verty to riches, from servitude to power; / reasons for evading a war. An inquiry they had the reins óf their new govern- into the internal opulence of this country ment in their hands, which must be would éxtinguish every fear of that kind. wrested from them; it was reasonable to The aggregate riches of Britain were not suppose, that they would insist upon it, less than 1,000 million. The national debt and, if not overcome by the superior voice was only 146 million ; a seventh part of of the people, would preserve it. Such a the wealth of the kingdom. How, then, resolution as that moved for, would give could we be so distressed in our finances ? them the fairest argument to persuade the In cases of national occasion, we should people; and independency must be the have reference to the fundamental proconsequence. But he did not despair of perty of the nation, and all Europe would the success of the commission. He be- wonder at our resources, and tremble at lieved the tone of the Americans, in ge- our power. neral, was against independency. They Mr. For said, he had formed a decided had been in a manner forced into a mea- opinion upon the present question, and if sure, which they had not approved of, and he should happen to differ in his sentiments it was carried in the Congress by only one from a venerable character, whom he hoor two voices. It was even reasonable, noured and revered, the committee would arguing from motives of interest, to sup- give him credit that no early prejudice, no pose that they would prefer dependency infant pique, directed his judgment, or into independency. Secured from taxation; | fluenced his mind. He had considered relieved from the fear of having any share this matter, abstracted from every other in the burthen of our debt; protected object, and his judgment was formed upon during war by our strength, and cultivated logical, as well as natural reasoning and during peace by our arts--with these ad deduction. The dependency of America vantages joined to dependency, could they he thought it impossible, from our situawish to be independent? It was not rea- tion, as well as from the nature of the ob. sonable, that men, attentive to their in-ject, for us to regain. She had joined with terests, would forfeit security and protec- France in an amicable and commercial tion, for danger and the chimerical notions treaty. The latter had recognized her inof nominal grandeur. But it hurt him to dependency, and both were bound in grahear a proposition urged in that House so titude to defend one another, against our destructive to the welfare of Britain. resentment on the one hand, or our atWould not the independency of America tempt to break it on the other. If by conbe the eve of their advancement into a cession or 'coercion we attempted to reAourishing naval power? Their situation cover the dependency of America, we commanding a species of superiority over should have the powers of France and all the earth, they would soon rival Europe America, and perhaps Spain, to encounter in arts, as well as grandeur, and their with. If we attempted to punish France power in particular would rear itself on for recognizing the independency of Amethe decay of ours. Are we, then, so lost rica, America would join her, and we to all the feelings of patriotism, that with should have, in either case, two, if not a wanton hand we would lay the founda- three powers to combat with. It was protion stone of a blockade against our own bable, that the greatest part of Europe existence? We were able yet to reduce would join in the recognizance. GratiAmerica, should she be unwise enough to tude on the one hand, and obligation on refuse our offers. Efforts would then be the other, would unite them in one bond, made very different from the former. We and we should experience the joint efforts had till then been engaged in a wrong of all, if we attacked one. If, on the cause ; our ministers had been cruel, un contrary, the committee agreed to the just, and unconstitutional in their demands, motion, and thereby recognized the indeand the hearts of the people were not in pendency of America, we should be no the measures adopted. But now the in- longer bound to punish the European justice would change sides, and if they powers, who had already, or who might do refused, they only would be the aggressors. the same: and we should probably secure In a war with justice on our side, what a larger share of the commerce of the would not Britain perform ? The national Americans, by a perpetual alliance on a spirit was not extinct, and that was the fæderal foundation, than on a nominal debulwark of Britain. The state of the pendence. funds and finances had been introduced as

He could not avoid lamenting to hear

the language at present used in the House the crown became despotic. A security of Commons-namely, that the Americans against that danger destroyed their fears; were not in general inclined to indepen- and not being concerned in the advancedence. Now, could any thing be more ment or depression of the crown, they did distant from probability ? Had we not seen not regard its progress. Good God! proof upon proof exhibited to the con- then, could Britons with their eyes open, trary? Had not the provinces, one and and, sensible of the danger arising from all, entered into the most solemn bond the predominancy of the executive power, not to depart from, or rescind their vote wilfully throw so great an addition of of independency; and had not even thou- strength into it, as the power of appointsands of them, in the province of Carolina, ing the officers to the government of Ameas well as in others, iaken an oath before rica must necessarily create ? Had we not Heaven to maintain it? The Congress appointments, douceurs, sinecures, penand the people were the same. Distinct sions, titles, baubles and secret-service opinions, party distractions, and disunited money enough already? Did not the interests, had not been formed in Ame- creatures of government swarm in every rica, with regard to the great point in department, and must we add to their which, by their unanimity, they had suc- nunber? ceeded. He laughed to hear the contrary He could not see that American indeasserted; but he hoped sincerely that the pendency would so soon rise as the hon. hon. gentleman near him (governor John- gentleman imagined, to maritime prestone), and the other commissioners, had eminence. The Americans could have more solid grounds to go upon, and more no inducement to hunt for territory rational hopes of success. He viewed the abroad, when what they quietly possessed dependency of America as a matter of would be more than they could occupy very little moment to any part of this coun- and cultivate. They would find the adtry, other than the minister and his de- vantages of conquest unequal to those of pendants. He understood that the ap- agriculture ; and remembering that man pointment of governors, and other officers has naturally a predilection for the enjoy, by the crown, was an object of their con- ment of landed property, they would find templation, and one which they esteemed it impossible, in a country where land was of great consequence. It was meant, he to be had for nothing, to propagate a supposed, as an addition to the weight in spirit of manufacture and commerce. the scale of government, and this circum- Every American, more or less, would bestance deserved the most serious atten- come the tiller and planter, and the countion of the House. The three estates of try might, in some future and distant peparliament could no longer be the security riod, be the Arcadia, but it could never and defence of our constitution, than be the Britain of the world. when they remained in an equipoise with He reverted to the arguments of the regard to one another. If one preponde- hon. gentleman near him, in regard to rated, the executive over the legislative, the finances of this country. He vever or the legislative over the executive, the was more surprized than he was at hearing superstructure must fall. It was a melan. a man of sense, introduce such a puerility. choly, but a certain truth, that the power The internal opulence of the country of the executive had been gradually ex- might be introduced as a figure of shew, erting itself to a predominancy for some to delude the ignorant into an extravagant years past, and its growth was already idea of our resources ; but the people must dangerous to our constitutional existence. know that it was a mere delusion. If we The further advantage that would be

were reduced to such an emergency as to thrown into the scale, by the weight of have reference to the fundamental opuAmerica, would give maturity to its lence, so might our enemy; and compargrowth, and perpetual dominion to it over ing the one resource with the other, we the legislative; because, by the exemption must acknowledge that theirs, in that re, from taxation, no degree of weight what- spect, was treble our own. Our natural ever was added to the legislative state. resources, he knew, were superior to those Taxes were so far necessary to our con- of our enemy, in proportion to the extent stitution, seeing that they engaged the of country; but we ought to remember, people narrowly to watch and resist the that theirs were capable of more improveinfluence of the crown. Their lives and ments without injuring the people than properties could only be in danger when ours. Would ministers but abolish the

extravagant method of collecting their re- the late Conciliatory Acts had laid: it venues, the voluptuous manner of expend- might be an odd thing to say, but he deing them, and the enormous extent of the clared freely, that he did not desire his royal expenditure, what a superiority, in instructions to be enlarged; especially on point of revenue, might they not effect? the point of independency. He looked

He condemned the Conciliatory Act as upon the establishing of the independency totally inadequate to the object, and de- of America, as entailing ruin upon this clared, that if they produced any good end, country. There were, indeed, some prehe should attribute it solely to the influ- liminary matters wlich he thought 'still ence of the hon. and worthy gentleman remained to be settled as absolutely neces(governor Johnstone) who was last joined sary to the success of the negociation of in the commission. He hoped the com- the commissioners. The first was the remittee would consider seriously of the pealing of the Declaratory Law;which was matter before them: there had been downright nonsense, as it now stood in enough of treasure fruitlessly wasted; our statute books, after the repeals we and that they might not waste more on have already made. The other was the an inadequate commission, he begged them repeal of the Canada Act. He said, when to extend its powers, and thereby secure these obstacles were removed, as well as its success. He could not avoid adverting those, to the removal of which we already to the conduct of the ministry, in regard conceded, the Americans could have noto the French “ aggression.” He knew thing else to ask. When they had absonot from whence the word came, but he lute security in the possession of all their supposed it meant " insult.”' Himself rights, what could they wish more? Ask and others were termed pusillanimous, be any dispassionate mai, or any indifferent cause they attempted to stem the torrent power upon the earth, ought they or ought of rage, that rushed from the bosoms of they not, to close with us on the concesthe ministry on that occasion—they were sions which we offer? Most certainly they called pusillanimous, because they were ought. While, indeed, we denied them calm; but could they not now, with dou- any rights which they were undoubtedly ble energy, send back the term on those entitled to; while we, with the hand of men who had confessed that the nation was power, restrained them in the exercise of insulted; who had made the King and those which we even allowed they had ; the parliament of England confess that while we made an unjust, cruel, foolish they were insulted ; and who, for a whole and abominable war against them : they month, had pocketed the insult, without were united in their resistance to us; and preparing to punish it, or taking a single Britain was divided. Half Britain then step for the defence of the nation? He was opposed to all America. But now begged the committee to observe, that the that we offer them such terms as they ministry, conscious of their own inability, ought to accept, their resistance will be. were obliged, when they wanted service come positive rebellion, and our war a just to be performed, to call to their assistance one. It will then be all Britain against the very men who had condemned their half America. On this ground of indemeasures, and uniformly despised them. pendency America is greatly divided. But if a peace was to be negociated, or a Whatever the people in power may wish war to be undertaken, (meaning the ap. and aim at, the great body of the people pointment of governor Johnstone in the do not wish to change the government of one case, and admiral Keppel and lord Britain for that of the Congress. The Amherst in the other) they were obliged people of the old settled interest and proto employ the men on his side of the perty do not wish for independency, they House.

rather dread it. Under this state of Governor Johnstone doubted, whether things; and my information, which I will it might not be thought imprudent for him trust and stand by, tells me that this is the to speak at all in the predicament in which state of things; I do not despair of the he stood. He said it would be presump. success of the commission with the powers tuous, in him, to say that the business of it has at present. At least it will be worth the commission would succeed: but he the trial. If they are not actually divided thought he saw so many reasons for think- in their measures, they are yet so unseting so, that he was free to undertake it. tled in their opinion, ihat we ought to try It was an experiment to be tried ; and he whether they will be divided. But even would undertake it on the ground, which supposing that the acknowledging the in, dependency of America should become a felt his pride hurt, his spirit roused, his right measure, I doubt whether this House rage kindled, by the very insinuation that could declare them independent. Can this country was unable to assert her just this House take upon it to dismember the rights and support her pretensions to emempire? I say it cannot. Although 1pire. After this, he thought it unnecescan never agree to the idea of the indepen- sary to say that he was averse to the modency of America, in the sense that gen- tion, and would give it every opposition in tlemen have taken it up; yet I would not his power. be thought to entertain a hope of a depen- Mr. Burke inveighed bitterly against dence, such as others expect. Something, those who had reduced the nation to the perhaps, of an union between two unequal painful necessity of submitting to such parties, on terms suited to the condition of terms as the Americans should think proeach, may be had with America. Yet, if i per to insist on. He displayed great the Americans think that France has clearness of understanding and ingenuity really supported them, and if they have in pointing out the weak side of the argumade a reciprocal treaty with France, it ments advanced by the gentlemen who cannot be expected that they should make opposed the motion, and concluded with peace with us without including France. expressing his hearty approbation of the But if France, by false pretences, has drawn motion, them into all the miseries they suffer, and if Mr. T. Townshend thought the motion we can convince them of that, they ought to premature, and moved that the chairman thank us for getting them out of the hands do leave the chair. of France, and conclude a peace with us Lord North was against making any without thinking of those false friends. further concessions. He said he had

Mr. Henry Dundas (Lord Advocate) reason to believe the treaty with France spurned with indignation at a proposition was not ratified by the Congress; and as which, while it endeavoured to secure in- it was certain that France had all along dependence to America, stamped indelible cajoled and abused them, they were not disgrace on Great Britain, by declaring to ' under obligation to give them either asthe world that she was unable to subdue sistance or preference. He believed, still, the creatures of her own raising. Every that the niinds of the people were inclined Briton should feel his bosom glow with to conciliation, and he trusted that the ardour to destroy the ground-work of such measures already adopted would effect it. a disgraceful idea : every reasonable pro- ' He reverted to the expression of an hon. vision had been made for the freedom of gentleman, that he was obliged to repair. America in the late Acts; every reasons to those who despised him, when he able proposition had been made to them: wanted service or advice. He declared every offer which a great people could that it was his invariable pursuit to seek for make, without dishonour to their own capable men, without regard to their situachildren, had been made. If all this would tions or political opinions. As to a war not do: if nothing less than independence with France he thought it unavoidable; would satisfy a people who wantonly be at least, very probable. gan, and obstinately persevered in the Mr. Dunning was against the motion. most unnatural rebellion, he was proud to . There was no limit in it, nor could it be say that this country was of such a temper construed to what it extended. He that it would not be dictated to by the wished to preserve the dependency of most powerful state in Christendom: ac- America. customed to give laws and to humble the Sir G. Savile said we had been at law proud ambition of her foes, Great Britain with America, that Ainerica had gained needed only to be roused: such a refusal the trial, and would demand costs. on the part of the Americans to treat but The chairman left the chair, and there as an independent people, would, he hoped, was no division. be sufficient to rouse her: her great spirit was equal to every effort, to every obstacle: Debate on the Bill to exclude Contractors the spirit of this country laughed at de- from Sitting in the House of Communs.] spondency; and never made a greater figure April 13. Sir Philip Jennings Clerke said, in the eyes of the world, than when reduced he should not make any long preface to to such a state as would have made any his motion, as its own merit would be a other country than herself sink beneath better advocate, and, he trusted, recomthe weight of misfortune and despair. He mend it to every part of the House. The people of this country, in all dangers and cheap as any merchant in London: anodifficulties, were accustomed to look up to ther would not engage to furnish coals; parliament for protection. Our ancestors another would not engage to provide shoes. had maintained many glorious struggles to He never heard that there were auy obtain parliaments; and our brethren in taylors or shoe-makers in that House. It America had profusely lavished their blood was impossible not to perceive, that giving to procure a parliamentary representation. these contracts to members was an arrant When king William delivered this country job, and created a dangerous influence in from the tyranny and oppression of the that House, which must operate much to Stuarts, the first thing he did, was to pro- the injury of the nation; for the more mise a parliament; but one word was also money was raised on the public, the added—it was “free;" without which it greater was the profit to these gentlemen : would have been of no value. He not they throve upon the spoil of their fellow only granted a free parliament, but many subjects. America would not submit to Acts passed in that reign to preserve and be taxed by the parliament of England, keep them independent. By the 5th and because the more money she levied upon 6th of William and Mary, all commis- them, the more she exonerated her own sioners of customs, excise, salt duties, &c. burden. We seemed to be something in as being concerned in public money, were their situation; the more money these excluded from sitting as members in the gentlemen voted to be raised, the greater House. He desired those Acts miglit be would be their profit: to grant away the read: which being done, he said, that a money of others to enrich themselves, was new species of placemen had arisen since improper. Many more arguments might that time, more dangerous to the consti- be offered, but he would only observe, that tution, and more prejudicial to the interest from a series of mismanagement, the situaof the people, than any excluded by those tion of this country was become very periActs. These were people who held lucra- lous. We were at the edge of a precipice, tive contracts under the government. He and, without more public virtue, we must wished to avoid personalities as much as inevitably sink. The very being of this possible, but he could not help taking some country was hazarded, and unless a total notice of the gold contract. The noble alteration of men and measures took lord (North) had said, that 24 per cent. place, we were devoted to every species had been given originally on that contract; of calamity, slavery itself, perhaps, not but finding some time after, that it ex- excepted. He then moved, “ That leave tended itself farther than was at first ex. be given to bring in a Bill, for restraining pected, he lowered the bargain to l} per any person, being a member of the House cent. If, then, it would bear a deduction of Commons, from being concerned himof one per cent. it must appear to the con- self, or any person in trust for him, in

any viction of every man, that2 per cent. would Contract made by the commissioners of his have afforded a sufficient profit on the first Majesty's Treasury, the commissioners of bargain. He said, he had shewn the agree- the Navy, the board of Ordnance, or by ment to a great merchant in the city, and any other person or persons, for the public read his opinion, which was, that comput- service, unless the said contract shall be ing the whole at the average price of 2 made at a public bidding.". per cent. the profit amounted to 46,0001. Sir G. Youge seconded the motion, and That the established commission among said it was full time that the House should merchants, for remitting money, even in take the expenditure of the public money, small sums, was no more than I per and the several modes of corruption, decent. which on the sum remitted would vised to seduce members from their duty, amount to 11,5001., so that 34,5001. had into consideration. been given more than the accustomed Sir J. Mawbey was severe upon conprice. He could name many other in tractors in general; and particularly such stances, where very disadvantageous bar- as had seats in that House. gains had been made for the public; but Mr. Harley wished the contracts to his remark, on the whole, was, that mem- be strictly enquired into, as he was conbers of parliament would not be contrac- scious that, upon the most rigid investiga. tors, if extraordinary and improper advan- tion, his would bear the test. He had tages were not given them. We should been all along consistent, both before and not hear, he said, a member rise' up, and since the war; he had always acted upon assure the House, he sold his coals as principle, and had even risked his person (VOL. XIX. ]

[4 A]

« ElőzőTovább »