« PreviousContinue »
some companies. But recollect it was not to a little miss whom he wished to astonish, that he mentioned these sentiments, but to a kinsman and a man of boiling loyalty. If Mr. Shervington, his relation, swore true, Captain Armstrong must be a forsworn witness-one or other of the two must be perjured. If If you disbelieve Captain Armstrong, can you find a verdict of blood, upon his evidence? -The case of my client is that the witness is perjured, and you are appealed to in the name of that ever-living God whom you revere, but whom he despiseth, to save him from the baseness of such an
DUTY OF A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT.-Burke.
Gentlemen-It ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him, their opinion high respect, their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interests to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure-no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
My worthy colleague says, his will ought to be subservient to yours. If that be all, the thing is innocent. If government were a matter of will upon any side, yours, without question, ought to be superior. But government
and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion; in which one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments. To deliver an opinion is the right of all men; that of constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice to hear; and which he ought always most seriously to consider. But authoritative instructions, mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and conscience, these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of our constitution. Parliament is not a congress of embassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against the other agents and advocates; but Parliament is a deliberate assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of Parliament. If the local constituent should have an interest, or should form a hasty opinion, evidently opposite to the real good of the rest of the community, the member for that place ought to be as far as any other from any endeavor to give it effect.
TRIBUTE TO THE ENTERPRISING SPIRIT OF THE NEW ENGLAND COLONISTS.-Burke.
As to the wealth, Mr. Speaker, which the colonies have drawn from the sea by their fisheries, you had all
that matter fully opened at your bar. You surely thought those acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite your envy; and yet the spirit by which that enterprising employment has been exercised, ought rather, in my opinion, to have raised your esteem and admiration. And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to it? Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the people of New England have of late carried on the whale-fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay, and Davis' straits, whilst we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the south. Falkland island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting place in the progress of their victorious industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging to them, than the accumulated winter of both the poles. We know that whilst some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude, and pursue their gigantic game along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their fisheries. No climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and firm sagacity of English enterprise, ever carried this most perilous mode of hardy industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent people; a people who are still as it were, but in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood. When I contemplate these things; when I know that the colonies in general owe little or nothing to any care of ours, and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the constraints of a watchful and suspicious government, but that through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection; when I reflect upon these effects,
when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of human contrivances melt, and die away within me. My rigor relents. I pardon something to the spirit of liberty.
MR. BURKE'S OPINION RELATIVE TO THE RIGHT OF ENGLAND TO TAX AMERICA.
"But Mr. Speaker, we have a RIGHT to tax America! Oh inestimable right! Oh! wonderful transcendent right, the assertion of which has cost this country thirteen provinces, six islands, one hundred thousand lives, and seventy millions of money! Oh! invaluable right! for the sake of which we have sacrificed our rank among nations, our importance abroad, and our happiness at home! Oh right! more dear to us than our existence, which has already cost us so much, and which seems likely to cost us our all. Infatuated man!" (fixing his eye on the minister,) "miserable and undone country! not to know that the claim of right, without the power of enforcing it, is nugatory and idle. We have a right to tax America, the noble lord tells us; therefore we ought to tax America. This is the profound logic which comprises the whole chain of his reasoning.
Not inferior to this was the wisdom of him who resolved to shear the wolf. What! shear a wolf! Have you considered the resistance, the difficulty, the danger of the attempt? No says the madman, I have considered nothing but the right. Man has a right of dominion over the beasts of the forest; and therefore I will shear the wolf. How wonderful that a nation could be thus deluded. But the noble lord deals in cheats and delusions. They are the daily traffic of his invention; and he will continue to play off his cheats on this House, so long as he thinks them necessary to his purpose, and so long as
he has money enough at command to bribe gentlemen to pretend that they believe him. But a black and bitter day of reckoning will surely come; and whenever that day come, I trust I shall be able, by a parliamentary impeachment, to bring upon the heads of the authors of our calamities, the punishment they deserve.
MR. AMES ON THE BRITISH TREATY.
SHALL WE BREAK THE TREATY? Sir, from arguments calculated to produce conviction, I will appeal directly to the hearts of those who hear me, and ask, whether it is not already planted there? I resort especially to the convictions of the western gentlemen whether supposing no posts and no treaty, the settlers will remain in security? Can they take it upon them to say, that an Indian peace, under these circumstances, will prove firm? No, sir, it will not be peace, but a sword: it will be no better than a lure to draw victims within the reach of the tomahawk. On this theme, my emotions are unutterable. If I could find words for them, if my powers bore any proportion to my zeal, I would swell my voice to such a note of remonstrance, it should reach every loghouse beyond the mountains. I would say to the inhabitants, wake from your false security: your cruel dangers, your more cruel apprehensions are soon to be renewed: the wounds yet unhealed, are to be torn open again in the day time, your path through the woods will be ambushed: the darkness of midnight will glitter with the blaze of your dwellings. You are a father-the blood of your sons shall fatten your corn-field: you are a mother-the war-whoop shall wake the sleep of the cradle. On this subject you need not suspect any deception on your feelings. It is a spectacle of horror which cannot be overdrawn. If you have nature in your hearts, it will speak a language compared with which,