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Resolution of the Committee of the Whole


MONDAY, February 27, 1775.

Sir Charles Whitworth, according to order, reported from the Committee of the Whole House, to whom it was referred to consider further of the several Papers which were presented to the House by the Lord North, upon the 19th and 31st days of January last, and 1st and 15th days of this instant, February, by his Majesty' s command, the Resolution which the Committee had directed him to report to the House; which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the Clerk' s table, where the same was read, and is as followeth, viz:

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that when the Governour, Council, and Assembly, or General Court, of any of his Majesty' s Provinces or Colonies in America, shall propose to make provision, according to the condition, circumstances, and situation of such Province or Colony, for contributing their proportion to the common defence, (such proportion to be raised under the authority of the General Court, or General Assembly of such Province or Colony, and disposable by Parliament,) and shall engage to make provision also for the support of the Civil Government, and the Administration of Justice, in such Province or Colony, it will be proper if such proposal shall be approved by his Majesty and the two Houses of Parliament, and for so long as such provision shall be made accordingly, to forbear, in respect of such Province or Colony, to levy any Duty, Tax, or Assessment, or to impose any farther Duty, Tax, or Assessment, except only such Duties as it may be expedient to continue to levy or to impose for the regulation of commerce; the nett produce of the duties last mentioned to be carried to the account of such Province or Colony respectively.

The said Resolution being read a second time,

Lord North moved that the House do agree with the Committee therein.

Mr˙ Scott, after condemning the whole system of Colony administration for some years back, said, that in such a state of confusion, uncertainty, and political versatility, he was for agreeing to the Resolution, as a basis to erect something on hereafter, which might be the means of producing a permanent and comprehensive plan of reconciliation.

Mr˙ Ackland. I hope the House will pardon me, if I beg their attention a few moments, and but for a few moments; for I should make a very ill return to the favourable indulgence shewn me on a former day, if I presumed to trouble it long on this. Uninformed, unacquainted, unexpecting a proposition of so extraordinary a nature, as that laid before us by the noble Lord on that day, I felt myself forced from a seat of silence, which perhaps would then have, and might still better become me; but which I should have thought, under such circumstances, it would have been shameful to have continued. After having maturely considered the Resolution, whether on the principles of accommodation with American demands, or of enforcing the authority of this country, I think it nugatory and humiliating. Does the noble Lord really think, that a people who deny all right of taxation, will be satisfied with having the mode of taxation left to them? Does he not think the Americans will feel themselves as effectually put under contribution as any town or country ever yet was, in any state of open war? Will he presume to call that an amicable plan, which asks for contribution at the mouth of your cannon and point of your bayonets? Sir, by holding out these terms of accommodation, ridiculous in themselves, and nugatory in their effect, by making the first offer to treat with those men you have just declared rebels, you will lower the dignity of this country; you will bring your Government into contempt, and, by the insult of the offer, irritate, not appease, that spirit which you are now about publickly to declare to the whole world, you tremble to encounter. This, sir, I am confident, is the light the Americans will see it in; and these are the principles on which they are expected to accommodate.


Before I give my assent to any measure, I ought to inform myself what is meant to be founded on that measure, and what consequences are meant to be drawn from it; for, by these means alone I can judge of the propriety or impropriety of the measure. I do not doubt, therefore, that the noble Lord will answer me with as much candour, as I shall ask with diffidence. Now, the words I would wish, to draw the attention of the House to, are these: "according to the condition, circumstances, and situation of such Province for contributing their proportion, shall be approved." Sir, the questions I would ask, are, is this proportion to be annually offered by the Colonies, and annually refused or accepted by Parliament? Or is it in the first instance to be settled for a certain period of years, or is it to be settled forever? These questions demand a serious answer; in the first case, you perpetuate the seeds of discord, and lay the foundation of a dispute that can never end, but in a total convulsion of the British, Empire. In the second, adopting a temporary expedient, you withdraw your own shoulders from a burthen you have no resolution to bear, leaving the great point in dispute as unsettled as you found it, leaving it to arise at that fixed period whenever that period shall arrive, to be the cause of new quarrels, and fresh bloodshed. If you settle it forever, do consider what a miserable bargain you are contending for. The Americans are supposed to double in twenty years; it is but reasonable to suppose, that their wealth and opulence will increase in proportion; that, therefore, what would be a reasonable proportion now, will, in a few years, become comparatively with their increased wealth, a miserable pittance.

I must here take notice of an argument the noble Lord has enforced more than once with great weight; it is, that these terms are such as should be offered, after the most complete victory. For the sake of the argument, I will agree with the noble Lord, and therefore conclude, that they are improper to offer before the victory. That, sir, which is generosity, which is magnanimity after victory, is timidity and foul disgrace before it. There may be situations in which states may be found, where they cannot, without certain ruin, acquiesce even in just claims; there are situations too, in which states may grant more than is asked, and give more than is desired, with honour, security and advantage. The first of these situations precede great commotions; the second succeed complete victory. I remember, sir, the Romans, in a war they had with the Italian states, granted them when conquered, those privileges which, with a firmness peculiar to their Nation, with a firmness that led them to universal empire, they haughtily refused them before their contest.

I will not take upon me to say what confidence the people reposed in Administration before, but I will take upon me to say, that whatever it might be, it is now entirely done away; they no longer expect to find firmness, resolution, and unanimity in the Councils of the King' s servants; that they have seen them weak, irresolute, disunanimous. For the reception these propositions met within these walls, I will appeal to the unequivocal effects they had at their first opening, on the Members of this House. I will recall to the noble Lord' s memory, the feelings he must have had during those awful moments in which the common sense of the House stood amazed at the propositions that were held out to her, when uncertainty, surprise, distraction, were seated on every countenance, when the doctrine held out to us, was so new and unheard of, so contrary to every principle we had been thought to adopt, that no man could guess at the opinion of his neighbour, when those, who had relied on that firmness, which the noble Lord had so often and so publickly pledged, turned pale with shame and disappointment, when within the space of a few awful moments, the dignity of Government and the honour of this country, were given up forever. That this was the immediate effect, I believe every gentleman who hears me, and was present on that very extraordinary day, must admit. I have expressed myself warmly. I felt, and do still feel my disappointment warmly. I estimated the noble Lord' s publick wisdom, prudence, and above all, his political resolution, at as high a rate as I honoured, and do still honour, those private virtues which adorn his character, and which shine illustriously pure amidst a licentious and a dissipated age.


I will address a few words to the honourable Lord, and have done; I will tell him that decision and resolution, even when employed to but indifferent purposes, render their possessor respectable; I will speak with tenderness, I will not tell the noble Lord what effect, even with the best intentions, the contrary qualities will have. I will conclude with telling the noble Lord that if he adopts a decided line of conduct, he will have decided friends, and he may still stand on firm ground; but that if he continues to waver between both he will fall to the ground unsupported by either.

Mr˙ Temple Luttrell. Sir, upon a former occasion I presumed to state a few of my sentiments to the House, relative to the war impending over the Americans, because I was sure I could not answer it to my own feelings, I thought I could not answer it to my country, had I neglected, at the very earliest moment that might offer, to declare my utter abhorrence of those unconstitutional, arbitrary, and diabolical projects devised by his Majesty' s Ministers for the destruction of that unhappy people. I flatter myself a certain illustrious character may soon be left out of this opprobrious list of projectors; there seems to be a divine gleam of radiance coming round his temples; and I foresee almost, if not altogether, as marvellous a conversion into the right path as that which happened in days of yore, to the great persecutor of the Christian followers on the plains of Damascus.

To what black storm in the political firmament we are indebted for this sudden change, I, sir, move in too contracted a sphere to discover; but the noble Lord will allow me to tender him my hearty congratulations, that he is at length awakening to that clemency, and to that justice, which will best agree with the innate temper of his heart. There is a long line of statesmen seated in firm array not far from your chair, who have, ever since the birth of this Parliament, uniformly shrunk (and I am sure their consciences always must shrink, whatsoever their politicks or their eloquence may do) from the great American question; they have wished to defer, to the latest hour possible, all discussion of this critical topick, in hopes, as they term it, to learn what is actually doing on the other side of the Atlantic. Sir, I can inform them; there rises not a sun in that hemisphere, but sets to such additional grievances and outcries as the most soothing future concessions, the most exemplary future sacrifices on your part, will scarce be able to atone for.

However grating to the ears of some individuals the subject may be, I shall take the liberty, with the indulgence of the House, to affirm, that these measures of compelling the Americans, by force of arms, to acknowledge the paramount and unlimited authority of Parliament, in the taxation of their property — a property created by their faculties, and by their industry, are not just, not politick, not practicable, but a traitorous infringement on the Constitution of the Colonies, which rests upon the same fundamental principles that uphold the property and uphold the franchises of every native of this Island.

Sir, I ever will contend that the united Parliaments of England and Scotland cannot legally impose a tax on the subjects of any other part of the British Dominions, without the consent of such subjects, either by themselves in person, or by their Representatives. Let the champions of Despotism avail themselves of all their knowledge and sophistry, I will venture to maintain this proposition, not arrogantly presuming on my talents or skill to manage it, but on its own clear intrinsick merits, and the conviction that, to every dispassionate mind, must naturally result from its investigation. The coercion proposed militates against the privileges of all emigrants of their description, from the time of the Patriarchal disjunctions to this day; emigrants who carried with them (as their penates) certain inherent rights natural to mankind — immutable and unalienable: confirmed to them for an heritage by that blessed Constitution of Saxon contexture under which they were born. Laws established on first necessity and impotence between them and the present state, either by express or tacit assent, were not of an universal, indefinite obligation, they were of a fiduciary nature, adapted to the comparative state of the contracting parties, for the purpose of temporary expedience, and must, of course, vary conformably to such other relative alterations as lapse of time and the


vicissitude of human affairs may affect. Acts of Parliaments, or other diplomatick titles, may be produced to shew a formal, and perhaps uncontested assumption of power at some given period of time, but will not countervail the primeval and indefeisible rights of mankind, whenever such rights shall be asserted by a clear major part of the community. On this ground, and this ground only, rests our spiritual reform under Harry the Eighth, and that most glorious of all civil Revolutions — the Revolution by which James the Second lost the throne of these Realms. Those gentlemen who plead for the omnipotence of Parliaments, and the infallibility of their codes, should advert to the many absurd, contradictory positions and doctrines laid down during the contention of the several pretenders of the Plantagenet line, and afterwards of the heiresses of the House of Tudor.

In fact, sir, your Statutes of those days borrowed too frequently their maxims and complexion from whatsoever brow might happen to be encircled with the regal diadem. In the reign of Richard the Second, a law passed to transfer the power of both Houses of Parliament to twelve Barons. By an Act under one of the Henries, the King' s Proclamation, with the consent of his Privy Council, was thence-forward to carry with it the force and efficacy of a law of the land. And we all know that the Parliament of 1641 voted itself perpetual, never to be dissolved nor prorogued but by its own consent: and the Act read by an honourable Member to the Committee on the present Resolution, and which he treated with so much deference, because it declared the people of the Massachusetts Bay in a state of revolt, was passed by this immaculate Parliament.

Now, sir, let us suppose (what in these our uncorrupt days there can be no reason to apprehend) that a Statute should be procured by some future Minister and minion of the Sovereign, vesting the whole Legislative as well as Executive power in the Crown, totally to abolish both Houses of Parliament; would such Statute be valid and binding on the subject throughout Great Britain and America? All persons have natural rights — a free people have legal rights, independent of Parliamentary edicts, and of which no form of Government whatever can deprive them. Laws not founded on constitutional justice are, in themselves null and void; nor are the makers of them legislators, but usurpers. A very wise and learned writer, Judge Blackstone, has in his Commentaries the following passage: "If the sovereign power advance with gigantick strides and threaten desolation to a State, mankind will not be reasoned out of the feelings of humanity, nor will sacrifice their liberty by a scrupulous adherence to those political maxims which were originally established to preserve that liberty."

If the powers and pretensions of a few adventurers and fugitives, occupying, about two centuries ago, a small corner of a graceless desert, and possessed of none of the good things of this life, are to ascertain the powers and pretensions of three millions of people, spread over a land flowing with milk and honey, and a thousand leagues in circumference, they may, with the same justice and propriety, be brought two centuries hence to ascertain the rights and pretensions of thirty millions, when the inhabitants of this diminutive Isle shall scarce reach a fourth part of that number; neither can I own such disparity in the calculation of increase to be at all exaggerated, if we consider the various drains from this country, and the daily influx of persons of both sexes at the very meridian of life into these inviting regions; besides, new settlers usually restrict themselves to hunting and agriculture — to toils which afford vigour to the body and enterprise to the mind. They live on plain, wholesome diet; their progeny is healthful, and of boundless increase; whereas, in Nations that have reached their full zenith of luxury, the mass of the people are occupied at sedentary arts and manufactures, drawing in, from morn to eve, an impure, confined atmosphere, or brooding over unwholesome furnaces; hence the vital stamina are hurt, the appetites soon appaled, the spirits easily depressed; they become enfeebled ere the sand of their mortal glass be half run out; their offspring is sapless and emasculate.

America has been loudly charged with ingratitude towards the parent country, from whom she received protection during the late conflict of war. ' Tis not quite clear how far the balance of that account is in her disfavour;


however, she cannot be so ignorant of the real springs of war or peace, as to persuade herself that your numerous embattled Legions, under triumphant Fleets sent to her Coasts, were supplied purely from motives of parental affection or sympathetic benevolence. Had, sir, that vast territory been planted with Portuguese scions, instead of those from your own stock, ponderating as the political scales of Europe then were, would you not have afforded to a people, in their natural and moral character, as far from unison with yourselves as discord is from harmony, an equal supply of men and treasure? Remember, sir, your prowess at the eve of that same war, near the banks of the Tagus.

The love or enmity of one people to another cannot be estimated by their occasional alliances, compacts, or guarantees, as a body politick. It is but a century ago that our English Brigades served with unparalleled ardour in the Army of that arch enemy to civil and religious liberty, Lewis the Fourteenth of France; the execrated revocator of the edict of Nantz; the aspirer to universal despotism. We served, sir, against a people whose tolerance and charity of religion, whose whole system and freedom of government we at that very time held in emulative veneration; a people whose assistance we supplicated and obtained scarce twenty years after, to deliver us from monarchical tyranny.

Such coercion was highly impolitick, because it is from the prosperity, peace, and contentment of her Colonies, that resources of wealth and laurels of honour are won to a mother country. History teaches us that populousness and affluence are the product of that clime alone where the people may reap in security a full harvest of their labour; where they have affluence in their leaders and governours; where no exactions are inflicted by an alien hand; where the municipal, if not the imperial jurisdiction, together with the power of levying taxes, are vested in substitutes of their own free choice or approbation.

That saying of a despot, "Oderint dum metuant" may be applicable to the swarthy sons of the opposite division of the globe; but, sir, it will never accord with the sentiments of our brethren in America. Threats and violence used against hearts of the same sturdy temper with your own, must induce the most calamitous events to both parties. There will be seeds of equal courage and perseverance found in the one battle as in the other, with this difference at the onset, that the arm of the aggrieved is usually braced to bolder, more decisive efforts of rage and despair, than that of the aggressor: "Aquilae non generant Columbus." Let us, sir, rather rejoice that our breed has not degenerated; that these Colonists have a sense of rational freedom becoming the sons of such high-minded progenitors. Ill would it answer your purpose to bring their bodies under a short-lived subjection, and to leave impressed upon their minds an unabated rancour and aptness for revolt. Revenge is an unchristian passion; yet how rarely do we find the human soul possessed of a sublimer heroism, without this alloy.

Neither, sir, am I altogether unacquainted with the people of whom I am now speaking. Curiosity once led me to travel many hundreds of miles along their nourishing and hospitable Provinces. I found in most of them the Spartan temperance, in many the urbanity of Athens; and, notwithstanding the base and groundless imputations on their spirit, which the cankered tongue of prejudice and slander has with so licentious a virulence here poured forth against them, they will, I am confident, if set to the proof, evince the Roman magnanimity, ere Rome fell under sceptered usurpation. But, sir, if a foreign enemy should appear at your gates, and you need their assistance, will there then be found among them many a Coriolanus? He stands single as the prodigy of forgiveness, in the annals of a people whose attachment to their native land was carried to the utmost height of enthusiasm. How soon that foreign enemy may appear at your gates, I know not. According to the horological predictions of a most enlightened state soothsayer, we have about seven years more of profound tranquillity with the House of Bourbon to trust to; but, from the symptoms of our domestick distraction, and the improved state of the government and finances of our neighbours, I should judge it prudent to be somewhat better provided than we are at present for an early rupture; not entirely to dismantle our Ports and our Coasts of soldiers


and seamen, sent to immolate the martyrs to liberty of their own flesh and blood, on the distant Continent of America.

It has been made evident to you that a defection of the Northern Colonies will soon bring on the complete ruin of your West India settlements, which cannot elsewhere affordably provide themselves with Cattle, Lumber, and divers other articles requisite for the support of a Plantation.

Let us turn our eyes to the inland trading Towns here at home; those large iron founderies which used to supply the anchors of commerce and implements for husbandry and the ingenious arts, are now set at work in moulding the sword and the bayonet to enslave America. From the former commissions there accrued constant returns of profit, and numberless comforts; from the latter, what can be expected but poverty, dejection, and mourning? Peace with America will make your thousands of Manufacturers and Artisans a thriving, obedient people; war with America will make them idle, profligate, and tumultuary. In short, the first open hostilities committed by your Troops on that Continent, will realize to the race of man, from one extremity of the earth to the other, more fatal evils than were even contained in the fabled box of Pandora.

It is well known, through melancholy observation drawn from the fate of the Assyrian, Persian, and Roman Empires, that, national societies, as well as the individual mortals of whom those societies are composed, have their non-age, their adult vigour, and their decline. Whatsoever share of indulgence and independency Great Britain shall, in this her florid and athletick stage, generously bestow on her rising Colonies, they will, no doubt, amply repay to her in some future generation, when she is verging towards that awful goal which must close her race of glory.

The military coercion of America will be impracticable. What has been the fate of your famous Bills passed in the last session of the deceased Parliament? I mean, sir, the Boston Port Bill, and the Bill for altering the Charter of Massachusetts Bay. America, as an earnest of her triumph over the future labours for which envy and malice may reserve her, has, like another Hercules in the cradle, already grappled with those two serpents sent for her destruction. Neither shall we be long able to sustain the unhallowed war at so remote a distance; unexplored deserts, wood-land ambuscades, latitudes to which few of our soldiery have been seasoned; — the Southern Provinces scarce to be endured in the summer months, the Northern Provinces not approachable in the winter season; — shipwrecks, pestilence, famine. The unrelenting inveteracy and carnage of York and Lancaster, will here be joined to all the elementary hardships and maladies of a bigot crusade. Shall not such dreadful eras in our earlier chronicle, serve us for beacons at this perilous crisis? Those rash expeditions, indeed, undertaken by a few martial zealots on misconceived piety, began to decline at the death of the hot-brained, savage-hearted King, under whom they were first enterprised; and the sluices of kindred blood which had long inundated the land in the red and white roses, were at length happily put a stop to, by a single matrimonial contract. Now, sir, who can look forward to a probable epoch in the red volume of time, when the sword drawn in this quarrel shall be sheathed in peace! I can see no end, till slaughter, proscription, extirpation, shall totally have annihilated either one or the other people.

Far be it from me to anticipate by conjecture to either country so dreadful a sentence; but, sir, without a gift of preternatural foresight, I may remark, that there are features in the aspect of infant America which denote, at maturer years, a most colossal force. The Helvetick and Flemish Confederacies have demonstrated what extraordinary obstacles a small band of insurgents may surmount in the cause of liberty. The Helvetick Confederacy consisted of a few straggling peasants, bannered against a mighty Prince; yet, firmness and desperation supplied that energy, which the best disciplined numbers could not resist. The tragick scenes of Numantia, and of Saguntum, shew to how dire a catastrophe a spirited people will devote themselves, sooner than submit to an unjust dominion. It appears from one of the American letters of a late date, brought to your table, that the inhabitants of Boston were inclined to copy, in part, these dire examples; that they


meditated to abandon the Town with their wives and families, and the reducing it to ashes. Did not we ourselves give a very striking proof, at the commencement of the twelfth century, to what an incendiary height the flame of vengeance might reach, when we invited over, and received into the very centre of this Island, a whole army of Frenchmen to aid us against a tyrant Monarch and his iniquitous Counsellors? We owe, perhaps, that sacred palladium of our liberty, Magna Charta, as much to a Dauphin of France, as to a King of England.

The Americans allege that what they now contend for is that reasonable portion of liberty with which they were chartered as their birthright, not by any earthly potentate, but by the King of kings, "to make their lives happy in the possession of which liberty, they do now hourly invoke that King of kings, or to make their death glorious in its just defence."

What is the aim and scope of the Resolution before you? To lure some of the less refractory Provinces of America to dissociate from, and betray their fellow-sufferers; to join in raising a contribution throughout one half of the Colonies, to support your armaments and outrages against the other half, with a view to annihilate trade, cut off every natural channel of livelihood and subsistence, and butcher the disobedient; and how are these seceders to be recompensed for such signal perfidy? Why, by a temporary exercise of certain empty forms and modes of taxation, confirming at the same time a right in the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain to fix the gross amount of all Continental subsidies whatsoever; that is, in fact, they are to be still subject to a Ministerial majority in this House, which may levy imposts on them, not by any fair scale of proportion to the burthen laid on the mother country, but the demand may perhaps be carried beyond their abilities, or they may be liable to the discharge of an immense national debt. By way of earnest, however, against the numerous abuses in future, to which this curious plan lies open, they shall instantly repose entire faith and confidence in the present set of the King' s Ministers at Westminster, so remarkable for consistency, lenity, and wisdom.

The noble Lord puts me in mind of King Arthur, in our modern dramatick mask, where that first of the British worthies stands balancing between Grimbald and Philadel. He has just caught a glimpse of the cloven foot of the infernal fiend, by whose dazzling snares and incantations he has been thus long fascinated, and is turning to the fair, heavenly spirit, who would guide him into the ways of happiness and honour. Let him not stop short, but pursue the only track that can save his country — perhaps save himself from perdition.

I should be as strenuous an advocate for the just authority of Parliament as any man; but I think we ought candidly and effectually to relinquish all vain pretences to supreme sovereignty, in cases where they are not maintainable on principles of justice, of sound policy, or the Constitution of the land. If you persist in pride and errour, what will be the consequence? Intestine enmities will be increased — devastation and havock must ensue. When questions of such weight and magnitude as these now in agitation concerning America, shall come before you, every Member ought to reflect, that the fate of a whole Nation may possibly depend on his single vote. Whosoever gives the power of oppression, is in fact a tyrant; whosoever gives the power of murder, is in fact an assassin. I am against this Resolution, because I think that so far from extinguishing the flame, it will only throw oil upon it to aggravate its fury; and, however conciliatory it may seem at first sight, when it comes to be analyzed on the other side of the water, it cannot possibly have any other construction put upon it, than that of adding insult to injury.

Sir P˙ J˙ Clerke said he should not be surprised, such was the fluctuating state of our counsels, to see another Resolution proposed in a few days, totally contradicting the present, and those persons who are most zealous in support of this Resolution, equally warm in support of the next.

Mr˙ Hartley. I am called upon on this occasion, particularly as I made a conciliatory proposition on this subject of the American disputes to the House before Christmas, which I shall, at a proper time, offer to the House as a


regular motion. The proposition alluded to, was to make a free requisition to the Colonies for a supply towards the expense of defending, protecting, and securing the Colonies. The present motion is not free but compulsory; it is attended with menaces and threats, therefore not a lenient or conciliatory measure, but only thrown out as such for a pretext. To say, give me as much money as I wish, till I say enough, or I will take it from you, and then to call such a proposition conciliatory for peace, is insult added to oppression. The proposition which I made before Christmas, was what it appeared, a free requisition. A requisition by a Secretary of State, is an ancient, legal, approved, constitutional way. It states the case, represents the services necessary to be done, and requires the free aid of the subject for those necessary services, leaving, as a constitutional control, to the subject whose money is required, the judgment upon the necessity of the services stated, and the right of appropriating the money so granted. How totally different from this proposition, is that before us now, which says neither more nor less than this: Give me what I ask, leaving likewise the quantity to my discretion, or I will take it by force. Besides, this proposition is a direct breach of faith towards America, who have been assured by a circular letter from the Secretary of State, that his Majesty' s Ministers never meant, nor ever would entertain the thought of raising a Revenue in America by taxing. This proposition before us is a direct breach of the publick faith so pledged to America, by a circular letter from a Secretary of State, in which his Majesty' s royal word was particularly plighted. The noble Lord' s proposition, who was upon the same bench when the above-mentioned circular letter was written, is that we will forbear to tax just so long as they will give us a Revenue to our content. What is this if it be not extorting a Revenue by threats of taxing? The only concession contained in this proposition is, that it gives up at once the mode of our proceedings with America for these last ten years, as it confesses that it would be proper to proceed in the way of requisitions. This proposition pretends to condemn the exercise of taxation before you have made a requisition at least, and have met with a refusal, though by uniting them in the same proposition, it destroys the very nature of the requisition, by making it compulsory.

Let us inquire now, whether ever North America did refuse to contribute to the common defence, upon requisition; so far from it, that they ever have contributed in case of necessity, even beyond their abilities, as the records of thanks to them, and retribution for the excess of the zeal and fidelity, which stand annually upon your Journals, during the late war, do fully and incontestibly prove. Throughout the whole course of this contest since the war, they have over and over offered to contribute to the necessary supply when called upon in a constitutional way. I have extracted proofs of these from Addresses, Petitions, &c˙, for the whole period of the last ten years. Their Petitions you have thrown out of your doors, their repeated Addresses, Remonstrances, Letters, and Memorials, you have treated with contempt. I have now in my hand a score of proofs that they have offered to pay upon requisition, according to the utmost of their abilities, if those requisitions were made in a legal and constitutional way. I have collected offers of this kind, and I have got them from, I think, almost every Colony. I can shew them repeatedly from Massachusetts Bay, from New-York, New-Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Carolina, and these repeated from time to time during the whole of this contest. I have them in my hand, and will beg to read them to the House. [Reads them.] And to conclude the whole, North America assembled at the Continental Congress, pledge themselves, "that whenever the exigencies of the state shall require a supply, they will as they have always heretofore done, contribute their full proportion of men and money." The terms in which all these offers are expressed, are clear, uniform, and explicit. All that they require is, that they may stand upon the footing of freemen and free British subjects, and giving and granting their own money. For these reasons I object to the motion before us, and shall, with the permission of the House, endeavour to put the proposition upon its proper grounds, by another motion on some future day.

Mr˙ Thomas Powys wanted to know the sum each Colony


was to raise, the manner it was to be appropriated, and whether it was to be granted annually, or for a definite number of years.

Lord North was for preserving the right of Parliament to tax the Colonies; but for transferring the exercise of that right to the Colony Assemblies. He was for leaving the Colonies at liberty to contribute voluntarily to the alleviating the publick burthens, and for reserving to Parliament a right of rejecting or increasing those voluntary aids at pleasure. Among other things, he said, if the Colonies reject just conditions, they must be reduced to unconditional obedience; that such of the Colonies as did not comply with the Resolution, would have the Acts rigidly enforced against them; that he did not nor could, at present, pretend to specify the exact sum they ought to raise, as it would probably fluctuate by bearing a certain proportion to the sums raised in Great Britain; and that whatever propositions they might make, would be received in a legal way from an assembly lawfully and properly constituted, in order to be laid before Parliament for their final approbation. In answer to the honourable gentleman who asked whether the grant was to be an annual one, or for a term of years, he replied he could not tell; but for his part he should wish it to be the latter, otherwise it would return to interrupt the publick business every session, and consequently be a perpetual subject of discussion and disagreement.

Mr˙ T˙ Townshend said, that the House was at a loss even so much as to conjecture what were the intentions of Administration, or what the present Resolution pointed at; that nothing hitherto offered by the noble Lord, had in the least degree operated towards the alteration of his sentiments. He thought the Resolution impracticable, whether it meant to enforce obedience, or effect reconciliation.

Sir Richard Sutton said the objects to which the Resolution was directed, were very apparent.

Mr˙ Charles Turner cited some of the most objectionable parts of the American Bills of last session, and said that they were the most tyrannical and oppressive that were ever passed.

Mr˙ Hans Stanley said, that some time before the late Address of both Houses to his Majesty, this proposal was talked of and approved by several persons of very high rank in business. Instructions as to the sums to be raised must undoubtedly be confined to people in confidence. He then proceeded to distinguish between the acts of a Congress, and an assembly legally and constitutionally convened, and grounded the whole weight of his argument on that distinction, shewing that it might be extremely proper to agree to propositions made by one, while it would be madness so much as to treat with the other.

Mr˙ Alderman Sawbridge was very pointed on some of the expressions which fell from the last honourable Member, relative to those who appeared the partisans of America. He owned himself of that number, and gloried in the imputation.

General Burgoyne. Sir, from the time I have been under orders to serve in America, I have thought it an unbecoming part to give my voice as a judge in any American question, this upon your paper only excepted. But having taken some share in the debates of last year, which have been misrepresented, and having appeared in some divisions this year, before I had any knowledge or suspicion of my destination, I anxiously wish to take this occasion to explain the motives upon which I have invariably acted; and notwithstanding the exhausted state of the debate, I rise with confidence in the House, that they will give that indulgence to my situation, which I should have little claim to upon any other pretensions.

Sir, I think an explanation the more necessary, because both without doors and within, allusions and references are making continually to the sentiments of those who are to act in the military department — a very important, but very unenviable lot. In some of the licentious prints of the times, there have not been wanting suggestions to the publick, that a sanguinary Minister had chosen the Generals best fitted by their inclinations to carry havock and destruction through the Continent of America. Within these walls we have been treated very differently indeed; we have found an attention, a respect, a favour of opinion and of expression, that has imprinted upon my mind, and I am


persuaded equally upon the minds of my colleagues, a sincere satisfaction and a deep sense of gratitude to gentlemen on all sides of the House. But still, sir, I have observed through the course of the debate an opinion to prevail, that a great latitude of orders is to be given, and that in acting under such latitude, we shall be influenced by the speeches we hear in this place, some of which are supposed to convey the most inflammatory ideas, others, ideas of the most humiliating concession. I do not know, sir, that any such latitude will be given, at least it will hardly extend to my inferiour station. The utmost merit I shall be able to claim in this expedition, will probably be that of an attentive, an assiduous, circumscribed obedience. But I can speak with confidence of those under whom I am to leave this country, as well as of the high and respectable officer who now commands in America; such men will not want the oratory of this House to give a due tone to their spirit or their humanity.

A noble sentiment fell from an honourable gentleman in my eye, (Colonel Barre) "that bravery and compassion were associate virtues;" may they remain blended on the minds of every military man in America; let a persuasion uniformly prevail, that upon a review of our conduct hereafter, by our dispassionate and impartial countrymen, our bravery will be judged by the test of our compassion. Should we inevitably be made the instruments of punishment, let every action of the unhappy conflict be directed and marked by that temper which ever ought to discriminate the correction of the state from the sudden and impetuous impulse of passion and revenge; but with these principles at the heart of every soldier, and these they will be; for there is a charm in,the very wanderings and dreams of liberty, that disarms an Englishman' s anger; with these principles at the heart, care must be taken that the honour, the ascendancy, the impression of the British arms be not insulted or diminished in the hands of those to whom they are entrusted; and while we remember we are contending against fellow-subjects and brothers, it must not be forgot we are contending in the crisis, and for the fate of the British Empire.

An honourable young Member, (Mr˙ Ackland) who has entered into the Army with a zeal that justly entitles him to the esteem of every officer, and whose Parliamentary spirit and talents have this day proved him a most valuable acquisition to this House, asked, early in the debate, whether it could be supposed those Americans who denied the authority of British Legislature, would accept the mode of taxation proposed by these Resolutions? I believe they will not; and I differ with him so far upon this occasion, as to say I do not like the Resolution the worse upon that account. While it holds out conciliation to those who wish to return to obedience and fidelity, and must be accepted by all rational men and well intentioned subjects, the refusal of it will be as explicitly and decisively declaratory, as any manifesto could express, of the principles on which they act, who continue to resist, and it puts the dispute on clear ground.

Sir, in foreign wars, the conscience of the quarrel belongs to the state alone. The soldier draws his sword with alacrity; the cause in which he engages rests between God and his Prince, and he wants no other excitements to his duty, than such as the glory of his country, personal honour, and just ambition will suggest. In civil discord, (without inquiring casuistically, whether in any, or in what possible case, a military servant of the Crown can be justified in declining a service to which he is legally commanded,) I believe a consideration of the cause will find its way to the breast of every conscientious man; and in the execution of his duty, he will find sorrow and remorse on one side, or satisfaction and inward comfort on the other, according to the private judgment he entertains. I perceive gentlemen on every side of the House acknowledge the truth of this general observation. Sir, I shall be astonished if any gentleman denies the particular application of it. Is there a man in England, (I am confident there is not an officer or soldier in the King' s service) who does not think the Parliamentary rights of Great Britain a cause to fight for, to bleed and die for? Sir, I will assert that the professed advocates of America have never ventured to meet this argument fairly. They have always shifted it to collateral inquiries, accusation, recrimination, and examination


of the measures by which we have been led into our present dilemma. Sir, past errours may be great and manifest; every Administration for ten years past may have had their share. It is not my present purpose to justify any. Inquiries may be very proper, at a proper time; but as a Member of Parliament, I hold myself indispensably called upon to take up the question upon this important, now this unparalleled moment in the English history, when we tamely suffered Government to be suspended, when we sit here the mere shadow of authority, the phantom of a Parliament, assembling only to lament the substance we have lost, and to propose and subtilize questions of our own impotency.

Sir, another method of evading a debate upon the true merits of this question, has been, to confound the understanding. Ingenious men will run changes upon real and virtual representation, external and internal taxes, revenue and regulation, till one' s head grows dizzy with distinctions, and the most gross absurdities and contradictions become, for a moment, specious. But it is not in rhetorick or sophistry to argue the great rational majority of the people of England out of the plain, simple proposition which is contained in the Declaratory Act of the sixth of the present King. The reason of the Nation has been long convinced; the trial now only is, whether we have spirit to support our conviction.

Sir, if the whole body of the Kingdom does not rouse at this alarm, and shake off that torpitude under which our publick spirit has long shamefully languished: if every class and distinction of men do not join in this great cause; if our Merchants and Manufacturers do not in one instance take example from the Americans, and render it glorious by adapting it to a better cause; if they do not feel insult and affront in the suspicion, that while one country dares the interruption of commerce to effectuate her chimerical claims, the other will not exert equal fortitude to vindicate her fundamental rights; if this be our wretched state, I agree that the sooner a formal surrender is made, the better; let Great Britain revert to her primitive insignificancy in the map of the world, and the Congress of Philadelphia be the Legislature to dispense the blessings of empire. Let us spare the blood of our subjects, let us spare the treasures of the state; but let us at the same time confess we are no more a people.

Sir, after this avowal of my principles, it might be thought that I sought the situation in which I am going to be employed. I publickly declare I did not seek it. I


will take leave to say, on the part of my colleagues, it was sought by none of us, but it was accepted with that submission which is due from servants of the crown, and with that sense of gratitude to his Majesty which the importance of the trust required. I feel an additional call of gratitude on my own part for the honour my name receives in being classed with those of the distinguished officers to whom I have alluded.

I will trespass no longer upon the time of the House. With the sentiments I have expressed, I take leave of all American questions; with these sentiments I shall take leave of my country; I shall endeavour to maintain them in arguments, if admitted to any intercourse in America. I shall enforce them to the best of my power, if called upon to act in the line of my profession, conscientiously convinced that upon the due support of them both here and on the other side the Atlantic, the existence of this country and Constitution directly, emphatically, and conclusively depends.

Governour Johnstone replied to several things which dropped from the noble Lord. He said that, on a former occasion, Parliament had charged the East India Company will eleven millions for Ships, Forces, &c˙, sent to their assistance, but owned afterwards it was not so much; and he doubted not but that several of the millions now so roundly charged to the account of America, would be discovered to be no better founded, though we even brought the expenses of the present formidable Armament to account. He supposed, if America consented to the grants now proposed, that they would in time be managed as the Irish are, and that douceurs out of the sums raised would be distributed with equal success among the Colonists, and what could not be effected one way would be carried another: blue ribbons, red ribbons, Lords and Knights, would bring about great things. The Minister well understood to put this House in good humour at all times; and he supposed in time that he would cause this good humour to reach the other side of the Atlantic, though he had hitherto failed in his attempts. He concluded by observing, that there had been no precedent for our obliging the Colonies to raise taxes, but the Romans, who plundered those who were under their dominion, and brought the plunder to Rome, which was in the end the cause of the destruction of that once glorious and powerful Empire.

The question was then taken, and the Resolution was agreed to.