“…electrified…”

From: Chapter Eleven (1766-1770) of Benjamin Franklin in London (2016) by George Goodwin:

“…On 8 May (1767, Charles) Townshend (Chancellor of the Exchequer) presented a completely different figure to the one defeated in the Commons over the Land Tax. He electrified the House with what instantly became famous as “the Champagne Speech”. How drunk he genuinely was and how “off the cuff” his speech matters far less than his command of the Commons with an hour-long performance containing, in Horace Walpole’s words, “torrents of wit, ridicule, vanity, lies and beautiful language”. As to content, Townshend criticised the Crown’s frequent change of ministries…Yet even that was of far less importance than his extraordinary theatrical bravura performance, and at its conclusion the House was “in a roar of rapture “. However, Walpole also provided a shrewd judgement: “Nobody but he could have made that speech; but nobody but he would have made [it], if they could. It was at once a proof that his abilities were superior to those of all men, and his judgement below that of any man. It showed him capable of being, and unfit to be, First Minister.”

…Just five days after the “Champagne Speech”, Townshend introduced the duties on glass, paint, paper and tea that bear his name.”

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