« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
We exhort you, therefore, to cleave forever to those principles, as being the true bond of union in this empire, - and to show by a manly perseverance that the sentiments of honor and the rights of mankind are not held by the uncertain events of war, as you have hitherto shown a glorious and affecting example to the world that they are not dependent on the ordinary conveniences and satisfactions of life.
Knowing no other arguments to be used to men of liberal minds, it is upon these very principles, and these alone, we hope and trust that no flattering and no alarming circumstances shall permit you to listen to the seductions of those who would alienate you from your dependence on the crown and Parliament of this kingdom. That very liberty which you so justly prize above all things originated here; and it may be very doubtful, whether, without being constantly fed from the original fountain, it can be at all perpetuated or preserved in its native purity and perfection. Untried forms of government may, to unstable minds, recommend themselves even by their novelty. But you will do well to remember that England has been great and happy under the present limited monarchy (subsisting in more or less vigor and purity) for several hundred years. None but England can communicate to you the benefits of such a constitution. We apprehend you are not now, nor for ages are likely to be, capable of that form of constitution in an independent state. Besides, let us suggest to you our apprehensions that your present union (in which we rejoice, and which we wish long to subsist) cannot always subsist without the authority and weight of this great and long respected body, to equipoise, and to preserve you amongst yourselves in a just and fair equality. It may not even be impossible that a long course of war with the administration of this country may be but a prelude to a series of wars and contentions among yourselves, to end at length (as such scenes have too often ended) in a species of humiliating repose, which nothing but the preceding calamities would reconcile to the dispirited few who survived them. We allow that even this evil is worth the risk to men of honor, when rational liberty is at stake, as in the present case we confess and lament that it is. But if ever a real security by Parliament is given against the terror or the abuse of unlimited power, and after such security given you should persevere in resistance, we leave you to consider whether the risk is not incurred without an object, or incurred for an object infinitely diminished by such concessions in its importance and value.
As to other points of discussion, when these grand fundamentals of your grants and charters are once settled and ratified by clear Parliamentary authority, as the ground for peace and forgiveness on our side, and for a manly and liberal obedience on yours, treaty and a spirit of reconciliation will easily and securely adjust whatever may remain.
Of this we give you our word, that, so far as we are at present concerned, and if by any event we should be come more concerned hereafter, you may rest assured, upon the pledges of honor not forfeited, faith not violated, and uniformity of character and profession not yet broken, we at least, on these grounds, will never fail you.
Respecting your wisdom, and valuing your safety, we do not call upon you to trust your existence to your enemies. We do not advise you to an unconditional submission. With satisfaction we assure you that almost all in both Houses (however unhappily they have been deluded, so as not to give any immediate effect to their opinion) disclaim that idea. You can have no friends in whom you cannot rationally confide. But Parliament is your friend from the moment in which, removing its confidence from those who have constantly deceived its good intentions, it adopts the sentiments of those who have made sacrifices, (inferior, indeed, to yours,) but have, however, sacrificed enough to demonstrate the sincerity of their regard and value for your liberty and prosperity.
Arguments may be used to weaken your confidence in that public security ; because, from some unpleasant appearances, there is a suspicion that Parliament itself is somewhat fallen from its independent spirit. How far this supposition may be founded in fact we are unwilling to determine. But we are well assured from experience, that, even if all were true that is contended for, and in the extent, too, in which it is argued, yet, as long as the solid and well-disposed forms of this Constitution remain, there ever is within Parliament itself a power of renovating its principles, and effecting a self-reformation, which no other plan of government has ever contained. This Constitution has therefore admitted innumerable improvements, either for the correction of the original scheme, or for removing corruptions, or for bringing its principles better to suit those changes which have successively happened in the
circumstances of the nation or in the manners of the people.
We feel that the growth of the colonies is such a change of circumstances, and that our present dispute is an exigency as pressing as any which ever demanded a revision of our government. Public troubles have often called upon this country to look into its Constitution. It has ever been bettered by such a revision. If our happy and luxuriant increase of dominion, and our diffused population, have outgrown the limits of a Constitution made for a contracted object, we ought to bless God, who has furnished us with this noble occasion for displaying our skill and beneficence in enlarging the scale of rational happiness, and of making the politic generosity of this kingdom as extensive as its fortune. If we set about this great work, on both sides, with the same conciliatory turn of mind, we may now, as in former times, owe even to our mutual mistakes, contentions, and animosities, the lasting concord, freedom, happiness, and glory of this empire.
Gentlemen, the distance between us, with other obstructions, has caused much misrepresentation of our mutual sentiments. We, therefore, to obviate them as well as we are able, take this method of assuring you of our thorough detestation of the whole war, and particularly the mercenary and savage war carried on or attempted against you, our thorough abhorrence of all addresses adverse to you, whether public or private, - our assurances of an invariable affection towards you, stant regard to your privileges and liberties, - and our opinion of the solid security you ought to enjoy for them, under the paternal care and nurture of a protecting Parliament.
Though many of us have earnestly wished that the authority of that august and venerable body, so necessary in many respects to the union of the whole, should be rather limited by its own equity and discretion than by any bounds described by positive laws and public compacts, — and though we felt the extreme difficulty, by any theoretical limitations, of qualifying that authority, so as to preserve one part and deny another, — and though you (as we gratefully acknowledge) had acquiesced most cheerfully under that prudent reserve of the Constitution, at that happy moment when neither you nor we apprehended a further return of the exercise of invidious powers, we are now as fully persuaded as you can be, by the malice, inconstancy, and perverse inquietude of many men, and by the incessant endeavors of an arbitrary faction, now too powerful, that our common necessities do require a full explanation and ratified security for your liberties and our quiet.
Although his Majesty's condescension, in committing the direction of his affairs into the hands of the known friends of his family and of the liberties of all his people, would, we admit, be a great means of giving repose to your minds, as it must give infinito facility to reconciliation, yet we assure you that we think, with such a security as we recommend, adopted from necessity and not choice, even by the unhappy authors and instruments of the public misfortunes, that the terms of reconciliation, if once accepted by Parliament, would not be broken. We also pledge ourselves to you, that we should give,