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

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX.
COALITION OF THE KING AND THE ARISTOCRACY

JULY–NOVEMBER 1767.

THE anarchy in the ministry enabled the king to govern as well as to reign. Grafton made no tedious speeches in the closet, and approved the late American regulations; persuading himself that the choice of tea as the subject of taxation was his own; that the law suspending the legislative functions of New York was marked by moderation and dignity; and that abrogating the charters of the American colonies would be their emancipation from “fetters.”

The king, who had looked into Conway’s heart to learn how to wind and govern him, attached him by the semblance of perfect confidence, showing him all Chatham’s letters, and giving him leave to treat with his own old associates.

But Rockingham, who never opened his eyes to the light that was springing from the increased intelligence of the masses, and left out of view that his glory as a statesman had come from his opposition to Grenville and Bedford, governed himself exclusively by the ancient principle of his party “to fight up against the king and against the people,” and set about consenting the shattered fragments of the old whig aristocracy. He began with Bedford. “Bedford and Grenville are one,” said Rigby, by authority; “and neither of them will ever dopart from the ground taken, to assert and establish the entire sovereignty of Great Britain over her colonies.” But Rockingham satisfied himself by declaring for a “wide and comprehensive” system, and, after a week’s negotiation, with no plan but to support privilege against prerogative, he announced to Grafton his readiness to form a now administration.

-258-

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