History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 3

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X.
THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE KING AND THE DUKE OF BEDFORD.

APRIL–JULY 1765.

THERE was but one desire in the king’s heart stronger than that of taxing America; it was, to govern as well as to reign in Britain. While America was consolidating its union, divisions that could not be healed planted confusion in the councils of its oppressors. No sooner had the king 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 contemplated the contingency of his own incapacity or death, and resolved on framing a plan for a regency. For this purpose he turned away from his ministers and took the aid of Lord Holland. In consequence, Grenville, on the twentyeighth of April, “with a firm and steady countenance,” and at very great length, expostulated with him 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.”

When the offended ministers received orders to prepare the bill for a regency, they thought to win popularity and fix in the public mind their hostility to Bute by disqualifying the princess dowager. So they restrained the choice of the regent “to the queen or any other person of the royal family.” The

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