« ForrigeFortsæt »
WE, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, several of the Peers of the Realm, and several Members of the House of Commons chosen by the People to represent them in Parliament, do in our individual capacity, 'but with hearts filled with a warm affection to your Majesty, with a strong attachment to your Royal House, and with the most unfeigned devotion to your true interest, beg leave, at this crisis of your affairs, in all humility to approach your Royal presence.
Whilst we lament the meașures adopted by the publick Councils of the Kingdom, we do not mean to question the legal validity of their proceedings. We do not desire to appeal from them to any person whatsoever. We do not dispute the conclusive authority of the bodies, in which we have a place, over all their Members. We know, that it is our ordinary duty to submit ourselves to the determinations of the Majority, in every thing, except what regards the just defence of our honour and reputațion. But the situation, into which the British
See note, p. 161.
Empire has been brought, and the conduct, to which we are reluctantly driven in that situation, we hold ourselves bound by the relation, in which we stand, both to the Crown and the People, clearly to explain to your Majesty and our Country.
We have been called upon in the Speech from the Throne at the opening of this Session of Parliament, in a manner peculiarly marked, singularly emphatical, and from a place, from whence any thing implying censure falls with no common weight, to concur in unanimous approbation of those measures, which have produced our present distresses, and threaten us in future with others far more grievous. We trust, therefore, that we shall stand justified in offering to our Sovereign and the Publick our reasons for persevering inflexibly in our uniform dissent from every part of those measures. We lament them from an experience of their mischief, as we originally opposed them from a sure foresight of their unhappy and inevitable tendency
We see nothing in the present events, in the least degree, sufficient to warrant an alteration in our opinion. We were always steadily averse to this civil War --not because we thought it impossible, that it should be attended with victory : but because we were fully persuaded, that, in such a contest, victory would only vary the mode of our ruin ; and, by making it less immediately sensible,
- would render it the more lasting and the more irre
trievable. Experience had but too fully instructed us in the possibility of the reduction of a free people to slavery by foreign mercenary armies. But we had an horrour of becoming the instruments in a design, of which, in our turn, we might become the victims. Knowing the inestimable .
value of peace, and the contemptible value of what 1. was sought by War, we wished to compose the disa 6 tractions of our Country, not by the use of foreign
arms, but by prudent regulations in our own domestick policy. We deplored, as your Majesty has done in your speech from the Throne, the disorders, which prevail in your Empire: but we are convinced, that the disorders of the people, in the present time and in the present place, are owing to the usual and natural cause of such disorders, at all times and in all places, where such have prevailed, the misconduct of Government;—that they are owing to plans laid in errour, pursued with obstinacy, and conducted without wisdom.
We cannot attribute so much to the power of faction, at the expense of human nature, as to suppose, that, in any part of the world, a combination of men, few in number, not considerable in rank, of no natural hereditary dependencies, should be able, by the efforts of their policy alone, or the mere exertion of any talents, to bring the people of your American Dominions into the disposition, which has produced the present troubles. We cannot conceive, that, without some powerful concurring cause, any management should prevail on some millions of people, dispersed over an whole Continent, in thirteen Provinces, not only unconnected, but in inany particulars of religion, manners, government, and local interest totally different and adverse, voluntarily to submit themselves to a suspension of all the profits of industry and all the comforts of civil life, added to all the evils of an unequal War carried on with circumstances of the greatest asperity and rigour. This, Sir, we conceive, could never have happened, but from a general sense of some grievance, so radical in its nature, and so spreading in its effects, as to poison all the ordinary satisfactions of life, to discompose the frame of society, and to convert into fear and hatred that habitual reverence ever paid by mankind to an ancient and venerable Government.
That grievance is as simple in its nature, and as level to the most ordinary understanding, as it is powerful in affecting the most languid passions :it is
AN ATTEMPT MADE TO DISPOSE OF THE
WHOLE PEOPLE WITHOUT
Your Majesty's English Subjects in the Colonies, possessing the ordinary faculties of mankind, know, that to live under such a plan of government is not
to live in a state of freedom. Your English Subjects in the Colonies, still impressed with the ancient feelings of the people, from whom they are derived, cannot live under a Government, which does not establish Freedom as it basis.
This scheme being therefore set up in direct opposition to the rooted and confirmed sentiments and habits of thinking of an whole people has produced the effects, which ever must result from such a collision of power and opinion. For we beg leave, with all duty and humility, to represent to your Majesty, (what'we fear has been industriously concealed from you) that it is not merely the opinion of a very great number, or even of the majority, but the universal sense of the whole body of the people in those provinces, that the practice of taxing, in the mode, and on the principles, which have been lately contended for and enforced, is subversive of all their rights.
This sense has been declared, as we understand on good information, by the unanimous voice of all their Assemblies; each Assembly also, on this point, is perfectly unanimous within itself. It has been declared as fully by the actual voice of the people without these Assemblies, as by the constructive voice within them; as well by those in that Country, who addressed, as by those, who remonstrated; and it is as much the avowed opinion of those, who have hazarded their all rather than take up arms