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yourselves, were not afraid steadily to look in the face that glaring and dazzling influence at which the eyes of eagles have blenched. He looked in the face one of the ablest, and, let me say, not the most scrupulous oppositions, that perhaps ever was in this House; and withstood it, unaided by even one of the usual sup ports of administration. He did this, when he repealed the Stamp Act. He looked in the face a person he had long respected and regarded, and whose aid was then particularly wanting : I mean Lord Chatham. He did this when he passed the Declara
It is now given out, for the usual purposes, by the usual emissaries, that Lord Rockingham did not consent to the repeal of this act until he was bullied into it by Lord Chatham; and the reporters have gone so far as publicly to assert, in an hundred companies, that the honorable gentleman under the gallery,* who proposed the repeal in the American committee, had another set of resolutions in his pocket, directly the reverse of those he moved. These artifices of a desperate cause are at this time spread abroad, with incredible care, in every part of the town, from the highest to the lowest companies; as if the industry of the circulation were to make amends for the absurdity of the report.
Sir, whether the noble lord is of a complexion to be bullied by Lord Chatham, or by any man, I must submit to those who know him. I confess, when I look back to that time, I consider him as placed in one of the most trying situations in which, perhaps, any man ever stood. In the House of Peers there were very few of the ministry, out of the noble lord's
* General Conway.
own particular connection, (except Lord Egmont, who acted, as far as I could discern, an honorable and manly part,) that did not look to some other future arrangement, which warped his politics. There were in both Houses new and menacing appearances, that might very naturally drive any other than a most resolute minister from his measure or from his station. The household troops openly revolted. The allies of ministry (those, I mean, who supported some of their measures, but refused responsibility for any) endeavored to undermine their credit, and to take ground that must be fatal to the success of the very cause which they would be thought to countenance. The question of the repeal was brought on by ministry in the committee of this. House in the very instant when it was known that more than one court negotiation was carrying on with the heads of the opposition. Everything, upon every side, was full of traps and mines. Earth below shook; heaven above menaced ; all the elements of ministerial safety were dissolved. It was in the midst of this chaos of plots and counterplots, it was in the midst of this complicated warfare against public opposition and private treachery, that the firmness of that noble person was put to the proof. He never stirred from his ground: no, not an inch. He remained fixed and determined, in principle, in measure, and in conduct. He practised no managements. He secured no retreat. He sought no apology. I will likewise do justice-I ought to do it
to the honorable gentleman who led us in this House.* Far from the duplicity wickedly charged on him, he acted his part with alacrity and resolution. We all felt in
* General Conway.
spired by the example he gave us, down even to myself, the weakest in that phalanx. I declare for one, I knew well enough it could not be concealed from anybody) the true state of things; but, in my life, I never came with so much spirits into this House. It was a time for a man to act in. We had powerful enemies; but we had faithful and determined friends, and a glorious cause. We had a great battle to fight; but we had the means of fighting : not as now, when our arms are tied behind us. We did fight that day, and conquer.
I remember, Sir, with a melancholy pleasure, the situation of the honorable gentleman * who made the motion for the repeal : in that crisis, when the whole trading interest of this empire, crammed into your lobbies, with a trembling and anxious expectation, waited, almost to a winter's return of light, their fate from your resolutions. When at length you had determined in their favor, and your doors thrown open showed them the figure of their deliverer in the wellearned triumph of his important victory, from the whole of that grave multitude there arose an involuntary burst of gratitude and transport. They jumped upon him like children on a long absent father. They clung about him as captives about their redeemer. All England, all America, joined in his applause. Nor did he seem insensible to the best of all earthly rewards, the love and admiration of his fellow-citizens. Hope elevated and joy brightened his crest. I stood near him ; and his face, to use the expression of the Scripture of the first martyr,“ his face was as if it had been the face of an angel.” I do not know how others feel; but if I had stood in that sit
* General Conway.
uation, I never would have exchanged it for all that kings in their profusion could bestow. I did hope that that day's danger and honor would have been a bond to hold us all together forever. But, alas ! that, with other pleasing visions, is long since vanished.
Sir, this act of supreme magnanimity has been represented as if it had been a measure of an administration that, having no scheme of their own, took a middle line, pilfered a bit from one side and a bit from the other. Sir, they took no middle lines. They differed fundamentally from the schemes of both parties ; but they preserved the objects of both. They preserved the authority of Great Britain ; they preserved the equity of Great Britain. They made the Declaratory Act; they repealed the Stamp Act. They did both fully : because the Declaratory Act was without qualification; and the repeal of the Stamp Act total. This they did in the situation I have described.
Now, Sir, what will the adversary say to both these acts ? If the principle of the Declaratory Act was not good, the principle we are contending for this day is monstrous. If the principle of the repeal was not good, why are we not at war for a real, substantial, effective revenue? If both were bad, why has this ministry incurred all the inconveniences of both and of all schemes? why have they enacted, repealed, enforced, yielded, and now attempt to enforce again?
Sir, I think I may as well now as at any other time speak to a certain matter of fact not wholly unrelated to the question under your consideration. We, who would persuade you to revert to the ancient
policy of this kingdom, labor under the effect of this short current phrase, which the court leaders have given out to all their corps, in order to take away the credit of those who would prevent you from that frantic war you are going to wage upon your colonies. Their cant is this : “ All the disturbances in America have been created by the repeal of the Stamp Act.” I suppress for a moment my indignation at the falsehood, baseness, and absurdity of this .most audacious assertion. Instead of remarking on the motives and character of those who have issued it for circulation, I will clearly lay before you the state of America, antecedently to that repeal, after the repeal, and since the renewal of the schemes of American taxation.
It is said, that the disturbances, if there were any before the repeal, were slight, and without difficulty or inconvenience might have been suppressed. For an answer to this assertion I will send you to the great author and patron of the Stamp Act, who, certainly meaning well to the authority of this country, and fully apprised of the state of that, made, before a repeal was so much as agitated in this House, the motion which is on your journals, and which, to save the clerk the trouble of turning to it, I will now read to you. It was for an amendment to the address of the 17th of December, 1765.
“To express our just resentment and indignation at the outrageous tumults and insurrections which have been excited and carried on in North America, and at the resistance given, by open and rebellious force, to the execution of the laws in that part of his Majesty's dominions; to assure his Majesty, that his faithful Commons, animated with the warmest duty and at