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into a history of the Stamp Act; said it was the work of a great minister, and attributed all our present confusions to its
The Marquis of Granby :
I rise to trouble the House with a few words on the Bill now before it. I have sat, Sir, during the course of two divisions, without taking any part: even so much as giving a silent vote on any American question : because, Sir, as I will fairly confess to you, I entered these walls with prejudices against the system administration was pursuing; I thought it was but justice to hear the arguments that might be urged on both sides, to compare those arguments, and draw my opinion from that comparison. As to the Bill, immediately the object of our consideration, I think it in every respect so arbitrary, so oppressive, and so totally founded on principles of resentment, that I am exceedingly happy at having this public opportunity of bearing my testimony against it, in the strongest manner I am able. In God's name, what language are you now holding out to America ! Resign your property, divest yourselves of your privileges and freedom, renounce every thing that can make life comfortable, or we will destroy your commerce, we will involve your country in all the miseries of famine; and if you express the sensations of men at such harsh treatment, we will then declare you in a state o! rebellion, and put yourselves and your families, to Hre and sword. And yet, Sir, the noble lord on the floor, has just told this House, that a reconciliation is the sole object of his wishes. I hope the noble lord will pardon me: if I doubt the perfect sincerity of those wishes : at least, Sir, his actions justify my doubts; for every circumstance in his whole conduct, with regard to America, has directly militated against his present professions : and what, Sir, must the Americans conclude ? Whilst you are ravaging their coasts, and extirpating their commerce, and are withheld only by your impotence, from spreading fresh ruin, by the sword, can they, Sir, suppose such chastisement is intended to promote a reconciliation, and that you mean to restore to their forlorn country those liberties you deny to their present possession; and in the insolence of persecution, are eompassing earth and seas to destroy ? You can with no more justice compel the Americans to your obedience, by the operation of the present measures,
by making use of their necessities, and withholding from them that commerce on which their existence depends ; than a ruffian can found an equitable claim to my
Eossessions, when he forcibly enters my ouse, and with a dagger at my throat, or a pistol at my breast, makes me seal deeds which will convey to him my estate and property. [Mr. Rigby having declared the Americans to be in rebellion, lord Granby, in answer, said, his ideas of rebellion were totally different from Mr. Rigby's. If according to his ideas of rebellion, the Americans were in that state, he should be as warmly their opponent as he was now their friend; and then went on.]
I have a very clear, a very adequate idea of rebellion, at least according to ror own principles ; and those are the principles on which the Revolution was founded. It is not against whom a war is directed, but it is the justice of that war that does, or does not, constitute rebellion. If the innocent part of mankind must tamely relinquish their freedom, their property, and every thing they hold dear, merely to avoid the imputation of rebellion, I beg, Sir, it may be considered, what kind of peace and loyalty there will then exist in the world, which consists only in violence and rapine, and is merely to be maintained for the benefit of robbers and oppressors. I hope, Sir, I shall be believed when I assure you that I am as warm a friend to the interests of my country as any man in this House; but then it must be understood when those interests are founded in justice. I am not attached to any particular acre of land; the farmer in Cumberland or Durham is as little connected with me as the peasant in America: it is not the ground a man stands on that attaches me to him ; it is not the air he breathes that connects me with him, but it is the principles of that man, those independent, those generous principles of liberty which he professes, co operating with my own, which call me forth as his advocate, and make me glory in being considered his friend. As for myself, Sir, I am not in the least ashamed to avow that my attachment is to a noble lord, who has been, in my opinion, very unjustly reflected on in the course of this debate, (I mean lord Chatham) I am not even personally acquainted with the noble lord, I do not know the inconsistencies of which he stands accused; but this, Sir, I know, I shall not support his inconsistencies, I shall only support him in those principles which have raised his name to the elevation on which it is now placed in this country, and have so deservedly procured him the love and admiration of his fellow citizens.
Sir, I shall not trouble this House any longer, as this matter has been so fully discussed, though I must confess, I am not sorry a debate has taken place, because I was rather desirous of making a kind of political creed, some professions of my sentiments on this very important, this very serious national question. From the fullest conviction of my soul, I disclaim every idea both of policy and right internally to tax America. I disavow the whole system. It is commenced in iniquity ; it is pursued with resentment; and it can terminate in nothing but blood. Under whatsoever shape in futurity it may be revived, by whomsoever produced and supported, it shall, from me, meet the most constant, determined, and invariable opposition.
Lord North said, that something having fallen from a noble marquis which he thought a charge directly against his honour, he would vindicate himself from that charge. He insisted, that the Resolution of the 20th February, and the present Bill, were by no means contradictory to each other; for the noble marquis could not possibly believe that the Americans would comply with the terms of the Resolution, while they resisted the conditions of this Bill, which were no more, than that the trade between both countries should be carried on in its usual manner.
Mr. Alderman Saxobridge spoke strongly against the Bill, observing, as it originated in manifest injustice, so it inflicted a punishment to the last degree cruel and oppressive. He hoped America would never tamely acquiesce to be dragooned and compelled to submit to terms as unjust, as the power which dictated them was obnoxious to the natural rights of mankind.
Mr. Alderman Bull. I shall only mention some facts relating to one very important article, because it has been the occasion of the unhappy disputes with, and the violent prosecution of, the Americans. I mean the article of tea. At the time the East India Company had in contemplation the sending a quantity of tea to different parts of Europe as well as to America, and to apply to parliament for an act for that purpose, I had the honour to be called upon for my opinion of the
measure by a very respectable person in the direction of the Company, whose name I am ready to mention, if called upon by the House. My opinion then was, and I still think it not ill-founded, that the scheme was so extravagantly wild, that it was impossible it should ever be carried into execution; but if it could, it would injure, not benefit the Company, as they could not send their tea to any market where it would bring so good a price as at home. Besides, it would be an act of great injustice to the merchants here, who have always been used to buy for exportation at their sales. As to sending tea to America, from a knowledge of their disposition, the gentleman was informed they would not receive it; they would look upon it as sent there, not to serve them but to ensnare them; they would be exceedingly irritated; they would most certainly destroy it.—An objection was, however, raised. What must the Company do with their great load of tea, and how were they to raise the money they were so much distressed for i It was recommended to him to propose to the court of directors immediately to give out their declaration for two sales, the one in March, the other in September, and to put up their whole stock in hand; each sale, on a moderate computation, would produce about 1,200,000/.; and as they would be in cash for the first of them in about five months, they, the Company, perhaps might not be under the necessity of borrowing the 1,400,000/. they then wanted. The quantity of tea at that time in the Company's hands was said to be sufficient for six years consumption, and that great part of it was rotting in their warehouses. The real fact, however, was this : the Company then had 164 millions pounds weight, not any of which nad been in their warehouse more than a year and a half, and the greater part was of the last year's importation ; none of it had suffered by keeping. The consumption, on the average of the preceding five years, was 8 millions per annum; so that the Company had in their warehouses a quantity sufficient only for two years, and not six years consumption.
If these sales had taken place, the pnee of bohea tea, the principal sort in demand for exportation, would have been reduced 4rf. or 5d. per lb. which .probably might have increased the demand for exportation and home consumption together, even to 12 millions per ann. Iamoftbi* opinion, Sir, because the four foreign East India Companies, viz. the Dutch, Danes, French, and Swedes, annually import more than 8 millions, although it is well known they do not themselves consume near half that quantity; the remaining four or five millions they constantly import, for the sole purpose of smuggling it into England, Scotland, Ireland, and America. The quantity that we have exported on the average of the before-mentioned five years, has been about 1,400,000 pounds; but this would be greatly increased, the price being only 20rf. from which is to be deducted for the drawback, £ per cent, which reduces it to \5d. on board; and if we add to this even the fatal American 3d., it will be only 18rf.; this price might perhaps have induced the Americans, as before, to receive the tea from the merchants, though not from the Company, and it would at once have put an end to all smuggling, for neither the Dutch or any other company would think it worth their while to send tea to America, to be sold under 18rf. per lb.—I will not trouble the House with any observations on these facts; but I own I cannot be brought to believe that the tea was sent to Boston to raise money for the Company, to get rid of their load of tea, or to prevent smuggling, because each of those salutary ends might have been answered without injustice, or offence to any individual. The purpose for which the tea was •ent to America, and the consequence, are evident now to every man's understanding. For these reasons, amongst others, I hitherto have, and shall continue, to the utmost of my power, to support the Americans, thus injured and oppressed by the cruel and vindictive measures of an administration, whose whole conduct breathes the spirit of persecution and popery.
Sir John Duntze said, that the Americans had by their open violence and repeated acts of disobedience, forfeited the good-will and protection of this country ; and that it therefore became necessary for us to retaliate, in order to bring them back to a proper sense of their duty.
General Conivay condemned the Bill in very explicit term's. He said, to be consistent, the House should either rescind the Resolution of the 20th February, or •uspend any farther proceedings on the present Bill, till the effect and event of that proposition were known, otherwise we wight possibly be inflicting the most severe punishment on people who were at
the same instant acting in the strictest conformity to what was solemnly laid down by this House as the great rule by which their duty and obedience were to be regulated. He concluded with lamenting the unhappy divided state of both countries, and expressing his fears of the dreadful consequences which must follow, should the sword be once drawn, and the whole empire convulsed with all the horrors of a civil war.
Mr. Rigby said, the Americans would not fight. They would never oppose general Gage with force of arras.
Sir Richard Sutton was strongly for passing the Bill.
Mr. T. Toivnshend observed, that the noble lord, (North) and his friends, first created the necessity, and then, defended the measure upon that very ground; that is, said he, we do a thing we should not have done, our first essay being imperfect, and not to be executed upon the plan we first formed, it then becomes necessary we should do something else, if possible, more unjust than the former; so that, on the whole, we endeavour to carry into execution one act of injustice by exercising another, thus become necessary to give it effect.
The question being put that the Bill do pass, the Yeas went forth.
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So it was resolved in the affirmative.
Debate in the Commons respecting the Charter of the Borough of Saltash.^ April 3. Lord Folkestone moved, " That the reservation contained in the last charter granted to the borough of Saltash, and expressed in these words, ' Which ' mayor, as well present as future, for ' neglect or default, or any other reason' able cause, we will, shall be amoveable ' by us, our heirs, and successors,' is unconstitutional, as it tends to restrain the freedom of elections, and of returns of members to serve in parliament for the said borough, and establishes a precedent dangerous to the Commons of Great Britain, and to the public liberty of the realm." His lordship, in a long and able speech, pointed out the manifold dangers which might result from the interferenca of the crown in such boroughs as send represervatives to parliament. He shewed, that the charter in question gave to the crown a power of removing the mayor at pleasure; that that mayor was, 1. an acting magistrate for the borough, ex-ojficio, consequently, that his being removable at pleasure, was a circumstance incompatible with the principles of justice. 2. That his consent was necessary for filling up the body, consequently the crown had indirectly a subsisting influence in those elections, which manifestly tended to the influencing parliamentary elections. But Sdly, and chiefly, that he was the returning officer for the borough, consequently that it was not to be imagined but that he would be removed at the eve of an election, if he was not in the interest of the minister, and that, by getting another more favourable in his place, the minister would be sure of the return. He compared the ends of the clause with the judicial sentence of despotic power,' sic voto, sic jubeo, stat pro ratione voluntas.' He said that the exclusion of pensioners from the House, was a proof that men felt, that a person under influence or the bias •f interest would not be independent. He •aid, that in part the members for Saltash must be the minister's nominees in future times, though the independency of the present members (sir Charles Whitworth, and Mr. Grey Cooper,) might seem to take off the weight of this argument, as at least it prevented the application of that term with propriety at present; that burgage tenure boroughs had been often complained of as the bane of this constitution, but the mischief resulting from them was not to be compared with that of such boroughs as Saltash, for though the elections in the former case were reduced to a few hands, yet they were the hands of the people, whereas, this was putting elections into those of the king, and consequently confounding the component parts of the" legislature. He admitted that the model of the charter was not new; for that it was taken from one of Charles 2's in the year 168S, a time so inauspicious to liberty of all kinds, that he never could have believed modern times would have quoted such a one as a precedent, much less as a justification, lie expatiated very fully on the attempts of two monarchs of the House of Stuart, who finding all other attempts prove unsuccessful, had at length recourse to the garbling of corporations, and granting new charters, as the only certain means of undermining,
and in time, totally destroying the constitution. He quoted sir George Treby and sir John Dairy mplc as authorities to prove the intention; the bishop of Londonderry, Dr. King, to ascertain the effects of such charters. He said, that defending this charter because it is the same as Charles 2's, was an argument like what jmdorii causa had not been attempted, but with equal reason might have been in the late Grenada cause,* when depending on prerogative to raise money by proclamation, they might have said Charles 1 levied ship-money by prerogative, and he observed as a remarkable circumstance, that in thelast century an innovation upon the subjects' right of raising public money, and of chusing their own representatives, was attempted, but they were in different reigns, when neither attempt had been previously condemned by parliament. He said it would have been ridiculous, perhaps last year to have complained of Charles 2's charter; is it improper to complain when it is renewed ?—the illegal clause must be inserted by accident, or design—if the latter, the law officers adopt its illegality, and make it their own. They must allow, its being a mere copy of Charles's does not make it legal: and if it does not, they must either contend, that Charles had no intentions of destroying the liberties of this country in his modelling of corporations, or that in the instance of Saltash he deviated from that plan; or they mutt admit that he had such a plan; that the Saltash charter was part of that plan, and consequently, that it had the objection imputed to the new charter, which is a copy of it. He said, the clause in question was not in the charter previous to 1683, and that therefore those who were, upon principle, friends of the constitution, and of the royal family on the throne, had great cause to complain that, as that king had made a change so hurtful to liberty, the advisers of his present Majesty would not make an alteration, if it was only to counteract the mischiefs of their predecessors. He quoted lord Mansfield that such reservation was unnecessary, and so justified his apprehension, that being needful for a good purpose, it was designed for some bad one.
Mr. Powys seconded the motion, with an apology for his taking up a matter so
* For a full account of the Proceedingsin the Case of the Island of Grenada, See Howell's State Trials, vol. 30, p- 239.
intricate as the construction of charters; but said, that as the present spoke not the abstruse doctrines of law, but plain English, intelligible to the meanest understanding, he could not resist the invitation of his noble friend to assist him in an enquiry of this nature. That he was sensible the learned gentlemen, who were almost parties in this business, and were particular!)' called upon to support a defensive siile, were used in the course of their profession to quirks and subtleties, which might puzzle and perplex the unlearned, but their recollection that they were not advocates here, but members of parliament, ought, and he did not doubt would, induce them to use a mere open and manly conduct. He said, the charter, as favourable to prerogative, they might think it their duty as servants of the crown to promote ; but if it could ever be said, that it was any person's duty to extend the prerogative, fie was sure it was the duty of that House to check and controul it. He took this opportunity of declaiming against the Stuarts, to express his abhorrence likewise of all those who were in the opposite extreme: and concluded with saying, the mover and himself might be called Quixotes in politics ; but he feared no appellation, when he was contending for the exercise of the peculiar function of that House.
Mr. Attorney General T/iurluiv began »'ith lamenting, that he was not apprized sufficiently of the objections that might have been taken to the charter to be able immediately to defend every part of it, 'bough he thought every part of it perfectly defensible. That with regard to the clause singled out for the animadversion "I the House, (if, in fact, the noble lord was serious in his motion), he could not belp being sorry that it was not hinted to nim before ; for he was firmly convinced, 'bat half an hour's private conversation ^'th him and the hon. seconder, would "»ve reconciled it to their minds. He said he always did, and always would, eave the lawyer in Westminster-hall, and be in that House a member of parliament; 'bat as he controverted the premises of 'be noble lord's argument, he should have io occasion to take notice of those generous sentiments of liberty, which he seemed to entertain ; that he heartily went *"b him in> those sentiments, and should 06 sorry to think any man in the kingdom m°fe a friend to the revolution than him*"■ The noble lord and his friend had
gone upon an evident mistake, that the king, his heirs and successors are the king, &c. in their courts of justice ; Tie quoted Dyer over and over again, that in legal interpretation ' rex noscitur per judices ' non per se;' that no legal power can reside personally in the king. He pointed out an alteration that had been made in the new charter, the omission of a clause which in the old one directed that the removal should be by privy seal or sign manual; and contended that as sir Robert Sawyer (whose character as a politician he set out of the case) was confessedly a learned man, that clause directing the means of removal was contrived by him merely because he knew the clause complained of would be of no effect without it, as contradictory to a fundamental maxim of the law, that the king cannot act in person.
Mr. Dunning replied, that he thought the House and the nation at large, much obliged to the worthy member who had brought before them an enquiry at least so constitutional; that they had done him the favour to confer with him on the propriety of the motion ; that from a slight, consideration at that time, he was convinced they were strictly justified in their interpretation of this clause; that he had since more seriously considered it, and on the most mature deliberation was of the clearest opinion, that the interpretation given by them was the true and only one that could be put upon it; that as the attorney general of James 2, had been quoted with some applause by his learned friend, who was at present in the same office, he was sincerely happy to hear laid out of the commendable part of his character, this activity to introduce arbitrary power; that if he agreed with him that sir Robert Sawyer was a learned man, it must be admitted in return, he was too learned to insert a nugatory clause, such as he had contended the clause in question to be. He agreed in the position, that the king cannot act in his person, but insisted that the clause of the charter, contained in the motion, was meant to reserve or create that power; therefore the motion gives it the proper title, That it is, unconstitutional. He observed, that it was said the other day, that the present charter was a transcript of the old : the words of the former charter are, ' Ad bene placitutn nostrum voluntas esse amobilem;' the words of the new, < We will, he shall be amoveable by us.' He insisted they