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the whole veteran body of office took the alarmi
The firft iiip the noble lord took, was to have the opinion of his excellent, learned, and ever-lamented rind the late Vr. Yorke, then attorney general on the point of law. When he knew that forma's and officially, which in fubstance he had known before, he immediately dispatched orders to redres, the grievance. But I will say it for the then minifter, he is of that constitution of mind, 11:27 I know he would have iflued, on the same critical occation, the very fame orders, if the acts of trade had been, as they were not directly againtthin; and would have chearfully submitted to the equity of parliament for his indemnity.
On the conclusion of this business of the Spanjih trade, the news of the troubles, on account of the itamp-act, arrived in England. It was not until the end of October that these accounts were received. No fooner had the sound of that mighty tempett reached us in England, than the whole of the then opposition, instead of feeling humbled by the unhappy illue of their measures, seemed to be intinitely elated, and cried out, that the minill's,
from envy to the glory of their predeceffors, were prepared to repeal the stamp-act. Near nine years after, the honourable gentleman - takes quite op posite ground, and now challenges me to put my hand to my heart, and say, whether the ministry had resolved on the repeal till a considerable time after the meeting of -parliament. · Though I do, not very well know what the honourable gentleman wishes to infer from the admission, or from the denial, of this fact, on which he so earnestly adjures me; I do put my hand on my heart, and assure him, that they did not come to a resolution directly to repeal. They weighed this matter as its difficulty and importance required. They confidered maturely among themselves. They consulted with all who could give advice or information. It was not determined until a little before the meeting of parliament; but it was determined, and the main lines of their own plan marked out, before that meeting. Two questions arose (I hope I am not going into a narrative troublesome to the house)
[A cry of, go on, go on.]
The first of the two considerations was, whether the repeal should be total, or whether only partial; taking out every thing burthensome and productive, and reserving only an empty acknowledgement, such as a stamp on cards or dice. The other question was, on what principle the act should be : VOL. II.
repealed? On this head also two principles were started One, that the legisative rights of this country, with regard to America, were not entire, but had certain restrictions, and limitations. The other principle was, that taxes of this kind were contrary, to the fundamental principles of commerce on whịch the colonies were founded;; and contrary to every idea of political equity;, by which equity we are bound, as much as possible, to extend the spirit and benefit of the British conftitution to every part of the British dominions. The options both of the measure, and of the principle of repeal, wag made before the seffion; and I wonder how, any one can read the king's speech at the opening of that fesfion, without seeing in that speech both the repeal and the declaratory act very sufficiently, crayoned-out. Those who cannot see this can fee nothing.
Surely the honourable gentleman will not think that a great deal less time than was then employed, ought, to bave been spent in deliberation; when he confiders that the news of the troubles did not arrive till towards the end of October. The parJjament fat to fill the vacancies on the 14th day of December, and on busineís the 14th of the following January. :
Sir, a partial repeal, or, as the bon ton of the court then was, a, modification, would have satisfied & timid, unsystematick, procrastinating ministry,
repea.ed: On this head also two, principles were fa ted. One, that the legislative rights of this county, with regard to America, were not entire, Sok end certain restrictions and limitations. The olver praciple was that tares of this kind were Catrary to the fundamental principles of comDE CE on which the colonies were founded; and contrary to every idea of political equity; by which equitite are bound, as much as posible, to extend the spirit and benefit of the British conftitution to es ery part of the British dominions. The optiong bora of the measure, and of the principle of repeal, mas nade before the feffion; and I wonder Luw any one can read the king's speech at the opening of that feliion, without feeing in that lixech both the repeal and the declaratory act very
as such a measure has since done fuch a ministry. A modification is the constant resource of weak undeciding minds. To repeal by a denial of our right to tax in the preamble (and this too did not want advisers), would have cut, in the heroicki style, the Gordian knot with a sword. Either measure would' have coft no more than a day's debate. Buť when the total repeal was adopted; and adopted on principles of policy, of equity, and of commerce; this plan inade it necessary to enter into many and difficult measures. It became necessary to open a very large field of evidence commen: surate to these extensive views. But then this la= bour did knights service. It opened the eyes of feveral to the true state of the American 'affairs; it enlarged their ideas; it removed prejudices; and it conciliated the opinions and affections of men. The noble lord, who then took the lead in administration, my honourable friend * under me, and a right honourable gentlemant (if he will not reject his share, and it was a large one, of this bufinefs) exerted the most laudable industry in bringing before you the fullest, most impartial, and leaft-garbled body of evidence that ever was pro-' duced to this house. I think the inquiry lasted in the committee for six weeks; and at its conclusion this house, by an independent, noble, spirited, and
suficiently craroned-out. Those who cannot fee this can ice nothing
Sureh t'honourable gentleman will not think
Sir, a partial repcal, of, as the bon ton of the
unexpected majority; by a majority that will redeem all the acts ever done by majorities in parliament; in the teeth of all the old mercenary Swiss of state, in despite of all the speculators and augurs of political events, in defiance of the whole embattled legion of veteran penfioners and practised instruments of a court, gave a total repeal to the stamp-act, and (if it had been lo permitted) a lasting peace to this whole empire.
I state, Sir, these particulars, because this act of spirit and fortitude has lately been, in the circulation of the feason, and in fome hazarded declamations in this house, attributed to timidity. If, Sir, the conduct of ministry, in proposing the repeal, had arisen from timidity with regard to themselves, it would have been greatly to be condemned. Interested timidity disgraces as much in the cabinet, as personal timidity does in the field. But timi-. dity, with regard to the well-being of our country, is heroick virtue. The noble lord who then conducted affairs, and his worthy colleagues, whilst they trembled at the prospect of such distreffes as you have fince brought upon yourselves, were not afraid steadily to look in the face that glaring and dazzling influence at which the eyes of eagles have blenched. He looked in the face one of the ablest, and, let me tay, not the most scrupulous oppo-. fitions, that perhaps ever was in this house, and withstood it, unaided by, even one of the usual
YA. BERKE'S SPEECH
urerperaed majority; by a majority that will res
27t; in the teeth of all the old mercenary Swiss
Lliste, Sir, these particulars, because this act of i vit and fortitude has lately been, in the circulaLing of the season, and in fome hazarded declama- ! tions in this house, attributed to timidity. If, Sir, t. coduct of miniftry, in proposing the repeal, beidet arden from timidity with regard to themselves, it would have been greatly to be condemned. In
supports of administration. He did this when he repealed the stamp-act. He looked in the face a person he had long respected and regarded, and whose aid was then particularly wanting; I mean lord Chatham. He did this when he passed the
declaratory act. .It is now given out for the usual purposes, by - the usual emiffaries, that lord Rockingham did not
consent to the repeal of this act until he was bullied into it by lord Chatham; and the reporters have gone so far as publickly to assert, in a hundred companies, that the honourable gentleman under the gallery*, who proposed the repeal in the American committee, had another set of resolutions in his pocket directly the reverse of those he moved. These artifices of a defperatę cause are, at this time spread abroad, with incredible care, in every part of the town, from the highest to the lowest companies; as if the industry of the circulation were to make amends for the absurdity of the report.
Sir, whether the noble lord is of a complexion to bę bullied by lord Chathain, or by any man, I must submit to those who know him. I confess, when I look back to that time, I consider him as placed in one of the most trying situations in which, perhaps, any man ever stood. In the house
trenni timiditv digraces as much in the cabinet, ** pasivnal timidity does in the field. But timid.sy, with regard to the well-being of our country, is lurvick virtue. The noble lord who then conduted affairs, and his worthy colleagues, whilst tier trembled at the prospect of such diftrefles as you have fince brought upon yourselves, were not afraid steadily to look in the face that glaring and dazzling influence at which the eyes of eagles have blenched. He looked in the face one of the ablet, and, let me tav, not the most scrupulous oppo-. fitions, that perhaps ever was in this houle, and w thtiood it, unaided by, even one of the ulual
* General Conway.