« AnteriorContinua »
amongst mankind. For, that sense and that reason, I have always understood, absolutely to prescribe, whenever we are involved in difficulties from the measures we have pursued, that we should take a strict review of thole measures, in order to correct our errors if they should be corrigible ; or at least to avoid a dull uniformity in mischief, and the unpitied calamity of being repeatedly caught in the same snare.
Sir, I will freely follow the hon. Gentleman in his historical discussion, without the least management for men or measures, further than as they shall seem to me to deserve it. But before I go into that large consideration, because I would omit nothing that can give the house satisfa&ion, I wish to tread the narrow ground to which alone the hon. Gentleman, in one part of his Speech has so stri&tly confined us.
He desires to know, whether, if we were to repeal this tax, agreeably to the proposition of the hon. Gentleman who made the motion, the Americans would not take post on this concelfion, in order to make a new attack on the next body of taxes ; and whether they would not call for a repeal of the duty on wine as loudly as they do now for the repeal of the duty on tea? Sir, I can give no security, on this subject. But I will do all that I
can, and all that can be fairly demanded. To the experience which the hon. Gentleman reprobates in one instant, and reverts to in the next; to that experience, without the least wavering or helitation on my part, I steadily appeal; and would to God there was no other arbiter to decide on the vote with which the house is to conclude this day.
When Parliament repealed the Stamp A&t in the year 1766, I. affirm, first, that the Americans did not in consequence of this measure call upon you to give up the former parliamentary revenue which sublisted in that country; or even any one of the artiçleswhich compose it. I affirm also, that when, departing from the maxims of that repeal, you revived the scheme of taxation, and thereby filled the minds of the Colonists with new jealousy, and all sorts of apprehenfions, then it was that they quarreled with the old taxes, as well as the new; then it was, and not till then, that they questioned all the parts of your legislative power; and by the battery of such questions have shaken the solid structure of this Empire to its deepest foundations.
Of those two propositions I shall, before I have done, give such convincing, such damning proof, that however the contrary may be whispered in circles, or bawled in news-papers, they never more will dare to raise their voices in this house. I speak with great confidence, I have reason for it. The ministers are with me.
They at least are convinced that the repeal of the Stamp A& kad not, and that no repeal can have, the consequences which the hon. Gentleman who defends their measures is so much alarmed at. To their conduct, 'I refer him for a conclusive answer to his obje&tion. I carry my proof irrelistibly into the very body of both Ministry and Parliament': 'not on any general reasoning growing out of collateral matter, bur on the conduct of the hon. Gentle man's ministerial friends on the new revenue itself.
The act of 1767, which grants this tea duty, fets forth in its preamble, that it was expedient to raise a revenue in America, for the support of the civil government there as well as for purposes till more extensive. To this support the act assigns six branches of duties. About two years after this act passed, the ministry, I mean the present ministry, thought it expedient to repeal five of the du. ties, and to leave (for realons best known to themfelves) only the fixth standing. Suppose any person, at the time of that repeal, had thus addressed the minifter,* "Condemning, as you do, the re6 peal of the Stamp Act, Why do you venture to repeal the du. 6 ties upon glass, paper and painters colours? Let your pretence “ for the repeal be what it will, are you not thoroughly convince “ed, that your concessions will produce, not satisfaction, but in * folence in the Americans; and that the giving up these taxes 6 will necesitate the giving up of all the rest ?" This obje&tion was as palpable then as it is now; and it was as good for preserve! ing the five duties as for retaining the fixth. Belides, the minister will recollect, that the repeal of the Stamp Act had but just pre. ceded his repeal ; and the ill policy of that measure had it been so impolitic as it has been represented) and the mischiefs it produced, were quite recent. Upon the principles therefore of the hon. Gentleman, upon the principles of the minister himself, the minister has nothing at all io answer. He stands condemned by himself, and by all his associates old and new, as a destroyer, in the first trust of finance, of the revenues; and in the first rank of honour, as a betrayer of the dignity of his country.
Most men, especially great men, do not always know their well-wishers. I come to rescue that noble Lord out of the hands of those he calls his friends, and even out of his own. I'will do him the justice, he is denied at home. He has not been this wicked or imprudent man. He knew that a repeal had no tendency to produce the mischiefs which give so much alarm to his honour. ble friend. His work was not bad in its principle, but imperfect in its execution; and the motion on your paper preffes him only
tillsat * Lord North, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. :
(8) to compleat a proper plan, which, by some unfortunate and urr accountable error, he had left unfinished.
I hope, Sir, the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, is thoroughly satisfied, and satisfied out of the proceedings of ministry on their own favourite act, that his fears from a repeal are groundlessor1 If he is not, I leave him, and the noble Lord who fits by him, 16 settle the matter, as well as they can, together; for if the repeal of American taxes destroys all our government in Ameridam. He is the man!--and he is the worst of all the repealers, because he is the laft, But I hear it rung continually in my ears, now and formerly,
56 the preamble ! what will become of the preamble, if you " repeal this tax ?" -I am sorry to be compelled fo often to ex pose the calamities and disgraces of parliament. The preamble of this law, standing as it now stands, has the lie direct given to it by the proviGonary part of the act: if that can be called provie fionary which makes no provision. I should be afraid to express myself in this manner, especially in the face of such a formidable array of ability as is now drawn up before me, composed of the
, antient houshold troops of that side of the house, and ihe new rew Gruits from this if the matter were not clear and indisputable. Nothing but truth could give me this firmness ;, but plain and clear evidence can be beat down by no ability. The clerk will be forgood as to turn to the act, and to read, this favourite preambles
Whereas it is expedient that a revenue should be raised in your' Mar jefty's Dominans in America, for making a more certain and adequate provision for defraying the charge of the administration of justice, and support of civil government, in fuch provinces where it shall be found necessary; and towards further defraying the expences of defending, protecting, and securing the said dominions,
You have heard this pompous performance. Now where is the revenue which is to do all those mighty things? Five fixths real pealed abandonedfunk-gone-left for ever. Does the poor folitary tea duty support the purposes of this preamble ? Is not the fupply there fiated as effe&ually abandoned as if the tea duty had perished in the general wreck. Here, Mr. Speaker, is a precious mockery a preamble without an act taxes granted in order to be repealed and the reasons of the grant Nill carefully kept up! This is railing a revenue in America! This is pre serving dighity in England ! If you topeal this tax in complos ance with the motions. I readily admitethat you lose this fair preamble. Eftimate your loss in it. The object of the act is gone ab ready ; and all you suffer is the purging the statute-book of the opprobrium of an emptý, abfurd, and faile recitalon
It has been said again and again, that the five taxes were res pealed on commercial principles. It is so said in the paper in my hand :* a paper which I constantly carry about; which I have often used, and shall often use again. What is got by this paltry pretence of commercial principles I know not; for, if your government in America is destroyed by the repeal of Taxes, it is of no confequence upon what ideas the repeal is grourided. Repeal this tax too upon commercial principles if you please. These principles will serve as well now as they did formerly. But you know that, either your objection to a repeal from these supposed consequences has no validity, or that this pretepce never could remove iti This commercial motive never was believed by any man, 'either in America, which this letter is meant to soothe, of in England, which it is meant to deceive. It was impoffible it fhould. Because every man, in the least acquainted with the de. tail of commerce, muft know, that several of the articles on which the tax was repealed, were fitteri objeĉts of duties than almost any other articles that.could possibly be chosen; without comparison more so, than the tea that was left taxed; as infinitely less liable to be eluded by contraband. The tax lupon red and white Lead was of this nature. You have, in this kingdom, an advantage in Lead, that amounts to a monopoly. When you find yourselfin this situation of advantages you sometimes verture to tax event your own export. You did so, soon after the last war; when upon this principle; you ventured to impose a duty on coals! In all the articles of American contraband trade who ever heard of the smuggling of red Lead, and white Lead'? You might, there: fore, well enough, without danger of contraband, and without injury to commerce (if this were the whole consideration have taxed these comimodities. The fame may be laid of glass. Besides Some of the things taxed were so trivial, that the loss of the lobs jects themselves and their utter annihilation of American como merce, would have been comparatively as nothing. But is the article of tea such an object in the trade of England, as not to be felt; or felt but slightly, like white Lead, and red Lead, and Painters colours ? Tea is an obje& of far other importance. Tea is perhaps the most importantobje&, raking it with its necessary con. I nections, of any in the mighty circle of our commerce, If com mercial principles had been the true motives to the repeat, or had they been 'ar all' attended to, tea would have been the last article we should have left taxed for a subject of controversy! E 1:19
Sir, it is not a pleasant consideration, but nothing in the world * Lord Hillsborough's Circular Letter to the Governors of the Colonies con cerning the Repeal of fome of the Duties laid in the Act of 1967.
for the sake of infulting your colonies?: No nanever doubted that the commodity of tea could bear an impofition of three-pence, But no commodity will bear three-pence, or will bear a penny, when the general feelings of men are irritated, and two millions of people are resolved not to pay. The feelings of the colonies were formerly the feelings of Great Britain. Theirs were for. merly the feelįngs of Mr. Hampden when called upon for the payment of twenty: shillings. Would twenty shillings have rimed Mr. Hampden's fortune No ! But the payment of half twenty Thillings, on the principle it was demanded, would have made him a llave. It is the weight of that preamble, of which you are so fond, and not the weight of the duty, that the Americans are unable and unwilling to bear,
It is then, Şir, upon the principle of this measurez and nothing else, that we are at issue. It is a principle of political expediency, Your act of 1767 afferts, that it is expedient to raise 'a revenue in America, your act of 1769, which takes awaycthat reverde, contradicts the act of 1767; and, by fomething much stroniger than words, afferts, that it is not expedient. It is a reflection upon your wisdom to perlift in a solemn parliamentary declaration of the expediency of any object, for, which, at the same time, you make no sort of provision. And pray, Sir, let not this circumstance escape you ; it is very material; 'that the preamble of this á&t, which we wish to repeal, is not declaratory of a right, as fond gentlemen seem to argue it ; it is only a recital of the expediency of a certain exercise of a right supposed already to have been af ferted; an exercise you are now contending for by 'ways and means, which you confess, though they were obeyed, to be 'utterly insufficient for their purpose. You are therefore at this mo mentio the aukward situation of fighting for a phantom; a quid. dity; a thing
that wants, not only a substance, but even a name; for a thing, which is neither abstract right, nor profitable enjoyment.
torti They tell you, Sir, that your dignity is tied to it. I know not how it happens, but this dignity of yours is a terrible incumbrance to you; for it has of late been ever at war with your interest, your equity, and every idea of your policy. Shew the thing you contend for to be reason; shew it to be common sense; Thew it to be the means of attaining some useful end; and then I am contént to allow it what dignity you please. But what' dignity is derived' from the perseverance in absurdity is more than ever I could discern. The Hon. gentleman has said well--indeed, in most of his general observations I agree with him he says, that this Subject does not stand as it did formerly. Oh, certainly not!