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majorities. Yet the business respecting Ame. CHAP. III. rica was not promptly entered into. The admi. 1774. nistration seems to have hesitated on the course to be adopted, and the cabinet is said to have been divided respecting future measures. The few friends of conciliation availed themselves of this delay, to bring forward propositions, which might restore harmony to the different parts of the empire. Lord Chatham was not yet dead. “This splendid orb,?' to use the bold metaphor of mr. Burke, “was not yet entirely set. The western horizon was still in a blaze with his descending glory," and the evening of a life which had exhibited one bright unchequered course of elevated patri. otism, was devoted to the service of that country whose aggrandizement had swallowed up every other passion of his soul. Taking a 1775. prophetic view of the future course of events, he demonstrated the impossibility of subjugating America, and urged with all the powers of his vast mind the immediate removal of the troops from Boston, as a measure indispensably necessary, in order to open the way for an adjustment of the present differences with the colonies. Not discouraged by the great majority by which this motion was negatived, he brought forward a bill for settling the troubles in America, which was also rejected by sixty- February. one to thirty-two voices.
CHAP. III. The day after the rejection of this bill, lord 1775. North moved in the house of commons an
address to his majesty, in which it was declared that from a serious consideration of the American papers, “they find that a rebellion actually exists in the province of Massachussetts Bay.” In the course of the debate on this address, several professional gentlemen spoke with the utmost contempt* of the military character of the Americans; and general Grant, who ought to have known better, declared that “ at the head of five regiments of infantry, he would undertake to traverse the whole country, and drive the inhabitants from one end of the continent to the other." The address pro. posed was carried by 288, to 106, and, on a conference, the house of lords agreed to join in it. Lord North soon after moved a bill for restraining the trade and commerce of the New England provinces, and prohibiting them from carrying on the fisheries on the banks of New. foundland.
* Mr. Gordon represents the military gentlemen to have said, when speaking of the Americans; "they are neither soldiers, nor ever can be made so, being naturally of a pusillanimous disposition, and utterly incapable of any sort of order or discipline; and by their laziness, uncleanliness, and radical defect of constitution, they are disabled from going through the service of a campaign ; but will melt away with sickness, before they can face an enemy:....so that a slight force will be more than sufficient for their complete reduction.”
While this bill was depending, and only ven. CHAP. III. geance was breathed by the supporters of the 1775. present system, his lordship, to the astonish. ment of the house, suddenly moved, what he termed, his conciliatory proposition. * Its amount was, that parliament would forbear to tax any colony, which should tax itself in such a sum, as would be perfectly satisfactory. Far short, as was this proposition, of the demands of America, and apparent as it must have been that it could not be accepted; it was received with indignation by the majority of the house, and the administration found it necessary, so to explain the measure, as to show that it was in maintenance of their right to tax the colonies. Before it could be adopted, lord North condescended to make the dangerous, and not very reputable acknowledgment, that it was a proposition designed to divide America, while it united Great Britain.t It was transmitted to
* See Note, No. XIV. at the end of the volume. † In the speech introducing this resolution, the minister said, “if their opposition is only founded on the principles which they pretend, they must agree with this proposition; but if they have designs in contemplation different from those they avow, their refusal will convict them of duplicity.” He farther declared, “ that he did not expect his proposition to be generally relished by the Americans. But,” said he, “if it does no good in the colonies, it will do good here; it will unite the people of England, by holding out to them a distinct object of revenue." He added farther, “as it tends to unite England, it is likely VOL. II.
CHAP. 111. the governors of the several colonies in a cir1775. cular letter, from lord Dartmouth, with direc
tions to use their utmost influence to procure its adoption. These endeavours, however, were no where successful. The colonists were universally impressed with too strong a conviction of the importance of 'union, and now un. derstood too well the real principle of the contest, to permit themselves to be divided or deceived by this proposition which was conciliatory only in name. After the passage of the bill for restraining the trade of New England, information was received that the inhabitants of the middle and southern colonies were support. ing their northern brethren in every measure of opposition. In consequence of this intelligence, a second bill was brought in for imposing similar restrictions on the colonies of East and West Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, and the counties on the Delaware, which was passed without much opposition. The favourite colonies of New York and North Carolina were thought less disaffected than the others, and were not included in this bill. Fortunately, some time afterwards, the house of commons refused to hear a petition, offered by mr. Burke, from
to disunite America, for if only one province accepts the offer, their confederacy, which alonc makes them formidable, will be broken."
Ramscy, vol. I. p. 163.
the legislature of New York, which alone had CHAP. III. declined acceding to the resolutions of the 1775. general congress, because, as was suggested by the minister, it contained claims incompatible with the supremacy of parliament. This haughty rejection had some tendency to convince such of that province, as cherished the hope of producing accommodation by milder measures than had been adopted by their sister colonies, that there was no medium between resistance and absolute submission.
Notwithstanding the ill success which had heretofore attended the efforts of the minority, a series of resolutions was brought forward by mr. Burke, enforced by a most able and eloquent speech, the object of which was to restore the ancient state of things between the mother country and her colonies; but these resolutions experienced the same fate which had attended all other truly conciliatory propositions.
The king's speech and the proceedings of parliament served only to convince the leaders of the opposition in America that they must indeed prepare to meet “mournful events." They had flattered themselves that the union of the colonies, the petition of congress to the king, and the address to the people of Great Britain, would have produced some happy effects; but the measures now adopted in a great measure removed the delusion. The new provincial