against Cumberland the old and just charge of cruelty and want of popularity; while the king himself, in violation of the constitution, privately ordered Cumberland to act as captain-general. Meantime, the House of Lords [263] warmly took up the cause of the ministers; they
chap. XII.} 1765. May 20.
cheered Halifax as he declared, that he who should dare to advise the king to dismiss Bedford, would be the detestation of every honest man in the nation and be held in abomination for ever; and under strong excitement, making Bedford's persecution their own, they voted unanimously an address to the king for a proclamation against the riots.

The king, nevertheless, sent once more a messenger to Pitt; but he perceived that the moment was not propitious to his return to power, since the old ministers were turned out for no other reason than insisting that the employments and councils of state should not be separated.

One last effort was made to form an administration, with Lyttelton at the head of the treasury, and Charles Townshend as chancellor of the exchequer. But Lyttelton was too conscious of his weakness, to listen to the offer; and Townshend, laughing it to scorn, reserved himself for the paymaster's place, which, two days after, he accepted.

On Tuesday, the twenty-first, the king was in des-

pair; and, though the old ministry was sustained by parliament, and at that moment by public opinion, he would yet have put ‘in their places any mortal who could have carried on business.’ Cumberland hated Grenville; but he knew no remedy, and advised his nephew to submit.

The king next attempted to divide the ministers. ‘I had a design to change my government,’ said he to Grenville; ‘but it is over now.’ And then artfully referring to the differences that had existed between Grenville and other members of the cabinet, [264] he said, ‘You never have displeased me; I did not

chap. XII.} 1765. May 21.
mean to have removed you; I know nothing that could induce me to do it;’ and he sought to draw from him separately a positive promise to remain in his service. Grenville urged the necessity of consulting his colleagues; and met them for that purpose; but he had hardly begun the conference, before the king, who was in such a state of helpless restlessness, that for many days he had not slept two hours in twenty-four, sent for him again ‘to come to him that moment,’ showed great impatience on meeting him, and again pressed for his answer. Grenville, in the name of the rest, observed, that ‘before they should again undertake his affairs they must lay before him some questions.’ ‘Questions!’ said he, abruptly; ‘conditions you mean, sir; what are they?’

On Wednesday Grenville, in behalf of the four,

communicated to their sovereign the terms offered him for his capitulation. They were, that he should renew assurances against Bute's meddling in state affairs; that Mackenzie, Bute's brother, should be dismissed from his employment and place; that Lord Holland, the adviser of the plan for the regency bill, should meet with the same treatment; that Granby should be appointed commander-in-chief, to the exclusion of Cumberland; and that the ministers should settle the government in Ireland. Terms more humiliating could not have been devised.

On the next day Grenville called to receive the

king's submission. Of the insult to be offered to his uncle he obtained a modification; and no one was made commander-in-chief. He agreed that Bute [265] should never, directly or indirectly, publicly or pri-
chap. XII.} 1765. May.
vately, have any thing to do with his business; he consented to dismiss Mackenzie from the administration of the affairs of Scotland, but not from the office of Privy Seal. Grenville was obstinate. ‘But,’ interposed the king, ‘he has my promise to continue in that employment for life; I passed to him my royal word,’ and, falling into great agitation, he went so far as to say, ‘I should disgrace myself, if I dismissed him.’ ‘In that case, sir,’ replied Grenville, ‘we must decline coming in.’ ‘No,’ said the king, ‘I have desired you to stay in my service; I see, I must yield; I do it for the good of my people. But if you force me to violate my royal word, you are responsible for it, not I. ’ Thus the king gave way; but he was so deeply moved, that his physicians were ordered to attend him; his manner became gloomy and discontented; on the following Sunday, the usual drawing-room was omitted; and his mind was still so convulsed, that he did not even choose to take the sacrament.

This is the moment when the power of the British Oligarchy, under the revolution of 1688, was at its culminating point. The ministry esteemed itself, and, through itself, the power of parliament, more firmly established than ever. It had subdued the king, and imposed a system of taxes on America for the benefit of the British exchequer. The colonists could not export the chief products of their industry; neither sugar, nor tobacco, nor cotton, nor indigo, nor ginger, nor fustic, nor other dyeing woods; nor molasses, nor rice, with some exceptions; nor beaver, nor peltry, nor copper ore, nor pitch, nor [266] tar, nor turpentine, nor masts, nor yards, nor bow-

chap. XII.} 1765 May.
sprits, nor coffee, nor pimento, nor cocoa-nuts, nor whale-fins, nor raw silk, nor hides, nor skins, nor pot and pearl ashes, to any place but Great Britain, not even to Ireland. Nor might any foreign ship enter a colonial harbor. Salt might be imported from any place into New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and Quebec; wines might be imported from the Madeiras and the Azores, but were to pay a duty in American ports for the British exchequer; and victuals, horses, and servants might be brought from Ireland. In all other respects, Great Britain was not only the sole market for the products of America, but the only storehouse for its supplies. Lest the colonists should multiply their flocks of sheep, and weave their own cloth, they might not use a ship, nor a boat, nor a carriage, nor even a packhorse, to carry wool or any manufacture of which wool forms a part, across the line of one province to another. They could not land wool from the nearest islands, nor ferry it across a river, nor even ship it to England. A British sailor, finding himself in want of clothes in their harbors, might not buy there more than forty shillings' worth of woollens. Where was there a house in the colonies that did not cherish, and did not possess the English Bible? And yet to print that Bible in British America would have been a piracy; and the Bible, though printed in German, and in a native savage dialect, was never printed there in English till the land became free.1 Thomas, History of Printing, i. 304, 305, repeats only what he heard. Himself a collector, he does not profess ever to have seen a copy of the alleged American edition the English Bible. Search has repeatedly been made for a copy, and always without success. Six or eight hundred Bibles in quarto could of hardly have been printed, bound, [267]

That the country, which was the home of the bea-

chap. XII.} 1765. May.
ver, might not manufacture its own hats, no man inthe plantations could be a hatter, or a journeyman at that trade, unless he had served an apprenticeship of seven years. No hatter might employ a negro, or more than two apprentices. No American hat might be sent from one plantation to another, or be loaded upon any horse, cart, or carriage for conveyance.

America abounded in iron ores of the best quality, as well as in wood and coal; slitting mills, steel furnaces, and plating forges, to work with a tilt hammer, were prohibited in the colonies as ‘nuisances.’

While free labor was debarred of its natural rights, the slave trade was encouraged with unrelenting eagerness; and in the year that had just expired, from Liverpool alone, seventy-nine ships had borne from Africa to the West Indies and the continent more than fifteen thousand three hundred negroes, two-thirds as many as the first colonists of Massachusetts.

And now taxation, direct and indirect, was added to colonial restrictions; and henceforward both were to go together. A duty was to be collected on foreign sugar, molasses, indigo, coffee, Madeira wine, imported directly into any of the plantations in America; also a duty on Portugal and Spanish wines, on Eastern silks, on Eastern calicoes, on foreign linen cloth, on French lawn, though imported directly from Great Britain; on British colonial coffee shipped from one [268] plantation to another. Nor was henceforward any

chap. XII.} 1765. May.
part of the old subsidy to be drawn back on the export of foreign goods of Europe or the East Indies, except on the export of white calicoes and muslins, on which a still higher duty was to be exacted and retained. And stamp duties were to be paid throughout all the British American colonies, on and after the first day of the coming November.

These laws were to be enforced, not by the regular authorities only, but by naval and military officers, irresponsible to the civil power in the colonies. The penalties and forfeitures for breach of the revenue laws were to be decided in courts of vice-admiralty, without the interposition of a jury, by a single judge, who had no support whatever but from his share in the profits of his own condemnations.

Such was the system which Grenville had carried far towards its complete development. The bounties which he had introduced, and the appointment of Americans to offices under the stamp act, were to pacify complaints; and that nothing might be wanting to produce contentment, pamphlets were sent over with the acts, one recommending the new regulations to the good opinion of the colonists, and another wishing them joy that Britain at this time had ‘the most vigilant, upright, and able chancellor of the exchequer that ever served her since the days of Sir Robert Walpole.’

It was held that the power of parliament, according to the purest whig principles, was established alike over the king and over the colonies; but, in truth, the stamp act was the harbinger of American Independence, and the knell of the unreformed House of Commons.

1 and sold in Boston, then a small town, undiscovered. Nor would they all have disappeared. The most complete catalogues of English Bibles enumerate no one with the imprint, which was said to have been copied. Till a copy of the pretended American edition is produced, no credit can be given to the second-hand story, which is more over at variance with the statement of Dr. Chauncy, the minister of the first church of Boston, at the time of the pretended publication.

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