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prevailed with to join in the worst Lord Chatham, in his reply to Lord Sandwich, took notice of his illiberal insinuation, that the plan was not the person's, who proposed it: declared that it was entirely his own, a declaration he thought himself the more obliged to make, as many of their lordships appeared to have so mean an opinion of it; for if it was so weak or so bad a thing, it was proper in him to take care that no other person should unjustly share in the censure it deserved. That it had been heretofore reckoned his vice not to be apt to take advice; but he made no scruple to declare, that if he were the first minister of this country, and had the care of settling this momentous business, he should not be ashamed of publicly calling to his assistance, a person so perfectly acquainted with the whole of American affairs as the gentleman alluded to and so injuriously reflected on; one, he was pleased to say, whom all Europe held in high estimation, for his knowledge and wisdom, and ranked with our Boyles and Newtons; who was an honor, not to the English nation only, but to human nature! I found it harder to stand this extravagant compliment than the preceding equally extravagant abuse; but kept as well as I could an unconcerned countenance, as not conceiving it to relate to me.
To hear so many of these hereditary legislators declaiming so vehemently against, not the adopting merely, but even the consideration of a proposal so important in its nature, offered by a person of so weighty a character, one of the first statesmen of the age, who had taken up this country when in the lowest despondency, and conducted it to victory and glory, through a war with two of the mightiest kingdoms in Europe; to hear them censuring his plan, not only for their own misunderstandings of what was in it, but for their imaginations of what was not in it, which they would not give themselves an opportunity of rectifying by a second reading; to perceive the total ignorance of the subject in some, the prejudice and passion of others, and the wilful perversion of plain truth in several of the ministers; and upon the whole to see it so ignominiously rejected by so great a majority, and so hastily too, in breach of all decency, and prudent regard to the character and dignity of their body, as a third part of the national legislature, gave me an exceeding mean opinion of their abilities, and made their claim of sovereignty over three millions of virtuous sensible people in America, seem the greatest of absurdities, since they appeared to have scarce discretion enough to govern a herd of swine. Hereditary legislators! thought I. There would be more propriety, because less hazard of mischief, in having (as in some university of Germany,) hereditary professors of Mathematics!—But this was a hasty reflection; for the elected house of commons is no better, nor ever will be while the electors receive money for their votes, and pay money wherewith ministers may bribe their representatives when chosen. /
After this proceeding I expected to hear no more of any negotiation for settling 7" our difference amicably; yet in a day or two, I had a note from Mr. Barclay, re* "y questing a meeting at Dr. Fothergill's, the 4th of February in the evening. I attended accordingly, and was surprised by being told that a very good disposition / appeared in administration ; that the Hints had been considered, and several of them thought reasonable, and that others might be admitted with small amendments. The good Doctor, with his usual philanthropy, expatiated on the miseries of war; that even a bad peace was preferable to the most successful war; that America was growing in strength, and whatever she might be obliged to submit to at present, she would in a few years be in a condition to make her own terms. Mr. Barclay hinted how much it was in my power to promote an agreement; how much it would be to my honor to effect it, and that I might expect, not only restoration of my old place, but almost any other I could wish for, &c, —I need not tell you, who know me so well, how improper and disgusting this language was to me. The Doctor's was more suitable. Him I answered, that we did not wish for war, and desired nothing but what was reasonable and necessary for our security and well-being. To Mr. Barclay I replied, that the ministry, I was sure, would rather give me a place in a cart to Tyburn, than any other place whatever.—And to both, that I sincerely wished to be serviceable; that I needed no other inducement than to be shown how I might be so; but saw they imagined more to be in my power than really was; I was then told again that conferences had been held upon the Hints; and the paper being produced was read; that I might hear the observations that had been made upon them separately, which were as follows. t
1. The first article was approved.
2. The second agreed to, so far as related to the repeal of the tea act. But repayment of the duties that had been collected, was refused.
3. The third not approved, as it implied a deficiency of power in the parliament that made those acts.
4. The fourth approved.
5. The fifth agreed to, but with a reserve, that no change prejudicial to Britain was to be expected.
6. The sixth agreed to, so far as related to the appropriation of the duties: but the appointment of the officers and their salaries, to remain as at present.
7. The seventh relating to aids in time of peace, agreed to.
8. The eighth, relating to the troops, was inadmissible.
9. The ninth could be agreed to, with this difference, that no proportion should be observed with regard to preceding taxes, but each colony should give at pleasure.
10. The tenth agreed to, as to the restitution of Castle William; but the restriction on the crown in building fortresses refused.
11. The eleventh refused absolutely, except as to the Boston port bill, which would be repealed; and the Quebec act might be so far amended, as to reduce that province to its ancient limits. The other Massachusetts acts, being real amendments of their constitution, must for that reason be continued, as well as to be a standing example of the power of parliament.
12. The twelfth agreed to, that the judges should be appointed during good behaviour, on the assemblies providing permanent salaries, such as the crown should approve of.
13. The thirteenth agreed to, provided the assemblies make provision as in the preceding article.
15. The fifteenth agreed to.
16. The sixteenth agreed to, supposing the duties paid to the colony treasuries.
17. The seventeenth inadmissible.
We had not at this time a great deal of conversation upon these points, for I shortened it by observing, that while the parliament claimed and exercised a power of altering our constitutions at pleasure, there could be no agreement; for we were rendered unsafe in every privilege we had a right to, and were secure in nothing. And it being hinted how necessary an agreement was for America, since it was so easy for Britain to burn all our sea-port towns, I grew warm, said that the chief part of my little property consisted of houses in those towns; that they might make bonfires of them whenever they pleased, that the fear of losing them would never alter my resolution to resist to the last that claim of parliament; and that it behoved this country to take care what mischief it did us, for that sooner or later it would certainly be obliged to make good all damages with interest! The Doctor smiled, as I thought, with some approbation of my discourse, passionate as it was, and said he would certainly repeat it to-morrow to Lord Dartmouth.
In the discourse concerning the Hints, Mr. Barclay happened to mention, that going to Lord Hyde's, he found Lord Howe with him; and that Lord Hyde had said to him, "you may speak any thing before Lord Howe, that you have to say to me, for he is a friend in whom I confide;" upon which he accordingly had spoken with the same freedom as usual. By this I collected how Lord Howe came by the paper of Hints, which he had shown me :—And it being mentioned as a measure thought of, to send over a commissioner with powers to enquire into grievances and give redress on certain conditions, but that it was difficult to find a proper person; I said, why not Lord Hyde? he is a man of prudence and temper, a person of dignity, and I should think very suitable for such an employment: or, if he would not go, there is the other person you just mentioned, Lord Howe, who would, in my opinion, do excellently well. This passed as mere conversation, and we parted.
Lord Chatham's rejected plan being printed, for the public judgment, I received six copies from Lord Mahon, his son-in-law, which I sent to different persons in America.
A week and more passed, in which I heard nothing further of any negotiation, and my time was much taken up among the members of parliament; when Mr. Barclay sent me a note to say that he was indisposed, but desirous of seeing me, and should be glad if I would call on him. I waited upon him the next morning, when he told me, that he had seen Lord Hyde, and had some further discourse with him on the Articles; that he thought himself now fully possessed of what would do in this business; that he therefore wished another meeting with me and Doctor Fothergill, when he would endeavor to bring prepared a draft conformable chiefly to what had been proposed and conceded on both sides, with some propositions of his own. I readily agreed to the meeting, which was to be on Thursday evening, Feb. 16th.
We met accordingly, when Mr. Barclay produced the following paper, viz.
A Plan, which it is believed would produce a permanent union between Great
Britain and her Colonies.
1. The tea destroyed to be paid for; and, in order that no time may be lost, to begin the desirable work of conciliation, it is proposed that the agent or agents, in a Vol. I. 2 L
petition to the king, should engage that the tea destroyed shall be paid for; and in consequence of that engagement, a commissioner to have authority, by a clause in an act of parliament, to open the port (by a suspension of the Boston port act) when that engagement shall be complied with.
2d. The tea-duty act to be repealed, as well for the advantage of Great Britain as the colonies.
3d. Castle William to be restored to the province of the Massachusetts Bay, as formerly, before it was delivered up by Governor Hutchinson.
4th. As it is believed that the commencement of conciliatory measures will in a considerable degree quiet the minds of the subjects in America, it is proposed that the inhabitants of the province of the Massachusetts Bay should petition the king, and state their objections to the said act.1 And it is to be understood, that the said act shall be repealed. Interim, the commissioner to have power to suspend the act, in order to enable the inhabitants to petition.
5th. The several provinces who may think themselves aggrieved by the Quebec bill, to petition in their legislative capacities; and it is to be understood, that so far of the act as extends the limits of Quebec beyond its ancient bounds, is to be repealed.
6th. The act of Henry VIIIth to be formally disclaimed by parliament.
7th. In time of peace, the Americans to raise within their respective provinces, by acts of their own legislatures, a certain sum or sums, such as may be thought necessary for a peace establishment, to pay governors, judges, &c.
Vide Laws of Jamaica.
8th. In time of war, on requisition made by the king, with consent of parliament, every colony shall raise such sums of money, as their legislatures may think suitable to their abilities and the public exigency, to be laid out in raising and paying men for land or sea service, furnishing provisions, transports, or such other purposes as the king shall require and direct.
9th. The acts of navigation to be re-examined, in order to see whether some alterations might not be made therein, as much for the advantage of Great Britain, as the ease of the colonies.
10th. A naval officer to be appointed by the crown to reside in each colony, to see those acts observed.
N. B. In some colonies they are not appointed by the crown.
1 Supposed to mean the Boston port act. B. F..