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Address of Thanks to the King


The Lord Chancellor reported his Majesty' s Speech,

And the same being read by the Clerk,

The Earl of Hillsborough rose, and in a long and able speech, set forth the situation of the Colonies with the mother country, highly disapproving of the refractory spirit of the Americans, and hoping that, with temper and unanimity, such measures might be adopted as to bring about a reconciliation. His Lordship then 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 declare our abhorrence and detestation of the daring spirit of resistance and disobedience to the laws, which so strongly prevails in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, and of the unwarrantable attempts in that and other Provinces of America to obstruct, by unlawful combinations, the trade of this Kingdom.

To return his Majesty our humble thanks for having been pleased to communicate to us, that he has taken such measures and given such orders as his Majesty hath judged most proper and effectual for the protection and security of the Commerce of his Majesty' s subjects, and for carrying into execution the laws which were passed in the last session of the late Parliament, relative to the Province of the Massachusetts Bay. To express our entire satisfaction in his Majesty' s firm and steadfast resolution to continue to support the supreme authority of the Legislature over all the Dominions of his crown, and to give his Majesty the strongest assurances that we will cheerfully co-operate in all such measures as shall be necessary to maintain the dignity, safety, and welfare of the British Empire.

That as this Nation cannot be unconcerned in the common interest of Europe, we have the greatest satisfaction in being acquainted with the conclusion of the peace between Russia and the Porte; that we confide in his Majesty' s endeavours to prevent, as far as possible, the breaking out of fresh disturbances; and from the assurances given to his Majesty by other Powers, we have the pleasing expectation that nothing is likely to intervene that may interrupt the present happy tranquillity in Europe.

That it is no less our duty than our inclination to proceed with temper and unanimity in our deliberations and resolutions, and to inculcate, by our example, a due reverence for the laws, and a just sense of the excellency of our Constitution; and, impressed with the deepest gratitude for the many blessings we have enjoyed during the course of his Majesty' s reign, to testify with unaffected zeal at this conjuncture our inviolable fidelity to his Majesty, and our serious attention to the publick welfare."

The Earl of Buckinghamshire seconded the motion.

The Duke of Richmond spoke strongly against the measures, which he imagined were intended to be taken, and moved that an amendment be made to the said motion, by inserting, after the word "throne," at the end of the first paragraph, these words:

And to desire his Majesty would be graciously pleased to give direction, for an early communication of the accounts which have been received concerning the state of the Colonies, that we may not proceed to the consideration of this most critical and important matter, but upon the fullest information; and when we are thus informed we shall, without delay, apply ourselves with the most earnest and serious zeal, to such measures as shall tend to secure the honour of his Majesty' s Crown, the true dignity of the mother country, and the harmony and "happiness of all his Majesty' s Dominions."

Lord Lyttelton replied to him, and, amongst other things, urged the necessity of asserting the sovereign right of Great Britain over the Colonies by the most speedy and resolute measures. His Lordship declared that it was no longer a question whether we should relinquish the right of taxation, but whether that commerce, which had carried us triumphantly through the last war, should be subject to the wise and necessary regulations prescribed by the Act of Navigation, and confirmed by many subsequent Acts of Parliament, or at once laid open at the will of the factious


Americans, who were now struggling for a free and unlimited trade, independent of their mother country, and for powers inconsistent with, and derogatory to the honour and dignity of the Imperial Crown of England; that if Government should now, in the least degree, recede, all would be over, and America, instead of being subject to Great Britain, would soon give laws to it.

Lord Shelburne spoke next, then Lord Talbot; after him,

Lord Camden expatiated largely on the inexpediency of coercive measures at this time. He said such measures might be very properly exercised in the infancy of Colonies, but that when they had acquired power by commerce, and strength by the increase of numbers, it was wholly impolitick, if not dangerous, to compel them to submit to laws which tended to lay the least burthen or restraint on that trade by which alone they existed.

Lord Dartmouth replied to Lord Camden, and his speech closed the debate; when the question was put,

"Whether these words shall be inserted in the said motion?"

It was resolved in the Negative. Contents, 13; Non-Contents, 63.

Upon which, the following Protest was entered:


1. Because we cannot agree to commit ourselves with the careless facility of a common address of compliment, in expressions which may lead to measures in the event fatal to the lives, properties, and liberties of a very great part of our fellow-subjects. We conceive that an Address upon such objects as are before us, and at such a time as this, must necessarily have a considerable influence upon our future proceedings, and must impress the publick with an idea of the general spirit of the measures which we mean to support. Whatever methods we shall think it advisable to pursue, either in support of the mere authority of Parliament, which seems to be the sole consideration with some, or for reconciling that authority with the peace and satisfaction of the whole Empire, which has ever been our constant and invariable object, it will certainly add to the weight and efficacy of our proceedings, if they appear the result of full information, mature deliberation, and temperate inquiry. No materials for such an inquiry have been laid before us; nor have any such been so much as promised in the speech from the Throne, or even in any verbal assurance from Ministers. In this situation we are called upon to make an Address, arbitrarily imposing qualities and descriptions upon acts done in the Colonies, of the true nature and just extent of which we are as yet in a great measure unapprized; a procedure which appears to us by no means consonant to that purity which we ought ever to preserve in our judicial, and to that caution which ought to guide us in our deliberate capacity.

2. Because this Address does, in effect, imply an approbation of the system adopted with regard to the Colonies in the last Parliament. This unfortunate system, conceived with so little prudence, and pursued with so little temper, consistency, or foresight, we were in hopes would be at length abandoned, from an experience of the mischiefs which it has produced, in proportion to the time in which it was continued, and the diligence with which it has been pursued; a system which has created the utmost confusion in the Colonies, without any rational hope of advantage to the Revenue, and with certain detriment to the Commerce of the mother country. And it affords us a melancholy prospect of the disposition of Lords in the present Parliament, when we see the House, under the pressure of so severe and uniform an experience, again ready, without any inquiry, to countenance, if not to adopt, the spirit of the former fatal proceedings.

But whatever may be the mischievous designs, or the inconsiderate temerity, which leads others to this desperate course, we wish to be known as persons who have ever disapproved of measures so pernicious in their past effects, and their future tendency, and who are not in haste, without


inquiry or information, to commit ourselves in declarations which may precipitate our country into all the calamities of a civil war.


Then it was moved "To agree to the said motion for an Address as at first proposed;"

Which being objected to,

The question was put thereupon,

It was resolved in the Affirmative: Contents, 46; Non-Contents, 9.

Then the Lords following were appointed a Committee to prepare art Address, pursuant to the said motion, (videlicet:)

The Lord President; (Earl Gower.)

Lord of the Privy Seal; (Duke of Grafton.)

Dukes of Marlborough, Ancaster, Chandos, and Bridgewater;

The Lord Steward; (Earl Talbot.)

The Lord Chamberlain; (Earl of Hertford.)

Earls Suffolk, Denbigh, Peterborough, Winchilsea, Sandwich, Carlisle, Rochford, Jersey, Dartmouth, Abercorn, Marchmont, Bristol, Waldegrave, Bucks, Hardwicke, Northington, and Hillsborough;

Viscounts Say and Sele, Townshend, Weymouth, Bolingbroke, Falmouth, Wentworth, and Dudley and Ward;

Lord Archbishop of Canterbury;

Lord Bishops of London, Durham, Norwich, Landaff, Peterborough, Chester, St. David' s, and Rochester; and

Lords Le Dapencer, Catheart, Trevor, Edgecombe, Bruce, Hyde, Mansfield, Lyttelton, and Sundridge.

Their Lordships, or any five of them to meet immediately in the Prince' s Lodgings, near the House of Peers, and to adjourn as they please.



* The Address from the Lords was not less warmly debated than that from the House of Commons. The debate was long and vehement, though the minority was but thirteen to sixty-three on the division. It was rendered more memorable by the more memorable by the circumstance of having produced a Protest, the first we remember to have heard of upon an Address, and that too very strong and pointed. — Ann. Regis.