Page images
PDF
EPUB

some sort.

king's troops, marched into the province for that purpose ?—“ The civil powers have been supported,” in

We all know how they were supported; but have they been fully supported? Has the government sufficient strength, even with all its supports, to venture on the apprehending and punishment of those notorious offenders ? If it has not, why are you angry at those who would strengthen its hands by a more immediate royal authority? If it has, why is not the thing done? Why will the government, by its conducts strengthen the suspicions (groundless no doubt) that it has come to a private understanding with those murderers, and that impunity for their past crimes is to be the reward of their future political services ?-O! but says the petition, “there are perhaps cases in all governments where it may not be possible speedily to discover offenders.Probably; but is there any case in any government where it is not possible to endeavour such a discovery? There may be cases where it is not safe to do it: ‘and perhaps the best thing our government can say for itself is, that that is our case. The only objection to such an apology must be, that it would justify that

part of the assembly's petition to the crown, which relates to the weakness of our present government.*

Still, if there is any fault, it must be in the assembly; for, says the petition, “ if the executive part of our government should seem in any case too weak, we con

* The assembly being called upon by the governor for their advice on that occasion did, in a message, advise his sending for and eximining the magistrates of Lancaster county and borough, where the murders were committed, in order to discover the actors; but neither that nor any of the other measures recommended were ever taken. Proclamations indeed were published, but son discontinued.

ceive it is the duty of the assembly, and in their power, to strengthen it.” This weakness, however, you have just denied. “ Disturbances you say huve been speedily quieted, and the civil power supported," and thereby you have deprived your insinuated charge against the assembly of its only support. But is it not a fact known to you all, that the assembly did endeavour to strengthen the hands of the government ? That, at his honour's instance, they prepared and passed in a few hours a bill for extending hither the act of parliament for dispersing rioters? That they also passed and presented to him a militia bill, which he refused, unless powers were thereby given him over the lives and properties of the inhabitants, which the public good did not require; and which their duty to their constituents would not permit them to trust in the hands of any proprietary governor? You know the points, gentlemen: they have been made public. Would you have had your representatives give up those points? Do you intend to give them up, when at the next election you are made assemblymen? If so, tell it us honestly beforehand, that we may know what we are to expect when we are about to chocse you?

I come now to the last clause of your petition, where, with the same wonderful sagacity with which you in another case discovered the excellency of a speech you never heard, you undertake to characterise a petition [from the assembly] you own you never saw; and venture to assure his majesty, that it is “ exceeding grievous in its nature, that it by no means contains a proper representation of the state of this province, and is repugnant to the general sense of his numerous and loyal subjects in it." Are then his majesty's “ numerous and loyal

subjects"

subjects” in this.province all as great wizards as yours selves, and capable of knowing, without seeing it, that a petition is repugnant to their general sense? But the inconsistence of your petition, gentlemen, is not so much to be wondered at; the prayer of it is still more extraordinary,

“ We therefore most humbly pray, that your majesty would be graciously pleased wholly to disregard the said petition of the assembly.” What! without enquiry! without examination! without a hearing of what the assembly might say in support of it! “ wholly disregard” the petition of your representatives in assembly, accompanied by other petitions, signed by thousands of your fellow-subjects as loyal, if not as wise and as good, as yourselves! Would you wish to sec your great and amiable prince açt a part that could not. become a dey of Algiers ? Do you, who are Americans, pray for a precedent of such contempt in the treatment of an American assembly! such “ total disregard” of their humble applications to the throne? Surely your wisdoms here have overshot yourselves.---But as wisdom shows itself not only in doing what is right, but in cons fessing and amending what is wrong, I recommend the latter particularly to your present attention ; being persuaded of this consequence, that though you have been mad enough to sign such a petition, you never will be fools enough to present it.

There is one thing mentioned in the preface, which I find I omitted to take notice of as I came along, the refusal of the house to enter Mr. Dickinson's protest on their minutes. This is mentioned in such a manner there and in the newspapers, as to insinuate a charge of some partiality and injustice in the assembly. But the reas sons were merely these, that though protesting may

be a practice

a practice with the lords of parliament, there is no instance of it in the house of commons, whose proceedings are the model followed by the assemblies of America; that there is no precedent of it on our votes, from the beginning of our present constitution; and that the introducing such a practice would be attended with in-' conveniences, as the representatives in assembly are not, like the lords in parliament, unaccountable to any constituents, and would therefore find it necessary for their own justification, if the reasons of the minority for being against a measure were admitted in the votes, to put there likewise the reasons that induced the majority to be for it: whereby the votes, which were intended only as a register of propositions and determinations, would be filled with the disputes of members with members, and the public business be thereby greatly retarded, if ever brought to a period.

As that protest was a mere abstract of Mr. Dickinson's speech, every particular of it will be found answered in the following speech of Mr. Galloway, from which it is fit that I should no longer detain the reader.*

Remarks on a late Protest against the Appointment of Alr.

Franklin as Agent for this Province (of Pensylvania].

I HAVE generally passed over, with a silent disregard, the nameless abusive pieces that have been written against me; and though this paper, called a protest, is signed by some respectable names, I was, nevertheless,

* Mr. Galloway's speech is of course omitted here. Editor.

inclined

inclined to treat it with the same indifference; but, as the assembly is therein reflected on upon my account, it is thought more my duty to make some remarks upon it.

I would first observe then, that this mode of protesting by the joinority, with a string of reasons against the proceedings of the majority of the house of assembly, is quite new among us; the present is the second we have had of the kind, and both within a few months. It is unknown to the practice of the house of cominons, or of any house of representatives in America, that I have heard of; and seems an affected initation of the lords in parliament, which can by no means become assemblymen of America. Hence appears the absurdity of the complaint, that the house refused the protest an entry on their minutes. The protesters know, that they are not, by any custom or usage, intitled to such an entry; and that the practice here is not only useless in itself, but would be highly inconvenient to the house, since it would probably be thought necessary for the majority also to enter their reasons, to justify themselves to their constituents; whereby the minutes would be incumbered and the public business obstructed. More especially will it be found inconvenient, if such protests are made use of as a new form of libelling, as the vehicles of personal malice, and as means of giving to private abuse the appearance of a sauction as public acts. Your protest, gentlemen, was therefore properly refused; and since it is no part of the proceedings of assembly, one may with the more freedom examine it.

Your first reason against my appointment is, that you « believe me to be the chief author of the measures pursued by the last assembly, which have occasioned

such

« PreviousContinue »