By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Representative British Orations with Introductions and Explanatory Notes, Volume I (of 4)
Author: Adams, Charles Kendall
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Representative British Orations with Introductions and Explanatory Notes, Volume I (of 4)" ***

(This file was produced from images generously made

Uniform with British Orations

    AMERICAN ORATIONS, to illustrate American Political
      History, edited, with introductions, by ALEXANDER
      JOHNSTON, Professor of Jurisprudence and Political
      Economy in the College of New Jersey. 3 vols., 16 mo,

      single specimen essays from IRVING, LEIGH HUNT, LAMB,
      NEWMAN, LESLIE STEPHEN. 3 vols., 16 mo, bevelled
      boards, $3.75 and $4.50.





    _Videtisne quantum munus sit oratoris historia?_
                              —CICERO, _DeOratore_, ii, 15


    The Knickerbocker Press


    Press of
    New York


    A. D. A.


    SIR JOHN ELIOT                                                     1

    SIR JOHN ELIOT                                                    13

    JOHN PYM                                                          27

    JOHN PYM                                                          37
          HOUSE OF COMMONS, APRIL 5, 1640.

    LORD CHATHAM                                                      85

    LORD CHATHAM                                                      98
          14, 1766.

    LORD CHATHAM                                                     120
          HOUSE OF LORDS, NOVEMBER 18, 1777.

    LORD MANSFIELD                                                   143

    LORD MANSFIELD                                                   150
          FEBRUARY 3, 1766.

    EDMUND BURKE                                                     172

    MR. BURKE                                                        182
          OF COMMONS, MARCH 22, 1775.

    ILLUSTRATIVE NOTES                                               299


The three small volumes here offered to the public have been prepared
in the hope that they would be of some service in showing the great
currents of political thought that have shaped the history of Great
Britain during the past two hundred and fifty years. The effort has
been not so much to make a collection of the most remarkable specimens
of English eloquence, as to bring together the most famous of those
oratorical utterances that have changed, or here tended to change, the
course of English history.

Eliot and Pym formulated the grievances against absolutism, a
contemplation of which led to the revolution that established Anglican
liberty on its present basis. Chatham, Mansfield, and Burke elaborated
the principles which, on the one hand, drove the American colonies
into independence, and, on the other, enabled their independence to
be won and secured. Mackintosh and Erskine enunciated in classical
form the fundamental rights which permanently secured the freedom of
juries and the freedom of the press. Pitt, in the most elaborate as
well as the most important of all his remarkable speeches, expounded
the English policy of continuous opposition to Napoleon; and Fox, in
one of the most masterly of his unrivalled replies, gave voice to that
sentiment which was in favor of negotiations for peace. Canning not
only shaped the foreign policy of the nation during the important years
immediately succeeding the Napoleonic wars, but put that policy into
something like permanent form in what has generally been considered the
masterpiece of his eloquence. Macaulay’s first speech on the Reform
Bill of 1832 was the most cogent advocacy of what proved to be nothing
less than a political revolution; and Cobden, the inspirer and apostle
of Free Trade, enjoys the unique distinction of having reversed the
opinions of a prime-minister by means of his persuasive reasonings.
Bright embodied in a single eloquent address the reasons why so many
have thought the foreign policy of England to be only worthy of
condemnation. Beaconsfield concentrated into one public utterance an
expression of the principles which it has long been the object of the
Conservative party to promulgate and defend; and Gladstone, in one
of his Mid-Lothian speeches, put into convenient form the political
doctrines of the Liberals in regard to affairs both at home and abroad.
It is these speeches, which at one time or another have seemed to go
forth as in some sense the authoritative messages of English history to
mankind, that are here brought together.

The speeches are in almost all cases given entire. A really great
oration is a worthy presentation of a great subject, and such an
utterance does not lend itself readily to abridgment, for the reason
that its very excellence consists of a presentation in just proportion
of all its parts. An orator who has a great message to deliver, and
who fulfils his task in a manner worthy of his subject, excludes
every thing that does not form an essential part of his argument; and
therefore in editing these orations it has seldom been thought wise to
make either reductions or omissions. In a few instances, notably in
the speeches of Fox and Cobden, a few elaborations of purely local and
temporary significance have been excluded; but the omissions in all
cases are indicated by asterisks.

In the introductions to the several speeches an effort has been made
to show not only the political situation involved in the discussion,
but also the right of the orator to be heard. These two objects have
made it necessary to place before the reader with some fulness the
political careers of the speakers and the political questions at issue
when the speeches were made. The illustrative notes at the end of the
volumes are designed simply to assist the reader in understanding such
statements and allusions as might otherwise be obscure.

I cannot submit these volumes to the public without expressing the
hope that they will in some small measure at least contribute to a
juster appreciation of that liberty which we enjoy, and to a better
understanding of the arduous means by which free political institutions
have been acquired.

            C. K. A.

        _November 22, 1884_.


During the second half of the sixteenth century and the first half of
the seventeenth, the political and religious energies of Europe were
very largely devoted to the settlement of questions that had been
raised by that great upheaval known as the Protestant Reformation.
On the Continent a reaction had almost everywhere set in. Not only
were the new religious doctrines very generally stifled, but even
those political discontents which seemed to follow as an inseparable
consequence of the religious movement, were put down with a rigorous
hand. The general tendency was toward the establishment of a firmer
absolution both in Church and in State.

But in England this tendency was arrested. It was the good fortune of
the nation to have a monarch upon the throne who vigorously resisted
every foreign attempt to interfere with English affairs. It was
doubtless the political situation rather than earnestness of religious
conviction that led Elizabeth to make the Church of England independent
of the Church of Rome. But in securing political independence she also
secured the success of the Reformation. Doubtless she was neither
able nor inclined to resist the prevailing tendency toward political
absolutism; but it had been indispensable to her success that she
should enlist in the cause of religious and political independence
all the powers of the nation. However, as soon as independence was
established by the destruction of the Spanish Armada, it became evident
that there was another question to be settled of not less significance.
That question was whether the English Constitution was to be developed
in the direction of its traditional methods, or whether the government
and people should adopt the reactionary methods that were coming to be
so generally accepted on the Continent. It took a century of strife
to answer the question. The struggle did not become earnest during the
reign of Elizabeth, but it cost Charles I. his head, and the Stuart
dynasty its right to the throne. For three generations the kings were
willing to stake every thing in favor of the Continental policy, while
Parliament was equally anxious to maintain the traditional methods. It
was unavoidable that a conflict should ensue; and the Great Revolution
of the seventeenth century was the result.

James I., during the whole of his reign, showed a disposition to
override whatever principles of the Constitution stood in the way of
his personal power. Charles I. was a man of stronger character than his
father, and he brought to the service of the same purpose a greater
energy and a more determined will. As soon as he ascended the throne
in 1625, it began to look as though a contest would be inevitable
between royal will on the one hand and popular freedom on the other.
The King, determined to rule in his own way, not only questioned the
right of Parliament to inquire into grievances, but even insisted upon
what he regarded as his own right to levy money for the support of
the Government without the consent of Parliament. This determination
Parliament was disposed to question, and in the end to resist.

Under the maxim of the English Government, that “the King can do no
wrong,” there is but one way of securing redress, in case of an undue
exercise of royal power. As the Constitution presumes that the King
never acts except under advice, his ministers, as his constitutional
advisers, may be held responsible for all his acts. The impeachment of
ministers, therefore, is the constitutional method of redress. It was
the method resorted to in 1626. Articles of Impeachment were brought by
the House of Commons against the King’s Prime Minister and favorite,
the Duke of Buckingham.

One of the most prominent members of Parliament, and the foremost
orator of the day was Sir John Eliot. This patriot, born in 1590,
and consequently now thirty-six years of age, was appointed by the
Commons one of the managers of the impeachment. With such skill and
vigor did he conduct the prosecution against Buckingham, that the king
determined to put a stop to the impeachment by ordering Eliot’s arrest
and imprisonment. Eliot was thrown into the Tower; but the Commons
regarded the arrest as so flagrant a violation of the rights of members
that they immediately resolved “not to do any more business till they
were righted in their privileges.” The King, in view of this unexpected
evidence of spirit on the part of the Commons, deemed it prudent
to relent. Eliot was discharged; and the Commons, on his triumphal
reappearance in the House, declared by vote “that their managers had
not exceeded the commission entrusted to them.”

Thus the first triumph in the contest was gained by the Commons. But
the King was not unwilling to resort to even more desperate measures.
He determined to raise money independently of Parliament, and, if
Parliament should continue to pry into the affairs of his minister, to
dispense with Parliament almost or quite altogether. This desperate
determination he undertook to carry out chiefly by the raising of
forced loans and the issuing of monopolies. But here again the King
met with a more strenuous opposition than he had anticipated. Eliot
and Hampden, with some seventy-six other members of the English gentry
refused to make the contribution demanded. As such defiance threatened
to break down the whole system, the King was forced either to resort to
extreme measures or to abandon his method. He resolved upon the former
course, but he was forced to the latter. He threw Eliot and Hampden
into prison; but the outcry of the people was so great and so general
that the necessary money could not be raised, and so he was obliged to
call his third Parliament. Eliot and Hampden, though in prison, were
elected members; and the King, not deeming it prudent to retain them,
ordered their release a few days before the opening of the session.

The special object for which Parliament had been called by the King
was the granting of money; but the members were in no mood to let the
opportunity pass without securing from the monarch an acknowledgment
of their rights in definite form. Accordingly, they appointed Sir
Edward Coke, the most distinguished lawyer of the time, to draw
up a petition to the King that should embody a declaration of the
constitutional privileges on which they reposed their rights. The
result was the famous “Petition of Right,” an instrument which, in
the history of English liberty, has been only second in importance to
the Great Charter itself. The petition asked the King’s assent to a
number of propositions, the most important of which were that no loan
or tax should be levied without the consent of Parliament; that no
man should be imprisoned except by legal process; and that soldiers
should not be quartered upon the people without the people’s consent.
These propositions introduced nothing new into the Constitution. They
professed simply to ask the King’s approval of principles and methods
that had been acknowledged and acted upon for hundreds of years. The
great significance of the Petition of Right was that it designed to
secure the assent of the monarch to a reign of law instead of a reign
of arbitrary will. The object of Parliament was to put into definite
form a clear expression of the King’s purpose. They desired to know
whether his intention was to rule according to the precedents of the
English Constitution that had been taking definite form for centuries,
or whether, on the contrary, he was determined to build up a system of
absolutism similar to that which was very generally coming to prevail
on the Continent. The petition passed the two Houses and went to the
King for his approval. He gave an evasive answer.[1][A] Parliament was
taken by surprise and seemed likely to be baffled. It was a crisis of
supreme danger. Sir John Eliot was the first to see that if they were
now to thwart the King’s purpose it must be done by availing themselves
immediately of the responsibility of Buckingham. He determined that the
proper course was a remonstrance to the King; and it was in moving this
remonstrance that his great speech was made.

   [A] Numerals inserted in the course of the work refer the reader
       to corresponding Illustrative Notes at the end of each volume.

On hearing the King’s answer, Parliament, in great perplexity and
despondency, immediately adjourned till the next day. When, on the
morning of June 3, 1628, the Commons came together, “the King’s
answer,” says Rushworth, “was read, and seemed too scant, in regard to
so much expense, time, and labor as had been expended in contriving the
petition. Whereupon Sir John Eliot stood up and made a long speech, and
a lively representation of all grievances, both general and particular,
as if they had never before been mentioned.”[2]

Throughout the speech there is a compactness and an impetuosity truly
remarkable. No one at all familiar with the history and condition
of the time, will fail to see that it was a masterly presentation of
the issues at stake. It is pervaded with a tone of loyalty—even of
affection—toward the King. The argument was founded on the theory
that even under the best of kings, with an irresponsible form of
administration, there can be no security against selfish and ambitious
ministers, and that under any government whatever there can be no
adequate guarantees against such abuses except in the provisions of
law. The orator introduces no grievance personal to himself, though he
had already twice suffered imprisonment for words spoken in debate. His
entire object seems to have been to expose abuses that had oppressed
the people during the ten years under Buckingham’s rule, and to show
how, by means of his duplicity and incompetency, the honor of the
country had been sacrificed, its allies betrayed, and those necessities
of the King created which gave rise to the abuses complained of in the
Petition of Right.

Aside from the striking oratorical merits of the speech and the
light it throws on the all-important struggles of the time, there
are two circumstances that tend to give it peculiar interest. It is
the earliest parliamentary speech of real importance that has been
preserved to us. The age in which it was delivered is enough to account
for the antique air of the orator’s style—a style, however, which
will be especially relished by all those who have learned to enjoy
the quaint literary flavor of our early masters of English prose. The
other circumstance of especial interest is the fact that soon after the
delivery of the speech, and in consequent of it, Eliot was thrown into
prison, where, after an ignominious confinement and a brutal treatment
of two and a half years, he died a martyr’s death. His earnest plea not
only cost him his life, but it cost him a long period of ignominy that
was far worse than death. But he kept the faith, and calmly underwent
his slow martyrdom. The last word that he sent out from his prison was
an expression of belief that upon the maintenance or the abandonment of
the privileges of Parliament would depend the future glory or misery
of England. By the ability of his advocacy, by the constancy of his
purpose, and by the manner of his death, he fully deserved that the
author of the “Constitutional History of England” should call him, as
he does, “the most illustrious confessor in the cause of liberty whom
that time produced.”




We sit here as the great council of the King, and, in that capacity
it is our duty to take into consideration the state and affairs of
the kingdom; and, where there is occasion, to give them in a true
representation by way of council and advice, what we conceive necessary
or expedient for them.

In this consideration, I confess, many a sad thought has frighted me:
and that not only in respect of our dangers from abroad, which yet I
know are great, as they have been often in this place prest and dilated
to us; but in respect of our disorders here at home, which do inforce
those dangers, as by them they were occasioned.

For I believe I shall make it clear unto you, that as at first the
causes of those dangers were our disorders, our disorders still remain
our greatest dangers. It is not now so much the potency of our enemies,
as the weakness of ourselves, that threatens us; and that saying of the
Father may be assumed by us, _Non tam potentia sua quam negligentia
nostra_. Our want of true devotion to Heaven, our insincerity and
doubling in religion, our want of councils, our precipitate actions,
the insufficiency or unfaithfulness of our generals abroad, the
ignorance or corruption of our ministers at home, the impoverishing
of the sovereign, the oppression and depression of the subject, the
exhausting of our treasures, the waste of our provisions, consumption
of our ships, destruction of our men!—These make the advantage to our
enemies, not the reputation of their arms. And if in these there be not
reformation, we need no foes abroad! Time itself will ruin us.

You will all hold it necessary that what I am about to urge seem not an
aspersion on the state or imputation on the government, as I have known
such mentions misinterpreted. Far is it from me to purpose this, that
have none but clear thoughts of the excellency of his Majesty, nor can
have other ends but the advancement of his glory.

To shew what I have said more fully, therefore, I shall desire a little
of your patience extraordinary to open the particulars: which I shall
do with what brevity I may, answerable to the importance of the cause
and the necessities now upon us; yet with such respect and observation
to the time as I hope it shall not be thought too troublesome.

For the first, then, our insincerity and doubling in religion, the
greatest and most dangerous disorder of all others, which has never
been unpunished, and for which we have so many strange examples of
all states and in all times to awe us,—what testimony does it want?
Will you have authority of books? look on the collections of the
committee for religion, there is too clear an evidence. Will you have
records? see then the commission procured for composition with the
papists in the North? Note the proceedings thereupon. You will find
them to little less amounting than a toleration in effect, though
upon some slight payments; and the easiness in _them_ will likewise
shew the favor that’s intended. Will you have proofs of men? witness
the hopes, witness the presumptions, witness the reports of all the
papists generally. Observe the dispositions of commands, the trust of
officers, the confidence of secrecies of employments, in this kingdom,
in Ireland, and elsewhere. They all will shew it has too great a
certainty. And, to these, add but the incontrovertible evidence of
that all-powerful hand which we have felt so sorely, to give it full
assurance! For as the Heavens oppose themselves to us, it was our
impieties that first opposed the Heavens.

For the second, our want of councils, that great disorder in a
State with which there cannot be stability,[3] if effects may shew
their causes, as they are often a perfect demonstration of them,
our misfortunes, our disasters, serve to prove it! And (if reason
be allowed in this dark age, by the judgment of dependencies, the
foresight of contingencies, in affairs) the consequences they draw
with them confirm it. For, if we view ourselves at home, are we in
strength, are we in reputation, equal to our ancestors? If we view
ourselves abroad, are our friends as many, are our enemies no more?
Do our friends retain their safety and possessions? Do our enemies
enlarge themselves, and gain from them and us? What council, to the
loss of the Palatinate,[4] sacrificed both our honor and our men sent
thither; stopping those greater powers appointed for that service, by
which it might have been defensible? What council gave directions to
that late action whose wounds lie yet a bleeding? I mean the expedition
unto Rhée,[5] of which there is yet so sad a memory in all men! What
design for us, or advantage to our State, could that work import? You
know the wisdom of our ancestors, the practice of their times; and how
they preserved their safeties! We all know, and have as much cause to
doubt as they had, the greatness and ambition of that kingdom, which
the old world could not satisfy! Against this greatness and ambition
we likewise know the proceedings of that princess, that never to be
forgotten excellence, Queen Elizabeth; whose name, without admiration,
falls not into mention with her enemies. You know how she advanced
herself, how she advanced this kingdom, how she advanced this nation,
in glory and in State; how she depressed her enemies, how she upheld
her friends; how she enjoyed a full security, and made them then our
scorn, who now are made our terror![6]

Some of the principles she built on, were these; and if I be mistaken,
let reason and our statesmen contradict me.

First, to maintain, in what she might, a unity in France, that that
kingdom, being at peace within itself, might be a bulwark to keep back
the power of Spain by land. Next, to preserve an amity and league
between that State and us; that so we might join in aid of the Low
Countries, and by that means receive their help and ships by sea.

Then, that this treble cord, so wrought between France, the States, and
us, might enable us, as occasion should require, to give assistance
unto others; by which means, the experience of that time doth tell us,
we were not only free from those fears that now possess and trouble
us, but then our names were fearful to our enemies. See now what
correspondence our action hath had with this.

Square it by these rules. It did induce as a necessary consequence the
division in France between the Protestants and their king, of which
there is too woeful, too lamentable an experience. It has made an
absolute breach between that State and us; and so entertains us against
France, France in preparation against us, that we have nothing to
promise to our neighbors, hardly for ourselves. Nay, but observe the
time in which it was attempted, and you shall find it not only varying
from those principles, but directly contrary and opposite _ex diametro_
to those ends; and such as from the issue and success rather might be
thought _a conception of Spain than begotten here with us_.[B]

   [B] This allusion or insinuation of Eliot’s provoked an
       instantaneous uproar. Buckingham had visited the Courts of
       Spain and France, and his name had been associated with
       discreditable intrigues. In the streets of London there
       had been talk of “treasonable correspondence,” and of “a
       sacrifice to vanity or passion of the most sacred duties of
       patriotism.” When Eliot, therefore, alluded to the act of
       England as springing from the “conception of Spain,” he struck
       a sensitive spot. The Chancellor, Sir Humphrey May, sprang to
       his feet, and exclaimed: “Sir, this is strange language. It is
       arraigning the Council.” But a general shout arose demanding
       that Eliot should go on. Then the Chancellor said: “If Sir
       John Eliot is to go on, I claim permission to go out.” In an
       instant, the Sergeant, by order of the House, opened the door,
       and, according to testimony of Alured, who was present, “they
       all bade him begone! Yet he stayed, and heard Sir John out.”
       It is evident from this incident that Eliot had the sympathies
       of the House in his firm grasp. When quiet was restored, Sir
       John resumed his argument.

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry for this interruption, but much more sorry if
there have been occasion; wherein, as I shall submit myself wholly to
your judgment to receive what censure you shall give me if I have
offended, so in the integrity of my intentions, and clearness of my
thoughts, I must still retain this confidence, that no greatness may
deter me from the duties which I owe to the service of the country,
the service of the King. With a true English heart, I shall discharge
myself as faithfully and as really, to the extent of my poor powers, as
any man whose honors or whose offices most strictly have obliged him.

You know the dangers Denmark was then in, and how much they concerned
us; what in respect of our alliance with that country, what in the
importance of the Sound; what an acquisition to our enemies the gain
thereof would be, what loss, what prejudice to us! By this division,
we, breaking upon France, France being engaged by us, and the
Netherlands at amazement between both, neither could intend to aid that
luckless King whose loss is our disaster.

Can those now, that express their troubles at the hearing of these
things, and have so often told us in this place of their knowledge in
the conjunctures and disjunctures of affairs, say they advised in this?
Was _this_ an act of council, Mr. Speaker? I have more charity than to
think it; and unless they make a confession of themselves, I cannot
believe it.[7]

What shall I say? I wish there were not cause to mention it; and, but
out of apprehension of the danger that is to come if the like choice
hereafter be not now prevented, I could willingly be silent. But my
duty to my Sovereign and to the service of this House, the safety and
the honor of my country, are above all respects; and what so nearly
trenches to the prejudice of these, may not, shall not, be forborne.

At Cadiz,[8] then, in that first expedition we made, when they arrived
and found a conquest ready (the Spanish ships, I mean), fit for the
satisfaction of a voyage, and of which some of the chiefs then there
have since themselves assured me the satisfaction would have been
sufficient, either in point of honor, or in point of profit. Why was it
neglected? Why was it not achieved? it being of all hands granted how
feasible it was.

Afterward, when, with the destruction of some men, and the exposure of
some others (who, though their fortunes have not since been such, then
by chance came off), when, I say, with the losses of our serviceable
men, that unserviceable fort was gained, and the whole army landed,
why was there nothing done, nothing once attempted? If nothing were
intended, wherefore did they land? If there were a service, why were
they shipped again?

Mr. Speaker, it satisfies me too much in this, when I think of their
dry and hungry march unto that drunken quarter (for so the soldiers
termed it) where was the period of their journey, that divers of our
men being left as a sacrifice to the enemy, that labor was at an end.

For the next undertaking, at Rhée, I will not trouble you much; only
this in short: Was not that whole action carried against the judgment
and opinion of the officers? those that were of council? Was not
the first, was not the last, was not all, in the landing, in the
intrenching, in the continuance there, in the assault, in the retreat?
Did any advice take place of such as were of the council? If there
should be a particular disquisition thereof, these things would be
manifest, and more. I will not instance now the manifestation that was
made for the reason of these arms; nor by whom, nor in what manner,
nor on what grounds it was published; nor what effects it has wrought,
drawing, as you know, almost all the whole world into league against
us! Nor will I mention the leaving of the mines, the leaving of the
salt, which were in our possession; and of a value as it is said, to
have answered much of our expense. Nor that great wonder, which nor
Alexander nor Cæsar ever did, the enriching of the enemy by courtesies
when the soldiers wanted help! nor the private intercourses and parlies
with the fort, which continually were held. What they intended may
be read in the success, and upon due examination thereof they would
not want the proofs. For the last voyage to Rochelle, there needs no
observation; it is so fresh in memory. Nor will I make an inference or
corollary on all. Your own knowledge shall judge what truth, or what
sufficiency they express.

For the next, the ignorance or corruption of our ministers, where can
you miss of instances? If you survey the court, if you survey the
country, if the church, if the city be examined; if you observe the
bar, if the bench; if the courts, if the shipping; if the land, if the
seas; all these will render you variety of proofs. And in such measure
and proportion as shows the greatness of our sickness, that if it have
not some speedy application for remedy, our case is most desperate.

Mr. Speaker, I fear I have been too long in these particulars that are
past, and am unwilling to offend you; therefore in the rest I shall be
shorter. And in that which concerns the impoverishing of the King, no
other arguments will I use than such as all men grant.

The exchequer you know is empty, the reputation thereof gone! The
ancient lands are sold, the jewels pawned, the plate engaged, the debt
still great, and almost all charges, both ordinary and extraordinary,
borne by projects! What poverty can be greater? What necessity so
great? What perfect English heart is not almost dissolved into sorrow
for the truth?

For the oppression of the subject, which, as I remember, is the next
particular I proposed, it needs no demonstration. The whole kingdom
is a proof. And for the exhausting of our treasures, that oppression
speaks it. What waste of our provisions, what consumption of our
ships, what destruction of our men, have been,—witness the journey to
Algiers![9] Witness that with Mansfield! Witness that to Cadiz! Witness
the next! Witness that to Rhée! Witness the last! (And I pray God we
may never have more such witnesses.) Witness likewise the Palatinate!
Witness Denmark! Witness the Turks! Witness the Dunkirkers! _Witness
all!_ What losses we have sustained! How we are impaired in munition,
in ships, in men! It has no contradiction! We were never so much
weakened, nor had less hope how to be restored!

These, Mr. Speaker, are our dangers; these are they do threaten us, and
are like that Trojan horse brought in cunningly to surprise us! For in
these do lurk the strongest of our enemies ready to issue on us; and
if we do not now the more speedily expel them, these will be the sign
and invitation to the others. They will prepare such entrance that we
shall have no means left of refuge or defence; for if we have these
enemies at home, how can we strive with those that are abroad? But if
we be free from these, no others can impeach us! Our ancient English
virtue, that old Spartan valor, cleared from these disorders; being in
sincerity of religion once made friends with Heaven; having maturity of
councils, sufficiency of generals, incorruption of officers, opulency
in the king, liberty in the people, repletion in treasures, restitution
of provisions, reparation of ships, preservation of men—our ancient
English virtue, I say thus rectified, will secure us.

But unless there be a speedy reformation in these, I know not what
hope or expectation we may have.

These things, sir, I shall desire to have taken into consideration.
That as we are the great council of the kingdom, and have the
apprehension of these dangers, we may truly represent them to the King;
wherein I conceive we are bound by a treble obligation of duty unto
God, of duty to his Majesty, and of duty to our country.

And therefore I wish it may so stand with the wisdom and judgment of
the house, that they may be drawn into the body of a _Remonstrance_,
and there with all humility expressed; with a prayer unto his Majesty,
that for the safety of himself, for the safety of the kingdom, for
the safety of religion, he will be pleased to give us time to make
perfect inquisition thereof; or to take them into his own wisdom and
there give them such timely reformation as the necessity of the cause,
and his justice do import. And thus, sir, with a large affection and
loyalty to his Majesty, and with a firm duty and service to my country,
I have suddenly, and it may be with some disorder, expressed the weak
apprehensions I have, wherein if I have erred, I humbly crave your
pardon, and so submit it to the censure of the House.


When the English Parliament of 1628 came together, the King told
them: “If you do not your duty, mine would then order me to use
those other means which God has put into my hand.” Charles’s notion
of Parliamentary duty was simply that the members should vote
necessary supplies, and then leave the expenditures to the royal will.
Parliament, however, insisted upon some assurances that abuses would
not be repeated. The Petition of Right, as we saw in our account of
Eliot, was the result. Though the King was obliged to give his assent
to the petition, it soon became evident that he had no intention
to carry out its provisions either in the letter or in the spirit.
The liberal supplies granted by Parliament after the signing of the
petition were soon exhausted. Every expedient of economy was resorted
to in order to avoid the necessity of calling another Parliament.

At first there was perhaps no clearly defined purpose to cause any
positive breach of constitutional obligation, but gradually the
government drifted into a policy of the most flagrant oppression. No
Parliament was called for eleven years. The powers of the prerogative
were strained at every point. Knighthood was forced on the gentry in
order that large sums might be extorted as the price of composition.
Enormous fines were levied for removing defects in title deeds. Large
sums were exacted of landowners for encroachments on the crown lands.
London, in consequence of its open sympathy with the Parliamentary
cause, became a special object of royal dislike. An edict was issued
prohibiting the enlargement of the metropolis; and large districts in
the suburbs were saved from demolition only by the payment of three
years’ rental to the royal treasury. The powers of the Court of Star
Chamber were applied to the trying of causes on the simple information
of the King’s attorney, and the court was authorized to adjudge any
punishment short of death. Under its jurisdiction enormous fines
were levied for the most trifling offences. A simple brawl between
two wealthy lords had to be atoned for by the payment of £5,000,
and more than twice that sum was exacted of a gentleman as a fine
for contracting marriage with his niece. Monopolies, which had been
formally abandoned both by Elizabeth and by James, were now revived
in direct and open violation of the Petition of Right, in order that
large sums might be realized from the persons receiving the privileges
bestowed by the concession. Nearly every article of domestic necessity
had to be procured directly or indirectly from some monopolist; and,
consequently, the expense of living was very greatly increased. Customs
duties were levied just as if they had been voted by Parliament, and
after a time writs were issued for a general levy of benevolences from
the shires. Thus, one by one, even the most flagrant of the abuses
he had promised to abolish, were resorted to without hesitation and
without scruple.

Not less flagrant were the abuses of a religious nature. The Commons,
in the last moments of the session of 1629, had resolved that “whoever
should bring in innovations in religion,” as well as “whoever advised
the levy of subsidies not granted in Parliament,” was to be regarded
as “a capital enemy of the kingdom and commonwealth.” And yet it
was to “bring in innovations in religion” that the energies of the
English church were now chiefly directed. At the head of the church
was Archbishop Laud, whose determination was “to raise the Church of
England to what he conceived to be its real position as a branch,
though a reformed branch, of the great Catholic church throughout
the world.” He protested alike against the innovations of Rome and
the innovations of Calvin. In his view the Episcopal succession was
the essence of the church; and, therefore, when the Lutheran and
Calvanistic churches rejected the office of Bishop, they “ceased to be
churches at all.” As he rejected the church of the reformers, and as he
acknowledged Rome as a true branch of the church, he drew constantly
nearer to Rome, and removed further and further from the doctrines
of the Reformers. In all parts of England ministers who refused to
conform were expelled from their cures. It was this aggressive and
revolutionary policy that drove thousands of Puritans to New England.
Three thousand emigrants left England in a single year; and during
the period between 1629 and 1640 no less than about twenty thousand
Puritans found a refuge in the New World.

In Scotland resistance to the innovations of Laud took a more active
turn. Royal proclamation had been made, reinstating the Episcopal
forms; but when the Dean of Edinburgh opened the new Prayer Book, a
murmur of discontent ran through the congregation, and a stool, hurled
by one of the members, felled him to the ground. Petitions for the
removal of the Prayer Book were showered in upon the court. Various
writers were dragged before the Star Chamber and branded as “trumpets
of sedition.” To a petition presented by the Duke of Hamilton the
King replied: “I will rather die than yield to these impertinent and
damnable demands.” Of these seething discontents, what is sometimes
called the “Bishops’ War” was the result. The King was determined
to suppress opposition by force of arms, and for that purpose he
committed the fatal error of calling over Strafford from Ireland.
Scotland at once arose to resist him, while at his back all England was
at the point of revolt. A London mob burst into the Bishop’s palace
at Lambeth, and then proceeded to break up the sittings of the High
Commission at St. Paul’s. Charles, finding the army in no condition
to cope with the discontents of the time, at length, with great
reluctance, yielded to his advisers, and once more summoned the Houses
of Parliament.

In April of 1640, the newly-elected members came together. During the
eleven years that had elapsed since the dismissal of the Parliament
of 1629, many of the old leaders had passed away. Sir Edward Coke and
Sir Robert Philips were dead, and Eliot had perished as a martyr in
prison. But in the meantime a new leader had appeared. By the consent
of all, that distinction was now held by John Pym. This gentleman,
now fifty-four years of age, had been the companion of Eliot in the
third Parliament of Charles, and, next to Eliot and Wentworth, had
been acknowledged the most effective speaker in that body. But in the
course of the past eleven years his talents and his energy had caused
him everywhere to be hailed as the popular leader. He was a gentleman
of good family, a graduate of Oxford, and an Episcopalian in religion.
His influence was probably all the greater because he did not belong
to the extreme party. We are told that he was no fanatic, that he was
genial and even convivial in his nature. He has been called by Mr.
Forster the first great popular organizer in English politics. In
company with Hampden he rode through several of the English counties,
as Anthony Wood states, “with a view of promoting elections of the
puritanical brethren.” He urged the people to meet and send petitions
to Parliament, and by him the custom of petitioning was first organized
into a system. When the new House of Commons was called to order every
one looked to Pym as by a common instinct for guidance.

The speech with which Pym responded to this expectation is doubtless
one of the most remarkable in the history of British eloquence. It
abounds in passages which, for weight of argument and closeness of
reasoning, remind one of the compositions of Lord Bacon. Throughout the
whole there is a precision of statement, and a gravity of manner that
show plainly enough that he was not unconscious of the responsibility
that rested upon him. The speech has been a matter of general comment
with all the historians of the period, for there is abundant evidence
of its extraordinary influence on Parliament and on the people of
England. And yet, until within a few years, no complete copy of it was
known to be in existence. Several mutilated versions were published
in the seventeenth century, but these conveyed a very imperfect
impression of its power. Mr. May, the historian of the Long Parliament
says that “Mr. Pym, a grave and religious gentleman, in a long speech
of almost two hours, recited a catalogue of grievances which at that
time lay heavy on the commonwealth, of which many abbreviated copies,
as extracting the heads only, were with great greediness taken by
gentleman and others throughout the kingdom, for it was not then the
fashion to print speeches in Parliament.” These “abbreviated copies”
“of heads only,” were until recently supposed to be the only reports of
the speech in existence. But Mr. Forster, when writing his Life of Pym,
was led to institute a careful search among the world of papers in the
British Museum; and his effort was rewarded with success. He discovered
a report of the speech with corrections by Pym’s own hand. This
version, corrected by the orator himself, is the one here reproduced.
It is somewhat abridged by Mr. Forster; and the report given in the
third person is preserved. In unabbreviated form it has never been



  After an interval of eleven years since the dissolution of the Third
  Parliament of Charles I., the Fourth or Short Parliament was opened
  by the King on the 3d of April, 1640. In his opening speech, Charles
  simply said: “My Lords and Gentlemen: There never was a king that
  had a more great and weighty cause to call his people together than
  myself: I will not trouble you with the particulars. I have informed
  my Lord Keeper, and command him to speak, and desire your attention.”
  After this short and ungracious declaration, the Lord Keeper
  proceeded to speak in a very lofty and absurd strain in regard to the
  Royal Prerogative, and ending with the admonition, “that his Majesty
  did not expect advice from them, much less that they should interfere
  in any office of mediation, which would not be grateful to him: but
  that they should, as soon as might be, give his Majesty a supply,
  and that he would give them time enough afterwards to represent
  grievances to him.”

  Two days later, as soon as Parliament assembled, a number of
  petitions were presented, “complaining of ship-money projects and
  monopolies, the star-chamber and high-commission courts and other
  grievances.” Between the consideration of these petitions and
  deference to the King’s request to grant supplies at once, there was
  a hesitation; and it was of this sense of “divided duty” that Pym
  determined to avail himself. Clarendon says: “Whilst men gazed upon
  each other, looking who should begin (much the greater part having
  never before sat in Parliament) Mr. Pym, a man of good reputation,
  but much better known afterwards, who had been as long in these
  assemblies as any man then living, broke the ice, and in a set
  discourse of about two hours,” addressed the House.

Never Parliament had greater business to dispatch, nor more
difficulties to encounter; therefore we have reason to take all
advantages of order and address, and hereby we shall not only do our
own work, but dispose and inable ourselves for the better satisfaction
of his Majesty’s desire of supply. The grievances being removed, our
affections will carry us with speed and cheerfulness, to give his
Majesty that which may be sufficient both for his honor and support.
Those that in the very first place shall endeavor to redress the
grievances, will be found not to hinder, but to be the best furtherers
of his Majesty’s service. He that takes away weights, doth as much
advantage motion, as he that addeth wings. Divers pieces of this main
work have been already propounded; his endeavor should be to present
to the House a model of the whole. In the creation, God made the
world according to that idea or form which was eternally preëxistent
in the Divine mind. Moses was commanded to frame the tabernacle after
the pattern showed him in the mount. Those actions are seldom well
perfected in the execution, which are not first well moulded in the
design and proposition.

He said he would labor to contract those manifold affairs both of
the Church and State, which did so earnestly require the wisdom and
faithfulness of this House, into a double method of grievances and
cures. And because there wanted not some who pretended that these
things, wherewith the commonwealth is now grieved, are much for the
advantage of the King, and that the redress of them will be to his
Majesty’s great disadvantage and loss, he doubted not but to make it
appear, that in discovering the present great distempers and disorders,
and procuring remedy for them, we should be no less serviceable to
his Majesty, who hath summoned us to this great council than useful
to those whom we do here represent. For the better effecting whereof,
he propounded three main branches of his discourse. In the first, he
would offer them the several heads of some principal grievances, under
which the kingdom groaned. In the second, he undertook to prove that
the disorders from whence those grievances issued, were as hurtful to
the King as to the people. In the third, he would advise such a way of
healing, and removing those grievances, as might be equally effectual
to maintain the honor and greatness of the King, and to procure the
prosperity and contentment of the people.

In the handling whereof he promised to use such expressions as might
mitigate the sharpness and bitterness of those things whereof he was
to speak, so far as his duty and faithfulness would allow. It is a
great prerogative to the King, and a great honor attributed to him,
in a maxim of our law, that he can do no wrong; he is the fountain
of justice; and, if there be any injustice in the execution of his
commands, the law casts it upon the ministers, and frees the King.

Activity, life, and vigor are conveyed into the sublunary creatures by
the influence of heaven; but the malignity and distemper, the cause
of so many epidemical diseases, do proceed from the noisome vapors of
the earth, or some ill-affected qualities of the air, without any
infection or alteration of those pure, celestial, and incorruptible
bodies. In the like manner, he said, the authority, the power, and
countenance of princes, may concur in the actions of evil men, without
partaking in the injustice and obliquity of them. These matters whereof
we complain, have been presented to his Majesty, either under the
pretence of royal prerogatives, which he is bound to maintain, or of
public good, which is the most honorable object of regal wisdom. But
the covetous and ambitious designs of others have interposed betwixt
his royal intentions and the happiness of his people, making those
things pernicious and hurtful, which his Majesty apprehended as just
and profitable.

He said, the things which he was to propound were of a various
nature, many of them such as required a very tender and exquisite
consideration. In handling of which, as he would be bold to use the
liberty of the place and relation wherein he stood, so he would be very
careful to express that modesty and humility which might be expected
by those of whose actions he was to speak. And if his judgment or his
tongue should slip into any particular mistake, he would not think it
so great a shame to fail by his own weakness as he should esteem it
an honor and advantage to be corrected by the wisdom of that House to
which he submitted himself, with this protestation, that he desired no
reformation as much as to reform himself.

The greatest liberty of the kingdom is religion; thereby we are freed
from spiritual evils, and no impositions are so grievous as those that
are laid upon the soul.

The next great liberty is justice, whereby we are preserved from
injuries in our persons and estates; from this is derived into
the commonwealth, peace, and order, and safety; and when this is
interrupted, confusion and danger are ready to overwhelm all.

The third great liberty consists in the power and privilege of
parliaments; for this is the fountain of law, the great council of the
kingdom, the highest court; this is inabled by the legislative and
conciliary power, to prevent evils to come; by the judiciary power, to
suppress and remove evils present. If you consider these three great
liberties in the order of dignity, this last is inferior to the other
two, as means are inferior to the end; but, if you consider them in
the order of necessity and use, this may justly claim the first place
in our care, because the end cannot be obtained without the means: and
if we do not preserve this, we cannot long hope to enjoy either of the
others. Therefore being to speak of those grievances which lie upon the
kingdom, he would observe this order.

1. To mention those which were against the privilege of parliaments.
2. Those which were prejudicial to the religion established in the
kingdom. 3. Those which did interrupt the justice of the realm in the
liberty of our persons and propriety of our estates.

The privileges of Parliament were not given for the ornament or
advantage of those who are the members of Parliament.[10] They have a
real use and efficacy toward that which is the end of parliaments. We
are free from suits that we may the more entirely addict ourselves to
the public services; we have, therefore, liberty of speech, that our
counsels may not be corrupted with fear, or our judgments perverted
with self respects. Those three great faculties and functions of
Parliament, the legislative, judiciary, and conciliary power,[11]
cannot be well exercised without such privileges as these. The wisdom
of our laws, the faithfulness of our counsels, the righteousness of
our judgments, can hardly be kept pure and untainted if they proceed
from distracted and restrained minds.

It is a good rule of the moral philosopher,—_Et non lædas mentem
gubernatricem omnium actionum_. These powers of Parliament are to the
body politic as the rational faculties of the soul to a man; that which
keeps all the parts of the commonwealth in frame and temper, ought
to be most carefully preserved in that freedom, vigor, and activity,
which belongs to itself. Our predecessors in this House have ever been
most careful in the first place to settle and secure their privileges;
and he hoped, that we, having had greater breaches made upon us than
heretofore, would be no less tender of them, and forward in seeking
reparation for that which is past, and prevention of the like for the
time to come.

Then he propounded divers particular points wherein the privileges of
Parliament had been broken. First, in restraining the members of the
House from speaking. Secondly, in forbidding the Speaker to put any

These two were practiced the last day of the last Parliament (and,
as was alleged, by his Majesty’s command); and both of them trench
upon the very life and being of parliaments; for if such a restraining
power as this should take root, and be admitted, it will be impossible
for us to bring any resolution to perfection in such matters as shall
displease those about the King.[12]

Thirdly, by imprisoning divers members of the House, for matters done
in Parliament. Fourthly, by indictments, informations, and judgments
in ordinary and inferior courts, for speeches and proceedings in
parliaments. Fifthly, by the disgraceful order of the King’s bench,
whereby some members of this House were enjoined to put in security of
their good behaviour; and for refusal thereof, were continued in prison
divers years, without any particular allegation against them. One of
them was freed by death. Others were not dismissed till his Majesty
had declared his intention to summon the present Parliament. And this
he noted not only as a breach of privilege, but as a violation of
the common justice of the kingdom. Sixthly, by the sudden and abrupt
dissolution of parliaments, contrary to the law and custom.

Often hath it been declared in parliaments, that the Parliament should
not be dissolved, till the petitions be answered. This (he said)
was a great grievance because it doth prevent the redress of other
grievances. It were a hard case that a private man should be put to
death without being heard. As this representative body of the Commons
receives a being by the summons, so it receives a civil death by the
dissolution. Is it not a much more heavy doom by which we lose our
being, to have this civil death inflicted on us in displeasure, and
not to be allowed time and liberty to answer for ourselves? That we
should not only die, but have this mark of infamy laid upon us? to
be made intestabiles, disabled to make our wills, to dispose of our
business, as this House hath always used to do before adjournments
or dissolutions? Yet this hath often been our case! We have not been
permitted to pour out our last sighs and groans into the bosom of our
dear sovereign. The words of dying men are full of piercing affections;
if we might be heard to speak, no doubt we should so fully express
our love and faithfulness to our prince, as might take off the false
suggestions and aspersions of others; at least we should in our humble
supplications recommend some such things to him in the name of his
people, as would make for his own honor, and the public good of his

Thus he concluded the first sort of grievances, being such as were
against the privilege of Parliament, and passed on to the next,
concerning religion; all which he conveyed under these four heads.
The first, was the great encouragement given to popery, of which he
produced these particular evidences. 1. A suspension of all laws
against papists, whereby they enjoy a free and almost public exercise
of that religion. Those good statutes which were made for restraint of
idolatry and superstition, are now a ground of security to them in the
practice of both; being used to no other end but to get money into the
King’s purse; which as it is clearly against the intentions of the law,
so it is full of mischief to the kingdom. By this means a dangerous
party is cherished and increased, who are ready to close with any
opportunity of disturbing the peace and safety of the State. Yet he did
not desire any new laws against popery, or any rigorous courses in the
execution of those already in force; he was far from seeking the ruin
of their persons or estates; only he wished they might be kept in such
a condition as should restrain them from doing hurt.[13]

It may be objected, there are moderate and discreet men amongst them,
men of estates, such as have an interest in the peace and prosperity of
the kingdom as well as we. These (he said) were not to be considered
according to their own disposition, but according to the nature of the
body whereof they are parties. The planets have several and particular
motions of their own, yet they are all rapt and transported into a
contrary course by the superior orb which comprehends them all. The
principles of popery are such as are incompatible with any other
religion. There may be a suspension of violence for some by certain
respects; but the ultimate end even of that moderation is, that they
may with more advantage extirpate that which is opposite to them. Laws
will not restrain them. Oaths will not. The Pope can dispense with both
these, and where there is occasion, his command will move them to the
disturbance of the realm—against their own private disposition—yea,
against their own reason and judgement—to obey him; to whom they have
(especially the Jesuitical party) absolutely and entirely obliged
themselves, not only in spiritual matters, but in temporal, as they are
in order _ad spiritualia_. Henry III. and Henry IV. of France were
no Protestants themselves, yet were murthered because they tolerated
Protestants. The King and the kingdom can have no security but in their
weakness and disability to do hurt.

2. A second encouragement is, their admission into places of power
and trust in the Commonwealth, whereby they get many dependents and
adherents, not only of their own, but even of such as make profession
to be Protestants.

3. A third, their freedom of resorting to London and the court, whereby
they have opportunity, not only of communicating their counsels and
designs, one to another, but of diving into his Majesty’s counsels,
by the frequent access of those who are active men amongst them, to
the tables and company of great men; and under subtle pretences and
disguises they want not means of cherishing their own projects, and of
endeavoring to mould and bias the public affairs to the great advantage
of that party.

4. A fourth, that as they have a congregation of cardinals at Rome,
to consider of the aptest ways and means of establishing the Pope’s
authority and religion in England, so they have a nuncio here, to act
and dispose that party to the execution of those counsels, and, by
the assistance of such cunning and Jesuitical spirits as swarm in this
town, to order and manage all actions and events, to the furtherance of
that main end.[14]

The second grievance of religion, was from those manifold innovations
lately introduced into several parts of the kingdom, all inclining to
popery, and disposing and fitting men to entertain it. The particulars
were these: 1. Divers of the chiefest points of religion in difference
betwixt us and the papists have been publicly defended, in licensed
books, in sermons, in university acts and disputations. 2. Divers
popish ceremonies have been not only practised but countenanced, yea,
little less than enjoined, as altars, images, crucifixes, bowings, and
other gestures and observances, which put upon our churches a shape and
face of popery. He compared this to the dry bones in Ezekiel. First,
they came together; then the sinews and the flesh came upon them; after
this the skin covered them; and then breath and life was put into them!
So (he said) after these men had moulded us into an outward form and
visage of popery, they would more boldly endeavor to breathe into us
the spirit of life and popery.

The third grievance was the countenancing and preferring those men who
were most forward in setting up such innovations; the particulars were
so well known that they needed not to be named.[15]

The fourth was, the discouragement of those who were known to be most
conscionable and faithful professors of the truth. Some of the ways of
effecting this he observed to be these: 1. The courses taken to enforce
and enlarge those unhappy differences, for matters of small moment,
which have been amongst ourselves, and to raise up new occasions of
further division, whereby many have been induced to forsake the land,
not seeing the end of those voluntary and human injunctions in things
appertaining to God’s worship. Those who are indeed lovers of religion,
and of the churches of God, would seek to make up those breaches,
and to unite us more entirely against the common enemy. 2. The over
rigid prosecution of those who are scrupulous in using some things
enjoined, which are held by those who enjoin them, to be in themselves
indifferent. It hath been ever the desire of this House, expressed in
many parliaments in Queen Elizabeth’s time and since, that such might
be tenderly used. It was one of our petitions delivered at Oxford to
his Majesty that now is; but what little moderation it hath produced is
not unknown to us all! Any other vice almost may be better endured in a
minister than inconformity. 3. The unjust punishments and vexations of
sundry persons for matters required without any warrant of law: as, for
not reading the book concerning recreation on the Lord’s day[16]; for
not removing the communion table to be set altarwise at the east end of
the chancel; for not coming up to the rails to receive the sacrament;
for preaching the Lord’s day in the afternoon; for catechising in any
other words and manner than in the precise words of the short catechism
in the common prayer-book.

The fifth and last grievance concerning religion, was the encroachment
and abuse of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The particulars mentioned
were these: 1. Fining and imprisoning in cases not allowed by law. 2.
The challenging their jurisdiction to be appropriate to their order,
which they allege to be _jure divino_. 3. The contriving and publishing
of new articles, upon which they force the churchwardens to take oaths,
and to make inquiries and presentments, as if such articles had the
force of canons; and this was an effect of great presumption and
boldness, not only in the bishops, but in the archdeacons, officials,
and chancellors, taking upon themselves a kind of synodal authority.
The injunctions of this kind might, indeed, well partake in name with
that part of the common law which is called the extravagants!

Having despatched these several points, he proceeded to the third
kind of grievances, being such as are against the common justice
of the realm, in the liberty of our persons, and propriety of our
estates, of which he had many to propound: in doing whereof, he would
rather observe the order of time, wherein they were acted, than of
consequence; but when he should come to the cure, he should then
persuade the House to begin with those which were of most importance,
as being now in execution, and very much pressing and exhausting the

He began with the tonnage and poundage and other impositions not
warranted by law; and because these burdens had long lain upon us, and
the principles which produced them are the same from whence divers
others are derived, he thought it necessary to premise a short
narrative and relation of the grounds and proceedings of the power of
imposing herein practised.[17] It was a fundamental truth, essential to
the constitution and government of this kingdom—an hereditary liberty
and privilege of all the freeborn subjects of the land—that no tax,
tallage, or other charge might be laid upon us, without common consent
in Parliament. This was acknowledged by the Conquerro; ratified in
that contract which he made with this nation, upon his admittance to
the kingdom; declared and confirmed in the laws which he published.
This hath never been denied by any of our kings—though broken and
interrupted by some of them, especially by King John and Henry III.
Then, again, it was confirmed by Mag. Chart., and other succeeding
laws; yet not so well settled but that it was sometime attempted by
the two succeeding Edwards, in whose times the subjects were very
sensible of all the breaches made upon the common liberty, and, by
the opportunity of frequent parliaments, pursued them with fresh
complaints, and for the most part found redress, and procured the right
of the subject to be fortified by new statutes.

He observed that those kings, even in the acts whereby they did
break the law, did really affirm the subject’s liberty, and disclaim
that right of imposing which is now challenged: for they did usually
procure the merchants’ consent to such taxes as were laid, thereby
to put a color of justice upon their proceeding; and ordinarily they
were limited to a short time, and then propounded to the ratification
of the Parliament, where they were cancelled or confirmed, as the
necessity and state of the kingdom did require. But for the most part
such charges upon merchandise were taken by authority of Parliament,
and granted for some short time, in a greater or lesser proportion, as
was requisite for supply of the public occasions—six or twelve in the
pound, for one, two or three years, as they saw cause to be employed
for the defence of the sea: and it was acknowledged so clearly to be
in the power of Parliament, that they have sometimes been granted to
noblemen, and sometimes to merchants, to be disposed for that use.
Afterward they were granted to the King for life, and so continued for
divers descents, yet still as a gift and grant of the Commons.

Betwixt the time of Edward III. and Queen Mary, never prince (that
he could remember) offered to demand any imposition but by grant in
Parliament. Queen Mary laid a charge upon cloth, by the equity of the
statute of tonnage and poundage, because the rate set upon wool was
much more than upon cloth; and, there being little wool carried out
of the kingdom unwrought, the Queen thought she had reason to lay on
somewhat more; yet not full so much as brought them to an equality, but
that still there continued a less charge upon wool wrought into cloth,
than upon wool carried out unwrought; until King James’ time when upon
Nicholson’s project, there was a further addition of charge, but still
upon pretence of the statute, which is that we call the pretermitted

In Queen Elizabeth’s time, it is true, one or two little impositions
crept in, the general prosperity of her reign overshadowing small
errors and innovations. One of these was upon currants, by occasion of
the merchants’ complaints that the Venetians had laid a charge upon
the English cloth, that so we might be even with them, and force them
the sooner to take it off. But this being demanded by King James, was
denied by one Bates, a merchant, and upon a suit in the exchequer,
was adjudged for the King. Now the manner of that judgment was thus:
There were then but three judges in that court, all differing from one
another in the grounds of their sentences. The first was of opinion,
the King might impose upon such commodities as were foreign and
superfluous, as currants were, but not upon such as were native and to
be transported, or necessary, and to be imported for the use of the
kingdom. The second judge was of opinion, he might impose upon all
foreign merchandise, whether superfluous or no, but not upon native.
The third, that for as much as the King had the custody of the ports,
and the guard of the seas, and that he might open and shut up the ports
as he pleased, he had a prerogative to impose upon all merchandise,
both exported and imported. Yet this single, distracted, and divided
judgment, is the foundation of all the impositions now in practice;
for, after this, King James laid new charges upon all commodities
outward and inward, not limited to a certain time and occasion, but
reserved to himself, his heirs and successors, forever,—the first
impositions in fee-simple that were ever heard of in this kingdom. This
judgment, and the right of imposing thereupon assumed, was questioned
in septimo and duodecimo[18] of that king, and was the cause of the
breach of both those parliaments. In 18 and 21 Jacobi, indeed, it was
not agitated by this House, but only that they might preserve the
favor of the king, for the despatch of some other great businesses,
upon which they were more especially attentive.[19] But in the first
of his present Majesty, it necessarily came to be remembered, upon
the proposition on the King’s part, for renewing the bill of tonnage
and poundage; yet so moderate was that Parliament, that they thought
rather to confirm the impositions already set by a law to be made,
than to abolish them by a judgment in Parliament; but that and divers
ensuing parliaments have been unhappily broken, before that endeavor
could be accomplished: only at the last meeting a remonstrance was
made concerning the liberty of the subject in this point; and it hath
always been expressed to be the meaning of the House, and so it was
(as he said) his own meaning in the proposition now made, to settle
and restore the right according to law, and not to diminish the king’s
profit, but to establish it by a free grant in Parliament.

However, since the breach of the last Parliament, his majesty hath, by
a new book of rates, very much increased the burden upon merchandise,
and now tonnage and poundage, old and new impositions, are all taken
by prerogative, without any grant in Parliament, or authority of law,
as we conceive; from whence divers inconveniences and mischiefs are
produced. 1. The danger of the precedent, that a judgment in one court,
and in one case, is made binding to all the kingdom. 2. Men’s goods
are seized, their legal suits are stopped, and justice denied to those
that desire to take the benefit of the law. 3. The great sums of money
received upon these impositions, intended for the guard of the seas,
claimed and defended upon no ground but of public trust, for protection
of merchants and defence of the ports, are dispersed to other uses,
and a new tax raised for the same purposes. 4. These burdens are so
excessive, that trade is thereby very much hindered, the commodities
of our own growth extremely abased, and those imported much enhanced;
all which lies not upon the merchant alone, but upon the generality
of the subject; and by this means the stock of the kingdom is much
diminished, our exportation being less profitable, and our importation
more changeable. And if the wars and troubles in the neighbor parts
had not brought almost the whole stream of trade into this kingdom, we
should have found many more prejudical effects of these impositions,
long before this time, than yet we have done. Especially they have been
insupportable to the poor plantations, whither many of his Majesty’s
subjects have been transported, in divers parts of the continent and
islands of America, in furtherance of a design tending to the honor
of the kingdom, and the enlargement of his Majesty’s dominions. The
adventurers in this noble work have for the most part no other support
but tobacco, upon which such a heavy rate is set, that the King
receives twice as much as the true value of the commodity to the owner.
5. Whereas these great burdens have caused divers merchants to apply
themselves to a way of traffic abroad by transporting goods from one
country to another, without bringing them home into England. But now
it hath been lately endeavored to set an imposition upon this trade,
so that the King will have a duty even out of those commodities which
never come within his dominions, to the great discouragement of such
active and industrious men.

The next general head of civil grievances, was enforcing men to
compound for knighthood; which though it may seem past, because it is
divers years since it was used, yet upon the same grounds the King may
renew it, as often as he pleaseth, for the composition looks backward,
and the offence continuing, is subject to a new fine. The state of
that business he laid down thus: Heretofore, when the services due by
tenure were taken in kind, it were fit there were some way of trial
and approbation of those that were bound to such services. Therefore,
it was ordained, that such as were to do knight’s services, after
they came of age, and had possession of their lands, should be made
knights; that is, publicly declared to be fit for that service:—divers
ceremonies and solemnities were in use for this purpose; and if by the
party’s neglect this was not done, he was punishable by fine; there
being in those times an ordinary and open way to get knighthood, for
those who were born to it. Now it is quite true, that although the
use of this hath for divers ages been discontinued, yet there have
passed very few kings under whom there hath not been a general summons,
requiring those who had lands of such value as the law prescribes,
to appear at the coronation, or some other great solemnity, and to be
knighted, and yet nothing intended but the getting of some small fines.
So this grievance is not altogether new in the kind; but it is new
in the manner, and in the excess of it, and that in divers respects.
1. First, it hath been extended beyond all intention and color of
law. Not only inn-holders, but likewise leaseholders, copyholders,
merchants, and others; scarce any man free from it. 2. The fines have
been immoderate, far beyond the proportion of former times.[20] 3. The
proportion has been without any example, precedent, or rule of justice.
For though those that were summoned did appear, yet distresses infinite
were made out against them, and issues increased and multiplied, and no
way open to discharge those issues, by plea or otherwise, but only by
compounding with the commissioners at their own pleasure.

The third general head of civil grievances was, the great inundation of
monopolies: whereby heavy burthens are laid, not only upon foreign, but
also native commodities. These began in the soap patent. The principal
undertakers in this were divers Popish recusants, men of estate and
quality, such as in likelihood did not only aim at their private gain,
but that by this open breach of law, the King and his people might be
more fully divided, and the ways of Parliament men more thoroughly
obstructed. Amongst the infinite inconveniences and mischiefs which
this did produce, these few may be observed: 1. The impairing the
goodness, and enhancing the price of most of the commodities and
manufactures of the realm, yea, of those which are of most necessary
and common use, as salt, soap, beer, coals, and infinite others. 2.
That, under color of licenses, trades and manufactures are restrained
to a few hands, and many of the subjects deprived of their ordinary
way of livelihood. 3. That, upon such illegal grants, a great number
of persons had been unjustly vexed by pursuivants, imprisonments,
attendance upon the council table, forfeiture of goods, and many other

The fourth head of civil grievances was that great and unparalleled
grievance of the ship money, which, though it may seem to have more
warrant of law than the rest, because there hath a judgment passed for
it, yet in truth it is thereby aggravated, if it be considered that
the judgment is founded upon the naked opinion of some judges without
any written law, without any custom, or authority of law books,
yea, without any one precedent for it.[21] Many express laws, many
declarations in parliaments, and the constant practice and judgment
at all times being against it! Yea, in the very nature of it, it will
be found to be disproportionable to the case of “necessity” which is
pretended to be the ground of it! Necessity excludes all formalities
and solemnities. It is no time then to make levies and taxes to build
and prepare ships. Every man’s person, every man’s ships are to be
employed for the resisting of an invading enemy. The right on the
subject’s part was so clear, and the pretences against it so weak, that
he thought no man would venture his reputation or conscience in the
defence of that judgment, being so contrary to the grounds of the law,
to the practice of former times, and so inconsistent in itself.

Amongst many inconveniences and obliquities of this grievance, he
noted these: 1. That it extendeth to all persons, and to all times; it
subjecteth our goods to distress, and our persons to imprisonment; and,
the causes of it being secret and invisible, referred to his Majesty’s
breast alone, the subject was left without possibility of exception
and relief. 2. That there were no rules or limits for the proportion;
so that no man knew what estate he had, or how to order his course or
expenses. 3. That it was taken out of the subject’s purse by a writ,
and brought into the King’s coffers by instructions from the lords of
his most honorable privy council. Now, in the legal defence of it, the
writ only did appear; of the instructions there was no notice taken,
which yet in the real execution of it were most predominant. It carries
the face of service in the writ, and of revenue in the instructions.
Why, if this way had not been found to turn the ship into money, it
would easily have appeared how incompatible this service is with the
office of a sheriff, in the inland counties; and how incongruous and
inconvenient for the inhabitants! The law in a body politic is like
nature, which always prepareth and disposeth proper and fit instruments
and organs for every natural operation. If the law had intended any
such charge as this, there should have been certain rules, suitable
means, and courses, for the levying and managing of it.

The fifth head was the enlargement of the forests beyond the bounds and
perambulations[22] appointed and established by act of Parliament,
27 and 28 Edward I.; and this is done upon the very reasons and
exceptions which had been on the King’s part propounded, and by the
Commons answered, in Parliament, not long after that establishment. It
is not unknown to many in this House that those perambulations were
the fruit and effect of that famous charter which is called “Charta de
Forrestâ,” whereby many tumults, troubles, and discontents had been
taken away, and composed between the King and his subjects; and it is
full of danger, that by reviving those old questions, we may fall into
the like distempers. Hereby, however, no blame could fall upon that
great lord, who is now justice in Eyre, and in whose name these things
were acted; it could not be expected that he should take notice of the
laws and customs of the realm; therefore he was careful to procure the
assistance and direction of the judges; and if any thing were done
against law, it was for them to answer, and not for him.

The particular irregularities and obliquities of this business were
these:—1. The surreptitious procuring a verdict for the King; without
giving notice to the country whereby they might be prepared to give
in evidence for their own interest and indemnity, as was done in
Essex. 2. Whereas the judges in the justice seat in Essex were
consulted with about the entry of the former verdict, and delivered
their opinion touching that alone, without meddling with the point
of right; this opinion was after enforced in other counties as if
it had been a judgment upon the matter, and the council for the
county discountenanced in speaking, because it was said to be already
adjudged. 3. The inheritance of divers of the subjects have been
hereupon disturbed, after the quiet possession of three or four hundred
years, and a way opened for the disturbance of many others. 4. Great
sums of money have been drawn from such as have lands within these
pretended bounds, and those who have forborne to make composition have
been threatened with the execution of these forest laws. 5. The fifth
was the selling of nuisances, or at least some such things as are
supposed to be nuisances. The King, as father of the commonwealth, is
to take care of the public commodities and advantages of his subjects,
as rivers, highways, common sewers, and suchlike, and is to remove
whatsoever is prejudicial to them; and for the trial of those there
are legal and ordinary writs of _ad quod damnum_; but of late a new
and extrajudicial way hath been taken, of declaring matters to be
nuisances; and divers have thereupon been questioned, and if they would
not compound, they have been fined; if they do compound, that which
was first prosecuted as a common nuisance is taken into the King’s
protection and allowed to stand; and having yielded the King money, no
further care is taken whether it be good or bad for the commonwealth.
By this a very great and public trust is either broken or abused. If
the matter compounded for be truly a nuisance, then it is broken to
the hurt of the people; if it be not a nuisance, then it is abused
to the hurt of the party. The particulars mentioned were:—First, the
commission for buildings in and about this town, which heretofore hath
been presented by this House as a grievance in King James’ time, but
now of late the execution hath been much more frequent and prejudicial
than it was before. Secondly, commission for depopulation,[23] which
began some few years since, and is still in hot prosecution. By both
these the subject is restrained from disposing of his own. Some have
been commanded to demolish their houses; others have been forbidden to
build; others, after great trouble and vexation, have been forced to
redeem their peace with large sums, and they still remain, by law, as
liable to a new question as before; for it is agreed by all that the
King cannot license a common nuisance; and although indeed these are
not such, yet it is a matter of very ill consequence that, under that
name, they should be compounded for, and may in ill times hereafter
be made a precedent for the Kings of this realm to claim a power of
licensing such things as are nuisances indeed.[24]

The seventh great civil grievance hath been, the military charges laid
upon the several counties of the kingdom; sometimes by warrant under
his Majesty’s signature, sometimes by letters from the council table,
and sometimes (such had been the boldness and presumption of some men),
by the order of the Lord Lieutenants, or deputy-lieutenant alone.
This is a growing evil; still multiplying and increasing from a few
particulars to many, from small sums to great. It began first to be
practised as a loan, for supply of coat and conduct money; and for this
it hath some countenance from the use in Queen Elizabeth’s time, when
the lords of the council did often desire the deputy-lieutenants to
procure so much money to be laid out in the country as the service did
require, with a promise to pay it again in London; for which purpose
there was a constant warrant in the exchequer. This was the practice
in her time, and in a great part of King James’. But the payments were
then so certain, as it was little otherwise than taking up money upon
bills of exchange. At this day they follow these precedents in the
manner of the demand (for it is with a promise of a repayment), but not
in the certainty and readiness of satisfaction.

The first particular brought into a tax (as he thought) was the muster
master’s wages, at which many repined; but being for small sums, it
began to be generally digested; yet, in the last Parliament, this House
was sensible of it, and to avoid the danger of the precedent that
the subjects should be forced to make any payments without consent
in Parliament, they thought upon a bill that might be a rule to the
lieutenants what to demand, and to the people what to pay. But the
hopes of this bill were dashed in the dissolution of that Parliament.
Now of late divers other particulars are growing into practise, which
make the grievance much more heavy. Those mentioned were these: 1.
Pressing men against their will, and forcing them which are rich or
unwilling to serve, to find others in their place. 2. The provision of
public magazines for powder, and other munition, spades and pickaxes.
3. The salary of divers officers besides the muster master. 4. The
buying of cart-horses and carts, and hiring of carts for carriages.

The eighth head of civil grievances was the extrajudicial declarations
of judges, whereby the subjects have been bound in matters of great
importance without hearing of counsel or argument on their part,
and are left without legal remedy, by writ of error or otherwise.
He remembered the expression used by a former member of the House,
of a “teeming parliament.” This, he said, was a teeming grievance;
from hence have issued most of the great grievances now in being. The
ship-money—the pretended nuisances already mentioned—and some others
which have not yet been touched upon,—especially that concerning the
proceedings of ecclesiastical courts.

The ninth general head was—that the authority and wisdom of the council
table have been applied to the contriving and managing of several
monopolies, and other great grievances. The institution of the
council-table was much for the advantage and security of the subject,
to avoid surreptitious and precipitate courts in the great affairs of
the kingdom. But by law an oath should be taken by all those of the
King’s council, in which, amongst other things it is expressed that
they should for no cause forbear to do right to all the King’s people.
If such an oath be not now taken, he wished it might be brought into
use again.

It was the honor of that table, to be, as it were, incorporated with
the King; his royal power and greatness did shine most conspicuously
in their actions and in their counsels. We have heard of projectors
and referees heretofore; and what opinion and relish they have found
in this House is not unknown.[25] But that any such thing should be
acted by the council-table which might give strength and countenance
to monopolies, as it hath not been used till now of late, so it cannot
be apprehended without the just grief of the honest subject, and
encouragement of those who are ill affected. He remembered that _in
tertio_ of this king, a noble gentleman, then a very worthy member of
the Commons’ House, now a great lord and eminent counsellor of State,
did in this place declare an opinion concerning that clause used to
be inserted in patents of monopoly, whereby justices of peace are
commanded to assist the patentees; and that he urged it to be a great
dishonor to those gentlemen which are in commission to be so meanly
employed—with how much more reason may we, in jealousy of the honor of
the council-table, humbly desire that their precious time, their great
abilities, designed to the public care and service of the kingdom,
may not receive such a stain, such a diminution as to be employed in
matters of so ill report, in the estimation of the law; of so ill
effect in the apprehension of the people!

The tenth head of civil grievances was comprised in the high court of
star chamber, which some think succeeded that which in the parliament
rolls is called _magnum concilium_, and to which parliaments were
wont so often to refer those important matters which they had no
time to determine. But now this court, which in the late restoration
or erection of it in Henry VII.’s time, was especially designed to
restrain the oppression of great men, and to remove the obstructions
and impediments of the law,—this, which is both a court of counsel
and a court of justice—hath been made an instrument of erecting and
defending monopolies and other grievances; to set a face of right
upon those things which are unlawful in their own nature; a face of
public good upon such as are pernicious in their use and execution. The
soap-patent and divers other evidences thereof may be given, so well
known as not to require a particular relation. And as if this were not
enough, this court hath lately intermeddled with the ship money! divers
sheriffs have been questioned for not levying and collecting such sums
as their counties have been charged with; and if this beginning be not
prevented, the star chamber will become a court of revenue, and it
shall be made crime not to collect or pay such taxes as the State shall

The eleventh head of civil grievance was now come to. He said, he was
gone very high, yet he must go a little higher. That great and most
eminent power of the King, of making edicts and proclamations, which
are said to be _leges temporis_, and by means of which our princes
have used to encounter with such sudden and unexpected danger, as
would not endure so much delay, as assembling the great council of
the kingdom—this, which is one of the most glorious beams of majesty,
most rigorous in commanding reverence and subjection, hath, to our
unspeakable grief, been often exercised of late for the enjoining and
maintaining sundry monopolies and other grants; exceeding burdensome
and prejudicial to the people.

The twelfth next. Now, although he was come as high as he could
upon earth, yet the presumption of evil men did lead him one step
higher—even as high as heaven—as high as the throne of God! It was now
(he said) grown common for ambitious and corrupt men of the clergy to
abuse the truth of God and the bond of conscience; preaching down the
laws and liberties of the kingdom; and pretending divine authority for
an absolute power in the King, to do what he would with our persons and
goods. This hath been so often published in sermons and printed books,
that it is now the highway to preferment!

In the last parliament we had a sentence of an offence of this kind
against one Manwaring, then a doctor, now a bishop; concerning whom
(he said) he would say no more but this, that when he saw him at that
bar, in the most humble and dejected posture that ever he observed, he
thought he would not so soon have leaped into a bishop’s chair! But
his success hath emboldened others; therefore (he said) this may well
be noted as a double grievance, that such doctrine should be allowed,
and that such men should be preferred; yea, as a root of grievances,
whereby they endeavor to corrupt the King’s conscience, and, as much as
in them lies, to deprive the people of that royal protection to which
his Majesty is bound by the fundamental laws of the kingdom, and by his
own personal oath.

The thirteenth head of civil grievences he would thus express: The long
intermission of parliaments, contrary to the two statutes yet in force,
whereby it is appointed there should be parliaments once a year, at the
least; and most contrary to the public good of the kingdom; since, this
being well remedied, it would generate remedies for all the rest.

Having gone through the several heads of grievances, he came to the
second main branch, propounded in the beginning; that the disorders
from whence these grievances issued were as hurtful to the King as to
the people, of which he gave divers reasons.

1. The interruption of the sweet communion which ought to be betwixt
the King and his people, in matters of grace and supply. They have
need of him by his general pardon; to be secured from projectors and
informers; to be freed from obsolete laws; from the subtle devices
of such as seek to restrain the prerogative to their own private
advantage, and the public hurt; and he hath need of them for counsel
and support in great and extraordinary occasions. This mutual
intercourse, if indeed sustained, would so weave the affections and
interests of his subjects into his actions and designs that their
wealth and their persons would be his; his own estate would be managed
to most advantage; and public undertakings would be prosecuted at the
charge and adventure of the subject. The victorious attempts in Queen
Elizabeth’s time upon Portugal, Spain, and the Indies, were for the
greatest part made upon the subjects’ purses, and not upon the Queen’s;
though the honor and profit of the success did most accrue to her.

2. Those often breaches and discontentments betwixt the King and the
people are very apt to diminish his reputation abroad, and disadvantage
his treaties and alliances.

3. The apprehension of the favor and encouragement given to popery hath
much weakened his Majesty’s party beyond the sea, and impaired that
advantage which Queen Elizabeth and his royal father have heretofore
made, of being heads of the Protestant union.

4. The innovations in religion and rigor of ecclesiastical courts have
forced a great many of his Majesty’s subjects to forsake the land;
whereby not only their persons and their posterity, but their wealth
and their industry are lost to this kingdom, much to the reduction,
also, of his Majesty’s customs and subsidies. And, amongst other
inconveniences of such a sort, this was especially to be observed, that
divers clothiers, driven out of the country, had set up the manufacture
of cloth beyond the seas; whereby this State is like to suffer much
by abatement of the price of wools, and by want of employment for the
poor; both which likewise tend to his Majesty’s particular loss.

5. It puts the King upon improper ways of supply, which, being not
warranted by law, are much more burdensome to the subject than
advantageous to his Majesty. In France, not long since, upon a survey
of the King’s revenue, it was found that two parts in three never came
to the King’s purse, but were diverted to the profit of the officers
or ministers of the crown, and it was thought a very good service and
reformation to reduce two parts to the King, leaving still a third part
to the instruments that were employed about getting it in. It may well
be doubted that the King may have the like or worse success in England,
which appears already in some particulars. The King, for instance, hath
reserved upon the monopoly of wines thirty thousand pounds rent a year;
the vintner pays forty shillings a ton, which comes to ninety thousand
pounds; the price upon the subject by retail is increased two-pence a
quart, which comes to eight pounds a ton, and for forty-five thousand
tons brought in yearly, amounts to three hundred and sixty thousand
pounds; which is three hundred and thirty thousand pounds loss to the
kingdom, above the King’s rent! Other monopolies also, as that of
soap, have been very chargeable to the kingdom and brought very little
treasure into his Majesty’s coffers. Thus it is that the law provides
for that revenue of the crown which is natural and proper, that it
may be safely collected and brought to account; but this illegal
revenue, being without any such provision, is left to hazard and much
uncertainty, either not to be retained, or not duly accounted of.

6. It is apt to weaken the industry and courage of the subject; if
they be left uncertain, whether they shall reap the benefit of their
own pains and hazard. Those who are brought into the condition of
slaves will easily grow to a slavish disposition, who, having nothing
to lose, do commonly shew more boldness in disturbing than defending a

7. These irregular courses do give opportunity to ill instruments,
to insinuate themselves into the King’s service, for we cannot but
observe, that if a man be officious in furthering their inordinate
burdens of ship money, monopolies, and the like, it varnisheth over all
other faults, and makes him fit both for employment and preferment;
so that out of their offices, they are furnished for vast expenses,
purchases, buildings; and the King loseth often more in desperate debts
at their death, than he got by them all their lives. Whether this were
not lately verified in a western man, much employed while he lived, he
leaves to the knowledge of those who were acquainted with his course;
and he doubted not but others might be found in the like case. The
same course, again, has been pursued with those that are affected to
popery, to profaneness, and to superstitious innovations in matters
of religion. All kinds of spies and intelligencers, have means to be
countenanced and trusted if they will be but zealous in these kind of
services, which, how much it detracts from his Majesty, in honor, in
profit, and prosperity of public affairs, lies open to every man’s
apprehension. And from these reasons or some of them, he thought it
proceeded, that through the whole course of the English story it might
be observed, that those kings who had been most respectful of the laws,
had been most eminent in greatness, in glory, and success, both at home
and abroad; and that others, who thought to subsist by the violation of
them, did often fall into a state of weakness, poverty, and infortunity.

8. The differences and discontents betwixt his Majesty and the people
at home, have in all likelihood diverted his royal thoughts and
counsels from those great opportunities which he might have, not only
to weaken the House of Austria, and to restore the palatinate, but
to gain himself a higher pitch of power and greatness than any of
his ancestors. For it is not unknown how weak, how distracted, how
discontented the Spanish colonies are in the West Indies. There are now
in those parts in New England, Virginia, and the Caribbean Islands,
and in the Bermudas, at least sixty thousand able persons of this
nation, many of them well armed, and their bodies seasoned to that
climate, which with a very small charge, might be set down in some
advantageous parts of these pleasant, rich, and fruitful countries, and
easily make his Majesty master of all that treasure, which not only
foments the war, but is the great support of popery in all parts of

9. And lastly, those courses are likely to produce such distempers in
the State as may not be settled without great charge and loss; by which
means more may be consumed in a few months than shall be gotten by such
ways in many years.

Having thus passed through the two first general branches, he was now
come to the third, wherein he was to set down the ways of healing
and removing those grievances which consisted of two main branches:
first, in declaring the law where it was doubtful; the second, in
better provision for the execution of law, where it is clear. But (he
said) because he had already spent much time, and begun to find some
confusion in his memory,[26] he would refer the particulars to another
opportunity, and for the present only move that which was general to
all, and which would give weight and advantage to all the particular
ways of redress. That is, that we should speedily desire a conference
with the lords, and acquaint them with the miserable condition wherein
we find the Church and State; and as we have already resolved to join
in a religious seeking of God, in a day of fast and humiliation, so to
entreat them to concur with us in a parliamentary course of petitioning
the King, as there should be occasion; and in searching out the causes
and remedies of these many insupportable grievances under which we
lie. That so, by the united wisdom and authority of both Houses, such
courses may be taken as (through God’s blessing) may advance the honor
and greatness of his Majesty, and restore and establish the peace and
prosperity of the kingdom.

This, he said, we might undertake with comfort and hope of success;
for though there be a darkness upon the land, a thick and palpable
darkness, like that of Egypt, yet, as in that, the sun had not lost
his light, nor the Egyptians their sight (the interruption was only
in the medium), so with us, there is still (God be thanked) light in
the sun—wisdom and justice in his Majesty—to dispel this darkness;
and in us there remains a visual faculty, whereby we are enabled to
apprehend, and moved to desire, light. And when we shall be blessed in
the enjoying of it, we shall thereby be incited to return his Majesty
such thanks as may make it shine more clearly in the world, to his own
glory, and in the hearts of his people, to their joy and contentment.

  At the conclusion of Pym’s speech, the King’s solicitor, Herbert,
  “with all imaginable address,” attempted to call off the attention of
  the members from the extraordinary impression it had made. But the
  singular moderation no less than the deadly force of Pym’s statements
  had created a calm but a settled determination. A committee was at
  once appointed to inquire into violations of privilege; and it was
  resolved to ask for a conference on grievances with the Lords. A
  conference was held, and the debate continued for two days—that of
  the second day continuing from eight in the morning till five in the
  afternoon. The King saw that grievances would have to be redressed
  before supplies would be granted, and, accordingly, at an early hour
  on the following morning, he dissolved Parliament.

  The Revolution was now probably inevitable. The affection of the
  people and of the members of Parliament for the King was fast
  transformed into distrust, and finally into hostility. Macaulay in
  his essays on “Hampden” and “Hallam’s Constitutional History” has
  well shown the several steps in the process of transformation. The
  King was soon obliged to summon another Parliament; and when the new
  members came together in November of the same year, it was evident
  that compromise was no longer possible. The impeachment and execution
  of Strafford were soon followed by an attempt of the King to arrest
  the leading members of Parliament, and this attempt in turn was
  followed by the outbreak of war.


The elder William Pitt entered the House of Commons at the age of
twenty-six, in the year 1735. At Eton and at Oxford his energies had
been devoted to a course of study that was admirably adapted to develop
the remarkable powers for which his name is so well known. We are told
that he was a devoted student of the classics, that he wrote out again
and again carefully-prepared translations of some of the great models
of ancient oratory, and that in this way he acquired his easy command
of a forcible and expressive style. His studies in English, too, were
directed to the same end. He read and reread the sermons of Dr. Barrow,
till he had acquired something of that great preacher’s copiousness of
vocabulary and exactness of expression. With the same end in view he
also performed the extraordinary task of going twice through Bailey’s
Dictionary, examining every word, and making himself, as far as
possible, complete master of all the shades of its significance. Joined
to these efforts was also an unusual training in elocution, which gave
him extraordinary command of a remarkable voice, and made him an actor
scarcely inferior to Garrick himself. It may be doubted whether any
one, since the days of Cicero, has subjected himself to an equal amount
of pure drudgery in order to fit himself for the duties of a public

When Pitt entered the House of Commons, Walpole was at the height of
his power. Pitt’s first speech was on the occasion of the marriage
of the Prince of Wales in 1736; and, although it consisted mainly of
a series of high-sounding compliments, it attracted immediate and
universal attention on account of its fine command of language and
its general elegance of manner. United with these characteristics
was also a vein of irony that made it “gall and wormwood” to the
King and to Walpole. The Prince of Wales, as so often has happened
in English history, was at the head of the opposition to the
government. This opposition had been so strenuous as to provoke the
energetic displeasure of the King and of the First Minister. King
George’s animosity had gone so far as to forbid the moving of the
congratulatory address by the Minister of the Crown. This fact gave
to Pitt an opportunity which he turned to immediate account. Though
there was not a syllable in the speech that could be regarded as
disrespectful or improper, the orator so managed the subject as to give
to his compliments all the effect of the keenest irony. His glowing
utterances on the “filial virtues” of the son, and the “tender paternal
delight” of the father, showed to his astonished auditors that he was
concealing under the cover of faultless phrases an able and a dangerous
opposition. Walpole was filled with anxiety and alarm. He is said to
have remarked: “We must at all events muzzle that terrible cornet of
horse.” It is probable that the arts of bribery were attempted in
order to win over the young officer; but it is certain that, if the
effort was made, it met with failure, for Pitt remained inflexibly
attached to the Prince and the opposition. Walpole could at least throw
him into disgrace. Within two weeks after his speech, Pitt was deprived
of his commission.

The effect was what an acute politician should have foreseen. It made
the Court more odious; it created a general sympathy for the young
orator; it put him at the head of the new party known as the Patriots.
Walpole, from this moment, was obliged to assume the defensive, and his
power steadily declined till his fall in 1741. It was in a succession
of assaults upon Walpole that the great abilities of Pitt forced
themselves into universal recognition.

The sources of his power were two-fold. In the first place he made
himself the avowed champion of what may be called the popular part of
the Constitution. His effort was to rescue the government from those
corruptions which had kept Walpole so long in place, and had so long
stifled all the popular sentiments of the nation. In the interests
of this purpose he was the first to propose a reform of the House of
Commons, as a result of which there might be something like a true
representation of popular interests. The other source of his power was
in the methods and characteristics of his eloquence. He was not in a
true sense a great debator. His ability lay not in any power to analyze
a difficult and complicated subject and present the bearings of its
several parts in a manner to convince the reason. His peculiarities
were rather in his way of seizing upon the more obvious phases of the
question at issue, and presenting them with a nobility of sentiment, a
fervor of energy, a loftiness of conception, and a power of invective
that bore down and destroyed all opposition.

During much of the time between 1735 and 1755 Pitt was in the
opposition. When, on the fall of Walpole in 1741, Carteret came into
power, Pitt assailed his narrow views and sordid methods with such
energy that after three years he was given up as an object of merited
reprobation. Pelham was now called to the head of affairs; but he would
accept the office of First Minister only on condition that Pitt would
take office under him. The King for a long time resisted; but, after a
vain attempt to have a government formed under Pulteney, he gave his
assent. Thus Pitt became Paymaster of the Forces in 1746, an office
which he held till the death of Pelham in 1754.

But on the accession of Pelham’s brother, the Duke of Newcastle, he
once more fell into the opposition. The two years that followed were
the most brilliant period of his oratory. The ministry gave him ample
opportunities, and he took every occasion to improve them. Disasters
abounded in every quarter of the British Empire. The loss of Minorca,
the capture of Calcutta, the defeat of Gen. Braddock, the threatened
invasion of England by the French, were themes well calculated to call
forth his awful invective. The result was that Newcastle was driven
from his place. Public opinion demanded that the reins now be placed
in the hands of the only man fitted to hold them. Pitt became Prime
Minister in December of 1756.

But the personal dislike of the King still would allow him no success.
Newcastle with the support of the royal favor was able to defeat him in
the House of Commons; and in April, 1757, he was ordered to retire. But
the outburst of popular indignation showed itself in all parts of the
kingdom. The chief towns sent gold boxes containing the “freedom of the
cities” in token of their approval of the minister. As Horace Walpole
said: “It rained gold boxes.” The King was obliged to give way, and in
June of 1757 Pitt was recalled.

Then began his great career as a statesman. With a power that in
England has never been equalled, he infused his own spirit into all
those about him. The panic which had paralyzed all effort gave way to
an air of proud and defiant confidence. The secret was, that Pitt had
the faculty of transfusing his own zeal into all those with whom he
came in contact. “It will be impossible to have so many ships prepared
so soon,” said Lord Anson, when a certain expedition was ordered.
“If the ships are not ready,” cried out Pitt, “I will impeach your
Lordship, in the presence of the House.” The ships were ready; indeed,
so was every thing else as he required. And this was the spirit that
carried into England the energy of a new existence. Within little more
than two years all was changed. In Africa France was obliged to give
up every settlement she possessed. In India she was stripped of every
post, and, after defeat at sea, was obliged to abandon her contest for
the mastery of the East. In the New World the victories of the English
were even more striking and more important. A chain of French forts
had hemmed in the English settlers, and threatened the very existence
of the Colonies. One after another, Fort Duquesne, Ticonderoga, Crown
Point, Oswego, Niagara, Louisburg, and Quebec, fell into the hands of
the English. The war is summarized by saying that at the close of the
conflict, not a foot of territory was left to the French in the Western
World. In Europe the French were defeated at Créveldt and Minden; Havre
was bombarded; the fortifications at Cherbourg were destroyed; and the
great victory off Quiberon demolished the French Navy for the remainder
of the war. And yet, when in 1760 George III. ascended the throne,
he conspired with the Tory leaders to overthrow the great minister,
“in order,” as was finely said by Grattan, “to be relieved of his
superiority.” George was determined to follow his mother’s injunctions
and “be king.” The royal opposition succeeded in defeating Pitt on the
manner of beginning the Spanish war; and the most glorious ministry
that England had ever seen was brought to an end in October, 1761. In
four and a half years England had been taken from a state of extreme
humiliation and made the first power in Europe.

The remaining sixteen years of Pitt’s life with one brief interval,
were devoted to the Opposition. He was tortured with the gout, and
during much of this period was unable to be in his place in Parliament,
or even to leave his bed. But at times the energy of his will overcame
the infirmities of his body and he appeared in the House, where he
always made his voice and his influence felt. With the accession of
the Tories under the lead of the King, the traditional methods of
government were in danger. It was to combat these tendencies,—as he
said: “to restore, to save, to confirm the Constitution,”—that all his
powers of body and mind were directed. He was the champion of popular
interests in opposition to the usurping prerogatives of George III.

It was during this period that most of his speeches preserved to us
in one form and another were delivered. But the reporting of speeches
had not yet come into vogue. Most of his efforts were written out with
more or less fulness by some of his friends. The speech which every
school boy learns, beginning: “The atrocious crime of being a young
man,” was written out by Dr. Johnson. The speech on the Stamp Act,
delivered in January of 1766, was reported by Sir Robert Dean and Lord
Charlemont. The one selected for this collection, that on an Address to
the Throne concerning affairs in America, was reported by Hugh Boyd,
and is said to have been corrected by Chatham himself. It is probable
that no speeches ever lost more in the process of reporting than his;
for, more than any one else he was dependent on the circumstances and
the inspiration of the moment. An eminent contemporary said of him: “No
man ever knew so little what he was going to say”; and he once said
of himself: “When once I am up, every thing that is in my mind comes
out.” His speeches were in the matter of form strictly extemporaneous,
and they acquired their almost marvellous power, very largely from
those peculiarities of voice and manner which are wholly absent in the
printed form. Macaulay in one of his essays says of him: “His figure
was strikingly graceful and commanding, his features high, his eye full
of fire. His voice, even when it sunk to a whisper, was heard to the
remotest benches; and when he strained it to its fullest extent, the
sound rose like the swell of an organ of a great cathedral, shook the
house with its peal, and was heard through lobbies and down staircases
to the Court of Requests and the precincts of Westminster Hall. He
cultivated all these eminent advantages with the most assiduous care.
His action is described by a very malignant observer as equal to that
of Garrick. His play of countenance was wonderful; he frequently
disconcerted a hostile orator by a single glance of indignation or
scorn.” To understand the full power of his oratory, the reader must
keep these characteristics always in mind.

From the beginning of the reign of George III., Chatham, of course, was
almost constantly in the opposition. Afflicted by disease and saddened
by disappointment, he was seldom in Parliament; and sometimes even
when there, he was too weak to give adequate expression to his ardent
thoughts. He was “the great Commoner”; and his influence therefore was
much weakened when in 1767 he went into the House of Lords. But to
the last his character was above suspicion, and it was finely said of
him that “great as was his oratory, every one felt that the man was
infinitely greater than the orator.” Even Franklin said of him: “I
have sometimes seen eloquence without wisdom, and often wisdom without
eloquence; but in him I have seen them united in the highest degree.”
His death occurred on the 11th of May, 1778, in the seventieth year of
his age.



  The famous Stamp Act resorted to as a means of raising a revenue
  from the American Colonies during the Ministry of Mr. George
  Grenville, was approved on the 22d of March, 1765. The law was never
  successfully enforced; and when, a few months after its passage,
  the Ministry of Grenville was succeeded by that of Lord Rockingham,
  it became evident that nothing but a change of policy would restore
  America to tranquillity. The plan of the Ministry was to repeal the
  act, but at the same time to assert the _right_ of Parliament to tax
  the Colonies. Against this position, Pitt (for he had not yet become
  Lord Chatham) determined to take a stand. The following speech, made
  on the occasion, is a good specimen of his earlier oratory,—though in
  parts it was evidently much abridged in the process of reproduction.
  It was reported by Sir Robert Dean, assisted by Lord Charlemont, and
  the version here given is supposed to be more nearly as the speech
  was spoken than is the report of any of the other of his speeches,
  except that on an “Address to the Throne,” given hereafter.


I came to town but to-day. I was a stranger to the tenor of his
Majesty’s speech, and the proposed address, till I heard them read
in this House. Unconnected and unconsulted, I have not the means of
information. I am fearful of offending through mistake, and therefore
beg to be indulged with a second reading of the proposed address. [The
address being read, Mr. Pitt went on:] I commend the King’s speech,
and approve of the address in answer, as it decides nothing, every
gentleman being left at perfect liberty to take such a part concerning
America as he may afterward see fit. One word only I cannot approve of:
an “early,” is a word that does not belong to the notice the ministry
have given to Parliament of the troubles in America. In a matter of
such importance, the communication ought to have been _immediate_!

I speak not now with respect to parties. I stand up in this place
single and independent. As to the late ministry [turning himself to Mr.
Grenville, who sat within one of him], every capital measure they have
taken has been entirely wrong! As to the present gentlemen, to those
at least whom I have in my eye [looking at the bench where General
Conway sat with the lords of the treasury], I have no objection. I
have never been made a sacrifice by any of them. Their characters are
fair; and I am always glad when men of fair character engage in his
Majesty’s service. Some of them did me the honor to ask my opinion
before they would engage. These will now do me the justice to own, I
advised them to do it—but, notwithstanding [for I love to be explicit],
_I cannot give them my confidence_. Pardon me, gentlemen [bowing to
the ministry], confidence is a plant of slow growth in an aged bosom.
Youth is the season of credulity. By comparing events with each other,
reasoning from effects to causes, methinks I plainly discover the
traces of an _overruling_ influence.[27]

There is a clause in the Act of Settlement obliging every minister to
sign his name to the advice which he gives to his sovereign. Would it
were observed! I have had the honor to serve the Crown, and if I could
have submitted to _influence_, I might have still continued to serve:
but I would not be responsible for others. I have no local attachments.
It is indifferent to me whether a man was rocked in his cradle on this
side or that side of the Tweed. I sought for merit wherever it was to
be found. It is my boast, that I was the first minister who looked for
it, and found it, in the mountains of the North. I called it forth,
and drew into your service a hardy and intrepid race of men—men, who,
when left by your jealousy, became a prey to the artifices of your
enemies, and had gone nigh to have overturned the state in the war
before the last. These men, in the last war, were brought to combat on
your side. They served with fidelity, as they fought with valor, and
conquered for you in every part of the world. Detested be the national
reflections against them! They are unjust, groundless, illiberal,
unmanly! When I ceased to serve his Majesty as a minister, it was not
the _country_ of the man by which I was moved—but the _man_ of that
country wanted wisdom, and held principles incompatible with freedom.

It is a long time, Mr. Speaker, since I have attended in Parliament.
When the resolution was taken in this House to tax America, I was ill
in bed. If I could have endured to be carried in my bed—so great was
the agitation of my mind for the consequences—I would have solicited
some kind hand to have laid me down on this floor, to have borne my
testimony against it! It is now an act that has passed. I would speak
with decency of every act of this House; but I must beg the indulgence
of the House to speak of it with freedom.

I hope a day may soon be appointed to consider the state of the nation
with respect to America. I hope gentlemen will come to this debate
with all the temper and impartiality that his Majesty recommends,
and the importance of the subject requires; a subject of greater
importance than ever engaged the attention of this House, that subject
only excepted, when, near a century ago, it was the question whether
you yourselves were to be bond or free. In the meantime, as I cannot
depend upon my health for any future day (such is the nature of my
infirmities), I will beg to say a few words at present, leaving the
justice, the equity, the policy, the expediency of the act to another

I will only speak to one point—a point which seems not to have been
generally understood I mean to the _right_. Some gentlemen [alluding
to Mr. Nugent] seem to have considered it as a point of honor. If
gentlemen consider it in that light, they leave all measures of right
and wrong, to follow a delusion that may lead to destruction. It is
my opinion, that this kingdom has no right to lay a tax upon the
colonies. At the same time, I assert the authority of this kingdom over
the colonies to be sovereign and supreme, in every circumstance of
government and legislation whatsoever. They are the subjects of this
kingdom; equally entitled with yourselves to all the natural rights
of mankind and the peculiar privileges of Englishmen; equally bound
by its laws, and equally participating in the constitution of this
free country. The Americans are the sons, not the bastards of England!
Taxation is no part of the governing or legislative power. The taxes
are a voluntary _gift_ and _grant_ of the Commons alone. In legislation
the three estates of the realm are alike concerned; but the concurrence
of the peers and the Crown to a tax is only necessary to clothe it
with the form of a law. The gift and grant is of the Commons alone.
In ancient days, the Crown, the barons, and the clergy possessed the
lands. In those days, the barons and the clergy gave and granted to the
Crown. They gave and granted what was their own! At present, since the
discovery of America, and other circumstances permitting, the Commons
are become the proprietors of the land. The Church (God bless it!) has
but a pittance. The property of the lords, compared with that of the
commons, is as a drop of water in the ocean; and this House represents
those commons, the proprietors of the lands; and those proprietors
virtually represent the rest of the inhabitants. When, therefore, in
this House, we give and grant, we give and grant what is our own. But
in an American tax, what do we do? “We, your Majesty’s Commons for
Great Britain, give and grant to your Majesty”—what? Our own property!
No! “We give and grant to your Majesty” the property of your Majesty’s
Commons of America! It is an absurdity in terms.[28]

The distinction between legislation and taxation is essentially
necessary to liberty. The Crown and the peers are equally legislative
powers with the Commons. If taxation be a part of simple legislation,
the Crown and the peers have rights in taxation as well as yourselves;
rights which they will claim, which they will exercise, whenever the
principle can be supported by power.

There is an idea in some that the colonies are _virtually_ represented
in the House. I would fain know by whom an American is represented
here. Is he represented by any knight of the shire, in any county
in this kingdom? Would to God that respectable representation was
augmented to a greater number! Or will you tell him that he is
represented by any representative of a borough? a borough which,
perhaps, its own representatives never saw! This is what is called
the rotten part of the Constitution. It cannot continue a century.
If it does not drop, it must be amputated.[29] The idea of a virtual
representation of America in this House is the most contemptible idea
that ever entered into the head of a man. It does not deserve a serious

The Commons of America represented in their several assemblies, have
ever been in possession of the exercise of this, their constitutional
right, of giving and granting their own money. They would have been
slaves if they had not enjoyed it! At the same time, this kingdom,
as the supreme governing and legislative power, has always bound the
colonies by her laws, by her regulations, and restrictions in trade,
in navigation, in manufactures, in every thing, except that of taking
their money out of their pockets without their consent.

Here I would draw the line:

    Quam ultra citraque neque consistere rectum.

[When Lord Chatham had concluded, Mr. George Grenville secured the
floor and entered into a general denunciation of the tumults and riots
which had taken place in the colonies, and declared that they bordered
on rebellion. He condemned the language and sentiments which he had
heard as encouraging a _revolution_. A portion of his speech is here
inserted, as it is necessary for a complete understanding of the reply
of Lord Chatham.]

“I cannot,” said Mr. Grenville, “understand the difference between
external and internal taxes. They are the same in effect, and differ
only in name. That this kingdom has the sovereign, the supreme
legislative power over America, is granted; it cannot be denied; and
taxation is a part of that sovereign power. It is one branch of the
legislation. It is, it has been, exercised over those who are not,
who were never represented. It is exercised over the India Company,
the merchants of London, the proprietors of the stocks, and over
many great manufacturing towns. It was exercised over the county
palatine of Chester, and the bishopric of Durham, before they sent any
representatives to Parliament. I appeal for proof to the preambles of
the acts which gave them representatives; one in the reign of Henry
VIII., the other in that of Charles II.” [Mr. Grenville then quoted
the acts, and desired that they might be read; which being done,
he said]: “When I proposed to tax America, I asked the House if any
gentleman would object to the right; I repeatedly asked it, and no man
would attempt to deny it. Protection and obedience are reciprocal.
Great Britain protects America; America is bound to yield obedience.
If not, tell me when the Americans were emancipated? When they want
the protection of this kingdom, they are always very ready to ask
it. That protection has always been afforded them in the most full
and ample manner. The nation has run herself into an immense debt to
give them their protection; and now, when they are called upon to
contribute a small share toward the public expense—an expense arising
from themselves—they renounce your authority, insult your officers,
and break out, I might almost say, into open rebellion. The seditious
spirit of the colonies owes its birth to the factions in this House.
Gentlemen are careless of the consequences of what they say, provided
it answers the purposes of opposition. We were told we trod on tender
ground. We were bid to expect disobedience. What is this but telling
the Americans to stand out against the law, to encourage their
obstinacy with the expectation of support from hence? “Let us only hold
out a little,” they would say, “our friends will soon be in power.”
Ungrateful people of America! Bounties have been extended to them. When
I had the honor of serving the Crown, while you yourselves were loaded
with an enormous debt, you gave bounties on their lumber, on their
iron, their hemp, and many other articles. You have relaxed in their
favor the Act of Navigation, that palladium of the British commerce;
and yet I have been abused in all the public papers as an enemy to the
trade of America. I have been particularly charged with giving orders
and instructions to prevent the Spanish trade, and thereby stopping the
channel by which alone North America used to be supplied with cash for
remittances to this country. I defy any man to produce any such orders
or instructions. I discouraged no trade but what was illicit, what was
prohibited by an act of Parliament. I desire a West India merchant
[Mr. Long], well known in the city, a gentleman of character, may be
examined. He will tell you that I offered to do every thing in my
power to advance the trade of America. I was above giving an answer to
anonymous calumnies; but in this place it becomes one to wipe off the

[Here Mr. Grenville ceased. Several members got up to speak, but Mr.
Pitt seeming to rise, the House was so clamorous for Mr. _Pitt!_ Mr.
_Pitt!_ that the speaker was obliged to call to order.]

Mr. Pitt said, I do not apprehend I am speaking twice. I did expressly
reserve a part of my subject, in order to save the time of this House;
but I am compelled to proceed in it. I do not speak twice; I only
finish what I designedly left imperfect. But if the House is of a
different opinion, far be it from me to indulge a wish of transgression
against order. I am content, if it be your pleasure, to be silent.
[Here he paused. The House resounding with _Go on! go on!_ he

Gentlemen, sir, have been charged with giving birth to _sedition_
in America. They have spoken their sentiments with freedom against
this unhappy act, and that freedom has become their crime. Sorry I
am to hear the liberty of speech in this House imputed as a crime.
But the imputation shall not discourage me. It is a liberty I mean
to exercise. No gentleman ought to be afraid to exercise it. It is a
liberty by which the gentleman who calumniates it might have profited.
He ought to have desisted from his project. The gentleman tells us,
America is obstinate; America is almost in open rebellion. I rejoice
that America has resisted. Three millions of people, so dead to all
the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would
have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest. I come not here
armed at all points, with law cases and acts of Parliament, with
the statute book doubled down in dog’s ears, to defend the cause of
liberty. If I had, I myself would have cited the two cases of Chester
and Durham. I would have cited them to show that, even under former
arbitrary reigns, Parliaments were ashamed of taxing a people without
their consent, and allowed them representatives. Why did the gentleman
confine himself to Chester and Durham?[30] He might have taken a higher
example in Wales—Wales, that never was taxed by Parliament till it was
incorporated. I would not debate a particular point of law with the
gentleman. I know his abilities. I have been obliged to his diligent
researches. But, for the defence of liberty, upon a general principle,
upon a constitutional principle, it is a ground on which I stand
firm—on which I dare meet any man. The gentleman tells us of many
who are taxed, and are not represented—the India company, merchants,
stockholders, manufacturers. Surely many of these are represented in
other capacities, as owners of land, or as freemen of boroughs. It is
a misfortune that more are not equally represented. But they are all
inhabitants, and as such, are they not virtually represented? Many have
it in their option to be actually represented. They have connections
with those that elect, and they have influence over them. The gentleman
mentioned the stockholders. I hope he does not reckon the debts of the
nation as a part of the national estate.

Since the accession of King William, many ministers, some of great,
others of more moderate abilities, have taken the lead of government.
[Here Mr. Pitt went through the list of them, bringing it down till he
came to himself, giving a short sketch of the characters of each, and
then proceeded:] None of these thought, or even dreamed, of robbing
the colonies of their constitutional rights. That was reserved to mark
the era of the late administration. Not that there were wanting some,
when I had the honor to serve his Majesty, to propose to me to burn my
fingers with an American stamp act. With the enemy at their back, with
our bayonets at their breasts, in the day of their distress, perhaps
the Americans would have submitted to the imposition; but it would have
been taking an ungenerous, an unjust advantage. The gentleman boasts of
his bounties to America! Are not these bounties intended finally for
the benefit of this kingdom? If they are not, he has misapplied the
national treasures!

I am no courtier of America. I stand up for this kingdom. I maintain
that the Parliament has a right to bind, to restrain America. Our
legislative power over the colonies is sovereign and supreme. When it
ceases to be sovereign and supreme, I would advise every gentleman
to sell his lands, if he can, and embark for that country. When two
countries are connected together like England and her colonies, without
being incorporated, the one must necessarily govern. The greater must
rule the less. But she must so rule it as _not to contradict the
fundamental principles that are common to both_.

If the gentleman does not understand the difference between external
and internal taxes, I cannot help it. There is a plain distinction
between taxes levied for the purposes of raising a revenue, and duties
imposed for the regulation of trade, for the accommodation of the
subject; although, in the consequences, some revenue may incidentally
arise from the latter.

The gentleman asks, When were the colonies emancipated? I desire to
know, when were they made slaves? But I dwell not upon words. When I
had the honor of serving his Majesty, I availed myself of the means
of information which I derived from my office. I speak, therefore,
from knowledge. My materials were good. I was at pains to collect,
to digest, to consider them; and I will be bold to affirm, that the
profits to Great Britain from the trade of the colonies, through all
its branches, is two millions a year. This is the fund that carried
you triumphantly through the last war. The estates that were rented
at two thousand pounds a year, threescore years ago, are at three
thousand at present. Those estates sold then 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 you for her protection.
And shall a miserable financier come with a boast, that he can bring
“a pepper-corn” into the exchequer by the loss of millions to the
nation?[31] I dare not say how much higher these profits may be
augmented. Omitting [_i. e._, not taking into account] the immense
increase of people, by natural population, in the northern colonies,
and the emigration from every part of Europe, I am convinced on other
grounds that the commercial system of America may be altered to
advantage. You have prohibited where you ought to have encouraged. You
have encouraged where you ought to have prohibited. Improper restraints
have been laid on the continent in favor of the islands. You have but
two nations to trade with in America. Would you 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

Does the gentleman complain he has been misrepresented in the public
prints? It is a common misfortune. In the Spanish affair of the last
war, I was abused in all the newspapers for having advised his Majesty
to violate the laws of nations with regard to Spain. The abuse was
industriously circulated even in hand-bills. If administration did not
propagate the abuse, administration never contradicted it. I will not
say what advice I did give 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 he was not contradicted when, as
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 your chair, sir, looks too often
toward St. James’. 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 has told me,
that a great question would not fail of being agitated at one time
or another. I was willing to agitate such a question at the proper
season, viz., that of the German war—_my_ German war, they called it!
Every session I called out, Has any body any objection 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 [Lord Le
Despencer, formerly Sir Francis Dashwood]. He told me he did not like a
German war. I honored 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. In
a good cause, on a sound bottom, the force of this country can crush
America to atoms. I know the valor 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, which so many here will think a crying
injustice, I am one who will lift up my hands against it.

In such a cause, 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—not to sheathe the sword in its scabbard, but to sheathe
it 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 [Colonel Draper] whose noble and generous spirit would do
honor to the proudest grandee of the country? The Americans have not
acted in all things with prudence and temper: they have been wronged:
they have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish them for
the madness 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
behavior to his wife, so applicable to you and your colonies, that I
can not 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 my opinion.
It is, that the Stamp Act be repealed absolutely, totally, and
immediately. That the reason for the repeal be assigned, viz., 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 devised, and be made to extend to every point
of legislation whatsoever; that 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.

  Notwithstanding the advice of Pitt, the government pushed on in
  its mad course. The Stamp Act had to be repealed; but accompanying
  the repeal was a declaration that Parliament had the power and the
  right “to bind the colonies and people of America in all cases
  whatsoever.” This was the very position that the Colonies had
  denied. It was not so much the _tax_ as the _right_ to tax that the
  Americans questioned. When the resolution reached the House of Peers,
  Lord Camden sustained the American view. He said: “My position is
  this,—I repeat it—I will maintain to the last hour, taxation and
  representation are inseparable. This position is founded on the law
  of nature. It is more, it is in itself an eternal law of nature. For
  whatever is a man’s own is absolutely his own. No man has a right to
  take it from him without his consent either expressed by himself or
  his representative. Whoever attempts to do this attempts an injury.
  Whoever does it, commits a robbery.” Lord Mansfield, however, as
  we shall see, took the opposite ground, and the opposite ground
  prevailed. The consequence was that the Colonies were lost.



  Though at the delivery of this speech Chatham had already entered
  upon his seventieth year, he seems to have been inspired with all the
  fire of his youth. It is by most critics regarded as his greatest
  effort. Chatham had abundant reason for an extraordinary affection
  for America, and, as he saw that a persistence in the mad course
  entered upon would inevitably result in a loss of the colonies, he
  brought all his powers to an advocacy of a treaty of peace on such
  terms as would at once save the colonies and the honor of the mother
  country. It is the only speech of Chatham, the report of which was
  corrected by himself and published with his approval.

I rise, my Lords, to declare my sentiments on this most solemn and
serious subject. It has imposed a load upon my mind, which, I fear,
nothing can remove, but which impels me to endeavor its alleviation, by
a free and unreserved communication of my sentiments.

In the first part of the address, I have the honor of heartily
concurring with the noble Earl who moved it. No man feels sincerer
joy than I do; none can offer more genuine congratulations on every
accession of strength to the Protestant succession. I therefore join in
every congratulation on the birth of another princess, and the happy
recovery of her Majesty.

But I must stop here. My courtly complaisance will carry me no farther.
I will not join in congratulation on misfortune and disgrace. I cannot
concur in a blind and servile address, which approves and endeavors
to sanctify the monstrous measures which have heaped disgrace and
misfortune upon us. This, my Lords, is a perilous and tremendous
moment! It is not a time for adulation. The smoothness of flattery
cannot now avail—cannot save us in this rugged and awful crisis. It is
now necessary to instruct the Throne in the language of truth. We must
dispel the illusion and the darkness which envelop it, and display, in
its full danger and true colors, the ruin that is brought to our doors.

This, my Lords, is our duty. It is the proper function of this noble
assembly, sitting, as we do, upon our honors in this House, the
hereditary council of the Crown. _Who_ is the minister—_where_ is
the minister, that has dared to suggest to the Throne the contrary,
unconstitutional language this day delivered from it? The accustomed
language from the Throne has been application to Parliament for advice,
and a reliance on its constitutional advice and assistance. As it is
the right of Parliament to give, so it is the duty of the Crown to
ask it. But on this day, and in this extreme momentous exigency, no
reliance is reposed on our constitutional counsels! no advice is asked
from the sober and enlightened care of Parliament! but the Crown, from
itself and by itself, declares an unalterable determination to pursue
measures—and what measures, my Lords? The measures that have produced
the imminent perils that threaten us; the measures that have brought
ruin to our doors.

Can the minister of the day now presume to expect a continuance of
support in this ruinous infatuation? Can Parliament be so dead to its
dignity and its duty as to be thus deluded into the loss of the one and
the violation of the other? To give an unlimited credit and support for
the steady perseverance in measures not proposed for our parliamentary
advice, but dictated and forced upon us—in measures, I say, my Lords,
which have reduced this late flourishing empire to ruin and contempt!
“But yesterday, and England might have stood against the world: now
none so poor to do her reverence.” I use the words of a poet; but,
though it be poetry, it is no fiction. It is a shameful truth, that
not only the power and strength of this country are wasting away and
expiring, but her well-earned glories, her true honor, and substantial
dignity are sacrificed.

France, my Lords, has insulted you; she has encouraged and sustained
America; and, whether America be wrong or right, the dignity of this
country ought to spurn at the officious insult of French interference.
The ministers and embassadors of those who are called rebels and
enemies are in Paris; in Paris they transact the reciprocal interests
of America and France. Can there be a more mortifying insult? Can
even our ministers sustain a more humiliating disgrace? Do they dare
to resent it? Do they presume even to hint a vindication of their
honor, and the dignity of the State, by requiring the dismission of
the plenipotentiaries of America? Such is the degradation to which
they have reduced the glories of England! The people whom they
affect to call contemptible rebels, but whose growing power has at
last obtained the name of enemies; the people with whom they have
engaged this country in war, and against whom they now command our
implicit support in every measure of desperate hostility—this people,
despised as rebels, or acknowledged as enemies, are abetted against
you, supplied with every military store, their interests consulted,
and their embassadors entertained, by your inveterate enemy! and our
ministers dare not interpose with dignity or effect. Is this the honor
of a great kingdom? Is this the indignant spirit of England, who “but
yesterday” gave law to the house of Bourbon? My Lords, the dignity
of nations demands a decisive conduct in a situation like this. Even
when the greatest prince that perhaps this country ever saw filled our
Throne, the requisition of a Spanish general, on a similar subject, was
attended to and complied with; for, on the spirited remonstrance of
the Duke of Alva, Elizabeth found herself obliged to deny the Flemish
exiles all countenance, support, or even entrance into her dominions;
and the Count Le Marque, with his few desperate followers, were
expelled the kingdom. Happening to arrive at the Brille, and finding
it weak in defence, they made themselves masters of the place; and
this was the foundation of the United Provinces.

My Lords, this ruinous and ignominious situation, where we can not
act with success, nor suffer with honor, calls upon us to remonstrate
in the strongest and loudest language of truth, to rescue the ear of
majesty from the delusions which surround it. The desperate state
of our arms abroad is in part known. No man thinks more highly of
them than I do. I love and honor the English troops. I know their
virtues and their valor. I know they can achieve any thing except
impossibilities; and I know that the conquest of English America _is an
impossibility_. You cannot, I venture to say it, _you cannot_ conquer
America. Your armies in the last war effected every thing that could be
effected; and what was it? It cost a numerous army, under the command
of a most able general [Lord Amherst], now a noble Lord in this House,
a long and laborious campaign, to expel five thousand Frenchmen from
French America. My Lords, _you cannot conquer America_. What is your
present situation there? We do not know the worst; but we know that in
three campaigns we have done nothing and suffered much. Besides the
sufferings, perhaps _total loss_ of the Northern force,[32] the best
appointed army that ever took the field, commanded by Sir William Howe,
has retired from the American lines. _He was obliged_ to relinquish his
attempt, and with great delay and danger to adopt a new and distant
plan of operations. We shall soon know, and in any event have reason
to lament, what may have happened since. As to conquest, therefore,
my Lords, I repeat, it is impossible. You may swell every expense
and every effort still more extravagantly; pile and accumulate every
assistance you can buy or borrow; traffic and barter with every little
pitiful German prince that sells and sends his subjects to the shambles
of a foreign prince; your efforts are forever vain and impotent—doubly
so from this mercenary aid on which you rely; for it irritates, to
an incurable resentment, the minds of your enemies, to overrun them
with the mercenary sons of rapine and plunder, devoting them and their
possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty! If I were an American,
as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country,
I never would lay down my arms—never—never—never.

Your own army is infected with the contagion of these illiberal allies.
The spirit of plunder and of rapine is gone forth among them. I know
it; and, notwithstanding what the noble Earl [Lord Percy] who moved
the address has given as his opinion of the American army, I know from
authentic information, and the _most experienced officers_, that our
discipline is deeply wounded. While this is notoriously our sinking
situation, America grows and flourishes; while our strength and
discipline are lowered, hers are rising and improving.

But, my Lords, who is the man that, in addition to these disgraces and
mischiefs of our army, has dared to authorize and associate to our arms
the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage? to call into civilized
alliance the wild and inhuman savage of the woods; to delegate to
the merciless Indian the defence of disputed rights, and to wage the
horrors of his barbarous war against our brethren? My Lords, these
enormities cry aloud for redress and punishment. Unless thoroughly done
away, it will be a stain on the national character. It is a violation
of the Constitution. I believe it is against law. It is not the least
of our national misfortunes that the strength and character of our
army are thus impaired. Infected with the mercenary spirit of robbery
and rapine; familiarized to the horrid scenes of savage cruelty, it
can no longer boast of the noble and generous principles which dignify
a soldier; no longer sympathize with the dignity of the royal banner,
nor feel the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war, “that make
ambition virtue!” What makes ambition virtue?—the sense of honor. But
is the sense of honor consistent with a spirit of plunder, or the
practice of murder? Can it flow from mercenary motives, or can it
prompt to cruel deeds? Besides these murderers and plunderers, let me
ask our ministers, What other allies have they acquired? What _other
powers_ have they associated in their cause? Have they entered into
alliance with the _king of the gipsies_? Nothing, my Lords, is too low
or too ludicrous to be consistent with their counsels.

The independent views of America have been stated and asserted as
the foundation of this address. My Lords, no man wishes for the due
dependence of America on this country more than I do. To preserve it,
and not confirm that state of independence into which _your measures_
hitherto have _driven them_, is the object which we ought to unite in
attaining. The Americans, contending for their rights against arbitrary
exactions, I love and admire. It is the struggle of free and virtuous
patriots. But, contending for independency and total disconnection
from England, as an Englishman, I cannot wish them success; for in
a due constitutional dependency, including the ancient supremacy of
this country in regulating their commerce and navigation, consists
the mutual happiness and prosperity both of England and America. She
derived assistance and protection from us; and we reaped from her the
most important advantages. She was, indeed, the fountain of our wealth,
the nerve of our strength, the nursery and basis of our naval power. It
is our duty, therefore, my Lords, if we wish to save our country, most
seriously to endeavor the recovery of these most beneficial subjects;
and in this perilous crisis, perhaps the present moment may be the
only one in which we can hope for success. For in their negotiations
with France, they have, or think they have, reason to complain; though
it be notorious that they have received from that power important
supplies and assistance of various kinds, yet it is certain they
expected it in a more decisive and immediate degree. America is in
ill humor with France; on some points they have not entirely answered
her expectations. Let us wisely take advantage of every possible
moment of reconciliation. Besides, the natural disposition of America
herself still leans toward England; to the old habits of connection and
mutual interest that united both countries. This _was_ the established
sentiment of all the Continent; and still, my Lords, in the great and
principal part, the sound part of America, this wise and affectionate
disposition prevails. And there is a very considerable part of America
yet sound—the middle and the southern provinces. Some parts may be
factious and blind to their true interests; but if we express a wise
and benevolent disposition to communicate with them those immutable
rights of nature and those constitutional liberties to which they
are equally entitled with ourselves, by a conduct so just and humane
we shall confirm the favorable and conciliate the adverse. I say, my
Lords, the rights and liberties to which they are equally entitled
with ourselves, _but no more_. I would participate to them every
enjoyment and freedom which the colonizing subjects of a free state
can possess, or wish to possess; and I do not see why they should not
enjoy every fundamental right in their property, and every original
substantial liberty, which Devonshire, or Surrey, or the county I live
in, or any other county in England, can claim; reserving always, as the
sacred right of the mother country, the due constitutional dependency
of the colonies. The inherent supremacy of the state in regulating
and protecting the navigation and commerce of all her subjects, is
necessary for the mutual benefit and preservation of every part, to
constitute and preserve the prosperous arrangement of the whole empire.

The sound parts of America, of which I have spoken, must be sensible
of these great truths and of their real interests. America is not in
that state of desperate and contemptible rebellion which this country
has been deluded to believe. It is not a wild and lawless banditti,
who, having nothing to lose, might hope to snatch something from public
convulsions. Many of their leaders and great men have a great stake
in this great contest. The gentleman who conducts their armies, I am
told, has an estate of four or five thousand pounds a year; and when I
consider these things, I cannot but lament the inconsiderate violence
of our penal acts, our declaration of treason and rebellion, with all
the fatal effects of attainder and confiscation.

As to the disposition of foreign powers which is asserted [in the
King’s speech] to be pacific and friendly, let us judge, my Lords,
rather by their actions and the nature of things than by interested
assertions. The uniform assistance supplied to America by France
suggests a different conclusion. The most important interests of
France in aggrandizing and enriching herself with what she most wants,
supplies of every naval store from America, must inspire her with
different sentiments. The extraordinary preparations of the House of
Bourbon, by land and by sea, from Dunkirk to the Straits, equally
ready and willing to overwhelm these defenceless islands, should rouse
us to a sense of their real disposition and our own danger.[33] Not
five thousand troops in England! hardly three thousand in Ireland!
What can we oppose to the combined force of our enemies? Scarcely
twenty ships of the line so fully or sufficiently manned, that any
admiral’s reputation would permit him to take the command of. The
river of Lisbon in the possession of our enemies! The seas swept by
American privateers! Our Channel trade torn to pieces by them! In this
complicated crisis of danger, weakness at home, and calamity abroad,
terrified and insulted by the neighboring powers, unable to act in
America, or acting only to be destroyed, where is the man with the
forehead to promise or hope for success in such a situation, or from
perseverence in the measures that have driven us to it? Who has the
forehead to do so? Where is that man? I should be glad to see his face.

You can not _conciliate_ America by your present measures. You cannot
_subdue_ her by your present or by any measures. What, then, can you
do? You cannot conquer; you cannot gain; but you can _address_; you
can lull the fears and anxieties of the moment into an ignorance of
the danger that should produce them. But, my Lords, the time demands
the language of truth. We must not now apply the flattering unction
of servile compliance or blind complaisance. In a just and necessary
war, to maintain the rights or honor of my country, I would strip the
shirt from my back to support it. But in such a war as this, unjust
in its principle, impracticable in its means, and ruinous in its
consequences, I would not contribute a single effort nor a single
shilling. I do not call for vengeance on the heads of those who have
been guilty; I only recommend to them to make their retreat. Let them
walk off; and let them make haste, or they may be assured that speedy
and condign punishment will overtake them.

My Lords, I have submitted to you, with the freedom and truth which
I think my duty, my sentiments on your present awful situation. I
have laid before you the ruin of your power, the disgrace of your
reputation, the pollution of your discipline, the contamination of
your morals, the complication of calamities, foreign and domestic,
that overwhelm your sinking country. Your dearest interests, your own
liberties, the Constitution itself, totters to the foundation. All
this disgraceful danger, this multitude of misery, is the monstrous
offspring of this unnatural war. We have been deceived and deluded
too long. Let us now stop short. This is the crisis—the only crisis
of time and situation, to give us a possibility of escape from the
fatal effects of our delusions. But if, in an obstinate and infatuated
perseverance in folly, we slavishly echo the peremptory words this day
presented to us, nothing can save this devoted country from complete
and final ruin. We madly rush into multiplied miseries, and “confusion
worse confounded.”

Is it possible, can it be believed, that ministers are yet blind to
this impending destruction? I did hope, that instead of this false and
empty vanity, this overweening pride, engendering high conceits and
presumptuous imaginations, ministers would have humbled themselves
in their errors, would have confessed and retracted them, and by an
active, though a late, repentance, have endeavored to redeem them.
But, my Lords, since they had neither sagacity to foresee, nor justice
nor humanity to shun these oppressive calamities—since not even severe
experience can make them feel, nor the imminent ruin of their country
awaken them from their stupefaction, the guardian care of Parliament
must interpose. I shall, therefore, my Lords, propose to you an
amendment of the address to his Majesty, to be inserted immediately
after the two first paragraphs of congratulation on the birth of a
princess, to recommend an immediate cessation of hostilities, and the
commencement of a treaty to restore peace and liberty to America,
strength and happiness to England, security and permanent prosperity
to both countries. This, my Lords, is yet in our power; and let not the
wisdom and justice of your Lordships neglect the happy, and, perhaps,
the only opportunity. By the establishment of irrevocable law, founded
on mutual rights, and ascertained by treaty, these glorious enjoyments
may be firmly perpetuated. And let me repeat to your Lordships, that
the strong bias of America, at least of the wise and sounder parts of
it, naturally inclines to this happy and constitutional reconnection
with you. Notwithstanding the temporary intrigues with France, we may
still be assured of their ancient and confirmed partiality to us.
America and France cannot be congenial. There is something decisive
and confirmed in the honest American, that will not assimilate to the
futility and levity of Frenchmen.

My Lords, to encourage and confirm that innate inclination to
this country, founded on every principle of affection, as well as
consideration of interest; to restore that favorable disposition into a
permanent and powerful reunion with this country; to revive the mutual
strength of the empire; again to awe the House of Bourbon, instead of
meanly truckling, as our present calamities compel us, to every insult
of French caprice and Spanish punctilio; to re-establish our commerce;
to reassert our rights and our honor; to confirm our interests,
and renew our glories forever—a consummation most devoutly to be
endeavored! and which, I trust, may yet arise from reconciliation with
America—I have the honor of submitting to you the following amendment,
which I move to be inserted after the two first paragraphs of the

“And that this House does most humbly advise and supplicate his Majesty
to be pleased to cause the most speedy and effectual measures to be
taken for restoring peace in America; and that no time may be lost in
proposing an immediate opening of a treaty for the final settlement of
the tranquillity of these invaluable provinces, by a removal of the
unhappy causes of this ruinous civil war, and by a just and adequate
security against the return of the like calamities in times to come.
And this House desire to offer the most dutiful assurances to his
Majesty, that they will, in due time, cheerfully co-operate with the
magnanimity and tender goodness of his Majesty for the preservation
of his people, by such explicit and most solemn declarations, and
provisions of fundamental and irrevocable laws, as may be judged
necessary for the ascertaining and fixing forever the respective rights
of Great Britain and her colonies.”

[In the course of this debate, Lord Suffolk, secretary for the northern
department, undertook to defend the employment of the Indians in the
war. His Lordship contended that, besides its _policy_ and _necessity_,
the measure was also allowable on _principle_; for that “it was
perfectly justifiable to use all the means that _God and nature put
into our hands_!”]

I am astonished [exclaimed Lord Chatham, as he rose], shocked! to hear
such principles confessed—to hear them avowed in this House, or in this
country; principles equally unconstitutional, inhuman, and unchristian!

My Lords, I did not intend to have encroached again upon your
attention, but I cannot repress my indignation. I feel myself impelled
by every duty. My Lords, we are called upon as members of this House,
as men, as Christian men, to protest against such notions standing
near the Throne, polluting the ear of Majesty. “That God and nature
put into our hands!” I know not what ideas that Lord may entertain
of God and nature, but I know that such abominable principles are
equally abhorrent to religion and humanity. What! to attribute the
sacred sanction of God and nature to the massacres of the Indian
scalping-knife—to the cannibal savage, torturing, murdering, roasting,
and eating—literally, my Lords, _eating_ the mangled victims of his
barbarous battles! Such horrible notions shock every precept of
religion, divine or natural, and every generous feeling of humanity.
And, my Lords, they shock every sentiment of honor; they shock me as a
lover of honorable war, and a detester of murderous barbarity.

These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them,
demand the most decisive indignation. I call upon that right reverend
bench, those holy ministers of the Gospel, and pious pastors of our
Church—I conjure them to join in the holy work, and vindicate the
religion of their God. I appeal to the wisdom and the law of this
learned bench, to defend and support the justice of their country. I
call upon the Bishops to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their
lawn; upon the learned judges, to interpose the purity of their
ermine, to save us from this pollution. I call upon the honor of
your Lordships, to reverence the dignity of your ancestors, and to
maintain your own. I call upon the spirit and humanity of my country
to vindicate the national character. I invoke the genius of the
Constitution. From the tapestry that adorns these walls, the immortal
ancestor of this noble Lord frowns with indignation at the disgrace
of his country.[34] In vain he led your victorious fleets against the
boasted Armada of Spain; in vain he defended and established the honor,
the liberties, the religion—the _Protestant religion_—of this country,
against the arbitrary cruelties of popery and the Inquisition, if
these more than popish cruelties and inquisitorial practices are let
loose among us—to turn forth into our settlements, among our ancient
connections, friends, and relations, the merciless cannibal, thirsting
for the blood of man, woman and child, to send forth the infidel
savage—against whom? against your Protestant brethren; to lay waste
their country, to desolate their dwellings, and extirpate their race
and name with these horrible hell-hounds of savage war—_hell-hounds, I
say, of savage war!_ Spain armed herself with blood-hounds to extirpate
the wretched natives of America, and we improve on the inhuman example
even of Spanish cruelty; we turn loose these savage hell-hounds
against our brethren and countrymen in America, of the same language,
laws, liberties, and religion, endeared to us by every tie that should
sanctify humanity.

My Lords, this awful subject, so important to our honor, our
Constitution, and our religion, demands the most solemn and effectual
inquiry. And I again call upon your Lordships, and the united powers of
the State, to examine it thoroughly and decisively, and to stamp upon
it an indelible stigma of the public abhorrence. And I again implore
those holy prelates of our religion to do away these iniquities from
among us. Let them perform a lustration; let them purify this House,
and this country, from this sin.

My Lords, I am old and weak, and at present unable to say more; but my
feelings and indignation were too strong to have said less. I could
not have slept this night in my bed, nor reposed my head on my pillow,
without giving this vent to my eternal abhorrence of such preposterous
and enormous principles.

  The warning voice was heard in vain. Chatham’s urgent anxiety was
  not enough to carry his amendment. It was lost by a vote of 97 to
  24. The address triumphed; Parliament adjourned; the members went
  to their Christmas festivities; the treaty with France was framed
  and ratified; and the chance of recovering the colonies was lost
  forever. Chatham did not live till the end of the war, but as soon as
  he learned that the treaty with France was signed, he knew that the
  fatal result was inevitable.


The most formidable rival and opponent of Lord Chatham was William
Murray, known in history as Lord Mansfield. In point of native talent
it would not be easy to determine which had the advantage; but it
is generally conceded that Mansfield’s mind was the more carefully
trained, and that his memory was the more fully enriched with the
stores of knowledge. He was preëminently a lawyer and a lover of the
classics; but Lord Campbell speaks of his familiarity with modern
history as “astounding and even _appalling_, for it produces a painful
consciousness of inferiority, and creates remorse for time misspent.”
His career is one of the most extraordinary examples in English history
of an unquestioning acceptance of the stern conditions of the highest

Mansfield’s education was characterized by a phenominal devotion to
some of the severer kinds of intellectual drudgery. Though he was
fourth son of Lord Stormont and brother of Lord Dunbar, the Secretary
of the Pretender, he seems from the first to have been fully conscious
that he must rely for distinction upon his own efforts alone. When he
was but fourteen he had become so familiar with the Latin language
that he wrote and spoke it “with accuracy and ease,” and in after-life
he declared that there was not one of the orations of Cicero which he
had not, while at Oxford, written into English, and after an interval,
according to the best of his ability, re-translated into Latin. Leaving
Oxford at the age of twenty-two he was entered as a student of law at
Lincoln’s Inn in 1727. Lord Campbell says of him: “When he was admitted
to the bar in 1730, he had made himself acquainted not only with
the international law, but with the codes of all the most civilized
nations, ancient and modern; he was an elegant classical scholar; he
was thoroughly imbued with the literature of his own country; he had
profoundly studied our mixed constitution; he had a sincere desire to
be of service to his country; and he was animated by a noble aspiration
after honorable fame.”

The family of Murray was one of those Scotch families upon whom a
peerage was bestowed by James I. It is not very singular therefore that
Lord Stormont, the representative of the family, in the eighteenth
century, should, like his predecessors, remain true to the Stuarts and
the Pretender. William, the fourth son, grew up in the traditional
political beliefs of his ancestors. While Pitt, therefore, was a
Whig, Murray was a High Tory. In manner they were as different as
in politics. Pitt was ardent and imperious, Murray was cool and
circumspect. Pitt strove to overwhelm, but Murray strove to convince.
Though Pitt was the great master of declamatory invective, Murray
was vastly his superior in all the qualities that go to make up a
great debater. The immediate influence of Pitt’s speeches was far
more overwhelming, but the qualities of Murray’s argument were more
persuasive and more permanent in their influence. Pitt entered the
House of Commons in 1735 at twenty-six; Murray in 1742 at thirty-seven.
During fourteen years therefore, before 1756 they were each the
great exponents of the political parties to which they respectively
belonged. Murray entered the House of Lords as Chief Justice and with
the title of Baron Mansfield in the same year in which Pitt began his
great career as Prime Minister. The power of Pitt was in the House
of Commons, while that of Murray was in the House of Lords. Pitt’s
influence was over the masses, whose devotion was such that “they
hugged his footmen and even kissed his horses.” Murray’s power was over
the more thoughtful few who in the end directed public opinion and
moulded public action.

The character of Murray, like that of his great rival, was not only
above reproach, but was remarkable for its stern rejection of every
thing that tried to turn him aside from his great purpose. When the
Duchess of Marlborough strove to put him under obligations by sending
him a retainer of a thousand guineas, he returned nine hundred and
ninety-five, with the remark that a retaining fee was never more nor
less than five guineas. When Newcastle offered him a pension of £6,000
a year, if he would remain in the House of Commons, instead of taking
the Bench, he put the offer aside without a moment’s hesitation,
saying: “What merit have I, that you should lay on this country, for
which so little is done with spirit, the additional burden of £6,000 a
year?” He was Lord Chief Justice for nearly thirty-two years. Though he
probably did more to strengthen the cause of the mother country against
the colonies than any other one man, yet his great services have been
no less generously acknowledged in America than in England. It was Mr.
Justice Story who said: “England and America, and the civilized world,
lie under the deepest obligations to him. Wherever commerce shall
extend its social influences; wherever justice shall be administered
by enlightened and liberal rules; wherever contracts shall be expounded
upon the eternal principles of right and wrong; wherever moral delicacy
and judicial refinement shall be infused into the municipal code, at
once to persuade men to be honest and to keep them so; wherever the
intercourse of mankind shall aim at something more elevated than that
grovelling spirit of barter, in which meanness, and avarice, and fraud
strive for the mastery over ignorance, credulity, and folly, the name
of Lord Mansfield will be held in reverence by the good and the wise,
by the honest merchant, the enlightened lawyer, the just statesman,
and the conscientious judge. The proudest monument of his fame is in
the volumes of Burrow, and Cowper, and Douglas, which we may fondly
hope will endure as long as the language in which they are written
shall continue to instruct mankind. His judgments should not be merely
referred to and read on the spur of particular occasions, but should be
studied as models of juridical reasoning and eloquence.”

When the matter of repealing the Stamp Act came before Parliament, the
question turned, as we have already observed, chiefly on the subject
of the clause declaring the _right_ of Parliament to levy the tax.
While Chatham arrayed all his powers against the right, Mansfield was
its most strenuous supporter. His speech on the subject is of great
importance to the American student, because it is by far the most able
and plausible ever delivered in support of the British policy. It is
avowedly directed to the question of right, not at all to the question
of expediency. Lord Campbell, although inclined to the doctrines of the
Whigs, refers to the speech as one of arguments to which he “has never
been able to find an answer.” The position of Mansfield undoubtedly had
a very great influence in determining and strengthening the policy of
the King and of the ministry. The speech was corrected for the press by
the orator’s own hand, and may be regarded as authentic.



  The discussion, of which the speech of Pitt already given, formed a
  part, came up on the adoption of the motion declaring the right of
  England to tax America,—a motion accompanying the bill repealing the
  Stamp Act. The motion was strenuously opposed, not only by Pitt in
  the House of Commons, but also by Lord Camden in the House of Lords.
  Camden said: “In my opinion, my Lords, the legislature have no right
  to make this law. The sovereign authority, the omnipotence of the
  legislature is a favorite doctrine; but there are some things which
  you cannot do. You cannot take away a man’s property, without making
  him a compensation. You have no right to condemn a man by bill of
  attainder without hearing him. But, though Parliament cannot take
  away a man’s property, yet every subject must make contributions, and
  this he consents to do by his representative. Notwithstanding the
  King, Lords, and Commons could in ancient times tax other people,
  they could not tax the clergy.” Lord Camden then went on to show at
  length, that the counties palatine of Wales and of Berwick, were
  never taxed till they were represented in Parliament. The same was
  true, he said, of Ireland; and the same doctrines should prevail in
  regard to America. It was in answer to Lord Camden that the following
  speech of Lord Mansfield was made.


I shall speak to the question strictly as a matter of right; for it is
a proposition in its nature so perfectly distinct from the expediency
of the tax, that it must necessarily be taken separate, if there is any
true logic in the world; but of the expediency or inexpediency I will
say nothing. It will be time enough to speak upon that subject when it
comes to be a question.

I shall also speak to the distinctions which have been taken, without
any real difference, as to the nature of the tax; and I shall point
out, lastly, the necessity there will be of exerting the force of the
superior authority of government, if opposed by the subordinate part of

I am extremely sorry that the question has ever become necessary to
be agitated, and that there should be a decision upon it. No one in
this House will live long enough to see an end put to the mischief
which will be the result of the doctrine which has been inculcated;
but the arrow is shot and the wound already given. I shall certainly
avoid personal reflections. No one has had more cast upon him than
myself; but I never was biased by any consideration of applause from
without, in the discharge of my public duty; and, in giving my
sentiments according to what I thought law, I have relied upon my own
consciousness. It is with great pleasure I have heard the noble Lord
who moved the resolution express himself in so manly and sensible a
way, when he recommended a dispassionate debate, while, at the same
time, he urged the necessity of the House coming to such a resolution,
with great dignity and propriety of argument.

I shall endeavor to clear away from the question, all that mass of
dissertation and learning displayed in arguments which have been
fetched from speculative men who have written upon the subject of
government, or from ancient records, as being little to the purpose.
I shall insist that these records are no proofs of our present
Constitution. A noble Lord has taken up his argument from the
settlement of the Constitution at the revolution; I shall take up my
argument from the Constitution as it now is. The Constitution of this
country has been always in a moving state, either gaining or losing
something and with respect to the modes of taxation, when we get beyond
the reign of Edward the First, or of King John, we are all in doubt
and obscurity. The history of those times is full of uncertainties.
In regard to the writs upon record, they were issued some of them
according to law, and some not according to law; and such [_i. e._, of
the latter kind] were those concerning ship-money, to call assemblies
to tax themselves, or to compel benevolences. Other taxes were raised
from escuage, fees for knights’ service, and by other means arising
out of the feudal system. Benevolences are contrary to law; and it is
well known how people resisted the demands of the Crown in the case of
ship-money, and were persecuted by the Court; and if any set of men
were to meet now to lend the King money, it would be contrary to law,
and a breach of the rights of Parliament.

I shall now answer the noble Lord particularly upon the cases he has
quoted. With respect to the Marches of Wales, who were the borderers,
privileged for assisting the King in his war against the Welsh in the
mountains, their enjoying this privilege of taxing themselves was but
of a short duration, and during the life of Edward the First, till the
Prince of Wales came to be the King; and then they were annexed to
the Crown, and became subject to taxes like the rest of the dominions
of England; and from thence came the custom, though unnecessary, of
naming Wales and the town of Monmouth in all proclamations and in acts
of Parliament. Henry the Eighth was the first who issued writs for it
to return two members to Parliament. The Crown exercised this right _ad
libitum_, from whence arises the inequality of representation in our
Constitution at this day. Henry VIII. issued a writ to Calais to send
one burgess to Parliament. One of the counties palatine [I think he
said Durham] was taxed fifty years to subsidies, before it sent members
to Parliament. The clergy were at no time unrepresented in Parliament.
When they taxed themselves, it was done with the concurrence and
consent of Parliament, who permitted them to tax themselves upon their
petition, the Convocation sitting at the same time with the Parliament.
They had, too, their representatives always sitting in this House,
bishops and abbots; and, in the other House, they were at no time
without a right of voting singly for the election of members; so that
the argument fetched from the case of the clergy is not an argument of
any force, because they were at no time unrepresented here.

The reasoning about the colonies of Great Britain, drawn from the
colonies of antiquity, is a mere useless display of learning; for the
colonies of the Tyrians in Africa, and of the Greeks in Asia, were
totally different from our system. No nation before ourselves formed
any regular system of colonization, but the Romans; and their system
was a military one, and of garrisons placed in the principal towns of
the conquered provinces. The States of Holland were not colonies of
Spain; they were States dependent upon the house of Austria in a feudal
dependence. Nothing could be more different from our colonies than that
flock of men, as they have been called, who came from the North and
poured into Europe. Those emigrants renounced all laws, all protection,
all connection with their mother countries. They chose their leaders,
and marched under their banners to seek their fortunes and establish
new kingdoms upon the ruins of the Roman empire.

But our colonies, on the contrary, emigrated under the sanction of the
Crown and Parliament. They were modelled gradually into their present
forms, respectively, by charters, grants, and statutes; but they were
never separated from the mother country, or so emancipated as to
become _sui juris_. There are several sorts of colonies in British
America. The charter colonies, the proprietary governments, and the
King’s colonies. The first colonies were the charter colonies, such as
the Virginia Company; and these companies had among their directors
members of the privy council and of both houses of Parliament; they
were under the authority of the privy council, and had agents resident
here, responsible for their proceedings. So much were they considered
as belonging to the Crown, and not to the King personally (for there
is a great difference, though few people attend to it), that when the
two Houses, in the time of Charles the First, were going to pass a bill
concerning the colonies, a message was sent to them by the King that
they were the King’s colonies, and that the bill was unnecessary, for
that the privy council would take order about them; and the bill never
had the royal assent. The Commonwealth Parliament, as soon as it was
settled, were very early jealous of the colonies separating themselves
from them; and passed a resolution or act (and it is a question whether
it is not in force now) to declare and establish the authority of
England over its colonies.

But if there was no express law, or reason founded upon any necessary
inference from an express law, yet the usage alone would be sufficient
to support that authority; for, have not the colonies submitted
ever since their first establishment to the jurisdiction of the
mother country? In all questions of property, the appeals from the
colonies have been to the privy council here; and such causes have
been determined, not by the law of the colonies, but by the law of
England. A very little while ago, there was an appeal on a question of
limitation in a devise of land with remainders; and, notwithstanding
the intention of the testator appeared very clear, yet the case was
determined contrary to it, and that the land should pass according
to the law of England. The colonies have been obliged to recur very
frequently to the jurisdiction here, to settle the disputes among their
own governments. I well remember several references on this head, when
the late Lord Hardwicke was attorney general, and Sir Clement Wearg
solicitor general. New Hampshire and Connecticut were in blood about
their differences; Virginia and Maryland were in arms against each
other. This shows the necessity of one superior decisive jurisdiction,
to which all subordinate jurisdictions may recur. Nothing, my Lords,
could be more fatal to the peace of the colonies at any time, than
the Parliament giving up its authority over them; for in such a case,
there must be an entire dissolution of government. Considering how the
colonies are composed, it is easy to foresee there would be no end of
feuds and factions among the several separate governments, when once
there shall be no one government here or there of sufficient force or
authority to decide their mutual differences; and, government being
dissolved, nothing remains but that the colonies must either change
their Constitution, and take some new form of government, or fall under
some foreign power. At present the several forms of their Constitution
are very various, having been produced, as all governments have been
originally, by accident and circumstances. The forms of government in
every colony were adopted, from time to time, according to the size of
the colony; and so have been extended again, from time to time, as the
numbers of their inhabitants and their commercial connections outgrew
the first model. In some colonies, at first there was only a governor
assisted by two or three counsel; then more were added; afterward
courts of justice were erected; then assemblies were created. Some
things were done by instructions from the secretaries of state; other
things were done by order of the King and council; and other things by
commissions under the great seal. It is observable, that in consequence
of these establishments from time to time, and of the dependency of
these governments upon the supreme Legislature at home, the lenity of
each government in the colonies has been extreme toward the subject;
and a great inducement has been created for people to come and settle
in them. But, if all those governments which are now independent of
each other, should become independent of the mother country, I am
afraid that the inhabitants of the colonies are very little aware of
the consequences. They would feel in that case very soon the hand of
power more heavy upon them in their own governments, than they have yet
done, or have ever imagined.

The Constitutions of the different colonies are thus made up of
different principles. They must remain dependent, from the necessity
of things, and their relations to the jurisdiction of the mother
country; or they must be totally dismembered from it, and form a league
of union among themselves against it, which could not be effected
without great violences. No one ever thought the contrary till the
trumpet of sedition was blown. Acts of Parliament have been made, not
only without a doubt of their legality, but with universal applause,
the great object of which has been ultimately to fix the trade of the
colonies, so as to centre in the bosom of that country from whence
they took their original. The Navigation Act shut up their intercourse
with foreign countries.[35] Their ports have been made subject to
customs and regulations which have cramped and diminished their trade.
And duties have been laid, affecting the very inmost parts of their
commerce, and, among others, that of the post; yet all these have
been submitted to peaceably, and no one ever thought till now of this
doctrine, that the colonies are not to be taxed, regulated, or bound by
Parliament. A few particular merchants were then, as now, displeased at
restrictions which did not permit them to make the greatest possible
advantages of their commerce in their own private and peculiar
branches. But, though these few merchants might think themselves losers
in articles which they had no right to gain, as being prejudicial to
the general and national system, yet I must observe that the colonies,
upon the whole, were benefited by these laws. For these restrictive
laws, founded upon principles of the most solid policy, flung a great
weight of naval force into the hands of the mother country, which
was to protect its colonies. Without a union with her, the colonies
must have been entirely weak and defenceless, but they thus became
relatively great, subordinately, and in proportion as the mother
country advanced in superiority over the rest of the maritime powers
in Europe, to which both mutually contributed, and of which both have
reaped a benefit, equal to the natural and just relation in which they
both stand reciprocally, of dependency on one side, and protection on
the other.

There can be no doubt, my Lords, but that the inhabitants of the
colonies are as much represented in Parliament, as the greatest part
of the people of England are represented; among nine millions of whom
there are eight which have no votes in electing members of Parliament.
Every objection, therefore, to the dependency of the colonies upon
Parliament, which arises to it upon the ground of representation, goes
to the whole present Constitution of Great Britain; and I suppose it is
not meant to new-model _that_ too. People may form speculative ideas
of perfection, and indulge their own fancies or those of other men.
Every man in this country has his particular notion of liberty; but
perfection never did, and never can exist in any human institution. To
what purpose, then, are arguments drawn from a distinction, in which
there is no real difference—of a virtual and actual representation?
A member of Parliament, chosen for any borough, represents not only
the constituents and inhabitants of that particular place, but he
represents the inhabitants of every other borough in Great Britain. He
represents the city of London, and all the other commons of this land,
and the inhabitants of all the colonies and dominions of Great Britain;
and is, in duty and conscience, bound to take care of their interests.

I have mentioned the customs and the post tax. This leads me to answer
another distinction, as false as the above; the distinction of internal
and external taxes. The noble Lord who quoted so much law, and denied
upon those grounds the right of the Parliament of Great Britain to
lay internal taxes upon the colonies, allowed at the same time that
restrictions upon trade, and duties upon the ports, were legal. But I
cannot see a real difference in this distinction; for I hold it to be
true, that a tax laid in any place is like a pebble falling into and
making a circle in a lake, till one circle produces and gives motion to
another, and the whole circumference is agitated from the centre. For
nothing can be more clear than that a tax of ten or twenty per cent.
laid upon tobacco, either in the ports of Virginia or London, is a duty
laid upon the inland plantations of Virginia, a hundred miles from the
sea, wheresoever the tobacco grows.

I do not deny but that a tax may be laid injudiciously and injuriously,
and that people in such a case may have a right to complain. But the
nature of the tax is not now the question; whenever it comes to be one,
I am for lenity. I would have no blood drawn. There is, I am satisfied,
no occasion for any to be drawn. A little time and experience of the
inconveniences and miseries of anarchy, may bring people to their

With respect to what has been said or written upon this subject, I
differ from the noble Lord, who spoke of Mr. Otis and his book with
contempt, though he maintained the same doctrine in some points,
while in others he carried it farther than Otis himself, who allows
everywhere the supremacy of the Crown over the colonies.[36] No man,
on such a subject, is contemptible. Otis is a man of consequence among
the people there. They have chosen him for one of their deputies at
the Congress and general meeting from the respective governments. It
was said, the man is mad. What then? One madman often makes many.
Masaniello was mad. Nobody doubts it; yet, for all that, he overturned
the government of Naples. Madness is catching in all popular assemblies
and upon all popular matters. The book is full of wildness. I never
read it till a few days ago, for I seldom look into such things. I
never was actually acquainted with the contents of the Stamp Act, till
I sent for it on purpose to read it before the debate was expected.
With respect to authorities in _another House_, I know nothing of them.
I believe that I have not been in that House more than once since I had
the honor to be called up to this; and, if I did know any thing that
passed in the other House, I could not, and would not, mention it as
an authority here. I ought not to mention any such authority. I should
think it beneath my own and your Lordship’s dignity to speak of it.

I am far from bearing any ill will to the Americans; they are a very
good people, and I have long known them. I began life with them, and
owe much to them, having been much concerned in the plantation causes
before the privy council; and so I became a good deal acquainted with
American affairs and people. I dare say, their heat will soon be over,
when they come to feel a little the consequences of their opposition
to the Legislature. Anarchy always cures itself; but the ferment will
continue so much the longer, while hot-headed men there find that there
are persons of weight and character to support and justify them here.

Indeed, if the disturbances should continue for a great length of
time, force must be the consequence, an application adequate to the
mischief, and arising out of the necessity of the case; for force is
only the difference between a superior and subordinate jurisdiction. In
the former, the whole force of the Legislature resides collectively,
and when it ceases to reside, the whole connection is dissolved. It
will, indeed, be to very little purpose that we sit here enacting
laws, and making resolutions, if the inferior will not obey them, or
if we neither can nor dare enforce them; for then, and then, I say, of
necessity, the matter comes to the sword. If the offspring are grown
too big and too resolute to obey the parent, you must try which is the
strongest, and exert all the powers of the mother country to decide the

I am satisfied, notwithstanding, that time and a wise and steady
conduct may prevent those extremities which would be fatal to both.
I remember well when it was the violent humor of the times to decry
standing armies and garrisons as dangerous, and incompatible with the
liberty of the subject. Nothing would do but a regular militia. The
militia are embodied; they march; and no sooner was the militia law
thus put into execution, but it was then said to be an intolerable
burden upon the subject, and that it would fall, sooner or later,
into the hands of the Crown. That was the language, and many counties
petitioned against it. This may be the case with the colonies. In many
places they begin already to feel the effects of their resistence
to government. Interest very soon divides mercantile people; and,
although there may be some mad, enthusiastic, or ill-designing people
in the colonies, yet I am convinced that the greatest bulk, who have
understanding and property, are still well affected to the mother
country. You have, my Lords, many friends still in the colonies; and
take care that you do not, by abdicating your own authority, desert
them and yourselves, and lose them forever.

In all popular tumults, the worst men bear the sway at first. Moderate
and good men are often silent for fear or modesty, who, in good time,
may declare themselves. Those who have any property to lose are
sufficiently alarmed already at the progress of these public violences
and violations, to which every man’s dwelling, person, and property
are hourly exposed. Numbers of such valuable men and good subjects are
ready and willing to declare themselves for the support of government
in due time, if government does not fling away its own authority.

My Lords, the Parliament of Great Britain has its rights over the
colonies; but it may abdicate its rights.

There was a thing which I forgot to mention. I mean, the manuscript
quoted by the noble Lord. He tells you that it is there said, that
if the act concerning Ireland had passed, the Parliament might have
abdicated its rights as to Ireland. In the first place, I heartily
wish, my Lords, that Ireland had not been named, at a time when that
country is of a temper and in a situation so difficult to be governed;
and when we have already here so much weight upon our hands, encumbered
with the extensiveness, variety, and importance of so many objects
in a vast and too busy empire, and the national system shattered and
exhausted by a long, bloody, and expensive war, but more so by our
divisions at home, and a fluctuation of counsels. I wish Ireland,
therefore, had never been named.

I pay as much respect as any man to the memory of Lord Chief Justice
Hale; but I did not know that he had ever written upon the subject;
and I differ very much from thinking with the noble Lord, that this
manuscript ought to be published. So far am I from it, that I wish the
manuscript had never been named; for Ireland is too tender a subject to
be touched. The case of Ireland is as different as possible from that
of our colonies. Ireland was a conquered country; it had its _pacta
conventa_ and its _regalia_. But to what purpose is it to mention the
manuscript? It is but the opinion of one man. When it was written, or
for what particular object it was written, does not appear. It might
possibly be only a work of youth, or an exercise of the understanding,
in sounding and trying a question problematically. All people, when
they first enter professions, make their collections pretty early in
life; and the manuscript may be of that sort. However, be it what it
may, the opinion is but problematical; for the act to which the writer
refers never passed, and Lord Hale only said, that if it had passed,
the Parliament might have abdicated their right.

But, my Lords, I shall make this application of it. You may abdicate
your right over the colonies. Take care, my Lords, how you do so, for
such an act will be irrevocable. Proceed, then, my Lords, with spirit
and firmness; and, when you shall have established your authority,
it will then be a time to show your lenity. The Americans, as I said
before, are a very good people, and I wish them exceedingly well;
but they are heated and inflamed. The noble Lord who spoke before
ended with a prayer. I cannot end better than by saying to it Amen;
and in the words of Maurice, Prince of Orange, concerning the
Hollanders: “_God bless this industrious, frugal, and well-meaning, but
easily-deluded people._”

  The Stamp Act was repealed, and the Declaratory Act, thus advocated
  by Lord Mansfield, was also passed by a large majority.

  The positions taken by Lord Mansfield were answered in a variety of
  ways by the colonists. What may be called the American Case, was
  carefully stated in a “Declaration of Rights and Grievances,” passed
  by the New York Congress, October 19, 1765. The substance of the
  American claims may be summarized in the following propositions:

  1. They owed their existence not to Parliament, but to the Crown.
  The King, in the exercise of the high sovereignty then conceded to
  him, had made them by charter _complete civil communities_, with
  legislatures of their own having power to lay taxes and do all
  other acts which were necessary to their subsistence as distinct
  governments. Hence,

  2. They stood substantially on the same footing as Scotland previous
  to the Union. Like her they were subject to the Navigation Act, and
  similar regulations touching the _external_ relations of the empire;
  and like her the ordinary legislation of England did not reach them,
  nor did the common law any farther than they chose to adopt it. Hence,

  3. They held themselves amenable in their internal concerns, not to
  Parliament, but to the Crown alone. It was to the _King_ in council
  or to _his_ courts that they made those occasional references and
  appeals, which Lord Mansfield endeavors to draw into precedents. So
  “the post tax” spoken of above, did not originate in Parliament,
  but in a charter to an individual which afterward reverted to the
  Crown, and it was in this way alone that the post-office in America
  became connected with that of England. Even the American Declaration
  of Independence does not once refer to the British Parliament. The
  colonists held that they owed allegiance to the King only, and hence
  it was the King’s conduct alone that was regarded as a just reason
  for their renouncing their allegiance. One of their grievances was,
  that he confederated with others in “_pretended acts of legislation_.”

  The Colonists supported their argument by an appeal to
  “long-continued usage.” Burke acknowledged the force of this
  position, though he drew from it the conclusion merely that, “to
  introduce a change now, is both inexpedient and unwise.” The
  Colonists, on the contrary, held: “You have no right to lay the
  taxes.” The attitude of the colonies is best studied in the volume of
  “Prior Documents to Almon’s Remembrancer,” where all the important
  papers and the resolutions of the several colonies are given. See,
  also, Pilkin’s “Political History,” Marshall’s “American Colonies,”
  and vol. i. of Story, “On the Constitution.” There is an excellent
  summary of the debate in the English Parliament, probably written by
  Burke, in the _Annual Register_, vol. ix., pp. 35–48; and a still
  fuller one embracing the examination of Franklin, in Hansard’s
  “Parliamentary History,” vol. xvi., pp. 90–200.


There is much in the oratory of Edmund Burke to suggest the
amplitude of mind and the power and scope of intellectual grasp that
characterized Shakespeare. He surveyed every subject as if standing
on an eminence and taking a view of it in all its relations, however
complex and remote. United with this remarkable comprehensiveness was
also a subtlety of intellect that enabled him to penetrate the most
complicated relations and unravel the most perplexed intricacies. Why?
Whence? For what end? With what results? were the questions that his
mind seemed always to be striving to answer. The special objects to
which he applied himself were the workings of political institutions,
the principles of wise legislation, and the sources of national
security and advancement. _Rerum cognoscere causas_,—to know the
causes of things—in all the multiform relations of organized society,
was the constant end of his striving. More than any other one that
has written in English he was a political philosopher. But he was far
more than that. He had a memory of extraordinary grasp and tenacity;
and this, united with a tireless industry, gave him an affluence of
knowledge that has rarely been equalled. He had the fancy of a poet,
and his imagination surveyed the whole range of human experience for
illustrations with which to enrich the train of his thought.

For the purposes of legislative persuasion many of Burke’s qualities
were a hindrance rather than a help. His course of reasoning was often
too elaborate to be carried in the mind of the hearer. His exuberant
fancy constantly tempted him into illustrative excursions that led the
hearer too far away from the march of the argument. The one thing which
he always found it difficult to do was to restrain the exuberance
of his genius. He could not be straightforward and unadorned. He
carried his wealth with him and displayed it on all occasions. Mr.
Matthew Arnold has very happily characterized this feature of his
mind as “Asiatic.” “He is the only man,” said Johnson, “whose common
conversation corresponds with the general fame which he has in the
world. No man of sense could meet Burke by accident under a gateway to
avoid a shower without being convinced that he was the first man in

It is not singular that these characteristics were often thought to
be oppressive. In the House of Commons he sometimes poured forth the
wealth of his knowledge for hour after hour till the members were
burdened and driven out of the House in sheer self-defence. This
peculiarity was well described by the satirist who said:

                    “He went on refining,
    And thought of convincing when they thought of dining.”

Erskine, during the delivery of the speech on “Conciliation with
America,” crept out of the House behind the benches on his hands and
knees, and yet afterward wrote that he thought the speech the most
remarkable one of ancient or modern times.

But this vast superabundance, this superfluity of riches, so oppressive
to the ear of the hearer, must ever be a source of pleasure and profit
to the thoughtful reader. It is safe to say that there is no other
oratory of any language or time that yields so rich a return to the
thoughtful efforts of the genuine student. What Fox said to members of
Parliament in regard to the speech on the “Nabob of Arcot’s debts,” may
be appropriately said with perhaps even greater emphasis to American
students in regard to either of the speeches on American affairs: “Let
gentlemen read this speech by day and meditate on it by night: let them
peruse it again and again, study it, imprint it on their minds, impress
it on their hearts.” After all that has been written, the student
can nowhere find a more correct and comprehensive account of the
causes of the American Revolution than in the speeches on Taxation and

Burke’s education had given him peculiar qualifications for discussing
American affairs. These qualifications were both general and special.
At the age of fourteen he entered Trinity College in his native city of
Dublin, where he remained six years, performing not only his regular
college duties, but carrying on a very elaborate course of study
of his own devising. He not only read a greater part of the poets
and orators of antiquity, but he also devoted himself to philosophy
in such a way that his mind took that peculiar bent which made him
ultimately what has been called “the _philosophical_ orator” of the
language. In 1750, when he was twenty, he began the study of law at
the Middle Temple, in London. But his law studies were not congenial
to him; and his great energies, therefore, were chiefly devoted to
the study of what would now be called Political Science. It was at
this period that he acquired that habit which never deserted him of
following out trains of thought to their end, and framing his views on
every subject he investigated into an organized system. He was a very
careful student of Bolingbroke’s works; and such an impression had
this writer’s methods of reasoning made upon him, that when his first
pamphlet, “The Vindication of Natural Society” appeared in 1756, it
was thought by many to be a posthumous work of Bolingbroke himself.
In the same year he astonished the reading world by publishing at
the age of twenty-six, his celebrated philosophical treatise on the
“Sublime and Beautiful.” But the best of his thoughts were given to a
contemplation of the forms and principles of civil society. In 1757
he prepared and published two volumes on the “European Settlements in
America,” in the course of which, he showed that he had already traced
the character of the Colonial institutions to the spirit of their
ancestors, and to an indomitable love of liberty. While preparing these
volumes his prophetic intelligence came to see the boundless resources
and the irresistible strength that the colonies were soon destined
to attain. Thus more than ten years before the troubles with America
began, Burke had filled his mind with stores of knowledge in regard
to American affairs, and had qualified himself for those marvellous
trains of reasoning with which he came forward when the Stamp Act was
proposed. The very next year after the publication of his treatise
on the American Colonies, he projected the _Annual Register_; a work
which even down to the present day has continued to give a yearly
account of the most important occurrences in all parts of the globe.
The undertaking could hardly have been successful except in the hands
of a man of extraordinary powers. The first volumes were written almost
exclusively by Burke, and the topics discussed as well as the events
described, offered the best of opportunities for the exercise of his
peculiar gifts. So great was the demand for the work that the early
volumes rapidly passed through several editions. The first article in
the first volume is devoted to the relations of the American Colonies
to the mother country; and the preëminence, thus indicated of the
American question in Burke’s mind, continued to be evident till the
outbreak of the Revolution.

Burke entered Parliament in 1765, and in January, 1766, he delivered
his maiden speech in opposition to the Stamp Act. The effort was
not simply successful,—it showed so much compass and power that
Pitt publicly complimented him as “a very able advocate.” In 1771,
he received the appointment of agent for the Colony of New York, a
position which he continued to hold till the outbreak of the war. Thus,
not only by his general attainments and abilities, but also as the
result of his special application to the subject, he brought to the
discussion of the question qualifications that were unequalled even by
those of Chatham himself.

Of the speeches delivered by Burke, in all several hundred in number,
only six of the more important ones have been preserved. These were
written out for publication by the orator himself. In point of
compass and variety of thought as well as in lofty declamation and
withering invective it is probable that the most remarkable of all his
efforts was that on the “Nabob of Arcot’s debts.” But it is marked
by the author’s greatest faults as well as by his greatest merits.
For five hours he poured out the pitiless and deluging torrents of
his denunciations; and the reader who now sits down to the task of
mastering the speech is as certain to be wearied by it as were the
members of the House of Commons when it was delivered. The speech
on “Conciliation with America” is marred by fewer blemishes, and
its positive merits are of transcendant importance. That this great
utterance exerted a vast influence on both sides of the Atlantic admits
of no doubt. It is worthy of note, however, that during the greater
part of Burke’s political life he was in the opposition, and that by
those in power, he was regarded as simply what Lord Lauderdale once
called him, “a splendid madman.” To this characterization Fox replied:
“It is difficult to say whether he is mad or inspired, but whether the
one or the other, every one must agree that he is a _prophet_.” And at
a much later period Lord Brougham observed that “All his predictions,
except one momentary expression, have been more than fulfilled.”


MARCH 22, 1775.

  The repeal of the Grenville Stamp Act had not brought a return of
  friendly feeling, for the reason that the Commons had preferred to
  adopt the policy of George III. instead of the policy of Pitt. The
  _right_ to tax America was affirmed in the very act withdrawing the
  tax. When Lord North came into power he adopted a weak and fatal
  mixture of concession and coercion. After the destruction of the tea
  in Boston harbor the policy of coercion became dominant. In 1774,
  the Charter of Massachusetts was taken away, and the port of Boston
  was closed to all commerce. The British Government labored under the
  singular delusion that the inconvenience thus inflicted would bring
  the colonies at once to terms. It was boldly said that the question
  was merely one of shillings and pence, and that the colonists would
  give way as soon as they came to see that their policy entailed a
  loss. There were a few who held the opposite ground. On the night of
  April 19, 1774, Mr. Fuller moved to go “into Committee of the whole
  House to take into consideration the duty of threepence a pound on
  tea, payable in all his Majesty’s dominions in America.” It was
  understood that the aim of the motion was the repealing of the Act;
  and it was in seconding the motion that Mr. Burke made his famous
  speech on American taxation.

  But the policy advocated in the speech was voted down by 182 to 49.
  Thus the ministry determined to drift on in the old way. It soon
  became evident, however, that some change was imperatively necessary.
  The method determined upon by Lord North was an insidious scheme
  for sowing dissensions among the colonies, and thus breaking that
  strength which comes from united action. His plan was to offer that
  whenever a colony, in addition to providing for its own government,
  should raise a fair proportion for the general defence, and should
  place this sum at the disposal of Parliament, that colony should be
  exempted from all further taxation, except such duties as might be
  necessary for the regulation of commerce. He thus designed to array
  the colonies against one another, and so open the way for treating
  with them individually. This was put forward by North as a plan for
  _conciliation_. While Burke saw clearly the mischief that lurked in
  the scheme of the ministry, he was anxious to avail himself of the
  _idea of conciliation_; and with this end in view he brought forward
  a series of resolutions “to admit the Americans to an equal interest
  in the British Constitution, and to place them at once on the footing
  of other Englishmen.” It was in moving these resolutions that the
  following speech was made.

  The method of treatment by the orator is so elaborate, that a brief
  analysis of the argument may be of service. The speech is divided
  into two parts: first, Ought we to make concessions? and if so,
  secondly, What ought we to concede? Under the first head the orator
  enters with surprising minuteness of detail into an examination of
  the condition of the colonies. He surveys (1) their population; (2)
  their commerce; (3) their agriculture, and (4) their fisheries.
  Having thus determined their material condition, he shows that force
  cannot hold a people possessing such advantages in subjection to
  the mother country, if they are inspired with a spirit of liberty.
  He shows that such a spirit prevails, and examining it, he traces
  it to six sources: (1) the descent of the people; (2) their forms
  of government; (3) the religious principles of the North; (4)
  the social institutions of the South; (5) the peculiarities of
  their education, and (6) their remoteness from Great Britain. He
  then sums up the first part, by showing that it is vain to think
  either (1) of removing these causes, or (2) of regarding them as
  criminal. Reaching the conclusion then, that conciliation is the
  true policy, he proceeds to inquire what this concession should
  be. Obviously it should relate to taxation, since taxation is the
  cause of the contest. Referring to the earlier history of Ireland,
  Durham, Chester, and Wales, he shows that in every case, either
  an independent parliament existed, or the territory was admitted
  to representation in the English Parliament. He then points out
  that direct representation of the colonies is impracticable, and
  he shows the evils that would result from the adoption of Lord
  North’s scheme. Finally, he reaches the conclusion that Americans
  ought to be admitted to the privileges of Englishmen—the privilege
  of contributing whatever they grant to the Crown through their own
  legislature. To this end he presents six resolutions, with a brief
  consideration of which he closes the speech.

  This brief outline is perhaps enough to show that the speech is
  remarkable for its logical order, and for its happy grouping of
  historical facts. But so far from being a collection of mere matters
  of fact, it is enriched from beginning to end with thoughts and
  reflections from a brain teeming with ideas on the science of
  government. It abounds with passages that have always been greatly
  admired, and the train of argument is not interrupted by the
  introduction of matter only remotely relevant to the subject in hand.
  It may be said therefore to have more of the author’s characteristic
  merits, and fewer of his characteristic defects, than any other of
  his speeches. Every careful student will probably agree with Sir
  James Mackintosh in pronouncing it “the most faultless of Mr. Burke’s


I hope, sir, that, notwithstanding the austerity of the chair, your
good nature will incline you to some degree of indulgence toward human
frailty.[37] You will not think it unnatural that those who have an
object depending, which strongly engages their hopes and fears, should
be somewhat inclined to superstition. As I came into the House full of
anxiety about the event of my motion, I found, to my infinite surprise,
that the grand penal bill, by which we had passed sentence on the trade
and sustenance of America, is to be returned to us from the other
House.[38] I do confess, I could not help looking on this event as a
fortunate omen. I look upon it as a sort of providential favor, by
which we are put once more in possession of our deliberative capacity,
upon a business so very questionable in its nature, so very uncertain
in its issue. By the return of this bill, which seemed to have taken
its flight forever, we are, at this very instant, nearly as free to
choose a plan for our American government, as we were on the first day
of the session. If, sir, we incline to the side of conciliation, we
are not at all embarrassed (unless we please to make ourselves so) by
any incongruous mixture of coercion and restraint. We are therefore
called upon, as it were by a superior warning voice, again to attend
to America; to attend to the whole of it together; and to review the
subject with an unusual degree of care and calmness.

Surely it is an awful subject, or there is none so on this side of the
grave. When I first had the honor of a seat in this House, the affairs
of that continent pressed themselves upon us as the most important and
most delicate object of parliamentary attention. My little share in
this great deliberation oppressed me. I found myself a partaker in a
very high trust; and having no sort of reason to rely on the strength
of my natural abilities for the proper execution of that trust, I was
obliged to take more than common pains to instruct myself in every
thing which relates to our colonies. I was not less under the necessity
of forming some fixed ideas concerning the general policy of the
British empire. Something of this sort seemed to be indispensable,
in order, amid so vast a fluctuation of passions and opinions, to
concentre my thoughts; to ballast my conduct; to preserve me from being
blown about by every wind of fashionable doctrine. I really did not
think it safe or manly, to have fresh principles to seek upon every
fresh mail which should arrive from America.

At that period I had the fortune to find myself in perfect concurrence
with a large majority in this House.[39] Bowing under that high
authority, and penetrated with the sharpness and strength of that early
impression, I have continued ever since in my original sentiments
without the least deviation. Whether this be owing to an obstinate
perseverance in error, or to a religious adherence to what appears to
me truth and reason, it is in your equity to judge.

Sir, Parliament having an enlarged view of objects, made, during this
interval, more frequent changes in their sentiment and their conduct
than could be justified in a particular person upon the contracted
scale of private information. But though I do not hazard any thing
approaching to a censure on the motives of former Parliaments to all
those alterations, one fact is undoubted—that under them the state of
America has been kept in continual agitation. Everything administered
as remedy to the public complaint, if it did not produce, was at least
followed by, a heightening of the distemper; until, by a variety of
experiments, that important country has been brought into her present
situation—a situation which I will not miscall, which I dare not name,
which I scarcely know how to comprehend in the terms of any description.

In this posture, sir, things stood at the beginning of the session.
About that time, a worthy member of great parliamentary experience,
who, in the year 1766, filled the chair of the American committee with
much ability, took me aside, and, lamenting the present aspect of our
politics, told me things were come to such a pass that our former
methods of proceeding in the House would be no longer tolerated. That
the public tribunal (never too indulgent to a long and unsuccessful
opposition) would now scrutinize our conduct with unusual severity.
That the very vicissitudes and shiftings of ministerial measures,
instead of convicting their authors of inconstancy and want of system,
would be taken as an occasion of charging us with a predetermined
discontent, which nothing could satisfy; while we accused every measure
of vigor as cruel, and every proposal of lenity as weak and irresolute.
The public, he said, would not have patience to see us play the
game out with our adversaries: we must produce our hand. It would
be expected that those who, for many years, had been active in such
affairs, should show that they had formed some clear and decided idea
of the principles of colony government, and were capable of drawing out
something like a platform of the ground which might be laid for future
and permanent tranquillity.

I felt the truth of what my honorable friend represented, but I felt my
situation too. His application might have been made with far greater
propriety to many other gentlemen. No man was, indeed, ever better
disposed or worse qualified for such an undertaking than myself. Though
I gave so far into his opinion that I immediately threw my thoughts
into a sort of parliamentary form, I was by no means equally ready to
produce them. It generally argues some degree of natural impotence
of mind, or some want of knowledge of the world, to hazard plans of
government, except from a seat of authority.[40] Propositions are made,
not only ineffectually, but somewhat disreputably, when the minds of
men are not properly disposed for their reception; and, for my part, I
am not ambitious of ridicule—not absolutely a candidate for disgrace.

Besides, sir, to speak the plain truth, I have in general no very
exalted opinion of the virtue of paper government, nor of any politics
in which the plan is to be wholly separated from the execution. But
when I saw that anger and violence prevailed every day more and more,
and that things were hastening toward an incurable alienation of our
colonies, I confess my caution gave way. I felt this as one of those
few moments in which decorum yields to a higher duty. Public calamity
is a mighty leveller, and there are occasions when any, even the
slightest, chance of doing good, must be laid hold on, even by the most
inconsiderable person.

To restore order and repose to an empire so great and so distracted as
ours, is merely in the attempt an undertaking that would ennoble the
flights of the highest genius, and obtain pardon for the efforts of the
meanest understanding. Struggling a good while with these thoughts, by
degrees I felt myself more firm. I derived, at length, some confidence
from what in other circumstances usually produces timidity. I grew less
anxious, even from the idea of my own insignificance. For, judging of
what you are by what you ought to be, I persuaded myself that you
would not reject a reasonable proposition because it had nothing but
its reason to recommend it. On the other hand, being totally destitute
of all shadow of influence, natural or adventitious, I was very sure
that if my proposition were futile or dangerous—if it were weakly
conceived or improperly timed, there was nothing exterior to it of
power to awe, dazzle, or delude you. You will see it just as it is, and
you will treat it just as it deserves.

The PROPOSITION is peace.[41] Not peace through the medium of war;
not peace to be hunted through the labyrinth of intricate and endless
negotiations; not peace to arise out of universal discord, fomented
from principle, in all parts of the empire; not peace to depend on
the juridical determination of perplexing questions, or the precise
marking the shadowy boundaries of a complex government. It is simple
peace, sought in its natural course and its ordinary haunts. It is
peace sought in the spirit of peace, and laid in principles purely
pacific. I propose, by removing the ground of the difference, and by
restoring _the former unsuspecting confidence of the colonies in the
mother country_,[42] to give permanent satisfaction to your people;
and, far from a scheme of ruling by discord, to reconcile them to each
other in the same act, and by the bond of the very same interest, which
reconciles them to British government.

My idea is nothing more. Refined policy ever has been the parent of
confusion, and ever will be so as long as the world endures. Plain good
intention, which is as easily discovered at the first view as fraud
is surely detected at last, is (let me say) of no mean force in the
government of mankind. Genuine simplicity of heart is a healing and
cementing principle. My plan, therefore, being formed upon the most
simple grounds imaginable, may disappoint some people when they hear
it. It has nothing to recommend it to the pruriency of curious ears.
There is nothing at all new and captivating in it. It has nothing
of the splendor of the project which has been lately laid upon your
table by the noble Lord in the blue ribbon.[43] It does not propose to
fill your lobby with squabbling colony agents, who will require the
interposition of your mace at every instant to keep the peace among
them. It does not institute a magnificent auction of finance, where
captivated provinces come to general ransom by bidding against each
other, until you knock down the hammer, and determine a proportion of
payments beyond all the powers of algebra to equalize and settle.

The plan which I shall presume to suggest derives, however, one great
advantage from the proposition and registry of that noble Lord’s
project. The idea of conciliation is admissible. First, the House,
in accepting the resolution moved by the noble Lord, has admitted,
notwithstanding the menacing front of our address,[44] notwithstanding
our heavy bill of pains and penalties, that we do not think ourselves
precluded from all ideas of free grace and bounty.

The House has gone farther; it has declared conciliation admissible,
_previous_ to any submission on the part of America. It has even shot
a good deal beyond that mark, and has admitted that the complaints
of our former mode of exerting the right of taxation were not wholly
unfounded. That right, thus exerted, is allowed to have had something
reprehensible in it, something unwise, or something grievous; since, in
the midst of our heat and resentment, we, of ourselves, have proposed
a capital alteration, and, in order to get rid of what seemed so very
exceptionable, have instituted a mode that is altogether new; one that
is, indeed, wholly alien from all the ancient methods and forms of

The _principle_ of this proceeding is large enough for my purpose. The
means proposed by the noble Lord for carrying his ideas into execution,
I think, indeed, are very indifferently suited to the end; and this I
shall endeavor to show you before I sit down. But, for the present, I
take my ground on the admitted principle. I mean to give peace. Peace
implies reconciliation; and, where there has been a material dispute,
reconciliation does in a manner always imply concession on the one
part or on the other. In this state of things I make no difficulty
in affirming that the proposal ought to originate from us. Great and
acknowledged force is not impaired, either in effect or in opinion, by
an unwillingness to exert itself. The superior power may offer peace
with honor and with safety. Such an offer from such a power will be
attributed to magnanimity. But the concessions of the weak are the
concessions of fear. When such a one is disarmed, he is wholly at the
mercy of his superior, and he loses forever that time and those chances
which, as they happen to all men, are the strength and resources of all
inferior power.

The capital leading questions on which you must this day decide, are
these two: _First, whether you ought to concede; and, secondly, what
your concession ought to be_.

On the first of these questions we have gained, as I have just taken
the liberty of observing to you, some ground. But I am sensible that
a good deal more is still to be done. Indeed, sir, to enable us to
determine both on the one and the other of these great questions with
a firm and precise judgment, I think it may be necessary to consider

The true _nature_ and the peculiar _circumstances_ of the object which
we have before us; because, after all our struggle, whether we will
or not, we must govern America according to that nature and to those
circumstances, and not according to our imaginations; not according to
abstract ideas of right; by no means according to mere general theories
of government, the resort to which appears to me, in our present
situation, no better than arrant trifling. I shall therefore endeavor,
with your leave, to lay before you some of the most material of these
circumstances in as full and as clear a manner as I am able to state

(1) The first thing that we have to consider with regard to the
nature of the object, is the number of people in the colonies. I have
taken for some years a good deal of pains on that point. I can by no
calculation justify myself in placing the number below two millions
of inhabitants of our own European blood and color, besides at least
five hundred thousand others, who form no inconsiderable part of the
strength and opulence of the whole. This, sir, is, I believe, about
the true number. There is no occasion to exaggerate, where plain truth
is of so much weight and importance. But whether I put the present
numbers too high or too low, is a matter of little moment. Such is the
strength with which population shoots in that part of the world, that,
state the numbers as high as we will, while the dispute continues, the
exaggeration ends. While we are discussing any given magnitude, they
are grown to it. While we spend our time in deliberating on the mode
of governing two millions, we shall find we have two millions more
to manage. Your children do not grow faster from infancy to manhood,
than they spread from families to communities, and from villages to

I put this consideration of the present and the growing numbers in
the front of our deliberation; because, sir, this consideration will
make it evident to a blunter discernment than yours, that no partial,
narrow, contracted, pinched, occasional system will be at all suitable
to such an object. It will show you that it is not to be considered as
one of those _minima_[46] which are out of the eye and consideration of
the law; not a paltry excrescence of the state; not a mean dependent,
who may be neglected with little damage, and provoked with little
danger. It will prove that some degree of care and caution is required
in the handling such an object; it will show that you ought not, in
reason, to trifle with so large a mass of the interests and feelings
of the human race. You could at no time do so without guilt; and, be
assured, you will not be able to do it long with impunity.

But the population of this country, the great and growing population,
though a very important consideration, will lose much of its weight, if
not combined with other circumstances. The commerce of your colonies is
out of all proportion beyond the numbers of the people. This ground of
their commerce, indeed, has been trod some days ago, and with great
ability, by a distinguished person at your bar.[47] This gentleman,
after thirty-five years—it is so long since he appeared at the same
place to plead for the commerce of Great Britain—has come again before
you to plead the same cause, without any other effect of time, than
that, to the fire of imagination and extent of erudition which even
then marked him as one of the first literary characters of his age,
he has added a consummate knowledge in the commercial interest of his
country, formed by a long course of enlightened and discriminating

Sir, I should be inexcusable in coming after such a person with any
detail, if a great part of the members who now fill the House had not
the misfortune to be absent when he appeared at your bar. Besides, sir,
I propose to take the matter at periods of time somewhat different from
his. There is, if I mistake not, a point of view, from whence, if you
will look at this subject, it is impossible that it should not make an
impression upon you.

I have in my hand two accounts: one a comparative state of the export
trade of England to its colonies as it stood in the year 1704, and as
it stood in the year 1772; the other a state of the export trade of
this country to its colonies alone, as it stood in 1772, compared with
the whole trade of England to all parts of the world, the colonies
included, in the year 1704. They are from good vouchers; the latter
period from the accounts on your table, the earlier from an original
manuscript of Davenant, who first established the inspector general’s
office, which has been ever since his time so abundant a source of
parliamentary information.[48]

The export trade to the colonies consists of three great branches: the
African, which, terminating almost wholly in the colonies, must be
put to the account of their commerce; the West Indian, and the North
American. All these are so interwoven, that the attempt to separate
them would tear to pieces the contexture of the whole, and, if not
entirely destroy, would very much depreciate the value of all the
parts. I therefore consider these three denominations to be, what in
effect they are, one trade.

The trade to the colonies, taken on the export side, at the beginning
of this century, that is, in the year 1704, stood thus:

    Exports to North America and the West Indies    £483,265
    To Africa                                         86,665

In the year 1772, which I take as a middle year between the highest and
lowest of those lately laid on your table, the account was as follows:

    To North America and the West Indies          £4,791,734
    To Africa                                        866,398
    To which, if you add the export trade from
      Scotland, which had in 1704 no existence       364,000

From five hundred and odd thousand, it has grown to six millions.
It has increased no less than twelve-fold. This is the state of the
colony trade, as compared with itself at these two periods, within
this century; and this is matter for meditation. But this is not all.
Examine my second account. See how the export trade to the colonies
alone in 1772 stood in the other point of view, that is, as compared to
the whole trade of England in 1704.

    The whole export trade of England, including
      that to the colonies, in 1704               £6,509,000
    Exported to the colonies alone, in 1772        6,024,000
                            Difference              £485,000

The trade with America alone is now within less than £500,000 of
being equal to what this great commercial nation, England, carried
on at the beginning of this century with the whole world! If I had
taken the largest year of those on your table, it would rather have
exceeded. But, it will be said, is not this American trade an unnatural
protuberance, that has drawn the juices from the rest of the body? The
reverse. It is the very food that has nourished every other part into
its present magnitude. Our general trade has been greatly augmented,
and augmented more or less in almost every part to which it ever
extended, but with this material difference, that of the six millions
which in the beginning of the century constituted the whole mass of
our export commerce, the colony trade was but one twelfth part; it is
now (as a part of sixteen millions) considerably more than a third of
the whole. This is the relative proportion of the importance of the
colonies of these two periods; and all reasoning concerning our mode
of treating them must have this proportion as its basis, or it is a
reasoning weak, rotten, and sophistical.[49]

Mr. Speaker, I cannot prevail on myself to hurry over this great
consideration. It is good for us to be here. We stand where we have
an immense view of what is, and what is past. Clouds, indeed, and
darkness, rest upon the future. Let us, however, before we descend
from this noble eminence, reflect that this growth of our national
prosperity has happened within the short period of the life of man.
It has happened within sixty-eight years. There are those alive whose
memory might touch the two extremities. For instance, my Lord Bathurst
might remember all the stages of the progress. He was in 1704 of an age
at least to be made to comprehend such things. He was then old enough
“_acta parentum jam legere et quæ sit poterit cognoscere virtus_.”[50]
Suppose, sir, that the angel of this auspicious youth, foreseeing the
many virtues which made him one of the most amiable, as he is one of
the most fortunate men of his age, had opened to him in vision, that
when, in the fourth generation, the third prince of the House of
Brunswick had sat twelve years on the throne of that nation, which,
by the happy issue of moderate and healing councils, was to be made
Great Britain, he should see his son, Lord Chancellor of England, turn
back the current of hereditary dignity to its fountain, and raise
him to a higher rank of peerage, while he enriched the family with
a new one. If, amid these bright and happy scenes of domestic honor
and prosperity, that angel should have drawn up the curtain, and
unfolded the rising glories of his country, and while he was gazing
with admiration on the then commercial grandeur of England, the genius
should point out to him a little speck, scarce visible in the mass of
the national interest, a small seminal principle rather than a formed
body, and should tell him: “Young man, there is America—which at this
day serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men
and uncouth manners; yet shall, before you taste death, show itself
equal to the whole of that commerce which now attracts the envy of the
world. Whatever England has been growing to by a progressive increase
of improvement, brought in by varieties of people, by succession
of civilizing conquests and civilizing settlements in a series of
seventeen hundred years, you shall see as much added to her by America
in the course of a single life!” If this state of his country had been
foretold to him, would it not require all the sanguine credulity of
youth, and all the fervid glow of enthusiasm, to make him believe it?
Fortunate man, he has lived to see it! Fortunate indeed, if he lived to
see nothing to vary the prospect and cloud the setting of his day!

Excuse me, sir, if, turning from such thoughts, I resume this
comparative view once more. You have seen it on a large scale; look
at it on a small one. I will point out to your attention a particular
instance of it in the single province of Pennsylvania. In the year 1704
that province called for £11,459 value of your commodities, native and
foreign. This was the whole. What did it demand in 1772? Why nearly
fifty times as much; for in that year the export to Pennsylvania was
£507,909, nearly equal to the export to all the colonies together in
the first period.

I choose, sir, to enter into these minute and particular details,
because generalities, which, in all other cases are apt to heighten and
raise the subject, have here a tendency to sink it. When we speak of
the commerce with our colonies, fiction lags after truth; invention is
unfruitful, and imagination cold and barren.

So far, sir, as to the importance of the object in the view of its
commerce, as concerned in the exports from England. If I were to detail
the imports, I could show how many enjoyments they procure, which
deceive the burden of life; how many materials which invigorate the
springs of national industry, and extend and animate every part of our
foreign and domestic commerce. This would be a curious subject indeed;
but I must prescribe bounds to myself in a matter so vast and various.

(3) I pass, therefore, to the colonies in another point of view—their
agriculture. This they have prosecuted with such a spirit, that,
besides feeding plentifully their own growing multitude, their annual
export of grain, comprehending rice, has, some years ago, exceeded a
million in value. Of their last harvest I am persuaded they will export
much more. At the beginning of the century, some of these colonies
imported corn from the mother country. For some time past the old world
has been fed from the new. The scarcity which you have felt would have
been a desolating famine, if this child of your old age, with a true
filial piety, with a Roman charity, had not put the full breast of its
youthful exuberance to the mouth of its exhausted parent.[51]

As to the wealth which the colonies have drawn from the sea by their
fisheries, you had all that matter fully opened at your bar. You surely
thought those acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite
your envy; and yet, the spirit by which that enterprising employment
has been exercised, ought rather, in my opinion, to have raised your
esteem and admiration. And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to
it? Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the
people of New England have of late carried on the whale fishery. While
we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them
penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson’s Bay and Davis’
Straits—while we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we
hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold—that
they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen Serpent of the
south. Falkland Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object
for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place
in the progress of their victorious industry. Nor is the equinoctial
heat more discouraging to them than the accumulated winter of both the
poles. We know that while some of them draw the line, and strike the
harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude, and pursue
their gigantic game along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed
by their fisheries. No climate that is not witness to their toils.
Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France, nor
the dexterous and firm sagacity of English enterprise, ever carried
this most perilous mode of hardy industry to the extent to which it has
been pushed by this recent people—a people who are still, as it were,
but in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood. When
I contemplate these things—when I know that the colonies in general owe
little or nothing to any care of ours, and that they are not squeezed
into this happy form by the constraints of watchful and suspicious
government, but that, through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous
nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection—when I
reflect upon these effects—when I see how profitable they have been
to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all presumption in the
wisdom of human contrivances melt, and die away within me. My rigor
relents. I pardon something to the spirit of liberty.[52]

I am sensible, sir, that all which I have asserted in my detail is
admitted in the gross; but that quite a different conclusion is drawn
from it. America, gentlemen say, is a noble object. It is an object
well worth fighting for. Certainly it is, if fighting a people be the
best way of gaining them. Gentlemen in this respect will be led to
their choice of means by their complexions and their habits. Those who
understand the military art will, of course, have some predilection for
it. Those who wield the thunder of the State may have more confidence
in the efficacy of arms. But I confess, possibly for want of this
knowledge, my opinion is much more in favor of prudent management than
of force; considering force not as an odious, but a feeble, instrument
for preserving a people so numerous, so active, so growing, so spirited
as this, in a profitable and subordinate connection with us.

First, sir, permit me to observe, that the use of force alone is but
_temporary_. It may subdue for a moment, but it does not remove the
necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed which is
perpetually to be conquered.

My next objection is its _uncertainty_. Terror is not always the effect
of force; and an armament is not a victory. If you do not succeed,
you are without resource; for, conciliation failing, force remains;
but, force failing, no farther hope of reconciliation is left. Power
and authority are sometimes bought by kindness, but they can never be
begged as alms by an impoverished and defeated violence.

A farther objection to force is, that you _impair the object_ by your
very endeavors to preserve it. The thing you fought for is not the
thing which you recover; but depreciated, sunk, wasted, and consumed
in the contest. Nothing less will content me than _whole_ America. I
do not choose to consume its strength along with our own, because in
all parts it is the British strength that I consume. I do not choose to
be caught by a foreign enemy at the end of this exhausting conflict,
and still less in the midst of it. I may escape; but I can make no
insurance against such an event. Let me add, that I do not choose
wholly to break the American spirit, because it is the spirit that has
made the country.

Lastly, we have no sort of _experience_ in favor of force as an
instrument in the rule of our colonies. Their growth and their utility
have been owing to methods altogether different. Our ancient indulgence
has been said to be pursued to a fault. It may be so; but we know, if
feeling is evidence, that our fault was more tolerable than our attempt
to mend it; and our sin far more salutary than our penitence.

These, sir, are my reasons for not entertaining that high opinion of
untried force, by which many gentlemen, for whose sentiments in other
particulars I have great respect, seem to be so greatly captivated.

But there is still behind a third consideration concerning this object,
which serves to determine my opinion on the sort of policy which
ought to be pursued in the management of America, even more than its
population and its commerce—I mean its temper and character. In this
character of the Americans _a love of freedom_ is the predominating
feature, which marks and distinguishes the whole; and, as an ardent is
always a jealous affection, your colonies become suspicious, restive,
and untractable, whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them
by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only
advantage worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger
in the English colonies, probably, than in any other people of the
earth, and this from a variety of powerful causes, which, to understand
the true temper of their minds, and the direction which this spirit
takes, it will not be amiss to lay open somewhat more largely.

First, the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen.
England, sir, is a nation which still, I hope, respects, and formerly
adored her freedom. The colonists emigrated from you when this part of
your character was most predominant[53]; and they took this bias and
direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are, therefore,
not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English
ideas and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere
abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible
object; and every nation has formed to itself some favorite point
which, by way of eminence, becomes the criterion of their happiness.
It happened you know, sir, that the great contests for freedom in
this country were, from the earliest times chiefly upon the question
of taxing. Most of the contests in the ancient commonwealths turned
primarily on the right of election of magistrates, or on the balance
among the several orders of the State. The question of money was not
with them so immediate. But in England it was otherwise. On this point
of taxes the ablest pens and most eloquent tongues have been exercised;
the greatest spirits have acted and suffered. In order to give the
fullest satisfaction concerning the importance of this point, it was
not only necessary for those who in argument defended the excellence
of the English Constitution, to insist on this privilege of granting
money as a dry point of fact, and to prove that the right had been
acknowledged in ancient parchments and blind usages to reside in a
certain body called the House of Commons. They went much farther:
they attempted to prove (and they succeeded) that in theory it ought
to be so, from the particular nature of a House of Commons, as an
immediate representative of the people, whether the old records had
delivered this oracle or not. They took infinite pains to inculcate,
as a fundamental principle, that, in all monarchies, the people must,
in effect, themselves, mediately or immediately, possess the power of
granting their own money, or no shadow of liberty could subsist. The
colonies draw from you, as with their life-blood, those ideas and
principles. Their love of liberty, as with you, fixed and attached
on this specific point of taxing. Liberty might be safe or might be
endangered in twenty other particulars, without their being much
pleased or alarmed. Here they felt its pulse, and, as they found that
beat, they thought themselves sick or sound. I do not say whether
they were right or wrong in applying your general arguments to their
own case. It is not easy, indeed, to make a monopoly of theorems and
corollaries. The fact is, that they did thus apply those general
arguments; and your mode of governing them, whether through lenity or
indolence, through wisdom or mistake, confirmed them in the imagination
that they, as well as you, had an interest in these common principles.

They were further confirmed in these pleasing errors by the form
of their provincial legislative assemblies. Their governments are
popular in a high degree; some are merely popular; in all, the popular
representative is the most weighty;[54] and this share of the people
in their ordinary government never fails to inspire them with lofty
sentiments, and with a strong aversion from whatever tends to deprive
them of their chief importance.

If any thing were wanting to this necessary operation of the form of
government, religion would have given it a complete effect. Religion,
always a principle of energy, in this new people is no way worn out or
impaired; and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of
this free spirit. The people are Protestants; and of that kind which is
the most averse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. This
is a persuasion not only favorable to liberty, but built upon it. I do
not think, sir, that the reason of this averseness in the dissenting
churches from all that looks like absolute government, is so much to be
sought in their religious tenets as in their history. Everyone knows
that the Roman Catholic religion is at least coeval with most of the
governments where it prevails; that it has generally gone hand in hand
with them; and received great favor and every kind of support from
authority. The Church of England, too, was formed from her cradle under
the nursing care of regular government. But the dissenting interests
have sprung up in direct opposition to all the ordinary powers of
the world, and could justify that opposition only on a strong claim
to natural liberty. Their very existence depended on the powerful
and unremitted assertion of that claim. All Protestantism, even the
most cold and passive, is a kind of dissent. But the religion most
prevalent in our northern colonies is a refinement on the principle
of resistance; it is the dissidence of dissent; and the Protestantism
of the Protestant religion. This religion, under a variety of
denominations, agreeing in nothing but in the communion of the spirit
of liberty, is predominant in most of the northern provinces; where
the Church of England, notwithstanding its legal rights, is in reality
no more than a sort of private sect, not composing, most probably, the
tenth of the people. The colonists left England when this spirit was
high, and in the emigrants was the highest of all; and even that stream
of foreigners, which has been constantly flowing into these colonies,
has, for the greatest part, been composed of dissenters from the
establishments of their several countries, and have brought with them
a temper and character far from alien to that of the people with whom
they mixed.

Sir, I can perceive by their manner that some gentlemen object to the
latitude of this description, because in the southern colonies the
Church of England forms a large body, and has a regular establishment.
It is certainly true. There is, however, a circumstance attending these
colonies, which, in my opinion, fully counterbalances this difference,
and makes the spirit of liberty still more high and haughty than in
those to the northward. It is that in Virginia and the Carolinas they
have a vast multitude of _slaves_. Where this is the case in any part
of the world, those who are free are by far the most proud and jealous
of their freedom. Freedom is to them not only an enjoyment, but a kind
of rank and privilege. Not seeing there that freedom, as in countries
where it is a common blessing, and as broad and general as the air,
may be united with much abject toil, with great misery, with all the
exterior of servitude, liberty looks, among them, like something that
is more noble and liberal. I do not mean, sir, to commend the superior
morality of this sentiment, which has at least as much pride as virtue
in it; but I cannot alter the nature of man. The fact is so; and these
people of the southern colonies are much more strongly, and with a
higher and more stubborn spirit, attached to liberty than those to the
northward. Such were all the ancient commonwealths; such were our
Gothic ancestors; such, in our days, were the Poles, and such will be
all masters of slaves, who are not slaves themselves. In such a people
the haughtiness of domination combines with the spirit of freedom,
fortifies it, and renders it invincible.

Permit me, sir, to add another circumstance in our colonies, which
contributes no mean part toward the growth and effect of this
untractable spirit—I mean their _education_. In no country perhaps
in the world is the law so general a study. The profession itself is
numerous and powerful; and in most provinces it takes the lead. The
greater number of the deputies sent to Congress were lawyers. But all
who read, and most do read, endeavor to obtain some smattering in that
science. I have been told by an eminent bookseller, that in no branch
of his business, after tracts of popular devotion, were so many books
as those on the law exported to the Plantations. The colonists have
now fallen into the way of printing them for their own use. I hear
that they have sold nearly as many of Blackstone’s Commentaries in
America as in England. General Gage marks out this disposition very
particularly in a letter on your table. He states that all the people
in his government are lawyers, or smatterers in law; and that in Boston
they have been enabled, by successful chicane,[55] wholly to evade many
parts of one of your capital penal constitutions. The smartness of
debate will say that this knowledge ought to teach them more clearly
the rights of legislature, their obligations to obedience, and the
penalties of rebellion. All this is mighty well. But my honorable and
learned friend [the Attorney-General, afterward Lord Thurlow] on the
floor, who condescends to mark what I say for animadversion, will
disdain that ground. He has heard, as well as I, that when great honors
and great emoluments do not win over this knowledge to the service of
the State, it is a formidable adversary to government. If the spirit
be not tamed and broken by these happy methods, it is stubborn and
litigious. _Abeunt studia in mores._ This study renders men acute,
inquisitive, dexterous, prompt in attack, ready in defence, full of
resources. In other countries, the people, more simple and of a less
mercurial cast, judge of an ill principle in government only by an
actual grievance. Here they anticipate the evil, and judge of the
pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They augur
misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in
every tainted breeze.

The last cause of this disobedient spirit in the colonies is hardly
less powerful than the rest, as it is not merely moral, but laid deep
in the natural constitution of things. Three thousand miles of ocean
lie between you and them. No contrivance can prevent the effect of this
distance in weakening government. Seas roll and months pass between
the order and the execution; and the want of a speedy explanation of a
single point is enough to defeat the whole system. You have, indeed,
“winged ministers” of vengeance, who carry your bolts in their pouches
to the remotest verge of the sea.[56] But there a power steps in that
limits the arrogance of raging passion and furious elements, and says:
“So far shalt thou go, and no farther.” Who are you, that should fret
and rage, and bite the chains of nature? Nothing worse happens to you
than does to all nations who have extensive empire; and it happens in
all the forms into which empire can be thrown. In large bodies the
circulation of power must be less vigorous at the extremities. Nature
has said it. The Turk cannot govern Egypt, and Arabia, and Koordistan
as he governs Thrace; nor has he the same dominion in Crimea and
Algiers which he has at Broosa and Smyrna. Despotism itself is obliged
to truck and huckster. The Sultan gets such obedience as he can. He
governs with a loose rein, that he may govern at all; and the whole
of the force and vigor of his authority in his centre is derived from
a prudent relaxation in all his borders. Spain, in her provinces, is,
perhaps, not so well obeyed as you are in yours. She complies too;
she submits; she watches times. This is the immutable condition, the
eternal law, of extensive and detached empire.

Then, sir, from these six capital sources of descent, of form of
government, of religion in the northern provinces, of manners in the
southern, of education, of the remoteness of situation from the first
mover of government—from all these causes a fierce spirit of liberty
has grown up. It has grown with the growth of the people in your
colonies, and increased with the increase of their wealth; a spirit
that, unhappily meeting with an exercise of power in England, which,
however lawful, is not reconcilable to any ideas of liberty, much less
with theirs, has kindled this flame, that is ready to consume us.

I do not mean to commend either the spirit in this excess, or the
moral causes which produce it. Perhaps a more smooth and accommodating
spirit of freedom in them would be more acceptable to us. Perhaps
ideas of liberty might be desired, more reconcilable with an arbitrary
and boundless authority. Perhaps we might wish the colonists to be
persuaded that their liberty is more secure when held in trust for
them by us, as guardians during a perpetual minority, than with any
part of it in their own hands. But the question is not whether their
spirit deserves praise or blame. What, in the name of God, shall we
do with it? You have before you the object, such as it is, with all
its glories, with all its imperfections on its head. You see the
magnitude, the importance, the temper, the habits, the disorders. By
all these considerations we are strongly urged to determine something
concerning it. We are called upon to fix some rule and line for our
future conduct, which may give a little stability to our politics,
and prevent the return of such unhappy deliberations as the present.
Every such return will bring the matter before us in a still more
untractable form. For, what astonishing and incredible things have we
not seen already? What monsters have not been generated from this
unnatural contention? While every principle of authority and resistance
has been pushed upon both sides, as far as it would go, there is
nothing so solid and certain, either in reasoning or in practice, that
it has not been shaken. Until very lately, all authority in America
seemed to be nothing but an emanation from yours. Even the popular
part of the colony constitution derived all its activity, and its
first vital movement, from the pleasure of the Crown. We thought, sir,
that the utmost which the discontented colonists could do, was to
disturb authority. We never dreamed they could of themselves supply
it, knowing in general what an operose business it is to establish
a government absolutely new. But having, for our purposes in this
contention, resolved that none but an obedient assembly should sit,
the humors of the people there, finding all passage through the legal
channel stopped, with great violence broke out another way. Some
provinces have tried their experiment, as we have tried ours; and
theirs has succeeded. They have formed a government sufficient for
its purposes, without the bustle of a revolution, or the troublesome
formality of an election. Evident necessity and tacit consent have
done the business in an instant. So well they have done it, that Lord
Dunmore (the account is among the fragments on your table) tells you,
that the new institution is infinitely better obeyed than the ancient
government ever was in its most fortunate periods. Obedience is what
makes government, and not the names by which it is called; not the
name of governor, as formerly, or committee, as at present. This
new government has originated directly from the people, and was not
transmitted through any of the ordinary artificial media of a positive
constitution. It was not a manufacture ready formed, and transmitted
to them in that condition from England. The evil arising from hence is
this: that the colonists having once found the possibility of enjoying
the advantages of order in the midst of a struggle for liberty, such
struggles will not henceforward seem so terrible to the settled and
sober part of mankind as they had appeared before the trial.

Pursuing the same plan of punishing by the denial of the exercise of
government to still greater lengths, we wholly abrogated the ancient
government of Massachusetts. We were confident that the first feeling,
if not the very prospect of anarchy, would instantly enforce a complete
submission. The experiment was tried. A new, strange, unexpected
face of things appeared. Anarchy is found tolerable. A vast province
has now subsisted, and subsisted in a considerable degree of health
and vigor, for near a twelvemonth, without governor, without public
council, without judges, without executive magistrates. How long it
will continue in this state, or what may arise out of this unheard-of
situation, how can the wisest of us conjecture? Our late experience has
taught us, that many of those fundamental principles, formerly believed
infallible, are either not of the importance they were imagined to be,
or that we have not at all adverted to some other far more important
and far more powerful principles, which entirely overrule those we had
considered as omnipotent. I am much against any farther experiments,
which tend to put to the proof any more of these allowed opinions,
which contribute so much to the public tranquillity. In effect,
we suffer as much at home by this loosening of all ties, and this
concussion of all established opinions, as we do abroad. For, in order
to prove that the Americans have no right to their liberties, we are
every day endeavoring to subvert the maxims which preserve the whole
spirit of our own. To prove that the Americans ought not to be free,
we are obliged to depreciate the value of freedom itself; and we never
seem to gain a paltry advantage over them in debate, without attacking
some of those principles, or deriding some of those feelings, for which
our ancestors have shed their blood.

But, sir, in wishing to put an end to pernicious experiments, I do not
mean to preclude the fullest inquiry. Far from it. Far from deciding
on a sudden or partial view, I would patiently go round and round the
subject, and survey it minutely in every possible aspect. Sir, if I
were capable of engaging you to an equal attention, I would state
that, as far as I am capable of discerning, there are but three ways
of proceeding relative to this stubborn spirit which prevails in your
colonies and disturbs your government. These are, to change that
spirit, as inconvenient, by removing the causes; to prosecute it as
criminal; or to comply with it as necessary. I would not be guilty
of an imperfect enumeration. I can think of but these three. Another
has, indeed, been started—that of giving up the colonies; but it met
so slight a reception, that I do not think myself obliged to dwell a
great while upon it. It is nothing but a little sally of anger, like
the frowardness of peevish children, who, when they cannot get all they
would have, are resolved to take nothing.

The _first_ of these plans, to change the spirit, as inconvenient,
by removing the causes, I think is the most like a systematic
proceeding. It is radical in its principle, but it is attended with
great difficulties, some of them little short, as I conceive, of
impossibilities. This will appear by examining into the plans which
have been proposed.

As the growing population of the colonies is evidently one cause of
their resistance, it was last session mentioned in both Houses by men
of weight, and received, not without applause, that, in order to check
this evil, it would be proper for the Crown to make no farther grants
of land. But to this scheme there are two objections. The first, that
there is already so much unsettled land in private hands as to afford
room for an immense future population, although the Crown not only
withheld its grants, but annihilated its soil. If this be the case,
then the only effect of this avarice of desolation, this hoarding of a
royal wilderness, would be to raise the value of the possessions in the
hands of the great private monopolists without any adequate check to
the growing and alarming mischief of population.

But if you stopped your grants, what would be the consequence? The
people would occupy without grants. They have already so occupied
in many places. You cannot station garrisons in every part of these
deserts. If you drive the people from one place, they will carry
on their annual tillage, and remove with their flocks and herds to
another. Many of the people in the back settlements are already
little attached to particular situations. Already they have topped
the Apalachian Mountains.[57] From thence they behold before them an
immense plain, one vast, rich, level meadow—a square of five hundred
miles. Over this they would wander without a possibility of restraint.
They would change their manners with the habits of their life; would
soon forget a government by which they were disowned; would become
hordes of English Tartars; and, pouring down upon your unfortified
frontiers a fierce and irresistible cavalry, become masters of your
governors and your counsellors, your collectors and controllers, and
of all the slaves that adhered to them. Such would, and, in no long
time, must be the effect of attempting to forbid as a crime, and to
suppress as an evil, the command and blessing of Providence, “Increase
and multiply.” Such would be the happy result of an endeavor to keep as
a lair of wild beasts that earth which God by an express charter has
given to the children of men. Far different, and surely much wiser, has
been our policy hitherto. Hitherto we have invited our people, by every
kind of bounty, to fixed establishments. We have invited the husbandman
to look to authority for his title. We have taught him piously to
believe in the mysterious virtue of wax and parchment. We have thrown
each tract of land, as it was peopled, into districts, that the ruling
power should never be wholly out of sight. We have settled all we
could, and we have carefully attended every settlement with government.

Adhering, sir, as I do, to this policy, as well as for the reasons I
have just given, I think this new project of hedging in population to
be neither prudent nor practicable.

To impoverish the colonies in general, and in particular to arrest the
noble course of their marine enterprises, would be a more easy task.
I freely confess it. We have shown a disposition to a system of this
kind; a disposition even to continue the restraint after the offence,
looking on ourselves as rivals to our colonies, and persuaded that of
course we must gain all that they shall lose. Much mischief we may
certainly do. The power inadequate to all other things is often more
than sufficient for this. I do not look on the direct and immediate
power of the colonies to resist our violence as very formidable. In
this, however, I may be mistaken. But when I consider that we have
colonies for no purpose but to be serviceable to us, it seems to my
poor understanding a little preposterous to make them unserviceable in
order to keep them obedient. It is, in truth, nothing more than the
old, and, as I thought, exploded problem of tyranny, which proposes
to beggar its subject into submission. But, remember, when you have
completed your system of impoverishment, that nature still proceeds in
her ordinary course; that discontent will increase with misery; and
that there are critical moments in the fortunes of all states, when
they who are too weak to contribute to your prosperity may be strong
enough to complete your ruin. “_Spoliatis arma supersunt._”

The temper and character which prevail in our colonies are, I am
afraid, unalterable by any human art. We cannot, I fear, falsify the
pedigree of this fierce people, and persuade them that they are not
sprung from a nation in whose veins the blood of freedom circulates.
The language in which they would hear you tell them this tale would
detect the imposition. Your speech would betray you. An Englishman is
the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery.

I think it is nearly as little in our power to change their republican
religion as their free descent; or to substitute the Roman Catholic
as a penalty, or the Church of England as an improvement. The mode
of inquisition and dragooning is going out of fashion in the old
world, and I should not confide much to their efficacy in the new. The
education of the Americans is also on the same unalterable bottom with
their religion. You cannot persuade them to burn their books of curious
science; to banish their lawyers from their courts of law; or to quench
the lights of their assemblies, by refusing to choose those persons who
are best read in their privileges. It would be no less impracticable
to think of wholly annihilating the popular assemblies in which these
lawyers sit. The army, by which we must govern in their place, would be
far more chargeable to us; not quite so effectual; and perhaps, in the
end, full as difficult to be kept in obedience.

With regard to the high aristocratic spirit of Virginia and the
southern colonies, it has been proposed, I know, to reduce it, by
declaring a general enfranchisement of their slaves. This project has
had its advocates and panegyrists, yet I never could argue myself into
an opinion of it. Slaves are often much attached to their masters. A
general wild offer of liberty would not always be accepted. History
furnishes few instances of it. It is sometimes as hard to persuade
slaves to be free as it is to compel freemen to be slaves; and in this
auspicious scheme we should have both these pleasing tasks on our
hands at once. But when we talk of enfranchisement, do we not perceive
that the American master may enfranchise too, and arm servile hands in
defence of freedom? A measure to which other people have had recourse
more than once, and not without success, in a desperate situation of
their affairs.

Slaves as these unfortunate black people are, and dull as all men
are from slavery, must they not a little suspect the offer of freedom
from that very nation which has sold them to their present masters?
From that nation, one of whose causes of quarrel with those masters is
their refusal to deal any more in that inhuman traffic? An offer of
freedom from England would come rather oddly, shipped to them in an
African vessel, which is refused an entry into the ports of Virginia
or Carolina, with a cargo of three hundred Angola negroes. It would
be curious to see the Guinea captain attempt at the same instant to
publish his proclamation of liberty and to advertise the sale of slaves.

But let us suppose all these moral difficulties got over. The ocean
remains. You cannot pump this dry; and as long as it continues in its
present bed, so long all the causes which weaken authority by distance
will continue.

   “Ye gods! annihilate but space and time,
    And make two lovers happy!”

was a pious and passionate prayer, but just as reasonable as many of
these serious wishes of very grave and solemn politicians.

If, then, sir, it seems almost desperate to think of any alterative
course for changing the moral causes (and not quite easy to remove
the natural) which produce the prejudices irreconcilable to the
late exercise of our authority, but that the spirit infallibly will
continue, and, continuing, will produce such effects as now embarrass
us, the _second_ mode under consideration is to prosecute that spirit
in its overt acts as _criminal_.

At this proposition I must pause a moment. The thing seems a great deal
too big for my ideas of jurisprudence. It should seem, to my way of
conceiving such matters, that there is a very wide difference in reason
and policy between the mode of proceeding on the irregular conduct
of scattered individuals, or even of bands of men, who disturb order
within the state, and the civil dissensions which may, from time to
time, on great questions, agitate the several communities which compose
a great empire. It looks to me to be narrow and pedantic to apply the
ordinary ideas of criminal justice so this great public contest. I
do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole
people. I cannot insult and ridicule the feelings of millions of my
fellow-creatures, as Sir Edward Coke insulted one excellent individual
at the bar.[58] I am not ripe to pass sentence on the gravest public
bodies, intrusted with magistracies of great authority and dignity,
and charged with the safety of their fellow-citizens, upon the very
same title that I am. I really think that, for wise men, this is
not judicious; for sober men, not decent; for minds tinctured with
humanity, not mild and merciful.

Perhaps, sir, I am mistaken in my idea of an empire, as distinguished
from a single state or kingdom. But my idea of it is this; that an
empire is the aggregate of many states, under one common head, whether
this head be a monarch or a presiding republic. It does, in such
constitutions, frequently happen (and nothing but the dismal, cold,
dead uniformity of servitude can prevent its happening) that the
subordinate parts have many local privileges and immunities. Between
these privileges and the supreme common authority, the line may be
extremely nice. Of course, disputes—often, too, very bitter disputes,
and much ill blood, will arise. But, though every privilege is an
exemption, in the case, from the ordinary exercise of the supreme
authority, it is no denial of it. The claim of a privilege seems
rather, _ex vi termini_, to imply a superior power; for to talk of the
privileges of a state or of a person who has no superior, is hardly any
better than speaking nonsense. Now, in such unfortunate quarrels among
the component parts of a great political union of communities, I can
scarcely conceive any thing more completely imprudent than for the head
of the empire to insist that, if any privilege is pleaded against his
will or his acts, that his _whole_ authority is denied; instantly to
proclaim rebellion, to beat to arms, and to put the offending provinces
under the ban. Will not this, sir, very soon teach the provinces to
make no distinctions on their part? Will it not teach them that the
government against which a claim of liberty is tantamount to high
treason, is a government to which submission is equivalent to slavery?
It may not always be quite convenient to impress dependent communities
with such an idea.

We are, indeed, in all disputes with the colonies, by the necessity of
things, the judge. It is true sir; but I confess that the character of
judge in my own cause is a thing that frightens me. Instead of filling
me with pride, I am exceedingly humbled by it. I cannot proceed with a
stern, assured, judicial confidence, until I find myself in something
more like a judicial character. I must have these hesitations as long
as I am compelled to recollect that, in my little reading upon such
contests as these, the sense of mankind has at least as often decided
against the superior as the subordinate power. Sir, let me add, too,
that the opinion of my having some abstract right in my favor would
not put me much at my ease in passing sentence, unless I could be
sure that there were no rights which in their exercise under certain
circumstances, were not the most odious of all wrongs, and the most
vexatious of all injustice. Sir, these considerations have great weight
with me, when I find things so circumstanced that I see the same party
at once a civil litigant against me in point of right and a culprit
before me; while I sit as criminal judge on acts of his whose moral
quality is to be decided on upon the merits of that very litigation.
Men are every now and then put, by the complexity of human affairs,
into strange situations; but justice is the same, let the judge be in
what situation he will.

There is, sir, also a circumstance which convinces me that this mode
of criminal proceeding is not, at least in the present stage of our
contest, altogether expedient, which is nothing less than the conduct
of those very persons who have seemed to adopt that mode, by lately
declaring a rebellion in Massachusetts Bay, as they had formerly
addressed to have traitors brought hither, under an act of Henry
the Eighth, for trial. For, though rebellion is declared, it is not
proceeded against as such; nor have any steps been taken toward the
apprehension or conviction of any individual offender, either on our
late or our former address; but modes of _public_ coercion have been
adopted, and such as have much more resemblance to a sort of qualified
hostility toward an independent power than the punishment of rebellious
subjects. All this seems rather inconsistent; but it shows how
difficult it is to apply these juridical ideas to our present case.

In this situation, let us seriously and coolly ponder. What is it we
have got by all our menaces, which have been many and ferocious? What
advantage have we derived from the penal laws we have passed, and
which, for the time, have been severe and numerous? What advances have
we made toward our object by the sending of a force which, by land and
sea, is no contemptible strength? Has the disorder abated? Nothing
less. When I see things in this situation, after such confident hopes,
bold promises, and active exertions, I cannot, for my life, avoid a
suspicion that the plan itself is not correctly right.

If, then, the removal of the causes of this spirit of American liberty
be, for the greater part, or rather entirely, impracticable; if the
ideas of criminal process be inapplicable, or, if applicable, are in
the highest degree inexpedient, what way yet remains? No way is open
but the third and last—to comply with the American spirit as necessary,
or, if you please, to submit to it as a necessary evil.

If we adopt this mode, if we mean to conciliate and concede, let us
see, of what nature the concessions ought to be. To ascertain the
nature of our concession, we must look at their complaint. The colonies
complain that they have not the characteristic mark and seal of British
freedom. They complain that they are taxed in Parliament in which they
are not represented. If you mean to satisfy them at all, you must
satisfy them with regard to this complaint. If you mean to please any
people, you must give them the boon which they ask; not what you may
think better for them, but of a kind totally different. Such an act
may be a wise regulation, but it is no concession, whereas our present
theme is the mode of giving satisfaction.

Sir, I think you must perceive that I am resolved this day to have
nothing at all to do with the question of the right of taxation.
Some gentlemen startle, but it is true. I put it totally out of
the question. It is less than nothing in my consideration. I do
not, indeed, wonder, nor will you, sir, that gentlemen of profound
learning are fond of displaying it on this profound subject. But my
consideration is narrow, confined, and wholly limited to the policy of
the question. I do not examine whether the giving away a man’s money be
a power excepted and reserved out of the general trust of government,
and how far all mankind, in all forms of polity, are entitled to an
exercise of that right by the charter of nature; or whether, on the
contrary, a right of taxation is necessarily involved in the general
principle of legislation, and inseparable from the ordinary supreme
power. These are deep questions, where great names militate against
each other; where reason is perplexed; and an appeal to authorities
only thickens the confusion; for high and reverend authorities lift up
their heads on both sides, and there is no sure footing in the middle.
The point is

                      That Serbonian bog
    Betwixt Damieta and Mount Cassius old,
    Where armies whole have sunk.[59]

I do not intend to be overwhelmed in this bog, though in such
respectable company. The question with me is, not whether you have
a right to render your people miserable, but whether it is not your
interest to make them happy. It is not what a lawyer tells me I _may_
do, but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I _ought_ to do.
Is a politic act the worse for being a generous one? Is no concession
proper but that which is made from your want of right to keep what
you grant? Or does it lessen the grace or dignity of relaxing in the
exercise of an odious claim, because you have your evidence-room full
of titles, and your magazines stuffed with arms to enforce them? What
signify all those titles and all those arms? Of what avail are they,
when the reason of the thing tells me that the assertion of my title is
the loss of my suit, and that I could do nothing but wound myself by
the use of my own weapons?[60]

Such is steadfastly my opinion of the absolute necessity of keeping up
the concord of this empire by a unity of spirit, though in a diversity
of operations, that, if I were sure the colonists had, at their leaving
this country, sealed a regular compact of servitude; that they had
solemnly abjured all the rights of citizens; that they had made a vow
to renounce all ideas of liberty for them and their posterity to all
generations, yet I should hold myself obliged to conform to the temper
I found universally prevalent in my own day, and to govern two millions
of men, impatient of servitude, on the principles of freedom. I am
not determining a point of law. I am restoring tranquillity, and the
general character and situation of a people must determine what sort of
government is fitted for them. That point nothing else can or ought to

My idea, therefore, without considering whether we yield as matter of
right, or grant as matter of favor, is _to admit the people of our
colonies into an interest in the Constitution_, and, by recording that
admission in the journals of Parliament, to give them as strong an
assurance as the nature of the thing will admit, that we mean forever
to adhere to that solemn declaration of systematic indulgence.

Some years ago, the repeal of a revenue act, upon its understood
principle, might have served to show that we intended an unconditional
abatement of the exercise of a taxing power. Such a measure was then
sufficient to remove all suspicion, and to give perfect content.
But unfortunate events, since that time, may make something farther
necessary, and not more necessary for the satisfaction of the colonies,
than for the dignity and consistency of our own future proceedings.

I have taken a very incorrect measure of the disposition of the House,
if this proposal in itself would be received with dislike. I think,
sir, we have few American financiers. But our misfortune is, we are
too acute; we are too exquisite in our conjectures of the future, for
men oppressed with such great and present evils. The more moderate
among the opposers of parliamentary concessions freely confess that
they hope no good from taxation, but they apprehend the colonists have
farther views, and, if this point were conceded, they would instantly
attack the Trade Laws. These gentlemen are convinced that this was the
intention from the beginning, and the quarrel of the Americans with
taxation was no more than a cloak and cover to this design. Such has
been the language even of a gentleman [Mr. Rice] of real moderation,
and of a natural temper well adjusted to fair and equal government. I
am, however, sir, not a little surprised at this kind of discourse,
whenever I hear it; and I am the more surprised, on account of the
arguments which I constantly find in company with it, and which are
often urged from the same mouths and on the same day.

For instance, when we allege that it is against reason to tax a people
under so many restraints in trade as the Americans, the noble lord in
the blue ribbon shall tell you that the restraints on trade are futile
and useless; of no advantage to us, and of no burden to those on whom
they are imposed; that the trade of America is not secured by the acts
of navigation, but by the natural and irresistible advantage of a
commercial preference.

Such is the merit of the trade laws in this posture of the debate. But
when strong internal circumstances are urged against the taxes; when
the scheme is dissected; when experience and the nature of things are
brought to prove, and do prove, the utter impossibility of obtaining an
effective revenue from the colonies; when these things are pressed, or
rather press themselves, so as to drive the advocates of colony taxes
to a clear admission of the futility of the scheme; then, sir, the
sleeping trade laws revive from their trance, and this useless taxation
is to be kept sacred, not for its own sake, but as a counterguard and
security of the laws of trade.

Then, sir, you keep up revenue laws which are mischievous, in order
to preserve trade laws that are useless. Such is the wisdom of our
plan in both its members. They are separately given up as of no value,
and yet one is always to be defended for the sake of the other. But I
cannot agree with the noble lord, nor with the pamphlet from whence
he seems to have borrowed these ideas, concerning the inutility of
the trade laws[61]; for, without idolizing them, I am sure they are
still, in many ways, of great use to us; and in former times, they have
been of the greatest. They do confine, and they do greatly narrow the
market for the Americans; but my perfect conviction of this does not
help me in the least to discern how the revenue laws form any security
whatsoever to the commercial regulations, or that these commercial
regulations are the true ground of the quarrel, or that the giving
way in any one instance of authority is to lose all that may remain

One fact is clear and indisputable. The public and avowed origin of
this quarrel was on taxation. This quarrel has, indeed, brought on new
disputes on new questions, but certainly the least bitter, and the
fewest of all, on the trade laws. To judge which of the two be the real
radical cause of quarrel, we have to see whether the commercial dispute
did, in order of time, precede the dispute on taxation. There is not a
shadow of evidence for it. Next, to enable us to judge whether at this
moment a dislike to the trade laws be the real cause of quarrel, it is
absolutely necessary to put the taxes out of the question by a repeal.
See how the Americans act in this position, and then you will be able
to discern correctly what is the true object of the controversy, or
whether any controversy at all will remain. Unless you consent to
remove this cause of difference, it is impossible, with decency, to
assert that the dispute is not upon what it is avowed to be. And I
would, sir, recommend to your serious consideration, whether it be
prudent to form a rule for punishing people, not on their own acts, but
on your conjectures. Surely it is preposterous at the very best. It
is not justifying your anger by their misconduct, but it is converting
your ill will into their delinquency.

But the colonies will go farther. Alas! alas! when will this
speculating against fact and reason end? What will quiet these panic
fears which we entertain of the hostile effect of a conciliatory
conduct? Is it true that no case can exist in which it is proper for
the sovereign to accede to the desires of his discontented subjects? Is
there any thing peculiar in this case to make a rule for itself? Is all
authority of course lost, when it is not pushed to the extreme? Is it
a certain maxim, that the fewer causes of dissatisfaction are left by
government the more the subject will be inclined to resist and rebel?

All these objections being, in fact, no more than suspicions,
conjectures, divinations, formed in defiance of fact and experience,
they did not, sir, discourage me from entertaining the idea of a
conciliatory concession, founded on the principles which I have just

In forming a plan for this purpose, I endeavored to put myself in that
frame of mind which was the most natural and the most reasonable,
and which was certainly the most probable means of securing me from
all error. I set out with a perfect distrust of my own abilities; a
total renunciation of every speculation of my own; and with a profound
reverence for the wisdom of our ancestors, who have left us the
inheritance of so happy a constitution and so flourishing an empire,
and, what is a thousand times more valuable, the treasury of the maxims
and principles which formed the one and obtained the other.

During the reigns of the Kings of Spain of the Austrian family,
whenever they were at a loss in the Spanish councils, it was common for
their statesmen to say, that they ought to consult the genius of Philip
the Second. The genius of Philip the Second might mislead them; and the
issue of their affairs showed that they had not chosen the most perfect
standard. But, sir, I am sure that I shall not be misled, when, in a
case of constitutional difficulty, I consult the genius of the English
Constitution. Consulting at that oracle (it was with all due humility
and piety), I found four capital examples in a similar case before me:
those of Ireland, Wales, Chester, and Durham.

Ireland, before the English conquest, though never governed by a
despotic power, had no Parliament. How far the English Parliament
itself was at that time modelled according to the present form, is
disputed among antiquarians. But we have all the reason in the world to
be assured, that a form of Parliament, such as England then enjoyed,
she instantly communicated to Ireland; and we are equally sure that
almost every successive improvement in constitutional liberty, as fast
as it was made here, was transmitted thither. The feudal baronage and
the feudal knighthood, the roots of our primitive constitution, were
early transplanted into that soil, and grew and flourished there.
Magna Charta, if it did not give us originally the House of Commons,
gave us, at least, a House of Commons of weight and consequence. But
your ancestors did not churlishly sit down alone to the feast of
Magna Charta. Ireland was made immediately a partaker. This benefit
of English laws and liberties, I confess, was not at first extended
to _all_ Ireland. Mark the consequence. English authority and English
liberty had exactly the same boundaries. Your standard could never
be advanced an inch before your privileges.[62] Sir John Davis shows
beyond a doubt, that the refusal of a general communication of
these rights was the true cause why Ireland was five hundred years
in subduing; and after the vain projects of a military government,
attempted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was soon discovered that
nothing could make that country English, in civility and allegiance,
but your laws and your forms of legislature.[63] It was not English
arms, but the English Constitution, that conquered Ireland. From
that time, Ireland has ever had a general Parliament, as she had
before a partial Parliament. You changed the people; you altered the
religion; but you never touched the form or the vital substance of
free government in that kingdom. You deposed kings; you restored them;
you altered the succession to theirs, as well as to your own crown:
but you never altered their Constitution; the principle of which was
respected by usurpation; restored with the restoration of monarchy, and
established, I trust, forever, by the glorious revolution. This has
made Ireland the great and flourishing kingdom that it is; and from a
disgrace and a burden intolerable to this nation, has rendered her a
principal part of our strength and ornament. This country cannot be
said to have ever formally taxed her. The irregular things done in the
confusion of mighty troubles, and on the hinge of great revolutions,
even if all were done that is said to have been done, form no example.
If they have any effect in argument, they make an exception to prove
the rule. None of your own liberties could stand a moment if the casual
deviations from them, at such times, were suffered to be used as proofs
of their nullity. By the lucrative amount of such casual breaches in
the Constitution, judge what the stated and fixed rule of supply has
been in that kingdom. Your Irish pensioners would starve, if they had
no other fund to live on than taxes granted by English authority. Turn
your eyes to those popular grants from whence all your great supplies
are come, and learn to respect that only source of public wealth in the
British empire.

My next example is Wales. This country was said to be reduced by Henry
the Third. It was said more truly to be so by Edward the First.[64]
But though then conquered, it was not looked upon as any part of the
realm of England. Its old Constitution, whatever that might have
been, was destroyed, and no good one was substituted in its place.
The care of that tract was put into the hands of Lords Marchers—a
form of government of a very singular kind; a strange heterogeneous
monster, something between hostility and government; perhaps it has a
sort of resemblance, according to the modes of those times, to that
of commander-in-chief at present, to whom all civil power is granted
as secondary. The manners of the Welsh nation followed the genius
of the government. The people were ferocious, restive, savage, and
uncultivated; sometimes composed, never pacified. Wales, within itself,
was in perpetual disorder; and it kept the frontier of England in
perpetual alarm. Benefits from it to the State there were none. Wales
was only known to England by incursion and invasion.

Sir, during that state of things, Parliament was not idle. They
attempted to subdue the fierce spirit of the Welsh by all sorts of
rigorous laws. They prohibited by statute the sending all sorts of
arms into Wales, as you prohibit by proclamation (with something more
of doubt on the legality) the sending arms to America. They disarmed
the Welsh by statute, as you attempted (but still with more question
on the legality) to disarm New England by an instruction. They made an
act to drag offenders from Wales into England for trial, as you have
done (but with more hardship) with regard to America. By another act,
where one of the parties was an Englishman, they ordained that his
trial should be always by English. They made acts to restrain trade, as
you do; and they prevented the Welsh from the use of fairs and markets,
as you do the Americans from fisheries and foreign ports. In short,
when the statute-book was not quite so much swelled as it is now, you
find no less than fifteen acts of penal regulation on the subject of

Here we rub our hands—a fine body of precedents for the authority of
Parliament and the use of it—I admit it fully; and pray add likewise
to these precedents, that all the while Wales rid this kingdom like an
_incubus_; that it was an unprofitable and oppressive burden; and that
an Englishman travelling in that country could not go six yards from
the highroad without being murdered.

The march of the human mind is slow. Sir, it was not until after two
hundred years discovered that, by an eternal law, Providence had
decreed vexation to violence, and poverty to rapine. Your ancestors
did, however, at length open their eyes to the ill husbandry of
injustice. They found that the tyranny of a free people could of all
tyrannies the least be endured, and that laws made against a whole
nation were not the most effectual methods for securing its obedience.
Accordingly, in the twenty-seventh year of Henry VIII., the course
was entirely altered. With a preamble stating the entire and perfect
rights of the Crown of England, it gave to the Welsh all the rights
and privileges of English subjects. A political order was established;
the military power gave way to the civil; the marches were turned into
counties. But that a nation should have a right to English liberties,
and yet no share at all in the fundamental security of these liberties,
the grant of their own property, seemed a thing so incongruous,
that, eight years after, that is, in the thirty-fifth of that reign,
a complete and not ill-proportioned representation by counties and
boroughs was bestowed upon Wales by act of Parliament. From that
moment, as by a charm, the tumults subsided; obedience was restored;
peace, order, and civilization followed in the train of liberty. When
the day-star of the English Constitution had arisen in their hearts,
all was harmony within and without.

      Simul alba nautis
      Stella refulsit,
    Defluit saxis agitatus humor:
    Concidunt venti, fugiuntque nubes;
    Et minax (quod sic voluere) ponto
      Unda recumbit.[66]

The very same year the county palatine of Chester received the same
relief from its oppressions and the same remedy to its disorders.
Before this time Chester was little less distempered than Wales. The
inhabitants, without rights themselves, were the fittest to destroy the
rights of others; and from thence Richard II. drew the standing army
of archers with which for a time he oppressed England. The people of
Chester applied to Parliament in a petition penned as I shall read to

  “To the King our sovereign lord, in most humble wise shown unto your
  excellent Majesty, the inhabitants of your Grace’s county palatine
  of Chester; that where the said county palatine of Chester is and
  hath been always hitherto exempt, excluded and separated out and from
  your high court of Parliament, to have any knights and burgesses
  within the said court; by reason whereof the said inhabitants have
  hitherto sustained manifold disherisons, losses, and damages, as
  well in their lands, goods, and bodies, as in the good, civil, and
  politic governance and maintenance of the Commonwealth of their said
  country. (2) And, forasmuch as the said inhabitants have always
  hitherto been bound by the acts and statutes made and ordained by
  your said highness and your most noble progenitors, by authority of
  the said court, as far forth as other counties, cities, and boroughs
  have been, that have had their knights and burgesses within your said
  court of Parliament, and yet have had neither knight nor burgess
  there for the said county palatine; the said inhabitants, for lack
  thereof, have been oftentimes touched and grieved with acts and
  statutes made within the said court, as well derogatory unto the most
  ancient jurisdictions, liberties, and privileges of your said county
  palatine, as prejudicial unto the Commonwealth, quietness, rest, and
  peace of your Grace’s most bounden subjects inhabiting within the

What did Parliament with this audacious address? Reject it as a libel?
Treat it as an affront to government? Spurn it as a derogation from
the rights of legislature? Did they toss it over the table? Did they
burn it by the hands of the common hangman? They took the petition of
grievance, all rugged as it was, without softening or temperament,
unpurged of the original bitterness and indignation of complaint; they
made it the very preamble to their act of redress, and consecrated its
principle to all ages in the sanctuary of legislation.

Here is my third example. It was attended with the success of the two
former. Chester, civilized as well as Wales, has demonstrated that
freedom, and not servitude, is the cure of anarchy, as religion, and
not atheism, is the true remedy for superstition. Sir, this pattern
of Chester was followed in the reign of Charles II. with regard to the
county palatine of Durham, which is my fourth example. This county had
long lain out of the pale of free legislation. So scrupulously was
the example of Chester followed, that the style of the preamble is
nearly the same with that of the Chester act; and without affecting
the abstract extent of the authority of Parliament, it recognizes the
equity of not suffering any considerable district in which the British
subjects may act as a body to be taxed without their own voice in the

Now, if the doctrines of policy contained in these preambles, and the
force of these examples in the acts of Parliament, avail anything, what
can be said against applying them with regard to America? Are not the
people of America as much Englishmen as the Welsh? The preamble of the
act of Henry VIII. says, the Welsh speak a language no way resembling
that of his Majesty’s English subjects. Are the Americans not as
numerous? If we may trust the learned and accurate Judge Barrington’s
account of North Wales, and take that as a standard to measure the
rest, there is no comparison. The people cannot amount to above
200,000; not a tenth part of the number in the colonies. Is America
in rebellion? Wales was hardly ever free from it. Have you attempted
to govern America by penal statutes? You made fifteen for Wales. But
your legislative authority is perfect with regard to America. Was it
less perfect in Wales, Chester, and Durham! But America is virtually
represented. What! does the electric force of virtual representation
more easily pass over the Atlantic than pervade Wales, which lies in
your neighborhood; or than Chester and Durham, surrounded by abundance
of representation that is actual and palpable? But, sir, your ancestors
thought this sort of virtual representation, however ample, to be
totally insufficient for the freedom of the inhabitants of territories
that are so near, and comparatively so inconsiderable. How, then,
can I think it sufficient for those which are infinitely greater and
infinitely more remote?

You will now, sir, perhaps imagine that I am on the point of proposing
to you a scheme for representation of the colonies in Parliament.
Perhaps I might be inclined to entertain some such thought, but a great
flood stops me in my course. _Opposuit natura._ I cannot remove the
eternal barriers of the creation. The thing in that mode I do not know
to be possible. As I meddle with no theory, I do not absolutely assert
the impracticability of such a representation; but I do not see my
way to it; and those who have been more confident have not been more
successful. However, the arm of public benevolence is not shortened,
and there are often several means to the same end. What nature has
disjoined in one way wisdom may unite in another. When we cannot give
the benefit as we would wish, let us not refuse it altogether. If we
cannot give the principal, let us find a substitute. But how? Where?
What substitute?

Fortunately I am not obliged for the ways and means of this substitute
to tax my own unproductive invention. I am not even obliged to go to
the rich treasury of the fertile framers of imaginary commonwealths;
not to the Republic of Plato, not to the Utopia of More, not to the
Oceana of Harrington. It is before me. It is at my feet.

                        And the dull swain
    Treads daily on it with his clouted shoon.[67]

I only wish you to recognize, for the theory, the ancient
constitutional policy of this kingdom with regard to representation,
as that policy has been declared in acts of Parliament; and, as to the
practice, to return to that mode which a uniform experience has marked
out to you as best, and in which you walked with security, advantage,
and honor, until the year 1763.

My resolutions, therefore, mean to establish the equity and justice of
a taxation of America, by _grant_ and not by _imposition_. To mark the
_legal competency_ of the colony assemblies for the support of their
government in peace, and for public aids in time of war. To acknowledge
that this legal competency has had _a dutiful and beneficial exercise_;
and that experience has shown the _benefit of their grants_, and the
_futility of parliamentary taxation as a method of supply_.

These solid truths compose six fundamental propositions. There are
three more resolutions corollary to these. If you admit the first set,
you can hardly reject the others. But if you admit the first, I shall
be far from solicitous whether you accept or refuse the last. I think
these six massive pillars will be of strength sufficient to support
the temple of British concord. I have no more doubt than I entertain
of my existence, that, if you admitted these, you would command an
immediate peace; and, with but tolerable future management, a lasting
obedience in America. I am not arrogant in this confident assurance.
The propositions are all mere matters of fact; and if they are such
facts as draw irresistible conclusions even in the stating, this is the
power of truth, and not any management of mine.

Sir, I shall open the whole plan to you together, with such
observations on the motions as may tend to illustrate them where they
may want explanation. The first is a resolution:

    “That the colonies and plantations of Great Britain in North
    America, consisting of fourteen separate governments, and
    containing two millions and upward of free inhabitants, have
    not had the liberty and privilege of electing and sending any
    knights and burgesses or others to represent them in the high
    court of Parliament.”

This is a plain matter of fact, necessary to be laid down, and
(excepting the description) it is laid down in the language of the
Constitution: it is taken nearly _verbatim_ from acts of Parliament.

The second is like unto the first:

    “That the said colonies and plantations have been liable to
    and bounden by several subsidies, payments, rates, and taxes,
    given and granted by Parliament, though the said colonies and
    plantations have not their knights and burgesses in the said
    high court of Parliament, of their own election, to represent
    the condition of their country; by lack whereof they have been
    oftentimes touched and grieved by subsidies given, granted,
    and assented to, in said court, in a manner prejudicial to
    the commonwealth, quietness, rest, and peace of the subjects
    inhabiting within the same.”

Is this description too hot or too cold, too strong or too weak? Does
it arrogate too much to the supreme Legislature? Does it lean too much
to the claims of the people? If it runs into any of these errors, the
fault is not mine. It is the language of your own ancient acts of

    Nec meus hic sermo est sed quæ præcipit Ofellus
    Rusticus, abnormis sapiens.[68]

It is the genuine produce of the ancient, rustic, manly, home-bred
sense of this country. I did not dare to rub off a particle of the
venerable rust that rather adorns and preserves, than destroys the
metal. It would be a profanation to touch with a tool the stones
which construct the sacred altar of peace.[69] I would not violate
with modern polish the ingenuous and noble roughness of these truly
constitutional materials. Above all things, I was resolved not to
be guilty of tampering, the odious vice of restless and unstable
minds. I put my foot in the tracks of our forefathers, where I can
neither wander nor stumble. Determining to fix articles of peace, I
was resolved not to be wise beyond what was written; I was resolved to
use nothing else than the form of sound words, to let others abound
in their own sense, and carefully to abstain from all expressions of
my own. What the law has said, I say. In all things else I am silent.
I have no organ but for her words. This, if it be not ingenious, I am
sure, is safe.

There are, indeed, words expressive of grievance in this second
resolution, which those who are resolved always to be in the right
will deny to contain matter of fact, as applied to the present case,
although Parliament thought them true with regard to the counties
of Chester and Durham. They will deny that the Americans were ever
“touched and grieved” with the taxes. If they considered nothing in
taxes but their weight as pecuniary impositions, there might be some
pretence for this denial. But men may be sorely touched and deeply
grieved in their privileges as well as in their purses. Men may lose
little in property by the act which takes away all their freedom. When
a man is robbed of a trifle on the highway, it is not the twopence
lost that constitutes the capital outrage. This is not confined to
privileges. Even ancient indulgences withdrawn, without offence on
the part of those who enjoy such favors, operate as grievances. But
were the Americans then not touched and grieved by the taxes, in some
measure merely as taxes? If so, why were they almost all either wholly
repealed or exceedingly reduced? Were they not touched and grieved,
even by the regulating duties of the sixth of George II.? Else why were
the duties first reduced to one third in 1764, and afterward to a third
of that third in the year 1766? Were they not touched and grieved by
the Stamp Act? I shall say they were, until that tax is revived. Were
they not touched and grieved by the duties of 1767, which were likewise
repealed, and which Lord Hillsborough tells you, for the ministry,
were laid contrary to the true principle of commerce? Is not the
assurance given by that noble person to the colonies of a resolution
to lay no more taxes on them, an admission that taxes would touch
and grieve them? Is not the resolution of the noble lord in the blue
ribbon, now standing on your journals, the strongest of all proofs that
Parliamentary subsidies really touched and grieved them? Else why all
these changes, modifications, repeals, assurances, and resolutions?

The next proposition is:

    “That, from the distance of the said colonies, and from other
    circumstances, no method hath hitherto been devised for
    procuring a representation in Parliament for the said colonies.”

This is an assertion of a fact. I go no farther on the paper; though in
my private judgment, a useful representation is impossible; I am sure
it is not desired by them, nor ought it, perhaps, by us, but I abstain
from opinions.

The fourth resolution is:

    “That each of the said colonies hath within itself a body
    chosen in part or in the whole, by the freemen, freeholders,
    or other free inhabitance thereof, commonly called the General
    Assembly, or General Court, with powers legally to raise, levy,
    and assess, according to the several usages of such colonies,
    duties and taxes toward the defraying all sorts of public

This competence in the colony assemblies is certain. It is proved by
the whole tenor of their acts of supply in all the assemblies, in
which the constant style of granting is, “an aid to his Majesty”; and
acts granting to the Crown have regularly for near a century passed
the public offices without dispute. Those who have been pleased
paradoxically to deny this right, holding that none but the British
Parliament can grant to the Crown, are wished to look to what is done,
not only in the colonies, but in Ireland, in one uniform, unbroken
tenor every session.[70]

Sir, I am surprised that this doctrine should come from some of the law
servants of the Crown. I say that if the Crown could be responsible,
his Majesty—but certainly the ministers, and even these law officers
themselves, through whose hands the acts pass biennially in Ireland,
or annually the colonies, are in a habitual course of committing
impeachable offences. What habitual offenders have been all presidents
of the council, all secretaries of state, all first lords of trade,
all attorneys, and all solicitors-general! However, they are safe, as
no one impeaches them; and there is no ground of charge against them,
except in their own unfounded theories.

The fifth resolution is also a resolution of fact:

    “That the said General Assemblies, General Courts, or other
    bodies legally qualified as aforesaid, have at sundry times
    freely granted several large subsidies and public aids for
    his Majesty’s service, according to their abilities, when
    required thereto by letter from one of his Majesty’s principal
    secretaries of State. And that their right to grant the same,
    and their cheerfulness and sufficiency in the said grants, have
    been at sundry times acknowledged by Parliament.”

To say nothing of their great expenses in the Indian wars; and not to
take their exertion in foreign ones, so high as the supplies in the
year 1695, not to go back to their public contributions in the year
1710, I shall begin to travel only where the journals give me light;
resolving to deal in nothing but fact authenticated by parliamentary
record, and to build myself wholly on that solid basis.

On the 4th of April, 1748, a committee of this House came to the
following resolution:

    “_Resolved_, That it is the opinion of this committee, _that it
    is just and reasonable_ that the several provinces and colonies
    of Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode
    Island, be reimbursed the expenses they have been at in taking
    and securing to the Crown of Great Britain the Island of Cape
    Breton and its dependencies.”

These expenses were immense for such colonies. They were above £200,000
sterling; money first raised and advanced on their public credit.

On the 28th of January, 1756, a message from the King came to us to
this effect:

    “His Majesty being sensible of the zeal and vigor with which
    his faithful subjects of certain colonies in North America have
    exerted themselves in defence of his Majesty’s just rights and
    possessions, recommends it to this House to take the same into
    their consideration, and to enable his Majesty to give them
    such assistance as may be a _proper reward and encouragement_.”

On the 3d of February, 1756, the House came to a suitable resolution,
expressed in words nearly the same as those of the message; but with
the farther addition, that the money then voted was an _encouragement_
to the colonies to exert themselves with vigor. It will not be
necessary to go through all the testimonies which your own records
have given to the truth of my resolutions. I will only refer you to
the places in the journals: Vol. xxvii., 16th and 19th May, 1757; vol.
xxviii., June 1st, 1758—April 26th and 30th, 1759—March 26th and 31st,
and April 28th, 1760—January 9th and 20th, 1761; vol. xxix., January
22d and 26th, 1762—March 14th and 17th, 1763.

Sir, here is the repeated acknowledgment of Parliament, that the
colonies not only gave, but gave to satiety. This nation has formally
acknowledged two things: first, that the colonies had gone beyond their
abilities, Parliament having thought it necessary to reimburse them;
secondly, that they had acted legally and laudably in their grants
of money, and their maintenance of troops, since the compensation is
expressly given as reward and encouragement. Reward is not bestowed for
acts that are unlawful; and encouragement is not held out to things
that deserve reprehension. My resolution, therefore, does nothing
more than collect into one proposition what is scattered through your
journals. I give you nothing but your own, and you cannot refuse in
the gross what you have so often acknowledged in detail. The admission
of this, which will be so honorable to them and to you, will, indeed,
be mortal to all the miserable stories by which the passions of the
misguided people have been engaged in an unhappy system. The people
heard, indeed, from the beginning of these disputes, one thing
continually dinned in their ears, that reason and justice demanded that
the Americans, who paid no taxes, should be compelled to contribute.
How did that fact of their paying nothing stand when the taxing system
began? When Mr. Grenville began to form his system of American revenue,
he stated in this House that the colonies were then in debt two million
six hundred thousand pounds sterling money, and was of opinion they
would discharge that debt in four years. On this state, those untaxed
people were actually subject to the payment of taxes to the amount of
six hundred and fifty thousand a year. In fact, however, Mr. Grenville
was mistaken. The funds given for sinking the debt did not prove quite
so ample as both the colonies and he expected. The calculation was too
sanguine: the reduction was not completed till some years after, and at
different times in different colonies. However, the taxes after the war
continued too great to bear any addition, with prudence or propriety;
and when the burdens imposed in consequence of former requisitions were
discharged, our tone became too high to resort again to requisition. No
colony, since that time, ever has had any requisition whatsoever made
to it.

We see the sense of the Crown, and the sense of Parliament, on the
productive nature of a _revenue by grant_. Now search the same journals
for the produce of the _revenue by imposition_. Where is it? Let us
know the volume and the page. What is the gross, what is the net
produce? To what service is it applied? How have you appropriated its
surplus? What, can none of the many skilful index-makers that we are
now employing, find any trace of it? Well, let them and that rest
together. But, are the journals, which say nothing of the revenue,
as silent on the discontent? Oh, no! a child may find it. It is the
melancholy burden and blot of every page.

I think, then, I am, from those journals, justified in the sixth and
last resolution, which is:

    “That it hath been found by experience that the manner of
    granting the said supplies and aids, by the said general
    assemblies, hath been more agreeable to the said colonies, and
    more beneficial and conducive to the public service, than the
    mode of giving and granting aids in Parliament, to be raised
    and paid in the said colonies.”

This makes the whole of the fundamental part of the plan. The
conclusion is irresistible. You cannot say that you were driven by
any necessity to an exercise of the utmost rights of legislature. You
cannot assert that you took on yourselves the task of imposing colony
taxes, from the want of another legal body, that is competent to the
purpose of supplying the exigencies of the State without wounding
the prejudices of the people. Neither is it true that the body so
qualified, and having that competence, had neglected the duty.

The question now on all this accumulated matter, is—whether you will
choose to abide by a profitable experience, or a mischievous theory;
whether you choose to build on imagination or fact; whether you prefer
enjoyment or hope; satisfaction in your subjects or discontent?

If these propositions are accepted, every thing which has been made to
enforce a contrary system must, I take it for granted, fall along with
it. On that ground I have drawn the following resolution, which, when
it comes to be moved, will naturally be divided in a proper manner:

    “That it may be proper to repeal an act, made in the seventh
    year of the reign of his present Majesty, entitled An Act
    for granting certain duties in the British colonies and
    plantations in America; for allowing a drawback of the duties
    of customs upon the exportation from this kingdom of coffee and
    cocoa-nuts of the produce of the said colonies or plantations;
    for discontinuing the drawbacks payable on China earthenware
    exported to America, and for more effectually preventing
    the clandestine running of goods in the said colonies and
    plantations; and that it may be proper to repeal an act, made
    in the fourteenth year of the reign of his present Majesty,
    entitled, An Act to discontinue, in such manner, and for such
    time as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging,
    lading, or shipping, of goods, wares, and merchandise, at
    the town and within the harbor of Boston, in the province of
    Massachusetts Bay, in North America; and that it may be proper
    to repeal an act, made in the fourteenth year of the reign
    of his present Majesty, entitled, An Act for the impartial
    administration of justice in the cases of persons questioned
    for any acts done by them in the execution of the law, or
    for the suppression of riots and tumults in the province of
    Massachusetts Bay, in New England; and that it may be proper
    to repeal an act, made in the fourteenth year of the reign of
    his present Majesty, entitled, An Act for the better regulating
    the government of the province of Massachusetts Bay, in New
    England; and also, that it may be proper to explain and amend
    an act, made in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of King
    Henry the Eighth, entitled, An Act for the trial of treasons
    committed out of the King’s dominions.”

I wish, sir, to repeal the Boston Port Bill, because (independently
of the dangerous precedent of suspending the rights of the subject
during the King’s pleasure) it was passed, as I apprehend, with
less regularity, and on more partial principles, than it ought. The
corporation of Boston was not heard before it was condemned. Other
towns, full as guilty as she was, have not had their ports blocked up.
Even the restraining bill of the present session does not go to the
length of the Boston Port Act. The same ideas of prudence which induced
you not to extend equal punishment to equal guilt, even when you were
punishing, induce me, who mean not to chastise, but to reconcile, to be
satisfied with the punishment already partially inflicted.

Ideas of prudence, and accommodation to circumstances, prevent you
from taking away the charters of Connecticut and Rhode Island, as you
have taken away that of Massachusetts Colony, though the Crown has
far less power in the two former provinces than it enjoyed in the
latter; and though the abuses have been full as great and as flagrant
in the exempted as in the punished. The same reasons of prudence
and accommodation have weight with me in restoring the charter of
Massachusetts Bay. Besides, sir, the act which changes the charter of
Massachusetts is in many particulars so exceptionable, that if I did
not wish absolutely to repeal, I would by all means desire to alter it,
as several of its provisions tend to the subversion of all public and
private justice. Such, among others, is the power in the Governor to
change the Sheriff at his pleasure, and to make a new returning officer
for every special cause. It is shameful to behold such a regulation
standing among English laws.

The act for bringing persons accused of committing murder under the
orders of government to England for trial, is but temporary. That act
has calculated the probable duration of our quarrel with the colonies,
and is accommodated to that supposed duration. I would hasten the happy
moment of reconciliation, and therefore must, on my principle, get rid
of that most justly obnoxious act.

The act of Henry the Eighth, for the trial of treasons, I do not mean
to take away, but to confine it to its proper bounds and original
intention; to make it expressly for trial of treasons (and the greatest
treasons may be committed) in places where the jurisdiction of the
Crown does not extend.

Having guarded the privileges of local legislature, I would next secure
to the colonies a fair and unbiased judicature; for which purpose, sir,
I propose the following resolution:

    “That, from the time when the General Assembly or General
    Court of any colony or plantation in North America, shall
    have appointed by act of assembly, duly confirmed, a settled
    salary to the offices of the Chief Justice and other judges
    of the Superior Court, it may be proper that the said Chief
    Justice and other judges of the Superior Courts of such colony,
    shall hold his and their office and offices during their good
    behavior, and shall not be removed therefrom, but when the
    said removal shall be adjudged by his Majesty in council,
    upon a hearing on complaint from the General Assembly, or on
    a complaint from the Governor, or Council, or the House of
    Representatives severally, of the colony in which the said
    Chief Justice and other judges have exercised the said offices.”

The next resolution relates to the Courts of Admiralty. It is this:

    “That it may be proper to regulate the Courts of Admiralty, or
    Vice Admiralty, authorized by the 15th chapter of the 4th of
    George the Third, in such a manner as to make the same more
    commodious to those who sue, or are sued, in the said courts,
    and to provide for the more decent maintenance of the judges in
    the same.”

These courts I do not wish to take away. They are in themselves proper
establishments. This court is one of the capital securities of the
Act of Navigation. The extent of its jurisdiction, indeed, has been
increased; but this is altogether as proper, and is, indeed, on many
accounts, more eligible, where new powers were wanted, than a court
absolutely new. But courts incommodiously situated, in effect, deny
justice; and a court, partaking in the fruits of its own condemnation,
is a robber. The Congress complain, and complain justly, of this

These are the three consequential propositions. I have thought of
two or three more, but they come rather too near detail, and to the
province of executive government, which I wish Parliament always to
superintend, never to assume. If the first six are granted, congruity
will carry the latter three. If not, the things that remain unrepealed
will be, I hope, rather unseemly encumbrances on the building, than
very materially detrimental to its strength and stability.

Here, sir, I should close, but that I plainly perceive some objections
remain, which I ought, if possible, to remove. The first will be,
that, in resorting to the doctrine of our ancestors, as contained in
the preamble to the Chester act, I prove too much; that the grievance
from a want of representation stated in that preamble, goes to the
whole of legislation as well as to taxation. And that the colonies,
grounding themselves upon that doctrine, will apply it to all parts of
legislative authority.

To this objection, with all possible deference and humility, and
wishing as little as any man living to impair the smallest particle
of our supreme authority, I answer, that _the words are the words
of Parliament, and not mine_; and that all false and inconclusive
inferences drawn from them are not mine, for I heartily disclaim any
such inference. I have chosen the words of an act of Parliament, which
Mr. Grenville, surely a tolerably zealous and very judicious advocate
for the sovereignty of Parliament, formerly moved to have read at your
table, in confirmation of his tenets. It is true that Lord Chatham
considered these preambles as declaring strongly in favor of his
opinions. He was a no less powerful advocate for the privileges of the
Americans. Ought I not from hence to presume that these preambles
are as favorable as possible to both, when properly understood;
favorable both to the rights of Parliament, and to the privilege of the
dependencies of this crown? But, sir, the object of grievance in my
resolution I have not taken from the Chester, but from the Durham act,
which confines the hardship of want of representation to the case of
subsidies, and which, therefore, falls in exactly with the case of the
colonies. But whether the unrepresented counties were _de jure_ or _de
facto_ bound, the preambles do not accurately distinguish; nor indeed
was it necessary; for, whether _de jure_ or _de facto_, the Legislature
thought the exercise of the power of taxing, as of right, or as of fact
without right, equally a grievance, and equally oppressive.

I do not know that the colonies have, in any general way or in any
cool hour, gone much beyond the demand of immunity in relation to
taxes. It is not fair to judge of the temper or dispositions of any
man, or any set of men, when they are composed and at rest, from their
conduct or their expressions in a state of disturbance and irritation.
It is, besides, a very great mistake to imagine that mankind follow
up practically any speculative principle, either of government or
freedom, as far as it will go in argument and logical illation. We
Englishmen stop very short of the principles upon which we support any
given part of our Constitution, or even the whole of it together. I
could easily, if I had not already tired you, give you very striking
and convincing instances of it. This is nothing but what is natural and
proper. All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every
virtue and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter.[71]
We balance inconveniences; we give and take; we remit some rights that
we may enjoy others; and we choose rather to be happy citizens than
subtle disputants. As we must give away some natural liberty to enjoy
civil advantages, so we must sacrifice some civil liberties for the
advantages to be derived from the communion and fellowship of a great
empire. But, in all fair dealings, the thing bought must bear some
proportion to the purchase paid. None will barter away “the immediate
jewel of his soul.”[72] Though a great house is apt to make slaves
haughty, yet it is purchasing a part of the artificial importance of
a great empire too dear to pay for it all essential rights and all
the intrinsic dignity of human nature. None of us who would not risk
his life rather than fall under a government purely arbitrary. But,
although there are some among us who think our Constitution wants many
improvements to make it a complete system of liberty, perhaps none who
are of that opinion would think it right to aim at such improvement
by disturbing his country, and risking every thing that is dear to
him. In every arduous enterprise we consider what we are to lose as
well as what we are to gain; and the more and better stake of liberty
every people possess, the less they will hazard in a vain attempt to
make it more. These are _the cords of man_.[73] Man acts from adequate
motive relative to his interest, and not on metaphysical speculations.
Aristotle, the great master of reasoning, cautions us, and with great
weight and propriety, against this species of delusive geometrical
accuracy in moral arguments as the most fallacious of all sophistry.[74]

The Americans will have no interest contrary to the grandeur and glory
of England, when they are not oppressed by the weight of it; and
they will rather be inclined to respect the acts of a superintending
Legislature, when they see them the acts of that power which is itself
the security, not the rival, of their secondary importance. In this
assurance my mind most perfectly acquiesces, and I confess I feel not
the least alarm from the discontents which are to arise from putting
people at their ease; nor do I apprehend the destruction of this empire
from giving, by an act of free grace and indulgence, to two millions of
my fellow-citizens, some share of those rights upon which I have always
been taught to value myself.

It is said, indeed, that this power of granting, vested in American
assemblies, would dissolve the unity of the empire, which was preserved
entire, although Wales, and Chester, and Durham were added to it.
Truly, Mr. Speaker, I do not know what this unity means, nor has it
ever been heard of, that I know, in the constitutional policy of this
country. The very idea of subordination of parts excludes this notion
of simple and undivided unity. England is the head, but she is not
the head and the members too. Ireland has ever had from the beginning
a separate, but not an independent Legislature, which, far from
distracting, promoted the union of the whole. Every thing was sweetly
and harmoniously disposed through both islands for the conservation
of English dominion and the communication of English liberties. I
do not see that the same principles might not be carried into twenty
islands, and with the same good effect. This is my model with regard to
America, as far as the internal circumstances of the two countries are
the same. I know no other unity of this empire than I can draw from its
example during these periods, when it seemed to my poor understanding
more united than it is now, or than it is likely to be by the present

But since I speak of these methods, I recollect, Mr. Speaker, almost
too late, that I promised, before I finished, to say something of the
proposition of the noble Lord [Lord North] on the floor, which has
been so lately received, and stands on your journals. I must be deeply
concerned whenever it is my misfortune to continue a difference with
the majority of this House. But as the reasons for that difference are
my apology for thus troubling you, suffer me to state them in a very
few words. I shall compress them into as small a body as I possibly
can, having already debated that matter at large when the question was
before the committee.

First, then I cannot admit that proposition of a ransom by auction,
because it is a mere project. It is a thing new; unheard of;
supported by no experience; justified by no analogy; without example
of our ancestors, or root in the Constitution. It is neither regular
parliamentary taxation nor colony grant. “_Experimentum in corpore
vili_”[75] is a good rule, which will ever make me adverse to any trial
of experiments on what is certainly the most valuable of all subjects,
the peace of this empire.

Secondly, it is an experiment which must be fatal, in the end, to our
Constitution. For what is it but a scheme for taxing the colonies in
the ante-chamber of the noble Lord and his successors? To settle the
quotas and proportions in this House is clearly impossible. You, sir,
may flatter yourself you shall sit a state auctioneer with your hammer
in your hand, and knock down to each colony as it bids. But to settle
(on the plan laid down by the noble Lord) the true proportional payment
for four or five-and-twenty governments according to the absolute and
the relative wealth of each, and according to the British proportion of
wealth and burden, is a wild and chimerical notion. This new taxation
must therefore come in by the back door of the Constitution. Each
quota must be brought to this House ready formed; you can neither
add nor alter. You must register it. You can do nothing farther.
For on what grounds can you deliberate, either before or after the
proposition. You cannot hear the counsel for all these provinces,
quarrelling each on its own quantity of payment, and its proportion to
others. If you should attempt it, the committee of provincial ways and
means, or by whatever other name it will delight to be called, must
swallow up all the time of Parliament.

Thirdly, it does not give satisfaction to the complaint of the
colonies. They complain that they are taxed without their consent;
you answer, that you will fix the sum at which they shall be taxed.
That is, you give them the very grievance for the remedy. You tell
them indeed, that you will leave the mode to themselves. I really beg
pardon. It gives me pain to mention it; but you must be sensible that
you will _not perform_ this part of the contract. For, suppose the
colonies were to lay the duties which furnished their contingent upon
the importation of your manufactures? you know you would never suffer
such a tax to be laid. You know, too, that you would not suffer many
other modes of taxation; so that when you come to explain yourself, it
will be found that you will neither leave to themselves the quantum nor
the mode, nor, indeed, any thing. The whole is delusion from one end to
the other.

Fourthly, this method of ransom by auction, unless it be _universally_
accepted, will plunge you into great and inextricable difficulties. In
what year of our Lord are the proportions of payments to be settled,
to say nothing of the impossibility, that colony agents should have
general powers of taxing the colonies at their discretion? Consider,
I implore you, that the communication by special messages, and orders
between these agents and their constituents on each variation of the
case, when the parties come to contend together, and to dispute on
their relative proportions, will be a matter of delay, perplexity, and
confusion that never can have an end.

If all the colonies do not appear at the outcry, what is the condition
of those assemblies, who offer, by themselves or their agents, to
tax themselves up to your ideas of their proportion? The refractory
colonies who refuse all composition will remain taxed only to your old
impositions, which, however grievous in principle, are trifling as to
production. The obedient colonies in this scheme are heavily taxed;
the refractory remain unburdened. What will you do? Will you lay new
and heavier taxes by Parliament on the disobedient? Pray consider in
what way you can do it. You are perfectly convinced that in the way of
taxing you can do nothing but at the ports. Now suppose it is Virginia
that refuses to appear at your auction, while Maryland and North
Carolina bid handsomely for their ransom, and are taxed to your quota.
How will you put these colonies on a par? Will you tax the tobacco of
Virginia? If you do, you give its death wound to your English revenue
at home, and to one of the very greatest articles of your own foreign
trade. If you tax the import of that rebellious colony, what do you
tax but your own manufactures, or the goods of some other obedient and
already well-taxed colony? Who has said one word on this labyrinth of
detail, which bewilders you more and more as you enter into it? Who
has presented, who can present you with a clew to lead you out of it?
I think, sir, it is impossible that you should not recollect that the
colony bounds are so implicated in one another (you know it by your
on experiments in the bill for prohibiting the New England fishery)
that you can lay no possible restraints on almost any of them which
may not be presently eluded, if you do not confound the innocent with
the guilty, and burden those whom, upon every principle, you ought to
exonerate. He must be grossly ignorant of America who thinks that,
without falling into this confusion of all rules of equity and policy,
you can restrain any single colony, especially Virginia and Maryland,
the central and most important of them all.

Let it also be considered, that either in the present confusion you
settle a permanent contingent which will and must be trifling, and
then you have no effectual revenue; or, you change the quota at every
exigency, and then on every new repartition you will have a new quarrel.

Reflect, besides, that when you have fixed a quota for every colony,
you have not provided for prompt and punctual payment. Suppose one,
two, five, ten years arrears. You cannot issue a Treasury Extent[76]
against the failing colony. You must make new Boston Port bills, new
restraining laws, new acts for dragging men to England for trial. You
must send out new fleets, new armies. All is to begin again. From this
day forward the empire is never to know an hour’s tranquillity. An
intestine fire will be kept alive in the bowels of the colonies, which
one time or another must consume this whole Empire. I allow, indeed,
that the Empire of Germany raises her revenue and her troops by quotas
and contingents; but the revenue of the Empire, and the army of the
Empire, is the worst revenue and the worst army in the world.

Instead of a standing revenue, you will therefore have a perpetual
quarrel. Indeed, the noble Lord who proposed this project of a ransom
by auction, seemed himself to be of that opinion. His project was
rather designed for breaking the union of the colonies than for
establishing a revenue. He confessed that he apprehended that his
proposal would not be to _their taste_. I say this scheme of disunion
seems to be at the bottom of the project; for I will not suspect that
the noble Lord meant nothing but merely to delude the nation by an airy
phantom which he never intended to realize. But, whatever his views
may be, as I propose the peace and union of the colonies as the very
foundation of my plan, it cannot accord with one whose foundation is
perpetual discord.

Compare the two. This I offer to give you is plain and simple. The
other, full of perplexed and intricate mazes. This is mild; that,
harsh. This is found by experience effectual for its purposes; the
other is a new project. This is universal; the other, calculated for
certain colonies only. This is immediate in its conciliatory operation;
the other, remote, contingent, full of hazard. Mine is what becomes the
dignity of a ruling people; gratuitous, unconditional, and not held
out as matter of bargain and sale. I have done my duty in proposing it
to you. I have indeed tired you by a long discourse; but this is the
misfortune of those to whose influence nothing will be conceded, and
who must win every inch of their ground by argument. You have heard
me with goodness. May you decide with wisdom! For my part, I feel my
mind greatly disburdened by what I have done to-day. I have been the
less fearful of trying your patience, because on this subject I mean to
spare it altogether in future. I have this comfort, that in every stage
of the American affairs, I have steadily opposed the measures that
have produced the confusion, and may bring on the destruction of this
Empire. I now go so far as to risk a proposal of my own. If I cannot
give peace to my country, I give it to my conscience.

But what, says the financier, is peace to us without money? Your plan
gives us no revenue. No! But it does—for it secures to the subject the
power of REFUSAL—the first of all revenues. Experience is a cheat,
and fact a liar, if this power in the subject of proportioning his
grant, or of not granting at all, has not been found the richest mine
of revenue ever discovered by the skill or by the fortune of man. It
does not indeed vote you £152,750 11_s._ 2¾_d._, nor any other paltry
limited sum, but it gives the strong box itself, the fund, the bank,
from whence only revenues can arise among a people sensible of freedom:
_Posita luditur arca_.[77]

Cannot you in England; cannot you at this time of day; cannot you—a
House of Commons—trust to the principle which has raised so mighty a
revenue, and accumulated a debt of near one hundred and forty millions
in this country? Is this principle to be true in England and false
everywhere else? Is it not true in Ireland? Has it not hitherto been
true in the colonies? Why should you presume, that in any country, a
body duly constituted for any functions will neglect to perform its
duty, and abdicate its trust? Such a presumption would go against all
government in all modes. But, in truth, this dread of penury of supply,
from a free assembly, has no foundation in nature. For first observe,
that, besides the desire, which all men have naturally, of supporting
the honor of their own government, that sense of dignity, and that
security of property, which ever attends freedom, has a tendency to
increase the stock of the free community. Most may be taken where
most is accumulated. And what is the soil or climate where experience
has not uniformly proved that the voluntary flow of heaped-up plenty,
bursting from the weight of its own rich luxuriance, has ever run with
a more copious stream of revenue, than could be squeezed from the dry
husks of oppressed indigence, by the straining of all the politic
machinery in the world.

Next, we know that parties must ever exist in a free country. We know,
too, that the emulations of such parties, their contradictions, their
reciprocal necessities, their hopes and their fears, must send them
all in their turns to him that holds the balance of the state. The
parties are the gamesters, but Government keeps the table, and is sure
to be the winner in the end. When this game is played, I really think
it is more to be feared that the people will be exhausted, than that
Government will not be supplied; whereas, whatever is got by acts of
absolute power, ill obeyed, because odious, or by contracts ill kept,
because constrained, will be narrow, feeble, uncertain, and precarious.

                    “Ease would retract
    Vows made in pain, as violent and void.”[78]

I, for one, protest against compounding our demands. I declare against
compounding, for a poor limited sum, the immense ever-growing, eternal
debt which is due to generous government from protected freedom. And so
may I speed in the great object I propose to you, as I think it would
not only be an act of injustice, but would be the worst economy in the
world, to compel the colonies to a sum certain, either in the way of
ransom or in the way of compulsory compact.

But to clear up my ideas on this subject; a revenue from America
transmitted hither—do not delude yourselves—you never can receive
it—no, not a shilling. We have experienced that from remote countries
it is not to be expected. If, when you attempted to extract revenue
from Bengal, you were obliged to return in loan what you had taken in
imposition, what can you expect from North America? for certainly, if
ever there was a country qualified to produce wealth, it is India;
or an institution fit for the transmission, it is the East India
Company. America has none of these aptitudes. If America gives you
taxable objects on which you lay your duties _here_, and gives you,
at the same time, a surplus by a foreign sale of her commodities
to pay the duties on these objects which you tax at home, she has
performed her part to the British revenue. But with regard to her own
internal establishments, she may, I doubt not she will, contribute in
moderation; I say in moderation, for she ought not to be permitted
to exhaust herself. She ought to be reserved to a war, the weight
of which, with the enemies that we are most likely to have, must be
considerable in her quarter of the globe. There she may serve you, and
serve you essentially.

For that service, for all service, whether of revenue, trade or empire,
my trust is in her interest in the British Constitution. My hold of the
colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from
kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal protection. These
are ties which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron.
Let the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated
with your government; they will cling and grapple to you, and no force
under heaven will be of power to tear them from their allegiance. But
let it be once understood that your government may be one thing, and
their privileges another; that these two things may exist without any
mutual relation; the cement is gone; the cohesion is loosened; and
every thing hastens to decay and dissolution. As long as you have the
wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary
of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever
the chosen race and sons of England worship Freedom, they will turn
their faces toward you. The more they multiply, the more friends you
will have. The more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will
be their obedience. Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed that
grows in every soil. They may have it from Spain; they may have it
from Prussia; but, until you become lost to all feeling of your true
interest and your natural dignity, freedom they can have from none but
you. This is the commodity of price, of which you have the monopoly.
This is the true Act of Navigation, which binds to you the commerce
of the colonies, and through them secures to you the wealth of the
world. Deny them this participation of freedom, and you break that sole
bond which originally made, and must still preserve, the unity of the
empire. Do not entertain so weak an imagination as that your registers
and your bonds, your affidavits and your sufferances, your cockets and
your clearances, are what form the great securities of your commerce.
Do not dream that your letters of office, and your instructions, and
your suspending clauses, are the things that hold together the great
contexture of this mysterious whole. These things do not make your
government. Dead instruments, passive tools as they are, it is the
spirit of the English communion that gives all their life and efficacy
to them. It is the spirit of the English Constitution, which, infused
through the mighty mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies
every part of the empire, even down to the minutest member.[79]

Is it not the same virtue which does every thing for us here in

Do you imagine then, that it is the Land Tax[80] which raises your
revenue? that it is the annual vote in the Committee of Supply, which
gives you your army? or that it is the Mutiny Bill,[81] which inspires
it with bravery and discipline? No! surely no! It is the love of the
people; it is their attachment to their Government, from the sense
of the deep stake they have in such a glorious institution, which
gives you your army and your navy, and infuses into both that liberal
obedience, without which your army would be a base rabble, and your
navy nothing but rotten timber.

All this, I know well enough, will sound wild and chimerical to the
profane herd of those vulgar and mechanical politicians, who have no
place among us; a sort of people who think that nothing exists but what
is gross and material, and who, therefore, far from being qualified to
be directors of the great movement of empire, are not fit to turn a
wheel in the machine. But to men truly initiated and rightly taught,
these ruling and master principles, which, in the opinion of such
men as I have mentioned, have no substantial existence, are in truth
every thing and all in all. Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the
truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.
If we are conscious of our situation, and glow with zeal to fill our
place as becomes our station and ourselves, we ought to auspicate all
our public proceeding on America with the old warning of the church,
_sursum corda_![82] We ought to elevate our minds to the greatness of
that trust to which the order of Providence has called us. By adverting
to the dignity of this high calling, our ancestors have turned a savage
wilderness into a glorious empire, and have made the most extensive
and the only honorable conquests, not by destroying but by promoting,
the wealth, the number, the happiness of the human race. Let us get an
American revenue as we have got an American empire. English privileges
have made it all that it is; English privileges alone will make it all
it can be.

In full confidence of this unalterable truth, I now, _quod felix
faustumque sit_,[83] lay the first stone in the temple of peace; and I
move you,

That the colonies and plantations of Great Britain in North America,
consisting of fourteen separate governments, and containing two
millions and upward of free inhabitants, have not had the liberty and
privilege of electing and sending any knights and burgesses, or others,
to represent them in the high court of Parliament.

  On the first resolution offered by Mr. Burke the votes in favor of it
  were only 78 while those against it were 270. The other resolutions
  were not put to vote. This may be regarded as the final answer of
  the House of Commons to all attempts to save the colonies except by
  force. The policy of war was thus adopted, with what result the world
  very well knows.


NOTE 1, p. 8.—Ever since the Norman Conquest the royal assent to
measures of Parliament has been given in a form from which there has
been no variation. To “public bills” the words attached are “_le roy
le veult_”; to petitions, “_soit droit fait comme il est désiré_”; and
for grants of money, “_the King heartily thanks his subjects for their
good wills_.” In the present instance, instead of _soit droit fait
comme il est désiré_, the King caused to be appended to the petition,
“The King willeth that right be done according to the laws and customs
of the realm; that the statutes be put into due execution; and that
his subjects may have no cause to complain of any wrong or oppressions
contrary to their just rights and liberties, to the preservation
whereof he holds himself in conscience as well obliged, as of his own
prerogative.”—Rushworth, i., 588. On the forms of royal assent see the
learned account by Selden in “Parliamentary History,” viii., 237.

NOTE 2, p. 9.—Rushworth, i., 591. The version of Eliot’s speech given
by Rushworth is the one ordinarily reprinted in modern collections.
But in the papers of the Earl of St. Germans, a descendant of Sir John
Eliot, Mr. John Forster, some years ago, found a copy of the speech
corrected by Eliot himself while in prison. This form, much superior to
the others, is the one here reproduced.

NOTE 3, p. 16.—Eliot, in the expression, “want of councils,”
doubtless alludes to the absorption of the various powers of the
State by Buckingham. The allusion was not without reason, as the
list of Buckingham’s titles shows. He was: Duke, Marquis, and
Earl of Buckingham, Earl of Coventry, Viscount Villiers, Baron
of Whaddon, Great Admiral of England and Ireland, etc., etc.,
etc., Governor-General of the Seas and the Ships of the same,
Lieutenant-General Admiral, Captain-General and Governor of his
Majesty’s fleet and army, etc., Minister of the House, Lord Warden,
Chancellor, and Admiral of the Cinque Ports, etc., Constable of Dover
Castle, Justice in Eyrie of the Forest of Chases on this side of the
Trent, Constable of the Castle of Windsor, Gentleman of the Bedchamber,
Knight of the Garter, Privy Councillor, etc. The royal domains that
he had managed to have given to him brought an income of £284,395 a
year. All this was so much drawn from the public treasury. See Bradie’s
“Constitutional History,” new edition, vol. i., p. 424, and Guizot,
“Charles I.,” Bohn’s ed., p. 15.

NOTE 4, p. 17.—The Elector Palatine, Frederick V., had married
Elizabeth, the daughter of James I., of England, and by his election
as King of Bohemia, became in a certain sense the representative and
head of the Protestant party in Germany at the outbreak of the Thirty
Years’ War in 1618. His cause was badly managed at home, and still
more wretchedly managed in England. Constantly deluded with hopes of
support from the great Protestant power in the North, he was doomed to
perpetual disappointment. His cause was shattered at the first serious
conflict at White Mountain in 1620, and he was obliged to flee to
Holland for his life. Twelve thousand English troops were subsequently
sent to the support of Mansfeldt, but they were so ill managed that
they nearly all perished before they could be of any assistance. The
sacrifice of “honor” and of “men” was most abundant.

NOTE 5, p. 17.—In 1627 Richelieu was engaged in the work of reducing
La Rochelle, the stronghold of the Huguenots, into subordination to
the King of France. The work had to be done by means of a siege, which
included the construction of a dyke across the mouth of the harbor.
Buckingham, inflamed with resentment against Richelieu, for personal
reasons, determined to relieve the Rochellois. He collected a hundred
ships and seven thousand land forces, and advanced to the rescue. But
on reaching the scene of action, instead of advancing immediately to
relieve the beleaguered city, he disembarked on the Isle of Rhée,
and contented himself with issuing a proclamation, calling upon all
French Protestants to arise for a relief of their brethren. The result
was two-fold. In the first place, La Rochelle, after one of the most
memorable sieges in all history, was reduced; and, secondly, the cause
of Protestantism in France was completely crushed. In response to
Buckingham’s call, the Protestants everywhere arose; but Richelieu was
now at leisure to destroy them, and thus their last hope perished.

NOTE 6, p. 17.—The beauty of this allusion to the policy and the power
of Queen Elizabeth has very justly been greatly admired. Nothing could
have been more adroit than Eliot’s comparison of the ways of Elizabeth
with those of Buckingham.

NOTE 7, p. 20.—Having now come to the third division of his subject,
“The insufficiency of our generals,” Eliot naturally pauses before
dragging Buckingham personally upon the scene. But for what follows the
Duke was personally responsible.

NOTE 8, p. 21.—In 1625 an expedition of eighty sail had been fitted
out for the purpose of intercepting the Spanish treasure ships from
America. But by reason of the incompetency of the commander there was
no concert of action in the fleet, and the treasure ships escaped,
though seven of them that would have richly repaid the expedition might
easily have been taken. But not wishing to return empty handed, the
commander effected a landing near Cadiz. The soldiers broke open the
wine-cellars and became so drunk that when the commander determined to
withdraw, several hundred were left to perish under the knives of the

NOTE 9, p. 24.—What the orator contemptuously calls the “journey
to Algiers,” was nothing less than an expedition sent out for its
conquest. But it fared like the most of Buckingham’s other “journeys.”
The Algerines turned upon the English; and thirty-five ships engaged
in the Mediterranean trade were destroyed, and their crews sold into

NOTE 10, p. 43.—For powers and privileges of the early English
Parliaments, see Stubbs, ii., §§ 220–233, and 271–298. Also on the
right of Parliament to make a grant depend on redress of grievances,
Hallam: “Mid. Ages,” Am. ed., iii., p. 84, _seq._ It is a curious fact
that in the Early Middle Ages there was a very general reluctance on
the part of towns to send representatives. Hallam: “Mid. Ages,” iii.,
111. Cox: “Ant. Parl. Elections,” 84, 93, 98. Todd: “Parl. Govt.,” ii.,
21. Hearn: “Govt. in Eng.,” 394–407.

NOTE 11, p. 43.—Bagehot, in his remarkable work on the English
Constitution (p. 133) lays much stress on what he calls “the teaching”
and “informing” functions of the House of Commons. “In old times one
office of the House of Commons was to inform the Sovereign what was

NOTE 12, p. 45.—There is a remarkable letter written by Thomas Allured,
a member of the Parliament of 1628, which describes what took place
on the day alluded to. The letter is preserved in Rushworth’s Hist.,
Coll. i., 609–10, and in part is reproduced in Carlyle’s Cromwell, i.,
46. After saying that “Upon Tuesday, Sir John Eliot moved that as we
intended to furnish his Majesty with money, we should also supply him
with counsel,” he says: “But next day, Wednesday, we had a message
from his Majesty, by the Speaker ‘that we should husband the time
and despatch our old business without entertaining new.’ Yesterday,
Thursday morning, a new message was brought us, which I have here
inclosed, which, requiring us not to cast or lay any aspersion on
any Minister of his Majesty, the House was much affected thereby.
Sir Robert Philips, of Somershire, spoke and mingled his words with
weeping. Mr. Pym did the like. Sir Edward Cook, overcome with passion,
seeing the desolation likely to ensue, was forced to sit down, when he
began to speak, by abundance of tears. Yea, the Speaker in his speech
could not refrain from weeping and shedding of tears, besides a great
many others whose grief made them dumb. But others bore up in that
storm and encouraged the rest.” The writer then states how the House
resolved itself into a Committee, how the Speaker who was in close
communication with the King, asked for leave to withdraw for half an
hour, and how “It was ordered that no other man leave the House on pain
of going to the Tower.” He then continues: “Sir Edward Cook told us
‘He now saw God had not accepted of our humble and moderate carriages
and fair proceedings; and he feared the reason was, we had not dealt
sincerely with the King and country, and made a true representation
of all these miseries, which he, for his part, repented that he had
not done sooner. And, therefore, not knowing whether he should ever
again speak in this House, he would now do it freely; and so did here
protest, that the author and cause of all these miseries was the DUKE
OF BUCKINGHAM,’ which was entertained and answered with a cheerful
acclamation of the House. As when one good hound recovers the scent,
the rest come in with full cry, so they pursued it, and every one came
home, and laid the blame where he thought the fault was. And as we
were putting it to the question whether he should be _named_ in our
_Remonstrance_, as the chief cause of all our miseries at home and
abroad, the Speaker having been, not half an hour, but three hours
absent, and with the King, returned, bringing this message: ‘That the
House should then rise, adjourn till the morrow morning, no Committee
sit or other business go on in the interim.’ What we expect this
morning, God in heaven knows! We shall meet betimes this morning,
partly for the business’ sake, and partly because two days ago we made
an order, that whoever comes in after Prayers shall pay twelve pence to
the poor.”

The events alluded to by Pym in this rapid indictment are all given in
considerable detail in “Parl. Hist.,” ii., 442–525. On the 2d of March,
when Eliot moved a new Remonstrance, the Speaker refused to put the
motion, alleging an order from the King. The House insisted, whereupon
he was about to leave the Chair. Holles, Valentine, and some others
forced him back into it. “God’s wounds,” said Holles, “you shall sit
till it please the House to rise.” And much else of a similar nature.
“Parl. Hist.,” ii., 487–491.

NOTE 13, p. 47.—The moderation of Pym in this part of his speech will
appear evident to every one at all familiar with the course of events
under the influence of Laud. A brief but excellent account of the
influence of that prelate’s policy is given by Guizot, _Eng. Rev._,
Bohn ed., pp. 49–59.

NOTE 14, p. 50.—The particular privileges here enumerated were
all contrary to the statute passed in the reign of Elizabeth. The
significance of the tolerance of Catholics was chiefly in the fact that
during the same time the _Protestant_ Nonconformist was subjected to
every indignity for refusing to bow his conscience to the prescribed
formula of doctrine and ceremony. Laud’s favor toward the Catholics was
so marked that the Pope offered him a Cardinal’s hat. Laud’s “Diary,”
p. 49.

NOTE 15, p. 51.—The most notorious cases were Dr. Montague and Dr.
Mainwaring, who both received rich benefices and afterwards became
Catholics. A daughter of the Duke of Devonshire entered the Catholic
Church. When Laud asked for her reasons she responded: “I hate to be
in a crowd, and as I perceive your Grace and many others are hastening
toward Rome, I want to get there comfortably by myself before you.”

NOTE 16, p. 52.—The Crown and the Archbishop regarded Sunday “simply
as one of the holidays of the Church,” and encouraged the people in
pastimes and recreations. A “Book of Sports” had been issued in the
time of James I., pointing out the amusements the people might properly
indulge in. Laud now ordered that every minister should read the
declaration in favor of Sunday pastimes from the pulpit. Some refused.
One had the wit to obey, and to close his reading with the declaration:
“You have heard read, good people, both the commandment of God and the
commandment of man. Obey which you please.” As the result of disobeying
the command, however, many were silenced or deposed. In the diocese of
Norwich alone, thirty clergymen were expelled from their cures. See
Green: “Hist. of Eng. Peo.,” Eng. ed., iii., 160.

NOTE 17, p. 54.—Of this part of Pym’s speech Mr. Forster says: “A more
massive document was never given to history. It has all the solidity,
weight, and gravity of a judicial record, while it addresses itself
equally to the solid good sense of the masses of the people, and to
the cultivated understandings of the time. The deliberative gravity,
the force, the broad, decided manner of this great speaker, contrast
forcibly with those choice specimens of awkward affectations and
labored extravagances, that have not seldom passed in modern times for
oratory.” “Life of Pym,” p. 99.

NOTE 18, p. 58.—The seventh and twelfth of James I. were 1610 and 1615.

NOTE 19, p. 58.—The Thirty Years’ War in the Palatinate in which the
sons-in-law of James I. were the representative of the Protestant cause.

NOTE 20, p. 62.—A partial list of fines imposed between 1629 and 1640
is given in Guizot, _Eng. Rev._, 445. The list includes “Hillyard, for
having sold saltpetre, £5,000”; “John Averman, for not having followed
the King’s orders in the fabrication of soap, £13,000”; “Morley, for
having struck Sir George Thesbold within the precinct of the Court,
£10,000”; and a vast number of other similar ones.

NOTE 21, p. 64.—The tax known as ship money, which had its origin in
the necessity of universal defence when the country was threatened with
invasion was attempted by Charles but resisted by John Hampden. The
case went to trial, and the judges by a bare majority decided in favor
of the legality of the tax. The decision is, however, not now regarded
as having been correct. The case is reviewed in Hallam, “Con. Hist.,”
i., 430.

NOTE 22, p. 65.—The “bounds and perambulations” were the boundary
marks and legally established roads and paths. This was at a time when
there were very few, if any, inclosures. The possibilities of dispute
were taken advantage of by the Government in a way that was enormously
oppressive. For example, the Earl of Salisbury was fined £20,000 for
“encroachments,” Westmorland £19,000, etc. Guizot: _Eng. Rev._, 445.

NOTE 23, p. 68.—The application of this grievance was particularly
burdensome in the vicinity of London. Exemption from demolition was
purchased by the immediate payment of fine amounting to a three years’

NOTE 24, p. 69.—The King had specifically agreed in the “Petition
of Right” to correct the grievance here complained of. And yet it
continued after eleven years to be “a growing evil.”

NOTE 25, p. 72.—The “projectors” referred to were those undertaking
monopolies. The “referees” were law officers appointed by the Crown
to decide all legal questions arising in regard to monopolies. In
1621 Buckingham threw the blame of all irregularities in the matter
of monopolies on the “referees,” and, on motion of Cranfield, a
Parliamentary inquiry was made into their conduct. The matter is
explained in Gardiner’s “History of England,” 2d ed., iv., 48; and in
Church’s “Bacon,” 128.

NOTE 26, p. 82.—The reader who has followed this speech so far
certainly will not be surprised that Pym at length experienced some
“confusion of memory.” The “opportunity” was never afforded, as
parliament was dissolved within three days.

NOTE 27, p. 100.—The reference here is to Lord Bute, whose influence
with the King had secured the overthrow of Pitt’s ministry in
1761. Bute was a politician whose chief power was in his gifts for
intrigue. Though for these very qualities he was liked by the King,
he was detested by the people,—as Macaulay says,—“by many as a Tory,
by many as a favorite, and by many as a Scot.” For a long time it
was not prudent for him to appear in the streets without disguising
himself. The populace were in the habit of representing him by “a
jackboot, generally accompanied by a petticoat.” This they paraded as a
contemptuous pun on his name, and ended by fastening it on the gallows
or committing it to the flames. Pitt had been charged with prejudice
against Bute on account of his being a Scotchman. It was to refute
this charge that he alludes to his having been the first to employ the
Scotch Highlanders.

NOTE 28, p. 104.—This whole passage may well be compared with that on
the same subject in Lord Mansfield’s speech on p. 150. Compare also the
argument of Burke on American Taxation.

NOTE 29, p. 105.—This is believed to be the first reference made in
Parliament to the necessity of legislative reform. The younger Pitt
advocated a reform during the early years of his career; but the
horrors of the French Revolution so shocked public opinion, that no
change for the better could be made until the Ministry of Earl Grey in

NOTE 30, p. 110.—It was not until the reign of Henry VIII. that the
right of representation in Parliament was extended to Wales, and the
counties of Chester and Monmouth. To the county of Durham the right was
not given till 1673. Until these counties were represented, they were
not directly taxed except for purely local purposes.

NOTE 31, p. 114.—One of the speakers, Mr. Nugent, had said that “a
pepper-corn, in acknowledgment of the right to tax America, was of more
value than millions without it.”

NOTE 32, p. 126.—The capitulation of Burgoyne’s army took place October
17, 1777, just one month before the delivery of Chatham’s speech. There
was still much doubt in England in regard to the magnitude of the

NOTE 33, p. 132.—Negotiations had been going on between the colonies
and France for more than a year, though this fact, of course, was not
known in England. Silas Deane had been appointed Commissioner to France
even before the Declaration of Independence. In Nov. of 1776, Lee and
Franklin were appointed by Congress to negotiate a treaty of friendship
and commerce with the French king. But the French were wary of
alliance, though they were willing to wink at the secret arrangements
by which supplies were furnished by Beaumarchais. These supplies,
furnished in the autumn of 1777, were detained, and did not reach
America in time to prevent the terrible sufferings at Valley Forge in
the following winter. When news of Burgoyne’s surrender reached France,
the French Government no longer hesitated, and a final treaty by which
France acknowledged the Independence of the United States was signed on
the 6th of February, 1778. For most interesting and authentic details,
see Parton’s “Life of Franklin,” vol. ii., ch. vii.

NOTE 34, p. 140.—The walls of the old room in which the House of Lords
assembled were covered with tapestries, one of which represented the
English fleet led out to conflict with the Spanish Armada by Lord
Effingham Howard, an ancestor of Lord Suffolk.

NOTE 35, p. 160.—This argument of Mansfield drawn from the Navigation
Acts is fully refuted by Burke in his speech on “American Taxation.”
Burke takes the ground that none of these acts were passed for the sake
of revenue, but that all of them were designed simply to give direction
to trade. He also shows that there is a marked distinction between
_external_ and _internal_ taxation. The whole of Burke’s speech may
well be read with profit in connection with that of Mansfield.

NOTE 36, p. 164.—This reference is probably to James Otis’ volume
published in London in 1765, entitled: “The Rights of the Colonies
Asserted and Proved.” It had previously been published in Boston, after
having been read in MS. in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
The instructions of May, 1764, contained in the appendix were drawn
up by Samuel Adams. It is possible, however, that the orator referred
to Otis’ “Vindication of the Conduct of the House of Representatives
of the Province of Mass. Bay,” which had appeared in 1762, and which
contained in a nutshell the whole American cause. John Adams said of
it: “Look over the Declarations of Rights and Wrongs issued by Congress
in 1774; look into the Declaration of Independence of 1776; look into
the writings of Dr. Price and Dr. Priestley. Look into all the French
Constitutions of Government; and, to cap the climax, look into Mr.
Thomas Paine’s ‘Common Sense,’ ‘Crisis,’ and ‘Rights of Man,’ and
what can you find that is not to be found in this Vindication of the
House of Representatives?” During the same year also, Otis published
“A Vindication of the British Colonies,” and “Considerations on behalf
of the Colonists, in a letter to a Noble Lord.” The London reprint of
the “Vindication of the British Colonies” was accompanied with the
statement: “This tract is republished, _not for any excellence of the
work, but for the eminence of the author_.” We see here the leader in
the American disputes declaring the universal opinion of the Colonies
against the authority of the British Parliament.

NOTE 37, p. 185.—This exordium is almost bad enough to justify
Hazlitt’s remark: “Most of his speeches have a sort of parliamentary
preamble to them; there is an air of affected modesty and ostentatious
trifling in them; he seems fond of coquetting with the House of
Commons, and is perpetually calling the Speaker out to dance a minuet
with him before he begins.”

NOTE 38, p. 185.—This was an Act to restrain the Commerce of the
Provinces of New England, and to confine it to Great Britain, Ireland,
and the British West Indies.

NOTE 39, p. 187.—Reference is made to the Repeal of the Stamp Act,
which took place in Rockingham’s Administration by a vote of 275 to 161.

NOTE 40, p. 189.—This rather striking thought was firmly implanted in
Burke’s mind. In his paper on “Present Discontent,” he apologized for
“stepping a little out of the ordinary sphere” of private people. In
one of his letters he says: “We live in a nation where, at present,
there is scarce a single head that does not teem with politics. Every
man has contrived a scheme of government for the benefit of his

NOTE 41, p. 191.—It must be confessed this is a little pompous.
Burke’s scheme was simply to yield to the colonies what they claimed,
and it was not good policy to pronounce such an encomium on it in
advance. There were those who said: “On this simple principle of
granting every thing required, and stipulating for nothing in return,
we can terminate every difference throughout the world.”

NOTE 42, p. 191.—The Congress of Philadelphia in 1774 declared that
after the Repeal of the Stamp Act the colonies “fell into their ancient
state of unsuspecting confidence in the mother country.” Burke comments
on this statement in his letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol in 1777.

NOTE 43, p. 192.—Lord North’s plan of conciliation, already described
in the introduction to this speech.

NOTE 44, p. 193.—The address to the King declaring that rebellion
existed in Massachusetts, requesting the King to take energetic
measures to suppress it, and pledging the coöperation of Parliament.

NOTE 45, p. 196.—The computation carefully made by Mr. Bancroft
(“Hist.,” 8vo ed., vol. iv., p. 128) more than justifies Burke’s
figures. Bancroft gives the following:

         |   White.  |  Black. |  Total.
    1750 | 1,040,000 | 220,000 | 1,260,000
    1754 | 1,165,000 | 260,000 | 1,425,000
    1760 | 1,385,000 | 310,000 | 1,695,000
    1770 | 1,850,000 | 462,000 | 2,312,000
    1780 | 2,383,000 | 562,000 | 2,945,000
    1790 | 3,177,257 | 752,069 | 3,927,326

See Johnson’s “Taxation no Tyranny” (Works, x., 96) in which he
savagely speaks of “3,000,000 Whigs, fierce for liberty, which multiply
with the fecundity of their own rattlesnakes.” He thought the eggs
should be destroyed.

NOTE 46, p. 197.—Reference to the legal maxim, “_De minimis non jurat

NOTE 47, p. 198.—Mr. Glover who appeared at the bar to support a
petition of the West Indian planters praying that peace might be
concluded with the colonies.

NOTE 48, p. 199.—Davenant afterward published a somewhat important work
entitled “Discourses on Revenue and Trade,” and it was probably the MS.
of this to which Burke referred.

NOTE 49, p. 202.—Burke’s reasoning has been more than justified by
subsequent history. Cobden: “Writings,” i., 98, more than fifty
years after Burke spoke, declared: “The people of the United States
constitute our largest and most valuable connection. The business we
carry on with them is nearly twice as extensive as that with any other
people.” The American official returns since 1850 show that more than
one third of the imports came from England, and that more than one half
of the exports go to England.

NOTE 50, p. 202.—A curious adaptation from Virgil. Ecl. iv., 26.
If, while he was changing _parentis_ to _parentum_ he had omitted
_poterit_, he would at least have left a good Latin sentence. But Burke
quoted from memory and was often inexact, not only in the choice of
words, but also in pronunciation. Harford relates that he was once
indulging in some very severe animadversions on Lord North’s management
of the public purse. While this philippic was going on, North appeared
to be half-asleep, “heaving backward and forward like a great turtle.”
Burke introduced the aphorism: _magnum vectígal est parsimonia_,
putting a wrong accent on the second word and calling it _véctigal_.
The scholarly ear of North was sufficiently attentive to catch the
mistake, and he shouted out _vectígal_. “I thank the noble lord,”
responded Burke, “for the correction, more particularly as it gives me
the opportunity to repeat what he greatly needs to have reiterated upon
him.” He then thundered out: “_Magnum vectígal est parsimonia_.”

NOTE 51, p. 206.—In allusion to the well-known story told at length
by Valerius Maximus, lib. v., 7; and in briefer form by Pliny, “Nat.
Hist.,” vii., 36.

NOTE 52, p. 208.—The whole of this magnificent passage was founded upon
very substantial facts. Massachusetts had 183 vessels, carrying 13,820
tons in the North, and 120 vessels, carrying 14,026 tons in the South.
It was in 1775, the very year of Burke’s speech, that English ships
were first fitted out to follow the Americans into the fisheries of the
South Seas. See _Quarterly Review_, lxiii., 318.

NOTE 53, p. 211.—At the time of the great struggle against the Stuarts.
In the _Annual Register_, for 1775, p. 14, Burke says: “The American
freeholders at present are nearly, in point of condition, what the
English yeomen were of old when they rendered us formidable to all
Europe, and our name celebrated throughout the world. The former, from
many obvious circumstances, are more enthusiastical lovers of liberty
than even our yeomen were.”

NOTE 54, p. 213.—The differences here indicated are fully explained in
Marshall’s “American Colonies,” Story “On the Constitution,” Lodge’s
“English Colonies in America,” and more briefly in vol. iv., chap, vi.,
of Bancroft. It is noteworthy that it was not in the most democratic
forms of government that the most violent resolutions were passed. See
_Ann. Reg._ for 1775, p. 6.

NOTE 55, p. 218.—General Gage had prohibited the _calling_ of town
meetings after August 1, 1774. The meetings held before August 1st were
adjourned over from time to time, and consequently there was no need
of “_calling_” meetings. Gage complained that by such means they could
keep their meetings alive for ten years. See Bancroft, vii., chap.
viii., and _Ann. Reg._, 1775, p. 11.

NOTE 56, p. 219.—The “_ministrum fulminis alitem_” of Horace, bk. iv.,
ode i.

NOTE 57, p. 227.—In 1766, Lieutenant-Governor Fauquier had written to
the Lords in Trade: “In disobedience to all proclamations, in defiance
of law, and without the least shadow of right to claim or defend their
property, people are daily going out to settle beyond the Alleghany
Mountains.” Migration hither was prohibited. “But the prohibition
only set apart the Great Valley as the sanctuary of the unhappy, the
adventurous, and the free; of those whom enterprise, or curiosity, or
disgust at the forms of life in the old plantations raised above royal
edicts.” Bancroft, vi., 33.

NOTE 58, p. 233.—Reference is made to the brutal attack of Sir Edward
Coke upon Sir Walter Raleigh, the details of which are given in
Howell’s “State Trials,” ii., 7.

NOTE 59, p. 240.—Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” ii., 594.

NOTE 60, p. 240.—This passage has been much admired for the skill with
which Burke excludes the general question of the right of taxation, and
confines himself to the expediency of particular methods. But this was
in accordance with all of Burke’s political philosophy. In his “Appeal
from the Old to the New Whigs,” he announces the principle which
governs him in all such cases: “Nothing universal can be rationally
affirmed on any moral or any political subject. Pure metaphysical
abstraction does not belong to these matters. The lines of morality
are not like ideal lines of mathematics. They are broad and deep as
well as long. They admit of exceptions; they demand modifications.
These exceptions and modifications are not made by the process of
logic, but by the rules of prudence. _Prudence is not only the first in
rank of the virtues political and moral, but she is the director, the
regulator, the standard of them all._”

NOTE 61, p. 244.—The pamphlet from which Lord North “seems to have
borrowed these ideas,” was by Dean Tucker, a work to which, Dr. Johnson
in “Taxation no Tyranny,” (Works, x., 139) pays his respects, and which
Burke had alluded to in no very complimentary terms in his speech on
“American Taxation.” But Mr. Forster, in his “Life of Goldsmith,” i.,
412, speaks of Tucker as “the only man of that day who thoroughly
anticipated the judgment and experience of our own on the question of
the American colonies.” The fact is that Tucker was a “free trader,”
and was in favor of the establishment of complete freedom of trade, as
the best that could possibly be done with the colonies. To an account
of Dean Tucker’s pamphlets several interesting pages are given in
Smyth’s “Modern History,” Lecture xxxii., Am. ed., p. 571, _seq._

NOTE 62, p. 248.—The English settlers in Ireland were obliged to keep
themselves within certain boundaries known as “The Pale.” They were
distinct from the Irish, and were governed by English lords. By an act
in the time of James I., the privileges of the Pale were first extended
to the rest of Ireland.

NOTE 63, p. 249.—In 1612, Sir John Davis, who had been much in Ireland,
and knew Irish affairs better than any other person in his time,
published a book entitled: “Discoverie of the true Causes why Ireland
was never entirely subdued until the beginning of his Majestie’s happy

NOTE 64, p. 250.—Under Henry III., Wales was ruled by its own Prince
Llewellen, who secured the assistance of Henry against a rebellious
son, and as a reward acknowledged fealty as a vassal. It was not till
Edward I., that the conquest was completed. O’Connell once said: “Wales
was once the Ireland of the English Government,” and then proceeded to
apply to Ireland what Burke here says of Wales.—“O’Connell’s speech of
Aug. 30, 1826.”

NOTE 65, p. 252.—When the reduction to order of Wales was found
impossible by ordinary means, the English King granted to the Lords
Marchers “such lands as they could win from the Welshmen.” On
these lands the lords were allowed “to take upon themselves such
prerogative and authority as were fit for the quiet government of
the country.” About the castles of the Lords Marchers grew up the
towns of Wales. Within their domains they exercised English laws;
but on the unconquered lands the old Welsh laws still prevailed. The
courts, therefore, had to administer both forms of law, and there was
consequently great confusion even in the most peaceful times. There
were fifteen acts of penal regulation, providing that no Welshman
should be allowed to become a burgess, or purchase any land in town.
Henry IV., ii., chaps. xii.-xx. In the time of Edward I., the special
privileges of the Lords Marchers were swept away. See Stubbs’ “Con.
Hist.,” 8vo ed., i., 514–520, and ii., 117–137; Scott’s “Betrothed,”
and the Appendix to Pennant’s “Tour in Wales.”

NOTE 66, p. 254.—Horace, “Odes,” bk. i., 12, 27. The allusion is to the
deification of Augustus and the superintending influence of Castor and
Pollux. The passage was translated by Gifford thus:

      “When their auspicious star
      To the sailor shines afar,
    The troubled waters leave the rocks at rest;
      The clouds are gone, the winds are still,
      The angry wave obeys their will,
    And calmly sleeps upon the ocean’s breast.”

NOTE 67, p. 258.—Milton’s “Comus,” l. 633, not quite correctly quoted.

NOTE 68, p. 261.—Horace, “Satir.,” ii., 2. “The precept is not mine.
Ofellus gave it in his rustic strain irregular, but wise.”

NOTE 69, p. 261.—In allusion to the declaration in Exodus xx., 25: “If
thou lift up thy tool upon it [the altar] thou hast polluted it.”

NOTE 70, p. 265.—In allusion to a statement that had been made by
Grenville. Burke said in his speech on American taxation: “He has
declared in this House an hundred times, that the colonies could not
legally grant any revenues to the Crown.”

NOTE 71, p. 278.—This was in strict accordance with Burke’s political
philosophy. In a letter to the Sheriff of Bristol, he wrote: “Of one
thing I am perfectly clear, that it is not by deciding the suit, but by
compromising the difference, that peace can be restored or kept.”

NOTE 72, p. 278.—Shak.: “Othello,” Act iii., Scene v. So at the
beginning of his paper on the “Present Discontents,” Burke speaks of
“reputation, the most precious possession of every individual.” In
the fourth letter on a “Regicide Peace,” he said: “Our ruin will be
disguised in profit, and the sale of a few wretched baubles will bribe
a degenerate people to barter away the most precious jewel of their

NOTE 73, p. 279.—“I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of
love.”—HOSEA, xi., 4.

NOTE 74, p. 279.—Another illustration of Burke’s habit of making use of
the inestimable maxims of the great Greek politician.

NOTE 75, p. 282.—“Experiment upon a worthless subject” was a maxim
among old scientific inquirers.

NOTE 76, p. 286.—A “Treasury Extent” was a writ of Commission for
valuing lands and tenements for satisfying a Crown debt.

NOTE 77, p. 289.—The quotation is from Juvenal i., l. 90, and refers to
the habit of the Roman gambler. Gifford renders the passage:

   “For now no more the pocket’s stores supply
    The boundless charges of the desperate die,
    _The chest itself is staked_.”

NOTE 78, p. 291.—Milton’s Paradise Lost, iv., 106. This also is a
misquotation:—_retract_ should be _recant_. Burke seldom took the
trouble to verify his quotations, but relied upon a powerful, though
slightly fallible, memory.

NOTE 79, p. 294.—This passage is perhaps one of the noblest and
most characteristic of all Burke’s utterances. And yet, in all its
magnificence it shows how largely the orator was indebted to his
reading. Mr. E. J. Payne, as an illustration of the way in which
Burke “repays his rich thievery of the Bible and the English poets,”
has pointed out the sources from which the most striking expressions
were consciously or unconsciously derived. The closing sentence in an
adaptation from Virgil, Æn. vi., 726; “My trust is in her,” is from
the Psalms; “Light as air,” etc., from Othello; “Grapple to you,”
from Hamlet; “No force under heaven,” etc., from St. Paul; “Chosen
race,” Tate & Brady; “Perfect obedience” and “mysterious whole,” from
Pope. Most striking of all, the passage in which “the chosen race” is
represented “turning their faces towards you,” is from 1. Kings, viii.,
44–45. “If the people go out to battle, or whithersoever thou shall
send them, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city, which thou
hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built in thy name, then
hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain
their cause.”

NOTE 80, p. 295.—Until 1798 the Land Tax yielded from one third to one
half of all the revenue; but in that year it was made permanent, and
now yields only about one sixty-fourth.

NOTE 81, p. 295.—The Mutiny Bill plays a very curious part in English
Constitutional usage. In the Declaration of Rights it was declared
that “standing armies and martial law in peace, without the consent of
Parliament, are illegal.” The “consent of Parliament” is now secured
in the following manner: An appropriation is made to support such an
army as is needed, but all of the provisions of the appropriating bill
are limited _to one year_. In order to maintain even the nucleus of
an army, therefore, it is absolutely necessary that Parliament should
be in session every year. This is the only provision guaranteeing an
annual assembling of Parliament.

NOTE 82, p. 296.—_Sursum Corda_: “let your hearts arise,” was the form
of a call to silent prayer at certain intervals in the Roman Catholic

NOTE 83, p. 296.—_Let it be happy and prosperous_, was a form of prayer
among the Romans at the beginning of an important undertaking.

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Representative British Orations with Introductions and Explanatory Notes, Volume I (of 4)" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.