Page images

because the Act was founded on erroneous principle — be assigned. Let it be repealed absolutely, totally, and immediately!


4. THE FIRST STEP TO RECONCILIATION WITH AMERICA. - Earl of Chatham. Jan. 20, 1775, on his motion to withdraw the British troops from Boston.

In regard to this speech, we find in the diary of Josiah Quincy, jr., the following memorandum: "Attended the debates in the House of Lords. Good fortune gave me one of the best places for hearing, and taking a few minutes. Lord Chatham rose like Marcellus. His languge, voice and gesture, were more pathetic than I ever saw or heard before, at the Bar or Snate. He seemed like an old Roman Senator, rising with the dignity of age, yet speaking with the fire of youth." Dr. Franklin, who was also present at the debate, said of this speech, that he had seen, in the course of his life, sometimes eloquence without wisdom, and often wis tom without eloquence; in the present instance, he saw both united, and both, as he thought, in the highest degree possible."

AMERICA, my Lords, cannot be reconciled to this country — the ought not to be reconciled — till the troops of Britain are withdrawn. How can America trust you, with the bayonet at her breast? How can she suppose that you mean less than bondage or death? I therefore move that an address be presented to his Majesty, advising that immediate orders be despatched to General Gage, for removing his Majesty's forces from the town of Boston. The way must be immediately opened for reconciliation. It will soon be too late. An hour now lost in allaying ferments in America may produce years of calamity. Never will I desert, for a moment, the conduct of this weighty business. Unless nailed to my bed by the extremity of sickness, I will pursue it to the end. I will knock at the door of this sleeping and confounded Ministry, and will, if it be possible, rouse them to a sense of their danger.

I contend not for indulgence, but for justice, to America. What is our right to persist in such cruel and vindictive acts against a loyal, respectable people? They say you have no right to tax them without their consent. They say truly. Representation and taxation must go together; they are inseparable. I therefore urge and conjure your Lordships immediately to adopt this conciliating measure. If illegal violences have been, as it is said, committed in America, prepare the way-open the door of possibility for acknowledgment and satisfaction; but proceed not to such coercion - such proscription: cease your indiscriminate inflictions; amerce not thirty thousand; oppress not three millions; irritate them not to unappeasable rancor, for the fault of forty or fifty. Such severity of injustice must forever render incurable the wounds you have inflicted. What though you march from town to town, from province to province? What though you enforce a temporary and local submission; - how shall you secure the obedience of the country you leave behind you in your progress?How grasp the dominion of eighteen hundred miles of continent, populous in numbers, strong in valor, liberty, and the means of resistance?

The spirit which now resists your taxation, in America, is the same which formerly opposed loans, benevolences and ship-money, in England; — the same spirit which called all England on its legs, and, by

the Bill of Rights, vindicated the English Constitution; the same spirit which established the great fundamental essential maxim of your liberties, that no subject of England shall be taxed but by his own consent. This glorious Whig spirit animates three millions in America, who prefer poverty, with liberty, to gilded chains and sordid affluence; and who will die in defence of their rights as men, as freenien. What shall oppose this spirit, aided by the congenial flame glowing in the breast of every Whig in England? ""Tis liberty to liberty engaged," that they will defend themselves, their families, and their country. In this great cause they are immovably allied: it is the alliance of God and nature, immutable, eternal, fixed as the firmament of Heaven.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



Ir is not repealing this or that act of Parliament, - it is not repealing a piece of parchment, that can restore America to our bosom. You must repeal her fears and her resentments; and you may then hope for her love and gratitude. But, now, insulted with an armed force posted at Boston, irritated with a hostile array before her eyes, her concessions, if you could force them, would be suspicious and insecure, the dictates of fear, and the extortions of force! But it is more than evident that you cannot force them, principled and united as they are, to your Laworthy terms of submission. Repeal, therefore, my Lords, I say! But bare repeal will not satisfy this enlightened and spirited People. You must go through the work. You must declare you have no right to tax. Then they may trust you. There is no time to be lost. Every moment is big with dangers. While I am speaking, the decisive blow may be struck, and millions involved in the consequence. The very first drop of blood shed in civil and unnatural war will make a wound which years, perhaps ages, may not heal. It will be immědicābilé vulnus.

When your Lordships look at the papers transmitted to us from America, when you consider their decency, firmness, and wisdom, — you cannot but respect their cause, and wish to make it your own. I must declare and avow, that, in the master States of the world, I know not the People nor the Senate, who, under such a complication of difficult circumstances, can stand in preference to the delegates of America assembled in General Congress at Philadelphia. For genuine sagacity, for singular moderation, for solid wisdom, manly spirit, sublime sentiments, and simplicity of language, for everything respectable and honorable, they stand unrivalled. I trust it is obvious to your Lordships that all attempts to impose servitude upon such men, to establish despotism over such a mighty Continental Nation, must be vain, must be fatal. This wise People speak out. They do not hold the language of slaves. They tell you what they mean. They do not ask you to repeal your laws as a favor. They claim it as a rightthey demand it. They tell you they will not submit to them. Aul

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]


I tell you, the acts must be repealed. We shall be forced ultimately to retract. Let us retract while we can, not when we must. I say we must necessarily undo these violent, oppressive acts. They must be repealed. You will repeal them. I pledge myself for it, that you will, in the end, repeal them. I stake my reputation on it. I will consent to be taken for an idiot, if they are not finally repealed.* Avoid, then, this humiliating, this disgraceful necessity. Every motive of justice and of policy, of dignity and of prudence, urges you to allay the ferment in America, by a removal of your troops from Boston, by a repeal of your acts of Parliament. On the other hand, every danger and every hazard impend, to deter you from perseverance in your present ruinous measures: foreign war hanging over your heads by a slight and brittle thread, France and Spain watching your conduct, and waiting the maturity of your errors!

To conclude, my Lords: if the Ministers thus persevere in misadvising and misleading the King, I will not say that they can alienate the affections of his subjects from the Crown, but I will affirm that they will make his Crown not worth his wearing; I will not say that the King is betrayed, but I will pronounce that the Kingdom is undone !


In reply to the Duke of Grafton.

THE noble Duke is extremely angry with me, that I did not consult him before bringing in the present Bill. I would ask the noble Duke, Does he consult me, or do I desire to be previously told of any motions or measures he thinks fit to propose to this House? This Bill, he says, has been hurried. Has he considered how the case really stands? Here we are told that America is in a state of actual rebellion; and I am charged with hurrying matters! The opponents of this Bill may flatter themselves that it will sink into silence, and be forgotten. They will find their mistake. This Bill, though rejected here, will make its way to the public, to the Nation, to the remotest wilds of America! It will, I trust, remain a monument of my poor endeavors to serve my country; and, however faulty or defective it may be, it will, at least, manifest how zealous I have been to avert the storms which seem ready to burst on that country, and to overwhelm it forever in ruin.

Yet, when I consider the whole case as it lies before me, I am not much astonished. I am not surprised that men who hate liberty should detest those who prize it; or that men who want virtue themselves should endeavor to depreciate those who possess it. Were I disposed to pursue this theme to the extent that truth would warrant, I could demonstrate that the whole of your political conduct has been one continued series of weakness, temerity, and despotism; of blun

The prediction of the Earl of Chatham was verified. After three years' fruitless war, the repeal of the offensive acts was sent out as a peace-offering to the Colonists; but it was too late.

dering ignorance, and wanton negligence; and of the most notorious servility, incapacity, and corruption. On reconsideration, I must allow you one merit, a strict attention to your own interests. In that view, you appear sound statesmen and able politicians. You well know, if the present measure should prevail, that you must instantly relinquish your places. I doubt much whether you will be able to keep them on any terms. But sure I am, such are your well-known characters and abilities, that any plan of reconciliation, however moderate, wise and feasible, must fail in your hands. Such, then, being your precarious situations, who can wonder that you should put a negative on any measure which must annihilate your power, deprive you of your emoluments, and at once reduce you to that state of insig nificance for which you were by God and Nature designed?

[ocr errors]


In the course of the debate, November 18, 1777, during which the Earl of Chatham made the eloquent speech from which the two following extracts are taken, the Earl of Suffolk, Secretary of State for the Northern department, advocated the employment of Indians in the war, catending that, besides its policy and necessity, the measure was also allowable on principle · for that "it was perfectly justifiable to use all the means that God and Nature had put into our hands." The following is a resumption of the Earl of Chatham's speech of the same day.

[ocr errors]

Who is the man that, in addition to the disgraces and mischiefs of our army, has dared to authorize and associate to our arms the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage? - to call into civilized alliance the wild and inhuman savage of the woods; to delegate to the merciless Indian the defence of disputed rights; and to wage the horrors of his barbarous war against our brethren? My Lords, these enormities cry aloud for redress and punishment; but, atrocious as they are, they have found a defender in this House. "It is perfectly justifiable," says a noble Lord, "to use all the means that God and Nature put into our hands." I am astonished, shocked, to hear such principles confessed, to hear them avowed in this House, or even in this country; principles equally unconstitutional, inhuman, and unchrisMy Lords, I did not intend to have trespassed again upon your attention; but I cannot repress my indignation - I feel myself impelled by every duty to proclaim it. As members of this House, as men, as Christians, we are called upon to protest against the barbarous proposition. "That God and Nature put into our hands!" What ideas that noble Lord may entertain of God and Nature, I know not; but I know that such abominable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and to humanity. What! attribute the sacred sanction of God and Nature to the massacres of the Indian scalping knife, to the cannibal savage, torturing, murdering, devouring, drinking the blood of his mangled victims! Such horrible notions sock every precept of religion, revealed or natural; every sentiment of honor, every generous feeling of humanity!


These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them, demand most decisive indignation! I call upon that Right Reverend Bench, those holy ministers of the Gospel, and pious pastors


of our Church; I conjure them to join in the holy work, and to vindicate the religion of their God! I appeal to the wisdom and the law of this learned Bench, to defend and support the justice of their country! I call upon the Bishops to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their lawn; upon the judges, to interpose the purity of their ermine, to save us from this pollution! I call upon the honor of your Lordships to reverence the dignity of your ancestors, and to maintain your own! I call upon the spirit and humanity of my country, to vindicate the national character! I invoke the genius of the Constitution! From the tapestry that adorns these walls, the immortal ancestor of the noble Lord frowns with indignation at the disgrace of his country! In vain did he lead your victorious fleets against the boasted Armada of Spain,-in vain did he defend and establish the honor, the liberties, the religion, the Protestant Religion of his country, - if these more than Popish cruelties and Inquisitorial practices are let loose amongst us! Turn forth into our settlements, among our ancient connections, friends and relations, the merciless cannibal, thirsting for the blood of man, woman and child? Send forth the infidel savage ? Against whom? Against your Protestant brethren! To lay waste their country, to desolate their dwellings, and extirpate their race and name, with these horrible hell-hounds of savage war! Spain armed herself with blood-hounds to extirpate the wretched natives of America; and we improve on the inhuman example of even Spanish cruelty; we turn loose these savage hell-hounds against our brethren and countrymen in America, of the same language, laws, liberties, and religion, endeared to us by every tie that should sanctify humanity! My Lords, this awful subject, so important to our honor, our Constitution, and our religion, demands the most solemn and effectual inquiry. And I again call upon your Lordships, and the united powers of the State, to examine it thoroughly and decisively, and to stamp upon it an indelible stigma of the public abhorrence. And I again implore those holy prelates of our religion to do away those iniquities from among us. Let them perform a lustration; let them purify this House and this country from this sin. My Lords, I am old and weak, and at present unable to say more; but my feelings and my indignation were too strong to have said less. I could not have slept this night in my bed, or have reposed my head on my pillow, without giving this vent to my eternal abhorrence of such preposterous and enor, mous principles.

[ocr errors]


You cannot conciliate America by your present measures; you cannot subdue her by your present, or by any measures. What, then,

* Lord Howard of Effingham, who commanded the English fleet opposed to the Spanish Armada, and from whom the Earl of Suffolk was descended. The tapestry in the House of Lords represented the defeat and dispersion of the Spanish Armada, in 1588 In October, 1834, this tapestry was burned in the fire which destroyed the two Houses of Parliament.

« PreviousContinue »