Abbildungen der Seite





FRIDRICAN WAR. FROM From the passing of the Stamp Act in 1965 to the

ROM actual commencement of hostilities in 1775, as well as during the subsequent continuance of the war, a strenu. ous opposition was kept up by the patriotic party in both houses of parliament to all measures of a violent or coercive tendency; and the debates were frequent and animated. They fill several volumes. We can select only a few of the most remarkable speeches.

In January 1766, his Majesty having previously changed his ministers, and appointed the Marquis of RockINGHAM first Lord of the treasury, parliament met for the dispatch of business, and their attention was immediately engrossed by the disturbances and tumults which had taken place in almost all parts of the continent of America, in consequence of the stamp act passed in the last session. The speech from the throne was dictated by mild policy. In the debate on the motion of address, Mr. PITT (afterwards earl of CHATHAM) rose




to offer his sentiments on the present alarming situation of affairs. He pronounced every capital measure taken by the late ministers to have been entirely wrong. As to the present ministers, though he acknowledged them to be men of fair characters, and such as he was happy to see engaged in his Majesty's service, he professed that he could not give them his confidence. “Confidence," said he," is a plant of slow growth in an aged bosom : youth is the season of credulity. By comparing events with each other, reasoning from effects to causes, methinks I plainly discover the traces of an over-ruling influence. I have had the honour to serve the crown, and could I have submitted to influence, I might still have continued to serve ; but I would not be responsible for others. I have no local attachments. It is indifferent to me whether a man was rocked in his cradle on this side or that side of the Tweed. I countenanced and protected merit wherever it was to be found. It is my boast that I was the first minister who sought for it in the mountains of the north. I called it forth, and drew into an hardy, an intrepid race of men, who were once dreaded as the inveterate enemies of the state. When I ceased to serve his Majesty as a minister, it was not the country of the man, by which I was moved, but the man of that country held principles incompatible with freedom. It is a long time, Mr. Speaker, since I have attended in parliament. When the resolution was taken in this House to tax America, I was ill in bed. If I could have endured to have been carried in my bed, so great was the agitation of my mind for the consequences, I would have solicited some kind hand to have laid me down on this floor, to have borne my testimony against it. It is my opinion that this kingdom has no right to lay a tax upon the Colonies.

At the same time, I assert the


your service


(authority of this kingdom to be sovereign and supreme in every circumstance of government and legislation whatsoever. Taxation is no part of the governing or legislative power : the taxes are a voluntary gift and grant of the commons alone. The concurrence of the Peers and of the Crown is necessary only as a form of law. This House represents the Commons of Great Britain. When in this House we give and grant; therefore we give and grant what is our own; but can we give and grant


property of the commons of America ? It is an absurdity in terms. There is an idea in some, that the colonies are virtually represented in this house? I would fain know by whom? The idea of virtual representation is the most contemptible that ever entered into the head of man: it does not deserve a serious refutation. The commons in America, represented in their several assemblies, have invariably exercised this constitutional right of giving and granting their own money : they would have been slaves, if they had not enjoyed it. At the same time this kingdom has ever possessed the power of legislative and commercial control. The colonies acknowledge your authorities in all things, with the sole exception that you shall not take their money out of their pockets without their consent. Here would I draw the line, quam ultra citraque nequit confiftere rectum."

Mr. George GRENVILLE, the author of the obnoxious tax, entered into a vindication of the justice and policy of the measure. He asserted, that the tumults in Ame. rica bordered upon open rebellion ; and if the doctrine promulgated that day were confirmed, he feared they would lose this name to take that of revolution. He affirmed taxation to be a branch of the sovereign power, and that it had been frequently exercised over those who

B 2




[ocr errors]

were never represented : it was exercised over the East India and other chartered companies; over the proprietors of stock; and over many great manufacturing

It was exercised over the Palatinate of Chester and the Bishopric of Durham, before they sent representatives to parliament. He appealed for proofs to the preambles of the act, which gave them representatives, and which, by his desire, were read to the House. He said that when he proposed to tax America, the right was by no one called in question. Protection and obedience were reciprocal : Great Britain protects America ; America is therefore bound to yield obedience. not, tell me," said he, " when were the Americans emancipated ? The seditious spirit of the colonies owes its birth to the factions in this house. We were told we trod on tender ground; we were bid to expect diso

; bedience ; what was this but telling America to stand out against the law ?-to encourage their obstinacy with the expectation of support from hence? Ungrateful people of America ! The nation has run itself into an immense debt to give them protection : bounties have been extended to them : in their favor the act of navigation, that palladium of the British commerce, has been relaxed; and now they are called upon to contribute a small share towards the public expence, they renounce your authority, insult your officers, and break out, I might almost say into open rebellion."

" Mr. Pitt, fired with disdain and resentment, immediately rose to reply, but was called to order by lord STRANGE, as having already spoken, the privilege of speaking a second time being allowed only in a committee. But the House resounding with the cry of “ Go on," he proceeded with an animation and enthusiasm, which no art or study can imitate, spontaneously 8+


[ocr errors]

flowing from the coneciousness of great talents, engaged in a just and noble cause. « Sir," said he, addressing the Speaker, "a charge is brought against gentlemen sitting in this House, for giving birth to sedition in America. The freedom, with which they have spoken their sentiments against this unhappy act, is imputed to them as a crime ; but the imputation shall not discourage me. It is a liberty which I hope no gentleman will be afraid to exercise : it is a liberty by which the gentleman who calumniates it might have profited. He ought to have desisted from his project. We are told America is obstinate-America is almost in open rebellion. Sir, I REJoice that America has resisted-three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of all the rest. I came not here armed at all points with law cases and acts of parliament ; with the statute book doubled down in dogs' ears to defend the cause of liberty ; but for the defence of liberty upon a general constitutional principle; it is a ground on which I dare meet any man: I will not debate points of law; but what, after all, do the cases of Chester and Durham prove, but that, under the most arbitrary reigns parliament were ashamed of taxing a people without their consent, and allowed them representatives ? A higher and better example might have been taken from Wales; that principality was never taxed by parliament till it was incorporated with England. We are told of many classes of persons in this kingdom not represented in parliament; but are they not all virtually represented as Englishmen resident within the realm ? Have they not the option, many of them at least, of becoming themselves electors ? Every inhabitant of this kingdom is necessarily included in the general system of representation. It is a misfor.

B 3


« ZurückWeiter »