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Letter from Mr. Bollan to the Committee



Covent Garden, March 15, 1774.

GENTLEMEN: Having begun my Petition to the House of Commons upon a larger scale, after conferring with proper members, I reduced it to as small compass as the sufficience and perspicuity of proper matter would permit, and now send a copy of it. As soon as completed yesterday morning, waiting on the Lord Mayor, in order to its presentation, I found him less spirited for the business than before, and inclined to postpone the presentation; whereupon I observed that it was uncertain what measures the Ministers might take; that some time past, when a Petition from another Colony was prepared and proposed to be presented in season, Administration got it delayed, and afterwards, when offered, objected with success, that it came out of time; and that, in point of fairness to all parties, as well as safety to my constituents, I earnestly desired my Petition might be presented that day, before the House proceeded to their consideration at large on the state of American affairs. He at length assented, and received my Petition accordingly; having in the course of what passed observed Ministers could carry any point they were set upon; to which I answered, that was no sufficient reason, I thought, for ceasing opposition and despairing of the Commonwealth, wherein he agreed. Then going directly to Mr˙ Oliver' s, and finding he was gone to the House, I went thither, when, being informed, that the Lord Mayor was not come, nor General Conway, for whose use I carried a copy of my Petition, I went up into the great committee room to speak with Alderman Oliver, whom I found in the chair, which, upon speaking with him, I was satisfied he could not leave in season to assist or second, the Lord Mayor; then returning towards the lobby the Under Door-keeper met me and told me the Lord Mayor had come out of the House and inquired for me; whereupon, as soon as possible, I got the Door-keeper to send in a message to let his Lordship know I was waiting in the lobby, where I staid a considerable time in painful suspense, till Sir Joseph Mawbey came out and told me the Lord Mayor had desired him to present my Petition, being unacquainted with the usual proper proceeding; and after saying a few things, he went into the House, and soon coming out again told me the Speaker had endeavored to throw cold water upon my Petition; but after making proper inquiry into the nature of the Council, on whose behalf I petitioned; he directly returned into the House with the spirit proper for presenting it. After waiting a considerable time he came out again and told me he had got my Petition so far allowed and accepted, as to be laid upon the table, where it would lie ready to be taken up when any prejudicial measure should require it. Upon asking what countenance the House shewed when it was read, he answered, favourable by many, and the question being put, whether it should be received, a considerable majority answered in the affirmative. The Minister, I found, with another member, setting on the Treasury bench, at first rather ridiculed the Petition; however, he did not chuse to divide the House upon the question. Among other things Sir Joseph told me, Governor Pownall objected that it did not appear I was the proper agent for the Council; to whom he answered, my authority would be shewn when I appeared, and produced my proofs; afterwards adding, they were once very near calling me in. Upon the whole Sir Joseph behaved extremely well, with the spirit and


despatch proper for presenting my Petition immediately before the House proceeded upon American affairs. The reading and admittance of my Petition in a full House is a favourable circumstance.

It is impossible for me in the present interesting state of the Province affairs, and my concerns therein, to acquaint you with many particulars otherwise desirable ; however I must by no means longer omit mentioning what gave me great pleasure, to wit, that when your affairs were considered in the House of Lords, the right of Parliament to tax the Americans was not only denied by Lord Camden, esteemed by many the most able judge of this question in the Kingdom, but he, according to my information, with great learning and historical knowledge, shewed that taxation and representation were inseparable companions; among other things reading in the House a passage in Mr˙ Locke, heretofore cited by me, in some public essay, for this purpose.

In case I had in my Petition expressly opposed the Parliament' s right of taxation, instead of stating the rights of the Colonies incompatible with it, in order to give proper proofs of the same, and so laying the foundation of opposition, my Petition would certainly have been rejected.