On the ninth of December the question of approving the preliminaries came up before both Houses of Parliament. There was a long debate in the Commons. Pitt was not present, confined, it was said, by gout; till late in the day the House was startled by repeated cheers from the outside. The doors opened, and the fallen Minister entered, carried in the arms of his servants, and followed by an applauding crowd. His bearers set him down within the bar, and by the help of a crutch he made his way with difficulty to his seat. “There was a mixture of the very solemn and the theatric in this apparition,” says Walpole, who was present. “The moment was so well timed, the importance of the man and his services, the languor of his emaciated countenance, and the study bestowed on his dress were circumstances that struck solemnity into a patriot mind, and did a little furnish ridicule to the hardened and insensible. He was dressed in black velvet, his legs and thighs wrapped in flannel, his feet covered with buskins of black cloth, and his hands with thick gloves.” Not for the first time, he was utilizing his maladies for purposes of stage effect. He spoke for about three hours, sometimes standing, and sometimes seated; sometimes with a brief burst of power, more often with the accents of pain and exhaustion. He highly commended the retention of Canada, but denounced the leaving to France a share in the fisheries, as well as other advantages tending to a possible revival of her maritime power. But the Commons listened coldly, and by a great majority approved the preliminaries of peace.
These preliminaries were embodied in the definitive treaty concluded at Paris on the tenth of February, 1763. Peace between France and England brought peace between the warring nations of the Continent. Austria, bereft of her allies, and exhausted by vain efforts to crush Frederic, gave up the attempt in despair, and signed the treaty of Hubertsburg. The Seven Years War was ended.
“This,” said Earl Granville on his deathbed, “has been the most glorious war and the most triumphant peace that England ever knew.” Not all were so well pleased, and many held with Pitt that the House of Bourbon should have been forced to drain the cup of humiliation to the dregs. Yet the fact remains that the Peace of Paris marks an epoch than which none in modern history is more fruitful of grand results. With it began a new chapter in the annals of the world. To borrow the words of a late eminent writer, “It is no exaggeration to say that three of the many victories of the Seven Years War determined for ages to come the destinies of mankind. With that of Rossbach began the re-creation of Germany, with that of Plassey the influence of Europe told for the first time since the days of Alexander on the nations of the East; with the triumph of Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham began the history of the United States."