Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

impolitic measures of ministry. If we had the colonies ;) and now that he was likely not endeavoured to retrench their liberty, to be again in a minority, might probably they never could have attained-they feel a return of the same inclination. To never would have sought, independence. grant a motion for papers to be laid before He took notice of the flourishing state to one House, and refuse it to another, was which America had attained in a very few such an indignity, as he hoped the House years before our invasion of her liberties, would not submit to. No argument could and imputed that improvement to the free: be offered to reconcile to common sense dom of the laws which Great Britain had the rejection of the motion, except the migiven her — an epitome of our own go- nister would venture to say, that the Lords vernment. This was a secret which Eng. are above attending to the affairs of the land first discovered, of rendering her go. nation; and that papers on their table may vernment in the extremities of her wide lie unnoticed. His lordship’s warmth in empire as compact and strong as that of his present novel situation, might teach other free nations had been weak and in- him to make allowance for the heat of effectual-their colonists were slaves ; Bri- those gentlemen, who, glowing with a getain had made hers free as herself. In sup- nerous fire, with truth and reason on their port of this argument he instanced the sides, are often unfortunately in a minocontinued wars, tumults, outrages, and rity. The minister deserved from them a weakness of our governments in the East similar indulgence, when he accidentally Indies—because there is no freedom there found himself in a minority—a cabinet mi. they are governed in Leadenhall-street. nority! He concluded with congratulatHe thought it necessary, on account of the ing his lordship on his present happy situvery distracted state of our affairs in that ation. country, to give notice, that he would, on The Solicitor General spoke against the some future day, move the House to go indefinite latitude of the motion. He coninto a committee on the affairs of the East tended, that the expressions used in the India Company.

debate of “granting or refusing" inforColonel' Barré shewed some humour mation, did not apply to administration, upon the embarrassment of the noble lord. but to the House granting or refusing the It was enough to make any premier not propositions which might come from any only angry, but mad, to see himself re- of its members individually; therefore the duced to such a dilemma-either to vote words carried no insult to the House ; that what was proper to be communicated neither was it any indignity to the memto the Lords, was not fit for the ear of the bers, that information should be refused to Commons--or to intreat his friends, who one House which had been granted to ano. have hitherto carried him through every ther: if the House desired it, it could not opposition, to leave him on this occasion be refused. The question then was, whe. in an awkward minority. He wished to ther the House should judge it proper to know with what grace his lordship could grant or refuse what was desired by some stand up in that House, and say ; “ the of its members. Gentlemen, who thought House of Lords, and, through them, all it a slight on that House to contest the the nation shall know these things; but motion an instant after it was carried in wisdom and sound policy compel me to another place, should recollect, that whilst keep them a secret from the House of they seemed to support their dignity, they Commons.” If the noble lord was of were absolutely trampling upon it; and that sentiment, he advised him to carry he wondered any gentleman would venture his patriotism still further, and impeach to say, in that House_" the House of those ministers, who, contrary to wisdom Lords have determined to do this, there. and sound policy, had dared to betray the fore we must do it also.” King's secrets in the House of Lords. If Mr. Fox observed, that the only arguhis lordship would take this step, the colo- ment which had been offered against his nel was ready to join him, and recom- motion, was now overturned by the vote mended him for further support to a mem- of the Lords—the danger of betraying ber then sitting near him (the Solicitor secrets. Those secrets were laid open by General) who, when he used to divide the resolution of the upper House; it with minorities, expressed a fondness for was therefore no longer an argument to impeachments, [alluding to his proinised be refuted. He would not recede from impeachment of Iord Hillsborough, for his the literal extent of the motion. The official conduct, as secretary of state for instructions to our commissioners, which the noble lord wanted to conceal, were a | multuous—bleed them! If they are attackprincipal object to him. He was told of ed with a spirit of insurrection-bleed them! à pending negociation; it had already been If their fever should rise into rebellionpending for two years, and if it were to bleed them, cries this state-physician ! continue for twenty more, the same reason more blood! more blood ! still more blood! would hold good till then, against an en- When Dr. Sangrado had persevered in a quiry into the reasons why it had not similar practice of bleeding his patients, succeeded. As yet no visible good effect killing by the very means which he adopthad been experienced from granting the ed as a cure-his man took the liberty to instructions, except the income of 1001. remonstrate upon the necessity of relax. a week to each of the commissioners. The ing in a practice to which thousands of noble lord said, he bad mentioned that their patients had fallen sacrifices, and those instructions had been moved for be which was beginning to bring their names fore, and refused for the reason now ad into disrepute. The doctor answered, vanced. It was not right to disclose them “ I believe we have, indeed, carried the at that time. Is that, then, never to be matter a little too far, but you must know granted, which has been once refused ? I have written a book upon the efficacy of is the glorious right of being ignorant of this practice, therefore, though every papublic affairs never to be given up? Are tient we have should die by it, we must we to tell our constituents, we are not fit continue the bleeding for the credit of my to be trusted with the knowledge of public book.”-He asked the noble lord, who had transactions—that they are only to be com- often held Mr. Washington and his army municated to the House of Lords? I may very cheap, what idea he entertained of be told, said he, we are contending for a their courage and abilities since he read very trifling matter, and that when all the the accounts arrived that very day? steps taken towards a pacification are laid He said, a few days ago he dropped a before us, they will amount to nothing: suspicion of some division in administratheir effect will, of course, be nothing. tion, conceived from the circumstance of Yet, I contend, that those two nothings reading the King's Speech at the house will amount to something. You know, of a certain noble lord on the day before Mr. Speaker, that in your profession there it was delivered in parliament. The preis a form of returning a writ nihil ; yet, mier then contradicted him, and talked Sir, you well know, that a return of two | largely of their unanimity; but, now, his nihils amounts to a scire facias, which is words were verified, from the different sena powerful something. Now, the some timent of ministers in the upper and lower thing that would be produced by the House : and hence he was warranted, he two nihils which may be returned to us thought, in drawing this conclusion that upon

the present enquiry, will be a con- he, whose sentiments seemed most reaviction to the nation, as well as to this sonable, was the most inconsistent in his House, of the incapacity or absolute dis- conduct. The noble lord at the head of inclination in administration to put an end the Treasury always professed a disposition to the distractions with which this empire for peace; yet would not give any proofs is torn; and enable us to apply an effec- that he had taken a single step towards tual remedy to those disorders, before the obtaining it: but the minister in another folly, madness, or wickedness of ministers House had ever declared, that it was his shall have brought us to a state of irre. opinion nothing ought to be done by us trievable ruin. By shewing us the causes towards a pacification; he, therefore, why past negociations have failed, it will shewed no objection to produce papers, point out a mode of proceeding, which which, in testimony of his consistency, may be free from those difficulties that would shew that nothing had been done. have caused our past miscarriages. Con- The hon. gentleman concluded with a vinced, perhaps, of the inefficacy of vio- suggestion to those members who talked lent remedies, we may learn, though late, sometimes of being independent in their to prescribe lenitives. For the two years principles, though they constantly supthat a certain noble lord (G. Germain ported administration ;-telling them, if has presided over American affairs, the they did not on this occasion stand up for most violent, scalping, tomahawk mea- the dignity of the House, they could never sures have been pursued :-bleeding has after wipe away the imputation of being been his only prescription. If a people de- mere puppets to the minister, without one prived of their ancient rights are grown tu- principle of reason, pride, or honour.

Governor Pownall said, he had no in- keep, either with individuals or parties of tention of mixing in with the debate of men: I have none to oblige ; I have none this day; but as he never had let any op- to fear. On occasions like this, I shall portunity of speaking pass, when the look not to men, but to things, and in that subject of peace or conciliation came upon line shall inform the House, and perhaps the tapis ; and as he most devoutly the nation, for I do not see that they have wished to see peace between this country yet learnt it, of a very serious truth. That and America, he did presume to offer the House may not think that I am hazhimself to the House. He said, he had arding opinions, and talking at random, I something which he conceived to be of will beg to remind them, that nine years the last importance to communicate to the ago, in the years 1768 and 1769,* when House, on this very point: he did not care you were beginning the quarrel that whether the papers asked for were granted has brought on this horrid and destructive or not: not that he would stand in the war, I did explain to the House, not in description made by a learned gentleman, general words, but by a particular detail, of those who were supposed to confess the state and circumstances of America, themselves unworthy of having these pa- and its inhabitants; and from thence depers communicated to them; but really, scribed the issue of this business literally because the papers asked for, from the and precisely as it has turned out in every commission, down to the lowest draught, event to this great and interesting one. were of so little consequence, that he There was nobody, at that time, who thought them unworthy of the House, so knew so much of the matter as myself; far as respected the subject of peace. That and I thought it my duty at that time; I even the act of parliament itself was no spoke out, without management or reserve. import to that point ; for, under the The House did not care to believe it, and powers of this Act, the government of were less willing to hear it: I was not well this country could not treat with the Ame. heard, yet it was true; it has proved true ricans but as subjects. In this view of it, in almost every

iota. When, .upon your questions have been asked, Had lord Howe sending troops to Boston, the Americans powers to treat? or did the Americans were driven to war, I first informed this refuse to treat? Lord Howe, he said, House, and I believe government also, that could have no powers to treat with them the Americans were not unprepared to on the ground which they insisted to take ; meet any event; that they had foreseen and they refused to treat on any other what must come, and were prepared both ground." They did not only refuse it then, in civil as well as military arrangements, but five months after. After general to conduct their own affairs, and to resist Howe had finished his campaign of 1776, your measures.

I then informed the the Congress came to resolutions to instruct House of the very constitution by which their commissioners at the several courts they now act, under the Congress. I then in Europe, to assure those courts, that informed the House of their having notwithstanding “ the artful and insidious planned and modelled an army : the endeavours of the court of Great Britain, House did not care to understand, though to represent the congress and inhabitants they did not disbelieve me. of the United States, as having a disposi. I now tell this House and government, tion again to submit to the sovereignty of that the Americans never will return the crown of Great Britain, it is their de- again to their subjection to the governtermination, at all events, to maintain their ment of this country. If the paper

which independence.” He then produced a copy I have just read be not sufficient proof, I of the resolve, dated Dec. 30, 1776, and may, perhaps, on a future occasion, exread it to the purport above. Here, said plain something of still more importance. he, what terms will the gentlemen in go. But this must be conviction to any person, vernment, on their side the House, offer? who understands the course of affairs. , A What terms will the gentlemen on the people, whose affairs are interwoven and other side desire to meet these proposi- so connected as the affairs of the Ametions? Will they also make this artful and ricans are with several European states, insidious representation of the disposition pledging themselves to those states in this of the Americans ? I know, said he, that solemn manner, are engaged beyond all what I have said, and what I shall say fur- possibility of retreat. On this ground, as ther, will displease gentlemen on both sides; but I have no managements to * See Vol. 16, pp. 494. 605. 610.

well as from the conviction of many other given them the very occasion, and have matters which my mind possesses, but they not inserted themselves in the busiwhich the present is not the proper time ness? If you were at this moment in treaty to explain them in, I now take upon me to with America on that point, it is not in assert directly, and in terms, that your so- her power to grant you terms consonant vereignty over America is abolished and to that Act; they could meet you only gone for ever.

I could say the same of on such terms as are not contrary to, and your Navigation Act; but I will not enter incongruous with, their engagements with upon that subject, particularly on this oc- France. Desirous as they were of a comcasion. The House seems unwilling to be mercial treaty with Spain, “ they could told this. I will only repeat what I said not propose any terms to his Catholic on a like occasion, and upon a like tem- majesty, but such as were not inconsistent per of the House—if the House is not with their engagements with France, or disposed to believe this, if the House is disagreeable to his most Christian majesunwilling to hear it, they will remember ty.” In the very same predicament must that they have been told it ; that they have they meet you whenever they come to been forewarned of it; and I repeat as a treat with you. To speak precisely, they truth in actual event, the sovereignty of have not as yet any actual, definitive treaty this country over America is abolished with France, but the two powers are under and gone for ever; the Navigation Act is stipulations and convention, in which they annihilated.

perfectly understand each other. All the Of what use, then, are these papers, treaty that this country can ever expect commissions, instructions, or any other with America, is fæderal, and that, propapers formed under an act of parliament, bably, only commercial. In such treaty, which supposes that sovereignty to exist ? perhaps, you may obtain favourable terms; of what use or power is any act of parlia- but exclusive terms of trade you must ment respecting that country? of what never more expect. They are determined import are our debates on this subject? It to maintain their independence at all may be matter of amusement for different events. The Dutch, in their distress, sides of the House, to continue endless bawked about the offer of the sovereignty and fruitless disputes, and abuse one ano- of their country. They offered it to the ther on this subject; but it is of no import duke of Anjou; they offered' it to Henry to the Americans; it is of no real import the 3rd of France; they offered it to Elito the point of business in this pressing zabeth of England; but the Americans crisis. 'Until you shall be convinced that will never offer that of their country to you are no longer sovereigns over Ame- any power on earth. They have a quite rica, but that the United States are an in- different measure in reserve ; which perdependent, sovereign people-until you haps I may on some future occasion exare prepared to treat with them as such ; plain. They are determined at all events it is of no consequence at all, what to be independent; and they will be so. schemes or plans of conciliation this side All, then, that remains for us, if we meant the House, or that, may adopt. I have at to adopt what is really practicable, is to this time told you the fact, which I have take such ground as is actually left to us. just now declared, in order that ye may Let us appoint a committee to take into no longer amuse and abuse yourselves consideration, and revise all our laws rewith impracticable ideas. And as of the specting the government, revenues, and sovereignty, so I say of the Navigation trade of America, and of our commerce Act. You must no longer expect to rea- in Europe. And let us, on such revision, son, or act, as though that still existed, or adapt our laws to our actual, not our ima: would be any longer permitted to have ef- ginary state. I was once called upon by fect. The Americans have repealed it, a noble lord, who is, I ain sure, as uniform and it is annihilated with the powers of in his wishes for peace, as he is in his Europe. Those persons who hear me, spirit for conducting the war, to propose may remember, that at the beginning of such a committee two or three years ago. this business, I told them, that the House I wish it had then been come into. I will of Bourbon only wanted an occasion to now, in my turn, call upon that noble dispute the ground of our Act of Naviga. lord. This, in my opinion, is the only tion, and that they would insert them. thing we have left to do, or can do. As selves in this business (if they had no to the papers called for, they are of.no other views) to this very point. We have more consequence than so much waste paper. Nothing can have been done, vo- | any other terms but being acknowledged thing ever will be done in that line ; so I an independent assembly, the full reprecare not whether the House grants the sentative of the several independent states motion or not.

who appointed them. Various opinions Lord George Germain declared, that he had been given from different sides of the had never said that the Americans were a House. The hon. gentleman who spoke dastardly or a cowardly enemy. He had, last, was of opinion, that America would indeed, ever asserted, that with equal force not treat, unless we acknowledge her to general Washington could not stand be be independent; that we were unequal to fore the British troops, who were at this reduce her by force of arms to obedience: day perhaps the bravest in the world, and and that the most we could now expect had in the present war performed services was to enter into a fæderal alliance with unequalled in the history of empires. This her upon commercial principles. As to was his belief, and the news just received the practicability of reducing our rebellihad given him no reason to alter his opi- ous subjects in America by force of arms, nion. General Washington's force was great as our resources, powerful as our 15,000, not speaking of the militia ; ge- fleets and armies, and brave and able as neral Howe's numbers were but 13,000 we were, he began to despair of success if rank and file ; yet he defeated the conti. they should continue united; but still, for nental troops. He was sorry to say, that his part, he should think himself highly however favourable the accounts just re- criminal, if he advised, or co-operated in ceived might be, nothing decisive had any measures for entering into a fæderal happened. General Howe had been vic- union with rebels. If they could not be torious in two general engagements; the brought back to a state of constitutional first in his march to Philadelphia, which obedience, he should for his part be much was taken possession of by the King's better pleased to break off all political controops on the 25th September ; the last, nection whatever with them, than stoop when the rebels attacked onr camp, and to the humiliating condition of submitting were repulsed with great loss. He be- to what terms they might think proper to stowed the highest encomiums on the abi- grant. Though he differed from the hon. lities of the generals, and the bravery of gentleman as to the proposition of a fædethe troops; and particularly on the gallant ral commercial union, he heartily acbehaviour of sir Harry Clinton, in an ex- quiesced in his sentiments respecting the pedition up the North River, in which ultimate views of the colonies. He beservices had been performed scarcely en- lieved, they were the same from the betitled to credit, if they had not been au- ginning; that they aimed at indepenthenticated beyond a possibility of doubt. dence; and that nothing short of that The only check the troops had received, would content them. If parliament were was in the attack of a fort near Philadel- willing to relinquish the sovereignty of phia, on the banks of the river Delaware, America, he would cheerfully acquiesce, which unfortunately miscarried; but even because it was his duty; if, on the other in that affair, nothing was to be imputed hand, parliament saw the necessity of proto misconduct, or want of bravery ; but secuting the war upon the mere principle was merely the effect of those accidents to of self-defence, it would follow, that the which the best planned operations are lia. most decisive exertions should be made; ble. As to the question before the House, for he was certain, nothing short of those he always understood, that no part of a would answer any effectual purpose. Camnegociation ought to be disclosed while it paign after campaign, battle after battle, was depending. If the powers of the would never answer, and might in another Act for appointing commissioners to treat view be attended with great danger. Amewith our subjects in America, were ina- rica was almost ruined, and suffering under dequate, that might be a good reason for every species of human misery. The idea enquiring what had been done under those of a permanent separation from this counpowers, and applying to parliament for try might probably detach numbers from more extensive ones. Nothing of the kind what they deemed a just cause, whilez had been so much as hinted, by those security of their rights, and a modification who had been intrusted with the execu- of our claims, was what alone they imation. On the contrary, the Congress re- gined their leaders had in view. If, theresisted all steps towards conciliation at the fore, means could be devised to prevent very threshold; they refused to treat upon the secret assistance they received from [VOL. XIX. ]

[2 M ]

« ElőzőTovább »