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felix faustumque sit)--lay the first stone of the temple of peace; and I move you,
“ That the colonies and plantations of Great Britain in North America, consisting of fourteen separate governments, and containing two millions and upwards of free inhabitants, have not had the liberty and privilege of electing and sending any knights and burgesses, or others, to represent them in the high court of parliament."
Upon this resolution, the previous question was put, and carried ;--for the previous question 270, against it 78.
As the propositions were opened separately in the body of the speech, the reader perhaps may wish to see the whole of them together, in the form in which they were moved for.
MOVED, “That the colonies and plantations of Great Britain in North America, consisting of fourteen separate governments, and containing two millions and upwards of free inhabitants, have not had the liberty and privilege of electing and sending any knights and burgesses, or others, to represent them in the high court of parliament.”
“That the said colonies and plantations have been made liable to, and bounden by, several subsidies, payments, rates, and taxes, given and granted by parliament; though the said colonies and plantations have not their knights and burgesses, in the said high court of parliament, of their own election, to represent the condition of their country, by lack whereof, they have been oftentimes touched and grieved by subsidies given, granted, and assented to, in the said court, in a manner prejudicial to the common wealth, quietness, rest, and peace, of the subjects inhabiting within the same.”
“That, from the distance of the said colonies, and from other circumstances, no method hath hitherto been devised for procuring a representation in parliament for the said colonies."
“ That each of the said colonies hath within itself a body,
chosen, in part or in the whole, by the freemen, freeholders, or other free inhabitants thereof, commonly called the general assembly, or general court; with powers legally to raise, levy, and assess, according to the several usage of such colonies, duties and taxes towards defraying all sorts of publick services.'
“ That the said general assemblies, general courts, or other bodies, legally qualified as aforesaid, have at sundry times freely granted several large subsidies and publick aids for his majesty's service, according to their abilities, when required thereto by letter from one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state ; and that their right to grant the same, and their cheerfulness and sufficiency in the said grants, have been at sundry times acknowledged by parliament.”
“ That it hath been found by experience, that the manner of granting the said supplies and aids, by the said general assemblies, hath been more agreeable to the inhabitants of the said colonies, and more beneficial and conducive to the publick service, than the mode of giving and granting aids and subsidies in parliament to be raised and paid in the said colonies.”
“ That it may be proper to repeal an act, made in the 7th year of the reign of his present majesty, intituled, An act for granting certain duties in the British colonies and plantations in America ; for allowing a drawback of the duties of customs, upon the exportation from this kingdom, of coffee and cocoa-nuts, of the produce of the said colonies or plantations ; for discontinuing the drawbacks payable on China earthenware exported to America; and for more effectually preventing the clandestine running of goods in the said colonies and plantations."
“ That it may be proper to repeal an act, made in the 14th year of the reign of his present majesty, intituled, An
* The first four motions and the last had the previous question put on them. The others were negatived.
The words in Italicks, were, by an amendment that was carried, left out of the motion ; which will appear in the journals, though it is not the practice to insert such amendments in the votes,
act to discontinue, in such manner, and for such time, as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, lading or shipping of goods, wares and merchandize, at the town, and within the harbour, of Boston, in the province of Massachuset's Bay, in North America.”
“ That it may be proper to repeal an act, made in the 14th
year of the reign of his present majesty, intituled, An act for the impartial administration of justice, in cases of persons questioned for any acts done by them in the execution of the law, or for the suppression of riots and tumults, in the province of Massachuset's Bay, in New England.”
“That it is proper to repeal an act, made in the 14th year of the reign of his present majesty, intituled, An act for the better regulating the government of the province of Massachuset's Bay, in New England.”
“That it is proper to explain and amend an act, made in the 35th year of the reign of King Henry VIII. intituled, An act for the trial of treasons committed out of the King's dominions."
“ That, from the time when the general assembly, or general court, of any colony or plantation, in North America, shall have appointed, by act of assembly duly confirmed, a settled salary to the offices of the chief justice and judges of the superiour courts, it may be proper that the said chief justice and other judges of the superiour courts of such colony shall hold his and their office and offices during their good behaviour; and shall not be removed therefrom, but when the said removal shall be adjudged by his majesty in council, upon a hearing on complaint from the general assembly, or on a complaint from the governour, or council, or the house of representatives, severally, of the colony in which the said chief justice and other judges have exercised the said office."
“That it may be proper to regulate the courts of admiralty, or vice-admiralty, authorized by the 15th chapter of the 4th of George III. in such a manner, as to make the same more commodious to those who sue, or are sued, in the said courts ; and to provide for the more decent maintenance of the judges of the same."
FROM MR. BURKE, TO JOHN FARR AND JOHN HARRIS, EsQRS. SHERIFFS OF THE CITY OF BRISTOL,
ON THE AFFAIRS OF AMERICA. 1777.
GENTLEMEN, I have the honour of sending you the two last acts which have been passed with regard to the troubles in America. These acts are similar to all the rest which have been made on the same subject. They operate by the same principle ; and they are derived from the very same policy. I think they complete the number of that sort of statutes to nine. It affords no matter for very pleasing reflection, to observe, that our subjects diminish, as our laws increase.
If I have the misfortune of differing with some of my fellow-citizens on this great and arduous subject, it is no small consolation to me, that I do not differ from you. With you, I am perfectly united. We are heartily agreed in our detestation of a civil war. We have ever expressed the most unqualified disapprobation of all the steps which have led to it, and of all those which tend to prolong it. And I have no doubt that we feel exactly the same emotions of grief and shame on all its miserable consequences; whether they appear, on the one side or the other, in the shape of victories or defeats, of captures made from the English on the continent, or from the English in these islands ; of legislative regulations which subvert the liberties of our brethren, or which undermine our own.
Of the first of these statutes (that for the letter of marque) I shall say little. Exceptionable as it may be, and as I think it is in some particulars, it seems the natural, perhaps necessary result of the measures we have taken, and the situation we are in. The other (for a partial suspension of the Habeas Corpus) appears to me of a much deeper malignity. During its progress through the house of commons, it has been amended, so as to express more distinctly than at first it did,
the avowed sentiments of those who framed it: and the main ground of my exception to it is, because it does express, and does carry into execution, purposes which appear to me so contradictory to all the principles, not only of the constitutional policy of Great Britain, but even of that species of hostile justice, which no asperity of war wholly extinguishes in the minds of a civilized people.
It seems to have in view two capital objects; the first, to enable administration to confine, as long as it shall think proper, those, whom that act is pleased to qualify by the name of pirates. Those so qualified, I understand to be, the commanders and mariners of such privateers and ships of war belonging to the colonies, as in the course of this unhappy contest may fall into the hands of the crown. They are therefore to be detained in prison, under the criminal description of piracy, to a future trial and ignominious punishment, whenever circumstances shall make it convenient to execute vengeance on them, under the colour of that odious and infamous offence.
To this first purpose of the law, I have no small dislike; because the act does not, (as all laws, and all equitable transactions ought to do) fairly describe its object. The persons, who make a naval war upon us, in consequence of the present troubles, may be rebels; but to call and treat them as pirates, is confounding, not only the natural distinction of things, but the order of crimes; which, whether by putting them from a higher part of the scale to the lower, or from the lower to the higher, is never done without dangerously disordering the whole frame of jurisprudence. Though piracy may be, in the eye of the law, a less offence than treason; yet as both are, in effect, punished with the same death, the same forfeiture, and the same corruption of blood, I never would take from any fellow creature whatever, any sort of advantage which he may derive to his safety from the pity of mankind, or to his reputation from their general feelings, by degrading his offence, when I cannot soften his punishment. The general sense of mankind tells me, that those offences, which may possibly arise from mistaken virtue, are not in the class