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51. REPLY TO LORD NORTH, 1774. — Col. Barré. Born, 1727 ; died, 1802. When intelligence of the destruction of the tea at Boston, Dec. 18, 1773, reached England, it was made the subject of a message from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament. The bill shutting up the port of Boston followed. Then succeeded two more measures, by one of which the charter of Massachusetts Bay was entirely subverted, and the nomination of councillors. magistrates, and all civil officers, vested in the Crown; and by the other it wa provided, that if any person were indicted in the Province of Massachusetts Bay for murder, or any other capital offence, and it should appear to the Governor, by information on oath, that the act was committed in the exercise or aid of the magistracy in suppressing tumults and riots, and that a fair trial could not be had in the province, he should send the person so indicted to any other colony, or to Great Britain, for trial. While the two measures last named were pending, the following remarks were made in Parliament by Col. Barré.
Sır, this proposition is so glaring; so unprecedented in any former proceedings of Parliament; so unwarranted by any delay, denial or provocation of justice, in America; so big with misery and oppression to that country, and with danger to this, – that the first blush of it is sufficient to alarm and rouse me to opposition. It is proposed to stigmatize a whole People as persecutors of innocence, and men incapable of doing justice; yet you have not a single fact on which to ground that imputation! I expected the noble Lord would have supported this motion by producing instances in which officers of Government in America had been prosecuted with unremitting vengeance, and brought to cruel and dishonorable deaths, by the violence and injustice of American juries. But he has not produced one such instance; and I will tell you more, Sir,-he cannot produce one! The instances which have happened are directly in the teeth of his proposition. Col. Preston and the soldiers who shed the blood of the People were fairly tried, and fully acquitted. It was an American jury, a New England jury, a Boston jury, which tried and acquitted them. Col. Preston has, under his hand, publicly declared that the inhabitants of the very town in which their fellow-citizens had been sacrificed were his advocates and defenders. Is this the return you make them ? Is this the encouragement you give them to persevere in so laudable a spirit of justice and moderation? But the noble Lord says, “ We must now show the Americans that we will no longer sit quiet under their insults.” Sir, I am sorry to say that this is declamation, unbecoming the character and place of him who utters it. In what moment have you been quiet ? Has not your Government, for many years past, been a series of irritating and offensive measures, without policy, principle or moderation ? Have not your troops and your ships made a vain and insulting parade in their streets and in their harbors ? Have you not stimulated discontent into disaffection, and are you not now goading disaffection into rebellion? Can you expect to be well informed when you listen only to partisans ? expect to do justice when you will not hear the accused ?
Let the banners be once spread in America, and you are an undone People. You are urging this desperate, this destructive issue. In assenting to your late Bill,* I resisted the violence of America at the hazard of my popularity there. I now resist your frenzy at the same risk
The Boston Port Bill ; for his vote in favor of which the portrait of Barré was removed from Faneuil Hall.
here. I know the vast superiority of your disciplined troops over the Provincials; but beware how you supply the want of discipline by desperation! What madness is it that prompts you to attempt obtaining that by force which you may more certainly procure by requisition ? The Americans may be flattered into anything; but they are too much like yourselves to be driven. Have some indulgence for your own likeness; respect their sturdy English virtue; retract your odious exertions of authority, and remember that the first step towards making them contribute to your wants is to reconcile them to your Government.
52. BOLD PREDICTIONS, 1775. - John Wilkes. Born, 1717; died, 1797. MR. SPEAKER : The Address to the King, upon the disturbances in North America, now reported from the Committee of the whole House, appears to be unfounded, rash, and sanguinary. It draws the sword unjustly against America. It mentions, Sir, the particular Province of Massachusetts Bay as in a state of actual rebellion. The other Provinces are held out to our indignation as aiding and abetting. Arguments have been employed to involve them in all the consequences of an open, declared rebellion, and to obtain the fullest orders for our officers and troops to act against them as rebels. Whether their present state is that of rebellion, or of a fit and just resistance to unlawful acts of power, — resistance to our attempts to rob them of their property and liberties, as they imagine, — I shall not declare. This I know: a successful resistance is a revolution, not a rebellion! Rebellion indeed appears on the back of a flying enemy; but Revolution flames on the breast-plate of the victorious warrior. Who can tell, Sir, whether, in consequence of this day's violent and mad Address to his Majesty, the scabbard may not be thrown away hy them as well as by us; and, should success attend them, whether, in a few years, the independent Americans may not celebrate the glorious era of the Revolution of 1775, as we do that of 1688 ?
The policy, Sir, of this measure, I can no more comprehend, than I can acknowledge the justice of it. Is your force adequate to the attempt? I am satisfied it is not. Boston, indeed, you may lay in ashes, or it may be made a strong garrison; but the Province will be
Boston will be like Gibraltar. You will hold, in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, as you do in Spain, a single town, while the whole country remains in the power and possession of the enemy. Where your fleets and armies are stationed, the possession will be secured, while they continue; but all the rest will be lost. In the great scale of empire, you will decline, I fear, from the decision of this day; and the Americans will rise to independence, to power, to all the greatness of the most renowned States! For they build on the solid basis of general public liberty.
I tremble, Sir, at the almost certain consequences of such an Address, founded in cruelty and injustice, equally contrary to the
lost to you.
sound maxims of true policy, and the unerring rule of natural right. The Americans will certainly defend their property and their liberties with the spirit which our ancestors exerted, and which, I hope, we should exert, on a like occasion. They will sooner declare themselves independent, and risk every consequence of such a contest, than submit to the galling yoke which Administration is preparing for them. An Address of this sanguinary nature cannot fail of driving them to despair. They will see that you are preparing, not only to draw the sword, but to burn the scabbard. In the most harsh manner you are declaring them REBELS! Every idea of a reconciliation will now vanish. They will pursue the most vigorous course in their own defence. The whole continent of North America will be dismembered from Great Britain, and the wide arch of the raised Empire will fall. But may the just vengeance of the People overtake the authors of these pernicious Counsels! May the loss of the first Province of the Empire be speedily followed by the loss of the heads of those Ministers who have persisted in these wicked, these fatal, these most disastrous measures !
53. CONQUEST OF THE AMERICANS IMPRACTICABLE, 1775. -John Wilkes.
Sir, it ill becomes the duty and dignity of Parliament to lose itself in such a fulsome adulatory Address to the Throne as that now proposed. We ought rather, Sir, to approach it with sound and wholesome advice, and even with remonstrances, against the Ministers who have precipitated the Nation into an unjust, ruinous, murderous and felonious war. I call the war with our brethren in America an unjust and felonious war, because the primary cause and confessed origin of it is to attempt to take their money from them without their consent, contrary to the common rights of all mankind, and those great fundamental principles of the English Constitution for which Hampden bled. I assert, Sir, that it is a murderous war, because it is an effort to deprive men of their lives for standing up in the defence of their property and their clear rights. Such a war, I fear, Sir, will draw down the vengeance of Heaven on this devoted Kingdom. Sir, is any Minister weak enough to flatter himself with the conquest of the Americans? You cannot, with all your allies, — with all the mercenary ruffians of the North, you cannot effect so wicked a purpose. The Americans will dispute every inch of territory with you, every narrow pass, every strong defile, every Thermopylæ, every Bunker's Hill ! More than half the Empire is already lost, and almost all the rest is in confusion and anarchy. We have appealed to the sword ; and what have we gained ? Bunker's Hill only, - and that with the loss of twelve hundred men! Are we to pay as dear for the rest of America ? The idea of the conquest of that immense country is as romantic as unjust.
The honorable Gentleman who moved this Address says, “ The Americans have been treated with lenity.” Will facts justify the assertion? Was your Boston Port Bill a measure of lenity ? Was your Fishery Bill a measure of lenity? Was your Bill for taking away the charter of Massachusetts Bay a measure of lenity, or even of justice? I omit your many other gross provocations and insults, by which the brave Americans have been dri to their present state. Sir, I disapprove, not only the evil spirit of this whole Address, but likewise the wretched adulation of alm st every part of it. My wish and hope, therefore, is, that it will be rejected by this House; and that another, dutiful yet decent, manly Address, will be presented to his Majesty, praying that he would sheathe the sword, prevent the further effusion of the blood of our fellow-subjects, and adopt some mode of negotiation with the general Congress, in compliance with their repeated petition, thereby restoring peace and harmony to this dis. tracted Empire.
54. REPLY TO THE DUKE OF GRAFTON.- Lord Thurioro. Elwarl Thurlow, who rose to be Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, was born in 1732, and died in 1806. Butler, in his “ Reminiscences,” says: “It was my good fortune to hear his celebrated reply to the Duke of Grafton, who reproached Lord Thurlow with his plebeian extraction, and his recent admission into the peerage. His Lordship had spoken too often, and began to be heard with a civil but visible impatience; and, under these circumstances, he was attacked in the manner we have mentioned. Lord Thurlow rose from the woolsack, and advanced slowly to the place from which the Chancellor generally addresses the House of Lords, and then, fixing on the Duke the look of Jove when he has grasped the thunder, he said in a level tone of voice), 'I am amazed at the attack which the noble Duke has made on me.' Then, raising his voice, — Yes, my Lorus, I am amazed,' &c.”
I am amazed at the attack which the noble Duke has made on me. Yes, my Lords, I am amazed at his Grace's speech. The noble Duke cannot look before him, behind him, or on either side of him, without seeing some noble Peer who owes his seat in this House to his success. ful exertions in the profession to which I belong. Does he not feel that it is as honorable to owe it to these, as to being the accident of an accident ? To all these noble Lords the language of the noble Duke is as applicable, and as insulting, as it is to myself. But I do not fear to meet it single and alone.
No one venerates the Peerage more than I do; but, my Lords, I must say that the Peerage solicited me, — not I the Peerage. Nay, more, — I can say, and will say, that, as a Peer of Parliament, as Speaker of this right honorable House, as keeper of the great seal, as guardian of his Majesty's conscience, as Lord High Chancellor of England, — nay, even in that character alone in which the noble Duke would think it an affront to be considered, but which character none can deny me, as a man, — I am, at this moment, as respectable, — I beg leave to add, I am as much respected, as the proudest Peer I now look down upon!
55. WORTH OF PRESENT POPULARITY. - Lord Mansfield. Born, 1705 ; died, 1783.
Against Parliamentary exemption from arrest for debt, May 3, 1770. It has been imputed to me by the noble Earl * on my left, that I, too, am running the race of popularity. If the noble Earl means, by
* The Earl of Chatham.
popularity, that applause bestowed by after ages on good and virtuous actions, I have long been struggling in that race : to what purpose, all-trying Time can alone determine. But if he means that mushroom popularity, which is raised without merit, and lost without a crime, he is much mistaken in his opinion. I defy the noble Earl to point out single action of my life in which the popularity of the times ever had the smallest influence on my determination. I thank God I have a more permanent and steady rule for my conduct
the dictates of my own breast. Those who have foregone that pleasing advice, and given up their minds to the slavery of every popular impulse, I sincerely pity: I pity them still more, if vanity leads them to mistake the shouts of a mob for the trumpet of fame. Experience might inform them that many, who have been saluted with the huzzas of a crowd one day, have received its execrations the next; and many, who, by the popularity of their own times, have been held up as spotless patriots, have, nevertheless, appeared on the historian's page, when truth has triumphed over delusion, the assassins of liberty. Why, then, the noble Earl can think I am ambitious of present popularity, that echo of folly and shadow of renown, I am at a loss to determine.
Besides, I do not know that the Bill now before your Lordships will be popular; it depends much upon the caprice of the day. It may not be popular to compel people to pay their debts; and, in that case, the present must be a very unpopular Bill. It may not be popular, neither, to take away any of the privileges of Parliament; for I very well remember, and many of your Lordships may remember, that, not long ago, the popular cry was for the extension of privilege; and so far did they carry it at that time, that it was said the privi. lege protected members even in criminal actions ; nay, such was the power of popular prejudices over weak minds, that the very decisions of some of the courts were tinctured with that doctrine. It was, undoubtedly, an abominable doctrine ; I thought so then, and I think so still ; but, nevertheless, it was a popular doctrine, and came immediately from those who are called the friends of liberty, — how deseryedly, time will show. True liberty, in my opinion, can only exist when justice is equally administered to all, - to the king and to the beggar. Where is the justice, then, or where is the law, that protects a member of Parliament, more than any other man, from the punishment due to his crimes? The laws of this country allow of no place, nor any employment, to be a sanctuary for crimes; and, where I have the honor to sit as judge, neither royal favor nor popular applause shall ever protect the guilty.
56. MAGNANIMITY IN POLITICS, 1775. - Edmund Burke. Born, 1730; died, 1797.
A REVENUE from America, transmitted hither? Do not delude yourselves! You never can receive it — no, not a shilling! Let the Colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with your Government, and they will cling and grapple to you. These are ties