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"was killed by unknown persons, the City was fined. Such "was also the case with Edinburgh in Captain Porteous's "affair, when a fine was set upon the whole. Thus likewise "at Glasgow, when the house of Mr. Campbell was pulled "down, part of the revenue of that town was sequestered "to make good the damage." — But no doubt the main argument of Lord North and with his hearers lay in the many scenes of turbulence, — the tarrings and the featherings, the riotings and burnings, —. which ever since the passing of the Stamp Act had distinguished the town of Boston far beyond any other in America. "Do you ask," cried Lord North in one of the debates of this time, "what the people of "Boston have done? I will tell you then. They have tarred "and feathered your subjects, plundered your merchants, "burnt your ships, denied all obedience to your laws and "authority. Yet so clement and long-forbearing has our "conduct been that it is incumbent on us now to take a "different course. Whatever maybe the consequence, we "must risk something; if we do not, all is over!" *
Resistance to this Bill, after some doubt and hesitation, was offered by several men of note, as Dowdeswell, Burke, and Charles Fox, who now for the first time appeared in the ranks of Opposition. Colonel Barrd, General Conway, and Lord John Cavendish on the whole approved it. In none of its stages, and in neither House, did its opponents venture on dividing; and only a fortnight elapsed between its first proposal and its passing. By the public in general the measure was by no means looked upon as unduly harsh or severe. The more violent parry indeed contended that Boston was not bound to make any compensation for the loss of the Tea. But on the contrary the temperate friends of freedom in both countries censured the Boston Port Bill
* Pari. Hist. vol. xvii. p. 1164. and 1279. In the meagre report preserved of'this last speech Lord North is made to speak in general terms of "the Americans." But from the context, and still more from the nature of the Bill discussed which had no reference to any other Colony, it is plain that his expressions were confined to the people of Boston or at most of Massachusetts.
1774. THE MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNMENT BILL. 5
mainly on this ground, that it preceded instead of following the demand for that just compensation. I cannot but observe with pleasure how precisely in accordance on this subject was the opinion of the two greatest men of that age in their respective countries, Washington and Chatham. Neither's opinion was expressed in public; neither's was known to the other; but both, as we find from their familiar correspondence, concurred. "Reparation," says Chatham, "ought "to be demanded in a solemn manner, and refused by the "town and magistracy of Boston, before such a bill of pains "and penalties can be called just." * And Washington writes: "The conduct of the Boston people could not "justify the rigour of their (the Ministers') measure, "unless there had been a requisition of payment and refusal "of it." **
Even before the Boston Port Bill had yet passed the Upper House Lord North introduced another measure, the Massachusetts Government Bill. By that measure the Charter as granted to the province by King William was in some important particulars set aside. The Council, instead of being elected by the people, was henceforth, as in most of the other Colonies, to be appointed by the Crown. The judges, magistrates, and sheriffs might be nominated by the Governor, and in some cases also be removed by him, even without the consent or sanction of the Council. "How else," asked LordNorth, "is the Governor to execute any authority "vested in him? At present if he requires the aid of a magis"trate he has not the power of appointing any one who will, "nor of removing any one who will not, act; the Council "alone have that power, and the dependence of the Council "is now solely on the democratic part of the Constitution. "It appears that the civil magistracy has been for a series of "years uniformly inactive; and there must be something "radically wrong in that constitution in which no magistrate
* To Lord Shelburne, March 20. 1774. Correspondence, vol. iv. p. 337.
To B. Fairfax, July 20. 1774. Works, vol. ii. p. 303.
"for such a series of years has ever done his duty in such a "manner as to enforce obedience to the laws."* Such considerations are by no means destitute of weight. But surely in the arguments for or against this Bill the scale much preponderates to the side of Opposition, — an Opposition not indeed effectual, but united and strong, resolute and eager. How rash the precedent at such a time of dealing so lightly with a Royal Charter! How far wiser had it been to bear any amount of inconvenience from the defects of the existing fabric, rather than attempt its reconstruction at the very moment when the storm was raging round it!
These two important Bills were not the only ones that passed this Session in single reference to the Colony of Massachusetts. It was imagined that no fair trial could be had within the limits of that province of any persons concerned in the late disturbances; it was therefore enacted that during the next three years the Governor might have the option of transferring any persons so accused to be tried in any other Colony, or even in Great Britain. There was likewise a Bill to regulate the government of Canada, or as it was termed the "province of Quebec," and to define its boundaries, which were enlarged in the direction of the back settlements, by including all the lands not subject to any previous grant nor comprised in any previous Charter. The Governor, General Carleton, being examined before the House of Commons, stated that the Protestants in the province were then not quite 400 in number, while the French inhabitants, all Roman Catholics, amounted to 150,000.** It was to the peace and good government of the latter that the Bill was mainly, and surely in strict justice, directed. Its provisions in no degree practically touched any of the dissatisfied Colonies. But since it authorized and sanctioned the Roman -Catholic Faith, as held at that time by an immense majority of the people in Canada, it afforded
* Pari. Hist. vol. xvil. p. 1192. ** Pari. Uiat. vol, xvii. p. 1368.
on that account a topic of invective and complaint to the Protestant zealots of New England.
During the progress of all this legislation, levelled so directly at the town of Boston, the news that came from thence was by no means of a soothing kind. At the close of February another ship freighted with Teas (it was named the Fortune, and commanded by Captain Graham,) having anchored in Boston Harbour, the inhabitants with great deliberation proceeded to unload the tea-chests, and to cast their contents into the sea. Well might Lord North exclaim at the news: "Is this, Sir, seeing their error? Is this, Sir, "reforming? Is this making restitution to the East India "Company? Surely no gentleman will after this urge any"thing in their defence! "*
Large as was the number of Bills produced in this Session of Parliament, it was by no means solely on them that Lord North relied. He believed, — though erroneously, yet no doubt honestly and truly, — that these Bills would avert an appeal to arms, but he felt the necessity of being prepared for either alternative. With that view he recalled Governor Hutchinson from Boston, and sent in his place a veteran of tried conduct, and high in command of the troops, General Gage. Hutchinson on his arrival in England was admitted to an audience of His Majesty, and tended much by his representations to confirm the Government in the hopes which they had formed. General Gage in like manner before his departure assured the King that the Americans would be lions only so long as the English were lambs.**
It is indeed a matter of just regret, and deserving to be ranked among the main causes of the schism in our empire which so soon afterwards ensued, that there was then a general tendency at home to undervalue and contemn the people of the Colonies. They, and more especially the natives of New England, were often called by the name of
* Debate in the House of Commons, April 21. 1774. ** The King to Lord North, Feb. 4. and July 1, 1774. Appendix to this volume.
Yankees, which had grown to be in some measure a term of reproach, although in its origin probably no more than the corruption by the native Indians of the words English or Anglois. It must be owned that the public in England were not so much to be blamed for their unfavourable judgment, but rather such men as Hutchinson and Gage, who, having the best means of information, and being Americans by birth or kindred, might well be trusted and believed. To such an extent did these disparaging reflections proceed that a doubt was even uttered whether the Americans possessed the same natural courage as the English. In the course of the ensuing year a Minister of the Crown, the Earl of Sandwich, when speaking in the House of Lords, and.Colonel Grant, an officer in the King's service, when speaking in the House of Commons, were so grossly imprudent and illjudging as to refer to their countrymen over the Atlantic as arrant cowards.* Such words could not fail to sink deep in the minds of the Americans, especially of those who had borne arms. Just after the first blow had been struck Washington referred to them with a feeling of just resentment, though, as usual with him, in a tone of dignified forbearance. "This," says he, "may serve to convince Lord "Sandwich and others of the same sentiment that the Ameri"cans will fight for their liberties and property, however "pusillanimous in his Lordship's eyes they may appear in "other respects. "**
Had the Boston Port Bill stood alone, unaccompanied by any other legislation, it seems possible that the Americans of the other Colonies seeing the wrong which Boston had committed, and acknowledging the claim to some compensation for it, might, though not wholly approving, yet have acquiesced. But the proposal and still more the passing of the next measure — the Massachusetts Government Bill — made them feel their own liberty in danger. If one Charter might be cancelled so might all; if the rights of any one
* Pari. Hist. vol. xviii. p. 226. and 446, ** Writings, vol. ii. p. 406.