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therefore, have occasion (which I am persuaded I shall not) to quote cases, in which this courtesy of the minister has been refused, I shall confine myself to instances in a more remote period. To remedy this evil, it is proposed, with the greatest deference to the opinion of this house, to enable the members to vacate their seats, by signifying their wish to the speaker, under certain regulations. Nor, sir, is this idea entirely new ; it is a part of the ancient constitution of this house, which I hope the following precedents, extracted from your journals, will sufficiently prove :
[Here he quoted a multitude of precedents to prove, that from the year 1575 to 1609, it had been the invari. able practice of parliament to issue new writs in the room of such as were sick, or on actual service.]
I should intreat the pardon of the house, for detaining them so long on the subject of precedents, were they not necessary to shew, that this motion (if it succeeds) will only bring our parliamentary constitution to its for mer system. I have not quoted many instances where seats have been vacated by foreign service; the reason is not from want of precedents, but from the too great abundance of them, which, (to say truth) almost universally contradict each other on the face of your journals. I stand, however, on the judgment of the house, who will, I doubt not agree with me, that in these two situations the practice of ancient times has been invariable. I shall only trespass farther on the indulgence of the house, to consider shortly what may be the objections. The first will probably be, that it retrenches
the prerogative of the crown. I will answer it in one wordthat I know of no prerogative which can dispose so arbitrarily of a seat in this house. A second may, indeed, be of a more serious nature ; it may be urged, that we fail in our duty to our constituents, by dissolving the great reciprocal tie between us; that from the moment of our return to parliament we are the indented servants of the public. In answer to this objection, which is in
deed, on very delicate and tender ground, let me ask any honourable gentleman who uses it in argument, whether this consideration ever weighed one moment with any man who wished to vacate, under the present system. The only difference then will be, that we shall be constitutionally authorised to adopt a measure, which at present we are forced to conceal under a false pretence, and by a mean evasion : and even this, sir, is dealt out to us as a courtesy of government; and I appeal to the independent feelings of many who hear me, whether this consideration is not alone a sufficient reason for the present motion. It may be urged, that it is ill-timed. Allow me to say, that no time could be ever so opportune ; and this argument I ground on the candour of the noble lord opposite to me. He has, as I am informed (for I am but young in parliament) deglared his resolution of never refusing this courtesy to any member of any party. I will do him justice in supposing, that he took that determination from the consciousness of the possible misuse of the power lodged in his hands. Whatever were his reasons, they will all operate strongly to determine him to give that support to this motion, which I am sure he will, from knowing how much some future minister may misapply this power. I have now, sir, only to thank the house for their indulgence to me, and humbly to move you, That leave be given to bring in a bill to enable the speaker of the House of Commons to issue his warrants for new writs for members to serve in parliament, in the room of such members as shall signify to him their desire of vacating their seats, under certain regulations.
I would only add, that the regulations would be only some few, which may be necessary, and may be afterwards more fully discussed.
MARQUIS OF GRANBY.
On the American Affairs.
I RISE, to trouble the house with a few words on the bill now before it. I have sat, sir, during the course of two divisions, without taking any part, even so much as giving a silent vote on any American question ; because, sir, as I will fairly confess to you, I entered with preju. dices against the system administration was pursuing : I thought it was but justice to hear the arguments that might be urged on both sides, to compare those argu. ments, and draw my opinion from that comparison. As to the bill immediately the objeet of our consideration, I think it in every respect so arbitrary, so oppressive, and so totally founded on principles of resentment, that I am exceedingly happy at having this public opportunity of bearing my testimony against it, in the strongest manner I am able. In God's name, what language are you now holding out to America ? Resign your property, divest yourselves of your privileges and freedom, renounce every thing that can make life comfortable, or we will destroy your commerce, we will involve your country in all the miseries of famine ; and if you express the sensations of men at such harsh treatment, we will then declare you in a state of rebellion, and put yourselves and your families to fire and sword. sir, the noble lord on the floor (lord North) has told this house that a reconciliation is the sole object of his wishes. I hope the noble lord will pardon me, if I doubt the perfect sincerity of those wishes; at least, sir, his actions justify my doubt; for every circumstance in his whole conduct, with regard to America, has directly
militated against his present professions ; and what, sir, must the Americans conclude ? Whilst you are ravaging their coasts and extirpating their commerce, and are withheld only by your impotence from spreading fresh ruin, by the sword, can they, sir, suppose such chastisement is intended to promote a reconciliation, and that you mean to restore to their forlorn country those liberties you deny to their present possession, and in the insolence of persecution, are compassing earth and seas to destroy ? You can with no more justice compel the Americans to your obedience, by the operation of the present measures, by making use of their necessities, and withholding from them that commerce on which their existence depends, than a ruffian can found an equitable claim to my possessions, when he forcibly enters my house, and with a dagger at my throat, or a pistol at my breast, makes me seal deeds, which will convey to him my estate and property.
[Mr. Rigby having declared the Americans to be in rebellion, lord Granby in answer, said, his ideas of rebellion, were totally different from Mr. Rigby's. If, according to his ideas of rebellion, the Americans were in that state, he should be as warmly their opponent as he was now their friend ; and then went on.]
I have a very clear, a very adequate idea of rebellion, at least according to my own principles; and those are the principles on which the revolution was founded. It : . not against whom a war is directed, but it is the justice of that war that does, or does not, constitute rebel. lion. If the innocent part of mankind must tamely relinquish their freedom, their property, and every thing they hold dear, merely to avoid the imputation of rebellion, I beg, sir, it may be considered what kind of
peace and loyalty there will then exist in the world, which consists only in violence and rapine, and is merely to be maintained for the benefit of robbers and oppressors, I hope, sir, I shall be believed when I assure you that I am as warm a friend to the interests of my country as
any man in this house; but then it must be understood, when those interests are founded in justice. I am not attached to any particular acre of land. The farmer in Cumberland or Durham is as little connected with me as the peasant in America. It is not the ground a man stands on that attaches me to him ; it is not the air he breathes that connects me with him ; but it is the principles of that man, those independent, those generous principles of liberty which he professes, co-operating with my own, which call me forth as his advocate, and make me glory in being considered his friend. As for myself, sir, I am not in the least ashamed to avow that this is the source of my attachment to a noble lord, who has been, in my opinion, very unjustly reflected on in the course of this debate (I mean lord Chatham.) I am not even personally acquainted with the noblé lord; I do not know the inconsistencies of which he stands accused: but this, sir, I know, I shall not support his inconsistencies; I shall only support him in those principles which have raised his name to the elevation on which it is now placed in this country, and have so deservedly procured him the love and admiration of his fellow citizens.
Sir, I shall not trouble this house any longer, as this matter has been so fully discussed; though, I must confess, I am not sorry a debate has taken place, because I was rather desirous of making a kind of political creed, some professions of my sentiments on this very important, this very serious national question.
From the fullest conviction of my soul, I disclaim every idea both of policy and right, internally to tax America. I disavow the whole system; it is commenced in iniquity ; it is pursued with resentment; and it can terminate in nothing but blood. Under what. soever shape in futurity it may be revived, by whomsoever produced and supported, it shall, from me, meet the most constant, determined, and invariable opposition. Vol. II,