Debate

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The said Address being read a second time:

Mr˙ Hartley pressed Lord North to declare that it should be understood that, agreeing to the report now brought up by Mr˙ Acland should not be deemed a full and decisive approbation of its contents, nor preclude the House in any manner from taking the measures recommended in it into consideration on any future day.

Mr˙ Fielde approved of this caution of the honourable gentleman, [Mr˙ Hartley,] and thought the advice extremely necessary.

Sir M˙ W˙ Ridley said he had gone along with the Minister during the last session, upon the supposition that his information regarding America was authentick, and to be depended upon; but now that he found it was otherwise, he went away last night without giving any vote — a conduct he wished to avoid; and therefore he called upon the Minister to lay sufficient information before the House, that gentlemen might know the ground upon which they were to proceed.

Lord North declined complying with these requests; but said, in general, that the Navy and Army would be taken into consideration in the course of the week; and he believed that either of the days appointed for that purpose would be the most proper time for stating objections, or framing any motion.

Mr˙ Powys moved to recommit the Address, in order to leave out what related to the Hanoverian troops, viz:

"We thankfully acknowledge the gracious considerations which induced your Majesty to send a part of your Electoral troops to the garrisons of Gibraltar and Mahon, in order that a large number," & c. This changed the debate to the general subject of America.

Mr˙ Cornwall entered into American affairs. He acknowledged that there had been mismanagement somewhere; but whether by the Parliament, in not granting a sufficient force; by the Ministry, in not properly applying the forces granted; or by the officers who had the command of them, in not exercising them effectually, he would not then assert; but probably it might one day afford matter for inquiry in that House. However, he could not avoid saying thus much in favour of Administration, that a Minister in this country, though he may see much further into future events than the rest of his countrymen, cannot take any great step without having the cry of the people against him. Had Government demanded forty thousand men last session to send to America, Parliament, perhaps, would not have granted them; but now that the nation seemed to approve of sending a sufficient force, he did not doubt of success. He then proceeded to make some remarks on the conduct of the late Lord Holland, when Secretary of State, at the beginning of the last war, in allusion to what had been said by Mr˙ Fox the night before; and concluded by attacking the Duke of Grafton for his desertion.

Mr˙ Charles Fox vindicated his father, and defended the noble Duke; but as he quoted the speech the noble Duke

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had made the night before in another House, he was called to order by the House and by the Speaker. He protested that he had been deceived by the Ministry; he had been taught to believe that Government had so many friends in America that the appearance of a few regiments there would give them security in avowing themselves; secure an obedience to our laws, and ensure peace; that, upon this principle, he voted for sending over the forces last session; peace was his object in that measure; but now that the Minister declared himself for war, he could not but object to his proceedings. He could not consent to the bloody consequences of so silly a contest about so silly an object, conducted in the silliest manner that history or observation had ever furnished an instance of; and from which we were likely to derive nothing but poverty, misery, disgrace, defeat, and ruin.

Mr˙ Henry Dundas (Lord Advocate of Scotland) said, it would be ridiculous in Administration to recede, or to listen at present to conciliatory measures, whilst America was making so effectual a resistance; that all Europe would say we had felt our inability to enforce our rights, and therefore were glad to accommodate matters on any terms; that when we had regained and re-established our authority there, he would be happy to join in any plan for the better and more happy government of that part of the empire. He said it was not uncommon for Great Britain to be unsuccessful in the beginning, and victorious in the progress and conclusion of her wars; and that he was not at all dismayed by the gloomy pictures which some gentlemen were pleased to draw of our perilous and deplorable situation. He concluded with an attack upon Opposition, which he executed with great good humour.

Governour Johnstone arraigned the conduct of Administration pretty severely; he declared that he was certain that the Hanoverian soldiers could not be tried by martial law for any offences; that if they should be tried, they would have an action in Great Britain against their officers; and that if any of them should be put to death in consequence of the sentence of a court-martial, those who gave that sentence would be guilty of murder, according to our laws. He insisted that our garrisons abroad were, in the true sense of the word, a part of this kingdom, and he was against the paragraph, as a dangerous precedent.

The Attorney-GeneraL insisted that decency demanded that we should return his Majesty thanks for the considerations which induced him to take the step, though we might afterwards condemn the measure. "Suaviter in modo, sed fortiter in re," should ever be a maxim in British minds. He declared that it was his opinion that the Bill of Rights did not forbid the introduction of foreign troops into our territories abroad; that it only mentioned this kingdom; that, consequently, he could no more see any illegality than he could danger in the measure.

Mr˙ Charles Mellish. I agree with the gentlemen on the other side of the House, that every Government is originally instituted for the governed; but I must insist, that when a Government is actually formed, it becomes the duty of the governed to submit to the governours. I will, however, agree that there is at times a power of constitutional resistance; and that in our own Government, if a King' s Minister oppressed the body of the people by repeated acts of violence, our ancestors had, under the sanction of the two Houses, attempted to remedy the grievance. I will also admit, that if Lords and Commons, at the will of any King or any Minister, could so far betray their sacred trust as to tyrannize over the governed in such a manner that human nature could not submit to the tyranny, (which was a case I thought scarcely possible to exist, and my blood run cold at the thoughts of it,) I was settled in my principles; if the bulk of the people concurred, and I could not be mistaken, I should oppose the appearance of a Constitution which no longer existed; and then I will allow that any new Government is better for the governed. But I call upon gentlemen to consider, if the two Houses of Parliament, supported by the united voice of the people, were cautious in their method of opposing the King alone, how much more ought gentlemen to be cautious in attacking the sacred Constitution of King, Lords, and Commons. In order properly to consider whether such a case existed, we must look for its signs. Freedom of debate in Parliament seems to me the great touchstone; and I dare say that every gentleman who hears me will be of my opinion, that at no time this House has ever

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enjoyed more freedom of debate than at present; it has kept us from our bed till five this morning, and may probably keep us to the same hour this night.

Much has been said in former debates, particularly on an equal representation. Indeed, in our own state the representation was formed originally equal, I mean in the time of William I. It was, indeed, a representation of merely the landed interest. Time has by degrees produced so total an inequality of representation, that now it is a certain fact, that not one-third part of England is represented in Parliament. Does it not therefore follow, as a consequence, that America has no more reason to complain for the want of a representation, than two-thirds of the people of England? Here it is that the fiction of law steps in to the relief of the subject: it declares us members for every part of his Majesty' s dominions, and consequently for America; it has, therefore, altered the ancient principle of the Constitution, which said, that the member was obliged to obey his constituents. Necessity has adopted this fiction of a virtual representation, and it is now become our duty to consult the interest of the kingdom in general, in preference to the advantage of our Borough or County.

It is strange that reasonable men should not be contented with the Government of the country in which they live. I shall ever maintain that I am bound to support the Constitution left me by my ancestors. The term Constitution is, indeed, vague; it is continually altering; like the human body, new particles are continually flying from it, and new particles are adding to it. We ought from time to time to improve the Constitution, or reduce it to its first principles, as the case may require, but not by violent means. I hope and trust we shall never again fall into the fatal errors of the times of Charles I, when every man thought he had a right to set up his new-fangled ideas; in opposition to the Government of his country; and when the people at last discovered the miseries they had drawn on themselves by their folly, they received Charles II with that weakness and imbecility of spirit, that they lost much of their liberties.

As to the present question, I think Ministry is right in its measures, and am satisfied with their late conduct. America has formerly submitted to the right of taxation. Many are the acts passed by us, submitted to by them. I shall shortly state some of them. We have asserted our rights not only in the navigation acts, and the internal acts of the post office, by 9 Anne, c˙ 10, but we have annihilated in some cases their own acts of Assembly; for by 7 and 8 William III, we have declared void all the laws, & c˙, made in their plantations, which were repugnant to that act, or to any other law hereafter to be made in this kingdom. The act of 11 and 12 William III, c˙ 7, made for the suppression of piracy, in its 13th section is express. The words are, if any of the "Governours in the said Plantation, or any person in authority there, shall refuse to yield obedience to this act, such refusal is hereby declared to be a forfeiture of all and every the charters granted for the government or the propriety of such Plantation." These acts were made in the time of the patron of our liberties, the great King William; even the charter itself which the inhabitants of the Massachusetts-Bay-now so eagerly clamour after, is not their original charter, but a charter crammed down their throats by the great King William. We have carried our legislative power still farther over the internal police of America, and America has submitted. The Colonies allow that the Greenwich Hospital act, of 7 and 8 William III, c˙ 21, extends to them. By 3 and 4 Anne, c˙ 11, we have forbidden their selling their pitch and tar trees under a certain growth, & c. By 5 George II, c˙ 22, not a single hat can be exported from the Colonies anywhere. And by 7 George II, c˙ 7, we have altered their common law in the most essential of all points, their property, in the teeth of their own acts of Assembly. For the more easy recovery of debts, even if due to ourselves, we have made their lands assets. And to close the whole, by 13 George II, c˙ 7, we have made foreigners, who inhabit seven years in the Colonies, natives of these very countries, of which they deny us the right of legislation.

But the mode of laying the late taxes has been objected to. Yet by 25 Car˙ II, c˙ 7, we have laid port duties on the exportation of sugars, under the express regulation of the Commissioners of the Customs and Treasury; and by George I, c˙ 12, we have ordered those duties to be paid into

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the exchequer; yet these duties have never been complained of by America. But the chief act, on which the greatest stress may be laid as to this point, and which I call on the gentlemen on the other side particularly to attend to, is the 6 George II, c˙ 13. Here, exactly as in the case of the present tea-duty, we "give and grant" a duty on foreign rum imported into the Colonies; we order an "entry," and that the "rate shall be paid in money before landing." Thus, then, America has submitted to internal taxation and legislation, both as to the right and the mode; and, as America has submitted to the law of Parliament in former instances, I am for enforcing obedience, to the present law. Those gentlemen who suspect me of tyranny, know little of my disposition. But it has been said by some gentlemen, that foreign States accuse us of being engaged in a silly measure. All the answer I shall give such foreign State is, to mind its own business. If France says so, I should ask, where is the policy of the Corsican expedition? If Spain, what it thought of the coast of Barbary? Each State has. enough to do at home; and if each private member of this House would employ himself in assisting the publick, instead of stating to the House private grievances, Great Britain would reap the advantage.

Mr˙ Dunning insisted, that the Bill of Rights was only declaratory of rights existing prior to that act, that therefore the people were not to confine their claims to the literal words of it, but to recur to the great principles upon which that declaration was made.

Mr˙ James Grenville deplored the state of our national affairs, and was convinced, he said, that nothing but misfortune could be the consequences. Let the Administration, said he, call the Pope from Rome, the Mufti from Constantinople, and the High Priest from the Synagogue, to their aid; let them put the assassinating knife in the hands of the slaves, and teach them to butcher their masters; yet still the event will be ruinous to this nation. Suppose America conquered, its towns destroyed, its fields laid waste: we must still keep up a large standing army to support our triumph. But can we make them, in such a state, raise money sufficient to pay for their own chains? Can we make them build up their shattered cities by force? He concluded by showing, with much feeling and propriety, that he did not mean to throw any reflection upon the conduct of his late relation, Mr˙ George Grenville, with regard to America.

Mr˙ William Adam showed that the Americans would proceed to independence, if successful, and that it was therefore absolutely necessary to reduce them. He entered into the practicability of the measure, by showing that no settled form of Government being established in America, all must be anarchy and confusion there, and that all ought to be regularity and order at home. He took notice of the comparisons which had been made between our situation and that of Spain, with regard to the revolt of the United Provinces, and said the cases were not parallel. He then attacked the conduct of the Opposition, but said at the same time, that he could not approve of that of the Ministry. He described the operations of the last year as very inactive; found fault with the conciliatory proposition, and called upon the noble Lord at the head of Administration to act with vigour. He praised Lord North in the strongest terms for his ability and publick virtue; but accused him of indolence, the greatest fault a Minister could be guilty of at this critical juncture! He told him the time for action was not yet over, but that it might soon pass away; begged him therefore to rouse himself, and to act with the ability he possessed. He described the inactive campaign of last summer in very strong colours; accused him for allowing the Congress to meet; asked if those neglects were like the conduct of a great Minister — like the conduct of that man, who had seized the helm in a storm, and was not to quit it, though it should blow a hurricane? From the spirited address of this day, he hoped for a more vigorous conduct, and trusted that the noble Lord would not allow it to go down to posterity, that from his inactivity, and not want of abilities, he had lost Great Britain her American Colonies. Then begging pardon of the noble Lord, he assured him and the House that he had not said these things from any licentious spirit of railing, but from a sincere love for this country, and a desire of preserving its greatness.

Lord North thanked the honourable gentleman for the ability, candour, and manliness with which he had attacked

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him; said he was always ready to listen to any stricture upon his conduct, even when it came from malice; but when it flowed from so pure a motive, so sincere a love for his country, as he was sure that honourable gentleman possessed, it could not fail of having the strongest effect. He pledged himself to the House, that he would proceed with vigour and activity. He confessed that indolence of temper which the honourable gentleman (Mr˙ Adam) had noticed, and that dislike to business, but declared that be was forced into the post that he now held; that stormy and tempestuous as the ocean is through which he has to steer, he would never of his own accord abandon it till the storm had subsided. He acknowledged he had been deceived in events, but that he had adapted his measures last session to the then state of affairs, not imagining that all America would have armed in the cause. Administration had proceeded upon the information they had received: if gentlemen were in possession of better information, why did they not communicate it? He said, that when he adopted the necessary plan of sending Hanoverians to Gibraltar and Port-Mahon, he had not a doubt of the legality of the measure; that if it was dreaded as a precedent, he should have no objection to a bill of indemnity. If he had waited for the meeting of Parliament, our troops in Gibraltar and Port-Mahon could not be brought into the field time enough to have admitted of an early and vigorous exertion of our forces against the Rebels. That if we suffered by the war, America would suffer much more.

He answered Mr˙ Adam' s objection to his conciliatory plan; said it was the measure that had put us on a proper footing with regard to America; that now they had refused it, their intentions were easily seen, and every exertion of force was justifiable till such time as they should again become obedient to this Government; that nothing should be wanting on his part to bring them back to a just subordination; that now it was impossible to treat with them, until once brought back to a due obedience; that there was no intention to oppress them, but to establish in America the most just, mild, and equitable Government. He had as great a veneration for liberty as any man in the House; and he hoped the Americans were too brave and worthy of their ancestors, to hesitate a moment in their choice between slavery or war; but in the present instance, there was no question of slavery. Their friends have said that they only wished to be put on the same footing on which they were in 1763. He wished to God, if it were possible, to put the Colonies on that same footing. Surely America would not, without money, without trade, without resources, continue to prefer a ruinous war with Great Britain to the blessings of peace, and a happy dependance upon her. He concluded with giving a pathetick description of his own situation under the weight of Government, though surrounded with all the power and pageantry of Administration; but said that in spite of all this he should consider himself as infinitely happy, if, in the last moments of a life spent in the service of his country, he could say he had done anything for the support of a Constitution he loved and admired, and of the best laws that ever were framed for the happiness of mankind.

Colonel Barré observed, that the noble Lord could very calmly bear to hear his faults announced from some quarters; that his Lordship stood the attacks of a certain northern dialect with a very good grace, but he was instantly shot dead with the brogue; and what was acknowledged to be extremely candid on one side of the House, was downright malice from the other. He accused him of kissing the rod that had been held by Mr˙ Adam: that honourable gentleman, indeed, had held it with much grace and great ability, but he believed that the noble Lord had other reasons; that an honourable friend of his [Mr˙ Burke] had often exercised if with great grace and much ability, and yet it was not kissed by the noble Lord when in his hands. The reason, he said, which induced all America to take up arms sooner than the noble Lord had expected, was to oppose a common enemy. The circumstance put him in mind of a speech made by Marshal Schomberg to the British troops, as they were crossing the river Boyne, in Ireland, "Au devoir mes enfans, voila vos ennemis!" As to his Lordship' s declaration, of being "forced" into the office he now holds, he said it might be possible that his Lordship was forced into it; but, after the glaring proofs he has given of inability in that station,

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he could not believe there was a man in the nation weak enough to force him to continue in it; and as his Lordship found the office so burdensome, so thorny, and so wretched, he had such an opinion of the good nature and generous disposition of many gentlemen who sat round him, that he did not believe one of them would refuse to ease his Lordship of a charge which ho found so disagreeable, and for which nature had never formed his talents. He added, that he might now retire with a great deal of propriety, as he had given the world the most perfect demonstration that he could neither make war, nor establish peace.

Sir George Savile rapidly ran over the whole line of Ministerial misconduct. He challenged their advisers and abettors to show him a readier way of accomplishing the subversion of a great, flourishing, commercial empire, than by ruining her trade, diminishing her revenues, wasting her treasures in fruitless projects, multiplying taxes, discouraging industry by stopping the hands of her manufacturers, spreading corruption, encouraging the enemies of the people to misrepresent the people, discountenancing men of probity and honour, contriving innovations, provoking opposition, dividing the strength of the empire against the strength of the empire, and incensing brethren against brethren; exposing veteran armies raised and maintained for the defence of the State to every species of hardship, and employing them in bloody intestine wars; introducing, at the same time, foreign mercenaries to be spectators of their butchery. If a more certain way to put a period to the envied glory of a great kingdom can be devised, he called upon the King' s friends to point it out. He concluded by predicting disgrace and ruin, if a total change of men and measures did not very soon take place.

Mr˙ Serjeant Adair. Sir, when I perceive, and, indeed, most sensibly feel, that the patience of this House, and the constitution of its members, are almost as much exhausted in the course of this debate as the treasures and resources of this country are likely to be by the consequences of our Address, I shall certainly take up as little of their time as possible. But, sir, I cannot rest satisfied in my own mind, without observing upon some things that have fallen in the course of the debate, and submitting to the House a few short reasons for my most hearty and entire dissent from the proposed Address. The first argument, if it can be called so, that I shall take notice of, I mention with much reluctance; because, sir, if it had not been adopted by so respectable a member as the learned gentleman, (the Attorney-General,) it would have appeared to me unworthy of the wisdom and dignity of this assembly, and an insult on the understanding of every man to whom it was addressed: I mean, sir, the unaccountable attempt that has been made to persuade us that the words of this Address do not convey any kind of approbation of the measure of transporting the King' s Hanoverian troops to the garrisons of Gibraltar and Port-Mahon. It is impossible to use any other argument against this, than an appeal to the common sense of mankind. It does not appear to me to be the subject of reasoning or dispute; strip it of sophistry, of the false colouring with which it hath been varnished; read the clause in question to any plain man, and if he does not say that it expresses an approbation, a thankful admiration of this part of the conduct of his Majesty' s Ministers, I have lost all my ideas of language, all understanding of the import of words. If there is any member of this House who, upon barely reading the words of this Address, entertain a serious doubt upon the meaning of it, his mind must be so differently constituted from mine, that it is impossible any argument I could use could make the least impression on him. But why, sir, are the gentlemen so solicitous upon this point? Why are they so exceedingly afraid that these words should be understood in their plain sense? Are they doubtful of their own measures? Do they wish, by deluding our understanding, to steal from us an approbation of what they dare not themselves defend? Do they themselves think the measure in question legal and proper? If they do, why not approve it? Why not avow the approbation. Why do they not speak out? "The measure is right, it is legal, it is beneficial to this country; the Address does approve it, and it ought to be approved." Surely, sir, this would be a more rational and manly ground for supporting their Address, than the frivolous attempt to pervert the obvious meaning of words, and sophisticate us out of our senses.

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So much has been said of the legality of this measure; the arguments against it have been so fully and ably stated, especially by Mr˙ Dunning and Governour Johnstone, who sit before me, that I think it necessary to trouble the House with very little upon that subject. I shall content myself, at present, with saying, that I entirely concur in the opinion, that the illegality of employing or supporting foreign forces in any part of the dominions of Great Britain, without the consent and authority of Parliament, is deducible from the same principles of law and the Constitution, from whence our ancestors, who declared the rights and liberties of the subject at the Revolution, inferred the illegality of raising or keeping an army within the kingdom in time of peace without the same authority and consent. The check and control, which the ancient principles of this happy limited monarchy has with so much wisdom and caution established over the power of the Sovereign, would be vain and nugatory indeed, if that sovereign had a right, by his own mere authority, to establish an armed force, either of natives, or much more of foreigners, in any part of the dominions of this Crown, without the consent of the people, expressed in this great council of the nation. The negative of this power, sir, was one of the great privileges which the Bill of Rights declared to be the undoubted right and liberty of the subject. The proposition deduced from the principles of the Constitution is general; it was laid down in the terms in which it appears in that law, because, like everything else that is there declared, it had a reference to the grievances recited in the preamble. Those were the encroachments which the late King James had made on the Constitution of his country. Those were the mischiefs immediately to be remedied by the Revolution; and accordingly, to every clause in the Bill of Rights, the declaration of the right is adapted to, and co-extensive with, the violation complained of. This is the true reason why some of those declarations appear to be limited in their expression; and excludes every inference against the generality of the propositions, which are fairly deducible from the same principles of reason and of law.

But, sir, though I avoid detaining the House, by entering more particularly into the reasonings upon the subject, I cannot dismiss it without taking some notice of a most novel and dangerous doctrine, which has proceeded from so respectable authority that it demands our most serious attention. It has been asserted by the highest law authority in this House, "That the raising or keeping an army even within this kingdom in time of peace, without the authority of Parliament, unconnected with the illegal purposes to which," he admits, "it had been perverted, was not simply, and in itself unlawful, before the passing of the Bill of Rights at the Revolution; and, therefore, that the clause in that statute, which declares it to be so, created a new law, and did not merely declare ah ancient fundamental principle of the Constitution." If this be true of that clause, sir, it may as well be applied to every other in the Bill of Rights; and the consequence of that doctrine will be, that all the privileges there asserted to be the ancient rights of the subject, were not in truth so, but were new acquisitions, or generous gifts at the Revolution; and that the declarations and provisions of that excellent law are not to be extended beyond the words of it, or applied to other cases deducible from the same principles of the Constitution, which they certainly should be, in the most liberal manner, if it is merely declaratory of the common law and ancient Constitution of the kingdom.

But, independent of all other reasonings, the clear and unambiguous words of the law itself, give the most decisive refutation to so strange a doctrine. If there is any one statute in the whole book which is more clearly and pre-eminently declaratory of the ancient law than all others, it is certainly the Bill of Rights. The preamble recites, "That the late King James, by the assistance of evil counsellors, did endeavour to subvert the laws and liberties of this kingdom," in several particulars, which are there recited; all which are affirmed to be "directly contrary to the known laws and statutes of the realm." Contrary to what laws, sir? Surely not to those which they were then going to make, but to those ancient, and, in the words of the act, known laws which existed at the time, and long before the violations complained of. The act then goes on to say, that the Lords and Commons, "for asserting their ancient rights and liberties, do declare" several particulars, and amongst

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the rest, "that raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom, in time of peace, unless with consent of Parliament, is against law," and they "claim and insist upon all the premises as their undoubted rights and liberties;" and it is declared and enacted, that all the rights and liberties so claimed, "are the true, ancient, and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom." These words, sir, are too strong and clear to need a comment; and on them with confidence I rest this matter in dispute.

I must trouble the House with a word or two on another very strange argument, indeed, which seemed to be used yesterday with a sort of triumph, by the Solicitor-General and others, and has been repeated in the course of this day' s debate, though with some attempts to soften it a little, and take off from that glaring absurdity which has already been so ably exposed: this, sir, is the comparison that has been made between this American war and some others in our history, which, though they were blundering and unsuccessful in the beginning, were glorious and prosperous in the event; from whence the strange inference has been drawn, that because this has been at least equally blundering and unfortunate in its outset, it should therefore be similar in its future glory and success; and the much stranger consequence, that we ought to pursue the same kind of measures that have proven so unfortunate, and continue to place our confidence in the same men who have been guilty of those blunders and mistakes. A right honourable gentleman who spoke early in this day' s debate, [Mr˙ Stanley,] endeavoured to state this with more appearance of reason, thus — I do not profess, sir, to repeat his very words, but I believe I can be pretty exact as to the substance: "It is not," said he, "so absurd and ridiculous to allege that, because we had not, last year, full information; because we had reason to trust to appearances and probabilities, that have deceived us; because, trusting to them, we had not a force sufficient nor efficaciously employed — we are not, therefore, to infer that when we have full information; when those errors we looked into are rectified, and a sufficient force is efficaciously employed, our measures should not be attended with more prosperous success."

I do not contend, sir, for that inference; on the contrary, I am fully persuaded that a rectification of our late errors and blunders, and total change of our measures, adopted upon full information, would be attended with a prosperous and happy event; but, sir, I do contend for the inference from these premises, that we are not to trust the same men who have so blundered and been deceived, or pursue even to a greater extent the same measures that have nearly undone us. Let me ask the right honourable gentleman and his friends, why had they not full information in matters of such importance? Why did they trust to uncertain appearances and probabilities, that have deceived them, when the fate of the empire was at stake? If they judged force necessary, why had they not a sufficient force, and why was not that force efficaciously employed? Are those men fit for the management of great affairs, who neglect the means of information that are in their power? Are Ministers equal to the government of a great empire, who trust the fate of it to deceitful appearances and the chapter of accidents? or ought they to be trusted with the direction of fleets and armies, who do not know what force is sufficient for their own plans and designs, or how it should be most effectually employed?

I shall now, sir, entreat the indulgence of the House, while I state, as shortly as I can, some of the reasons why I am against the whole of this sanguinary Address, and why I, for one, cannot consent to pledge myself for the truth of propositions, respecting which I have no evidence or information before me, and the approbation of measures which I, from my soul, detest and abhor. I shall not enter into the particulars of the Speech or Address which have been so ably observed upon in the course of two long days' debate, I oppose, sir, the whole principle of the Address, because the avowed tendency of it is to plunge us still deeper in an unhappy civil war, and to pledge us to support a system of measures which appear to me to threaten ruin and destruction to this devoted country. I am against the present war, sir, because I think it unjust in its commencement, injurious to both countries in its prosecution, and ruinous in its event. It is staking the fate of a great empire against a shadow. The quarrel which occasioned

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it, took its rise from the assertion of a right, at best but doubtful in itself — a right from whence the warmest advocates for it have long been forced to admit that this country can never derive a single shilling of advantage. In spite of all the sophistry that has been used, and all the declamation we have heard on the dignity of this country and the authority of Parliament, the right of taxation is the only real and original subject of the dispute between Great Britain and her Colonies. This doubtful and unprofitable right has been attempted to be asserted and enforced by a series of laws, the most oppressive, the most violent, the most arbitrary, unjust, and tyrannical, that ever disgraced the annals of any civilized nation upon earth. I will not now, sir, enter into the particulars of these laws; but I mean the whole system of American legislation, from the Boston Port Bill to the present time.

This system of laws, sir, has produced its natural effect. It has driven your Colonies into rebellion, and we are now called upon to concur in exerting the whole power of this nation; in enforcing, by blood and destruction, that unjust and arbitrary system. The injustice of these measures, alone, would be sufficient to determine me against giving them approbation or support; but when I consider the inevitable consequences of them, I am still more strongly confirmed in that opinion. The war in which we are engaged is, of all others, in its nature, the most ruinous and destructive. Whatever may be the event, we must be the sufferers; for such is the unhappy nature of the contest, that the losses and mischiefs of both sides must ultimately fall upon us. Whose treasures will be exhausted by the expense? Whose commerce will be ruined and destroyed? The blood of whose subjects will be spilt but those of the British empire? If such are the present effects of this war, the event must be still more fatal to this kingdom. Let us consider it, sir, upon either supposition of success or disappointment, of conquest or defeat. The present situation of the Colonies, their union, their conduct, their enthusiastick spirit of liberty, and the fatal experience of the last campaign, has fully convinced every man, even the most sanguine, that we cannot expect bloodless laurels or an easy conquest. We must lay our accounts for the most alarming and dangerous resistance; and if a full exertion of all the powers and resources of this kingdom, (which I am far from thinking the most probable event,) should at length, after a long and obstinate contest, in which both sides will be almost equally exhausted, prevail over every effort of liberty, reduce the Colonies to a forced submission, and complete the conquest of America, in what respect shall we be gainers by such a conquest? What shall we acquire, at such an expense, but the empty assertion of an unprofitable sovereignty over desolated Provinces or a few miserable slaves? Instead of those flourishing dominions, the wealth and commerce of which have rendered us the greatest nation in the world, we shall find ourselves possessed of a vast territory, which, drained of the sources from whence that greatness flowed, that communicated itself so plentifully to us, will be not only useless and unprofitable, but burdensome and destructive; acquired by violence and force, it cannot be preserved but by the same means; and our acknowledged revenues must be still further drained, by the constant expense of fleets and armies, to support our unjust authority, and to defend from foreign invasion those Provinces which we shall have deprived of the means of defending themselves. These, sir, are the happy consequences that we may expect from the most prosperous success.

But suppose for a moment the event should be different; suppose the extent and natural advantages of their country, their distance from us, that union which our measures have produced, and, above all, that ardour of liberty, that enthusiastick and desperate spirit, which our injustice and oppression have excited, should carry the Americans through the dreadful struggle with success, and enable them, in the end, to baffle and defeat the utmost exertions of their infatuated and deluded country. In the course and event of such a struggle, is it possible to suppose that America will not follow the dangerous example which we are going to set her, of having recourse to foreign assistance; that in the future establishment of her commerce, she will not give the preference to any nation in Europe, over that which has attempted to enslave and destroy her, and has not desisted from the unnatural attempt, till after the utmost, though ineffectual

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exertion of all her power and resources? In what situation will Great Britain then find herself? Her Colonies will not only be totally lost to her, but, at least as to the benefits of their commerce, thrown into the hands of other Powers, most probably her natural enemies. Reduced to her insular dominions; curtailed in her commerce; the principal source of her wealth and naval power transferred into the hands of her enemies; her blood and treasures exhausted; her revenues lessened; oppressed with an enormous debt, and debilitated with unsuccessful exertions; she will lose her power and consequence in the system of Europe, and be exposed, almost a defenceless prey, to the first neighbour who shall choose to invade her.

These, sir, are the consequences which must ensue from the measures we are now called upon to approve and support. Whether they are followed by defeat or success, they will, almost with equal certainty, destroy the power, the glory, the happiness of this once great and flourishing empire. It is my opinion that we cannot conquer America; have not a doubt, that we cannot acquire or maintain a beneficial sovereignty over her by violence and force.

But, shall we give up our Colonies without a struggle; without an attempt to preserve our dominion over them? That, sir, is not my opinion; I think we shall lose that dominion, I am sure we shall lose all benefit from it by oppression, violence, and war; but it may still be preserved by justice, moderation, and peace. The Americans, it is said, will be satisfied with nothing less than absolute independence. They do not say so themselves, sir; they have said the direct contrary: "Restore the ancient Constitution of the empire, under which all parts of it have flourished; place us in the situation we were in the year 1763, and we will submit to your regulations of commerce, and return to our obedience, and constitutional subjection." This, sir, is the language of the Americans.

Is this a claim of absolute independence? Were they independent of this country in the year 1763, or at any preceding period? Will any gentleman on the other side of the House rise up and say that they were? If they were not, they do not now claim to be so. If they were then independent, it was in that state that those advantages of wealth and power flowed from them, which raised us but a few years ago to the greatest height of eminence and glory, and set us at the head of all the nations of the world. But our Ministers tell us they will not, in truth, be content with what they themselves have professed to demand. Have you tried them? Make the experiment. Take them at their word. Repeal the acts that have passed since 1763, and put them on the footing of their old system of Colonial administration. Surely, sir, it is a less expensive and dangerous experiment, than that which we are now so strongly urged to make. If it should fail, sir, how are we injured? Will our blood be spilt by it? Will our treasures be exhausted? Will our strength or our resources be the less? If the Americans should recede from their own proposals; if they will be content with nothing less than an independence equally opposite to the true interest of both countries; you may then have recourse to war, if it should then be thought advisable; and you will do it with the advantage of a united, instead of a divided people at home. The Colonies will not have a single friend on this side the Atlantick; there will not be a single man who will not think their resistance a most unnatural and unjustifiable rebellion, instead of thinking them (as I now do, from the bottom of my soul) engaged in a noble and glorious struggle, even if it should be carried on with a mistaken zeal, for what they conceive to be their liberties, and the natural rights of mankind. I beg pardon, sir, for having trespassed so long on the indulgence of the House; I did not rise from the hope of convincing any one member, much less from an expectation that anything I could say would be worthy of their attention. I am conscious, sir, of my own inability to treat so great a subject as it deserves; but I could not be easy in my own mind, without entering the strongest and most publick protestations against measures which appear to me to be fraught with the destruction of this mighty empire. I wash my hands of the blood of my fellow-subjects; and shall at least have this satisfaction, amidst the impending calamities of the publick, not only to think that I have not contributed to, but that I have done all in my power to oppose and avert, the ruin of my country.

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Sir Gilbert Elliot defended Lord North from the attack made on his indolence and inactivity; and, besides arguing in support of his Lordship' s conciliatory proposition of last year, said he would not give his consent to the sending a large armament to America, without sending, at the same time, terms of accommodation.

Mr˙ Rigby rallied Colonel Barré upon his numerous acquaintance. He was always much pleased and entertained with the stories of that honourable gentleman; nay, he was even entertained with the history he had given of his own life the day before, though he must own that it came with a bad grace from a person' s own mouth. He then made an avowal of his principles, and declared he voted for the Address merely because it was to sanction coercive measures. He was firmly of opinion that America must be conquered, and that the present rebellion must be crashed ere the dispute would be ended. There were faults somewhere, but he did not know whether they were in the department of the sea or land. As to conciliatory plans, he was as much for them as any man; and he did not wish to fight for a paltry tea duty; but wished to be understood, that in saying so, he did not, by any means, give up the right of taxation, although it might not be politick to insist on it at present; and he quoted the authority of Lord Chatham, to prove that it was a doctrine held in the House ten years ago, and that the Earl had, himself, when Minister, declared the Americans should not manufacture — that they should not make a horsenail. He concluded with hoping the Minister would act with becoming vigour in America, and he doubted not of success. He described the present situation of America in very strong terms, saying that there now existed in that country a system of tyranny that disgraced usurpation.

Mr˙ Dempster. I do not rise, sir, to trouble the House on the subject of the question more immediately under its consideration. The noble Lord [North] has, in my opinion, concluded that matter fully and desirably. He has declared his willingness to accept of an indemnity, if the legality of the measure of introducing foreign troops into out distant garrisons and forts shall appear doubtful to the House. The expediency of that measure nobody has disputed; its legality alone is called in question, and, in my opinion, very justly so; but as this point will be settled by an act of indemnity, what more can be said? what more can we desire? The business is concluded. But, sir, I am induced, though at a late hour of the night, to say a few words on something that fell from the same noble Lord, and that has since fallen from other gentlemen of great weight and authority in this House. From what they have said, sir, a ray of comfort breaks in upon us. That dark and portentous cloud that has hung so long over Great Britain and America, fraught with numberless ills to both, begins to break and clear up. Within this half hour I am induced to entertain a hope, to which I have been long a stranger, that there will be an end to bloodshed; and that peace, harmony, and happiness, may be again restored to this distracted empire. To forward this most desirable object, as far as lies in my power, is my sole motive for saying a very few words.

The noble Lord has disclaimed any intention of enslaving America. He has gone so far as to say that he would not object to restoring her to the footing on which she stood in the year 1763, was there a probability of America being now satisfied with this concession. Another right honourable gentleman [Mr˙ Rigby] of great abilities, and a leader of no inconsiderable party in this House, has just now declared that he will not fight with America for a paltry duty upon tea. And a third right honourable gentleman, [Sir Gilbert Elliot,] not short of the former in consideration and weight among us, has expressly affirmed, that he will not consent to an armament sailing against America, unless the same fleet shall carry reasonable offers of accommodation to that quarter of the globe. There appears, for the first time, by what has fallen from those three noble and honourable persons, a disposition to relinquish the great bone of contention between our Colonies and their parent State; I mean, sir, the exercise of the right of taxing them, unrepresented as they are, in Parliament. I hope, sir, the House will, revert to our ancient system of governing the Colonies; for, till we abandon this new-fangled system of taxing them here — a system no older than the conclusion of the last war — I will venture to affirm that no coercive measures

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short of extermination will ever compel the Americans to submit to it.

There is no subject on which I have employed more reflection than on the grounds of our present dispute with America; and the result has been an opinion, by which I believe I shall abide as long as I breathe — it is, sir, that, in my conscience, I think the claim of the Americans is just and well-founded, to be left in the free exercise of the right of taxing themselves in their several Provincial Assemblies, in the same manner that Ireland now does and always has done. By this beautiful part of our Constitution, our wise ancestors have bound together the different, and distant parts of this mighty empire; by this single principle, heretofore inviolate, they have diffused, in a most unexampled manner, the blessings of liberty and good government through our remotest Provinces.

Look, sir, into the history of the Provinces of other States — of the Roman Provinces in ancient time — of the French, Spanish, Dutch, and Turkish Provinces of more modern date; and you will find every page of it stained with acts of oppressive violence, of cruelty, injustice, and peculation; but in the British Provinces, the annual meetings of their little assemblies have constantly restrained the despotism, and corrected the follies of their Governours; they watch over the administration of justice, and, from time to time, enact such salutary regulations as tend to promote their happiness and well-being. And what, sir, I beseech you, could insure the regular meeting of those assemblies, ever troublesome to Governours, but their retaining in their own hands, like us at home, the power of granting the funds necessary for defraying the current expense of Government? Were your Provincial Assemblies deprived of this power, I cannot see wherein the Government of America would differ from that of Indostan. And has our inquiries, in a former session, into the administration of Bengal, made us in love with the Eastern species of Government? Do we seriously wish to transplant the rapine and cruelties of India to America? But how, sir, that this system is given up to our Colonies, peace will, I hope, speedily follow the concession.

I cannot, sir, but commend, in the warmest terms, the intention expressed in the Speech from the throne, of sending a Commission to America to empower persons on the spot to receive submissions, to remove oppressive restrictions, and to grant pardons and other indulgences to our fellow-citizens across the Atlantick. There is but one step more necessary to be taken, and peace will, in my humble opinion, be certain and infallible; and in relation to that step alone have I ventured to rise on the present occasion. It has already been touched upon by an honourable gentleman, [Mr˙ James Grenville,] who always expresses himself with elegance and propriety. The point I mean, sir, is, that his Majesty' s Commissioners may be empowered to treat with the Congress. I am convinced, sir, that America will not listen to a treaty through any other medium; it stands to reason and common sense she will not; for the Congress is not only the sole existing power at this moment in America, but it is to the union formed by means of the Congress, that America owes its strength, and its formidable power of resistance; without such a union, twelve wide-spread, far-distant Provinces, thinly peopled and individually weak, could never act with effect in defence of what they think their violated rights; nor is it to be supposed they will dissolve this firm bond of union till their grievances are redressed. May I, then, be permitted very humbly to join my feeble voice to the honourable gentleman' s before alluded to, and entreat the Ministry that no false pride, no misplaced idea of dignity and authority, may induce them to forbid the Commissioners from treating for and seeking peace where alone peace may be found. Let the Commissioners be vested with discretionary powers, and left at least without an express prohibition to treat with that body; or let some means be devised of legalizing a Congress, by calling one pro re nata under his Majesty' s authority.

The Commissioners will, sir, I hope, be well chosen; will be men of rank and character; men of known attachment to the Constitution, and men known and revered for services done to their country, and neither too much attached to Britain nor America; but, if possible, impartial in their opinion concerning the present contest.

When men such as I have described, giving weight and dignity to the commission they bear, come to treat and to reason

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with the Americans, much may be urged to quiet their jealousies and apprehensions, and to bring them back to their wonted allegiance to the King, and subordination to this country. They may be told, sir, and told with truth, that Parliament is not so determinately obstinate on the measure of taxation as they apprehend. They may be reminded that if Parliament taxed them in the year 1764, the same Parliament, finding this well-meant but injudicious measure offensive to America, repealed the tax in the year 1765. They may be told that on the memorable occasion of repealing the Stamp Act, their great champion, the Earl of Chatham, laid the claim of America only to an exemption from internal taxation. They may be also told that the seven or eight duties afterwards imposed, were not internal taxes, but external port duties on foreign commodities. And yet, in consequence of those external duties being disagreeable to America, they were all repealed except this miserable three-penny duty upon tea. And when to those arguments the Commissioners can add that Parliament, even on this last article, is disposed to relax, I can hardly doubt of their success. I already see peace and harmony restored. I see the two countries, like two friends who have quarrelled, returning with eagerness to their ancient habits of friendship, and cementing more closely than before their useful connection and affectionate union. How ardently, sir, this is my wish, let the trouble I have now ventured to give you this night bear witness, if the uniformity of my conduct for eleven years that this unhappy contest has subsisted, should not be a sufficient testimony of my sincerity.

The motion for recommitting the Address was then negatived.

At seven o' clock, Sir George Yonge moved an amendment to the Address, by inserting after the words "maintenance of its authority," these words: "and we will immediately take into our consideration the measure of introducing foreign troops into any part of the dominions of Great Britain, without the previous approbation of Parliament." This caused a fresh debate, which continued till one o' clock; when, the question being put, the House divided.

The yeas went forth:

Tellers for the yeas,
Sir George Yonge,
Mr˙ Powys,
72

Tellers for the noes,
Lord Stanley,
Mr˙ Morton,
176

So it passed in the negative.

Then the Address was agreed to by the House.

Resolved, That the said Address be presented to his Majesty by the whole House.

Ordered, That such Members of this House as are of his Majesty' s most honourable Privy Council, do humbly know his Majesty' s pleasure, when he will be attended by this House.

And the House having continued to sit till near one of the clock on Saturday morning,

Ordered, That his Majesty' s most gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament be taken into consideration this day.