Page images
PDF
EPUB

temptible. Otis is a man of consequence among the people there. They have chosen him for one of their deputies at the congress and general meeting from the respective governments. It was said, the man is made What then? One madman often makes many. Mas

. saniello was mad. Nobody doubts it; yet, for all that, he overturned the government of Naples. Madness is catching in all popular assemblies, and upon all popular matters. The book is full of wildness. I never read it till a few days ago, for I seldom look into such things. I never was actually acquainted with the contents of the Stamp Act, till I sent for it on pur. pose to read it before the debate was expected. With respect to authorities in another house, I know nothing of them. I believe that I have not been in that house more than once since I had the honour to be called up to this; and, if I did know any thing that passed in the other house, I could not and would not men. tion it as an authority here. I ought not to mention any such authority. I should think it beneath my own and your lordships' dignity to speak of it.

I am far from bearing any ill will to the Americans; they are a very good people, and I have long known them. I began life with them, and owe much to them, having been much concerned in the plantation causes, before the privy council, and so I became a good deal acquainted with American affairs and people. I dare

say,

their heat will soon be over, when they come to feel a little the consequences of their opposition to the legislature. Anarchy always cures itself; but the fermentation will continue so much the longer, while hot headed men there find that there are persons of weight and character to support and justify them here.

Indeed, if the disturbances should continue for a great length of time, force must be the consequence, an application adequate to the mischief, and arising out of the necessity of the case; for, force is only the difference between a superiour and subordinate jurisdiction. In the former, the whole force of the legis

. lature resides collectively, and when it ceases to re

be to very

side the whole connexion is dissolved. It will, indeed, little purpose

that we sit here enacting laws, and making resolutions, if the inferiour will not obey them, or if we neither can nor dare enforce them; for then, and then, I say, of necessity, the matter comes to the sword. If the offspring are grown too big and too resolute to obey the parent, you must try which is the strongest, and exert all the powers of the mother country to decide the contest.

I am satisfied, notwithstanding, that time and a wise and steady conduct may prevent those extremities which would be fatal to both. I remember well when it was the violent humour of the times to decry standing armies and garrisons, as dangerous and incompatible with the liberty of the subject. Nothing would do but a regular militia. The militia are embodied; they march, and, no sooner was the militia law thus put into execution, but it was then said to be an entolerable burthen upon the subject, and that it would fall, sooner or later, into the hands of the crown. That was the language, and many counties petitioned against it. This may be the case with the colonies. In many places they begin already to feel the effects of their resistance to government. Interest very soon divides mercantile people; and, although there may be some mad, enthusiastick, or ill designing people in the colonies, yet I am convinced that the greatest bulk, who have understanding and property, are still well affected to the mother country. You have, my lords, many friends still in the colonies; and take care that you do not, by abdicating your own authority, desert them and yourselves, and lose them for ever.

In all popular tumults the worst men bear the sway at first. Moderate and good men are often silent for fear or modesty; who, in due time, may declare themselves. Those who have any property to lose are sufficiently alarmed already at the progress of these publick violences and violations, to which every man's dwelling, person, and property, are hourly exposed. Numbers of such valuable men and good subjects are

[ocr errors]

ready and willing to declare themselves for the support of government in due time, if government does not Aling away its own authority.

My lords, the parliament of Great Britain has its rights over the colonies; but it may abdicate its rights.

There was a thing which I forgot to mention. I mean, the manuscript quoted by the noble lord. He tells you, that it is there said, that, if the act concerning Ireland had passed, the parliament might have abdicated its rights as to Ireland. In the first place, I heartily wish, my lords, that Ireland had not been named at a time when that country is of a temper and in a situation so difficult to be governed ; and when we have already here so much weight upon our hands, encumbered with the extensiveness, variety, and importance, of so many objects in a vast and too busy empire; and the national system shattered and exhausted by a long, bloody, and expensive war, but more so by our divisions at home, and a fluctuation of councils. I wish Ireland therefore had never been named.

I pay as much respect as any man to the memory of lord chief justice Hale: but I did not know that he had ever written upon the subject; and I differ very much from thinking with the noble lord, that this manuscript ought to be published. So far am I from it, that I wish the manuscript had never been named; for, Ireland is too tender a subject to be touched. The case of Ireland is as different as possible from that of our colonies. Ireland was a conquered couritry; it had its pacta conventa, and its regalia. But to what purpose is it to mention the manuscript ? It is but the opinion of one man. When it was written, or for what particular object it was written, does not appear. It might possibly be only a work of youth, or an exercise of the understanding, in sounding and trying a question problematically. All people, when they first enter professions, make their collections pretty early in life; and the manuscript may be of that sort. However, be it what it may, the opinion

is but problematical; for, the act to which the writer refers never passed, and lord Hale only said, that, if it had passed, the parliament might have abdicated their right.

But, my lords, I shall make this application of it. You may abdicate your right over the colonies. Take care, my lords, how you do so; for, such an act will be irrevocable. Proceed, then, my lords, with spirit and firmness; and, when you shall have established your authority, it will then be a time to show your lenity. The Americans, as I said before, are a very good people, and I wish them exceedingly well; but they are heated and inflamed. The noble lord who spoke before ended with a prayer. I cannot end better than by saying to it, Amen; and in the words of Maurice Prince of Orange concerning the Hollanders, “God bless this industrious, frugal, and well meaning, but easily deluded people.

[blocks in formation]

á

« PreviousContinue »