Page images
PDF
EPUB

Chap, in. spirit necessary for our salvation. Whoever 1774* supposes, that shouts and hosannas will terminate the trials of the day, entertains a childish fancy. We must be grossly ignorant of the importance and value of the prize for which we contend; we must be equally ignorant of the power of those who have combined against us; wre must be 'blind to that malice, inveteracy, and insatiable revenge, which actuate our enemies public and private, abroad, and in our bosom, to hope that we shall end this controversy without the sharpest, sharpest conflicts ....to flatter ourselves that popular resolves, popular harangues, popular acclamations, and popular vapour, will vanquish our foes. Let Us consider the issue. Let us look to the end. Let us weigh and consider, before we advance to those measures, which must bring on the most trying and terrible struggle this country ever saw."

The question was again put and passed Without a negative.

Aware of the approaching danger, the captain Of the vessel was desirous of returning, and applied to the governor for a clearance; he, affecting a rigid regard to the letter of his duty, declined giving one unless the vessel should be properly qualified at the custom house. This answer being reported to the meeting, it was declared to be dissolved; and an immense crowd Repaired to the quay, where a number of the most resolute, disguised like Mohawk Indians Chap. m. boarded the vessels, and in about two hours, 1774. broke open three hundred and forty two chests TM* "*£„ of tea, and discharged their contents into the B^tS!" ocean.

These proceedings of the colonists were laid before parliament in a message from the crown, and a very high and general indignation was excited in that body by the outrages stated to Measure of

* * ° parliament.

have been committed. They expressed, almost ^^^

unanimously, their approbation of the measures

adopted by his majesty, and gave the most explicit assurances that they would not fail to exert every means in their power, effectually to provide for the due execution of the laws and to secure the dependence of the colonies upon the crown and parliament of Great Britain. The temper, both of the house and of the nation, was now entirely favourable to the high handed system of coercion proposed by ministers, and that temper was not permitted to pass away without being employed to advantage. A bill was soon brought in "for discontinuing the lading and shipping of goods, wares, and merchandises at Boston or the harbour thereof, and for the removal of the custom house with its dependencies to the town of Salem." This bill was to continue in force, not only until compensation should be made to the East India company for the damage sustained, but until the king in council should declare himself

Chap, m. satisfied as to the restoration of peace and; 1774. order in the town. It passed both houses without a division, and almost without opposition. Soon after this, a bill was brought in for better regulating the government of the province of Massachussetts Bay. By this act, the charter was totally subverted, and the nomination of counsellors, and of all magistrates and officers, vested in the crown. The persons thus appointed were to hold their offices during the royal pleasure. This bill also was carried through both houses by great majorities, but not without a vigorous opposition and an animated debate.

The next measure proposed, was a bill for the impartial administration of justice in the province of Massachussetts Bay. It provided "that in case any person should be indicted, in that province, for murder or any other capital offence, and it should appear by information given on oath to the governor, that the fact was committed in the exercise or aid of magistracy in suppressing 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 to be tried." This act was to continue in force four years, and was, as an English writer observes, the counterpart of the obsolete and tyrannical act of Henry VIII, lately revived for the trial in Great Britain of treasons committed in America.

A bill was also passed for quartering soldiers Chap. in. on the inhabitants, and the system was com- 1774. pieted by an act for making more effectual provision for the government of the province of Quebec. This bill extended the limits of that province so as to include the territory between the lakes, the Ohio, and the Mississippi; and, which was its most exceptionable feature, established a legislative council to be appointed by the crown.

Amidst these hostile measures, one single conciliatory proposition was made. Mr. Rose Fuller, member for Rye, moved that the house resolve itself into a committee, to take into consideration the duty on the importation of tea into America, with a view to its repeal. This motion was seconded by mr. Burke, and supported with all the powers of reasoning, and all the splendor of eloquence, which he so eminently possessed; but it was lost by a great majority. The earl of Chatham, too, who had long been indisposed, again made his appearance in the house of lords. He could only have been drawn out by the strong sense he entertained of the fatal importance of those measures into which the nation was hurrying. But his efforts were unavailing. Neither his weight of character, his sound judgment which was yet unimpared, nor his manly eloquence which even at this late period of life, while his venerable frame was enfeebled by disease, partook largely of

chAp.m. that fire and energy which in the vigour of his 1774. mid-day course gave him such commanding influence over the human mind, could arrest the hand of fate which seemed, with irresistible force, to propel this lofty towering nation in a system which terminated in its dismemberment.

It was expected, and this expectation was encouraged bymr. Hutchinson then in England, that by directing these measures of punishment particularly against Boston, not only the union of the colonies could be broken, but Massachussetts herself would be divided, never was expectation more completely disappointed. It was perceived by all, that Boston was to be punished for having resisted, only with more violence, the principle which they had all resisted; and that the object of the punishment was to coerce obedience to principles, they were yet determined to oppose. Every man felt therefore that the cause of Boston was the cause of all, that their destinies were indissolubly connected with those of that devoted town, and that they must either submit to be taxed by a parliament in which they were not and could not be represented, or support with all the means they possessed, their brethren who were doomed to sustain the first shock of a power, which if successful there would overwhelm them all. The neighbouring towns disdained to avail themselves of the calamities

« PreviousContinue »