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[453] generation that had long slumbered in their
chap XXIV.} 1766. Mar.
graves.

The third reading of the repeal bill took place on the seventeenth of March. Bute, in whose administration the taxing of America had been resolved upon, spoke once more to maintain his opinion. He insisted that, as minister, he had done good to his country; in retiring, he had consulted his own character and tastes; and since his retreat he had not meddled with public business, and was firmly resolved for the future to maintain the same reserve. Yet he wished that an administration might be formed by a junction of the ablest men from every political section.1

The bill passed without a further division; but a second protest, containing a vigorous defence of the policy of Grenville, and breathing in every line the sanguinary desire to enforce the Stamp Act, was introduced by Temple, and signed by eight and twenty peers. Five of the bench of bishops were found ready in the hour of conciliation, to record solemnly on the journals of the house, their unrelenting enmity to measures of peace. Nor was the apprehension of a great change in the fundamental principles of the constitution concealed. ‘If we pass this bill against our opinion,’ they said, meaning to assert, and with truth, that it was so passed, ‘if we give our consent to it here, without a full conviction that it is right, merely because it has passed the other house, by declining to do our duty on the most important occasion which can ever present itself, and when our interposition, for many obvious reasons,’ alluding to the

1 De Guerchy to Praslin, 18 March, 1766.

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