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House in Committee



MONDAY, February 13, 1775.

The Order of the Day being read, for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House, to consider further of the Supply granted to his Majesty,

The House resolved itself into the said Committee.

Mr˙ Buller moved that an additional number of two thousand men be allowed for Sea Service for the year 1775.

He stated the respective services our Ships were on, and said that the proposed augmentation was necessary to enforce the measures of Government in America.

Lord North remarked, that the subject had been so amply discussed on Friday, by being so much blended with the means of restraining the Fishery of Massachusetts Bay, that he should have the less to offer upon this occasion; that the rebellious disposition and motions of that and other Colonies made it necessary to have such a guard upon


the Coasts of North America, that the augmentation was highly necessary; and as the people of New England could not be restrained from the Fishery without some Sloops stationed for that purpose, the circumstance made it doubly requisite to provide accordingly. He gave no precise explanation, but only general assurances that this would be the last application of the kind. He said he could not possibly pretend to foretel every event that might happen, and consequently could not bind himself by any specifick promise or engagement.

Governour Johnstone observed, that this was a most extraordinary mode of procedure, and that he was at a loss to determine whether it proceeded from ignorance or design. He was certain, however, that it gave full scope to gaming in the Alley, for stocks had been falling gradually, till they had now come down five per cent. It furnished a happy opportunity to those in the secret to enrich themselves at the publick expense. He did not mean to bring home this


charge to any particular person or set of men; but it was well known it had been frequently practised by the confidential people in office.

Lord North knew nothing of what had been done by such people, but believed upon his honour that none of the present confidential servants in office did game in the funds; for it would be basely betraying the confidence of their Prince.

Lord John Cavendish and Colonel Barre accused the noble Lord of great inconsistency, in thinking so far to blind the House as to have it believed that the augmentation asked for could answer any purpose but to convince the Americans of the inveteracy of the mother country against them, and to throw a reconciliation to a yet greater distance; that a few thousand seamen added to the service would never effectually answer the purpose, if that purpose was to prohibit the trade of the most commercial Colonies in America; that the noble Lord must mean only to trifle with the House and with mankind, in declaring one day America to be in rebellion, the next prohibiting the commerce of Massachusetts Bay, and the third corning for so insignificant an augmentation; that the gentlemen on the same side of the House had repeatedly asserted that the commerce of the New Englanders, and much of that of the other Colonies, was contraband; and that America was peopled with smugglers, to the great detriment of that advantage which would otherwise flow to this country. How could Administration, therefore, with any degree of consistency, suppose that such a system of smuggling, added to a new created system of the same, the Fishery, be all kept under by any thing less than the most powerful armaments?

Mr˙ Cornwall, taking an historical circuit of American affairs, in order to shew the connection and dependence of the Minister' s measures on each other, replied to the objections that had been started. He remarked, that to pass Acts to restrain commerce, and to declare the extra Provincial meetings in the Colonies illegal, whose object principally was to import Arms and Ammunition, in order for the purposes of rebellion, would be nugatory and absurd, unless corresponding measures were taken to enforce those Acts; that as to great Armaments and Fleets of Men-of-War of the Line, the gentlemen of the House in that line of the military well knew them to be unnecessary and out of the question; that Sloops and the smaller Frigates would answer all the purposes by being properly stationed; that the Newfoundland Fishery was so local that a few Sloops-of-War would nearly command the whole, unless some foreign Power had a superiour force there, with whom we were at war, or on ill terms; that in regard to the objections which had generally been made against using force with the Americans, he could not see their propriety, since he was persuaded that the Americans were determined to make the dispute a question of dependency on the Crown of this Realm.

Mr˙ Charles Fox contended strongly, that taking the affairs of America on the very footing upon which the honourable Member had thrown them, that their conduct betrayed nothing but incapacity; that the gentlemen on the Treasury bench were repeatedly telling the House of the rebellion of the Americans, and how strongly they are persuaded that they mean to throw off all dependence on this country; how then, said he, are we to account for that slothful, dilatory conduct of Administration, to sit quiet for so many months, and to seem in their management to have no idea that force could ever be used or would ever be necessary. If Administration were really persuaded of the views and intentions of the Americans; if rebellion was written among them in such legible characters, why did they not take the earliest opportunity of preventing those intentions and of stifling that rebellion. Had they conducted themselves upon the principles of common sense, they certainly would have been earlier in their intelligence to Parliament, earlier in their application, and more vigorous in their measures. But this, sir, is under the supposition that they knew the rectitude of their intentions, and approved of their own conduct. He then deviated into a personal attack on Lord North, but was uncommonly spirited throughout.

Captain Walsingham insisted that our present Naval force was by no means adequate to the execution of our


professed intentions; for that the squadron we designed for America would answer no purpose of stopping their commerce; or, if we did send a sufficient one, our own Coasts, comparatively speaking, must be left totally defenceless, as he was well informed that France alone had seventy-five Men-of-War of the Line now, more than one half of which were manned and fit for actual service. He then gave an account of a conversation which passed lately between him and a French gentleman well acquainted with the state of their Navy, from which he was fully satisfied that the whole of our force, in every part of the world, would not be sufficient to defend us at home, should we blindly rush into a civil war.

Mr˙ Temple Luttrell. I rise up under a number of disadvantages, and shall scarce be able to express my sentiments without much agitation and embarrassment, a novice as I am at political disquisitions, and attempting, (from a seat which till this hour I might not call my own) to speak on a subject of such high import, in the presence, and possibly against the opinion of the most experienced statesmen in any country of the universe. But, sir, it has been earnestly recommended to me, as well by the electors of the Borough of which I have the honour to be a Representative, as by several other persons of respectable consideration, that I will exert the utmost of my humble endeavours and faculties, towards the establishing of peace, and conciliating the affections of the American Colonies with their parent state of Great Britain, and to promote the joint happiness of both divisions of this mighty Empire, on the firm basis of equity and mutual good offices; and I should hold it an unpardonable omission of duty, were I to remain now silent, especially as I was precluded by the dependence before Parliament of a controverted return, from declaring my disposition towards the oppressed Colonists, at the opening of the present session, when a Speech from the Throne, of the most inimical tendency to America, and therefore the most alarming and dangerous tendency to the whole British Realm, received the thanks of this House. I was under the same preclusion when Commerce here stood a dejected supplicant, in just apprehension from the impending storm. Well, sir, might she be alarmed, to see a pilot at the helm, as the winds and the billows arise, who, rather than part with the guns, throws the merchandise overboard; save them sir, he may, by so costly a sacrifice, but not for jubilee or triumph; they shall be saved for signals of distress, and to solemnize the obsequies of your Empire.

The Merchants were not then to be heard, lest their candid story should set in the proper point of view those insidious fragments of official letters laid on your table. What human understanding could cement such a mangled correspondence together, so as to derive any clear accurate knowledge of the real condition or sentiments of the Americans? Whatsoever might extenuate offences, excuse errour, and restore perfect amity between the two countries, did the partial hand of Administration wickedly suppress, while in too glaring a light was exhibited every fact that could serve to widen the breach and inflame the passions, and blow up a faint, luckless spark of animosity to the full combustion and horrours of a civil war! These misrepresentations, however, answered the ends proposed, for both Houses were blindly entrapped to give their sanction to as sanguinary a scroll, (in the form of an Address) as was ever laid by a prostitute Senate at the feet of deluded Majesty. Did not your ancestors, sir, manfully fight, did not some of them heroically fall, to preserve those constitutional rights of the subject to every Briton, which you have now, by one vote, pledged yourself, at the hazard of life and fortune, to subvert and to annihilate throughout the better part of the whole British Monarchy?

I do not conceive it possible that any man here present can feel as he ought, be conscious of the least participation in the superintendence of the Commonwealth, and remain a mere tranquil observer, when so interesting a subject comes before you; a subject on the issue of which, perhaps, his own individual happiness or misery, doubtless the happiness or misery of his nearest posterity, will depend. With what hebitude, sir, must the blood circulate through his veins! What must his definition be of an ignominious supineness and apathy? This is not a debate of slow animation, in which few persons are concerned, and of limited


influence; we are now to decide upon the fate of millions, through a long series of ages, and the part which every man shall take on this occasion must stamp him with characters indellible through all eternity — a Patriot or a Parricide. It is, sir, from the collisions of controversy that those radiant sparks are struck out by which Truth lights her sacred torch — nor have I less expectation from those gentlemen who are but just initiated into Parliamentary business, than from your veteran politicians, "deep on whose front engraven" (to use the phrase of Milton) "deliberation sits and publick care." Such veterans might, indeed, be our surest guides, were we now about to agitate questions wrapt up in subdolous Machiavelian mystery, and only to be developed by the acutest abstract reasoning. The present juncture, sir, requires only a well principled heart, and a head moderately conversant with the nature of men and things.

It is not, I own, I feel, given to a young Member to deliver his ideas with that guarded correctness, that unagitated confidence, which long habitude of speaking usually supplies; but will he, sir, yield with less ductility to the dictates and honest zeal of inward conscience? He comes among you at least with a judgment unbiased; he has not pledged himself to any partial junto, whose maxims and interests he is at all events to adopt for the measure of his political career; he has not stood forth an accomplice to any of those manifold mischiefs and blunders which have heretofore been committed in the administration of your Colonies; he has had no share in inflaming the evil by temporary anodynes; nor has he treated the imperial concerns of that wide-stretched Continent, as only accessary to, and of trivial account when compared with his own private schemes of ambition and aggrandizement. Upon the whole, sir, I can but think him rather the more likely to execute the share of such important award committed to his discretion, as becomes an upright delegate of the people at large, heedless whether his conduct therein may quadrate with the narrow, selfish views of this or that set of men who are candidates for titles or power; not but that I have the satisfaction to see here present some characters animated with the true patriotick spirit, who have long and worthily been seated within these walls; on whose eminent talents, on whose approved integrity, America rests her best hope.

Such gentlemen as come within the scope of any of those disadvantageous allusions I have just thrown out, will consider that a well-timed recession from errour claims the next praise to a perfect exemption therefrom: they will no longer endeavour to palliate a dreadful disease, which, if once arrived at a full paroxysm, it will baffle the Esculapian skill of their expertest state doctors to cope with.

Our present sagacious rulers had, it seems, drawn their political clue in that quarter of the globe to so Gordian a tie, that despairing to revolve by patience and sober wisdom through the several implications their hands had wrought, they took a summary recourse to the edge of the sword. Sir, their sword-law will best agree with the arbitrary principles and system of government applied to almost every department of the state by that flagitious confederacy which hath latently presided over the councils and arcana of the Cabinet ever since the accession of our present most gracious Sovereign. I say, sir, that these occult dictators to the royal conscience should prefer the sword-law, I am not at all astonished; but that the ostensible adviser, a man of profound judgment and the clearest penetration; a man whom the most slanderous of his enemies allow to possess the tenderest feelings of social affection, to be even prodigal of the practices as well as professions of humanity, that he, sir, should, with a ruthless composure, adopt and carry into execution their bloody mandates, may well create general consternation and the deepest concern. It was pronounced by a consumate Minister, who once held the reigns of Government with so much honour to himself, and transcendent glory to the whole Empire of Britain, that the Canadian America was conquered in Germany. It is, it seems, by the German policy of dominion, which our own clan-bred feudists are ever prone to expose, that British America is to be reduced to vassalage: but let the all-potent minions beware, lest while they are bowing the stubborn necks of these Colonists to the yoke, they find not their own necks bow to the block of an executioner.


Sir, the far more considerable part of the people of England do now wish us to use temper, moderation, and forbearance towards America. "Dignos esse qui Romani fiant," (said the illustrious Consul to the Senate of certain tributaries in allegiance to the Roman eagles) "eos, qui nihil praeterquam de libertate cogitent." Sir, when the two most renowned Republicks of ancient time had long contended for universal empire, and victory over many a well-fought field had held almost an equal balance, then it was the rigid censor (M˙ Cato) denounced that memorable judgment, "Delenda est Carthago." Sir, the Carthagenians were the natural rivals of the trade and glory of Rome; they had, in cool blood, inhumanly put to death one of the most perfect heroes and patriots her annals could boast: in their national character they were perfidious to a proverb; and they early led their children to the altar to lisp assent to solemn adjuration of eternal warfare and vengeance against Rome. In short, sir, the further existence of these Africans was become quite incompatible with the peace and security of the Roman Commonwealth.

The words "Delenda est Carthago" were, in the reign of our Charles the Second, borrowed by a Member of the other House of Parliament, the famous Earl of Shaftesbury, in height of passionate resentment, against the Hollanders: but, sir, though the Hollanders had, to the most substantial injuries, added the provoking insult of sailing up to the emporium of your commerce, with brooms at their mastheads; though they had by many an inveterate combat on the Ocean brought your marine power, and consequently our very being as a people, to as desperate a crisis as ever befell Rome during the rage of the Punick wars, yet, sir, it is a well-known anecdote of that day, there was scarce a Peer in the assembly but stood aghast and shuddered at the unchristian severity of the sentence. "Delenda est Carthago" has been applied for the third time: it has, sir, been recently and publickly applied, by an avowed zealous partisan of the present administration of your Government, to our fellow-subjects of America, and the news will, I fear, ere long reach your Colonies.

I am not master of language sufficient in energy to give the due comment to such an expression; but, sir, should it be here uttered in sobriety, and calmly listened to, might you not be apt to imagine yourself seated midst the Deputies of the Indian Tribes, near the interiour Lakes of that Continent, and sacrificing to the demon of revenge, rather than with the Deputies of the free, polished natives of the British Isles, in their imperial seat of legislation? I can, indeed, easily conceive that the gentleman alluded to (Mr˙ Van) was rather more forward, rather more ingenious, than the chieftains of his cause will thank him for: they hardly could mean that the final catastrophe of this their tragick plot should be discovered just at the opening of the very first act.

It was a noble sentiment of Fenelon (Archbishop of Cambray) that "he loved his friend equal to himself; his country far better than his friend and himself; mankind in general beyond all put together." What that amiable prelate makes Mentor say, on revealing a celestial form to the son of Ulysses, (who had just attained to years of manhood) may afford an allegory to assist the British Legislature at some future period, in the safest and sagest conduct towards her Colonists. "I have guided you through rocks and quicksands, through the ensanguined battle, and the various calamities incident to the human species; I have taught you, through forcible experience, the good and the bad maxims by which Government may be carried on; it is now time that you be fully emancipated. Love your fellow-creatures; endeavour to renew the golden age; avoid effeminacy, profuseness, and ostentation; let simplicity be your best ornaments; on virtue and your own just actions rest your chief security; pure liberty, peace, delightful abundance, and unsullied glory ever attend you."

I am sensible, sir, that I have too long withheld the attention of the House from persons of far superiour weight and abilities. I shall, therefore, at a future day, hope for the same indulgence that has now been shewn me; while I urge that to compel the Americans, by a military force, to acknowledge the paramount and unbounded authority of Parliament, in the taxation of their property — property created by their intellects and industry, is neither just, politick,


nor practicable; a measure totally repugnant to the liberal notions of rectitude which have ever characterized the happy natives of England, and irreconcilable with the spirit of those very rules and institutes, by which the three estates of this Realm hold existence.

Mr˙ Sawbridge said he perceived that Administration were hurrying the Nation to certain ruin, but he should reserve himself to speak on our present conduct towards America till a fitter and some more convenient opportunity.

Mr˙ Buller' s motion was then agreed to without division.

Mr˙ Speaker resumed the Chair.

Sir Charles Whitworth reported from the Committee that they had come to several Resolutions, which they had directed him to report, when the House will please to receive the same.

Ordered, That the Report be received to-morrow morning.

Sir Charles Whitworth also acquainted the House that be was directed by the Committee to move that they may have leave to sit again.

Resolved, That this House will, upon Wednesday morning next, resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House to consider further of the Supply granted to his Majesty.