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‘ [452] exertion of that great right of taxation without an
chap. XXIV.} 1766. Mar.
exemption of the colonies.’

Having thus placed themselves in direct and irreconcilable hostility to America, the protesting peers glanced also with jealousy at the immense majority of the people of England; and further opposed the repeal of the Stamp Act, ‘because,’ say they, ‘this concession tends to throw the whole British empire into a state of confusion, as the plea of our North American colonies, of not being represented in the parliament of Great Britain, may, by the same reasoning, be extended to all persons in this island who do not actually vote for members of parliament.’

Such was the famous Bedford protest, to which a larger number of peers than had ever signed a protest before, hastened in that midnight hour to set their names. Among them were four in lawn sleeves. It is the deliberate manifesto of the party which was soon to prevail in the cabinet and in parliament, and to rule England for two generations. It is the declaration of the new tory party, in favor of the English constitution as it was, against any countenance to the extension of suffrage, the reform of parliament, and the effective exercise of private judgment. It is the modern form of an ancient doctrine. Oxford had said unconditional obedience to the king was the badge of loyalty; this protest substituted unconditional obedience to the legislature of the realm, as constituted in 1688. The first had, in the spirit of the mediaeval monarchy, derived the right to the throne from God; the second, resting on principles that had grown up in opposition to the old legitimacy, deified established law, and sought to bind its own and coming ages by statutes which were but the wisdom of a less enlightened

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