character deserved respect; his motion was itself a proof of his wisdom, and, he hoped, their lordships would adopt it, as it promised an happy relief in the hour of danger, a fortunate resource in the present distressed situation of affairs. Lord Camden. It is with pleasure Irise to bear testimony how much I approve of the motion made this day by my noble friend, and to express my sense of the very singular obligations this country owes him, particularly on this occasion, when, setting every impediment at a distance, he offers his assistance in rescuing us from the ruin with which this country is surrounded. Before I speak to the immediate objects of the motion, I shall say a few words on the subject to which it relates. The noble lords, on the other side, r deny that Britain was the aggressor in this quarrel; and assert, that America always aimed at independency. I shall prove, I trust, before I sit down, that both assertions are o false; I shall prove that we were the aggressors; and, consequently, that the charge of independency can be only s rted upon what they intended to . at some future period, and not upon what has actually happened; the aggressor in all contests being charge, able with the consequences. I shall not renew the controversy so often discussed within these walls relative to taxation. You passed a law for laying a tax upon tea; but you could not collect it, because neither importer, nor vender, nor consumer, could be found. You passed another law, which ministers flattered themselves would force the tax into operation. You gave the East India Company a drawback on their teas exported to America. The teas were sent to America, particularly to Boston, where a large quantity was destroyed. What did we do? Without demanding reparation, without enquiry, without hearing the party accused, nay, even without proof of the fact, you condemned the people of Boston; you shut up their port; you annihilated private property; you reduced thousands of innocent people to beggary. You did not stop here: you resolved to punish the whole province as well as the town. You deprived them of their charter; and, to fill the measure of the oppressions with which you were resolved to afflict them, you deprived them of the benefit of the trial by jury, either as a terror to the guilty, or a protection to the innocent. What were your preparations, in order to secure the execution of those op[VOL. XIX.]

[ocr errors]

pressive and cruel measures? The language of administration was, that a file of musqueteers would march from one end of America to the other without molestation; that the Acts were so wisely and judiciously

| planned that they would execute them

selves: lest, however, they might not execute themselves, general Gage was sent out to command a force consisting of four regiments, which were fully io. it was said, to the purpose; that was what was emphatically stiled, on the passing of the first of those Bills, by a noble earl I now see in his place (lord Mansfield) passing the Rubicon. Neither the file of musqueteers, nor the four regiments however, answered what was promised from them. Twelve months having nearly passed, general Gage, from the weakness of his little army, was obliged to remain inactive, and beheld the provincials making daily preparations before his face, for a vigorous resistance. Early in the next year we declared those people to be in rebellion; we prohibited them from trading with each other; we deprived them of their fishery; and a noble lord in the other House pledged himself to that House, that with an army of 10,000 men, which would reach America early in the summer, the conquest of that country would be certain. The troops arrived, the 10,000 men proceeded to hostilities; and if they were not defeated in the field, we know that America was not conquered, but that the royal army suffered in battle and mouldered away in such a manner, that they were streightened and besieged in their quarters for full eight months, and esca | with difficulty aboard their ships and vessels of war. Well, the next session arrived; ministers owned they were deceived in the accounts they received of the disposition of the people of America; the most decisive measures were to be adopted. The same noble lord, for the third time, grew confident; the full force of this country was to be exerted; 70,000 men and 100 ships of war were to be employed; foreign mercenary veterans were to supply the place of raw levies; the sword was to be borne in one hand, and the olive-branch in the other. A commission was announced from the throne to hold out the alternative. What has been the effect of all this 2 From the same authority we are told, we must prepare for another campaign; the decisive measures, and full exertions, have produced nothing material. The repeated predictions, relative to conquest and subjuga

[ocr errors]

tion, have failed. What part of America tively denied that France has taken, or is your own! Just as much as you oc- | means to take, a part in the present discupy, or as you can command with the pute. I contend they do this minute take mouths of your cannon.

a part, and that they have continued to do His lordship next proceeded to shew in so from the beginning. I would desire what an unbecoming manner administra- your lordships to recollect what was mention had behaved in respect to the com- tioned by the noble duke in the blue ribmission, and the powers granted by the bon, and myself, in the year 1775, relative Prohibitory Act, which he declared to be to the two French gentlemen who went to the epitome of every thing cruel and op- Washington, then lying before Boston, and pressive; and what, with the employing who were by him sent to the Congress, foreign mercenaries to cut their throats, where they remained several months. The ultimately determined the Americans to story was then treated by the noble lords declare themselves independent. He de- / in administration in a ludicrous manner; clared, in his conscience, that those were yet this, I believe, was the beginning of the Acts, and those only, which forced the what may hereafter produce very serious colonies to take up arms in the first in- consequences. I sincerely believe the first stance; and to justify their resistance, overtures came from France; and that by throwing off the yoke of oppression those gentlemen were the bearers of the and despotism. His lordship next turned message. Every thing which has since to the ruinous state of our trade. By happened confirms me in that opinion. It those acts, particularly by the Fishery and is plain, that the first notice the ministers Capture Acts, you drove the people en- received of it was in this House ; astonished ployed in commerce to desperation : their | at the information, I remember, they said wants and resentments united in urging it was nothing but a visit of mere idle cu. them to the resolution of making a naval riosity. Let us compare the sequel. In war upon you. What has been the con- | the course of the ensuing summer, Mr. sequence? The seas are covered with their Deane comes to Paris, and the Christmas privateers; the French ports are full of following was followed by Dr. Franklin. them; they come to the very mouth of What has been their reception? They freyour river and insult you. If your com quently appear at Versailles, affront lord merce languishes, if your trade decays, Stormont in the anti-chamber, and are where will you find the means of carrying admitted to conferences with the French on a war? While your ships are rotting king's ministers. He then assured their in your harbours, while your merchants lordships that he had the strongest rea. are unable to pay the insurance, the sons to believe, that America was both French become your carriers, and the supported and abetted in her resistance, former are left to lament their deplorable and that ships of war were fitting out in situation. This at once puts an end to the several ports of France under American Act of Navigation, and defeats every colours, to infest the channel, and annoy benefit it was intended to secure. But our trade. On the principle of Great extending our views a little further, what Britain's being the aggressor, he grounded other fatal consequences do we behold pro- the propriety of her being the first to show duced by this unnatural war? The ruin of a disposition of making peace with the the West India islands; the loss of their injured Americans : he contended, that produce; and the very considerable bank- nothing of that sort had yet been done, ruptcies which it has occasioned. The and that the commission given to lord and proprietors of the estates and plantations sir W. Howe for granting pardons to the in those islands, from a state of affluence, Americans, so far from deserving to be are driven to poverty and despair. I am considered, as containing power of pacifiwell informed that no less than 200 fa- cation (as its title imported) must neces. milies who resided here upon ample in- sarily be ineffectual to such a purpose ; it comes, drawn from thence, have been was, indeed, an insult on their understand. obliged to return thithér, being no longer ing; for a herald with a trumpet would able to maintain themselves in this country. have done just as much as commissioners, These are melancholy considerations, my going forth with such incompetent autholords; and should be very powerful mo- rity. It was so considered by the Contives with you for agreeing with the pre- gress, and that it would be so, was foresent motion. The two noble lords who seen by many. Now, he contended, was bave spoken on the other side, have posi- the moment, perhaps the latest moment of

making peace, and of recovering, in an d degree, what was lost. Were this business delayed but for a few weeks, America and France might be in alliance, our commerce with the former of these countries would then be irretrievably gone from us, and in the moment of our being apprized of that evil, another would arise with it, the necessity of a war with France," for the recovery (however hopeless might be the endeavour) of our lost possessions and commerce. But a French war may not come from that quarter only: so long as the contest with America is continued, it must be constantly dreaded by us. Here he enlarged on the warlike preparations of the ancient and inveterate enemy of this country. War may proceed from sudden and unexpected causes, while each party have so many ships. The continuance of the war threatened nothing less than destruction to the British commerce, which in every sea was vexed, tormented, torn, by the captures made upon it, by Americans, by French and Spaniards, and all, whom the hopes of booty could allure to prey on it, under congress commissions. What ef. fect had already been perceived from the captures made, he shewed from the high freight and insurance on all British shipping, and from the number of French vessels (twenty-six) now in the river Thames, which were receiving British merchandize for foreign markets, on account of the greater cheapness of such conveyance. He said, that in the beginning of this war, our trade had been considered as an object only of secondary consideration, and indeed as deserving no regard, when brought in competition with the high and uncontroulable supremacy of British legislature. That on this ac: count the petition of the West India merchants was not suffered to be brought into .."; till the deliberations, concerning that high political dignity, were closed: but was thrown into a corner, to be taken afterwards into the consideration of a committee, lest an earlier attention to it might have interfered with, and too much debased the resolutions of parliament, on that great sublime mystery. His lordship exposed the pride and folly of that proceeding; and said, he was sorry, in a British senate, he found it necessary to enter into an explanation of the nature, use, and importance of trade, to this country. He said that trade was its vital blood, diffusing itself, and running through all its parts, animating and filling all with life and

[ocr errors]

vigour. In respect of American trade he recalled the attention of the House t what this country was before that trad was known in it, what it had grown to b while that trade flourished, and what w were likely to become, when it was gon from us. He treated the notion of conquest, and of success by force of arms, as utterly ridiculous, and the final and irreparable loss of America, as the inevitable consequence of a continuance of the War. Lord Weymouth objected to the motion, as inadequate to the purpose it was declared calculated to effect, and ill timed, because it could not at present be of any service, even if it were adopted by their lordships. He denied the last speaker's assertion relative to Mr. Deane and Dr. Franklin being frequently in the antichamber at Versailles, and affronting lord Stormont; so far from this being the fact, the noble viscount declared that lord Stormont never met them there; and although he could not pretend to assert that they had never seen the minister of France, he was well aware that they had not received any public countenance from him, or any other part of the French cabinet. With regard to what had been said of the French having sent out stores, &c. to America, it was very true that the private merchants had taken advantage of the quarrel, as in all such cases was customary, and had shipped aninconsiderable quantityof stores, &c. in different bottoms, many of which our frigates and armed vessels had taken; but the French government were not answerable for such conduct. His lordship further observed, that the motion held out nothing specific. It was for an address to bis Majesty; to do what? The noble earl, he presumed, did not mean to enter into specific terms for relinquishing the rights of parliament. An act of parliament had already appointed a commission; commissioners were now acting by the virtue of that commission. This address was not, he hoped, intended to cause his Majesty to supersede that commission, or to supersede the provisions of an act of parliament, contrary to law. Such a "...i was totally impracticable. What goo purpose, therefore, the present motion could answer, was more than he could perceive, however well intended. In its present shape he could not consequently speak to it, till the objects to the attainment

of which it was ultimately directed, were

first pointed out.

The Earl of Chatham. I perceive the noble lord neither apprehends my meaning, nor the explanation given by me to the noble earl in the blue ribbon, who spoke early in the debate. I will therefore, with your lordships' permission, state shortly what I meant. My lords, my motion was stated generally, that I might leave the question at large to be amended by your lordships. I did not dare to point out the i. means. I drew the motion up to the best of my poor abilities; but I intended it only as the herald of conciliation, as the harbinger of peace to our afflicted colonies. But, as the noble lord seems to wish for something more specific on the subject, and through that medium to seek my particular sentiments, I will tell your lordships very fairly what I wish for. I wish for a repeal of every oppressive act which your lordships have passed since 1763. I would put our brethren in America precisely on the same footing they stood at that period. I would expect, that being left at liberty to tax themselves, and dispose of their own property, they would in return contribute to the common burthens, according to their means and abilities. I will move your lordships a Bill of Repeal, as the only means left to arrest that onto which threatens to overwhelm us. My lords, I shall no doubt hear it objected, Why should we submit or concede? Has America done any thing, on her part, to induce us to agree to so large a ground of concession ? I will tell you, my lords, why I think you should. You have been the aggressors from the beginning. I shall not trouble }. lordships with the particulars, they ave been stated and enforced by the noble and learned lord, (Camden) who spoke last but one, in a much more able and distinct manner than I could pretend to state them. If then, we are the aggressors, it is your lordships' business to make the first overture. I say again, this country has been the aggressor. You have made descents upon their coasts; you have burnt their towns, plundered their country, made war upon the inhabitants, confiscated their property, proscribed and imprisoned their persons. I do therefore affirm, my lords, that instead of exacting unconditional submission from the colonies, we should grant them unconditional redress. We have injured them; we have endeavoured to enslave and oppress them. Upon this clear ground, my lords, instead of chastisement, they are entitled to redress. A repeal of

those laws, of which they complain, will be the first step to that redress. The people of America look upon parliament as the authors of their miséries; their af. fections are estranged from their sovereign. Let, then reparation come from the hands which inflicted the injuries; let conciliation succeed chastisement; and I do maintain, that parliament will again recover its authority; that his Majesty will be once more enthroned in the hearts of his American subjects; and that your lordships, as contributing to so great, glorious, salutary, and benignant a work, will receive the prayers and benedictions of every part of the British empire. Lord Weymouth was much obliged to the noble earl for his explanation; but everything offered by his lordship, being founded on a supposition that Great Britain was the aggressor, and that not appearing to him to be the case, every argument built on such a supposition, consequently fell to the ground. So far from this country being the aggressor, he was of opinion that we procrastinated measures of force too long, in hopes that matters might be amicably adjusted without an appeal to arms. He . that if the present motion was rejected it would preclude all future hopes of conciliation. The contrary was much the more probable supposition; and though it were otherwise, it was impossible to prevent the evils meant to be deprecated by this or any resolution taken at this late season of the year, as the campaign would be begun, and the operations commenced before any account of the present motion could reach America. He was certain that neither Deane nor Franklin were invited to the French court, nor were admitted to the anti-chamber at Versailles, or to confront, or affront, the British minister there. They might have had interviews with some of the French ministry, but he was well authorised to confirm what had been advanced, that France at no time stood on a more friendly footing with this court than at present. The Earl of Shelburne asserted, that the doctrines held out in the sermon alluded to by the dukes of Grafton and Manchester, were highly dangerous and reprehensible. He quoted parts of the discourse, and dared any prelate to avow such doctrine in that House. His lordship then took an extensive field of argument, and spoke relative to the state of France, the power of her navy, her connection with the Congress, and her intention at a proper op

portunity to attack us. He denied in the France will let us convey all our men, and most positive terms her being ingenuous all our millions across the Atlantic; but in her professions of friendship. Have you, will she suffer us to bring any of the former said his lordship, insisted on Dr. Franklin back again quietly? His lordship denied and the other American deputies being that the Americans had all along aimed at sent from France? What answer have you independency; he said the book which received ? Have you required the French had been published under the title of Letministers to shut their ports against the ters from the Marquis de Montcalm, in Americans, as Portugal has done? Have which that officer appeared to have sent you explicitly demanded, that all Ameri word to Old France many years ago, that can privateers should be removed from the he discovered a spirit of independence in French ports, and not be permitted to re- the people of New England, and that if visit them, either with or without their the English did not take effectual care to prizes? What answers have you received ? check it, it would one day burst forth to Does France prevent her officers from the cost of the mother country, had been serving in the American army? Has she discovered to be a forgery, and that the not at this time 19 ships of the line com- marquis had never hinted such an idea. pletely fitted and lying at Brest, and 2,000 That the fact was, the Americans were seamen taken out of her Newfoundland exceedingly unwilling to declare them. vessels ready to man four more? Has she selves independent, nor did they adopt not six ships of the line fitted and ready that measure till the severities of our acts for sea at Toulon, and several ships and of parliament drove them to it; that we 6,000 troops at Hispaniola? Has not Spain had step by step forced them to take up a very capital fleet and army, completely arms and declare war ; that after having so manned and collected in Europe? Besides, done, what could be expected but that they has she not a considerable naval and land should defend themselves as well as they force in the West Indies? Will any noble were able. He declared that general lord rise, and tell me these things are not Washington was at the head of a large so; and will the noble lord at the head of army, and that after having spent three the Admiralty (notwithstanding his great campaigns to so little purpose, after having promises at the beginning of the session suffered our brigades to lose their vigour, now venture to inform your lordships, that and to be so reduced that they were hardly on a sudden emergency he could command fit for service, was it likely that we should more than ten ships of the line? My lords, be more successful this year than the last? I will save the noble lord the trouble of His lordship charged administration with answering this question by telling him, he holding out false lights to the people ; he could not. He said, every pretext of the said the American secretary had declared, ships which carried stores to America, that there was so much difficulty in probeing the adventures of private merchants, curing men for the rebel army, that they was fallacious, the private merchants of were obliged to pay 301. a man, that indeed France were men of too little consideration he had afterwards owned his mistake, and to carry on such a trade; that 5,0001. ster- said he meant 30 dollars, as he was no ling was more than any French merchants financier his mistake was pardonable, for could raise, that there was no comparison surely it would be no greater fault in him to be made between the French and the not to know the difference between dollars English merchants, that the first were as and pounds, than it was for the great finan. petty, as poor, and as insignificant as the cier to mistake currency for sterling. Here second were wealthy and respectable. His his lordship took occasion to complain of lordship declared, that having much leisure the carelessness of the Treasury-board, time, he had lately read a book entitled in the making their contracts, and particuPolitical Papers, which treated of the pub- larly mentioned that for rum, so severely lic transactions in 1721, that in it he met handled in the House of Commons; he with a passage which struck him much ; | said he never heard so contemptible a de. cardinal Alberoni, the writer of one of the fence as had been made for that business ; letters, talking to his correspondent on the but that the whole conduct of administrasubject of a war with Spain, said, “ As | tion was of a piece; they scandalously sublong as you can keep the Spanish forces mitted to the most public insults from the in Sicily, so long will you be safe from any French; they were pitifully mean and pu. attack from Spain.” This, added his lord- sillanimous towards the natural enemy of ship, exactly suits the present times : this kingdom, and barbarous, unjust and

« ElőzőTovább »