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[422] question came up in the House of Commons, where
chap. XXIII.} 1766. Feb.
Pitt spoke at length, with tact and gentleness. The coalition was, for the moment, thoroughly defeated; and at last the house, with considerable unanimity, contented itself with changing the proposition of the ministry into a resolution, declaratory of its opinion.1

It was known that the House of Lords would nevertheless persevere; and on Thursday, the sixth, it attracted the world2 to witness its proceedings. To keep up appearances, Bute rose and declared ‘his most lively attachment to the person of the king, yet the interest of his country must weigh with him more than any other consideration; the king himself would not blame him or other lords for obeying the dictates of their conscience on important affairs of State.’3 Encouraged by this indirect promise of the king's good will, the new coalition, after a solemn debate, carried a majority of fifty-nine against fifty-four, in favor of executing the Stamp Act. For the House of Lords now to consent to its repeal would in some sort be an abdication of its co-ordinate authority.

Once more, on the morning of the seventh, Rockingham, forgetting alike the principles of the old whig party and of the British constitution, which forbid the interference of the king with the legislature, hurried to court, and this time asked and obtained leave to say, that the king was for the repeal of the Stamp Act; and he made haste to spread the intelligence.

The evening of that same day, Grenville resolved to test the temper of the house, and made a motion

1 Garth to S. Carolina, 9 Feb., 1766.

2 Chatham Corr. II., 376. The letter is strangely misdated. Its true date is 6 Feb.

3 De Guerchy to Praslin, 7 Feb.

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