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The estates that were rented at two thousand pounds a year, threescore years ago, are at three thousand pounds at present. Those estates sold then for from fifteen to eighteen years' purchase; the same may now be sold for thirty. You owe this to America. This is the price America pays for her protection. And shall a miserable financier come with a boast, that he can fetch a peppercorn into the Exchequer, by the loss of millions to the nation !* I dare not say how much higher these profits may be augmented. Omitting the immense increase of people by natural population, in the northern colonies, and the emigration from every part of Europe, I am convinced that the whole commercial system of America may be altered to advantage. You have prohibited where you ought to have encouraged ; and you have encouraged where you ought to have prohibited. Improper restraints have been laid on the continent in favour of the islands. You have but two nations to trade with in America. Would
had twenty! Let acts of Parliament in consequence of treaties remain, but let not an English minister become a custom-house officer for Spain, or for any foreign power. Much is wrong-much may be amended for the general good of the whole.
“ Does the gentleman complain that he has been misrepresented in the public prints? It is a common misfortune. In the Spanish affair of last war, I was abused in all the newspapers for having advised his Majesty to violate the law of nations with regard to Spain. The abuse was industriously circulated even in handbills. If administration did not propagate the abuse, administration never contradicted it. I will not say what advice I did give to the King. My advice is in writing signed by myself, in the possession of the Crown. But I will say what advice I did not give to the King: I did not advise him to violate any of the laws of nations.
“ As to the report of the gentleman's preventing in some way the trade for bullion with the Spaniards, it was spoken of so confidently, that I own I am one of those who did believe it to be true.
“ The gentleman must not wonder that he was not contradicted, when, as the Minister, he asserted the right of Parliament to tax America. I know not how it is, but there is a modesty in this House which does not choose to contradict a minister. Even that chair, Sir, sometimes looks towards St. James's. I wish gentlemen would get the better of this modesty. If they do not, perhaps, the collective body may begin to abate of its respect for the representative. Lord Bacon had told me that a great question would not fail of being agitated at one time or another. I was willing to agitate that question at the proper season, the German war ; my German war they called it. Every session I called out, Has anybody any objections to the German war? Nobody would object to it, one gentleman only excepted, since removed to the Upper House, by succession to an ancient barony;t he
• In the course of his speech Mr. Nugent said, that a peppercorn in acknowledg. ment of the right to tax America was of more value than millions without it.- Vide ante, p. 69.
† Lord Le Despencer, formerly Sir Francis Dashwood.
told me he did not like a German war. I honoured the man for it, and was sorry when he was turned out of his post.
“A great deal has been said without doors of the power, of the strength, of America. It is a topic that ought to be cautiously meddled with. good cause, on a sound bottom, the force of this country can crush America to atoms. I know the valour of your troops ; I know the skill of your officers. There is not a company of foot that has served in America, out of which you may not pick a man of sufficient knowledge and experience to make a governor of a colony there. But on this ground on the Stamp Act -when so many here will think it a crying injustice, I am one who will lift up my hands against it.
“ In such a cause even your success would be hazardous. America, if she fell, would fall like the strong man. She would embrace the pillars of the State, and pull down the constitution along with her. Is this your boasted peace? To sheathe the sword, not in its scabbard, but in the bowels of your countrymen ? Will you quarrel with yourselves now the whole House of Bourbon is united against you? While France disturbs your fisheries in Newfoundland, embarrasses your slave-trade to Africa, and withholds from your subjects in Canada their property stipulated by treaty; while the ransom for the Manillas is denied by Spain, and its gallant conqueror basely traduced into a mean plunderer-a gentleman * whose noble and generous spirit would do honour to the proudest grandee of the country. The Americans have not acted in all things with prudence and temper. The Americans have been wronged. They have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish them for the madness which you have occasioned? Rather let prudence and temper come first from this side. I will undertake for America that she will follow the example. There are two lines in a ballad of Prior's, of a man's behaviour to his wife, so applicable to you
your colonies that I cannot help repeating them :
• Be to her faults a little blind;
Be to her virtues very kind.' · Upon the whole, I will beg leave to tell the House what is really my opinion. It is, that the Stamp Act be repealed absolutely, totally, and immediately. That the reason for the repeal be assigned, because it was founded on an erroneous principle. At the same time, let the sovereign authority of this country over the colonies be asserted in as strong terms as can be
* In the month of October, 1762, the capital of the Manillas surrendered to Colonel Draper, and it was agreed that the sum of four millions of dollars should be paid as a ransom for the private property in the town. This stipulation, however, was so completely disregarded by Spain, that the time of paying the Manilla ransom became in popular language equivalent to the term, “ad Kalendas Græcas.” It was at one time proposed to accept a composition from Spain ; but the Court of Madrid disdained such an arrangement, and more heroically paid nothing at all.-Adolph. Hist. of the Reign of George III. vol. i. p. 91.
devised, and be made to extend to every point of legislation whatsoever. We may bind their trade, confine their manufactures, and exercise every power whatsoever, except that of taking their money out of their pockets without their consent."
The motion for an address was carried without a division.* On the 26th of February, a bill to repeal the Stamp Act was introduced, and received the Royal assent on the 18th of March. Together with the bill to repeal the Stamp Act was introduced another, called the Declaratory Act, asserting the undoubted
power and authority of the King, with the consent of the Lords and Commons in Parliamentmassembled, to make laws of sufficient force to bind the colonies and people of America in all cases whatsoever. This bill also received the Royal assent on the 18th of March.
DEBATE IN THE LORDS ON THE ADDRESS IN ANSWER TO THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE.
1770. Amidst the many subjects of complaint which existed at the present time, the two which most engaged public attention were the proceedings relative to Mr. Wilkes's election for Middlesex, and the disturbances in America.
At the general election, which took place early in the year 1768, Mr. Wilkes, who had recently returned from the continent, declared himself a candidate to represent the City of London in Parliament. Having failed in his election for London, he immediately offered himself for the county of Middlesex; and, in opposition to the established interest of two gentlemen who had represented it for years, he was returned by a large majority. I
On the 8th of June, 1768, the sentence of outlawry which had been pronounced against Mr. Wilkes was reversed ;S but the verdicts which had been given against him were affirmed; and he was sentenced to be imprisoned for two periods of ten and twelve months, to pay two fines of £500 each, and to find two sureties of £500 each for his good behaviour for seven years to be computed from the expiration of the terms of his imprisonment.
On the 4th of November in the same year, shortly after the opening of the second session of the new Parliament, a petition was presented to the House of Commons from Mr. Wilkes, setting forth the proceedings that had been taken against him in the courts of law, and claiming redress for his grievances
In the course of this debate Mr. Burke made his first speech in the House of Commons, which drew from Mr. Pitt the most marked praise. No report, however, remains of Mr. Burke's speech.
† Vide 6 Geo. III. c. 11 & 12.
Vide ante, p. 62, n.
from the House. This petition gave rise to a great deal of discussion. At length, on the 3rd of February, 1769, the Commons resolved that Mr. Wilkes, having been convicted of publishing a libel on the King, and the Essay on Woman, for which offences he was then under sentence of imprison. ment by the Court of King's Bench, should be expelled the House. A new writ was then issued for Middlesex ; and on the 16th of February, Mr. Wilkes was unanimously re-elected. On the following day, however, the House resolved, “that John Wilkes, Esq., having been, in this session of Parliament, expelled this House, was, and is incapable of being elected a member to serve in the present Parliament." Another election took place for Middlesex, and Mr. Wilkes was again declared duly elected ; his intended opponent, Mr. Dingley, having been driven out of the field before the nomination by the violent treatment which he had received from the mob. On the 17th of March, the House, on the motion of Lord North, then Chancel. lor of the Exchequer, declared Mr. Wilkes's election null and void. The Government now determined, by putting forward a candidate in opposition to Mr. Wilkes, to terminate a contest of which otherwise there would probably have been a long continuance; and Colonel Luttrell, having vacated his seat for the borough of Bossiney, in Cornwall, by the acceptance of the Chiltern Hundreds, became their nominee. At this election Mr. Wilkes obtained a majority of 847,and was declared duly elected by the returning officer; but on a petition from Colonel Luttrell, the House, on the 17th of April, 1769, by a majority of 197 to 143, ordered the return to be altered by the erasure of Mr. Wilkes's name and the insertion of that of his opponent. I
The second subject which now particularly engaged public attention related, as has been stated, to the disturbances in the colonies. In the year 1767, during the illness and inefficiency of Lord Chatham, who was the apparent head of the administration then in existence, the legislative sanction was given to a measure introduced by Mr. Charles Townshend, for renewing the scheme of taxing America by the imposition of duties on glass, paper, white and red lead, painters' colours, pasteboard, and tea, on their importation from Great Britain into the colonies, and appropriating the proceeds of these duties, in the first instance, towards the support of their civil Government, and in the next towards defraying the necessary expenses of defending and protecting them. The repose which had taken place in America upon the
* Commons' Journals.
| Notwithstanding his repeated expulsions from the House of Commons, Mr. Wilkes eventually succeeded in defeating that body. On the 3rd of May, 1782, it was resolved, by a majority of 115 to 47, that the resolution of the 17th of February, 1769, should be expunged from the journals of the House, as being subversive of the rights of the whole body of electors of this kingdom : and, at the same time, it was ordered, that all the declarations, orders, and resolutions, respecting the election of John Wilkes, Esq., for the county of Middlesex, should be expunged.--Commons' Journals.
Vide 7 Geo. III. c. 46.
repeal of the Stamp Act was soon disturbed; confusion again befel the affairs of that country ; and consequences highly prejudicial to the commercial interests of Great Britain ensued. The people of Massachusetts Bay were the first amongst the colonists whose jealousy was awakened by Mr. Townshend's scheme, and they immediately adopted measures to defeat it. The inhabitants of Boston, at a public meeting, came to the resolution, subsequently adopted in the other provinces, of not purchasing any commodities from the mother country that could be procured in any of the colonies ; and the Assembly of Massachusetts Bay addressed a circular letter to the other Assemblies, calling upon them to co-operate with them in the pursuit of all legal measures to procure the repeal of the late act of Parliament. Being required by the Earl of Hillsborough, Secretary of State, to revoke their circular letter, they refused to do so, and were immediately dissolved. Several of the
Assemblies which did not betray an accommodating spirit to the Government shared a similar fate. The people of Boston then determined to convene a meeting of deputies from the several towns and districts in the province ; and accordingly, ninety-six towns and eight districts sent deputies. Having assembled at Boston, the Convention acted with great moderation. It disclaimed all intention of influencing any of the powers of Government; and a report stating the cause of its meeting, and the subjects which it had taken into consideration, having been drawn up, a petition to the King was framed, and the deputies dissolved the Convention. In the mean time, resistance having been offered to the revenue officers in the discharge of their duty at Boston, by which riots and tumults of a dangerous nature were occasioned, four regiments were ordered to be stationed in that town. These arrived the day after the dissolution of the Convention, and for a time restrained the inhabitants within the bounds of order.
The disturbances in Boston created great alarm in England, and were particularly noticed in his Majesty's speech from the throne at the opening of the session of Parliament in November 1768. In a joint address to the King from the two Houses, the proceedings which had been taken by the House of Assembly of Massachusetts Bay, and the inhabitants of Boston, were severely censured, and his Majesty was recommended to enforce an almost obsolete statute of Henry the Eighth,* by which it is enacted that treasons committed out of England shall be tried before the Court of King's Bench, or in such county within the realm as the Sovereign shall by commission appoint. The threatened revival of this measure, by stimulating and confirming the feelings of the discontented among the colonists, and tending much to weaken and alienate the affections of the loyal and well-disposed, was productive of the worst consequences in America.
1770. On the 9th of January, his Majesty opened the session of Parliament in person. The address of the Lords in answer to the speech from the Throne was moved by the Duke of Ancaster, and seconded by Lord Dunmore.
35 Hen. VIII. c. 2.