George Grenville

In the spring of 1763 British colonial Premier of America, Lord Bute, was succeeded by George Grenville. The new minister was an honest statesman, rigid in his morals, an indefatigable worker and possessed of great political knowledge; but, according to Burke, his mind could not extend beyond the circle of official routine, and was incapable of estimating the result of untried measures. He found an empty treasury and the national debt increased by the expenses of the war then just ended, nearly seven hundred million dollars. Increased taxation was necessary. That burden upon the English people was then very great, and, viewing the temper of the public mind then, he dared not increase its weight; so he looked to the Americans for relief, and formed schemes for drawing a revenue from them. He did not doubt the right of Parliament to tax them, and he knew they were able to pay. At about the same time there was a warm debate upon the subject of an act for imposing an excise on cider, and which worked in a partial manner in England. It was odious to a large portion of the people, and especially to the country members of the House of Commons, and Pitt, who was in that House, denounced it as "intolerable." Grenville defended it, and turning toward Pitt, said: "I admit that the impost is odious, but where can you lay another tax? Let him tell me where--only tell me where?" Pitt, who was not much given to joking, hummed in the words of a popular song:

"Gentle Shepherd, tell me where?"

The House burst into laughter, and Grenville was ever afterward called the Gentle Shepherd. At the same time Pitt, with the most contemptuous look and manner, rose from his seat, as Grenville stood to reply, and bowing to the chairman walked slowly out of the House.

Return to Our Country, Vol II