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the Second, prohibiting, under the penalties therein mentioned, anv petition to be presented to the King, or to either House of Parliament, if signed by more than twenty persons, for altering the religion or the laws, was completely repealed by that article in the Bill of Rights, which declares, *5 If this article meant any thi.ig, it meant to restore to the People that great privilege which the act of "Charles was calculated to abridge, if not to take away." The House, in deliberating on this point-, ought to refer to the cause of that declaratory article. The abridgement of the privilege of the subject, by the act of Charles, gave rife to the demand on behalf of the People, and the declaration on that of the Crown; in consequence of which the privilege was restored, and the right established again in all its force. To argue that the a6t of Charles is now in force, would be as puerile and absurd as to contend that the preroga*tive of the Crown still remains in its full extent, notwithstanding the declarations in the Bill of Rights. The fame argument goes in favour of. the prerogative that was alledged in favour of the act of Charles. If then it is true that the Peopls of this country have a right to petition the Legislature, they have a right to assemble together for that purpose, and while their meeting is sober, peaceable, and orderly, it is strictly legal. But it is said, that associations are unconstitutional, and committees of correspondence and delegations; arguments are drawn from the Scottish history to prove that they are danr gerous, and from the history of France to prove that they are unconstitutional. The honourable and learned gentleman (Mr. Wedderburne) who has taken this method of supporting the proposition, has betrayed its poverty; he must, indeed, be pressed for arguments, when he has recourse to the examples of countries, which are either involved in despotism, or torn by disorder, for the proof that is required. In this kingdom it is the pride and happiness of the People that the laws consider the intention, and the guilt or the innocence of an action depend on the qiu an/me with which it is committed. Associations* atioris, committees of correspondence, and delegations, are not criminal, merely because they were such; but their illegality is deduced from the intention with which they were formed, and the design which they have to pursue. There are many associations in this country patronised even by the Crown, and recognised by the Legislature. AfibcTations for the purposes of commerce, of benevolence, ot of science; there is nothing terrible in the name, nor would they either be a bit better, or a bit worse, if they were to assume any other name, and call themselves companies, congregations, bodies, assemblies, or even congresses; every thing depends on the nature of the institution. If an association is formed for the purpose of curtailing the Legislature, of destroying one of the three constituent branches, of dethroning the King, of resisting the execution of the laws, of altering the established religion of . the country, or, in short, of committing any violence contrary to the Constitution, and subversive of order, government, and domestic peace, it is certainly illegal and highly criminal; it is an association which ought to be resisted by the civil authority, and suppressed by the intervention of the laws; against such an association the laws had sufficiently armed the executive power, and Ministers would be traitors if they suffered, either by wilful treachery or blind negligence, such an association so far to grow and strengthen itself, as to be able to surround the Parliament, and with arms and military array, over-awe their proceedings, and force them to what they pleased; but an association even of this nature would be- legal in certain circumstances; if even a period should arrive, when the three branches of the Legislature, the King, Lords, and Commons, should by an unconstitutional coalition meet in one mass, and fail to hava distinct opinions and distinct independence; if the Commons, forgetting their origin and their duty, should become the slaves of either, or of both the other powers, then it would be no longer illegal for the commonalty of Britain to resume their just share in the Lagislat-ure, and
the, the means by which they accomplished this, whether it was by associations, by remonstrances, or by force, would be not only fight, but laudable; it would be an honourable imitation of the conduct of their ancestors, by which their constitution has been wrested from the rapacity and from the violence of prerogative; in Jhtrt, associations are always to be justified or condemned by their intention,. .... *....•«."". *
-"..»*' Mr. Dunning, May % 1781.
Nothing is more delusive than measuring time by a fuccessiorr of ideas; the miserable and the happy have very different ideas of time; what are but minutes to the latter, are hours, days, and months, to the former: so the poor captive thinks his confinement much longer than he does who puts him in prison. With respect to the predilection and affection the Spaniards are said to possess for our sailors, now their prisoners, it is but a.poor comfort to a British seaman lying in a Spanish jail, to be told, that his enemy has a predilection for him, while he feels the neglect and contempt of his country, who makes not the least effort to restore him to his liberty. It is not the humanity of an enemy that a British sailor ought to rely on; it is the benignity of Great Britain that he should look up to.
By the disgraceful practice of war, the unhappy seamen were by the impress dragged on shipboard, contrary to all their prayers and remonstrances; yet they generously forgive the injury, and fight the battles of their country. In return for this, when they fall into foreign captivity, they are neglected and forgotten; are left to perish in a sultry cJimate; it is even deemed factious to inquire after them;. in a word, they find in the Admiralty only an iron hand to .oppress, but no compassion, no spirit, to protect them.
Augustus, the Roman Emperor, was so affected with the loss of his legions, that he even invoked the manes of their dead General to restore them back to him: Farre, redde nobis nautas!
S hi S h! Give us back our seamen, our ships, our troops, our
Wealth, lost by thy cursed treasons!
O, thou Earl of Sandwich, who was born to be the curse of thy country, who livest only to accumulate dishonour on her heaJ, to destroy her boasted navy 1 Restore, restore to us those brave men who are thrown into chains by thy negligence, and, who remain in them by thy scandalous inhumanity!
Mr. Burke, June I, 1781.
I SHALL grant, Sir, that generally speaking, peace is better than war; but it is not always so: a dishonourable peace is worse than a destructive war; it is better for a nation, as well as a private man, to cease to be, than to subsist in the wretched state of suffering continual insults and indignities; and if, under the present Administration, we-have loft a great part of the character we gained in former times; if our neighbours have begun to think that we will bear with any infraction of treaties rather than engage in a war, which I hope is not the cafe, we may cajole and flatter ourselves with obtaining redress by peaceful negotiations and treaties; but while our neighbours entertain such a notion of us, I am fully convinced it will be impossible. If our enemies are not yet fully prepared to ruin us, if they think they may soon have a better opportunity than the present for giving us some fmishing blow, they may for some time amuse us with negotiations or congresses, they may even vouchsafe to grant us a convention or a treaty.; but these will appear at last to be nothing but
expedients, expedients, artfully contrived by them, and foolishly or treacherously submitted to by us, for making our ruin the more complete and the more inevitable. During these very negotiations, and notwithstanding the treaties they may vouchsafe to grant us, being convinced they may do it with ingefluity, they will continue to put the fame indignities upon us, till we are reduced so low by our sufferings, that like a man who has too long neglected a wasting distemper, we shall not have sufficient strength left for making use of that remedy, which, if it had been applied in time, would have produced a certain cure.
Sir John Barnard, Jan. 28, 1738.
We have heard a great deal with regard to the prudential consideration of our agreeing to the present motion; but give me leave to observe, Sir, that the character of a nation is very different from that of a private man; a private man that has once established a reputation for wisdom and courage, may easily, and generally does, preserve that reputation as long as he lives; but whatever reputation a state or kingdom may acquire at any one time, is so far from continuing as long as that state or kingdom subsists, that on the contrary, the reputation acquired under one King, or one Administration, always expires as soon as that King or Administration expires; and the successors must always begin afresh to acquire and establish a character for the nation under their Administration. A nation may acquire the highest character, the greatest esteem, under one reign or Administration, and yet sink into the lowest contempt under the very next. This was the cafe of this nation in the reigns of Edward I. and Edward II, in the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II- in the reigns of Henry V. and Henry VI. and in the reigns of our wife Queen Elizabeth and her successor James I.
Sir jsohn Barnard, feb. 16, 1738.
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