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To arms! to arms! Ring out the call!
In cottage, mart, or lordly hall!
Though hearts shall break while graves are filled!
The dragon on St. Bavon's tower
Keeps watch until this very hour, And Freedom so stands safe in Ghent!
There merrier bells now ring
And people shout "God save the King!"
Wherever friends of liberty
In trial's hour have need of thee!
Till tyranny from earth shall cease,
And every nation dwell in peace! Then Freemen, under God's command,
May beat to priming-hooks their spears;—
In both the brother hemispheres.
Theodore Tilton—adapted. LXXIL—TAXATION OF THE COLONIES.
SIR: I agree with the honorable gentleman who spoke last, that this subject is not new to this House. Very disagreeably to this House, very unfortunately to this nation, and to the peace and prosperity of this whole empire, no topic has been more familiar to us. For nine long years, session after session, we have been lashed round and round this miserable circle of occasional arguments and temporary expedients. I am sure our heads must turn and our stomachs nauseate with them. We have had them in every shape; we have looked at them in every point of view. Invention is exhausted; reason is fatigued; experience has given judgment; but obstinacy is not yet conquered.
2. The act of 1767, which grants this tea-duty, sets forth in its preamble, that it was expedient to raise a revenue in America for. the support of the civil government there, as well as for purposes still more extensive. About two years after this act was passed, the ministry thought it expedient to repeal five of the duties, and to leave (for reasons best known to themselves) only the sixth standing.
3. But I hear it rung continually in my ears, now and formerly,—" The preamble! what will become of the preamble if you repeal this tax?" The clerk will be so good as to turn to this act, and to read this favorite preamble.
4. "Whereas it is expedient that a revenue should be raised in your Majesty's dominions in America, for making a more certain and adequate provision for defraying the charge of the administration of justice and support of civil government in such provinces where it shall be found necessary, and towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the said dominions."
5. You have heard this pompous performance. Now, where is the revenue which is to do all these mighty things? Five-sixths repealed,—abandoned,—sunk,—gone, —lost forever. Does the poor solitary tea-duty support the purposes of this preamble? Is not the supply there stated as effectually abandoned as if the tea-duty had perished in the general wreck? Here, Mr. Speaker, is a precious mockery :—a preamble without an act,—taxes granted in order to be repealed,—and the reasons of the grant still carefully kept up! This is raising a revenue in America! This is preserving dignity in England!
6. Never did a people suffer so much for the empty words of a preamble. It must be given up. For on what principle does it stand? This famous revenue stands, at this hour, on all the debate, as a description of revenue not as yet known in all the comprehensive (but too comprehensive !) vocabulary of finance,—a preambulary tax. It is, indeed, a tax of sophistry, a tax of pedantry, a tax of disputation, a tax of war and rebellion, a tax for anything but benefit to the imposers or satisfaction to the subject.
7. Well! but whatever it is, gentlemen will force the colonists to take the teas. You will force .them? Has seven years' struggle been yet able to force them? Oh, but it seems "we are in the right. The tax is trifling,—in effect rather an exoneration than an imposition: three-fourths of the duty formerly payable on teas exported to America is taken off,—the place of collection is only shifted; instead of the retention of a shilling from the drawback here, it is three-pence custom paid in America."
8. All this, sir, is very true. But this is the very folly and mischief of the act. Incredible as it may seem, you know that you have deliberately thrown away a large duty, which you held secure and quiet in your hands, for the vain hope of getting one three-fourths less, through every hazard, through certain litigation, and possibly through war.
9. Could anything be a subject of more just alarm to America than to see you go out of the plain high-road of finance, and give up your most certain revenues and your clearest interest, merely for the sake of insulting the colonies? No man ever doubted that the commodity of tea could bear an imposition of three pence. But no commodity will bear three pence, or will bear a penny, when the general feelings of men are irritated, and two millions of people are resolved not to pay.
10. The feelings of the colonies were formerly the feelings of Great Britain. Theirs were formerly the feelings of Mr. Hampden, when called upon for the payment of twenty shillings. Would twenty shillings have ruined Mr. Hampden's fortune? No! but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the principle it was demanded, would have made him a slave. It is the weight of that preamble, of which you are so fond, and not the weight of the duty, that the Americans are unable and unwilling to bear.
11. It is, then, sir, upon the principle of this measure, and nothing else, that we are at issue. It is a principle of political expediency. Your act of 1767 asserts that it is expedient to raise a revenue in America; your act of 1769, which takes .away that revenue, contradicts the act of 1767, and, by something much stronger than words, asserts that it is not expedient. It is a reflection upon your wisdom to persist in a solemn parliamentary declaration of the expediency of any object, for which, at the same time, you make no provision.
12. And pray, sir, let not this circumstance escape you,— it is very material,—that the preamble of this act which we wish to repeal is not declaratory of a right, as some gentlemen seem to argue it: it is only a recital of the expediency of a certain exercise of right supposed already to have been asserted; an exercise you are now contending for by ways and means which you confess, though they were obeyed, to be utterly insufficient for their purpose. You are, therefore, at this moment in the awkward situation of fighting for a phantom,—a quiddity,—a thing that wants not only a substance, but even a name,—for a thing which is neither abstract right nor profitable enjoyment.
13. They tell you, sir, that your dignity is tied to it. I know not how it happens, but this dignity of yours is a terrible incumbrance to you; for it has of late been ever at war with your interest, your equity, and every idea of your policy. Show the thing you contend for to be reason, show it to be common sense, show it to be the means of attaining some useful end, and then I am content to allow it what dignity you please. But what dignity is derived from the perseverance in absurdity is more than ever I could -liscern.
14. The honorable gentleman has said well, that this subject does not stand as it did formerly. Oh, certainly not! Every hour you continue on this ill-chosen ground, your difficulties thicken around you; and therefore my conclusion is, remove from a bad position as quickly as you can. The disgrace, and the necessity of yielding, both of them, grow upon you every hour of your delay.
LXXIIL—EACH AND ALL.
LITTLE thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown,
I thought the sparrow's note from heaven,