Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/533

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Steward: they knew that the Lower House was as fully determined not to pass such a clause; and they thought it better that what must happen at last should happen speedily, and without a quarrel.[499]

The fate of the Triennial Bill confounded all the calculations of the best informed politicians of that time, and may therefore well seem extraordinary to us. During the recess, that bill had been described in numerous pamphlets, written for the most part by persons zealous for the Revolution and for popular principles of government, as the one thing needful, as the universal cure for the distempers of the State. On the first, second and third readings in the House of Commons no division took place. The Whigs were enthusiastic. The Tories seemed to be acquiescent. It was understood that the King, though he had used his Veto for the purpose of giving the Houses an opportunity of reconsidering the subject, had no intention of offering a pertinacious opposition to their wishes. But Seymour, with a cunning which long experience had matured, after deferring the conflict to the last moment, snatched the victory from his adversaries, when they were most secure. When the Speaker held up the bill in his hands, and put the question whether it should pass, the Noes were a hundred and forty-six, the Ayes only a hundred and thirty-six.[500] Some eager Whigs flattered themselves that their defeat was the effect of a surprise, and might be retrieved. Within three days, therefore, Monmouth,