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ployed on that service. He next defended the Declaratory law, but insisted, that it conferred no new right, for if it had never passed, the legislative supremacy of parliament would have remained the same: and concluded with holding out the favourable disposition of administration towards the colonies, when they manifested a suitable temper on their part, which could never be till they submitted to the great constitutional claims of the British legislature.

in the letter was not broken. His grace contended it was, and said he would appeal to the letter itself, which he desired might be read. It was not however read.] His grace proceeded to recount the particulars relative to that transaction, how the duties on paper, painters' colours, and glass were repealed, in a pretended performance of that promise, while that on tea, the cause of all the present confusions, was continued. He then turned to the avowed firmness of a noble earl, high in office, The Duke of Richmond took a compre- (earl Gower) who seemed so willing to hensive view of the question. He exa- court danger, to face the block, and fall mined the Bills mentioned in the claim of with the ruins of the constitution, or trirights, one by one, and shewed with great umph in its constitutional maintenance. ability the foundations on which they rest- He comforted the noble earl with the ed. He dwelt particularly on the Acts for strongest assurances of his being in no danestablishing courts of Admiralty, and for ger; for it was easily avoided, by only at a altering the charter of the Massachuset's convenient time altering his opinion; to Bay. He said, the former erected a juris- prove which, he would take the liberty of diction, the judges of which were inte- adverting to a particular fact, which came rested in the decision; and the latter, within his own knowledge. And then he under the colour of constituting juries, on jocularly observed, that however small the the plan of those in England, lodged the minority might appear on the present quespower of selecting persons fit to serve, in tion, he had seen as small hourly increase an officer called a sheriff, it was true, but till it became the majority; and then told an officer, at the same time, as little known the following anecdote, which happened in our constitution as any Turkish or Rus- when lord Bute was at the head of the sian magistrate: an English sheriff being Treasury, to prove it: "I remember, said irremoveable by any power under heaven, his grace, at that period, a Bill was brought but for malversation in his office, while a into this House to prevent the members sheriff in the province of Massachuset's from being screened from their debts;-I Bay is to be removable by his Majesty, heartily acceded to this Bill upon princihis governor, or deputy governor: by ple, and had the honour of being joined by which means the executive power has vir- the noble lord then at the head of the Treatually the appointing of juries, and conse- sury. On the division the Noes as usual quently the lives, fortunes, and personal went below the bar; when, missing their liberty of the subjects of that province to-leader, they turned short, and were much tally at their disposal and mercy; a state of subjugation, he hoped, no Englishman would ever be so mean, slavish, or servile to submit to. He then insisted that the administration had uniformly, for a num-very members who divided against him, ber of years back, endeavoured to deceive the colonies; that they had so repeatedly violated their most solemn promises, that all confidence was at an end: that out of numberless instances he should only select one, which was the letter written by the very noble earl himself, (earl of Hillsbo rough) accompanying the Revenue Act, wherein he pledged himself, by the most solemn assurances, that they were mere matter of form, and were meant to be immediately repealed, being intended as a nominal assertion of the Declaratory law passed in 1766. [Here his grace was called to order by the earl of Hillsborough, who insisted, that the promise contained

surprised to see him on the other side. The late Charles Townshend remarked upon this circumstance, that he would hold two to one, in less than a year those

would creep under the table to join him. Had he been taken up he would have won his wager." He next reminded the noble earl (Gower) of an instance of his docility, which came more directly home to him, as being personally concerned. It was in the year 1766, before Christmas, when a noble friend of his (the late duke of Bedford) made a motion for taking into consideration the state of the nation. He doubted not but the noble earl was to the full as ready to face the block then as now, in support of what he deemed his duty; but what was the consequence? The noble earl, the author of the present Bill, having in the interim met him at Bath,

and having had some conversation with him, the parliament was adjourned to the day after the state of the nation was to be taken into consideration; all enquiry was at an end, and the nation left to shift for itself.

The Duke of Manchester lamented, in a very sensible manner, the present situation of affairs, and the dangerous consequences of a civil war, which he feared would terminate as the social war among the Romans did, in the inevitable destruction of the whole empire. He was moderate, pathetic, and drew the attention of every side of the House. He did not pretend to determine on the contents of the present Bill, nor adopt it throughout; all he wished was, that one sober view should be taken of the great question, before perhaps we blindly rushed into a scene of confusion and civil strife, the event of which it was impossible to foresee. Earl Temple said, that he had never given, in public or private, a decided opinion, whether it was wise or not to pass the Stamp Act; but that he was abundantly convinced that all the evils and distractions now complained of, were derived from the fatal repeal of it; that the bills of last year were more exceptionable as to the mode than as to the matter. He said nothing with regard to the contents of the Bill which had been read, and finished with expressing his disapprobation of rejecting in so harsh and unprecedented a manner, a Bill designed for the most salutary purposes, and presented to their lordships, by a hand so truly respectable

as that of his noble friend and relation: this reason alone deciding upon his vote. The debate lasted till almost ten o'clock, when the question being put, there appeared for the earl of Sandwich's Amendment, Contents 61, Non-contents 32; so that the Bill was rejected.*

*On the 10th of February, the Corporation of the City of London came to the following Resolution:

"That the thanks of this court be given to the right hon. the earl of Chatham for having offered to the House of Lords a plan for con ciliating the differences which unfortunately subsist between the administration in this country and its American colonies; and to all those who supported that noble lord in so humane a


The Town Clerk having waited on lord Chatham with the above Resolution, his lordship returned the following Answer:

"Lord Chatham desires the favour of Mr.

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Debate on Mr. Alderman Sawbridge's Motion for a Bill for shortening the Duration of Parliaments.] Feb. 1. Mr. Alderman Sawbridge moved for leave to bring in a Bill for shortening the Duration of Parliaments. He said he declined entering into a detailed view of the question, or minutely taking it in the several striking lights in which it presented itself. He adverted to the leading characteristics of some former parliaments; the tyrant Henry the eighth's were servile; that of 1641 a violent assembly; the long one of Charles the second was aptly distinguished by the name of the Pensioned Parliament; but all those several qualities of servility, violence, and prostitution, were at once united in the last. He could not, he said, as yet venture to pronounce on the complexion of the present, but he was afraid it would prove itself the true offspring of its imputed political father, the minister; if so, he had very little good to expect

from it.

Mr. Alderman Oliver seconded the motion, with a short speech on the evil tendency of long parliaments.

Town Clerk to offer

the alder

lord my mayor, men, and commons, in common council as sembled, his most respectful and grateful acknowledgments for the signal honour they have been pleased to confer on the mere discharge of his duty, in a moment of impending calamity. Under deep impressions of former marks of favourable construction of his con

duct, during the evil hour of a dangerous fo to find his efforts for preventing the ruin and reign war, he now deems himself too fortunate horrors of a civil war approved, honoured, and strengthened by the first corporate body in the kingdom."

The Lord Mayor, Mr. Wilkes :

A new argument, Sir, in favour of the motion in your hand seems at this time to arise from the nature of most of the Petititions complaining of undue elections, which have been presented to us in this first session of the parliament, The general complaint is that of bribery and cor ruption. Short parliaments, Sir, if they did not totally eradicate this most pernicious practice, must necessarily diminish the evil in no small degree. By the fre quent return of appeals to the people, the public money in the minister's hands would not be found always adequate to the crooked counsels of an insidious court, nor to a determined purpose of regularly counteracting the wishes of a nation. The floodgates of the treasury, however widely opened, would on such repeated occasions scarcely afford torrents copious and impetuous enough to carry away all sense of duty to the constitution, all regard to the laws and liberties of the country. If this House were elected for a short term only, a commerce of corruption between the minister and the representative could not grow up to acquire the strength and consistency which is given by a period of seven years security, and independency on the power by which we were created.

Sir; the question now before the House has been so frequently and so ably spoken to by the hon. gentleman who made the motion, and is in general so perfectly understood, that I shall trouble you with little more on this occasion than to return him my hearty thanks for his truly patriotic endeavours and noble perseverance in a business of this importance. Frequent parliaments, Sir, are the ancient constitution of England, and the right of the people to them arises from the nature of all delegated power, and the necessity of a controul. If a representative in the first session of a parliament acts contrary to the duty of the trust reposed in him, is it fit that his constituents should be compelled to wait till the end of a tedious period of seven years before they can have an opportunity of depriving him of a power, which he so early abused? I think the case now mentioned actually exists in the very dawn of this new parliament. Several gentlemen have talked of the last parliament in the terms of reproach and indignation which that profligate assembly most justly merited. I fear, Sir, the present parliament are treading in the same steps, which conducted their imme- I beg the indulgence of the House, Sir, diate predecessors to the utter hatred of for only one more short observation. the nation. They seem to advance with This motion strikes me as a kind of pargiant strides to a like detestation from this liamentary test, which brings every thing age, and from all posterity. The people home to our consciences. It cannot fail without doors, especially in the capital, of meeting in this House the support of make no scruple to affirm that the ma- all the true friends of the ancient constijority of this House have even thus early, tution of England, of all who mean to act in one great instance, acted contrary to honestly, for they run no risk. They are the plain duty, which they owe to their sure of the applause, and free choice of country, and to the sacred trust reposed their constituents, on every fresh appeal. in them. I allude, Sir, to the contempt The venal and interested, all who think shewn of the Petition of so respectable lightly of their ties and obligations to their a body as the merchants of the city of masters, and do not hold themselves bound London trading to North America. This to hear and redress the injuries of the nathe majority have done in defiance of all tion which they represent, but are regarddecency, and of the great principles of less of the feelings of the people, intent the constitution. I am sorry to observe, only on the public plunder; all these have that the alarm is already become general, their terrors, and certainly not ill-groundthat from this early abuse of their trust, ed, on the first suggestion of an appeal to the delegated powers, which the same men their constituents. From such men only, have so lately received for the security an opposition to this motion is to be exand preservation of the rights of their con- pected. The representative who is constituents, will be employed through a scious of having merited well of his concourse of the next seven years for our stituents, will always rejoice at the oppordestruction, and that of our fellow-sub-tunity of applying for frequent proofs of jects in America, unless the excellent motion of the hon. gentleman should arrest them in their career.

* See p. 168, of the present volume.

their regard and trust; will desire, will earnestly solicit, this appeal; while the man who has acted contrary to the clear dictates of his duty, and betrayed his

trust, will naturally dread every such occasion, will tremble even at the distant view of the spirited indignation, with which he would be rejected. A guilty mind, Sir, frequently braves the silent reproaches of a wounded conscience, but can seldom bear up against that public contempt and infamy which I trust will always pursue parliamentary prostitution. Mr. Moysey entered into a clear and substantial investigation of the question, took notice of the efforts made by the great constitutional Whigs immediately after the Revolution, to obtain the triennial law; of the great benefits derived from that law, during a course of upwards of 20 years, and the great political motives which produced its repeal in the first year of George the first. He said those motives originated in temporary expediency; that the measure was consented to on the principle of immediate preservation and state necessity; and as those causes no longer subsisted, every colour of reason and argument for retaining septennial parliaments must fall with the motives which gave birth to them.

Mr. Serjeant Glynn contended that the present mode of convening parliaments was repugnant to the great principles of the constitution, and would in the end, he predicted, be destructive of the constitution itself.

The House divided. The Yeas went forth.

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Petition of the West India Planters to the Commons respecting the American Non-Importation Agreement.] Feb. 2. A Petition of the planters of his Majesty's sugar colonies residing in Great Britain, and of the merchants of London trading to the said colonies, was presented to the House, and read; setting forth,

"That the petitioners are exceedingly alarmed at an Agreement and Association entered into, by the congress held at Philadelphia, in North America, on the 5th of Sept. 1774, whereby the members thereof agreed and associated, for themselves and the inhabitants of the several provinces lying between Nova Scotia and Georgia, that from and after the 1st of Sept. 1774,

they would not import into British America any melasses, syrups, paneles, coffee, or piemento, from the British plantations; and that after the 10th of Sept. 1775, if the Acts and the parts of the Acts of the British parliament therein mentioned, are not repealed, they would not directly, or indirectly, export any merchandize or commodity whatsoever to the West Indies; and representing to the House that the British property in the West India islands amounts to upwards of 30 millions sterling; and that a further property of many millions is employed in the commerce created by the said islands, a commerce comprehending Africa, the East Indies and Europe; and that the whole profits and produce of those capitals ultimately center in Great Britain, and add to the national wealth, while the navigation necessary to all its branches, establishes a strength which wealth can neither purchase nor balance; and that the sugar plantations in the West Indies are subject to a greater variety of contingencies than many other species of property, from their necessary dependence on external support; and that therefore, should any interruption happen in the general system of their commerce, the great national stock thus vested and employed must become unprofitable and precarious; and that the profits arising from the present state of the said islands, and that are likely to arise from their future improvement, in a great measure depend on a free and reciprocal intercourse between them and the several provinces of North America, from whence they are furnished with provisions and other supplies absolutely necessary for their support and the maintenance of their plantations; and that the scarcity and high price, in Great Britain and other parts of Europe, of those articles of indispensible necessity, which they now derive from the middle colonies of America, and the inadequate population in some parts of that continent, with the distance, danger, and uncertainty, of the navigation from others, forbid the petitioners to hope for a supply in any degree proportionate to their wants; and that, if the first part of the said Agreement and Association for a non-importation hath taken place, and shall be continued, the same will be highly detrimental to the sugar colonies; and that, if the second part of the said Agreement and Association for a non-exportation shall be carried into execution, which the petitioners do firmly

Majesty's command, relative to the Disturbances in North America.

believe will happen, unless the harmony that subsisted a few years ago between this kingdom and the provinces of America, to the infinite advantage of both, be restored, the islands, which are supplied with most of their subsistence from thence, will be reduced to the utmost distress, and the trade between all the islands and this kingdom will of course be obstructed, to the diminution of the public revenue, to the extreme injury of a great number of planters, and to the great prejudice of the merchants, not only by the said obstruction, but also by the delay of payment of the principal and interest of an immense debt due from the former to the latter; and therefore praying the House, to take into their most serious consideration that great political system of the colonies heretofore so very beneficial to the mother country and her dependencies, and adopt such measures as to them shall seem meet, to prevent the evils with which the petitioners are threatened, and to preserve the intercourse between the West India islands and the northern colonies, to the general harmony and lasting benefit of the whole British empire; and that they may be heard, by themselves, their agents, er counsel, in support of their Petition."

Ordered to be referred to the consideration of the committee on the Petition of the merchants of London, concerned in the commerce of North America.

Debate in the Commons on an Address to the King upon the Disturbances in North America.*] Feb. 2. The House resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider of the several Papers presented to the House, by his

* Previous to the debate, the avenues leading to the House were so extremely crowded, that there was not room for the members to pass. Complaint being made, the lobby and the gallery were cleared, and none were allowed to remain, the Irish members excepted.

Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd. Boodle's, Jan. 31, 1775." Sometimes people do not write because they are too idle, and sometimes because they are too busy. The former was usually my case, but at present it is the latter. The fate of Europe and America seems fully sufficient to take up the time of one man; and especially of a man who gives up a great deal of time for the purpose of public and private information. I think I have sucked Mauduit and Hutcheson very dry; and if my confidence was equal to my eloquence, and my eloquence to my knowledge, perhaps I might

Lord North recapitulated the informa. tion contained in the papers; discriminated the temper of the colonies; pointed out those where moderation prevailed, and where violence was concealed under the appearance of duty and submission; and named such as he thought were in a state of actual rebellion. He spoke of arts which he asserted were employed on both sides the Atlantic to raise this seditious spirit. He drew a comparison between the burdens borne by the people of Great Britain and those of America. The annual taxes paid by the inhabitants of Great Britain, he said, amounted to ten millions sterling, exclusive of the expences of collection; and the number of inhabitants of Great Britain he supposed to be eight millions, therefore every inhabitant paid at least 25 shillings annually. The total taxes of the continent of America amount to no more than 75,000l.; the number of inhabitants of America were three millions, therefore an inhabitant of America paid no more than sixpence annually. He then proceeded to lay down the legislative supremacy of parliament; stated the measures adopted by America to resist it, and the almost universal confederacy of the colonies in that resistance. Here, he said, he laid his foot on the great barrier, which separated, and for the present disunited both countries; and on this ground alone of resistance and denial, he raised every argument leading to the motion he intended

make no very intolerable speaker. At all

events, I fancy I shall try to expose myself:

Semper ego auditor tantum? Nunquamne reponam ?'

For my own part, I am more and more convinced that we have both the right and the power on our side, and that, though the effort may be accompanied with some melancholy circumstances, we are now arrived at the decisive moment of preserving, or of losing for ever, both our trade and empire. We expect next Thursday or Friday to be a very great day. Hitherto we have been chiefly employed in reading papers, and rejecting petitions. Petitions were brought from London, Bristol, Norwich, &c. framed by party, and designed to delay. By the aid of some parliamentary quirks, they have been all referred to a separate inactive committee, which Burke calls a committee of oblivion, and are now considered as dead in law. Our general divisions are about 250 to 80 or 90." Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, vol. 1, p. 483.

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