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[449] an audience in America, but in the House of Lords,
chap XXIV.} 1766. Mar
Mansfield compared it to words spoken in Nova Zembla, and which are said to be frozen for a month before any body can get at their meaning; and then with the loud applause of the peers, he proceeded to insist that the Stamp Act was a just assertion of the proposition, that the parliament of Great Britain has a right to tax the subjects of Great Britain in all the dominions of Great Britain in America. But as to the merits of the bill which the House of Commons had passed to ascertain the right of England over America, he treated it with scorn, as an absurdity from beginning to end, containing many falsehoods, and rendering the legislature ridiculous and contemptible. ‘It is,’ said he, ‘a humiliation of the British Legislature to pass an act merely to annul the resolutions of a lower house of Assembly in Virginia.’ ‘It is only assertion against assertion; and whether it rests in mere declaration, or is thrown into the form of a law, it is still a claim by one only, from which the other dissents; and having first denied the claim, it will very consistently pay as little regard to an act of the same authority.’

In this debate Egmont spoke with ingenuity and candor; reasoning that the powers of legislation, which were exercised by the colonists, had become sanctioned by prescription, and were a gift which could not be recalled, except in the utmost emergency.

Yet the motion for a postponement of the subject was not pressed to a division, and the bill itself was passed, with its two clauses, the one affirming the authority of parliament over America, in all cases whatsoever; and the other declaring the opposite resolutions

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