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[428] an interview with Bute, whom they had so hated and
chap. XXIII.} 1766. Feb.
wronged. It was a proud moment for Bute, to find his aid solicited by his bitterest personal enemies. He desired that the past might be buried in oblivion, and that all honest men might unite; but he refused to enter upon any conference on the subject of a new administration, however much the other two wished to do so.1 The Duke of York interposed his offices, and bore to the king the Duke of Bedford's ‘readiness to receive the royal commands, should his majesty be inclined to pursue the modification, instead of the total repeal of the Stamp Act.’2 But the king, who was resolved not to receive Grenville again as his chief minister, disregarded the offer. So the measures of the ministry proceeded.

Such were the auspices, when on Thursday, the thirteenth day of February, Benjamin Franklin was summoned to the bar of the House of Commons. The occasion found him full of hope and courage, having for his interrogators, Grenville and Charles Townshend, as well as the friends of the administration; and the House of Commons for intent listeners.3 Choiseul, too, was sure to learn and to weigh all that Franklin uttered.

In answer to questions, Franklin declared that America could not pay the Stamp Tax, for want of gold and silver, and from want of post-roads and means of sending stamps back into the country; that there were in North America about three hundred thousand white men, from sixteen to sixty years of age; that the inhabitants of all the provinces together,

1 De Guerchy au Duc de Praslin, 3 Mars.

2 Bedford Corr. III. 329.

3 Garth to South Carolina.

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