Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

land foreign trade, would be the certain silent, because it would be against order to loss of the whole debt now due to the speak of it as it deserved, and against pruEnglish merchants.

dence, to offend a body of men who had so But the point on which he rested most, much power, and would shew, by passing was this: the sentence was, in the mildest that Bill, how harsh an use they were disway, beggary, if not famine on four great posed to make of it. provinces. The condition of their re- He said, however, he was convinced, demption was, “ When it should be made by the whole tenor of the debate, as well appear to the governors, and the majority as by his private conversation, that most of of the council in two of these provinces, those who would vote for this Bill had never that the laws would be obeyed.” By what read it ; that what they did was not out of evidence, said he, is this to be made to ap- malice, but out of respect to the opinions of pear? Who is to produce it? What facts others, who, by presenting them such a are to be proved? What rule has the per- Bill, shewed how little they deserved this son who is to make it appear, to go by ? unlimited confidence. He said, that if What rule have the two governors to de- any were in that situation, he hoped they termine, so as to acquit them—in employ- would have the benefit of the prayer made ing or in refusing, either to government for those who alone had done an act worse here, or to the people there? You sen- than this, “ Forgive them, they know not tence, said he, to famine, at least 300,000 what they do.” people in two provinces, at the mere arbi- The Lord Advocate of Scotland began trary will and pleasure of two men whom with disclaiming any thing of cruelty, as you do not know ; for you do not know foreign to his nature and disposition; but who will be governors when this Act takes authority must be preserved, though the place. And, lest these two should risk an guilty, and sometimes even the gu ltless, act of mercy, you add, as a controul to by accident, should suffer. That rigour them, the majority of two councils, whom was annexed to the idea of punishment, you do not know, and one of them, at and that punishment was right or wrong, present, has no existence! And as to the according to the desert of the parties ; other provinces, Connecticut and Rhode that whatever necessity made this punishIsland, the Act has not left a man in these ment so rigorous, or extended it to so vast two provinces, who, by the exertion even a latitude, was owing to those who, taking of an arbitrary discretion, can relieve part with America, in this House or else200,000 people more, or any innocent or where, encouraged them to resist the just repenting individual, let their behaviour authority of parliament. They were, he be what it will. A governor of another said, guilty of the blood of the colonists. province, who can never regularly and That he was sure the taxation of America officially know their true state, can alone was just and defensible by every principle be arbitrary in favour of justice.

of the constitution ; and that though this This, said he, is because, in these two ground of taxation was very much beaten, ill-starred provinces, the people chuse yet as the whole question originated there, their governors: but is that a crime in in- it was necessary to shew the foundation of dividuals, which is the legal constitution the right ; this he did by a distinct enumeof the country? If it be a bad one, Eng- ration of the acts of parliament. He was land has given it to them, and has not taken clear and methodical; but the House was even a step towards altering it. On this not disposed to listen to an argument which point, of the unheard-of power given to they had heard so frequently discussed. governors, of starving so many hundreds of He said, with temper, that he gave way thousands at their mere pleasures, of which, to that disposition of the House, and was he said, no history of real, and even no content to give his approbation to the Bill. fabulous invention of fictitious tyranny, The question being put, That the Bill, had ever furnished an example, he dwelta with the Amendments, be ingrossed ; the long time, and placed it in an infinite House divided. The Yeas went forth. variety of lights; and kindled into such

Tellers.
warmth, that he was at length called to
order. But he continued to repeat the

Lord Lisburne
Yeas

215

Mr. Dundas strong terms, as, he said, he had a right to give such epithets to the Bill as he Noes

S Mr. Tho. Townshend

61 pleased, until it had passed the House. If Mr. Burke ihat should be the case, he would then be So it was resolved in the affirmative.

}

May 8. The Bill being read. a third bers of general Gage's troops, before they time,

are reinforced; for this Act puts it out of Mr. Hartley moved, that the following all doubt, that you mean to proceed to all clause be added, by way of ryder: “ That extremities. I have been informed, by nothing in the Act shall extend to prohibit those who know best the temper of the the importation into any, or either, of the Americans, and I hope and believe that said provinces, of any fuel, meal, corn, they will hold out their patience to the four, or victual, which shall be brought utmost, and that they will not strike the coastwise from any part of the continent first blow: but what is the difference to of America." This clause, said he, can. them, whether you strike the first blow by not be objected to, even by the most vin- the musket or the sword, or, to equal efdictive spirit, against the four provinces fect, by famine? The refusal of this clause, of New England, who are the objects of will be a declaration on your part, that this Bill, as it is extracted from the Boston you mean to bring famine upon them, to Port Bill of last year: the lenity or hu- the utmost of your power, and therefore a manity of which was never so much as warning to them of the mercy which they pretended, even by its advocates. There are to expect at your hands. As to the cannot be a reason why you should throw Bill in general, it has been so ably debated, away this year, the little share of humanity that I shall only add two remarks: this which you had the last ; more especially, Bill, by destroying the North American as we are come to discover, and even to fishery, not only destroys that nursery of acknowledge, by the votes of this House, seamen, but will disable the provinces, that we have proceeded hitherto, in this under the prohibition, from the means of business with America, with rashness, mis- paying their debts to this country, who judgment and precipitation. The vote I therefore will finally be the sufferers; and allude to is passed but a few days since; when the next year comes, and you find which says, or pretends to say, that it this consequence, you will then turn acwould have been proper' (that is the cusers of the North Americans for not term) to have proceeded in a way of ask. paying their debts, and you will add, acing a supply: of the Americans, by the cording to the usual falshoods towards the constitutional way of requisitions, before Americans, that they never intended to proceeding to compulsory or forcible me- pay their debts; and, by the distance of thods. Having confessed ourselves wrong the place, and the falshood of representain the foundation, it is but equal justice to tions, you will impute those very effects our fellow subjects of America to sup: which you have produced yourselves, as pose, that those riots and resistance would the justifying causes of resentment. This not have happened, if we had not begun is the unjust way in which the Americans with them confessedly in an unconstitu- have been treated, on all occasions. I tional way. Surely, then, it is not a time myself asked, the other day, why, on a to add to the severity of our Acts, in pro- particular occasion of a slight riot of not portion as we find, that we have been un- more than a few hours continuance, four just in the outset, and that they have been regiments and a train of artillery, were less to blame.

It is surely but a little ordered to Boston ? To justify this enormatter to ask, that you would not be more mous intervention of the military, I was cruel towards America, who have never told in this House, that indeed ihe riots been heard on their defence this year, were trifling, but that the Americans had than you were the last. Besides, what come to a resolution to arm the country. construction can the town of Boston put What, then, was the real fact, as testified upon your present measures, if you re- by dates ? The fact was, that the resolufuse the clause now offered ? They will be tion to arm was not taken till the troops besieged, as in actual war with any fo- were seen in the offing. It was the sight reign enemy. General Gage has forti- of the troops, upon so trivial an occasion, hed the neck which joins Boston to the that gave them to understand what they continent, by which he may intercept pro

were to expect; and, by dates, the fact is visions ; and by this Bill you proclaim the verified, that they did not take to arms till same intention by sea. Do you expect, some months after the troops were orthat they will submit to be starved, in dered; but it was upon their first notice passive obedience? What resource have of the troops being to come ; and the rethey left, but resistance ; and, perhaps, to solution to arm against the worst, was actaké advantage of the smallness of num- tually debated but a few hours before the

was

troops were landed.

So it is that facts therefore, to prevent that town from being are misrepresented in America, and so let a place of trade, until they made recomme put in my caution now, that the Ame- pense, but as they had not then formally ricans do now actually pay their debts, arrayed themselves against the power as like honest men, to the utmost of their well as authority of this country, further power

, and let me be before-hand with this restraints, such as were in the present Bill, charge; if when the natural consequences were not then necessary, and the per of these measures come next year, we mitting provisions and fuel to go up to the should hear any false accusations of the town by water was inserted in that Bill. Americans, as combining not to pay their The further restraints which a more violent debts. I shall make but one remark more, conduct had now rendered necessary, were but which seems to me to be of the ut- inserted in the Bill, and instead of remost importance to the whole commercial laxations from these, more severe ones system of England, which is, that the must follow, if their conduct made such plantation-built bottoms are two thirds, or

further necessary. three quarters, or all the bottoms upon Mr. Burke warm against the which the British merchandize, to every Bill. It was not, he said, sanguinary, it quarter of the g!obe, is carried on; when did not mean to shed blood, but, to suit we meditate a blow at the American trade, some gentleman's humanity, it only meant we should recollect at least, that there is to starve five hundred thousand people, this one manufacture (if I may so call it) men, women, and children at the breast. of ship-building, upon the encouragement Some gentlemen had even expressed their of which our very

existence, as a trading approbation of famine in preference to fire people, depends. However we may think and sword. This Bill not only had taken it our interest to suppress the rivalship of from these people the means of subsisting the colonies with ourselves, in other ma- themselves by their own labour, but, renufactures, yet in this trade of ship-build-jecting the clause now proposed, took ing they are our most material and essen- from them the means of being subsisted tial support. This revengeful blow at the by the charity of their friends. You had American ship-building, will fall most im- reduced the poor people to beggary, and mediately and fatally upon the manufac- now you take the beggar's scrip from turers and merchants of every commercial them. You even dash from the mouth article in this kingdom. For these rea- of hunger the morsel which the hand of sons, I am against the whole principle of charity would stretch out to it. On the the Bill; and if we cannot prevail to have subject of famine he was fine and pathetic. it rejected, I humbly move, at least, the Lord Clare said, he would not enter the admission of the clause which I have just list with the hon. gentleman who spoke offered.

last, it would be the waging an unequal Lord North said, as the Bill not only war; but he had in his hand a friend who meant to restrain the colonies of New was a match for him: my old friend, sir England from trade so long as they would Joshua Gee, a great friend to America, not trade with us, but also to let them feel though no patriot; a man who has written the inconveniences which they must be better on trade than any other man living, exposed to, while they denied the autho- and who knew more of America. Now, rity of parliament, he could not, until their Sir, my friend Joshua Gee, with a kind of conduct gave parliament some grounds prophetic spirit says, if ever the people of for it, agree in opinion, that parliament New England should aim to set up for should relax from the coercion which this themselves, what must we do? Do, Sir, Bill meant to execute. He thought it was why the very things which are now doing. right that they should feel some of those Joshua Gee says, you must restrain their distresses which the power of this country trade and prohibit them from the fishery, could bring upon them, while they dared and you will soon bring them to their to set their power in opposition to it. But senses. I hope Joshua Gee will be a proeven in the exertion of force, nay of arms phet there too. But here are his words. if it should become necessary, he never [He here read a long passage from the should wish measures which were cruel. book, and then commented on it.] Now, The case of the Boston Port Bill was quite Sir, nobody that ever read this passage, different. The town of Boston had ob- thought this conduct, as here proposed, to structed our trade, and had committed an be cruel, but necessary and wise, Sir. act of outrage against it; it was proper, But since we have got a language in this

House that is fitter for the turbulent ha- sistance is rebellion-can save you from rangues of an American congress than for famine and ruin.” When these things a British parliament, every thing which are said to them, what can they answer? Fould restrain American independency is What part have they to take? They must unjust and cruel. But if so, Sir, how resist in common with those with whom come gentlemen not to oppose the aug- you have united them in ruin. I thought mentation of the army and navy for these your measures were intended to divide the purposes. They retired from that ques- people. But when you mean to destroy tion; some never looked to it; others you unite all, because you wish to destroy retired sturdily like Ajax: they did not all

. Thus much I thought it right to say, turn their backs, but, Sir, they retired. that I might mark the spirit of your mea

Mr. T. Townshend. If the augmenta- sures. tion of the navy and army had been pro- Governor Pownall, having now, after posed as a force with which to make war two days debate, heard so much about the on America, I would, Sir, have been as starving principles of this Bill, and of the sturdy as Ajax, not retiring, but attack famine which was to be the effect of it in ing, I would have set my face against it ; New England, rose to say a few words, in I would have used every power I had to order, by stating the fact, to wipe off from oppose it; I would have carried my oppo- the Bill an imputation, which not only sition to turbulency, since the noble lord the oratory of those who opposed will so describe it.' The reason why I did the indiscretion of some who had defended. not oppose it, I will avow; it is a fair one. it, brought upon it ; the foul stain of hardI knew that it was determined that a great heartedness and cruelty; as also to calm part of the force which we then had was any apprehensions which gentlemen by to be sent to America. I trembled for their oratory, working on a fact taken for the safety of this realm, thus stript of the granted, had endeavoured to raise in the strength intended originally for its de- breasts of the humane.--As to the starvfence; I was glad when I heard an addi- ing and famine, supposed as an effect țional defence was to be proposed for it. which might follow from the operations I would not oppose this necessary mea- of this Bill, it was a supposition too idle to sure, though I would not in any thing mix combat. The colonies of New England myself with the measures of ministry. were provision colonies, they were great He then went into the argument on the grazing settlements; they had not, insubject of famine and starving.

deed, been equally attentive to tillage as Mr. Charles Fox. I think, Sir, you the farmers of the middle colonies had have now, by refusing this proposition, been, but they raised sufficient corn, rye, completed the system of your folly and barley for their subsistence; that alYou had some friends yet left in New though they imported some four and bisEngland. You yourselves made a parade cuit from Philadelphia and New York, yet of the number you had there. But you the first was chiefly for the luxury of the have not treated them like friends! Rather rich, and the latter for fitting out their than not make the ruin of that devoted shipping. If it became necessary to recountry complete, your friends are to be strain their trade the latter would not be involved in one common famine! How wanted, and if people will go to war they must they feel, what must they think, must expect to give up the former. If the when the people against whom they have Bill proceeded upon any such principles stood out in support of your measures, say of hard-heartedness, or if he could see any to them, “ You see now what friends in such cruel effects in it as had been stated, England you have depended upon; they he would have opposed it, instead of acseparated you from your real friends there, quiescing in it; instead of any such mis. while they hoped to ruin us by it; but chievous effect on the colonies, we should since they cannot destroy us without mix- have need to watch, that it did not proing you in the common carnage, your duce a contrary effect, namely, that of merits to them will not now save you; turning their thoughts more seriously to you are to be butchered and starved in tillage ; if it should, might it not have the discriminately with us? What have you effect fabled in the story of Antæus, that to look to for support but resistance? You the moment in which they touch the are treated in common with us as rebels, ground, from that moment they should whether you rebel or not. Your loyalty derive strength. He concluded by saying has ruined you. Rebellion alone if re- that he considered this Bill simply as :

commercial regulation; as a temporary | bare curiosity, in his opinion, should not withholding of those indulgences which be gratified, when it might be productive particular laws and connivance had given, of evil; that he believed it was neither in relaxation of the general laws on which novel nor extraordinary to keep many the plantation trade had been originally matters secret. established; as withholding these indul- Mr. Fox said, the noble lord from the gences so long as the colonies should beginning had taken care to lead the think fit to prohibit the trade of Great House blindfold; and would, he was cer. Britain ; it was from seeing and consider- tain, continue to do so, till he found some ing it in this light alone that he acquiesced personal convenience in acting otherwise. in it.

He pronounced confidently, that the Bill Mr. Henry Dundas (Solicitor Gene- just passed could not succeed; and de ral of Scotland). In what I said in a sired the noble lord to recollect his words, late debate, I did not say that I ap- and at the same time not to come to par. proved of measures of starving a whole liament, telling them, though the measure people; but, that if matters between us miscarried, it was their measure, for if they and the Americans were come to that had not framed, they had, after the fullest issue, that we must at last use force, and deliberation, approved of it. The fact was perhaps the sword; surely those measures the very reverse, as his lordship had been which would prevent them from being able both the framer and approver; and by the to resist, might prevent us from coming to arts of misinformation on one hand, and the harsher measures of the sword and want of any material information on the bloodshed. I thought these measures other, parliament were persuaded into an would bring them to their senses, and approbation of his measures. would therefore, in the end, prove mercy

Mr. Hartley then moved for the said to them. This, I hoped, would be the Paper : but it passed in the negative. true operation and effect of this Bill; and, therefore, approving that operation, I must Petition and Memorial of the Assembly disapprove this motion.

of Jamaica to the King in Council.] Go On the motion, that the said clause be vernor Johnstone said, he had been inread a second time, the House divided. formed that an extraordinary Petition The Yeas went forth.

from Jamaica had been received by the Tellers.

ministers, the contents of which were of

the utmost importance; and desired to Yeas Mr. Hartley

know the reason why it was not laid before ::

the House? Mr. Cooper

Lord North said, he could assign no :}188

reason. The Petition was from the as• So it passed in the negative. The Bill sembly of the island, hastily agreed upon, was then passed and carried to the Lords. just at the end of the session.

Mr. Hartley said, that a letter had been Mr. Fox thought that was a sufficient written by the earl of Dartmouth to go- reason to force it upon his lordship’s vernor Colden, of New York, dated the notice; for it was his lordship’s practice to 10th Dec. 1774: as this letter contained transact the most important business at the matter well worthy the consideration and end of the session. attention of the House, he should be glad, Lord North said it should be brought. he said, to have it laid before the House. The following is a copy of it. Mr. Rigby opposed this. He said ad

Jamaica, ss. ministration must always be understood to

To the King's most excel

. be the sole judges of what is and what is

leot Majesty in Council. The hum

ble Petition and Memorial of the not proper to be laid before the House. Mr. T. Townshend observed, it was a

Assembly of Jamaica. very novel and extraordinary doctrine to

“ Most Gracious Sovereign, affirm, that when a paper was called for, “We your Majesty's most dutiful and and particularly described, it was in the loyal subjects the assembly of Jamaica

, option of the minister to produce or with having taken into our consideration the hold it at his pleasure.

present critical state of the colonies, humLord North contended there were many bly approach the throne to assure your papers, which a mere spirit of curiosity Majesty of our most dutiful regard to your might prompt men to call for ; but that royal person and family, and our attache

} 58

[ocr errors]

Noes Lord Stanley

{

« ZurückWeiter »