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House of Commons, Dec. 21



Thursday, December 21, 1775.

The Bill and Amendments were received from the Lords.

Sir Grey Cooper moved, and the question being proposed, That the Amendments made by the Lords to the Bill, be now taken into consideration;

Mr˙ Hartley said: Sir, upon this pause which is offered to you by the return of this bill from the Lords, I confess that I feel a kind of superstition to wish for one last word, to deprecate the fatal blow, and that our unremitted opposition and remonstrance, from the first to the very last stage of this bill, may remain as a memorial that some of us at least lament this final separation of America with an affectionate regret. We are overpowered by numbers, and all our entreaties and remonstrances are in vain. An inflexible majority in Parliament have now declared all America to be an independent hostile State. Disputes originally between Administration and America, are become, by the influence of Administration, the ground of a Parliamentary war with America. The sense of the nation is not with that war, and I trust it never will be. However, speaking in Parliament to Ministers, as they seem determined to drive all things to extremities, I must ask whether you are to expect that while you bum their towns, take or destroy their ships and property, they will sit with their arms folded, or whether they will not be driven to repel injury by injury? You have found their active powers of defence by the experience of the last year, when by your orders the shedding of the first civil blood was precipitated on the fatal 19th of April, before your pretended conciliatory motion could be proposed to any of the American Assemblies. Why were you found unguarded in Canada? You have lost all Canada; two regiments are taken prisoners; your officers are hostages: and yet you proceed in this unjust and unnatural war, with fire, sword, and rapine. What further hostages may fall into their hands at Boston, or what blood of our fellow-subjects may be shed there, I contemplate with horrour. I dread some fatal event there. Publick report threatens. When the Provincials shall hear the fate of their late and last Petition, and when they see all prospect of peace become desperate, what can you expect but that they should exert every power to destroy your land forces in America during the severity of the winter, before you can support or relieve them. Who will be answerable for these things? When this bill of rapine, which now lies before you, gets to them, they will set themselves to retaliate upon your fleet. Your land force has been disgraced and annihilated in the first campaign, notwithstanding all your boastings. Are we not then to expect that those Ministers of vengeance who shall press on a naval war with America, shall be responsible to their country for the consequences of their headstrong and wilful measures, if the Navy of this country should be brought to disgrace and defeat? Weigh the consequences. If you send large ships, they will not be able to act; if small ones, may they not be overpowered? Consider the distance of your operations. Every port in America will be a Dunkirk to you. We know their skill and bravery, as privateers in the last war. In any case you are laying the foundation of a hostile marine in America, which has been and ought to be the source of the marine of Great Britain. I cannot be an adviser or a well-wisher to any of the vindictive operations of the Administration against America, because I think the cause unjust; but at the same time I must be equally earnest to secure British property and interests from destruction. Neither a victory of Great Britain over America, nor of America over GreatBritain can afford to us any matter of triumph. Both are equally destructive. If nothing can abate your fury against the Americans in this Ministerial war, we shall expect at least that you should guard our own vulnerable parts. Are you guarded at Newfoundland? Are you prepared against any expedition of retaliation if the Provincials should meditate anything to the destruction of your fisheries there? Administration have been the aggressors in everything, step by step. By this fatal bill of separation, you now declare the Americans to be enemies in form; therefore it is yourselves that force upon them the rights of enemies. You must now be responsible to your country for the events of your own war, to which they have been so reluctant and you so precipitate. When this country shall come to open its eyes, to see and to feel the consequences, they will know


of whom to require an account. Sir, I shall now move you, instead of agreeing to the amendments of the Lords, to adjourn the consideration of them for six weeks, I confess with very little hopes of averting this bill; but, as I told you at my outset, from a superstitious feeling in my mind to perform the last ceremonial office of affection and everlasting farewell to peace and to America. The fate of America is cast! You may bruise its heel, but you cannot crush its head. It will revive again. The New World is before them. Liberty is theirs. They have possession of a free Government, their birthright and inheritance, derived to them from their parent State, which the hand of violence cannot wrest from them. If you will cast them off, my last wish is to them, may they go and prosper! When the final period of this once happy country shall overtake ourselves, either through tumult or tyranny, may another Phoenix rise out of our ashes!

He then moved, as an amendment to Sir Grey Cooper' s motion, to leave out the word "now," and at the end to insert, "on this day six weeks."

Sir Joseph Mawbey seconded the motion. He spoke chiefly to the means employed by Ministers, their tools, and partisans, to obtain addresses to the Throne. He observed, that every nerve had been strained to procure those paltry addresses, from every remote, obscure, indigent place, that had the name of a corporation, from one end of the kingdom to the other; that in other places, where the objection of poverty did not hold good, the most infamous and scandalous methods had been adopted. In some, no County meetings were called, to take the sense of the freeholders; in others, a few profligate and corrupt Magistrates, under the influence of some silly lordling, some Court sycophant, or servile jack in office, assembled in private rooms, or if in the usual place for holding such meetings, locked themselves in, and excluded all the wealthy, respectable, and independent citizens or townsmen, and then fabricated the most fulsome, adulatory, and shameful addresses. Those they had the effrontery to carry to the foot of the Throne, as the genuine sentiments of the people; though nothing could be more false, for they belied the wishes as well as prevailing opinions of the very constituent bodies whose publick acts they were pretended to be; and thus the Prince was deceived, the nation dishonoured, and its interests sacrificed, to the deep and dangerous machinations of a desperate faction. Addresses were hawked about from parish to parish, from house to house; promises, threats, and various means equally unjustifiable, were employed. The most abject and abandoned, who were neither entitled by property, or franchise, were hired to give a sanction to those iniquitous proceedings. He then turned his attention to what he called the barbarous warfare carrying on against the inhabitants of the North-American sea-coasts; and termed it a hellish policy of making war upon old men, women, children, and other innocent and defenceless persons.

Mr˙ Bayley insisted on the injuries sustained by the West-India Islands. He was fully convinced, that the inhabitants of those islands must be starved; and though they should not, their crops must be lost, as they had not nearly lumber enough to save the present; that such being the case, the proprietors must be ruined, and the consequences would in the end reach the merchants, so as, he feared, to bring on a general bankruptcy among those in any manner concerned or interested in the, West-India trade.

Governour Johnstone observed, that this bill, in its passage through this House, relative to the point mentioned by the honourable gentleman who spoke last, was solely defended by Administration on the ground that provisions might be had from the Floridas, and flour and lumber from Quebeck. That both those resources were known already to have no existence; for the Floridas had not provisions sufficient to support the few inhabitants; and no supply could be expected from Quebeck of any kind; for probably by this time we were not in possession of a foot of land in that Province. From whence, he asked, is the supply of either lumber or provisions to come? This was a matter of deep and weighty consideration. He remarked with severity on those who caused, from time to time, very shameful misrepresentations of facts to be published in the Gazette, the only paper published by authority. He quoted several instances since the commencement of hostilities in America, in proof of this assertion. He said, the London


Gazette, which ought to be held sacred, and nothing permitted to appear in it that did not bear the stamp of truth, as the paper itself was stamped with authority, that this rule had been notoriously violated of late, for when the worst accounts from America were to be expected, we were to behold some false fabricated account in the Gazette, of our pretended success, of which the instance in the last Gazette was the most glaring, where a pompous account of our successes in Canada was set forth and published, not four-and-twenty hours before advices arrived that General Carleton was beaten, and St˙ Johns, the key of the whole Province, taken.

The motion was negatived, and the Amendments agreed to.

The question on Mr˙ Hartley' s motion, being then put, That the word "now" stand part of the question,

It was resolved in the affirmative.

Then the main question being put,

Ordered, That the said Amendments be now taken into consideration.

The House accordingly proceeded to take the said Amendments into consideration.

And being severally read a second time, were agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That Sir Grey Cooper do carry the Bill to the Lords, and acquaint them that this House hath agreed to the Amendments made by their Lordships.