Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

justified and enforced, in case your concessions had been returned by outrages. But, preposterously, you began with violence; and before terrors could have any effect, either good or bad, your ministers immediately begged pardon, and promised that repeal to the obstinate Americans which they had refused in an easy, good-natured, complying British Parliament. The assemblies, which had been publicly and avowedly dissolved for their contumacy, are called together to receive your submission. Your ministerial directors blustered like tragic tyrants here; and then went mlimping with a sore leg in America, canting, and whining, and complaining of faction, which represented them as friends to a revenue from the colonies. I hope nobody in this House will hereafter have the impudence to defend American taxes in the name of ministry. The moment they do, with this letter of attorney in my hand, I will tell them, in the author ized terms, they are wretches “ with factious and seditious views," "enemies to the peace and prosperity of the mother country and the colonies," and subvert

“ of the mutual affection and confidence on which the glory and safety of the British empire depend.”

After this letter, the question is no more on propriety or dignity. They are gone already. The faith of your sovereign is pledged for the political principle. The general declaration in the letter goes to the whole of it. You must therefore either abandon the scheme of taxing, or you must send the ministers tarred and feathered to America, who dared to hold out the royal faith for a renunciation of all taxes for revenue. Them you must punish, or this faith you must preserve. The preservation of this faith is of more consequence than the duties on red

ers

lead, or white lead, or on broken glass, or atlas-ordi nary, or demy-fine, or blue-royal, or bastard, or fools cap, which you have given up, or the three-pence on tea which you retained. The letter went stamped with the public authority of this kingdom. The instructions for the colony government go under no other sanction; and America cannot believe, and will not obey you, if you do not preserve this channel of communication sacred. You are now punishing the colonies for acting on distinctions held out by that very ministry which is here shining in riches, in favor, and in power, and urging the punishment of the very offence to which they had themselves been the tempters.

Sir, if reasons respecting simply your own commerce, which is your own convenience, were the sole grounds of the repeal of the five duties, why does Lord Hillsborough, in disclaiming in the name of the king and ministry their ever having had an intent to tax for revenue, mention it as the means 66 of reëstablishing the confidence and affection of the colonies ?" Is it a way of soothing others, to assure them that you will take good care of yourself? The medium, the only medium, for regaining their affection and confidence is that you will take off something oppressive to their minds. Sir, the letter strongly enforces that idea : for though the repeal of the taxes is promised on commercial principles, yet the means of counteracting the “insinuations of men with factious and seditious views" is by a disclaimer of the intention of taxing for revenue, as a constant, invariable sentiment and rule of conduct in the government of America.

I remember that the noble lord on the floor, not in a former debate to be sure, (it would be disorderly

[ocr errors]

to refer to it, I suppose I read it somewhere,) but the noble lord was pleased to say, that he did not con ceive how it could enter into the head of man to impose such taxes as those of 1767 : I mean those taxes which he voted for imposing, and voted for repealing, -as being taxes, contrary to all the principles of commerce, laid on British manufactures.

I dare say the noble lord is perfectly well read, because the duty of his particular office requires he should be so, in all our revenue laws, and in the policy which is to be collected out of them. Now, Sir, when he had read this act of American revenue, and a little recovered from his astonishment, I suppose he made one step retrograde (it is but one) and looked at the act which stands just before in the statute-book. The American revenue act is the fortyfifth chapter; the other to which I refer is the fortyfourth of the same session. These two acts are both to the same purpose : both revenue acts; both taxing out of the kingdom; and both taxing British manufactures exported. As the forty-fifth is an act for raising a revenue in America, the forty-fourth is an act for raising a revenue in the Isle of Man. The two acts perfectly agree in all respects, except one. In the act for taxing the Isle of Man the noble lord will find, not, as in the American act, four or five articles, but almost the whole body of British manufactures, taxed from two and a half to fifteen per cent, and some articles, such as that of spirits, a great deal higher. You did not think it uncommercial to tax the whole mass of your manufactures, and, let me add, your agriculture too; for, I now recollect, British corn is there also taxed up to ten per cent, and this too in the very head-quarters, the very citadel of

smuggling, the Isle of Man. Now will the noble lord condescend to tell me why he tepealed the taxes on your manufactures sent out to America, and not the taxes on the manufactures exported to the Isle of Man? The principle was exactly the same, the ob jects charged infinitely more extensive, the duties without comparison higher. Why? Why, notwithstanding all his childish pretexts, because the taxes were quietly submitted to in the Isle of Man, and because they raised a flame in America. Your reasons were political, not commercial. The repeal was made, as Lord Hillsborough's letter well expresses it, to regain " the confidence and affection of the colonies, on which the glory and safety of the British empire depend.” A wise and just motive, surely, if ever there was such. But the mischief and dishonor is, that you have not done what you had given the colonies just cause to expect, when your ministers disclaimed the idea of taxes for a revenue. There is nothing simple, nothing manly, nothing ingenuous, open, decisive, or steady, in the proceeding, with regard either to the continuance or the repeal of the

The whole has an air of littleness and fraud. The article of tea is slurred over in the circular letter, as it were by accident: nothing is said of a resolution either to keep that tax or to give it up. There is no fair dealing in any part of the transaction.

If you mean to follow your true motive and your public faith, give up your tax on tea for raising a revenue, the principle of which has, in effect, been disclaimed in your name, and which produces you no advantage, - no, not a penny. Or, if you choose to go on with a poor pretence instead of a solid rea

taxes.

son,

and will still adhere to your cant of commerce, you have ten thousand times more strong commercial reasons for giving up this duty on tea than for abandoning the five others that you have already repounced.

The American consumption of teas is annually, I believe, worth 300,0001. at the least farthing. If you urge the American violence as a justification of your perseverance in enforcing this tax, you know that you can never answer this plain question, — Why did you repeal the others given in the same act, whilst the very same violence subsisted ? - But you did not find the violence cease upon that concession. — No! because the concession was far short of satisfying the principle which Lord Hillsborough had abjured, or even the pretence on which the repeal of the other taxes was announced; and because, by enabling the East India Company to open a shop for defeating the American resolution not to pay that specific tax, you manifestly showed a hankering after the principle of the act which you formerly had renounced. Whatever road you take leads to a compliance with this motion. It opens to you at the end of every visto. Your commerce, your policy, your promises, your reasons, your pretences, your consistency, your in consistency, — all jointly oblige you to this repeal.

But still it sticks in our throats, if we go so far, the Americans will go farther. - We do not know that. We ought, from experience, rather to presume the contrary. Do we not know for certain, that the Americans are going on as fast as possible, whilst we refuse to gratify them? Can they do more, or can they do worse, if we yield this point? I think this concession will rather fix a turnpike to prevent their

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »