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Monday, December 5, 1774


MONDAY, December 5, 1774.

The Speaker reported to the House, that when the House did attend his Majesty, upon Wednesday last, in the House of Peers, his Majesty was pleased to make a most gracious Speech from the throne to both Houses of Parliament; of which Mr˙ Speaker said he had, to prevent mistakes, obtained a copy; which he read to the House. — [ See folio 1465.]

Lord Beauchamp, after animadverting on the spirit of the Colonies, their Resolves, their Meetings, and in particular their intended Non-Importation Agreement, moved, "That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to return his Majesty the thanks of this House for his most gracious Speech from the throne."

"To assure his Majesty, that we receive with the highest sense of his Majesty' s goodness, the early information which he has been pleased to give us of the state of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay.

That we feel the most sincere concern, that a spirit of disobedience and resistance to the law should still unhappily prevail in that Province, and that it has broke forth in fresh violences, of a most criminal nature; and that we cannot but lament that such proceedings should have been countenanced and encouraged in any other of his Majesty' s Colonies, and that any of his subjects should


have been so far deluded and misled as to make rash and unwarrantable attempts to obstruct the commerce of his Majesty' s Kingdoms, by unlawful combinations.

To present our most dutiful thanks to his Majesty for having taken such measures as he judged most proper and effectual for carrying into execution the laws which were passed in the last session of the late Parliament for the protection and security of the commerce of his Majesty' s subjects; and for restoring and preserving peace, order, and good government in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay.

That, animated by his Majesty' s gracious assurances, his faithful Commons will use every means in their power to assist his Majesty in maintaining, entire and inviolate, the supreme authority of this Legislature over all the dominions of his crown; being truly sensible that we should betray the trust reposed in us, and be wanting in every duty which we owe to his Majesty and to our fellow-subjects, if we fail to give our most zealous support to those great constitutional principles which govern his Majesty' s conduct in this important business, and which are so essential to the dignity, safety, and welfare of the British Empire.

That we learn, with great satisfaction, that a treaty of peace is concluded between Russia and the Porte, and that by this happy event the general tranquillity is rendered complete; and that we entertain a well-grounded hope that his Majesty' s constant endeavours to prevent the breaking out of fresh disturbances will be attended with success, as his Majesty continues to receive the strongest assurances from other Powers of their being equally disposed to preserve the peace.

To assure his Majesty that his faithful Commons will, with the utmost cheerfulness, grant to his Majesty every necessary supply; and that they consider themselves bound by gratitude, as well as duty, to give every proof of their most affectionate attachment to a Prince who, during the whole course of his reign, has made the happiness of his people the object of all his views, and the rule of all his actions."

Mr˙ Thomas De Gray, Junior, seconded the motion.

Lord John Cavendish, after condemning the conduct of Administration respecting the Colonists, moved the following amendment to the question, by inserting after the word "throne," at the end of the first paragraph, these words:

"And to assure his Majesty that, animated with the warmest zeal for his service, and for the glory and prosperity of his reign, we shall enter into the consideration of the present situation of his Colonies in America with that care and attention which the delicacy and importance of the object require.

And humbly to represent that our inviolable duty and respect to his Majesty, as well as our situation in an immediate delegated trust from his people, will not permit us to form any opinion upon a matter which may not only sensibly and deeply affect the landed and commercial interests of our constituents, but lead to consequences of a still more alarming nature, without the fullest and most satisfactory information; and to that end, most humbly to request that his Majesty would be graciously pleased to give orders that all the accounts received from America may be laid before this House with all convenient despatch.

And that when, by such information, we shall be enabled to form a proper judgment, we will humbly offer our advice on this delicate situation of affairs, and endeavour to find the means effectually to support the honour of his Majesty' s crown, and the true dignity of Parliament, which shall be best adapted to connect both with the permanent peace, concord, and prosperity of all his Majesty' s Dominions."

The friends of the Address, as moved by Lord Beauchamp, argued that an Address was no more than a general compliment — a measure of course at the beginning of every session; that particular measures were not now the objects of consideration; and that the judgment of the House upon the affairs of America would be taken on a future day.

The friends of the Administration argued that though no particular measures were at this instant under consideration, yet, the Address being drawn up in such very general terms, it implied, and even contained a general approbation


of all the late measures taken with America; that this general judgment could not, nor ought not to be given without the fullest information; and that a delay in forming such judgment, while the most important concerns of England and America were dependent upon it, might be fatal.

Some gentlemen, who declared themselves not attached to either side, said they would vote for the Address as moved by Lord Beauchamp; not because they would be thought to approve of the late measures against America, on the contrary, they did not consider this vote as making any engagement to approve of any measures; for they should consider themselves, notwithstanding this vote, entirely at liberty upon all future questions; but they would vote for the Address, because an Address was become a business of course.

Lord North said this was not a proper time to enter upon any discussion of the affairs of America; that however necessary and agreeable a reconciliation with America might be, yet, as no terms had been offered by America, England would not submit first; and as matters, therefore, were in a state of suspense, he hoped the noble Lord would withdraw his motion. He made some apologies for the late Parliament, which passed the Acts against America, and called it a good Parliament.

Mr˙ F. Montagu, in general, disapproved of the Address, and seconded the motion for the amendment very strenuously.

Governour Johnstone thought America not tenable upon the terms and principles laid down in the proposed Address. He was very glad to hear some apology made for the late Parliament; for, in his opinion, no Parliament ever stood in greater need of an apology.

Mr˙ Charles Fox was very pointed in his observations on the manner the gallery was cleared. He said it was a mere Ministerial trick to stifle inquiry and shorten debate; for if the gallery had been open, Administration must have been obliged to break that silence and unconcern they now affected to hold. It was extremely unfair, he said, that persons should be shut out from being present at the discussion of a question, in the event of which they were so highly interested; and concluded by a succession of very pointed and severe animadversions.

Mr˙ Hartley (a new Member) entered fully into the contents of the Speech and Address, and urged strongly the necessity of the proposed amendment.

Colonel Barre was very able on the same side. He said that America had offered terms. He read a passage in Mr˙ Dickinson' s Pamphlet, entitled "A New Essay, &c˙," which, in his opinion, contained a very sufficient ground to accept and to negotiate upon. He said the scheme of reducing the Colonies by force was wild, incoherent, and impracticable; and even though it were not, that a Dominion supported by force would answer no end whatever. He said a report prevailed that General Gage was shortly to be recalled, but that would signify nothing; for send whom he might, send a second, recall him, and send a third, it would all be to no effectual or substantial purpose.

Sir George Macartney answered the Colonel, and spoke with facility and precision. He was against the amendment, and in general for spirited measures.

Lord Carmarthen entered fully into the contents of the proposed amendment, and dwelt much on the spirit of sedition, turbulence, and rebellion, which had manifested itself from one end to the other of the American Continent.

Sir William Mayne declared himself unconnected with either side of the House. He said his mind was unbiased, and his conduct should be unfettered; that on the present occasion he was against the amendment, but reserved his opinion till the question, and the information necessary to discuss and determine on it, came properly before the House. He was heard with great attention and general approbation.

General Smith was of the same opinion, observing that the present was no proper time to take so great and important a question into consideration; and that his being now against the amendment would not hereafter preclude him from giving his thoughts freely when the matter came before the House in another form.


Mr˙ T. Townshend was for the amendment, and was very severe on the general conduct of Administration.

Mr˙ Edmund Burke compared the language now artfully held to the new Members, of the Address being only a compliment, to the insinuations of a designing lover, who, under the pretence of honourable addresses, first squeezes the hand of his mistress, then asks her to take a turn in the park, next into the country, and so on, step by step, till at length he dishonours her. In the last Parliament, he said, it was the Minister' s language, that the late Acts would humble America; that by punishing Boston, all America would be struck with a panick: Boston would be abandoned; all would be afraid to give any relief to Boston, lest they should share the same fate. The very contrary is the case. The cause of Boston is become the cause of all America. Every part of America is united in support of Boston. By these acts of oppression, said he, you have made Boston the Lord Mayor of America. The present situation of America he compared to a funeral; trade and commerce were pall-bearers, the merchants and traders chief mourners, the West Indian and African merchants closed the procession, and the Army and Navy, at a distance, looked on in gloomy silence at so melancholy a spectacle.

Mr˙ Van spoke strongly for the most firm and decisive measures.

Mr˙ Solicitor General Wedderburn spoke fully and ably, and endeavoured to answer every thing offered against theAddress.

Then the question being put, that the words be inserted;

The House divided, Yeas, 73. Noes, 264.

So it passed in the Negative.

Then the main question being put:

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to return his Majesty the thanks of this House for his most gracious Speech from the throne.

Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to draw up an Address to be presented to his Majesty, upon the said Resolution.

And a Committee was appointed of Lord Beauchamp, Lord North, Mr˙ De Gray, Mr˙ Solicitor General, Mr˙ Wombwell, Sir George, Macartney, Marquis of Carmarthen, Sir Gilbert Elliot, Mr˙ Stanley, Sir William Mayne, Mr˙ Jenkinson, Sir Charles Whitworth, Mr˙ Ellis, Mr˙ Cooper, Colonel Murray, Mr˙ Smith, Mr˙ Rice, Mr˙ Drake, Junior, Mr˙ Attorney General, Mr˙ Charles Townshend, Sir Philip Jennings Clarke, Mr˙ Rigby, Lord Stanley, or any five of them; and they are to withdraw immediately into the Speaker' s Chamber.

Ordered, That his Majesty' s most gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament be referred to the said Committee.



* The great speakers in Opposition never distinguished themselves in a more striking manner than in this day' s debate. The division showed that opposition had not gained any great accession of strength by the general election, and also that the temper of the House at present, with respect to America, was not essentially different from that of the late Parliament. The numbers in support of the Address, as it originally stood, were two hundred and sixty-four, and those who voted for the amendment amounted to seventy-three only. — Ann. Regis.