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tiem. They then ask, what is offered to them by the late act of parliament in their place. And from thence proceed to a severe examination of the Quebec act, in which they attempt to shew, that it does not aftoid them, and has not leu them a civil right or security of any kind, as every thing it seems to grant, and even the laws they possessed before, are liable to be altered and varied, and new laws or ordinances made, by a governor and council appointed by the crown, and consequently, wholly dependent on, and removeable at the will of a minister in England; so that all the powers of legislation, as well 'as that of granting and applying the public supplies, and disposing of their own property, being thus totally out of the hinds and controul of the people, they are liable to the most abject slavery, and to live under the most despotic government in the universe.
After pretending to point out numberless deformities in that law, and placing them in such points of riew, as were sufficient to render it odious to mankind, as well as hideous to the Canadians, they represent, as an insult added to their injuries, the hopes upon which, they said, it had been founded by the minister; he expecting, that through an invincible stupidity in them, and a total inability of comprehending the tendency of a law, which so materially affected their dearest interests, should in the excess of a mistaken gratitude, take up arms, and incur the ridicule and detestation of the world, by becoming willing tools in his hands, to assist in subverting the rights and liberties of the other colonies;
Vol. XVIII. 1775.
without their being capable of fee* ing, that the unavoidable consequences of such an attempt, if successful, would be the extinction of all hopes to themselves and their posterity of being ever restored to freedom; for idiotcy itself, (say they) "cannot believe, that, when their drudgery is performed, they will treat you with less cruelty than they have us, who are of the fame blood with themselves."
They again apply to their passions, and partiality for their countryman, by calling up the venerable Montesquieu, and desiring them to apply those maxims, sanctified by the authority of a name which all Europe reveres, to their own state; they suppose him alive, and consulted by the Canadians as to the part they should act in their present situation. They are told (after expatiating on the subject of freedom and slavery) that they are only a small people, compared with their numerous and powerful neighbours, who with open arms invite them into a fellowship; to seize the opportunity in their savour, which is not tiie work of man, but presented by Providence itself; that it does not admit of a question, whether it is more for their interest and happiness, to have all the rest of North America their unalterable friends, or their inveterate enemies; that as nature had joined their countries, let them also join their political interests; that they have been conquered into liberty, if they act as they ought; but that their doing otherwise wijl be attended with irremediable evils.
They endeavour to obviat« the jealousies and prejudices which might arise from the difference of
thar their religious principles, by instancing the cafe of the Swiss cantons j whole union is composed of Catholic and Protestant states; who live in the utmost concord and peace with each other, and have been thereby enabled to defeat all attempts against their liberties. This instance, though perhaps the most apposite that could have teen brought for the purpose, would not, however, have born the test of much examination.
They declare, that they do not require them, to commence ails of hostility against the government of their common sovereign } that they only invite them to consult their own glory and welfare, and not to sorter themselves to be inveigled or intimidated by infamous ministers so far, as to become the instruments of their cruely and despotism. They conclude by informing them, that the congress had with universal pleasure, and by an unanimous vote, resolved, that they fliould consider the violation of their rights, by the act for altering the government of that province, as a violation of their own; and that they should be invited ro. accede to their confederation, which had no other object* than the perfect security of the natural and civil rights of all the constituent members, according to their respective circumstances, and the preservation of a happy and hasting connection with GreatBritain, on the salutary and constitutional principles before mentioned.
In the addrese to %he colonies they inform them, that as in duty and justice bound, they have deliberately, dispassionately, and impartially examined and considered
all the measures that led to the preS sent disturbances; the exertions of both the legislative and executive powers of Great-Britain, on the one hand, and the conduct of the colonies on the other. That upon the whole, they find themselves reduced to the disagreeable alternative, of being silent and betraying the innocent, or of speaking out and censuring those they wish to revere. In making their choice of these distressing difficulties, they prefer the course dictated by honesty, and a regard for the welfare of their country.
After stating and examining the several laws that were passed, and the measures pursued with respect to America, from the year 1764, to the present period, they enquire into the motives for the particular hostility carried on against the town of Boston, and province of Massachufett's-Bay, though the behaviour of the people in other colonies, had been in equal opposition to the power assumed by parliament, and yet no step whatever had been taken against any of them by government. This they represent as an artful systematic line of conduct, concealing among others the following designs: 1st. That it was expected, that the province of Maslaehusett's would be irritated into some violent action, that might displease the rest of the continent, or that might induce the people of England to approve the meditated vengeance ef an imprudent and exasperated ministry^ if the unexampled pacific temper of that province should disappoint that part of the plan, it was in. that cafe hoped, that the other co* lonies would be so far intimidated, as to desert their brethren, suffering
in a common cause, and that thus disunited, all might be easily subdued.
After examining the Quebec act, and pretending to assign the motives on which it was founded, they fly, that from this detail of facts, ai well as from authentic intelligence, it is clear, beyond a doubt, that a resolution is formed, and now is carrying into execution, to •extinguish the freedom of the colonies, by subjecting them to a despotic government.
They then proceed to state the importance of the trust which was reposed in them, and the manner in which they have discharged it. Upon this occasion, they fay, that though the state of the colonies would certainly justify other measures than those which they have advised; yet they have for weighty reasons . given the preference to those which they have adopted. These reasons are, that it is consistent with the character which the colonies hare always sustained, to perform, even in the midst of the unnatural distresses and imminent dangers that surround them, every -act of loyalty; and therefore they were induced to offer once more to his majesty the petitions of his faithful and oppressed subjects in America.—That from a fense of their tender affection for the people of the kingdom from which they derive their original, they could not forbear to regulate their feps by an expectation of receiving foil conviction that the co!oniiis are equally dear to them. That they ardently wish the social band between that body .and the colonies may never be. dissolved, sod that it cannot, until the minds of the former shall become
indisputably hostile, or their inattention (hall permit those who are thus hostile to persist in prosecuting, with the powers of the realm, the destructive measures already operating against the colonists; and, in either cafe, mail reduce the latter to such a situation, that they (hall be compelled to renounce every guard but that of self-preservation.—That, notwithstanding the vehemence with which affairs have been impelled, they have roc yet reached that fatal point j that they do not incline to accelerate their motion, already alarmingly rapid; and they have chosen a method of opposition that does not preclude a hearty reconciliation with their fellow citizens on the other side of the Atlantic.
That, they deeply deplore the urgent necessity that presses them to an immediate interruption of commerce, which may prove injurious to their fellow-subjects in England; but trust they will acquit them of any unkind intentions, by reflecting that they subject themselves to similar inconveniences; that they are driven by the hands of violence into unexperienced and unexpected public convulsions, and that they are contending for freedom, so often contended for by their ancestors.
They conclude by observing, that the people of England will soon have an opportunity of declaring their sentiments concerning their cause. "That in their piety, "generqsity, and good sense, they "repose high confidence; and can"not, upon a review of past events, "be persuaded that they, the de"fenders of true religion, and the "assertors of the rights of man■«« kind, will take part against
[C] t * "their "their affectionate Protestant bre"thren in the colonies, in favour "of their open and our own se"cret enemies, whose intrigues, *' for several years past, have been "wholly exercised in sapping the *' foundation of all civil and re"ligious liberty."
These public acts being passed,
October 26th. the df e&T- PcUc an end to their session, on the 5zd day from the opening of the congress.
Without examining the truth of their allegations, or pretending to
form any opinion upon a subject, on which the first names in this country have differed so widely, it must be acknowledged, that the petition aad addresses from the congress have been executed with uncommon energy, address, and ability; and that considered abstractedly, with respect to vigour of mind, strength of sentiment, and the language, at least of patriotism, they would not have disgraced any assembly that ever existed.
State os affairs previous to the dissolution os Parliament. Ybe new Par-* liament meets. Speech from tie throne. Addresses. Amendments proposed. Debates. Protest. Apparent irresolution ivith respe3 to America. Es* tim.ites of supply formed upon a peace establishment. Reduction in the naval department.
WHILST matters of this magnitude were transacting in America, an unexampled supineness with regard to public affairs, prevailed among the great body of the people at home. The English nation, which used to feel so tremblingly alive, upon every contest that arose between the remotest powers in Europe, and to interest itself so much in the issue, as scarcely to be with-held from becoming a party where-ever justice or friendship pointed out the way, by a strange reverse of temper, seemed at this time, much more indifferent to matters, in which were involved its own imjnediate and dearest interests. Even the great commercial and manufacturing bodies, who must be the first to feel, and the last to lament any sinister events in the colonies,
and who are generally remarkable for a quick foresight and provident sagacity in whatever regards their interest, seemed now to be sunk in the same carelessness and inattention with the rest of the people.
Several causes concurred to produce this apparent indifference. The colony contests were no longer new. From the year 17-65, they had, with but few, and those shore intermissions, engaged the attention of parliament. Most of the topics on the subject were exhausted, and the vehement passions which accompanied them had subsided. The non-importation agreement, (by divisions within the colonies, which, if not caused, were much forwarded by .the concessions with regard to several of the taxes laid in 1767) had broken up, before it had produced any serious consequences. Oasequences. Most people therefore flattered themselves, that as things had appeared so very frequently at the verge of a rupture, without actually arriving at it, that now, as formerly, some means would be found for accommodating this dispute. At word it was conceived, that the Americans would themselves grow tired. And as an opinion was circulated with feme industry and success, that a coantenance of resolution, if persevered in for some time, would certainly put an end to the contest, which (it was said) had been nourished wholly by former concessions, people were in general inclined to leave the trial of the effects of perseverance and resolution, to a ministry who valued themselves on those qualities. The court had also with great tenaciO'jiness adhered to this system for some years. It frequently got the better, not only of the regular opposition, but of parties in the ministry itself, who were from time to rime inclined to relax cither from sear, weariness, or change of opinion. All these things had hitherto indisposed the body of the nation from taking part in the sanguine manner they had hitherto done on other subjects, and formerly on this.
From these causes, administration being totally disengaged at home, was at full leisure to prosecute the measures which it had designed against America, or to adopt such new ones, as the opposition there rendered necessary towards carrying the new laws into execution. The times indeed were highly favourable to ar.y purpose, which only required tin concur
rence of that parliament, and the acquiescence of the people.
Notwithstanding these favourable circumstances on the one fide, and that general indifference which prevailed on the other, it was not totally forgotten by either, that the time for a general election was approaching, and that the parliament had but one session more to compleat its allotted term. In some few places, where the popular spirit ran high, tests were already proposed to be signed by their future candidates, previous to their receiving any assurance, or promise of support from the electors. At a meeting of the freeholders of the county of Middlesex, a test was proposed to Mr. Wilkes and Serjeant Glynne, and by them signed, in which they engaged their utmost endeavours to promote bills for sliortening the duration of parliaments, for the exclusion of placemen and pensioners from the House of Commons; for a more fair and equal representation of the people; for vindicating the injured rights of the freeholders of that county, and through them of all the electors in the kingdom; for procuring a repeal of the four late American, acts, viz. That for the province of Quebec, and the three which affected the town of Boston, and the province of Mafldchusett's-Bay; besides binding themselves, so far as in them lay, to restore ?nd defend that excellent form of government, which had been modelled and established at the revolution.
Tests, upon much the fame principles, were proposed in London and some other places; and it is still the opinion of some of thole, who were sanguine in that mode [C] 5 Of