Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

great fleet, and foreign army since employed, been at that time called for, the greatness of the preparation would have declared the magnitude of the danger. The nation would have been alarmed, and taught the necessity of some means of reconciliation with our countrymen in America, who, whenever they are provoked to resistance, demand a force to reduce them to obedience full as destructive to us as to them. But Parliament and the people, by a premeditated concealment of their real situation, were drawn into perplexities, which furnished excuses for further armaments; and whilst they were taught to believe themselves called to suppress a riot, they found themselves involved in a mighty War.

At length British blood was spilled by British hands a fatal era, which we must ever deplore, because your Empire will for ever feel it! Your Majesty was touched with a sense of so great a disaster. Your paternal breast was affected with the sufferings of your English Subjects in America. In your Speech from the Throne, in the beginning of the Session of 1775, you were graciously pleased to declare yourself inclined to relieve their distresses, and to pardon their errours. You felt their sufferings under the late penal Acts of Parliament. But your Ministry felt differently. Not discouraged by the pernicious effects of all they had hitherto advised, and notwithstanding the gracious declaration

N 4

of

of your Majesty, they obtained another Act of Parliament, in which the rigours of all the former were consolidated, and embittered by circumstances of additional severity and outrage. The whole trading property of America (even uncffending shipping in port) was indiscriminately and irrecoverably given, as the plunder of foreign Enemies, to the sailors of

your Navy. This property was put out of the reach of your mercy. Your people were despoiled; and your Navy, by a new, dangerous, and prolifick example, corrupted with the plunder of their countrymen. Your people in that part of your dominions were put, in their general and political, as well as their personal, capacity, wholly out of the protection of your Government.

Though unwilling to dwell on all the improper modes of carrying on this unnatural and ruinous War, and which have led directly to the present unhappy separation of Great Britain and its Colonies, we must beg leave to represent two particulars, which we are sure must have been entirely contrary to your Majesty's order or approbation. Every course of action in hostility, however that hostility may be just or merited, is not justifiable or excusable. It is the duty of those, who claim to rule : over others, not to provoke them beyond the necessity of the case; nor to leave stings in their minds, which must long rankle, even when the appearance of tranquillity is restored. We therefore assure

your

[ocr errors]

your Majesty, that it is with shanie and sorrow we have seen several acts of hostility, which could have no other tendency than incurably to alienate the minds of your American Subjects. To excite, by a Proclamation issued by your Majesty's Governour, an universal insurrection of Negro Slaves in any of the Colonies, is a measure full of complicated horrours; absolutely illegal; suitable neither to the practice of war, nor to the laws of peace. Of the same quality we look upon all attempts to bring down on your Subjects an irruption of those fierce and cruel tribes of Savages and Cannibals, in whom the vestiges of human nature are nearly effaced by ignorance and barbarity. They are not fit Allies for your Majesty, in a war with your people. They are not fit instruments of an English Government. These, and many other acts, we disclaim as having advised, or approved when done; and we clear ourselves to your Majesty, and to all civilized nations, from any participation whatever, before or after the fact, in such unjustifiable and horrid proceedings.

But there is one weighty circumstance, which we lament equally with the causes of the War, and with the modes of carrying it on-that no disposition whatsoever towards peace or reconciliation has ever been shown by those, who have directed the publick Councils of this Kingdom, either before the breaking out of these hostilities, or during the unhappy

unhappy continuance of thein. Every proposition, made in your Parliament to remove the original cause of these troubles, by taking off Taxes, obnoxious for their principle or their design, has been over-ruled every Bill, brought in for quiet, réjected, even on the first proposition. The Petitions of the Colonies have not been admitted even to an hearing. The very possibility of publick agency, by which such Petitions could authentically arrive at Parliament, has been evaded and chicaned away. All the publick declarations, which indicate any thing resembling a disposition to reconciliation, seem to us loose, general, equivocal, capable of various meanings, or of none; and they are accordingly construed differently, at different times, by those, on whose recommendation they have been made; being wholly unlike the precision and stability of publick faith; and bearing no mark of that ingenuous simplicity, and native candour and integrity, which formerly characterized the English nation.

Instead of any relaxation of the claim of taxing at the discretion of Parliament, your Ministers have devised a new mode of enforcing that claim, much more effectual for the oppression of the Colonies, though not for your Majesty's Service, both as to the quantity and application, than any of the former methods; and their mode has been expressly held out by Ministers, as a plan not to be departed from by the House of Commons, and as the very con

dition, on which the Legislature is to accept the dependence of the Colonies.

At length, when, after repeated refusals to hear or to conciliate, an Act, dissolving your Government by putting your people in America out of your protection, was passed, your Ministers suffered several months to elapse without affording to them, or to any Community, or any Individual amongst them, the means of entering into that protection, even on unconditional submission, contrary to your Majesty's gracious Declaration from the Throne, and in direct violation of the publick faith.

We cannot, therefore, agree to unite in new severities against the brethren of our blood for their asserting an independency, to which, we know in our conscience, they have been necessitated, by the conduct of those very persons, who now make use of that argument to provoke us to a continuance and repetition of the acts, which in a regular series have led to this great misfortune.

The reasons, dread Sir, which have been used to justify this perseverance in a refusal to hear or conciliate, have been reduced into a sort of Parliamentary maxims, which we do not approve. The first of these maxims is, " that the Two Houses ought not "to receive (as they have hitherto refused to re"ceive) Petitions containing matter derogatory to

<<

any part of the authority they claim." We conceive this maxim, and the consequent practice, to

be

« ForrigeFortsæt »