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Resolutions Reported from the Committee


TUESDAY, December 13, 1774.

Sir Charles Whitworth, according to order, reported from the Committee of the Whole House, to whom it was referred to consider of the Supply granted to his Majesty, the Resolutions which the Committee had directed him to report to the House, which he read in his place; and afterwards delivered in at the Clerk' s table, where the same were read, and are as followeth, viz:

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that sixteen thousand men be employed for the Sea service, for the year 1775, including four thousand two hundred and eighty-four Marines.

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that a sum not exceeding four Pounds, per man per month be allowed for maintaining the said sixteen thousand men for thirteen months, including Ordnance for Sea service.

The said Resolutions being severally read a second time, were, upon the question severally put thereupon, agreed to by the House.

Resolved, That this House will, to-morrow morning, resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House, to


consider of Ways and Means for raising the Supply granted to his Majesty.

Lord John Cavendish begged leave to state to the House the conduct of Administration in one or two points, particularly respecting the Naval Establishment for the ensuing year. He observed that there was four thousand Seamen voted for the present year less than the preceding one, notwithstanding the Speech from the Throne announced the very critical and alarming situation of affairs in America. This was a conduct he could by no means reconcile; for taking the Speech to have been framed upon right information, as calling for measures of a spirited and decisive nature, what sort of correspondence there was between the contents of the Speech and the Naval Establishment, was more than he could possibly discover. But were he to declare his sentiments, he feared it would be found to be a mere Ministerial trick; a forming of estimates in the first instance, that were never intended to be adhered to, or rather designed as mere waste paper, and afterwards surprise and drive the House into grants of a very improper and burdensome nature. Such being his suspicions, he could not face his constituents without previously knowing what he must tell them, both in relation to further burdens, and what was involved in such an inquiry, if compulsive measures were really intended to be pursued towards the Americans; for to talk of enforcing the Acts upon a reduced establishment, either Naval or Military, was a sort of language fit to be held only to children.

Lord Beauchamp said, that the noble Lord had communicated to him that morning, his intentions of moving something on the subject-matter of the present conversation; that he had accordingly apprized the noble Lord who presided at the Treasury therewith; and that his Lordship had authorized him to acquaint the House, that he had no information whatever to lay before it; nor measures to propose respecting America. He was therefore of opinion, that as the noble Lord was indisposed and absent, it would be better, particularly as there was a very thin House, to suspend all further solicitude, till his Lordship should have an opportunity of fully explaining the motives of his conduct in person.

Mr˙ Cornwall endeavoured to apologise for the Minister' s conduct. He insisted that the present was not a proper time to enter into any discussion relative to American affairs; that the Naval reduction, he presumed, was founded on good and substantial reasons, however the motives which gave birth to them might vary with the circumstances; and that, when the question concerning Great Britain and the Colonies came in a Parliamentary way before the House, every Member would then be fully at liberty to deliver his sentiments and maintain his opinions.

Mr˙ Burke answered, and was extremely severe on the conduct of Administration. Among a variety of other things, he compared the House of Commons to a dead senseless mass, which had neither sense, soul, or activity, but as it derived them from the Minister. If his Lordship chooses to tell them one day that America is in a state little short of actual rebellion, it is all very well; if in a few days after, he acquaints them, at second hand, that he had no information whatever to authorize such an assertion, who can doubt his candour and his veracity? Both assertions still remain uncontradicted, and all must be silence. A few days since it was indecent to call for papers, because they could be had; to look for them now would be improper, because they cannot be had. That however absurd it might seem, such a conduct was nevertheless founded on system; for if matters turned out well, the merit would be imputed to the Minister; whereas, if they should be attended with miscarriage or misfortune, it is no more than applying to Parliament, and every thing will be set to rights; that is, "we despise the Parliament, who are our only proper and constitutional counsellors; but when we have blundered and ruined our affairs, perhaps beyond a possibility of redress, then we will come to Parliament" — to do what? To remedy what is incurable, and to recover what can never be regained! It is an old device, though methinks not a very wise one, to trust to the chapter of accidents. The book in which it is contained, has the beginning and the end torn out. This valuable chapter counsels you to trust to accidents, because accidents are sometimes productive of good fortune. He concluded his observations,


with remarking that ignorance and folly are nearly allied; that to effect the latter we must be held in ignorance, and that by both, we would be the fitter to receive vigilance, activity, information, and knowledge, whenever the Minister thought proper to communicate one or inspire the other.

Sir William Mayne condemned the very extraordinary conduct of those in power, in withholding from the House the necessary information, or at least the best they had; and, laying his hand on his breast, solemnly protested he would never have voted for the Address without the proposed amendment, had he imagined they meant to refuse the necessary explanations on which the Speech was supposed to be founded.

Mr˙ Hartley rising to speak was interrupted, and informed from the Chair, that as there was no question before the House to debate on, gentlemen could not be permitted to proceed in such a disorderly manner. However, being desired to proceed, he quoted several instances since the year 1765, both by petition and otherwise, wherein the Americans offered to contribute towards the publick support, by way of requisition. He therefore submitted it to the consideration of the House, whether it would not be proper to suspend the operation of the late Acts relative to Boston, pro tempore, in order to see if the Colonists still continued to be of the same way of thinking; and if they did, then to have requisitory letters under the great seal issued, and directed to the several Provinces, requiring them to contribute in certain proportions towards the publick expense.

Lord Beauchamp observed, that the present was no more than a desultory conversation; that he perceived the honourable gentleman mistook entirely the design of the late Acts, for they were not directed to the question of taxation, but were meant to apply as a particular punishment for certain outrages and acts of disobedience committed by the inhabitants of Boston alone.

Lord John Cavendish replied, that the present conversation, as originating with him, was not immediately connected with the propriety of the conduct of Great Britain or America, but was simply intended to prevent a deceit being put or practised on the House, by framing ideal estimates, which were afterwards, at a very improper season, perhaps, meant to be increased.

Lord Beauchamp reminded the House how very irregular it was to continue to debate in this manner; and said, that as the Army estimates were to be taken into consideration on the 16th, when probably the House would be full, and the noble Lord who could give satisfaction in this business, would be present, begged that any further consideration of it might be deferred till that day.

Captain Luttrell replied, that this was a very uncommon way of satisfying the House; for, by this mode of reasoning, if the noble Lord should not or could not attend, they must submit, and go to the country without any information whatever.

Mr˙ Rose Fuller said, a motion ought to be made before the holidays, for a committee on the present state of America.