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[243] ‘Now,’ said Vergennes, as he heard of it,
Chap. XXII.} 1775. Feb.
‘now more than ever is the time for us to keep our eyes wide open.’

The proposal was formed on the principle, that parliament, if the colonies would tax themselves to its satisfaction, would impose on them no duties except for the regulation of commerce. A wild opposition ensued. Lord North could not quell the storm, and for two hours he seemed in a considerable minority, more from the knowledge of his disposition to relent, than for the substance of his measure. ‘The plan should have been signed by John Hancock and Otis,’ said Rigby, in his inconsiderate zeal to con-

12.
demn the minister. Welbore Ellis, and others, particularly young Acland, angry at his manifest repugnance to cruelty, declared against him loudly and roughly. ‘Whether any colony will come in on these terms I know not,’ said Lord North; ‘but it is just and humane to give them the option. If one consents, a link of the great chain is broken. If not, it will convince men of justice and humanity at home, that in America they mean to throw off all dependence.’ Jenkinson reminded the house, that Lord North stood on ground chosen by Grenville; but the Bedford party none the less threatened to vote against the minister, till Sir Gilbert Elliot, the well known friend of the king, brought to his aid the royal influence, and secured for the motion a large majority.

Lord North must have fallen, but for the active interposition of the king. Yet the conciliation which he offered, could not lead to an agreement, for no confidence could be placed in its author, who was the

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