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stated, that no tyranny itself found a justification in the mere plea of their unlimited authority. He stated seven acts of tyranny, which justified resistance. He shewed, that the cause of the late rebellions at home, and those disturbances in America, differed widely; that the trade of the country was little affected by those rebellions; that our trade at present is the primary object; that the object of that rebellion was to set an unnatural tyrant on the throne; that he feared the Americans were now what we were then; and were struggling that an insufferable tyranny should not be established over them. He represented the delusion practised by ministry, who in all speeches argue that Boston alone was in rebellion, and that it was an affair with Boston only; but he shewed that all America was concerned, from clear and positive facts. He proved, that from one end of the continent to the other, the like resistance had been found; and he pressed the independent members to consider that; for he said, if people were once convinced that the mischief was so wide, they would think a little more seriously what might have been the cause of so general discontent, and might wish to apply other remedies than fire or sword. He said, that their definition of rebellion was the oddest he had ever heard; it must be the destruction of tea; but burning tea was not in their definition rebellion, for such a place had burnt it; that spoiling it in damp vaults was not in their definition, for it had been so treated in such a place. Now to answer their definition of rebellion, tea must be drowned like a puppy dog; and even that was not quite enough; it must be drowned, and drowned at Boston. This was their definition of rebellion. He exerted himself to deprecate the shameless tyranny we exercised. He abhorred political as much as he did religious persecution. His heart seemed engaged. He mentioned with horror the idea of tearing a man from his family and friends the other side the Atlantic, and tearing his heart out in Smithfield, stiling it the heart of a traitor, because he would not believe in virtual representation, and because he would not believe that America was part of the manor of Greenwich. He said, he had two years before called their attention to Virginia, the mother colony; and shewed that in all their proceedings Virginia had taken the lead; and that therefore it was plain it was not Boston, but America; and if we meant a war with

| the whole, we ought with our eyes open to prepare for that, and not for a scuffle with Boston. He also put it on its true bottom; you have, said he, your option, America or this ministry; and he exposed with all his wit, the absurdity of balancing in such a choice.

Mr. Solicitor General Wedderburn replied to Mr. Burke. He spoke largely of the goodness of Britain to America. Thought it highly necessary to enforce the laws, and complained much of the dispositions of the Americans being encouraged from hence by those who avowed their cause in England.

Colonel Barré allowed that the Americans might be encouraged by their confi. dence in having friends at home, when they recollected that a few years ago the gentleman's voice who spoke last was made hoarse in condemning the measures of this country towards America. He was never louder than in his invective against lord Hillsborough for the letter which he insisted deserved impeachment. The colonel went into a fine eulogium on colonels Howe, Burgoyne, and Clinton, destined to serve against America. He lamented that this country should lose their services when the course of things must call for it; for a foreign war was inevitable, if we incurred a civil one. He insisted that no honour could be gained there. He avowed a fear that we should not vanquish, and insisted it was our duty to cherish the Americans. He reproached the spirit of administration, who in the Falkland's Island business, and in all foreign transactions, readily sacrificed the honour of the nation: but in dealings with our own people, when the people's good ought to be the first object, pride and dignity was their only principle. He shewed from count de Guines's memorial, that we had agreed on that occasion to disarm first, but now the Americans must submit first; and when they do, they may look to be pardoned when the ministers are ashamed to punish. He said he felt himself connected with America more than any man in the House: and added, you are this night to decide, whether you are to make war on your colonies.

Lord North professed good intentions, but did not seem to promise much success in his measures. He made some distinctions between his administration and the duke of Grafton's: said he did not mean to tax America; and added, if they would submit, and leave to us the constitutional

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Mr. Thomas Townshend 105

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So it passed in the negative, and the Address was agreed to, and ordered to be communicated to the Lords at a conference; which was accordingly done on the following day.*

Debate in the Lords on an Address to the King upon the Disturbances in North America.

Feb. 7. The Lord President reported, that they had met the managers for the Commons at the conference, which, on the part of the Commons, was managed by the lord North; who acquainted the anagers for the Lords, "That they having taken into their consideration the state of his Majesty's colonies in North America, have agreed upon an Address to bepresented to his Majesty; to which they, desire the concurrence of this House." Then his lordship read the Address, upon which, the earl of Dartmouth and the

• Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd, Feb. 1, 1775. "I am not damned, according to your charitable wishes, because I have not acted; there was such an inundation of speeches, young speeches in every sense of the word, both on Thursday in the grand committee, and Monday on the report to the House, that neither lord George Germaine nor myself could find room for a single word. The principal men both days were Fox and Wedderburne, on the opposite sides; the latter displayed his usual talents; the former, taking the vast compass of the question before us, discovered powers for regular debate, which neither his friends hoped, nor his enemies dreaded." MiscellaBeous Works, vol. 1. p. 489.

marquis of Rockingham both rising to speak, a debate arose who should speak first.

In this confusion the Lord Chancellor put the question, " Is it your lordships' pleasure that the earl of Dartmouth be now heard?" This called up the duke of Richmond, who contended, that it was a most slavish position to say, that any lord in that House should have a preference before another; and that the preference should be determined by the House. Lord Mansfield replied, that he had always understood it was in the option of the chairman, in either House (the Speaker in the other, and the Lord Keeper in this) to so far decide, as at least to put the question on which of the two persons he pleased. To prove this, his lordship cited an instance in a committee of the House of Commons on the Spanish convention in 1739, when two members rising at the same instant, to make motions of a direct contrary tendency, Mr. Winnington, the chairman, pointed to one of them in preference to the other, which gave birth to the witty observation of Mr. Pulteney, afterwards earl of Bath, in the course of the debate, “That the chairman had made the deadest point he ever saw in his life." Lord Camden urged the necessity and justice of their previously accepting the stood the noble marquis had to present, petition of the merchants, which he underand hearing the merchants' allegations; he told the House, they not only sat there in their representative, but in their judicial capacity, and were therefore bound by all the ties of official duty, to get every light them; otherwise, their coming to a deterand information upon the subject before mination could not be acting in the spirit for a day, which would not create any of the constitution. He pressed them but delay, and in that time he had no doubt information founded on the truest proofs, their lordships would receive that solid commercial experience; which would, perhaps, influence their lordships to think differently from what they then did. Earl Gower insisted that such a mode of proceeding was totally unusual and unparlia mentary; that very early in life, much about the period the noble and learned lord alluded to, he remembered a circumstance which came directly in point; it was on an intended motion of the late lord Halifax's, when the Lord Keeper decided against him, that another noble lord should be first heard. [In all this hurry and confu

sion, the true point on which the preference contended for rested, seemed to be entirely mistaken, till the earl of Denbigh observed that the preference was with the noble earl, out of the respect due to the other branch of the legislature.] The question was at length put, and the motion was carried without a division.

The Earl of Dartmouth accordingly rose, and after putting in his claim to be heard to the question at large, moved, that the blank in the Address presented by the Commons at the conference, and now communicated by the Lord President, should be filled up with the words "Lords spiritual and temporal, and."

have act or part in, that was, where both
Houses were to assure his Majesty, they
would, in support of the measures therein
recommended, hazard their lives and for-
tunes; for he now openly declared, he
would neither risk nor hazard life or for-
tune in such a cause. He said the noble
mover adverted to something which he
did not perfectly understand, about una-
nimity. If every man who opposed this
Address, was presumed to be actuated by
false notions of popularity or factious mo-
tives, he believed four-fifths of the nation
would fall under that predicament; but
this he could answer for himself, at all
events, that he should not tread in the
steps of his noble, but ill-fated ancestor,
(lord Strafford) who first courted popular
favour, and then deserted the cause he
had embarked in; for as he had set out
by supporting the cause of the people
against the tyranny and arbitrary mea-
sures of ministers, so he should never, for
any temptation whatsoever, desert or be-
tray them, but would persevere to the last,
in endeavouring to obtain for them a full
reparation for all the injuries they had

The Earl of Pomfret contended, that the sea was our proper element; was against a land war, and strenuously urged the necessity of sending a naval force sufficient to block up their harbours, and by that means to cut off their communication with all other powers, and put a total stop to their commerce.

The Marquis of Rockingham acquainted the House, that the matter which he rose to was to present petitions, one from the merchants of London concerned in the commerce to North America, and the other from the West India merchants and planters; that he imagined their contents were of the highest importance, were immediately relative to the business under consideration, and were well worthy of arresting any determination of this House, for at least one day, being certain, that within that short period, information of infinite consequence would be laid before their lordships, perhaps sufficient to alter, or at least soften the rigour of the measures they were now madly, hastily, and blindly proceeding to adopt. His lordship then desired the Petitions might be read, which being complied with, he observed, as a question was now before the House, that must be first disposed of; and as consequently the subject matter of petitions could not regularly come under the cognizance of the House; and that he still hoped the House would be willing to hear the petitioners, as men suffering under the heaviest misfortunes, none of Earl Gower adhered closely to the ques which could be attributed to their own tion before the House, the propriety of misconduct, he would be under the neces- entering into an immediate examination sity, as the only means left, of moving the of the matter contained in the Petitions previous question, which would open a intended to be presented by the noble door for taking into consideration a gene- marquis. He said, the petitioners were ral state of the petitioners' grievances. persons who deserved every mark of at[The previous question was accordingly tention and respect which the House put, and his lordship proceeded.] He could pay them, consistently with the inobserved, that until the previous ques-terests of the empire at large; and altion was first disposed of, he could not though their grievances were imaginary, regularly enter into a discussion of their complaints were nevertheless deserv the Address; but he would, neverthe- ing of indulgence. He trusted, however, less, in this stage of the business, assure the House, that there was one paragraph in it, which he totally disclaimed, and desired to be understood, neither to

The Earl of Denbigh united in this opi nion on general principles, but insisted that a military force would be necessary for the protection of his Majesty's loyal subjects, who would be otherwise exposed to the fury and violence of their merciless persecutors.

when they maturely considered that the steps now taken were to prevent the re turn of such evils in future, they would cheerfully acquiesce in the wisdom of par


lament in the present instance, and be gratefully thankful hereafter; for if the supremacy of the legislature was once given up, their trade, commerce, and every possible advantage accruing from either, would soon be annihilated. He therefore hoped, that the merchants would, on the present occasion, submit to a temporary inconvenience, nay a short lived distress, to insure the most permaBent and important benefits; and manifest that degree of magnanimity which a sense of their own interests, founded in submission and acquiescence to the wisdom of parliament, must, upon mature consideration and past experience, most certainly suggest.

Lord Mansfield said, it was impossible to confine the attention of the House merely to the matter of the previous question. He perfectly coincided in sentiment with the noble earl, who asserted, that we were reduced to the alternative of adopting coercive measures, or of for ever relinquishing our claim of sovereignty or dominion over the colonies; for consider the question in ever so many lights, says his lordship, every middle way, every attempt to unite the opposite claims of the contending parties, ends, and is ultimately founded in one resolution or the other. His lordship observed, that one of the most able American writers, after the fullest and clearest investigation of the subject, at last confesses, that no medium can possibly be devised, which will exclude the inevitable consequence of either system absolutely prevailing; for that take it up on which ground you would, the supremacy of the British legislature must be complete, entire, and unconditional; or on the other hand, the colonies must be free and independent. His lordship next proceeded to examine very minutely the several acts of parliament complained of in the congress which assembled at Philadelphia, and endeavoured to prove, that every one of them, more or less, confirmed the principles he had laid down, and the conclusions he had drawn from them; and directly struck at the legislative superintending power, which it was contended they were willing to submit to, not barely to the subject of taxation. He more particularly adverted to the Acts for the establishing the admiralty courts in that country; for regulating the rates of postage of letters; for ordering persons in any part of the dominions of the crown to be tried in any English county, for being

This led his

charged with setting his Majesty's dockyards on fire; for the quartering of soldiers, and one or two more of the same nature; any one of which, if repealed, would be a total renunciation of the sovereignty; even if the other proposition were true, that we had no right to tax them. But that claim of non-taxation, it was, he said, that introduced all the rest: if the doctrine was a just one in any instance, it must of inevitable consequence extend to all the rest; for it was to the last degree monstrous and absurd to allow they had a right distinct from the British legislature in any one particular, and not in all: if they had such a right, the defence of it would justify resistance; and to contend that subjects had a right of resisting the government, was a doctrine he should be glad to hear maintained, on any principle of civil government, reason, experience, or common sense. lordship to the subject of the petitions; but he contended, that they did not at all come in the way of the present motion. He did not doubt but the petitioners were aggrieved; he did not doubt but they laboured under great and singular distresses; he did not doubt but every degree of men, the landed gentleman, the merchant, the manufacturer, the mechanic, would all heavily feel, in their several situations, the threatened calamities. Nay, he went further, he did not promise certain success from the present measure. The army might proceed to hostilities, they might be defeated, the Americans might prevail, we might be for ever stripped of the sovereignty of that country; but what of that? the events of war were uncertain: the question was, allowing all the inconveniences as set forth in the petitions to be precisely just, and taking into full contemplation every possible contingency that human foresight and prudence could suggest, whether we should relinquish our rights, or resolve at all events to resolutely persist in their assertion? His lordship again returned to his former argument, of the Acts they had protested against, and observed, that though he was not present when a noble lord on a former occasion (lord Chatham) had insisted, that in return for their temporary suspension and constant repeal, he would insist on the most inequivocal declaration on the part of America, of the supreme legislative controuling power of the British legislature, in every other case whatever, but that of taxation only, he

could not help remarking, that they avoided every declaration equivocal or inequivocal; for all they promised in return, was to consent to the Act of Navigation, while they were boldly contending for the repeal of every one Act almost which was to give that great constitutional law the least force or effect. He next proceeded to prove, by a variety of arguments, that the colonies were in actual rebellion; insisted on the right of the mother country over the colonies; doubted of the expediency of taxing now, on account of the repeal of the Stamp Act; but said it was utterly impossible to say a syllable on the matter of expediency, till the right was first as fully asserted on one side, as acknowledged on the other. He loudly condemned the bad policy of laying the taxes on in 1767; and laid all our present troubles and political confusions at that door. He said it was the most absurd measure that could possibly be imagined, for all the purpose it answered was, at once to throw the colonies into a ferment and ill-humour, and to hurt the commerce of Britain, by furnishing the Americans with a temptation to smuggle; that is, loading our own manufactures with duties, and permitting other powers to supply the American markets with the same commodities, without paying any.

Lord Camden took up the last noble lord on his assertion, that the colonies were in rebellion. If rebellion and treason meant the same thing, he would be bold to say the colonies were not in rebellion. He said he knew no species of treason, but those described by the statute of the 25th of Edward 3, which were, levying war within the realm, or compassing or ima gining the death of the king. He owned that there were many precedents in the books of constructed treason, where certain acts of an atrocious nature were adjudged and referred to one or other of those; but he contended that no one act hitherto committed in America, came within any of those precedents. He said, constructive treason was a dangerous thing; the rule should be certain and definite; for, were it otherwise, no man could tell where it would end, as the lives and properties of the subject would be then at the mercy of the judge; the culprit would then suffer at the will of the judge, not by the spirit or the letter of the


He insisted, he had as great and good a judge as ever sat in Westminster Hall, lord Hale, to support him in this opi

nion, who, after laying down the law of Edward 3, and the expositions of it in the several decisions of his predecessors, asserts, in the most absolute and unreserved terms, that nothing should be deemed treason, by any parity of reasoning or similarity of circumstances, unless it came expressly within the statute or the interpretation of it, as laid down in the several decisions which had been given since the passing of the law. He added, on this head, that the wisdom of the framers of it, had provided for any mischief that might arise, by directing the judges to apply to parliament for their advice, should any new case arise which did not come within the words or obvious meaning of the sta tute. He next replied to the noble and learned lord, as being seemingly involved in the censure passed on the administra tion which consented to lay the duties, one of which (that on tea) was now the ori ginal cause of the unhappy disputes subsisting between Great Britain and the colonies. He utterly disclaimed having the least hand in that measure; said he was not consulted in the framing the law which laid on those duties, and that he was at the time closely and laboriously employed in discharging the weighty functions of his office. He next entered into a very full and detailed view of both the previous and detailed question; he said, he was astonished to hear a noble lord, in the course of the debate, advise the very extraordinary measure of blocking up the American ports, and thereby preventing them from all commerce whatever. He observed, that sending an army thither in a hostile manner, was insanity the first; but were the present proposed measures adopted, it would indeed be insanity the second. It would be no less than a political felo de se; and would be like a man, who to be re venged of a person that he supposed had injured him, should sheath a poniard in his own bosom. Our commerce, says his lordship, is at once the source of our wealth and our power; it both gives us seamen to man our fleets, and money to pay them; without commerce this island, when compared with many countries on the continent, is but a small insignificant spot: it is from our commerce alone that we are intitled to that consequence we bear in the great political scale. When compared with several of the great powers of Europe, England, in the words of Shakespeare, being no more than a " bird's nest floating on a pool." What, then,

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