personally ascribable to him. He never sovereign; but if any doubt remained of wished to shelter his conduct, as a minister, the true import and political construction behind the name of a king. Those who of the speech and the letter, the private acted with him knew the contrary. If instructions which accompanied both might any doubt remained, relative to the fair be easily guessed by that passage in lord interpretation of that letter, its true com Botetourt's speech to the council and ment must be the King's speech, which house of burgesses of the province of Vir. accompanied it, and was inclosed in it. In ginia, where his lordship tells them, “ that that his Majesty's sentiments, relative to his Majesty would rather forfeit his crown, the affairs of America, were laid open; than keep it by deceit.” It was, thereand it could hardly be supposed, that mi fore, the delusion and deceit of ministers, nisters would, or that governors dare pledge which the Congress in their declaration themselves, for any measure contradictory of independence, mistakenly imputed to to that speech.

the King. It was upon this ground that His lordship affirmed, that he never en his Majesty was first dethroned from the tertained a second opinion respecting Ame- | dominion he held over their hearts and af. rica. He always thought, and should ever fections. This was the circumstance on think, that the supreme power of the em- which, he presumed, more than any other, pire was vested in the legislature of this the people of America withdrew their alcountry; and if a difference of opinion, legiance. If ministers had acted cruelly, upon the principle of those Bills, should if parliament had acted oppressively, the cause a division, he should give one more right of the crown could never have come proof that he had not deserted his princi. into controversy. The farthest they ever ples. He said, that nothing but necessity pretended to go, was to say, “ we shall could justify the present Bills, and that too readily submit to be governed by the same of such a nature, as caused a necessity of king, but we will be bound by no laws concealing it. He had every reason to which we do not consent to, no government think that administration had not deserted we cannot controul.” They took the man their principles, though they had changed ter up upon principles of genuine Whigtheir measures; and that while they pro- gism, as distinguished from Toryism. The posed the present, they proposed them Tories of 1688 said, the king had abdiwith shame. They blushed when they cated; the Whigs, that he had deserted found themselves compelled, as it were, to his crown, and thereby left the people at adopt them, and that from reasons which, liberty to establish what form of governperhaps, could not be properly or safely ment they pleased. So, in the present indeclared. He blushed himself, nay more, stance, as soon as the King made war he felt for the honour of his much-injured upon the whole body of his subjects in country, which had, on the present occa- | America, they began to reason like the sion, felt this the most disgraceful day she Whigs of England. They said, though ever experienced. On the whole, how. unjustly, that he was a tyrant ; that he ever, such as the Bills were, he should not had deserted the government, and forfeitoppose them, unless the mere question of ed his dominion over them as sovereign, principle should come into discussion, and and that of course they were at liberty to bring on a division ; because, be our mis- | institute another in its stead. fortunes what they may, which he chiefly The Earl of Suffolk answered the point attributed to a want of alacrity, firmness, of inconsistency, charged on him and the and decision of the ministers, he would rest of the King's servants, in relation to rather confide in the present ministers than the present Bills. He said, it was a new any other.

doctrine in politics, which was supposed to The Duke of Richmond contended, that bind a man to the same conduct in all posthe first passage in the circular letter per- sible situations. He always understood sonally referred to the King, as an indivi- that ministers, indeed all men, suited and dual distinguished from his servants; and shaped their conduct to circumstances, when the intentions of the King's minis- events and exigencies. Were it otherters, of not meaning to lay further taxes wise, no person would be a free agent; he for the purpose of raising a revenue, and would, indeed, possess the powers of disto repeal the port duties upon commercial crimination and judgment to no purpose, principles follow, the King's servants are if he was forbid the exercise of them, and therein described as only acting by the only permitted to retain the liberty of act. order, and under the influence of their ing wrong. He was free to acknowledge

that he once entertained a very different claimed; the point in issue was given up; opinion from the measures now offered to taxation expressly, and supremacy by im. their lordships' consideration. He thought, plication; and upon what grounds ? Be. as we liad a right, so we should have exer- fore we know that the other party would cised the right of every species of govern even so much as treat, you tell America mental controul over America. Hethought, your terms; you give them up so much in maintenance of that right, we were jus- | certain : you encourage them to look for tified in compelling the colonies to acknow. | more. Will they not at least hold you to ledge it. He had every reason to think, your promise? Are they not at liberty to that as we had the means of compulsion, | insist for as much as they please? And the issue of the dispute would have been even if the fate of war should, after a correspondent to those means. He was long and ruinous contest, declare in our convinced now, that it was every way more favour, are not you, as a matter of right, wise to depart from this plan, in some in- bound to your first engagement? What stances, and concede, than persist in it; was just, fair, and equitable, can never yet in all this he could perceive no con change its nature; so that by disclosing tradiction; circumstances had materially your plan, you leave America to demand changed, and so had his opinion : but as to any thing she may think proper, and bind those he first acted upon, he still thought yourselves, should the colonies refuse, to them right; and was willing to believe the fight, not for your rights, which are almeasures adopted in consequence of them ready given up in this Bill, but for whatmust have succeeded, had it not been from ever America may chuse to ask. His lord. some untoward accidents that could nei ship contended, that no similar instance ther be foreseen, nor provided against. It existed in the history of negotiation. The had been strongly relied upon in debate, Bills carried with them certain ruin to this that America would spurn the offers held country; or were merely meant to deceive on in those Bills. For his part, he was of the other. On the other hand, if commis

very different opinion. He had the most sioners were armed with full powers to undoubted information, that the Ameri- treat, without disclosing the real intentions cans wer in the greatest distress, and of parliament, offers might be indifferently would therefore embrace any reasonable made, and each party having agreed on propositions of peace and civil security. certain fundamental points, might then, But supposirg that the colonies should re. after consulting their principals, be armed fuse to treat, he could assure their lord with new and sufficient powers to bring ships, that this nation had still powerful the treaty to a fair and full conclusion, resources in men and money; and he He was against the Bill in point of printrusted, a spirit equal to the maintaining ciple; but even if he were not, this mode of their rights, and the asserting of their adopted, of informing those with whom you honour against every power of every kind, were to treat, with the great outlines of who dared to withhold one, or insult the your plan, was a sufficient reason with him other. He so far agreed with the noble for giving the Bill his most hearty negative. duke, that the concessions in the Bills Whatever the real disposition of the were not intended to go so far as to con | House might be, he could not tell: but cede the dependency of the colonies on whether or not a division should take Great Britain ; for if the former persisted place, he took this opportunity of acquaintin their claim of independency, he could ing their lordships, that he had called upon assure his grace, it would never be ad a noble friend of his that morning, who, as mitted.

the last act of his political life, learning he Earl Temple said, he came down to ex was coming down, gave him his proxy, and press his highest indignation and contempt desired he might give it against the Bill. of the measure contained in the present | The noble lord to whom he alluded, he Bills ; especially the commissioners Act, said, was lord Milton. which was a pretended copy of that, for His lordship said, he believed America impowering the crown, in the reign of had aimed at independency from the bequeen Anne, to appoint commissioners to ginning. He was assured by an hon. relatreat, relative to an union between Eng- tion of his, now deceased (the late Mr. land and Scotland. But what was the Grenville) and he knew it to be so, that tenor and spirit of the Act now on the he applied to the people of America table? Why, the powers of the commis- | through the channel of their friends in the sioners were defined; the terms were pro city, to assist in what manner might prove

agreeable to them, towards relieving this country from a proportionate share of the burdens, according to their means, which had been necessarily incurred in defending them in the course of the late war, previous to his proposing the Stamp Act: but after several communications and letters on the subject between the persons concerned, the colonies absolutely refused to contribute, in any manner, a single shilling. He had another strong reason to confirm him in the same way of thinking, that was, the pointed observations contained in the letters attributed to M. Montcalm, which indeed bear the stamp of prediction, more than hypothetical reasoning. The authenticity of those letters had been often disputed; but he could affirm, that he saw them in manuscript, among the

apers of a minister now deceased, long §. they made their appearance in print, and at a time when American independency was in the contemplation of a very few persons indeed. His lordship, after imputing to administration every mischief, which folly, ignorance, temerity, and poltroonery, were capable of effecting, charged them directly, in the present instance, with downright imposition. He asked them, what possible good could result from the present Bills, if what was generally, may universally, believed without doors was true He meant the famous manifesto issued by the American agents in France in December, 1776, in which they specially declare themselves independent of Great Britain, renounce all future connexion with us, and inform the several sovereign |. in Europe, particularly those of

orance, Spain, Germany and Prussia, that they intended to send ambassadors, as free and independent states, and hold out to them, as an encouragement, those general advantages which may be derived from a commerce to be carried on with a mercantile and trading people, and the reciprocal interest arising from such an intercourse. He asked the ministers, if they knew any thing of this public declaration and invitation ? And no answer being returned, he observed, that he was convinced ministers were better acquainted with the Book of Numbers, than the Book of Wisdom. His lordship, after condemning ministers for raising the spirit of the nation, relative to the new levies, and letting it down by this disgraceful measure, which, he said, went to throw this country, its parliament, and the people at large, at the feet of the deputies of the Congress, Messrs.

Franklin and Deane, represented ministers, as in the act of doing homage to those personages in sack-cloth and ashes. Thepresent Bills, said he, are so disgraceful in every point in which they are to be viewed, that venit summa dies may now be unhappily applied to the glory of this country! The late lord Granville predicted that such a day would come: but nothing short of the most rooted folly, and the most abject cowardice in ministers, could have accelerated it so rapidly. With re. gard to the right of Great Britain to exact a revenue from America, I never entertained a doubt of it, nor that the colonies secretly looked forward to independency. The letters I have already alluded to prove it; it is ridiculous, therefore, to argue, that America had no such view, till compelled to it by the rigour of this country. On the whole, his lordship predicted, that the present Bills, if passed, would prove ineffectual. The commissioners who should act under them would be treated with contempt; and the national character would be additionally disgraced. While he reprobated the pusillanimity and obstinacy of administration, he lamented the fallen condition of this country; reduced, in their hands, to make a public offer of terms, without knowing whether those terms would be accepted; men who had shewn to the whole world they were incapable of conducting a war; and were now preparing to give another proof of their incapacity, by shewing they do not know how to make peace. The Bishop of Peterborough (Dr. John Hinchcliffe), after assuring the House, that he had determined, while measures of coercion were pursued, not to trouble their lordships again with the vain repetition of his objections, added—But solicitous as I have ever been for reconciliation, upon the best terms, which from time to time could be had with America; I cannot but congratulate your lordships on this concurrence of our sentiments, that peace with our colonies is acknowledged to be, according to the expression of a noble lord in office, highly proper, at least, if not, as another noble earl, a friend to administration, declares, absolutely necessary. It nevertheless appears to me, there is but too much reason to apprehend, that the wisdom which our experience has purchased at the price of so much blood and treasure, may still prove abortive, from the vain imagination, that America, circumstanced as she is now, will be induced to treat at all, while the sword is drawn against her, and while the terms of reunion, are, after the commissioners shall have approved them, to be still left subject to the controul of parliament. It was this claim of parliament to judge of the sufficiency of the contributions, which principally caused the former propositions to be rejected; and while the least uncertainty remains, whether the concessions mutually agreed upon, will finally be satisfactory and conclusive, I cannot see how it is reasonable to expect, that there can be, on the part of America, that degree of confidence, which is the only foundation of peace. I submit these doubts to your solip; consideration, on a supposition, that America is not yet formally connected with France: should that be the case, as a noble duke has assured us it is; all deliberation on these propositions, is, I fear, vain and nugatory: the circumstances of our situation call your attention to matters of more immediate concern; nor is the question, whether we are to give up all hopes of regaining America by the sword, but how we are to get our troops back again in safety But, if haply, America is still

at liberty to treat with us, the only way of

doing it effectually is to acquire her con

fidence, by giving her first every testimony

of our own. Is it possible to expect she will consent to such a peace, as we may think honourable, unless she is first convinced, we no longer mean hostilities? The propositions, worded as they are, mean to imply acknowledgment of GreatBritain's supremacy. A noble earl has said, that the Americans do virtually renounce their independence, if they consent at all to treat with the commissioners. I cannot, therefore, but observe, that these propositions do at the same time admit, that independence is not (as it has been often asserted to be) the general and main object of America. I am, indeed, persuaded, that it was not so from the beginning; and I do firmly believe, that there is still among those descendants of Englishmen, attachment enough left to the stock from whence they sprung, not only to make them wish for reunion, but dispose them likewise to consult the honour and dignity of their mother country, if haply they were convinced, that she neither means to deceive them at present, or oppress them for the future. Lord Osborne said, soon after he was honoured with a seat in the other House, where a dutiful petition being presented [VOL. XIX, )

by a respectable colony, it was rejected, with, what appeared to him, a degree of passion and asperity very unbecoming the dignity and wisdom of so respectable an assembly. . [It was a petition from the province of New-York, for the repeal of the tea duty..] He said he thought the present Bills well suited to produce the effects expected from them. Every material objection to the claims of this country were removed. Taxation was relinquished farther than it depended on the duty and generosity of the Americans themselves. On the other hand, the supremacy of this country was asserted, and would, if accommodation took place, be preserved. The only colour of an objection to the Bills was, what had been stated by a noble duke early in the day, that a treaty had been entered into by the Congress delegates and the French court; but even though this report should prove true, he did not yet despair but America would quit her former engagements, and return to her native country. The Earl of Shelburne considered the Bills in two points of view, in both of which, he said, they were defective, and proceeded upon wrong principles. The first was, the implied, though not the avowed motives for adopting the present measure, as leaving no other alternative for us to embrace but approving them, or suffering America to render herself independent; the other, the means proposed of preventing the latter part of the alternative from taking effect. On the first of these, he said, he would never consent, that America should be independent. The idea he ever entertained of the connection between both countries was, that they should have one friend, one enemy, one purse, and one sword; and that GreatBritain should superintend the interests of the whole, as the great controuling power. That both countries should have but one will, though the means of expressing that will might be different, distinct, and varied. He contended, that all this might have been procured not long since; and he still retained strong hopes that it could be effected, and that, too, without measures of blood. It was once optional, and still possible; and he would never adopt any scheme which would go to dissever our colonies from us; for as soon as that event should take place, then, added his lordship emphatically, “ the sun of GreatBritain is set, and we shall no longer be a powerful or respectable people, the mo

[ocr errors]


f ment that the independency of America is agreed to by our government!” These terms, he asserted, the Congress would have agreed to a very short time since, and he had hopes they might still be obtained. He reprobated treaties of commerce, as the most ridiculous things in the world; shewing, by a variety of historical precedents, that those which had at the time of making them been deemed the wisest, had always failed, and turned out to no effect: there was a little difference, he declared, between treaties of commerce and laws of trade. The latter were stable, and always worth attending to. He advised ministers eternally to hold this distinction in their minds, and never to give up the Navigation Act. Upon the subject of treaties, he instanced the famous one made with Portugal in 1703, and negotiated by Mr. Methuen, our then ambassador at that court; said it was hardly ratified, when it began to be broke or evaded; till at length it is dwindled to almost nothing: he had taken great pains while in office himself to inforce it; but he found it was impracticable; or, if practicable, it would not be worth the trouble. Trade and commerce between independent states of different interests, would not be restrained; they would of course fall into their natural channels, in spite of every attempt to give them a different or artificial direction. Trade laws were of quite a different nature; they were solemn compacts, in which the interests of the contracting parties were reciprocal, and founded on the same basis. Such were the connections between all states and their colonies; and such were the obligations of interest and good faith, for a faithful performance of such compacts. Among the first of these, and the foundation of all the rest, he ranked the trade law passed in the reign of Charles the 2nd, which united the commercial interests of the whole British empire. That could never be, in his opinion, equitably, nay, wisely broken. It was judiciously framed for the advantage of the seat of empire, and its several dependencies; and, if ever dissolved, would, in all probability, terminate in the ruin of the parties concerned. Even should we be so unlucky as not to succeed in regaining the confidence of America, let it be remembered, that at one time when the throne of England was vacant, and the executive power in the hands of an usurper, at a time, too, when Scotland was divided from England, this country

was in so flourishing a state, that every
European power courted her friendship
and alliance, and there were 6 or 700,000l.
in the Treasury. Ireland was also equally
flourishing. Henry, the usurper’s son, was
implicitly obeyed there, every part of the
government of that kingdom had its proper
effect, and the Treasury there also had se-
veral hundred thousand pounds in it. The
cause of this was the good sense, the judg-
ment, and the vigour of mind which Oliver
Cromwell possessed. Government was in
his time conducted upon principles of jus-
tice, and not on principles of corruption.
At that glorious period, Denmark was
happy to stand on terms of amity, with
this country. Sweden sued for an alliance
with her. Holland courted her friend-
ship, and dreaded her power. Portugal
sought her alliance and protection; and
Spain and France alternately contended
which of them should stand highest in her
His lordship expressed the strongest
sentiments of disapprobation of every idea
that tended to admit the independency of
America, though allusions to such an ad-
mission had been dropped in the House,
even from persons in office. He did not
mean, that he never would agree to a con-
nection with the colonies as independent
states: circumstances might create a ne-
cessity for such a submission, though they
could not justify the folly or treachery of
an administration, which should reduce
him and the nation to so abject a situa-
tion: but he asserted, that when the day
came, on which American independence
should be acknowledged by that House,
he trusted, that House would, with one
voice, call for justice on those who should
be the occasion of so fatal a necessity.
His lordship ridiculed the hope of gain-
ing any thing from America by commer.
cial alliances. Such alliances were found
by experience to be binding no longer
than mutual interest connected the parties.
The treaty, therefore, said to be signed
with France, had nothing in it to alarm us,
unless the acknowledgment of indepen-
dency; but if the war was instantly put
an end to, and the confidence of the peo-
ple a little restored to us, much might be
hoped from the inclinations of people,
having the same religion, the same lan-
guage, the same relations, and interwoven
interests with us. Besides, there were
many cool, dispassionate, and able men in
the Congress; who, when they came to
judge, and looked forward to consequences,

« ElőzőTovább »