« AnteriorContinuar »
hands of our Sovereign, and you have now scarcely a Pofl> master left in the whole northern continent; more than half the empire is already lost, and almost all the rest is in consusion and anarchy. The Ministry have brought our Sovereign into a more disgracesul situation than any crowned head now living. He alone has already lost, by their fatal counsels, more territory than the three great united powers of Russia, Austria, and Prussia have together robbed Poland of; and by equal acts of violence and injustice from Administration.
England was never engaged in a contest of such importance to our most valuable concerns and possessions. We are fighting for the subjection of a country insinitely more extended than our own; of which every day increases the wealth, the natural strength, and population. Should we not succeed, it would be a bosom friendship soured to hate and resentment. We shall be considered as their most implacable enemies; an eternal separation will succeed, and the grandeur of the British empire pass away. Success seems to me not equivocal, but impossible. However we may differ among ourselves, they are perfectly united. On this side the Atlantic, party-rage unhappily divides us; but one foul animates the vast northern continent of America, the General Congress, and each Provincial Assembly. An appeal has been made to the sword, and at the close of the last campaign, what have we conquered? Bunker's-hil!, with the loss of 1200 men. Are we to pay as dearly for the rest of America? The idea of conquest is as romantic as unjust.
The Honourable Gentleman who moved the Address, fays, "The Americans have been treated with lenity." Was your Boston Port Bill a measure of lenity? Was your Fishery Bill a measure of lenity? Was your Bill for taking away the Charter of the Massachusetts Bay a measure of lenity, or even justice? I omit your many other gross provocations and insults, by which the brave Americans have been driven into their present state. He asserts, that they avow a disposition to be independent. On
the ttie contrary, Sir, ill the declarations both of the late and the present Congress, unTormly tend to this one object, of being put on the fame footing they were in the year 1763. This has been their only demand, from which they have never, varied. Their daily prayers are for liberty, peace, and fafety. •. I use the words of the Congress last year. They justly expect to be put on an equal footing with the other subjects of the empire. If you confine all our trade to yourselves, fay they; if you make a monopoly of our commerce; if you shut all other ports of the world against us, tax us not too. If you do, then give us a free trade, such as ydu enjoy yourselves; let us have equal advantages of commerce, all other ports open to us} then we can, and cheersully will pay taxes. cither fide to their sull extent. The next easterly wind will carry to America what shall fall from any, and from every Lord in the House. I do not wish that the nakedness of my country and its weakness, should stand confirmed by the authority and fanction of testimonies given here. It is a time to act, and not to talk. Much is to be done, and little faid. The die of war is cast, the sword is drawn, and the scabbard thrown away. With great respect to your Lordships, wife as you are, and no doubt the great hereditary council of the King and kingdom, yet allow me to fay, you are not enabled to decide upon matters of such transcendent importance and difficulty, without having the sullest materials before you, which you most certainly have not. This is a question for the Ministers to decide, who must be supposed to have the sullest information: the execution will likewise lie with them. They have decided ; and it is to be wished they have at last some well-considered plan: not only taking into pay all the troops that can be got, at any rate, but also how they can be supported, supplied, and enabled to act with effect; in short, a plan consisting of a great variety of efficient parts. If I had the honour of being in the King's Council (which thank God I have not) I should expect the amplest information before I should decide; but decide I would, and abide by the decision. Retired, however, as I now am, and uninformed, I have not presumption enough to give an opinion, nor do I hold myself specinllv called upon to do it. My country is, indeed, reduced to a deplorable condition. We are driven between Scylla and Charybdis, and it will be transcendency difficult to steer the vessel of the state into a fafe port. I must be allowed freely to confess, that I have not a good opinion of the King's servants. Past experience will not justify confidence. I cannot, therefore, answer to myself or to my country, the trusting such men with the expenditure of ten millions; and laying the foundation of lavishing many more, our last stake; thereby accelerating that bankruptcy, which, sooner or later, I fear, by adopting either measure, is become
It must give, Sir, every man who loves his country, the deepest concern, at the naming in the Address foreign troops, Hanoverians and Hessians, who are now called to interfere in bur domestic quarrels, not to dwell this day on the illegality of the measure. The militia, indeed, are now employed, and that noble institution is at present complimented by Ministers, who hate the very name of a militia, because the embodying of these forces enables Administration to butcher more of our fellow-subjects in America.
Mr. TVilkes, Oct. 26, 1775.
I Am still clear, my Lords, as to the right this country has. to exercise its sovereignty over America by taxation. I had 'no hand in passing the Stamp Act; in the Declaratory Eill, in the Bill laying Duties upon 1 eas, and other commodities, in .the partial repeal of that Act, nor yet in the infanity of sending the tea to America without repealing the duty. From these and other causes, together with the imbecillity of Administration, this country is reduced to a situation so deplorable, that the wisest and honestest man in the kingdom can propose nothing that promises an happy and honourable issue. I feel that I speak in fetters; I therefore will not press arguments on
H 2 either
inevitable. inevitable. Nor am I, on the other hand, so friendly to them, as by declaring our utter inability to reduce America, to surnish them with a golden bridge for concluding an inglorious peace, on any the most ruinous and disgracesul terms, I cannot consent to throw this once great and glorious country at the feet of America; and there humbly implore such peace, as she, in her generosity and magnanimity shall condescend to grant us. I am not yet made to the idea of hanging out a white flag of surrender, To those who lament the present most melancholy state of the Colonies, once so prosperous and flourishing, beyond the example of any others known in the annals of time, I cannot help observing, that I rejoice in the testimony, because it does honour to the government of England, under whose care and influence they had prospered so wondersully, I dp verily believe, that till the late troubles, they had infinitely less to complain of than the Mother Country herself; and that, separated as they are by the vast Atlantic, it was not in the nature of things, that there must not be much to complain of, tho' not sufficient to justify their ingratitude to the Parent State. I cannot blame a determination to make peace, sword in hand; the sooner it can be had upon reasonable, fafe, and honourable terms, the better for both countries. I never did declare, whether I thought it was consistent with sound policy to impose any new tax upon America, and it will hardly be expected that I should decide it now. I have heard it called an unjust war; I know not who in this House have a right to call it so. Infinite fagacity and discretion are necessary to the attainment of what all alike, I am persuaded, must eagerly wish. When the happy and favourable moment for conciliation shall arrive, I hope the Ministers will seize it, and I sincerely wish them success. At least at such a crisis, I will not hang upon the wheels of Government, and thereby render what is already but too difficult, the mpre impracticable.
My Lords, I have not the arrogance to think, that what I shall submit to your Lordships has escaped the vigilance of all your Lordiliip's judgmsnts: I have not the vanity to imagine, that the arguments my circumscribed talents may suggest to me to use, can have the good fortune to persuade the majority of this House, unless they should meet with the support of men, of greater weight. Some there are who chance to be absent, whose great authorities I must lament the loss of. But, my Lord?, if what I may offer should throw any light upon a subject as interesting as ever arose since Britain has extended her power beyond the consines of the iste, I shall at least have the fatisfaction to think, I have not buried my ideas; I have not been wanting in that duty, which, from the rank we hold in life, is mine, is that of every Lord in this House. My Lords, for a paltry set of words, for an unreasonable claim of power, for a fascinating assertion of impracticable authority, for an airy nothing, a visionary shadow of ideal revenue, impossible to be raised but by the consent of that people whose contributions, we so much thirst after, and whose consent we do despise, has Britain been duped into an unnatural war, where victory or defeat must each enfeeble this lately great empire: a war carried on against a part of our fellow-subjects, whose numbers, at least, equal a fifth of the whole; and who in extent of country so far exceeds the size of Britain, that the comparison of her is but as a speck in the disk of the sun. I will not dwell on the difadvantages our army must labour under from the farextended distance of the war; a commop map, to the commonest understanding, must demonstrate more than rhetoric can paint. But, my Lords, it has been your pleasure to enter into this war; the matter has been laid before you, and often has been debated, and your Lordships, in your judgments, have deemed it necesfary to correct the faucy freedom of highminded sons, grown up to manly age; to check in your American children that independent spirit, that strange love of liberty, which> where permitted to take root, does so infatuate