Mr. Alderman Oliver' s motion for an Address to the King

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HOUSE OF COMMONS.

Monday, November 27, 1775.

Mr˙ Alderman Oliver said, that the motion which he had then to make, related to the advising and counselling the King in matters of great national concern — an object of no small importance; it had ever been considered as such in this nation, and in all Monarchies where the interest of the whole employed the attention of the individual; and must especially be considered so by those (amongst whom he ranked himself) who were most warmly attached to the rights and dignity of the Crown, and most personally affectionate to the present Monarch. The wisdom of our Constitution had never at any moment, from its first establishment, neglected this most important province. The great Council of the nation, the hereditary Counsellors of the Crown, the Privy Council, were all names with which we were constitutionally acquainted; and the oath appointed for the last made any arguments from him unnecessary to show the superlative importance of the office. To these, his motion had not any reference. Modern times, he said, had presented us with novel institutions, and we now talked familiarly of a Cabinet Council. Very modern times had brought us acquainted with something further; and the present House of Commons would know (which preceding Houses did not) what was meant by the name of an efficient Cabinet Council. Whether these were blemishes or improvements in our system of Government, it belonged not to him to pronounce; for to these likewise his motion had not any reference. His motion went to those, who not as members of any of the Councils he had mentioned, but as something still more efficient, have the undoubted merit or demerit of counselling and advising to his Majesty the late measures concerning America, before those measures were brought forward in Parliament. That there were such counsellors and advisers, he took to be an undoubted fact; and he must be permitted to entertain his own private opinion of the veracity and integrity of any intelligent person who should seriously and solemnly declare that he believed there was none of this description. He presumed it would not be denied that the unanimous opinion of an ostensible Prime Minister, a Chancellor, and a responsible Secretary of State, composing even this efficient Cabinet Council, had been overruled by this something still more efficient. There was one measure, and a measure which he conceived to be the most important and uncommon that ever was produced in an English Parliament — the establishment of absolute despotism in Canada — the author and adviser of which remained to this moment unknown. Though approved, and admired, and adopted, as it had been, by Parliament; yet no Privy Counsellor, no Cabinet, no efficient Cabinet Counsellor, had ever yet assumed its merit; but all to whom it has been imputed had invariably disavowed it. The unanimous complaint of all those who had been in Administration during the present reign, as well as the frequent mortification and distressing embarrassment, self-contradiction, tergiversation, apparent inconsistency, and seemingly intended imposition on Parliament, of those who were now in Administration, all proved the existence of these unknown Counsellors. He did not mean to charge the present Administration with any real inconsistency in their opinions, or with any intention themselves of imposing on Parliament; he entirely acquitted them of both. He believed them innocent of these charges, for they were obliged to give way to an efficiency they could not counteract, and in which they had not the smallest share. Now these super-efficient Counsellors — for he knew not what other name to give them — were the sole objects of his present inquiry. Upon these the attention of the House should fix; as that of the nation had long been fixed. These he desired to have declared to that House authentically; and he desired it now, when they would enjoy the full popularity to which those measures entitled them, which the sense of the nation was said to approve.

And therefore he moved —

"That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, humbly requesting that his Majesty would be graciously pleased to impart to this House who were the original Authors and Advisers to his Majesty of the following measures, before they were proposed in Parliament, viz:

"For taxing America without the consent of its Assemblies, for the purpose of a revenue.

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"For extending the jurisdiction of the Courts of Admiralty and Vice-Admiralty.

"For taking away the Charter of the Province of Massachusetts-Bay.

"For restraining the American Fishery.

"For exempting murderers from trial in America.

"For transporting accused Colonists to England for trial.

"And, most especially, for establishing Popery and despotism in Canada."

Mr˙ Sawbridge seconded the motion, which he did in compliance with the instructions of his constituents. He said, it was his opinion that resistance was justifiable even to acts of Parliament, if they were unjust and oppressive. He had himself once been in danger, together with the late Mr˙ Beckford and Mr˙ Townshend, of suffering unjustly by an act of Parliament; for that one gentleman in the House [Mr˙ Ellis] had come prepared with a string of motions on which to ground a bill of pains and penalties, although the only crime of himself and his colleagues was that of petitioning the King for a redress of grievances; but that this intended punishment had been overruled by one person in the Cabinet, who had sense enough to foresee that if they went on with persecution, instead of having one Wilkes to deal with, they should have five.

Mr˙ Storer rose to oppose the motion. He said the motion might be very well intended, for that some people were very apt to suspect too much, and some might think they knew too little, but he thought it proceeded from a very unnecessary curiosity. As to the planner and original contriver of the measures, no doubt the noble Lord at the head of the Treasury must be the person; and he could not see why all the other most excellent measures which his Lordship had carried through, were not likewise inquired after, as well as those mentioned in the motion; that indeed there was no occasion to inquire after the author of any of them, for that the noble Lord had himself avowed them without any inquiry.

Mr˙ Wilkes. Mr˙ Speaker: The address to his Majesty, which the honourable gentleman has moved this day, is so essentially different from all other late addresses to the Throne, that I own it meets with my hearty concurrence. I think it, sir, of the utmost consequence to know the original authors and advisers of this unjust, pernicious, and calamitous war, which has already deluged with blood a part of America, and spread horrour and devastation through that whole Northern Continent. When so many Provinces of the empire are already lost, and the rest actually engaged in a cruel civil war, we ought not to sit down in a criminal supineness. It becomes our duty, as the grand inquest of the nation, to find out and punish the delinquents, by whose fatal counsels such evils, have been brought upon this convulsed and almost ruined State. We owe it to the people at large; and several of us have it in express charge from our constituents.

We are, I fear, sir, on the eve of an eternal political separation from the Western world, unless a very speedy reconciliation should take place. If the present motion happily meets with success, I am sure it will do more towards: a sincere, lasting, and hearty union with America, than all the captious and fallacious proposals of Administration. The Americans will then believe we indeed desire a reconciliation with them, and they will at length begin to have confidence in our counsels, when they see the vengeance of Parliament fall on the authors of our common calamities. The principles of violence and injustice, which have hitherto prevailed, they will see, if the House is really in earnest to treat, yield to equity and moderation; a negotiation on fair, equal, and just terms, may ensue, and a general tranquillity be re-established in an empire which is now shaken to its very foundation.

I really think, sir, this is almost the only method now left of extricating ourselves with honour and dignity from our present alarming difficulties. You have voted fleets and armies, and your forces figure greatly in the papers of the Secretary at War, and in the expensive estimates on your table. But the Minister knows very well they are not equal to the mad project of subjugating the vast continent of America, nor do I believe the whole strength of this kingdom adequate to such an attempt. After a very bloody campaign you have conquered only one hill of less than a

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mile' s circumference, for you were suffered to land as friends in the only sea-port town of any consequence which you possess. Would the noble Lord, whom his Majesty has lately raised to one of the highest civil offices, if he were sent on a military service there, would he venture, even at the head of the whole British cavalry, to advance ten miles into the country? He would not, I am persuaded, be so rash, nor do I think his spirit quite daring enough to make the attempt. And is any Minister weak enough to flatter himself with the conquest of all North-America? The Americans will dispute every inch of territory with you, every narrow pass, every strong defile, every Thermopylae, every Bunker' s Hill. A train of most unfortunate events will probably ensue, and the power of recruiting, perhaps subsisting, your weakened forces, at such a distance, be lost. After an unavailing struggle of a very few years, when the ruined merchant and manufacturer besiege your doors, you will perhaps think of naming Ambassadors to the General Congress, instead of the wild and expensive job and farce now in contemplation, of thirty Commissioners, with a salary of four thousand pounds each, to cry Peace, where there is no peace.

Yet, sir, I think peace absolutely necessary between Great Britain and America, and, therefore, I approve the present motion, as holding out the olive-branch. The Americans are rapidly increasing in population, and in the knowledge of all the useful arts of life. Alas, sir, they are not ignorant even in the fashionable art of murdering our own species. The late worthy Governour of Pennsylvania declared at the bar of the other House, that that Province now grew more corn than was sufficient for the supply of its inhabitants; that they exported considerably every year; that they perfectly understood the art of making gunpowder, and had effected it; that they had established several works to procure saltpetre; that they had the materials and means in great plenty of casting iron cannon; that the art of casting both brass and iron cannon, as well as of fabricating small-arms, had been carried to great perfection; and that they were expert in ship-building beyond the Europeans. He declared, likewise, that single Province had actually enrolled twenty thousand men in arms, imbodied, but not in pay, and had four thousand Minute-men ready on the first notice of any real danger. The authentick accounts of the preparations for the forming, training, and disciplining troops in the Massachusetts-Bay and in Virginia are equally formidable; nor are they inconsiderable in the other United Provinces. Every idea of force, therefore, on our side, must appear infatuation.

All wise legislators, sir, have calculated the strength of a nation from the number of its inhabitants, the laborious, strong, and active. The population in most parts of America is doubled in the course of nineteen or twenty years; while that of this Island is known rather to have decreased since the year 1692. The emigrations of late from the three kingdoms have been amazing and alarming. Our own people have fled in multitudes from a Government under which they starved. It appears, from the nicest calculations, that many more of our fellow-subjects have voluntarily left this kingdom for America, never to return, than I believe Administration have hitherto sent in their pay, both fleets and armies, never to return, in any considerable proportion — I mean, for the force sent. The Americans, sir, are a pious and religious people. With much ardour and success they follow the first great command of Heaven, "Be fruitful and multiply." While they are fervent in these devout exercises, while the men continue enterprising and healthy, the women kind and prolifick, all your attempts to subdue them by force will be ridiculous and unavailing, will be regarded by them with scorn and abhorrence. They are daily strengthening; and if you lose the present moment of reconciliation, to which this motion tends, you lose all. America may now be reclaimed or regained, but cannot be subdued.

Gentlemen, sir, do not seem to have considered the astonishing disadvantages under which we engage in this contest against the combined powers of America, not only from the distance and natural strength of the country, but the peculiar and fortunate circumstances of a young, rising empire. The Congress, sir, have not the monstrous load of a debt of above one hundred and forty millions, like our Parliament, to struggle with, the very interest of which would swallow up all their taxes! Nor a numerous and hungry band of

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useless placemen and pensioners to provide for; nor has luxury yet enervated their minds or bodies. Every shilling which they raise will go to the man who fights the battles of his country. They set out like a young heir with a noble landed estate, unincumbered with enormous family debts; while we appear the poor, old, feeble, exhausted, and ruined parent, but exhausted and ruined by our own wickedness, prodigality, and profligacy.

Sir, I daily hear the Americans, who glow with a divine zeal for liberty in all its branches, misrepresented in this House, and the ostensible Minister is diligent in propagating the most unjust calumnies against them. The noble Lord with the blue ribbon told us the liberty of the press was lost throughout America, The noble Lord deceives us in this as in many other things. From experience we know that his intelligence can never be relied upon. The liberty of the press, the bulwark of all our liberties, is lost only in Boston, for his Lordship' s Ministerial troops govern there only. The press is free at Watertown, (but seven miles distant from Boston,) at Philadelphia, Newport, Williamsburgh, and in the rest of North-America. I will give the House the demonstration. General Gage' s foolish and contemptible Proclamation against Samuel Adams and John Hancock, two worthy gentlemen, and, I dare to add, true patriots — even that Proclamation, declaring them Rebels and Traitors, while the Generals Washington, Putnam, and Lee, with all the naval commanders in arms, were unnoticed by him, appears reprinted in all the American papers. His letters, likewise, to Governour Trumbull and others, in which he most heroically apologized for his inert conduct, as necessary for the protection of the Army — the protection of an army! — and of an army which we were taught to believe would look all opposition into subjection, awe the factious, and give security to the well-affected,— these letters, too, were all faithfully copied. I believe all the curious, futile orders he has issued, all his unmeaning declarations and proclamations, will be found as exact in the Pennsylvania, Watertown, and other American newspapers, as in the Gazette, published by his authority in Boston, which, in other respects, is as partial and false as that of the American Secretary, published by authority in this capital.

The honourable gentleman who spoke last says the present Address is trifling, for we already know the author and adviser of all the late measures against America; that the noble Lord with the blue ribbon will avow them, and has done it. I wish to hear such a declaration. Will the noble Lord avow himself the adviser of only one of the late flagitious measures, that of establishing Popery and despotick power in Canada? The father of that monstrous birth, I thought, had prudently hitherto chosen to remain concealed. He likewise tells us, the motion now before us is coupled with nothing, and leads to nothing. I will tell him what it ought to lead to, what it ought to be coupled with: I mean an impeachment, sir; which I trust will follow, as the next motion of the honourable gentleman who spoke first in this debate. Whoever did advise the measures lately pursued, which have lost half our empire, I consider as a criminal of so deep a dye that his head would be a just sacrifice to the honour of England and the peace of America. The word "impeachment" I hope will always strike terrour to the ear and heart of a wicked and arbitrary Minister; and that the noblest and most important prerogative of this free people, secured to us by our great deliverer, King William III, in the "Act for the further limitation of the Crown, and better securing the rights and liberties of the subject," will shortly have its full effect, "that no pardon under the great seal of England be pleadable to an impeachment by the Commons in Parliament."

Lord North thanked Mr˙ Storer for the compliments he had paid him; but said, the honourable member who made the motion had not considered him as the responsible author of the measures he had mentioned. He allowed that the Cabinet and efficient Cabinet councils were no parts of the Constitution; but said, that the King might consult any part of the Privy Counsellors he pleased. He said the present motion was a very strange one; that there were several acts of Parliament concerned in it, of which he did not know the author: he did not know who was the author of the Act of Henry VIII, which he supposed was alluded to; that some of the other acts had been made in different Administrations. As for Popery, he said, that was established in

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Canada before, and despotism was not now established; for that the present act might possibly be repealed when Canada should be in a situation fit to have Assemblies; but that at present a Legislative Council, at the will of the Crown, was the fittest form of Government for them. That, however, the Canada Bill came to them from the Lords; that he was very willing to take upon himself the guilt of supporting it in the Commons. But he hardly thought any person would propose the calling of members to account for proposing or supporting any measures in Parliament. The gentleman who made the present motion was certainly a great stickler for freedom of debate, and freedom of opinion; and to complain, therefore, to another tribunal of what happened in this House, in consequence of using that freedom, he could not think suitable to the general tenor of his conduct; he was sure it was not constitutional. He was the more surprised at this motion, as the gentlemen who had moved and supported it had always professed themselves regardless of men, and concerned only about measures; but this motion was calculated merely for personal chastisement and rebuke. He agreed entirely in opinion with the counsellor, whoever he was, that might think one Wilkes sufficient; for, indeed, he thought it was one to much in any well-regulated Government; though, he said, to do him justice, it was not easy to find many such. Upon the whole, he could not think it proper to carry up a complaint to the King of measures which had received the sanction of Parliament; but for Parliament itself to do it would be ridiculous. Mr˙ Temple Luttrell. I rise to give my thanks to the worthy Magistrate who has offered to the House this motion, because I think it, as to spirit, however incorrect its form, replete with duty and true affection to his Sovereign, and promises the most effectual relief to the subject throughout every part of the British empire, at a time of imminent peril to our Constitution, to our trade, and our liberties. I own myself to be one of those persons, who, from an unalterable, an inmost conviction of mind, subscribe to the doctrine of the great Mr˙ Locke, that "the legislature changed from that which was originally constituted by general consent, and fundamental acts of society, such change, however effected, is at once an entire dissolution of the bands of Government, and the people are at liberty to constitute to themselves a new legislative power." Now, sir, that the legislature has been materially changed with respect to your American Colonists from what was in the original and fundamental constitutions of society, there can be no doubt. By disposing of their property contrary to their consent, and by the hostile and savage acts consequent thereto, the bands between the British Government and the American Colonies are of course dissolved: whether or not they will constitute themselves a new legislative power time only can show. I very much apprehend that, unless a speedy and equitable plan of conciliation be held out to them by us, who are the aggressors, such will be the baleful end of our quarrel. But, sir, we are now to come at the prime authors and promoters of this mischief. Show us the men, that, betraying the interests of their fellow-citizens and confidence of their Sovereign, first carried rapine, famine, and assassination, through that devoted Continent. We know that (to speak Parliamentary language, and as becomes every well-affected subject) the King "can do no wrong;" we know that his Majesty, from moral principle, will do no wrong. He is, perhaps, the last man in these dominions, who would commit an act of cruelty or injustice against any individual, much less against a whole community; but, sir, we likewise know, that integrity and a guardless temper of heart have subjected good Kings to a misguidance, which has proved fatal to them in the end. The five dethroned monarchs to be met with at different eras of the English history were distinguished severally in their day for conjugal and paternal affection. They were exemplary models of virtue in domestick life. Three of them (Edward II, Richard II, and Henry VI,) precipitated from a throne, were secretly put to death; one, (Charles I,) ignominiously suffered upon a publick scaffold; and the fifth, (James II,) having forfeited his crown, was sent into exile. Yet not many hours preceding the fatal, expiative sentence, each of these deluded potentates was assured, by his Ministers and sycophants, he could do no wrong. It may be decent, it may be proper, though I have ever regarded such assurance as the syren canticle which has led many of our best princes with a full-swelled canvass on

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those quicksands they would otherwise have steered clear of. Sir, it is only by protecting the guilty that Kings can do wrong. The people of England owe much forbearance, and are slow to commotion; but when once in arms, and under the standard of constitutional freedom, however they may have been sometimes baffled in partial onsets, they have, at the day of decisive battle, proved themselves invincible. Neither has such, their laudable enthusiasm, been confined to the re-establishing of original laws for the security of their possessions and franchises; but has operated with no less vigour in bringing to condign punishment those traitorous persons who had presumed to infringe them; nay, of this we have striking proofs, without recurring to the moment of actual revolt, and when the executive power was compelled to pay due regard to popular discontent. In the reign of Richard II, the weakest and worst of our Kings, (who at one time declared he would not turn out the meanest scullion in his kitchen to please his Parliament,) some great men who had abused the Royal confidence, by carrying into execution schemes subversive of publick liberty, suffered as being guilty of high-treason; and at the request of his people, this King, in the tenth year of his reign, appointed Commissioners to scrutinize and reform his Cabinet and household. Henry VI, (impotent of mind, and obstinate of disposition as he was,) in his twenty-ninth year, at the suit of the Commons, Vanished between twenty and thirty of his Counsellors and minions from his presence, not to be seen for a year within twelve miles of the Court; their sentence says, "that they may be duly improved." It was their master' s sad mishap, who recalled many of them at the expiration of the term mentioned, that they were found incorrigible. Under Henry VIII, the greatest tyrant of the most lyrannick race that ever grasped a sceptre of this realm, others suffered for being the chief promoters of very iniquitous extortions during the preceding reign. Did not a Lord High Chancellor experience, in the time of the first Stuart, that neither personal endowments nor elevated station could shield him from the punishment due to his corrupt practices? Sir, in the reign of Charles I, certain Judges met the severest reprehension for attempting to deliver opinions which were deemed subversive of the rights of the people; and, in a subsequent reign, (that of Charles II,) we likewise see instances when great men were impeached before Parliament for high misdemeanors in carrying on the administration of justice. These, and other innumerable examples to be found in your annals and codes of Parliament, sufficiently evince that no official influence, no honorary dignity, could, in the days of our ancestors, screen the infractors on the lawful tranquillity of the subject from punishment, though they were the nearest servants of the Crown, and illumined with the brightest rays of kingly favour. Sir, I am well aware that the malversations of Government have, in the detail, been usually brought as a heavy charge upon the Minister only, keeping clear of the Monarch; that they have been imputed to a De Vere; a Le Despencer; a Bishop Laud; to a Father Peters; and had such incendiaries, with their base adherents, been timely and voluntarily given up for a sacrifice, atonement might have stopped there; but the Prince on the throne, fascinated by a false glare of prerogative, and plumed with towering notions of his divine vicegerency, could not be prevailed upon to withdraw his auspices from the proper authors of publick calamity, till an injured and enraged people were driven to the necessity of bringing home the sum total of grievances to the account of Majesty itself. Hence followed social warfare, rivers of blood, and dethronements.

Is there an unprejudiced person in this House, endued with a tolerable share of discernment, who, dark as the political horizon around us now is, cannot discover further mischief to be complotted on the basis of these transatlantick piracies? Are we, sir, to remain silent and passive till an army of civilized Britons, in compact with the barbarians of Russia, shall have enforced and perpetuated slavery in all our American Colonies? till your Popish brigades have taken good account of the liberties of Ireland? till a mountaineer

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militia pours in upon us from the northern confines of this Island? till the mercenaries of a German Electorate shall have assumed the guardianship of Portsmouth, Plymouth, and the rest of our seaport towns? — for they may lawfully do so, according to a very learned gentleman of the long robe, on the other side of the floor, [Mr˙ Wedderburn] — till, I say, all these motley legions shall have united to accomplish the hopeful purposes of such zealous addressers as appeared in the London Gazette of last week? Then shall the uplifted hand of vengeance and outlawry fall upon the scattered, helpless corps of petitioners, throughout the several counties of England — those unreasonable petitioners to a Prince of the Brunswick family, in behalf of Revolution principles and lawful freedom! Then shall the Provinces of America, like many of those in Asia and Africa, be governed by Bashaws — by a knout or a bowstring; and a Parliament here at home, dastardly and dependant as the Ottoman Divan, maintaining Jannissary law, shall establish the sway of an arbitrary Sultan on the ruins of limited monarchy, and of the best Constitution that the wisdom and spirit of mankind ever framed for the happiness and glory of their fellow-creatures. Sir, the honourable gentleman who made this motion is for tracing this torrent of iniquity to its source; and it is our duty so to do. If there are efficient or super-efficient Ministers behind the curtain, let them no longer remain latent, but be dragged forth to publick execration and to publick justice. Certain I am, that the only fabricators of the American war are in this Island; they are in this Metropolis: they are most of them in this House. Several oblique hints and insinuations have, at different times, been cast to these benches near me from over the way. Some of the persons I allude to must own it their duty in a double capacity, their duty within these walls, and their duty elsewhere, if they have substantial grounds for such charge, to produce and bring home evidence to the criminal persons. Are they naturally backward at employing spies or filing informations? or have they not such correct alertness in composing warrants of commitment? Where, then, are these enemies to their country on our side of the House? Are they to be found among those gentlemen opposing your present measures, who withdrew from the sunshine of a Court, and relinquished offices of great honour and profit, rather than sanctify such projects as their consciences revolted against? Are they among those opulent Commoners, who have a landed property and hereditary consequence at stake, equal to the best subjects in Europe? Are they to be found in those heroick commanders who fought at the head of your fleets in the last war, with a prowess beyond the idea of the most romantick ages of antiquity? Or must we look for them in those intrepid magistrates, whose publick conduct has gained them the confidence and affection of their fellow-subjects, in the greatest city of the whole commercial world, and who are justly revered throughout the most respectable trading communities in all parts of the British empire — those magistrates to whose talents, vigilance, and stability, we now turn an eye of expiring hope, as to our sheet-anchor, which can alone preserve the labouring vessel of the State from the dreadful rocks by which it is encompassed? Sir, there are no Catalines on this side of the House. Far be it from me to charge any gentleman on the other side with meriting altogether that appellation. Many, very many, there are facing me, who act, I am sure, from such principles as they persuade themselves are principles of wisdom and rectitude; but, sir, I will say, that in the line of Ministers — in that sanguinary phalanx, at least, which, during all the evolutions and revolutions of Government, for several years past, has remained unshaken and impregnable — in them, and in the composition of their principles, I see many Catalinarian ingredients: an insatiate thirst of riches; a licentious pursuit after power; dominion to be acquired by the most desperate hazards and the most savage enterprises; by the burning of whole towns, the habitations of men, the temples of the Divinity; innocent families to be butchered; and the entire demolition of the Commonwealth, at her halcyon zenith of peace, harmony, and abundance. Whether or

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not, midst the arcana of their Cabinet, they, like the Cataline junto, pass from lip to lip the chalice, filled with human blood, as a pledge of secrecy and co-operative zeal, and to "rivet them to coercion," is best known among themselves; but if any one may judge by the diabolical creeds which they have not scrupled to avow, such may well be the cup of their sacrament. Men of affluent incomes they have among them, yet chiefly from the stipends of office, not a patrimonial inheritance, nor the fruits of an honest industry. We may, it is true, give them the credit for a few renegado converts of note, taken in upon the Sherwood-Forest system of policy, in the days of Robin Hood, who recruited his troops from time to time with such needy stragglers as could stand a tough buffeting with the arch contrabandist himself, hand-to-fist.

Let us now look for their military coadjutors — those few they could claim of high reputation, and to whose abilities and spirit we might, on a future foreign war, venture to give in custodium the inestimable glories of the last: these, Ministers have grouped in a triumvirate, and transported to America, upon a worse than buccaneering expedition. We know that they were, last session, among the deceived at home, and have this year been already disgraced abroad — at this hour I am speaking, are, perhaps, in ignominious durance, or dead. If dead, be it for their best reputation and the repose of their departed spirits, that they achieved no part of the errand they were sent upon. This, sir, puts me in mind of another martialist, [looking at Lord George Germaine,] not unsighalized in former campaigns, who being now exalted to a place of the greatest publick importance, if no other members, better qualified than myself, shall undertake the task, I, perhaps, may, on a future occasion, hold it my duty to give him that distinct and copious eulogium which is his just due. Yet, before I sit down, I can by no means omit mentioning the person in office who, with little better pretensions, in my humble opinion, than the daily runner of a faction, [looking at Mr˙ Jenkinson,] having climbed into a post of high financial trust, the first duty of which is, to be provident of the treasure of his Sovereign and his country; measuring his claims by his own presumption and rapaciousness, not by desert, exacted from the Crown a more liberal gratuity than has heretofore been given for eminent and splendid national services — more than was asked by a Burleigh, a Godolphin, or an Earl of Chatham, and more than was deemed sufficient, by a munificent and grateful nation, for an illustrious naval conqueror, [Sir Edward Hawke,] who is now passing the evening of his life in humble frugality. Tell this, sir, to the people of America; and tell them that a Secretary of State, [Lord Rochford,] retiring from, or rather deserting the publick duty, at a conjuncture of some embarrassment, either through indolence, apprehension, or conscious insufficiency, is to be pensioned on the State to the amount of three thousand pounds per annum. I say, sir, relate these recent marks, how admirably we Britons appropriate our own money, and the Colonists can no longer hesitate to make us trustees for the disposal of theirs — especially if it be to pass through the same hands, and for the like hallowed purposes.

However, I shall still flatter myself, as a consequence of this motion, that our gracious Sovereign will, from the transcendent goodness of his heart and reflective wisdom, at length give ear to the supplications of his afflicted people; and notwithstanding he may, from an impulse of lenity, preserve the guilty Ministers from the punishment their offences demand, he will, for the sake of humanity, and for his own safety, remove them from his council and presence forever.

Mr˙ Hayley said that, instructed as he was by his constituents, he could not give a silent vote on the occasion; and he thought that, as all the petitions presented to the King had been rejected with disdain and contempt, the present method of an Address to the King from the House was a proper measure.

Lord Folkestone highly complimented the honourable mover, both as a publick and a private man; and said that he held a seat in that House on the most honourable terms; that, for his own part, he condemned all the measures which had been taken against America, because they were adopted in defiance of every principle on which we support our own liberties; that particularly the act for establishing despotism and Popery in Canada, was most obnoxious; for, not to

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mention the annihilation of every species of civil liberty which it establishes, it plainly declares that, in the opinion of Parliament all religions are equal, and that the only foundation of preference of any is, its being the more easily converted into an engine of State. But as the motion was directed against acts of Parliament, it was impossible to agree to it. The movers of them are, said he, sufficiently known. We do not want to be informed of that. It is sufficient, at present, that Parliament has adopted them. The time, he hoped, would come, when we shall know who concealed that information, who suppressed that evidence, which, if Parliament had received, it would not have adopted them. He should reserve himself till that time; and therefore, at present, moved the previous question on the motion of the Alderman, as on one which ought never to have been made.

Mr˙ Hussey seconded this motion.

The Attorney-General said, that an application to the Crown, concerning any measures which had once passed the Parliament, was highly improper, unconstitutional, and derogatory to their honour; but he was against the previous question, as he should choose to give the motion itself a flat negative.

Mr˙ Charles Fox said he should be against the motion, because it seemed to excuse Administration, and to throw the whole guilt on some other persons; whereas he thought Administration equally guilty; but he did not think that punishment could be constitutionally and legally inflicted for anything whatever which should be done in Parliament; this conduct there will always be followed by the loss of reputation; and that he should therefore move the order of the day, as the best method of getting rid of the motion.

Governour Johnstone disliked Mr˙ Fox' s doctrine, that Ministers were only punishable by loss of reputation. He quoted Sir Edward Coke' s authority, that acts of Parliament, obtained by undue influence or by misinformation, were neither a constitutional excuse, nor by precedent could be made a shelter for the misconduct of Ministers. He said that he disliked the frequent use of the word ‘impeachment;’ that impeachment was a great power of the State, seldom to be exerted, but never to be mentioned without a probability of carrying it into effect against some great criminal. He objected to the motion, because he thought an inquiry should begin by proving some fact; and hoped that, from the variety of opinions in the House, and the treatment this motion met with, that gentlemen would be taught how necessary it was to act in concert, and consult and act with a number of other persons in their motions and measures.

Mr˙ Rigby took this occasion to ridicule most strongly the conduct of Opposition. He remarked their distraction, and the abject state to which every independent gentleman in the House must reduce himself, as a member of Opposition; that he must follow a leader much more slavishly and implicitly than in any Administration; for that if any unconnected member should make the very motion which Opposition had itself determined, yet if he did it without their previous consent and permission, they would themselves turn round upon the honest gentleman as a Rebel, and treat him with more indignity and insolence than any of which they complained in behalf of the Americans. He reminded the city members, that as they professed to act in consequence of the instruction of their constituents, they ought to obey them universally; that there were particular points which they had overlooked; that they ought to rub up their memories before they professed such obedience; that he wished them to obey them universally, that he might have an opportunity of negativing them universally.

The previous question being then proposed, That the question be now put:

A motion was made, and the question being put, That the Orders of the Day be now read,

It passed in the negative.

Then the previous question being put, That the said proposed question be now put,

The House divided. The noes went forth.

Tellers for the yeas,
The Lord Lisburne,
Mr˙ Robinson,
159

Tellers for the noes,
The Lord Folkestone,
Mr˙ Hussey,
16

v6:248

So it was resolved in the affirmative.

Then the said proposed question being put,

The House divided. The yeas went forth.

Tellers for the yeas,
Mr˙ Alderman Oliver,
Lord Mayor of London,
10

Tellers for the noes,
The Lord Stanley,
Sir Grey Cooper,
163

So it passed in the negative.

Notes

nts

* Earl of Suffolk, Lord Chancellor, Duke of Ireland, Archbishop of York, and others.

† Sir Thomas Empson and Edward Dudley.

Bacon, Lord Verulan.

§ Lord Keeper Finch, Judges Davenport, Crawley, Berkley, &c.

|| Chief Justice Scrags, Sir Francis North, Sir Richard Weston, Sir Thomas Jones.

* The Scotch Addresses in the Gazette of 25th November.

† The Attorney and Solicitor-General.

‡ Sir George Savile, Sir James Lowther, &c˙

|| Sir Charles Saunders, Admiral Keppel, &c.

§ Alluding to an expression from the Ministerial side of the House a few evenings before.