Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

be unjustifiable by reason or the practice of other sovereign powers, and that it must be productive, if adhered to, of a total separation between this kingdom and its dependencies. The supreme power, being in ordinary cases the ultimate judge, can, as we conceive, suffer nothing in having any part of his rights excepted to, or even discussed, before himself. We know, that Sovereigns in other countries, where the assertion of absolute regal power is as high as the assertion of absolute power in any politick body can possibly be here, have received many Petitions in direct opposition to many of their claims of prerogative; have listened to them; condescended to discuss, and to give answers to them. This refusal to admit even the discussion of any part of an undefined prerogative will naturally tend to annihilate any privilege, that can be claimed by every inferiour dependent Community, and every subordinate order in the State.

1

The next maxim, which has been put as a bar to any plan of accommodation, is," that no offer "of terms of Peace ought to be made, before "Parliament is assured, that these terms will be "accepted." On this we beg leave to represent to your Majesty, that if, in all events, the policy of this kingdom is to govern the people in your Colonies as a free people, no mischief can possibly happen from a declaration to them, and to the world, of the manner and form, in which Parlia ment

14

ment proposes, that they shall enjoy the freedom it protects. It is an encouragement to the innocent and meritorious, that they, at least, shall enjoy those advantages, which they patiently expected, rather from the benignity of Parliament than their own efforts. Persons more contumacious may also see, that they are resisting terms of, perhaps, greater freedom and happiness, than they are now in arms to obtain. The glory and propriety of offered mercy is neither tarnished or weakened by the folly of those, who refuse to take advantage of it.

We cannot think, that the declaration of Independency makes any natural difference in the reason and policy of the offer. No Prince, out of the possession of his dominions, and become. a Sovereign de jure only, ever thought it derogatory to his rights or his interests to hold out to his former Subjects a distinct prospect of the advantages to be derived from his re-admission, and a security for some of the most fundamental of those popular privileges, in vindication of which he had been deposed. On the contrary, such offers have been almost uniformly made under similar circumstances. Besides, as your Majesty has been graciously pleased, in your Speech from the Throne, to declare your intention of restoring your people in the Colonies to a state of Law and Liberty, no objection can possibly lie against defining what that Law and Liberty are; because those, who offer,

and

[ocr errors]

and those, who are to receive terms frequently differ most widely, and most materially, in the signification of these words, and in the objects, to which they apply.

To say that we do not know, at this day, what the grievances of the Colonies are, (be they real or pretended) would be unworthy of us. But, whilst we are thus waiting to be informed of what we perfectly know, we weaken the powers of the Commissioners; we delay, perhaps we lose, the happy hour of Peace; we are wasting the substance of both countries; we are continuing the effusion of human, of christian, of English blood.

We are sure that we must have your Majesty's heart along with us, when we declare in favour of mixing something conciliatory with our force. Sir, we abhor the idea of making á conquest of our countrymen. We wish, that they may yield to well ascertained, well authenticated, and well secured, terms of reconciliation; not, that your Majesty should owe the recovery of your dominions to their total waste and destruction. Humanity will not permit us to entertain such a desire; nor will the reverence we bear to the civil rights of mankind make us even wish, that questions of great difficulty, of the last importance, and lying deep in the vital principles of the British Constitution, should be solved by the arms of foreign mercenary soldiers. It is not, Sir, from a want of the most inviolable

20

duty

[ocr errors]

e Cist

duty to your Majesty, not from a want of a partial
and passionate regard to that part of your Empire,
in which we reside, and which we wish to be supreme,
that we have hitherto withstood all attempts to
render the supremacy of one part of your dominions
inconsistent with the liberty and safety of all the
rest. The motives of our opposition are found in
those very sentiments, which we are supposed to
violate. For we are convinced beyond a doubt,
that a system of dependence, which leaves no se-
curity to the people for any part of their freedom
in their own hands, cannot be established in any
inferiour member of the British Empire, without
consequentially destroying the freedom of that very
body, in favour of whose boundless pretensions such
a scheme is adopted. We know, and feel, that
arbitrary power over distant regions is not within
the competence, nor to be exercised agreeably to
the forms, or consistently with the spirit, of great
popular assemblies. If such assemblies are called
to a nominal share in the exercise of such power,
in order to screen, under general participation, the
guilt of desperate measures, it tends only the more
deeply to corrupt the deliberative character of those
assemblies, in training them to blind obedience; in
habituating them to proceed upon grounds of fact,
with which they can rarely be sufficiently acquainted,
and in rendering them executive instruments of
designs, the bottom of which they cannot possibly
fathom.

[ocr errors]

ance

[ocr errors]

to th

M

[ocr errors]

4

To

1

To leave any real freedom to Parliament, freedom must be left to the Colonies. A military Government is the only substitute for civil liberty. That the establishment of such a power in America will utterly ruin our finances (though its certain effect) is the smallest part of our concern. It will become an apt, powerful, and certain engine for the destruction of our freedom here. Great bodies of armed men, trained to a contempt of popular as'semblies representative of an English people; kept up for the purpose of exacting impositions without their consent, and maintained by that exaction; instruments in subverting, without any process of Law, great ancient establishments and respected forms of Governments; set free from, and therefore above, the ordinary English tribunals of the country, where they serve;these men cannot so transform themselves, merely by crossing the sea, as to behold with love and reverence, and submit with profound obedience to, the very same things in great Britain, which in America they had been taught to despise, and had been accustomed to awe and humble. All your Majesty's troops, in the rotation of service, will pass through this discipline, and contract these habits. If we could flatter our selves, that this would not happen, we must be the weakest of men: we must be the worst, if we were indifferent, whether it happened or not. What, gracious Sovereign, is the Empire of América to us, or the Empire of the world, if we lose our own liberties?

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »