Category Archives: 1760’s

Item of the Day: The True Sentiments of America(1768)

Full Title:

The True Sentiments of America: Contained in a Collection of Letters Sent from the House of Representatives of the Province of Massachusetts Bay to Several Persons of High Rank in the Kingdom: Together with Certain Papers Relating to a Supposed Libel on the Governor of that Province, and a Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law.  London, Printed for J. Almon, In Piccadilly. 1768.

Agreeable to a Vote of the Honourable House of Representatives of the Province of the Massachusett’s-Bay, the following humble, dutiful, and loyal Petition to the King, signed by the Speaker, by their Order of the 20th January 1768; together with the Representatives of the House to his Majesty’s Ministers; their Letter to their Agent, &c. are here inserted.

An humble Petition to the King’s most Excellent Majesty.

Most Gracious Sovereign,

Your Majesty’s faithful subjects, the representatives of your province of the Massachusetts-Bay, with the warmest sentiments of loyalty, duty, and affection, beg leave to approach the throne, and to lay at you Majesty’s feet their humble supplications, in behalf of your distressed subjects the people of the province.

Our ancestors, the first settlers of this country, having with the royal consent, which we humbly apprehend involves the consent of the nation, and at their own great expence, migrated from the mother kingdom, took possession of this land, at that time a wilderness, the right whereof they had purchased a valuable consideration of the council established at Plimouth, to whom it had been granted your Majesty’s royal predecessor King James the first.

From the principles of loyalty to their Sovereign which will ever warm the breast of a true subject, though remote they acknowledged their allegiance to the English crown: and your Majesty will allow us with all humility to say, that they and their posterity, even to this time, have afforded frequent and signal proofs of their zeal for the honour and service of their prince, and their firm attachment to the parent country.

With toil and fatigue, perhaps not to be conceived by their brethren and fellow-subjects at home, and with the constant peril of their lives, from a numerous, savage, and warlike race of men, they began their settlement, and God prospered them. 

They obtained a charter from King Charles the first; wherein his Majesty was pleased to grant them and their heirs and assigns for ever, all the lands therein described, to hold of him and his royal successors in free and common soccage; which we humbly conceive is as absolute an estate as the subject can hold under the crown.  And in the same charter were granted to them, and their posterity, all the rights, liberties, privileges, and immunities of natural subjects, born within the realm. 

This charter they enjoyed, having, as we most humbly conceive, punctually complied with all the conditions of it, till in an unhappy time it was vacated–But after the revolution, when King William and Queen Mary, of glorious and blessed memory, were established on the throne: In that happy reign, when, to the joy of the nation and its dependencies, the crown was settled in your Majesty’s illustrious family, the inhabitants of this province shared in the common blessing.  Then they were indulged with another charter; in which their Majesties were pleased for themselves, their heirs and successors, to grant and confirm to them as ample estate in the lands or territories as was granted by the former charter, together with other the most essential rights and liberties contained therein:  The principal of which, is that which your Majesty’s subjects within the realm have ever held a most sacred right, of being taxed only by representatives of their own free election…

 

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Filed under 1760's, Adams, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Matthew Williams, Revolution

Item of the Day: Authentic Account of the Proceedings of the Congress held at New-York in 1765 (1767)

Full Title: Authentic Account of the Proceedings of the Congress held at New-York, in MDCCLXV, on the SUBJECT of the AMERICAN STAMP ACT.  MDCCLXVII. [1767]

 

PROCEEDINGS

OF THE

CONGRESS

AT

NEW-YORK.

Boston, June 1765.

SIR,

 The House of Representatives of this province, in the present session of the general court, have unanaimously agreed to propose a meeting, as soon as may be, of COMMITTEES, from the houses of representatives or burgesses of the several British colonies on this continent, to consult together on the present circumstances of the colonies, and the difficulties to which they are, and must be reduced, by the operation of the acts of parliament for levying duties and taxes on the colonies; and to consider of a general, and united, dutiful, loyal and humble representation of their condition, to his Majesty and the Parliament, and to implore relief. The house of reprsentatives of this province have also voted to propose, That such meeting be at the city of New-York, in the province of New-York, on the first Tuesday in October next; and have appointed a committee of three of their members to attend that service, with such as the other houses of representatives, or burgesses, in the several colonies, may think fit to appoint to meet them. And the committee of the house of representatives of this province, are directed to repair to said New-York, on said first Tuesday in October next, accordingly.

If, therefore, your honourable house should agree to this proposal, it would be acceptable, that as early notice of it as possible, might be transmitted to the speaker of the house of representatives of this province.

SAMUEL WHITE, Speaker

In consequence of the foregoing circular letter, the following gentlemen met at New-York, in the province of New-York, on Monday the seventh day of October, 1765, viz.

From the province of Massachusetts-bay, JAMES OTIS, OLIVER PATRIDGE, TIMOTHY RUGGLES, Esquires.

From the colony of Rhode-Island, and Providence plantation, METCALF BOWLER, HENRY WARD, Esquires.

From the colony of Connecticut, ELIPHALET DYER, DAVID ROWLAND, WILLIAM SAMUEL JOHNSON, Esquires.

From the colony of New-York, ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON, JOHN CRUGER, PHILIP LIVINGSTON, WILLIAM BAYARD, LEONARD LISPENARD, Esquires.

From the colony of New-Jersey, ROBERT OGDEN, HENDRICK FISHER, JOSEPH BORDEN, Esquires.

From the government of the counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware, CAESAR RODNEY, THOMAS M’KEAN, Esquires.

From the province of Maryland, WILLIAM MURDOCK, EDWARD TILGHMAN, THOMAS RINGGOLD, Esquires.

From the province of South-Carolina, THOMAS LYNCH, CHRISTOPHER GADSDEN, JOHN RUTLEDGE, Esquires.

Then the said committees proceeded to chuse a chariman by ballot, and Timothy Ruggles, esq; on sorting and counting the votes, appeared to have a majority, and thereupon was placed in the chair.

 

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Filed under 1760's, Colonial America, Congress, Great Britain, New York, Politics, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Stamp Act

Item of the Day: Franklin on the Interest of Great Britain (1760)

Full Title:

The Interest of Great Britain Considered with Regard to Her Colonies and the Acquisitions of Canada and Guadaloupe.  To which are added, Observations concerning the increase of Mankind, peopling of Countries, &c.  As the very ingenious, useful, and worthy Author of this Pamphlet [B——n F——n, LL. D.] is well-known and much esteemed in England and America; and seeing that his other Works have been received with universal Applause; the present Production needs no further Recommendation to a generous, free, an intelligent, and publick-spirited People.  The Second Boston-Edition.  London, Printed MDCCLX.  Boston, N. E. Reprinted and Sold by B. Mecom, at the New Printing-Office, near the Town-House.  1760.

I have perused with no small Pleasure the Letter addressed to Two Great Men, and the Remarks on that Letter.  It is not merely from the Beauty, the Force and Perspicuity of Expression, or the general Elegance of Manner conspicuous in both Pamphlets, that my Pleasure chiefly arises; it is rather from this, that I have lived to see Subjects of the greatest Importance to this Nation publickly discussed without Party-Views, or Party-Heat, with Decency and Politeness, and with no other Warmth than what a Zeal for the Honour and Happiness of our King and Country may inspire;–and this by Writers whose Understanding (however they may differ from each other) appears not unequal to their Candour and Uprightness of their Intention.

But, as great Abilities have not always the best Information, there are, I apprehend, in the Remarks some Opinions not well founded, and some Mistakes of so important a Nature, as to render a few Observations on them necessary for the better information of the Publick.   

The Author of the Letter, who must be every Way best able to support his own Sentiments, will, I hope, excuse me, if I seem officiously to interfere; when he considers, that the Spirit of Patriotism, like other Qualities good and bad, is catching; and that this long Silence since the Remarks appeared has made us despair of seeing the Subject further discussed by masterly Hand.  The ingenious and candid Remarker, too, who must have been misled himself before he employed his Skill and Address to mislead others, will certainly, since he declares he aims at no Seduction, be disposed to excuse even the weakest effort to prevent it. 

And surely if the general Opinions that possess the Minds of the People may possibly be of Consequence in publick Affairs, it must be fit to set those Opinions right.  If there is Danger, as the Remarker supposes that “extravagant Expectations” may embarrass “a virtuous and able Ministry,” and “render the Negotiation for Peace a Work of infinite Difficulty;” there is no less Danger that Expectations too low, through Want of proper Information, may have a contrary Effect, may make even a virtuous and able Ministry less anxious, and less attentive to the obtaining Points, in which the Honour and Interest of the Nation are essentially concerned; and the People less hearty in supporting such a Ministry and its Measures. 

The People of this Nation are indeed respectable, not for their Numbers only, but for their Understanding and their publick Spirit: They manifest the first, by their universal Approbation of the late prudent and vigorous Measures, and the Confidence they justly repose in a wise and good Prince, and an honest and able Administration; the latter they have demonstrated by the immense Supplies granted in Parliament unanimously, and paid through the whole Kingdom with Chearfulness.  And since to this Spirit and these Supplies our “Victories and Successes” have in great Measure been owing, is it quite right, is it generous to say, with the Remarker, that the People “had no Share in acquiring them?”  The mere Mob he cannot mean, even when he speaks of the Madness of the People; for the Madness of the Mob must bee too feeble and impotent, arm’d as the Government of this Country at present is, to “over-rule,” even in the slightest Instances, the “Virtue and Moderation” of a firm and steady Ministry.

While the War continues, its final event is quite uncertain.  The Victorious of this Year may be  the Vanquished of the next.  It may therefore be too early to say, what Advantages we ought absolutely to insist on, and make the sine quibus non of a Peace, If the Necessity of our Affairs should oblige us to accept of Terms less advantageous than our present Successes seem to promise us, an intelligent People, as ours is, must see that Nesessity, and will acquiesce.  But as a Peace, when it is made, may be made hastily; and as the unhappy Continuance of the War affords us Time to consider, among several Advantages gain’d or to be gain’d, which of them may be most for our interest to retain, if some and not all may possibly be retained; I do not blame the public Disquisition of these Points, as premature or useless.  Light often arises from a Collision of Opinions, as Fire from Flint and Steel; and if we can obtain the Benefit of the Light, without Danger from the Heat sometimes produc’d by Controversy, why should we discourage it.   

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Filed under 1760's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, Franklin, Great Britain, New England, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: Pitt’s Political Debates

Full Title:

Political Debates.  [Featuring William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham]  “Upon the whole, I will beg leave to tell the House what is really my opinion.  It is, that the Stamp Act be REPEALED ABSOLUTELY, TOTALLY, andIMMEDIATELY.” The Great Commoner.  A Paris, Chez J. W. Imprimeur, Rue du Colombier Fauxbourg St. Germain, a l’Hotel de Saxe. M DCC LXVI. [Prix 30 Sous.] Avec Approbation, & Privilege

It is necessary to inform the reader, that some time before the meeting of parliament, a report had been artfully propogated, that the ministry had changed their minds with regard to the Stamp-Act, and, instead of repealing, were resolved to enforce it.  If it could be proved, that this report did not come originally from the favourites of a certain northern nobleman, yet it was certainly much indebted to them for its progress, which was so great as to affect the stocks.

The king’s speech to the parliament on the 14th of January, 1766, gave some colour to the suggestion; but when the gentleman had spoke who moved for the address, and who seconded it, nothing could be clearer, than that the ministry persisted in their intention to promote the repeal.  The friends of the late ministry applauded the king’s speech, and approved of the proposed address, which, as usual, only recapitulated the speech.

The opposition took great offence at the tenderness of the expression, that the first gentlemen had made use of concerning America.  Mr. Nugent particularly insisted, “That the HONOR and dignity of the kingdom obliged us to compel the execution of the Stamp-Act, except the right was acknowledged, and the repeal solicited as a favour.  He computed the expence of the troops now employed in America for their defence, as he called it, to amount to nine-pence in the pound of our land-tax; while the produce of the Stamp-Act would not raise a shilling a head on the inhabitants of America; but that a pepper-corn, in acknowledgement of the right. was of more value than millions without.  He expatriated on the extreme ingratitude of the colonies; and concluded, with charging the ministry with encouraging petitions to parliament, and instructions to members from the trading and manufacturing towns, against the Act.”

Mr. Pitt was the next speaker.  Every friend of his country rejoiced to see him again in that house, and more so, in such perfect health.  As he always begins very low, and as every body was in agitation at his first rising, his introduction was not heard, ’till he said, “I came to town today; I was a stranger to the tenor of his majesty’s speech, and the proposed address, ’till I heard them read in this house.  Unconnected and unconsulted, I have not the means of information; I am fearful of offending through mistake, and therefore beg to be indulged with a second reading of the proposed address.”  The address being read, Mr. Pitt went on:–“He commended the king’s speech, approved of the address in answer, as it decided nothing, every gentleman being left at perfect liberty to take such  a part concerning America, as he might afterwards see fit.  One word only he could not approve of, and EARLY, is a word that does not belong to the notice the ministry have given to parliament of the troubles in America.  In a matter of such importance, the communication ought to have been immediate:  I speak not with respect to parties; I stand up in this place single and unconnected.  As to the late ministry, (turning himself to Mr. G—-lle, who sat within one of him) every capital measure they have taken, has been entirely wrong!”

 

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Filed under 1760's, Colonial America, George III, Government, Posted by Matthew Williams, Stamp Act

Item of the Day: “Prior Documents” (1777)

Full Title: A Collection of Interesting Authentic Papers, relative to the Dispute between Great Britain and America; Shewing the Causes and Progress of that Misunderstanding, from 1764 to 1775. London: Printed for J. Almon, Opposite Burlington-House, in Piccadilly, M.DCC.LXXVII. [1777]

PRIOR DOCUMENTS

The dispute between Great Britain and America commenced in the year 1764, with an attempt to prevent smuggling in America. There are some persons who apprehend the seeds of it were sown much earlier. They may be right. –But it is not the design of this compilation to explain motives, or explore latent causes. The object here is, to present an impartial collection of authentic Documents; with such additions only, as are absolutely necessary to connect the narrative.

In 1764, the British ministry having come to a resolution, to prevent, as much as possible, the practice of smuggling, not only the commanders of the armed cutters stationed on the British coasts, but of the ships sent to America, were ordered to act in the capacity of revenue officers, to take the usual Custom-house oaths, and observe the Custom-house regulations; by which that enterprising spirit of theirs, which had been lately, with great success, exerted against the common enemy, was now directed and encouraged against the sujbect. Trade was injured by this measure. The gentlemen of the navy were not acquainted with Custom-house laws, and therefore many illegal seizures were made. The subject in America could get no redress but from England, which was tedious and difficult to obtain.

A trade had for many years been carried on between the British, and Spanish colonies, consisting of the manufactures of Great Britain, imported by the British colonies for their own consumption, and bought with their own produce; for which they were paid by the Spaniards in gold and silver, sometimes in bullion and sometimes in coin, and with cochineal, &c occasionally. This trade was not literally and strictly according to law, yet the advantage of it being obviously on the side of Great Britain and her colonies, it had been connived at. But the armed ships, under the new regulations, seized the vessels; and this beneficial traffic was suddenly almost destroyed. Another trade had been carried on between the North American colonies and the French West India islands, to the great disadvantage of both, as well as to the mother country. These matters had been wined at many years, in consideration of the quantity of manufactures our North American colonies were thereby enabled to take from us. This advantagious commerce not only prevented the British colonies being drained of their current specie by the calls of the mother country, but added to their common circulation of cash; which encreased in proportion with the trade. But this trade being also cut off, by the cruizers [sic], all America became uneasy.

On the 10th of March, 1764, the House of Commons agreed to a number of resolutions respecting the American trade; upon a number of which, a bill was brought in and passed into a law, laying heavy duties on the articles imported into the colonies from the French and other islands in the West Indies; and ordering these duties to be paid, in specie, into the Exchequer of Great Britain. As to the Spanish trade, the Court of Madrid had always been against it; and in complaisance to that Court, as well as in compliance with the old law, and treaties with Spain, it continued to be prevented, as much as possible.

The Americans complained much of this new law; and of the unexampled hardship, of first being deprived of obtaining specie, and next being ordered to pay the new duties, in specie, into the Treasurey at London; which they said must speedily drain them of all the specie they had. But what seemed more particularly hard upon them, was, a bill brought in the same session, and passed into a law, “To restrain the currency of paper money in the colonies.”

At the end o the session, the King thanked the House of Commons, for the “wise regulations which had been established to augment the public revenues, to unite the interests of the most distant possessions of his crown, and to encourage and secure their commerce with Great Britain.”

 

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Filed under 1760's, 1770's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Commerce, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Trade

Item of the Day: An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

Full Title: An Essay on the History of Civil Society. By Adam Ferguson, LL.D. . . . Dublin: Printed by Boulter Grierson, Printer to the King’s most Excellent Majesty, MDCCLXVII. [1767]

PART FIRST.

Of the General Characteristics of Human Nature.

SECTION I.

Of the question relating to the State of Nature.

NATURAL productions are generally formed by degrees. Vegetables grow from a tender shoot, and animals from an infant state. The latter being destined to act, extend their operations as their powers increase: they exhibit a progress in what they perform, as well as in the faculties they acquire. This progress in the case of man is continued to a greater extent than in that of any other animal. Not only the individual advances from infancy to manhood, but the species itself from rudeness to civilization. Hence the supposed departure of mankind from the state of their nature; hence our conjectures and different opinions of his being. The poet, the historian, and the moralist, frequently allude to this ancient time; and under the emblems of gold, or of iron, represent a condition, and a manner of life, from which mankind have either degenerated, or on which they have greatly improved. On either supposition, the first state of our nature must have borne no resemblance to what men have exhibited in any subsequent period; historical monuments, even of the earliest date, are to be considered as novelties; and the most common establishments of human society are to be classed among the incroachments [sic] which fraud, oppression, or a busy invention, have made upon the reign of nature, by which the chief of our grievances or blessings were equally withheld.

Among the writers who have attempted to distinguish, in the human character, its original qualities, and to point out the limits between nature and art, some have represented mankind in their first condition, as possessed of mere animal sensibility, without any exercise of the faculties that render them superior to brutes, without any political union, without any means of explaining their sentiments, and even without possessing any of the apprehensions and passions which the voice and the gesture are so well fitted to express. Others have made the state of nature to consist in perpetual wars, kindled by competition for dominion and interest, where every individual had a separate quarrel with his kind, and where the presence of a fellow-creature was the signal of battle.

The desire of laying the foundation of a favourite system, or a fond expectation, perhaps, that we may be able to penetrate the secrets of nature, to the very source of existence, have, on this subject, led to many fruitless inquiries, and given rise to many wild suppositions. Among the various qualities which mankind possess, we select one or a few particulars on which to establish a theory, and in framing our account of what man was in some imaginary state of nature, we overlook what he has always appeared within the reach of our own observation, and in the records of history.

In every other instance, however, the natural historian thinks himself obliged to collect facts, not to offer conjectures. When he treats of any particular species of animals, he supposes, that their present dispositions and instincts are the same they originally had, and that their present manner of life is a continuance of their first destination. He admits, that his knowledge of the material system of the world consists in a collection of facts, or at most, in general tenets derived from particular observations and experiments. It is only in what relates to himself, and in matters the most important, and the most easily known, that he substitutes hypothesis instead of reality, and confounds the provinces of imagination and reason, of poetry and science.

But without entering any farther on questions either in moral or physical subjects, relating to the manner or the origin of our knowledge; without any disparagement to that subtilty which would analyze every sentiment, and trace every mode of being to its source; it may be safely affirmed, That the character of man, as he now exists, that the laws of this animal and intellectual system, on which his happiness now depends, deserve our principal study; and that general principles relating to this, or any other subject, are useful only so far as they are founded on just observation, and lead to the knowledge of important consequences, or so far as they enable us to act with success when we would apply either the intellectual or the physical powers of nature, to the great purposes of human life . . .

 

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Filed under 1760's, Culture, Eighteenth century, Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Smollett’s History of England (1766)

Full Title:  Continuation of the Complete History of England by T[obias] Smollett, M. D. [In two volumes]  Volume the First.  London: Printed for Richard Baldwin, at the Rose in Pater-noster-Row.  MDCCLXVI.

 [A continuation of David Hume’s History of England]

George II.

The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, however unstable or inglorious it might appear to those few who understood the interests, and felt for the honour of their country, was nevertheless not unwelcome to the nation in general.  The British ministry will always find it more difficult to satisfy the people at the end of a successful campaign, than at the conclusion of an unfortunate war.  The English are impatient of miscarriage and disappointment, and too apt to be intoxicated with victory.  At this period they were tired of the burthens, and sick of the disgraces, to which they had been exposed in the course of seven tedious campaigns.  They had suffered considerable losses and interruption in the article of commerce, which was the source of their natural opulence and power: they knew it would of necessity be clogged with additional duties, for the maintenance of a continental war, and the support of foreign subsidiaries; and they drew very faint presages of future success either from the conduct of their allies, or the capacity of their commanders. 

To a people influenced by these considerations, the restoration of free trade, the respite from that anxiety and suspence [sic] which the prosecution of a war never fails to engender, and the prospect of speedy deliverance from discouraging restraint and oppressive impositions, were advantages that sweetened the bitter draught of a dishonourable treaty, and induced the majority of the nation to acquiesce in the peace, not barely without murmuring, but even with some degree of satisfaction and applause. 

Immediately after the exchange of ratifications at Aix-la-Chapelle the armies were broke up: the allies in the Netherlands withdrew their several proportions of troops; the French began to evacuate Flanders; and the English forces were reimbarked [sic] for their own country.  His Britannic majesty returned from his German dominions in November, having landed near Margate in Kent, after a dangerous passage; and on the twenty-ninth of the same month he opened the session of parliament.  By this time the misunderstanding between the two first personages of the royal family had been increased by a fresh accession of matter.  The prince of Wales had held a court of stannery, or what is called a parliament, in quality of duke of Cornwall; and revived some claims attached to that dignity, which, had they been admitted, would have greatly augmented his influence among the Cornish boroughs.

These efforts aroused the jealousy of the administration, which had always considered them as an interest wholly depending upon the crown; and therefore the pretensions of his royal highness were opposed by the whole weight of the ministry.  His adherents resenting these hostilities as an injury to their royal master, immediately joined the remnant of the former opposition in parliament, and resolved to counteract all the ministerial measures that should fall under their cognizance; at least, they determined to seize every opportunity of thwarting the servants of the crown, in every scheme or proposal that had not an evident tendency to the advantage of the nation. 

This band of auxiliaries was headed by the earl of E–t, Dr. Lee, and Mr. N–t.  The first possessed a species of eloquence rather plausible than powerful: he spoke with fluency and fire: his spirit was bold and enterprising, his apprehension quick, and his repartee severe.  Dr. Lee was a man of extensive erudition and irreproachable morals, particularly versed in the civil law, which he professed, and perfectly well acquainted with the constitution of his country.  Mr. N–t was an orator of middling abilities, who harangued upon all subjects indiscriminately, and supplied with confidence what he wanted in capacity: he had been at some pains to study the business of the house, as heard, as he generally spoke with an appearance of good humour, and hazarded every whimsical idea as it rose in his imagination.  But Lord Bolingbroke is said to have been the chief spring which, in secret, actuated the deliberations of the prince’s court.  That nobleman, seemingly sequestered from the tumults of a public life, resided in the neighbourhood of London, at Battersea, where he was visited like a sainted shrine by all the distinguished votaries of a wit, eloquence, and political ambition.  There he was cultivated and admired for the elegance of his manners, and the charms of his conversation.  The prince’s curiosity was first captivated by his character, and his esteem was afterwards secured by the irresistible address of that extraordinary personage, who continued in a regular progression to insinuate himself still farther and farther into the good graces of his royal patron.  How far the conduct of his royal highness was influenced by the private advice of this nobleman, we shall not pretend to determine: but, certain it is, the friends of the ministry propagated a report, that he was the dictator of those measures which the prince adopted; and that, under the specious pretext of attachment to the heir-apparent of the crown, he concealed his real aim, which was to perpetuate the breach in the royal family.  Whatever his sentiments and motives might have been, this was no other than a revival of the old ministerial clamour, that a man cannot be well affected to be king, if he pretends to censure any measure of the administration.   

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Filed under 1760's, Eighteenth century, George II, History, Posted by Matthew Williams