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prosperity. Length of days be in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honor. May her ways be ways of pleasantness; and all her paths be peace !'
But the greatest effort of a nature directly conciliatory was made on the 19th of April 1774, by Mr. Rose FULLER, who moved,
« That the House resolve itself into a committee to take into consideration the duty on the importation of teas into America, and the appropriation of the same, with a view to its repeal.”
Mr. CORNWALL, then one of the lords of the treasury, and afterwards Speaker of the House of Commons, opposed the motion as impolitic and imprudent; as tending to discover a pusillanimous timidity, without the least chance of regaining the affections of the Americans. He asserted, that the repeal of the stamp act had not produced any good effect; that disturbances had been fomenting and growing ever since; that the present concession would only induce the colonists to apply for the repeal of other duties ; nor would they stop until we had surrendered the whole, and by that means America itself.
These reflections called up Mr. BURKE, who made a long and brilliant speech. We must content ourselves with a summary of its beauties, and particularly the orator's review of the colonial system, and his masterly delineations of public characters. His exordium was happily taken from a remark of Mr. CORNWALL'S. “ I agree," said he, “ with the honorable gentleman who spoke last, that this subject is not new in this house. Very disagreeably to this house, very unfortunately to this nation, and to the peace and prosperity of this whole empire, no topic has been more familiar to us. For nine long years, session after session, we have been lashed round and round this miserable circle of occasional argument and temporary expedients. I am sure our heads must turn, and our stomachs nauseate with them. We have had them in every shape-we have looked at them in every point of view—Invention is exhausted; reason is fatigued; experience has given judgment; but obstinacy is not yet conquered.”
After this opening, Mr. BURKE very accurately distinguishes the two grounds of deliberation stated to the House by the preceding speaker; one narrow and simple, merely confined to the question ; the other more Jarge and more complicated, comprehending the whole series of the parliamentary proceedings, with regard to America, their causes, and their consequences.
56 He desires to know," says Mr. BURKE, “ whether if we were to repeal this tax, the Americans would not take post upon such a concession, in order to make a new attack on the next body of taxes; and whether they would not call for a repeal of the duty on wine, as loudly as they do now for the repeal of the duty on tea ? I steadily appeal to experience, and would to God! there was no other arbiter to decide on the vote, with which the House is to conclude this day. When parliament repealed the stamp act in the year 1766, I affirm first, the Americans did not, in consequence of this measure, call upon you to give up the former parliamentary revenue which subsisted in that country, or even any one of the articles which compose it. I affirm also, that when departing from the maxims of that repeal, you revived the scheme of taxation, and thereby filled the minds of the colonists with new jealousy and all sorts of apprehensions, then it was, that they quarrelled with the old taxes, as well as the new : then it was, and not till then, that they questioned all the parts of your legisļative power; and by the battery of such questions have
shaken 66 SIR, only
shaken the solid structure of this empire to its deepest foundations."
Mr. BURKE goes back to the navigation-act, which he calls the corner-fione of the policy of this country with regard to its colonies. “ That policy," says he, “ was from the beginning purely commercial ; and the commercial system was wholly restrictive. It was the system of a monopoly. No trade was let loose from that constraint, but merely to enable the colonists to dispose of what in the course of
could not take, or to enable them to dispose of such articles as we forced upon them; and !or which, without some degree of liberty, they could not pay. Hence all your specific and detailed enumerations; hence the innumerable checks, and counter-checks; hence that infinite variety of paperchains, by which you bind together this complicated system of the colonies. This principle of commercial monopoly runs through no less than twenty-nine acts of parliament from the year 1660 to the unfortunate period of 176.4. In all those acts, the
of commerce is established, as that from whence alone you proposed to make the colonies contribute to the strength of the empire. I venture to say, that, during that whole period, a parliamentary revenue from thence was never once in contemplation.”
Here Mr. Burke shews, that no act avowedly for the purpose of revenue, and with the ordinary title and recital taken together, could be found in the statute book, until the year 1764. All before this period stood on commercial regulation and restraint. Whatever the right might have been, the mode of using it then adopted was absolutely new in policy and practice.
Aware of an objection, which would naturally be started on the principle he laid down, he thus addresses the chair:
“ They who are friends to the scheme of American revenue, say, that the commercial restraint is full as hard a law for America to live under. I think so too. I think it, if uncompensated, to be a condition of as rigorous servitude as men can be subject to. But America bore it from the fundamental act of navigation until 1764. Why? Because men do bear the inevitable constitution of their original nature with all its infirmities. The act of navigation attended the colonies from their infancy, grew with their growth, and strengthened with their strength. They were confirmed in obedience to it, even more by usage than by law. They scarcely had remembered a time when they were not subject to such restraint. Besides, they were indemnified for it by a pecuniary compensation. Their monopolist happened to be one of the richest men in the world. By his immense capital they were enabled to proceed with their fisheries, their agriculture, their ship-building, and their trade too, within the limits, in such a manner as got far the start of the slow, languid operations of unassisted na
This capital was a hot-bed to them. Nothing in the history of mankind is like their progress. For my own part, I never cast an eye on their flourishing commerce, and their cultivated and commodious life, but they seem to me rather ancient nations, grown to perfection through a long series of fortunate events, and a train of successful industry, accumulating wealth in many centuries, than the colonies of yesterday, than a set of miserable outcasts, a few years ago, not so much sent, as thrown out on the bleak and barren shore of a desolate wilderness, three thousand miles from all civilized intercourse. All this was done by England, whilst England pursued trade, and forgot revenue.
only acquired commerce, but you actually created the very objects of trade in America; and by that creation you raised the trade of this kingdom four-fold. America had the compensation of your capital, which made her bear her servitude. She had another compensation, which you are now going to take from her. She had, except the commercial restraint, every characteristic mark of a free people in all her internal
She had the image of the British constitution. She had the substance--she was taxed by her own representativesShe chose most of her own magistrates-She paid them all-She had in effect the sole disposal of her own internal government. This whole state of commercial servitude and civil liberty, taken together, is certainly pot perfect freedom; but comparing it with the ordia nary circumstances of human nature, it was an happy and a liberal condition. Whether you were right or wrong in establishing the colonies on the principles of commercial monopoly, rather than on that of revenue, is at this day a problem of mere speculation. You cannot have both by the same authority. To join together the restraints of an universal, internal, and external monopoly is an unnatural union- perfect, uncompensated slavery. You have long since decided for yourself and them, and you and they have prospered exceedir:gly under that decision.”
The first fatal departure from that choice, at the close of the war, is clearly pointed out, and accurately traced by the orator. “ Then,” says he, “ a scheme of go
, vernment, new in
many things, seemed to have been adopted. I saw, or thought I saw, several symptoms of a great change, whilst I sat in your gallery a good while before I had the honor of a seat in this house. At that period, the necessity was established of keeping up no less than twenty-two regiments, with twenty colonels