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Energy of the Cabinet, (Note,)


Whatever difference of opinion in the Cabinet might have produced an apparent irresolution previous to the recess, it now became evident that measures were finally settled with respect to America. Though the Military and Naval strength was not increased, a plan of coercion seemed to be determined on. The language of the Lords in Administration was high and decisive. They condemned the conduct of the Americans in the strongest and most unreserved terms; and justified all the acts of Administration, and all the late Laws, without exception. They insisted that all conciliating means having proved ineffectual, it was high time for the mother country to assert her authority, or forever to relinquish it. If the task be difficult now, what must it be in a few years? Parliament must be obeyed, or it must not; if it be obeyed, who shall resist its determinations? If it be not, it is better at once to give up every claim of authority over America. The supremacy of the British Legislature cannot be disputed; and the idea of an inactive right, when there is the most urgent necessity for its exercise, is absurd and ridiculous. If we give way on the present occasion, from mistaken potions of present advantages in trade and commerce, such a concession will infallibly defeat its own object; for it is plain that the Navigation Act, and all other regulatory Acts, which form the great basis on which those advantages rest, and the true interests of both countries depend, will fall a victim to the interested and ambitious views of America. In a word, it was declared that the mother country should never relax till America confessed her supremacy; and it was avowed to be the Ministerial resolution to enforce obedience by arms.

In this debate it did not appear that the Lords in the minority were fully agreed on the propriety of recalling the Troops. Some Lords who were the most earnest for peace, did not think it at all just or wise to leave those who had risked their lives in favour of the claims of this country, however ill-founded, or improperly exercised, as unprotected victims to the rage of an armed and incensed populace; and that too, before any previous stipulations were made for their safety. They thought that if proper concessions were made, the Troops then at Boston were not numerous enough to raise an alarm on account of a supposed ill-faith in keeping them up, and could by no means prevent


the restoration of peace. It was wrong at first to send the force; but it might be dangerous to recall it before that was accomplished. They, however, supported the motion because it looked towards that great object; and because, they said, they thought any thing better than a perseverance in hostility. In argument, it was denied that lenient means had been ineffectually tried with the Colonies; and, on the contrary, insisted that they had been continually irritated by a series of absurd, contradictory, wanton, and oppressive measures. That the proscription of Boston, untried and unheard, whereby thirty thousand people were consigned to famine and beggary for the alleged crimes of a few, was an injustice and cruelty scarcely to be paralleled. That, as if it had been done to inflame them to madness, and to keep hostility always in their eyes, an Army, merely of irritation, as it evidently could answer no other purpose, was sent amongst them. That, unfortunately, passion, obstinacy, and ill-will, under the direction of inability and ignorance, had been made the principles for governing a free people. That America only wants to have safety in property, and personal liberty; and the desire of independency was falsely charged on her. It was also insisted on that the Colonies never denied or questioned the Acts of Navigation, except when excited to it by injury.

That the specious language of the supremacy of the British Legislature, the interests of Great Britain, of her authority over the Colonies, and other phrazes equally sounding, was artfully held out to deceive and delude both Parliament and people; they wore pompous words, and might swell the importance of the meanest mechanick; but they would neither prevent the miseries of a civil war, preserve our commerce, nor restore our Colonies, if once lost.

After a pretty long debate for that House, the question was rejected by a vast majority, there appearing, upon a division, no less than sixty-eight who opposed, to eighteen only, who supported, the motion. This division was rendered remarkable, by having a Prince of the blood, his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, for the first time in the minority.

This decisive victory restored the confidence of the Minister, and perhaps encouraged him to measures in the other House, which he would not otherwise have hazarded. — Ann˙ Regis.