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Motion and Amendment for an Address to the King

Viscount Townshend' s Motion


The Lord Chancellor then reported his Majesty' s Speech.

And the same being read by the Clerk,

Viscount Townshend rose to move, That an Address be presented to his Majesty.

His Lordship said it was extremely proper, in the present exigency of affairs, to take foreigners into our pay, and Irish papists into our service. He said papists might be as good soldiers as any other; that it was only in this country that any distinction was made; that France, however bigoted or despotick she might be in other respects, made no difference between Protestants and Catholicks; that the Hollanders acted in the same manner; that so men were good soldiers, it was very little matter what their creeds were. He touched slightly on the disposition of the several powers of Europe, particularly that of the House of Bourbon, and the United Provinces: the last, to show we had no obstruction to fear in the execution of our designs respecting America; it being a strong presumptive proof that we had very little to fear from the other powers of Europe, when even a State that almost existed by trade and the universality of its commerce, had renounced all prospect of advantage or emolument by trading with our Colonies, having, in the roost solemn manner, prohibited such an intercourse in the fullest operation and specifick terms.

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 assure his Majesty that we see, with the utmost abhorrence and indignation, the real design of those desperate men who, by the grossest misrepresentations, have deluded and precipitated our unhappy fellow-subjects in America into measures no less subversive of their own happiness and true interests, than dangerous to the prosperity and safety of Great Britain.

"That the powers which they have assumed, and the arbitrary and oppressive acts which they have done, leave no doubt of their traitorous purpose to induce the Colonies to shake off the control of the Supreme Legislature, and to bury in an ungrateful oblivion the remembrance of the great industry with which they have been planted, the fostering care with which they have been nursed, the many advantages which they have enjoyed, and the expense of blood and treasure with which they have been protected by this nation.

"To express our concern to his Majesty that the great tenderness with which his Majesty has proceeded, and the conciliatory disposition which appeared in the last session of Parliament, instead of having the desired effect of undeceiving


the misled, and establishing a confidence in the parent State, have been turned to the advantage, and made instrumental to the purposes, of this desperate attempt. That whilst we acknowledge this to have been the consequence of the difference of intention which prevailed here and in America, we are penetrated with a just sense of the motives which have regulated his Majesty' s endeavours to prevent, if it had been possible, the effusion of the blood of our fellow-subjects, and the calamities which are inseparable from a state of war.

"That since the rebellion is now become more general, and manifests the purpose of establishing and maintaining an independent empire, we cannot but applaud his Majesty' s resolution to vindicate the rights, the interests, and the honour of his kingdom by a speedy and most decisive exertion; that for this purpose we will support his Majesty with our lives and fortunes.

"That we are fully persuaded that, in the present state of these disorders, the most active, will, in its effects, be the most merciful mode of proceeding.

"That we hear, therefore, with pleasure, that his Majesty has increased his naval establishment, and also greatly augmented his land forces, and are sensible of his Majesty' s kind consideration in having done it in such a manner as may be the least burdensome to his kingdoms; and that we shall cheerfully concur in whatever may be necessary to enable his Majesty to profit of the friendly dispositions of foreign powers.

"That we are deeply impressed by the gracious motives which induced his Majesty to send a part of his Electoral troops to the garrisons of Gibraltar and Port-Mahon, by which assistance this country will be enabled to employ a larger number of its own established forces in the maintenance of its authority.

"That we return his Majesty our sincerest thanks for having so providentially pointed out to us a further resource in that national body of men so constitutional in their nature, and so zealous in their duty — the militia of this kingdom.

"To assure his Majesty that we cannot sufficiently admire the benevolent declaration, that when the much wished for period arrives, that the unhappy and deluded multitude, against whom this force will be directed, shall become sensible of their error, his Majesty will receive the misled with tenderness and mercy; and that we are fully sensible of the wise and compassionate sentiment which has determined his Majesty to delegate authority to certain persons upon the spot, to grant general or particular pardons and indemnities, in such manner and to such persons as they shall think fit, and to receive the submission of any Province or Colony which shall be disposed to return to its allegiance; and that we will most readily concur in granting to the persons so commissioned, such further powers as may best tend to promote and effectuate his Majesty' s salutary intentions.

"To convey to his Majesty our grateful acknowledgments for the full and explicit communication which his Majesty has been pleased to make to us, and the just sense we entertain of the numerous blessings we enjoy, flowing from the source of never-ceasing attention with which his Majesty is occupied for the safety and happiness of all his people; and to assure his Majesty that we participate the same desire which animates his Royal breast, and feel no other wish than to re-establish order and tranquillity through the several parts of his dominions upon the basis of a close connection with, and constitutional dependance upon, Great Britain."

Viscount Dudley

Viscount Dudley seconded the motion. Having asserted the sovereign authority of the British Legislature over every pan of the British dominions, his Lordship contended that the present rebellion in America was fomented and supported by a desperate faction in this country; that none but men of the worst dispositions, and most pernicious designs, would encourage the claims of America; and that, as they had been wrong almost in everything else, he was glad to find that they had been mistaken in their predictions relative to the distresses which the dispute with America would bring upon this nation. He had the pleasure of acquainting their Lordships, that he lived in the midst of a manufacturing country, in the neighbourhood of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, &c˙, and he could affirm, from the most authentick information collected upon the spot, that none of the direful


effects, so often echoed through that House, and which it had been said would flow from the measures pursued by Administration and supported by Parliament, had been yet, nor were likely to be felt.

Marquis of Rockingham' s Amendment

The Marquis of Rockingham, after enumerating the conduct of the several Administrations for some years past respecting America, condemned the speech, which he called the speech of the Minister, in very pointed terms; and contended that the measures recommended from the Throne were big with the most portentous and ruinous consequences.

His Lordship then proposed an amendment to be made to the motion, by inserting after the word "Throne," in the first paragraph, these words:

["That we behold, with the utmost concern, the disorders and discontents in the British Colonies rather increased than diminished by the means which have been used to suppress and allay them; a circumstance alone sufficient to give this House just reason to fear, that those means were not originally well considered, or properly adapted to answer the ends to which they were directed.

"We are satisfied, by experience, that this misfortune has, in a great measure, arisen from the want of full and proper information being laid before Parliament of the true state and condition of the Colonies; by reason of which, measures have been carried into execution injudicious and inefficacious, from whence no salutary end was reasonably to be expected, tending to tarnish the lustre of the British arms, to bring discredit on the wisdom of his Majesty' s councils, and to nourish, without hope of end, a most unhappy civil war.

"Deeply impressed with a sense of this melancholy state of the publick concerns, we shall, on the fullest information we can obtain, and with the most mature deliberation we can employ, review the whole of the late proceedings, that we may be enabled to discover, as we shall be most willing to apply, the most effectual means for restoring order to the distracted affairs of the British empire, confidence to his Majesty' s Government, obedience, by a prudent and temperate use of its powers, to the authority of Parliament, and satisfaction and happiness to all his people.

"By these means, we trust, we shall avoid any occasion for having recourse to the alarming and dangerous expedient of calling in foreign forces to the support of his Majesty' s authority within his own dominions, and the still more dreadful calamity of shedding British blood by British hands."]

Earl of Coventry

The Earl of Coventry asserted the authority of the Supreme Legislature over the Colonies, but condemned, in express terms, the madness and absurdity of expecting to reduce them by mere measures of coercion, so as to answer any one rational purpose of sovereignty, commerce, or finance. He told the noble Lords in office that they had no alternative left, but either to relinquish all connection with the Colonies, or to adopt conciliatory measures; the idea of conquering them was wild and extravagant, he said, even in the event of victory; because if they should be vanquished they would be worth nothing to the mother country; and would, besides, call for such a standing military force to keep them in subjection, as we could never be able to support. In short, the whole of his argument went to this: the hazard of failing in the attempt to reduce them; the little value they would be of when conquered; and, above all, the inability of Great Britain to retain, for any considerable time, such a species of dominion; put in the opposite scale against the innumerable advantages we must immediately forego in such a contest, and the substantial benefits we must continue to reap from a state of tranquillity, reciprocal good temper, and mutual confidence.

Earl of Rochford

The Earl of Rochford said, he had every reason, as well from repeated assurances as from the real disposition of the Courts of Madrid and Versailles, to be perfectly satisfied that there was nothing to be dreaded from that quarter; there being, at present, a perfect good correspondence subsisting between those Courts and Great Britain. His Lordship concluded with ridiculing the absurdity of supposing that France and Spain would interfere in the disputes under consideration, remarking that it was by no means the prevailing policy of the House of Bourbon to set so dangerous an example to their subjects in the New World, by assisting the British Colonies to shake off the dominion of the mother country.

Duke of Grafton

The Duke of Grafton condemned the measures recommended


in the speech, and the conduct of Administration during the last twelve months. The amendment did not entirely meet his ideas; he therefore could not vote for it; but he should certainly give the Address itself a negative. His general sentiments respecting America were well known; he should not therefore take up their Lordships' time in explaining them. It was true, he had supported Administration, but it was upon a general idea that means of conciliation might be devised and adopted. He expressed his ignorance of the true state of America, and asserted that he had been misled and deceived; for that reason chiefly he could not think of concurring any longer in measures of which he never really approved, but to which he lent his countenance, in expectation that the stronger Government was the more likely matters were to be amicably adjusted. He had a proposition which, with their Lordships' leave, he would submit to the House. He knew it could not originate with their Lordships, as it must come through the other House, because it would affect the revenue. Perhaps, said his Grace, it will not gain your approbation entirely this night; but, believe me, you will like it better to-morrow, and still better in three days hence. It will daily grow in your esteem. In a fortnight, I promise you, it will have more friends, until at length it will gain universal assent and approbation. The proposition is only this: to bring in a bill for repealing every act (I think there are thirteen) which has been passed in this country since the year 1763, relative to America. This, I will venture to assert, will answer every end; and nothing less will accomplish any effectual purpose, without scenes of ruin and destruction which I cannot think on without the utmost grief and horror. But, my Lords, though I had entertained a contrary opinion to what I do, I could by no means consent to agree with this Address in the form it is now presented. I confess I could not, at any time within my recollection, venture, either in conscience or judgment, to give it my support. The necessity of hiring foreign troops for garrisoning our two valuable and important fortresses is not accompanied with sufficient information to justify so extraordinary and unprecedented an act. It is, indeed, accompanied by none. Besides, this Address takes in the whole of the measures to be adopted, without a single fact being stated or a tittle of information given to point out their rectitude or necessity. We do not know the extent of the expenses we may be put to, the general outline of the operations intended, nor the various consequences we may bind ourselves to by such an engagement. In fine, my Lords, if I were not truly touched by the present very critical situation of this country, I had a sufficient apology for absenting myself on account of a very indifferent state of health; if I were not convinced that silence in my situation would be construed into acquiescence, if not direct approbation. But I trust your Lordships will credit me, and I am convinced that my brethren in office are satisfied, that nothing but the most full and perfect conviction of my being in the right could prevail on me, under the circumstances before alluded to, to attend thus early in the session to give my vote; nor shall my indisposition prevent me from answering what I look upon as the strongest call of duty; for should it continue to increase, I pledge myself to your Lordships and my country, that, if necessity should require it, and my health not otherwise permit it, I mean to come down to this House in a litter, in order to express my full and hearty disapprobation of the measures now pursuing; and, as I understand from the noble Lords in office, meant to be pursued. I do protest to your Lordships, that if my brother or my dearest friend were to be affected by the vote I mean to give this evening, I could not possibly resist the faithful discharge of my conscience and my duty. Were I to lose my fortune, and every other thing I esteem; were I to be reduced to beggary itself, the strong conviction and compulsion at once operating on my mind and conscience would not permit me to take any other part on the present occasion than that I now mean to adopt.

Earl of Sandwich

The Earl of Sandwich remarked, that the framers and supporters of the amendment, after stating the facts, that the disorders in America had rather increased than diminished; instead of assigning the causes that followed this assertion, should have assigned the only true cause, which was, the open and avowed support and countenance given to the rebels, by men who, under a pretended regard for their country, encouraged, from the worst motives, an unnatural


rebellion against the Executive and Legislative powers of the State, and the undoubted rights of the people of this country. In answer to some strictures made by the noble Duke who spoke last, he defended the conduct of the naval officer who commanded on the American station, and seemed to hint some degree of censure upon the operations on shore, He confessed that things were much altered; and that it was necessary to considerably augment our Navy; that he had already taken every precaution in his power; that the armament of last year had consisted of thirty armed vessels, of different sizes, two of them two-decked vessels; that twenty were actually sailed, or were ready to sail to reinforce them; and that it was the intention of Administration to complete the number, by the time that operations were to commence, to seventy vessels, which would be such a force, co-operating with the Army, as would render it impossible for the Americans either to resist, keep together, or subsist; as they would have at once all the calamities of a war to contend with, without the means of carrying it on; being thus cut off from all supplies they might expect to derive from Europe, or elsewhere. His Lordship confessed that Administration had been deceived in some measure; yet he thought it necessary now to declare that it was his own private opinion that the stronger the Navy was the more effectual their operations would be. He saw the matter very evidently in that light; but it was generally believed if a larger force had been demanded, it would have raised an opposition to the measures at large; and this was one very powerful motive for his not explaining his own ideas so fully as otherwise he was most certainly disposed to do. It was fashionable to cry up the prowess and intrepidity of the Americans; but, in his opinion, if they had betrayed any proofs of cowardice and want of spirit formerly, nothing had yet happened on their part sufficient to wipe off the aspersion; for it had ever been a received opinion, that an army intrenched are at least equal to three times their number of assailants; whereas the superiority on the part of the Provincials was confessed on all hands to be in the direct contrary proportion; and yet the King' s troops were victorious. He commented on the proposition recommended by the noble Duke, and contended it was in fact giving up the whole contest, and at once relinquishing our rights of sovereignty, and every possible benefit we are entitled to claim in the way of trade and commerce; that though we should agree to repeal all the laws relative to America passed since the year 1763, yet, in all probability the noble proposer, as well as the proposition, would meet with the treatment and contempt that, last session, a noble Lord now absent from his place (the Earl of Chatham) did, which was, to be condemned in pamphlets and newspapers, and his person reviled in the most reproachful terms in scurrilous publications and ballads, hawked about the streets of their several capitals by old women and boys. He pursued the idea of the noble mover of the Address, relative to foreigners and papists, in the instance of France and Sardinia, who constantly retained large bodies of Swissin their armies, who professed the Protestant religion, and contended generally that if the measure of reducing America was a right one, it was proper of course to enforce it; and he was astonished to hear the power of the King to call the aid of his Hanoverian subjects to his assistance doubted, or the propriety of employing foreigners, to effectuate measures previously determined to be necessary, condemned.

Lord Lyttleton

Lord Lyttleton resented what he deemed an implied censure on his noble relation, (the Earl of Chatham,) who, he observed, unfortunately for his country, was absent from his duty in Parliament, being confined to his bed by a severe fit of illness. The noble Earl, who endeavoured to load that truly great man with ridicule, ought to recollect and well weigh a character which he was no more able to depreciate by an attack in his absence, than he could add to it by any encomiums it was in his power to bestow. That great man was the ornament of his country, and the delight and admiration of every man, of every party, who wished well to it. Though a young man, he remembered when this country was pretty much in such a predicament as at present; and he remembered, too, that that steady patriot and able politician rescued it from the brink of destruction; and he was now fully convinced its salvation, nay, indeed, its existence, was only to be obtained and preserved by the same means. His Lordship turned to the question, and


maintained the sovereignty of the Legislature in its fullest extent, but condemned, in the most marked language, the conduct of Administration. He said they had totally failed in their promises and information, and were no longer to be trusted or supported with safety. He alluded to his conduct during last session, when he voted with the Ministry, how strenuously he recommended vigorous measures or none, and how frequently he pressed them on this head. On the whole, therefore, though he could not vote for the amendment, because the Americans were not declared to be in rebellion, he totally disapproved of the Address, and the measures recommended in it. He said matters were now entirely altered. Boston was turned into an hospital, where more died of famine and want of care than by the sword. We probably had not a single foot of land in our possession on the continent of America. The expense and hazard of reducing it, the little dependance there was to be placed in men who had been misled themselves, or purposely misled others, operated so strongly on his mind that he could no longer lend his support to such measures, accompanied by such circumstances; and, consequently, must unite in opinion with the noble Duke, in wishing that all the acts respecting America, passed since the year 1763, might be repealed, as a ground for conciliation, a full restoration of the publick tranquillity, and return of America to her wonted obedience and subordinate dependance on the mother country.

Bishop of Peterborough

The Bishop of Peterborough (Doctor John Hinchcliffe) answered some reflections which dropped from Lord Sandwich, on the obstructions thrown in the way of Administration, by declaring that he was so far from having had any disposition to clog the wheels of Government, that he had given his vote last year for the measures of the Ministry, upon the ground of the information he had received from reading the American correspondence. His Lordship, however, reminded the House that, notwithstanding the vote he then gave, he expressly declared that reconciliation, last year, was the object he ever had in view, and meant not to lose sight of. He hoped, therefore, that the Lords would not impute it to a spirit of faction, if (as he thought the state of things now very different from what they appeared then) he should be constrained to withhold his consent from the Address. My reasons, he added, for so doing, I will simply, and as briefly as possible, lay before your Lordships.

It appeared to me, in the last session, to be the general opinion of all such as I thought best capable to form a judgment what were the most probable means to effect a lasting reunion with the Colonies, that even a show of perseverance to support the authority of the Legislature, would intimidate the factious, and restore peace and tranquillity. Experience has now convinced me that a mistaken judgment upon this point was formed by the friends of Administration, both here and in America. The declaration of perseverance went forth, and though backed by ten thousand men, has not intimidated a single Colony.

We were assured last year, that upon the appearance of a reinforcement, which could protect them from the insults of the mob, a considerable party would declare themselves in favour of the mother country: that there is no reason now to flatter ourselves with such an expectation, is too obvious to be insisted upon. It was said, too, in the spring, that the Americans would not (some, indeed, were confidently persuaded they could not) fight; yet we now certainly know that they can and will fight, for they have fought. It is true they were defeated; but, considering the stand they made, and the intrepidity of the troops they had to contend with, they were not disgraced by their defeat.

We were made to believe, a year ago, that the restraints put upon the commerce and fisheries of the Colonies, would press so hard upon their interests as to bring them to submission: we have now learned that their commerce is but a secondary consideration. If it may not be called liberty itself that they are contending for, it is at least the opinion of liberty, which operates no less forcibly on the passions of mankind.

Having thus contrasted the past and present state of American affairs, he said that he was persuaded many Lords, besides himself, had, on some or all of the grounds he mentioned, been induced to approve of the measures proposed In the last session. He owned they were measures of coercion and correction, which he then thought advisable,


because he believed they tended to effect peace and reunion. But, he added, it seems to me, unfortunately for both countries, that we have lost sight of the end in the means. It is no longer a question whether reconciliation is best brought about by concession or force; but whether or not we shall engage in a ruinous and expensive war, till one or both countries is sacrificed to resentment, on a barren point of honour. I call the subject of our dispute a barren point of honour, for I am persuaded there is scarce a man in this country who thinks now that America, if subdued, will be brought to submit to taxation. Be the right of the Legislature what it may, such as I have conversed with hold the exercise of it not only inexpedient but impracticable. Admit, then, the point of honour established by a series of victories, it must still remain a barren speculative principle of pre-eminence; and all the advantage which can possibly be expected from it can never be adequate to the expense of blood and treasure that must necessarily be wasted in the fruitless acquisition.

The noble Viscount who has moved this Address, has been pleased to lay a great stress upon the assurances given by the Courts of France and Spain. I am free to admit that nothing is to be apprehended from either of our rival powers, while our domestick disputes continue. They must be bad politicians, indeed, to hazard anything for reducing our force, while they see us so eagerly doing their business at our own expense.

The other noble Viscount who has seconded this Address, has acquainted your Lordships that, to his own personal knowledge, our great manufacturing towns feel no decline of trade from the interruption of the American commerce. They have, his Lordship says, as full employment and as ample orders from their factors as ever. Be it so: What is it that the noble Lord can infer from this concession, unless it is that our manufactures can do as well without the American trade as with it? Why, then, I would ask, are we sacrificing the flower of our army, and burdening posterity with an enormous debt? Better, surely, will it be to cut off at once a limb that is of no use, than to hazard the mortification of the whole body, by endeavouring to preserve it.

His Lordship proceeded then to give his opinion upon the use that might be made of the Petition from the Congress, as a ground of conciliation. I am free to own, said he, I consider the Petition as a refined piece of political subtlety; yet I plainly perceive from it, that there is either a difference of sentiment among the leaders, or that the bulk of the people do not even now wish for a total separation, whatever may be the object of some among the leaders who direct their councils.

It is evident that the Petition is expressed in terms which, considering the circumstances of the country, are more moderate and dutiful than could have been expected. Suppose, then, that this was calculated to gain the approbation of such as wished still for peace and conciliation: it is plain that some such there still are among them and that their leaders thought it prudent to manage them, though they had address enough to clog the whole with a title and subscription which they meant should render it inadmissible. Are your Lordships to be so imposed upon? Will you be for rejecting this Petition altogether, or will you not find some means of admitting it, so as to defeat the purposes of those who in their hearts are enemies of peace? I beg leave to remind the House of a wise answer given lately by one of his Majesty' s Governours to a Petition of a Provincial Congress; "I cannot," says Sir James Wright, "look upon your meeting as constitutional; but as your Petition is expressed in terms of duty and loyalty, and the ends proposed are such as every good man must wish to promote, I shall consent."

To conclude: was there no other consideration than the great importance of the question, whereon not the commerce only, but in a great measure the very being of the British empire depends, it would justify delay, till all the light which can be collected is thrown upon the subject. The amendment proposed by the noble Marquis seems directed principally to this end, and for that reason I shall give my consent to it. Whatever vote your Lordships shall hereafter come to, weigh first the hazards of war, weigh the heavy expense of acquiring your object against its real value. I am too much pleased with the spirit of the noble Lord' s [Lyttleton]


idea, who declares the British troops are invincible, to question it. Cast the sword of victory, then, into the scale of honour. It will still be found wanting.

Earl of Sandwich

The Earl of Sandwich, rising to explain, was called to order; but insisting on his right to be heard, said, he had no intention to depreciate the character of the noble Earl, who, he understood, was prevented by illness from attending his duty in Parliament; he never meant to ridicule him, and still much less so in his absence.

Duke of Grafton

The Duke of Grafton rose to explain, concerning something which had furnished Lord Sandwich with an opportunity of supposing his Grace had passed some degree of censure on the naval operations carried on in America. Nothing, he assured his Lordship and the House, could be further from his intentions; for he had a very high esteem for the gentlemen of the navy, and took a very peculiar pride in being immediately descended from one of the profession.

Earl of Effingham

The Earl of Effingham, after taking a short review of the conduct of Administration, turned his attention to the measures proposed by them; and supposing that it should be agreed to carry them into execution, asked Lord Townshend whether he thought sixty thousand men would be sufficient to recover America, and entirely subdue it?

Viscount Townshend

Viscount Townshend replied, it was a question he could by no means undertake to answer; that he was acquainted only with that part in which he had acted himself; that there was a very able man (Sir Jeffery Amherst) who, it was reported, would shortly be called up to a seat in that House: this gentleman had traversed the principal communications of the Northern parts of that Continent: and he believed had been consulted. He assured their Lordships that, for his own part, he had never been applied to, in council or elsewhere; but if the question had been put generally to him, whether such a force was sufficient for the purpose, he should very fairly reply, from his general knowledge, and from all the lights he had been able to obtain from history, that he never knew an instance where sixty thousand men were in possession of the posts proper to be occupied, in which they had failed. [Several questions of a similar nature were put to him; but his Lordship seemed willing to avoid giving any specifick answer.]

Earl of Dartmouth

The Earl of Dartmouth was astonished how any noble Lord could condemn Administration, or withdraw his support from them, without at least giving them a fair trial; it was never supposed, if America united, that to reduce them would be the work of one summer; the measures of last session were directed to the safety and protection of the Province of Massachusetts-Bay entirely; as such, they had been wisely planned, and must have been successful, if a variety of events, impossible to be foreseen or provided against, had not united to defeat them; such, in particular, was the change of sentiments in the people of New-York, and the unexpected unanimity and unforeseen measures adopted by the Continental Congress.

Earl Grosvenor

Earl Grosvenor said, he was not used to speaking. Politicks were not in his way; but he thought the King' s speech was a good speech, and as such ought to be answered in the terms moved by the noble Lord.

Duke of Manchester

The Duke of Manchester, after examining the true purport of the Speech, which he treated as the speech of the Minister, submitted his reasons for disapproving of the Address, and for agreeing with the amendment. His Grace observed, that it had been the general language of the Ministry, and many other noble Lords last session, to impute all opposition to their measures to factious and ambitious motives. He was sorry to hear the same language renewed this day. His Grace solemnly protested, as long as he had the honour of a seat in that House, he would never endure it. If the noble Lords who made the accusations had grounds to justify what they said, he called on them to bring them forward, or confess they had no authority for what they said or insinuated. If they are silent, then, said his Grace, I shall suppose they have none. The House must suppose so, and as such will not permit them to interrupt or disturb that decorum and freedom of debate for which your Lordships have at all times been so justly distinguished.

Lords in Administration

[Mention was made, by some of the Lords in Administration, of the several addresses lately presented to his Majesty; that they contained the fullest approbation of


the present measures, and must be presumed were the voice and sense of the nation.]

Lord Craven

Lord Craven said, the manner and the means employed to obtain these addresses were well known. He should mention only that which was obtained in his own neighbourhood, which, he said, was shamefully smuggled; no notice being previously given the citizens of Coventry. It was drawn up by the mere agents and creatures of Administration; nine-tenths who signed it never heard a syllable of its contents; and yet, with all the arts used to deceive and mislead, no more than one hundred and seventeen, most of them ignorant of what they were doing, could be prevailed upon to sign it; while the Address he interested himself in, and which carried truth to the foot of the throne, attended with all the previous forms which should ever accompany declarations of this nature, where the sentiments of the people ought to be faithfully collected and expressed, was signed by four hundred and six names; and he could assure their Lordships, that in this number there was not one bought voice nor one pauper. From this instance, which came immediately within his own knowledge, he was led strongly to suspect, that most of the addresses alluded to by the noble Lords were obtained in a similar manner; and hoped, therefore, their Lordships would build nothing on so weak and rotten, though specious a foundation.

Duke of Richmond

The Duke of Richmond reminded Administration of the very predictions which they now owned were the cause of their miscarriage. He told them that he, and many other Lords, had repeatedly pressed them on their real or pretended want of information; that if they were in earnest, their armaments, both by land and sea, were too weak; and if they were not in earnest, it was at once sacrificing the blood, treasure, commerce, and honour of this nation, to a most criminal lust of place and emolument, supposing that bloody measures were the tenure by which they held their offices. His Grace observed, that the publick papers held out threats against some of the members of both Houses, in order to stifle the freedom of debate; that he understood he was one of the persons singled out and meant to be honoured on this occasion; that he now called on his threateners and accusers, and (striking his hand on his heart) said, if any such be present, (I will not pretend to say there are,) I defy them; I scorn their menaces, and invite them to make good their charges. He did not suppose, he said, that any noble Lords in Administration would encourage or employ such base, futile, or scandalous means, to intimidate members from doing their duty, though they were certain that such a scheme would have the desired effect. His Grace next turned his attention to what a noble Earl, early in the debate, had said, respecting the cowardice of the Americans. He begged leave to remind his Lordship, that he did not speak conditionally; there was no if at the time the charge was made; it was a positive one, and could not now be explained away by conditions introduced for the first time; yet, however positive the noble Lord might have been then, or guarded he might be now, he could inform his Lordship that the New-England people were brave; that they had proved it; that the General who commanded at Bunker' s Hill had confessed it; that another, (General Burgoyne,) no less celebrated for his talents than zeal for the cause, had confirmed it; that an officer, a particular friend of his, on the spot, had united in the same opinion. He combated the facts and conclusions of the noble Earl, relative to the particulars of that day. He denied the superiority of numbers, and observed that he never recollected an instance where lines had been forced and no prisoners taken but such as were wounded. The noble Viscount who moved the Address, when questioned about the practicability of reducing and holding America in subjection, instanced the conquest of Corsica. The difference of extent of the two countries, the vicinity of the Island to France, and the number of persons in arms to resist, which were no more than six thousand, added to the immense superiority of the French in point of numbers, were sufficient to show how little the two cases were alike: and as to his Lordship' s general answer, that sixty thousand men in possession of all the posts of a country would in all probability succeed, he must have supposed the conquest as a matter previously effected; because he could see very little or no difference between the actual conquest of a country, and occupying all the posts which command the necessary communication by land and sea:


that not being the case here, he must therefore look on his Lordship' s answer as deciding nothing. He condemned the Speech and Address with severity, and concluded with calling on the law Lords to rise and give their opinions, whether his Majesty was properly advised in taking Hanoverians into British pay, and bringing them into the dominions of Great Britain, without the previous consent of Parliament.

Earl Gower

Earl Gower confessed that Administration had been deceived and misled; and that, consequently, the measures taken were by no means proportioned to the nature and extent of the service; that the accounts received from the Southern Provinces led to this mistake; and that several other events had happened, which it was impossible to foresee or prevent. In particular, the Province of New-York had been overawed and compelled, by a party of insurgents from Connecticut, into measures they would never have otherwise adopted; that still, if the friends of Government were emancipated by the aid of a force from this country, he had strong expectations the Colonies, by that means, might be brought to a sense of their duty, without the mother country being obliged to have recourse to those scenes of misery and desolation described by the noble Lords on the other side. His Lordship lamented, that those who had hitherto approved of the propriety of the measures respecting America should so suddenly abandon them, or that any foundation should be laid for suspecting they wished to defeat everything they had on a former occasion expressed the strongest desire to support. He was convinced that the proposition of the noble Duke would never answer the end proposed, and that the question was now simply reduced to the alternative of coercive measures, qualified in the manner he had pointed out, or forever relinquishing any power, dominion, or advantage, from our Colonies in North-America.

Lord Ferrars

Lord Ferrars, (of Chartley,) apologized for his youth, and said, that whatever desire he might have to follow the opinion of his very near and noble relation, yet, as a Lord of Parliament, in the execution of a trust, and in the discharge of a duty, he felt himself called to a conscientious discharge of both. Such being his motives, he found himself under a necessity of supporting the amendment.

Earl of Shelburne

The Earl of Shelburne. I may, from this moment, congratulate the publick, that the Ministry have pronounced the funeral oration of their addresses. From the language of those addresses, and from the various threats which were industriously circulated, I came to town with some apprehensions, not for myself, but lest the zeal of some of my friends for the violated rights of their suffering fellow-subjects should have led them into unwary expressions, which might have enabled some dark designing lawyer to stab the publick freedom through the indiscretion of an individual. I do not blame the addressers who have thus unjustly aspersed the characters of those whose aim is, by steady, just, and temperate counsels, to save this deluded country from destruction. They were deceived: they were deceived by these very Ministers, who, being now called upon, explicitly avow, without any appearance of shame or remorse, that they have no evidence to support their accusation.

It is with equal astonishment and concern, my Lords, that I perceive not the least mention made in the speech which has been this day delivered to us, of a paper, the most important of any that could possibly come under the consideration of this House: I mean the last Petition from the General Congress in America. How comes it, that the Colonies are charged with planning independency, in the face of their explicit declaration to the contrary, contained in that Petition? Who is it that presumes to put an assertion, (what shall I call it, my Lords?) contrary to fact, contrary to evidence, notorious to the whole world, in that mouth, from which truth alone, if unprompted, would issue? Is it their intention, by thus perpetually sounding independence in the ears of the Americans, to lead them to it, or, by treating them, upon suspicion, with every possible violence, to compel them into that, which must be our ruin? For let visionary writers say what they will, it is a plain and incontestable fact, that the commerce of America is the vital stream of this great empire. A noble and reverend Lord has insinuated that the Petition seems to him to be conceived in terms of great art and ambiguity. I have examined it with great care; but this morning I read it repeatedly


and, to my apprehension, except a certain degree of address necessary to meet the prejudices which have been wickedly and industriously excited here, there cannot be a fairer opportunity offered of extricating this country from the ruinous situation in which the folly of Administration has involved us. It furnishes the fairest foundation for an honourable and advantageous accommodation. I have been long and intimately known to some gentlemen of that country, one of whom now takes a considerable share in their proceedings; and I have ever found them and their correspondents constant and earnest in the wish for conciliation, upon the terms of ancient connection.

My Lords, you have heard two of his Majesty' s Ministers acknowledge they were deceived in their information, and have erred in their measures respecting America. There wants only a similar acknowledgment from a certain law Lord, who was forward to pledge himself last year for the success of their plans. A little blood, indeed, he owned, they might cost; but with that, their efficacy was inevitable. The noble Lord' s political sagacity has for once forsaken him. A great deal of blood has been unhappily shed, to no purpose, but to sever us more, if not put us asunder forever.

But is it possible that your Lordships should not have marked, and marked with indignation, the levity, and even ridicule, with which the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty has treated this most solemn subject? No man who did not feel himself secure in the promise of impunity from some quarter, would proclaim his mistakes in triumph, and sport with the calamities of his country. It is astonishing that any one should have dared to promise impunity to such fatal errors, and a conduct so criminal: it is your Lordships' business to look to this. Should such men not only be at large unaccused, but highly trusted, adding fresh insults, misleading by fresh misinformation, and manifesting a total contempt of the publick, both here and in America? The noble Lord laughs at all propositions of conciliation; repeats his imputation of cowardice against the Americans; says the idea of rights is to be driven out of their heads by blows; and ridicules the objections to employing foreigners and papists. Is this a language, my Lords, becoming so great an officer of state? Is it decent thus to stigmatise so great a part of the empire with so base a calumny? It is impossible that noble Lord can have less intolerancy in his disposition than I have; but it does not therefore follow that I should think it a measure of no moment, or of inconsiderable danger, to arm the hands of those who are strangers to toleration, and who pant for the extirpation of the Protestant religion. By what authority is it, that the Crown has put the strong fortresses of this empire into the possession of foreign troops? I do not inquire whether it is with or against the letter of any particular law. I see it fundamentally infringing the first principles of our Government; and do not hesitate to pronounce it high treason against the Constitution. I foretell it is a measure which the indignation of this country will pursue, till it is utterly condemned. For, my Lords, if there were a settled plan to subdue the liberties of this country, what surer means could be adopted than those of arming Roman Catholicks and introducing foreign troops? Before you venture to make Roman Catholicks soldiers, let them be made citizens. They will otherwise willingly employ the arms in their hands, to destroy those privileges of which they are not suffered to partake. If Hanover assists us, we must defend her when invaded. This involves us in Continental connections and wars, which have already almost overwhelmed us with debt. In every view, then, these measures are impolitick, unconstitutional, and dangerous.

Much has been said, my Lords, about not distrusting the present Prince upon the throne, though we may be jealous of trusting such powers with those who may succeed him. It is not now a time for compliments. I do not distrust the King that is now upon the throne. I have more veneration for the character of King William than for that of any Prince that ever swayed a sceptre. The greatness of his talents, the virtues and the heroism of his heart, render him, in my estimation, the first of men. Yet had I been in that Parliament which refused him his Dutch guards, I should have been the foremost in so wise and constitutional a measure. My vote, my Lords, shall never be given for trusting the dangerous power of the sword in foreign hands. And however I may trust English swords will never be employed against English liberties, yet I hold it my duty,


as a guardian of the Constitution, to look ever with a jealous eye on the augmentation even of an English army.

My Lords, the Ministers lament that it is their task, in this American business, to support the measure of another Administration. This is some acknowledgment, at least, that the measure was wrong. Why, then, did they support it? What secret influence has compelled them to heap errors on errors, grievance upon grievance, till they have shaken the Constitution to its foundation, and brought the whole empire into danger and confusion? The Americans judge from facts. They have seen a uniform lurking spirit of despotism pervade every Administration. It has prevailed over the wisest and most constitutional counsels; it has precipitated us into the most pernicious of all wars — a war with our brothers, our friends, and our fellow-subjects. It was this lurking spirit of despotism that produced the Stamp Act in 1765; that fettered the repeal of that act in 1766; that revived the principles of it in 1767; that has accumulated oppression upon oppression since, till at length it has openly established, by the Quebeck Bill, Popery and arbitrary power over half America.

It is the constant endeavour, my Lords, of those who lend themselves as the instruments of all the measures prompted, by that pernicious spirit, for the emoluments it yields, to throw upon us the imputation of being prompted to opposition solely by a desire of the same emoluments. But, my Lords, whatever may be the object in ordinary times, the present are big with dangers that absorb every other consideration. The inevitable consequence of persevering in these measures must be such a depreciation of our estates, that opulence will be reduced to competence, and that to indigence. In contemplation of this adversity, I feel it a happiness that I have been bred a soldier; accustomed to the moderation of that life, my fall from opulence will be easy; such may it be with the rest of your Lordships! But as you would avoid this, and still greater calamities, let me beseech you to temper, and restrain with your wisdom, the violence of this fatal address.

Motions Voted Upon

The question was put, Whether the words proposed as an amendment shall be inserted in the said motion?

It was resolved in the negative. Contents 29; Non-contents 69.

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 66, and proxies 10 — in all 76; Non-contents 33; no proxies.



* List of the Minority.
DUKES. — Richmond, Grafton, Devonshire, Portland, Manchester.
MARQUIS. — Rockingham.
EARLS. — Stamford, Thanet, Abingdon, Scarborough, Coventry, Jersey, Cholmondeley, Tankerville, Effingham, Fitzwilliam, Radnor.
VISCOUNT. — Torrington.
LORDS. — Craven, Sondes, Boyle, Monson, King, Chedworth, Archer, Romney, Ponsonby, Lyttelton, Wycombe, Beaulieu, Camden.
BISHOPS. — St˙ Asaph, Peterborough.