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the language at present used in the House of Commons—namely, that the Americans were not in general inclined to independence. Now, could any thing be more distant from probability ? Had we not seen proof upon proof exhibited to the contrary 2 Had not the provinces, one and all, entered into the most solemn bond not to depart from, or rescind their vote of independency; and had not even thousands of them, in the province of Carolina, as well as in others, taken an oath before Heaven to maintain it? The Congress and the people were the same. Distinct opinions, party distractions, and disunited interests, had not been formed in America, with regard to the great point in which, by their unanimity, they had succeeded. He laughed to hear the contrary asserted; but he hoped sincerely that the hon. gentleman near him (governor Johnstone), and the other commissioners, had more solid grounds to go upon, and more rational hopes of success. He viewed the dependency of America as a matter of very little moment to any part of this country, other than the minister and his dependants. He understood that the ap
ointment of governors, and other officers |. the crown, was an object of their contemplation, and one which they esteemed of great consequence. It was meant, he supposed, as an addition to the weight in the scale of government, and this circumstance deserved the most serious attention of the House. The three estates of parliament could no longer be the security and defence of our constitution, than when they remained in an equipoise with regard to one another. If one preponderated, the executive over the legislative, or the legislative over the executive, the superstructure must fall. It was a melancholy, but a certain truth, that the power of the executive had been gradually exerting itself to a predominancy for some years past, and its growth was already dangerous to our constitutional existence. The further advantage that would be thrown into the scale, by the weight of America, would give maturity to its growth, and perpetual dominion to it over the legislative; because, by the exemption from taxation, no degree of weight whatever was added to the legislative state. Taxes were so far necessary to our constitution, seeing that they engaged the people narrowly to watch and resist the influence of the crown. Their lives and properties could only be in danger when
the crown became despotic. A security against that danger destroyed their fears; and not being concerned in the advancement or depression of the crown, they did not regard its progress. Good God! then, could Britons with their eyes open, and, sensible of the danger arising from the predominancy of the executive power, wilfully throw so great an addition of strength into it, as the power of appointing the officers to the government of America must necessarily create 2 Had we not appointments, douceurs, sinecures, pensions, titles, baubles and secret-service money enough already ? Did not the creatures of government swarm in every department, and must we add to their number 2 He could not see that American independency would so soon rise as the hon. gentleman imagined, to maritime preeminence. The Americans could have no inducement to hunt for territory abroad, when what o quietly so would be more than they could occup and cultivate. They would find the advantages of conquest unequal to those of agriculture; and remembering that man has naturally a predilection for the enjoyment of landed property, they would find it impossible, in a country where land was to be had for nothing, to propagate a spirit of manufacture and commerce. Every American, more or less, would become the tiller and planter, and the country might, in some future and distant period, be the Arcadia, but it could never be the Britain of the world. He reverted to the arguments of the hon. gentleman near him, in regard to the finances of this country. He never was more surprized than he was at hearing a man of sense, introduce such a puerility. The internal opulence of the country might be introduced as a figure of shew, to delude the ignorant into an extravagant idea of our resources; but the people must know that it was a mere delusion. If we were reduced to such an emergency as to have reference to the fundamental opulence, so might our enemy; and comparing the one resource with the other, we must acknowledge that theirs, in that respect, was treble our own. Our natural resources, he knew, were superior to those of our enemy, in proportion to the extent of country; but we ought to remember, that theirs were capable of more improvements without injuring the people than 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 which 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 abso. not 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 fought. 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, 1 ought to accept, their resistance will bewere 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 inde. measures, 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, that 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, | clearness of understanding and ingenuity 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 might 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- l'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, that 2 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. Yonge 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 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 investigators, 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.]
dependency of America should become a right measure, I doubt whether this House could declare them independent. Can this House take upon it to dismember the empire? I say it cannot. Although I can never agree to the idea of the independency of America, in the sense that gentlemen have taken it up ; yet I would not be thought to entertain a hope of a dependence, such as others expect. Something, perhaps, of an union between two unequal parties, on terms suited to the condition of each, may be had with America. Yet, if the Américans think that France has really supported them, and if they have made a reciprocal treaty with France, it cannot be expected that they should make eace with us without including France. |. if France, by false pretences, has drawn them into all the miseries they suffer, and if we can convince them of that, they ought to thank us for getting them out of the hands of France, and conclude a peace with us without thinking of those false friends. Mr. Henry Dundas (Lord Advocate) spurned with indignation at a proposition which, while it endeavoured to secure independence to America, stamped indelible : disgrace on Great Britain, by declaring to the world that she was unable to subdue the creatures of her own raising. Ever Briton should feel his bosom glow with ardour to destroy the ground-work of such a disgraceful idea: every reasonable provision had been made for the freedom of America in the late Acts; every reasonable proposition had been made to them: every offer which a great people could make, without dishonour to their own children, had been made. If all this would not do: if nothing less than independence would satisfy a people who wantonly began, and obstimately persevered in the most unnatural rebellion, he was proud to say that this country was of such a temper that it would not be dictated to by the most powerful state in Christendom : accustomed to give laws and to humble, the proud ambition of her foes, Great Britain needed only to be roused: such a refusal on the part of the Americans to treat but as an independent people, would, he hoped, be sufficient to rouse her: her great spirit was equal to every effort, to every obstacle: the spirit of this country laughed at despondency; and never made a greater figure in the eyes of the world, than when reduced to such a state as would have made any other country than herself sink beneath the weight of misfortune and despair. He
felt his pride hurt, his spirit roused, his rage kindled, by the very insinuation that this country was unable to assert her just rights and support her pretensions to empire. After this, he thought it unnecessary to say that he was averse to the motion, and would give it every opposition in his power. Mr. Burke inveighed bitterly against those who had reduced the nation to the painful necessity of submitting to such terms as the Americans should think proper to insist on. He displayed great
in pointing out the weak side of the arguments advanced by the gentlemen who opposed the motion, and concluded with expressing his hearty approbation of the In Otion. Mr. T. Townshend thought the motion premature, and moved that the chairman do leave the chair. Lord North was against making any further concessions. He said he had
reason to believe the treaty with France
was not ratified by the Congress; and as it was certain that France had all along cajoled and abused them, they were not under obligation to give them either assistance or preference. He believed, still, that the minds of the people were inclined to conciliation, and he trusted that the measures already adopted would effect it. He reverted to the expression of an hon. gentleman, that he was obliged to repair to those who despised him, when he wanted service or advice. He declared that it was his invariable pursuit to seek for capable men, without regard to their situations or political opinions. As to a war with France he thought it unavoidable; at least, very probable.
Mr. Dunning was against the motion. There was no limit in it, nor could it be construed to what it extended. He wished to preserve the dependency of America.
Sir G. Savile said we had been at law with America, that America had gained the trial, and would demand costs.
The chairman left the chair, and there was no division.
and life in support of government. He differed widely from the three worthy baronets; for he could solemnly affirm, that his vote in parliament was never influenced by any consideration but the merit of the several questions as they arose. Mr. Turner said, the present question would prove the test of ministers and their friends in that House; for it steered a middle path. It did not merely exclude contractors for being contractors in a fair, open, equitable manner; but for being closet contractors, for being private plunderers; for entering into a conspiracy with a corrupt administration to plunder their country; and either share the spoil with the rest of the public conspirators, or with some others more remote from national observation. Mr. A. Bacon said, he was a merchant, and had honestly served an apprenticeship for seven long years to an eminent merchant; and when he had contracts, he fulfilled them fairly and honestly. He had often voted against ministers, and voted for the repeal of the Stamp Act; he could not conceive why contractors should be treated in so unbecoming, nay, contemptuous a manner—as if they were monsters, and not fit for human society. Sir Cecil Wray said, he always disliked private contracts. The present motion was not against the persons or characters of contractors, but to prevent the foul deeds imputed to ministers, and men supposed to be leagued together to rob the public. The minister, if he considered properly his own reputation and personal satisfaction, ought to support the motion. Those who wished to contract, on the other 'hand, would be relieved from all that obloquy, which necessarily follows the present mode of serving the public, in a private manner. Colonel Barré said, contracts ought to be open, and offered to the highest bidder. The gentlemen rise one by one, and say, “I am not influenced; I have voted sometimes one way, sometimes another.” This, however, must be taken upon the bare credit of the hon. gentlemen. I have indeed observed, that gentlemen of this description, when Bills for laying duties on ships going out or coming into harbours, or to build or repair piers, or for passing light-houses, sometimes differ from administration, but upon no other, that I can recollect, during a very long knowledge of this House.—The colonel
next observed, that he remembered a gentleman in that House who rose in a v haughty tone, and avowed his indepen ence ; yet, upon further enquiry, this same independent gentleman turned out to be in possession of a private contract, which brought him in 30,000l. a year. He owned he suspected it at the time; and it was that suspicion which led him to the discovery of the fact. . He said, he was himself a contractor with the public; and was actually entered into a contract with twenty persons; [The Select Committee on the Public Expenditure of the public money.] He did not know how he should et out of it, or rather, how he should die in it; not for fear of any personal violence, but how he should get his dinner. He then made several severe allusions to contracts and contractors, and insisted that the public money had been shamefully and traitorously lavished. He said, su pose a minister, during the recess of the Treasury board, should send for a contractor, and give him a large contract, in which the nation was to be plundered of 30 or 40,000l. or more; and suppose the Treasury board should meet after the said recess; and that after this closet arrangement the minister should, through neglect, forget, or purposely omit, to mention a syllable of this closet contract—suppose, I say, not a single iota of the contract should be mentioned; surely this must be a private contract with a witness; and the minister must be entitled to the public thanks of his country.
Lord North od, that the facts alluded to would come before the House properly authenticated, from the Select Committee. He therefore wished gentlemen would suspend their opinions. He said, if he had made any contracts, he had made them for the public benefit; and if they had turned out otherwise, it was not his fault; at least, whatever he had done, he did for the best.
Lord George Gordon * said, that he
* Lord George Gordon, son of CosmoGeorge, duke of Gordon, was born in London, Dec. 19, 1750, and George the Second was his godfather. He early entered into the navy, but quitted it during the American war, in consequence of an altercation with the earl of Sandwich about promotion. In 1774 he was elected member for Luggershall. An alarm having been excited by the repeal of certain penal statutes against the Roman Catholics in 1779, lord George was chosen president of the Protestant Association at London; and on the