aristocracy; and according to his capacities he was an unwholesome and vicious force in the body politic.
For some of Fletcher's acts, however, there was at least much excuse; and in certain of the wrangles in which he became engaged, his opponents behaved no better than he did. Thus, he allowed the merchants to evade the iron laws of trade. He probably winked at these evasions, partly from dislike of trouble, partly, perhaps, from worse motives; but it may be that he felt some genuine impatience with the restrictions by which the merchants of England sought to hem in the growth of the colonies and to keep their trade solely for the benefit of the ruling country. As regards most articles, the colonists could only trade outright with England, and the consequent loss to the merchants was immense. Of course, such a system put a premium on smuggling, and, for the matter of that, on trading with pirates, too, and on every other method by which the laws could be evaded. Yet these same laws were so in accord with the spirit of the time that there was little open protest against them, though they doubtless contributed to the growth of the vague feeling of discontent with the home government which gradually crept into colonial hearts. On the other hand the Assembly, or popular branch of the colonial legislature, was always striving to