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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

George Grenville saw great promise in North


where he was sullen, and polished

where he was rude, was nevertheless destined to share Grenville's hateful task and Grenville's deserved condemnation. Such enthusiasm as Parliament had permitted itself to show over the repeal of Grenville's Stamp Act had long flickered out. The colonists were regarded with more disfavor than ever by a majority that raged against their ingratitude and bitterly repented the repeal of the Act. Townshend's passion for popularity forced him into the fatal blunder of his life. He was indeed, as Burke said, the spoiled child of the House of Commons, never thinking, acting, or speaking but with a view to its judgment, and adapting himself daily to its disposition, and adjusting himself before it as before a looking-glass. The looking-glass showed him a member of a Ministry that was unpopular because it refused to tax America. He resolved that the looking-glass should show him a member of a Ministry popular because {113} it was resolved to tax America. His hunger and thirst after popularity, his passion for fame, were leading him into strange ways indeed. He was to leave after him an enduring name, but enduring for reasons that would have broken his bright spirit if he could have realized them. The shameful folly of George Grenville was the shameful folly of Charles Townshend. His name stands above Grenville's in the roll of those who in that disastrous time did so much to lower the honor and lessen the empire of England. It became plain to Townshend that the Parliamentary majority
regretted the repeal of the Stamp Act and resented the theory that America should not be taxed. Townshend resolved that revenue could and should be raised out of America. He introduced a Bill imposing a tax on glass, paper, and tea upon the American colonies. Though the amount to be raised was not large, no more than forty thousand pounds, and though it was proposed that the whole of the sum should be spent in America, it was as mischievous in its result as if it had been more malevolently aimed. [Sidenote: 1766--Death of Townshend] Townshend himself did not live long enough to learn the unhappy consequences of his folly. A neglected fever proved fatal to him in the September of 1767, in the forty-third year of his age. Walpole lamented him with an ironical appreciation. "Charles Townshend is dead. All those parts and fire are extinguished; those volatile salts are evaporated; that first eloquence of the world is dumb; that duplicity is fixed, that cowardice terminated heroically. He joked on death as naturally as he used to do on the living, and not with the affectation of philosophers who wind up their works with sayings which they hope to have remembered." Townshend had passed away, but his policy remained, a fatal legacy to the country.

Townshend was immediately succeeded in the Chancellorship of the Exchequer by a young politician who had been for some years in Parliament and had held several offices without conspicuously distinguishing himself. When Lord North entered the House of Commons as member for Banbury, his record was that of any intelligent young {114} nobleman of his time. He had written pleasing Latin love poems at Eton, he had been to Oxford, he had studied at Leipzig. George Grenville saw great promise in North. He even predicted that if he did not relax in his political pursuits he was very likely to become Prime Minister. Unhappily for his country, North did not relax in his political pursuits. There was an ironic fitness in the fact that North should be admired by Grenville and should succeed to Townshend, for no man was better fitted to carry on the fatal policy of the two men who had outraged the American colonies by the Stamp Act and the tax on tea.


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