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[383] of the members who proposed it indicated the willing-
chap XXI.} 1766. Jan.
ness of the administration to repeal the American tax. In the course of a long debate, Pitt entered most unexpectedly, having arrived in town that morning.

The adherents of the late ministry took great offence at the tenderness of expression respecting America. Nugent, particularly, insisted that the honor and dignity of the kingdom obliged them to compel the execution of the Stamp Act, except the right was acknowledged, and the repeal solicited as a favor. He expostulated on the ingratitude of the colonies. He computed the expense of the troops employed in America for what he called its defence, at ninepence in the pound of the British land-tax, while the Stamp Act would not raise a shilling a head on the inhabitants in America; ‘but,’ said he, ‘a peppercorn, in acknowledgment of the right, is of more value than millions without.’

The eyes of all the house were directed towards Pitt, as the venerable man, now almost sixty years of age, rose in his place; and the Americans present in the gallery gazed at him as at the appearance of their good ‘angel, or their saviour.’1

‘I approve the address in answer to the king's speech, for it decides nothing, and leaves every member free to act as he will.’ Such was his opening sarcasm.

The notice given to parliament of the troubles was not early, and it ought to have been immediate.

I speak not with respect to parties. I stand up in this place, single, unsolicited, and unconnected.

1 Besides many shorter accounts of this speech of Pitt, and the account in ‘Political Debates,’ and in Walpole, I have the Precis, preserved in the French Archives, and a pretty full report by Moffat of Rhode Island, who was present.

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