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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 14

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The last great act of this session was one of genuine liberality, being the restoration of the estates forfeited by the Scottish rebels in 1745. Forty years had now elapsed since this forfeiture; the population of the highlands had become as loyal as that of any other part of the kingdom; the estates had remained in trust under the crown, and it was a measure calculated particularly to conciliate the people of Scotland. Mr. Dundas introduced the bill, and observed that lord Chatham had been the first to put an end to the remembrances of past feuds, and had, with admirable success, called the inhabitants of the highlands to aid in the defence of the country at large. They had responded with a spirit and a valour that had been equally honourable to them and the nation, and he felt assured that, had the late ministry now been in office, they would have brought or ward such a measure. Personally, he knew that lord North was anxious for it.

Dundas did no more than justice to the opposition; they supported the measure cordially, and Mr. Fox strongly recommended that this graceful act of clemency should be extended to the heirs of the earl of Derwentwater, whose case was still stronger} it being then seventy years since the confiscation of those estates. Pitt did not respond to this challenge, and the bulk of these fine estates of lord Derwentwater have since been conferred on Greenwich Hospital; but the bill for Scotland went through the house of commons without even an adverse comment. In the lords, Thurlow made some grumblings over it as a removal of those severities which ought always to surround treason; but he begged that these might be taken as his thoughts and not as his objections, and added that, should the bill go into committee, he would absent himself and throw no further obstacle in its way. The bill therefore passed on the 18th of August, and, on the 20th, the appropriation bill and other measures of routine having been carried through with great triumph by the now strong ministry, the king prorogued the parliament, which did not meet again till the 25th of January following. Pitt had now firmly rooted himself in a power which for seventeen years he was destined, with unshaken security, to wield. Could the nation, however, at this period have foreseen the stupendous scenes into which his policy was to lead it. and the then inconceivable taxation which he was destined to impose, its horror would far have exceeded that of the king at the dreaded return of the whigs to power.

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