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been expected, that the American seamen and fishermen, being indiscriminately prohibited from the peaceable exercise of their occupations and declared open enemies, would betake themselves to plunder, and wreak their vengeance on the commerce of Great-Britain. After a variety of other observations, it concluded with declaring—“We should look with the utmost shame. and horror, upon any events that would tend to break the spirit of any part of the British nation, and to bow them to an abject, unconditional submission to any power whatsoever, to annihilate: their liberties, and to subdue them to servile principles and passive habits, by the force of foreign mercenary arms; because amidst the excesses and abuses which have happened, we must respect the spirit and principles operating in these commotions. Our wish is to regulate, not to destroy them ; for though differing in some circumstances, thosevery principles evidently bear so exact an analogy with those which support the most valuable part of our own constitution, that it is impossible, with any appearance of justice, to think of wholly extirpating them by the sword, in any part of the British dominions, without admitting consequences, and establishing precedents the most dangerous to the liberties of this kingdom.” Debates pro and cont succeeded. It was the same in the house of lords, where the royal. speech underwent a no less severe scrutiny. Since the declaration of independence, the debates in parliament are less interesting to the Americans than formerly, brevity in the account of them, will therefore be most acceptable. The opposition said—“What. can ministers mean by assurances of friendly and pacific, sentiments from abroad Poor politicians must they be, who depend. upon such assurances, in the best of times, from those quarters whence they now come. Old grudges are not so easily forgotten; and this nation has every thing to apprehend from those to whom it has done so much mischief in the last war. Resentment and, ambition will go on hand in hand upon this occasion, and will; not lose so fair an opportunity of revenge, as that which is opened by this fatal quarrel between Great-Britain and her colonies, The preparations, of those powers who speak so friendly a language are no secret; their partiality to the Americans shows their: intentions to this country; their encouragement to the privateers, which are capturing the British merchantmen, is a sufficient carnest of the designs that are uppermost in their councils, and is: but a prelude to what we are to expect, as soon as circumstances have brought their plans to maturity. A war with the whole. house of Bourbon, and perhaps with other powers, will be the inevitable consequence of continuing hostilities in America; but such a war at present, will no longer resemble those who have
formerly waged with the princes of that family. Powerful as they - Were
were at that time, they will still be much more formidable now thai* the strength of America will be thrown into their scale. j£ is a-sorrowful, but a true reflection, that one half of the British nation is become an instrument in the hands of our natural enemies, with which most effectually to distress the other. Impelled with-these cogent reasons, it is the duty of every man who feels them, to oppose.an address approving of measures which must, if persisted in, terminate in calamities that will give such deadly wounds to Britain, as may prove incurable, and bring her to such a state of debility as will, from one of the-firstpowers: in. the world, reduce her to hold but a secondary rank among the European nations." . . • . ..■
Administration urged in favor of the address—"Nothing is recommended by it that tends to oppose the Americans; no more is required of them than a return to the same obedience which e± very other subject is bound to pay. Is it consistent, with the wisdom of the nation, to throw away the fruits of the infinite cares and expences it has bestowed upon the colonies, while any hope remains of reclaiming them from their defection? To give them up,, will-be to resign the wealth, the strength and the importance of. Great-Britain; these are evidently at stake in. the presentcontest; should the issue of it be contrary to what is hoped by all well-wishers to their country, its fall and degradation will be the necessary consequence. The season for arguingis over. The Americans have bid us defiance, and are become our enemies.; the sword is therefore to decide; it is now to be. seen whether we cart reduce them to obedience by superior force. It is time to assert our national dignity and supremacy; we are in full strength, and vigor; the resources of the country are-far from being exhausted. They cannot be employed upon a more critical and necessary occasion than die present The successes of the last campaign in America, afford a well grounded prospect of settling affairs to our satisfaction. A spirited prosecution of the business in hand will speedily conclude it. Much is-threatencd from abroad, and great tenors are held out, and we are told that occasion will be taken from these unhappy broils, to do Great-Britain irreparable damage. But the prudence of government has fully obviated these objections. A sufficient force is preparing to face all dangers at home; and the prosperity of our arms abroad has, itis well known, cast a damp on ail the partisans of the Americans throughout Europe. However well they may wish them, the most inveterate of our foes will not venture to engage iaso.distant a-quarrel, until-they see better signs of its terminating to the advantage of our opponents. We are now in the career of victory; and it will betray .weakness; to be driven tfut i• - . of
of it by mere apprehensions. The people at large are now greatly alienated from the Americans; however they might once have been inclined to favor them, they are full of resentment at their late conduct. The declaration of independence has entirely altered their opinion of the colonists.” --> *, * The conclusion of the debates was the carrying of the address in the house of lords by 91 votes to 26 ; and in the house of commons by 232 to 83. The declaration of independence lost the Americans many advocates; but the great bulk of those who had hitherto espoused their cause, dreaded the success of ministerial measures against them, from an apprehension of the damger which would result from it to the liberties of this country. They were therefore, before and after the opening of the ses. sion, indefatigable in representing the necessity of putting as end to a dispute, which they considered as ruinous in every shape, whether the British arms did or did not prevail. - * . . [Nov. 6...]. A motion was made in the house of commons by Hord John Cavendish, for a revisal of all those acts by which the cost lonies thought themselves aggrieved. It was grounded on a paragraphin the declaration of the commissioners, given at New-York; the 19th of September, in which mention is made of “the king's being mostgraciously pleased to concur in the revisal of all acts by: which his subjects in the colonies may think themselves aggrieved.” The motion was opposed with great warmth; and in the sequel of the debate, it was asserted by ministry, that until congress had rescinded the declaration of independence, no treaty could be entered into with America. Such an assertion was severea ly censured by opposition, as being no less than a denunciation of war, and all its calamities, unless the Americans implicitly admitted the principal point in litigation, without any preliminary stipulation. The motion was rejected by a majority of 109, to 47. This rejection exasperated the minority so violently, that a part of them avowedly withdrew whenever any questions relate ing to America were proposed, and from this period left the house to the full and undisturbed possession of the majority. .... They justified this secession, by alledging that an attendance on these matters was nugatory; the weight of numbers was irresistible, and baffled all arguments. It was a degrading office als way to contend with a certainty of being defeated. There was a time when reasoning was listened to, and had its due influence; but as experience had shown, that time was no more, it was wiser to acquiesce in silence than to undergo the fatigue of a fruitless opposition. The season was not yet come for the nation, to be undeceived. It was the interest of so many to continue the dee ception, that it would last till an accumulation of calamities - * - had
had oppressed the public so as to be felt by all degrees. Such amazing numbers were benefitted by the measures of ministry, that till defeats, disappointments and losses of every kind, had disabled them from pursuing their schemes any longer, they were sure of a ready support from those whom they employed in their execution. For these reasons they judged it necessary to refuse their presence to transactions which they disapproved, and could not hinder; but whenever they perceived that adversity had, as usual, opened the eyes of men, they would then come forth anew, and endeavor, if possible, to remedy the evils which it was not at present in their power to prevent. - The strength of ministry was now so decisive, that whatever was proposed, was immediately approved and carried, without any opposition or debate. * A bill was brought in for granting letters of marque and reprisals against the Americans. This was followed by another to empower the crown to secure such persons as were accused or suspected of high treason (committed either in America or at sea). er of piracy. . By the provisions of this bill, they were liable to be detained in custody without bail or trial, while the law continued in force; it was reserved solely to the privy council to admit them to either. His majesty was also empowered by warrant, to appoint one or more places of confinement within th realm, for the custody of such prisoners. This bill spread a general alarm through the metropolis; and a petition was presented by the city against it, condemning the measures proposed in it, as violent and unconstitutional, subversive of the sacred and fundamental rights of the people, subjecting them to the most cruel oppression and bondage, and introductive of every species of mischief and confusion. The petition was ordered to lie upon the table; but probably made way for the introduction of a provisional clause, enacting “that no offences shall be construed to be piracy within the meaning of the act, except acts of felony committed on the ships and goods of his majesty’s subjects, by pèrsons on the high. seas.” - - - - - - The bill however, did not pass without opposition and severe animadversion. It was said, that it armed ministers with an unconstitutional and dangerous power. A mere pretended suspicion or foolish credulity in a mercenary tool of a ministerial magistrate, might render the inhabitants of above half the empire liable to imprisonment without bail or mainprise. It did not require ask oath, nor that the parties should be heard in their own justification, nor confronted with the witnesses, nor that two witnesses should be deemed necessary for the colourable ground of a commo ion- ‘.
The few who opposed it, contended that no lawful or obvious reason subsisted for investing the crown with so unusual a power. Such an extraordinary measure could only be tolerated in ases of great domestic danger, when the realm or constitution t. immediately threatened; but neither of these could be pleaded in the present instance. After a long debate, the bill. passed by a majority of 195 to 43. The oppostion would have been stronger, but the seceding party would not afford their assistance. - “Before this act, every man putting his foot on English ground, every stranger, even a negro slave, became as free as every other man who breathed the same air with him. As things now stand, every man in the West-Indies, every inhabitant of these unoffending provinces on the American continent, every person coming from the East-Indies, every gentleman who has travelled for his health or education, every mariner who has navigated the seas, is, for no other offence, under a temporary proscription.” - . . . . . . The two bills received the royal assent on the third of March. Toward the close of the last year, and in the beginning of the present, much confusion, apprehension and suspicion, was excited by the machinery of a wretched enthusiast and incendiary, since well known by the appellation of John the Painter, but whose real name was James Aitkin, born at Edinburgh, and bred a painter—a most profligate and abandoned villain. . After having committed the most attrocious crimes, he shipped himself off for America, where he continued about two years, and from whence he returned in March 1775. The violence of the language and sentiments then held in political matters, by the people among whom he lived, gave birth to that enthusiastic madness which afterward became so dangerous. Under its baneful influence he returned to England with the most dreadful antipathy to the government and nation; and adopted the design of subverting, in his own single person, that power which he so much abhorred, by setting fire to the dock-yards, and burning the principal trading cities and towns, with their shipping, of whatsoever sort, so far as it could possibly be done. He constructed fire-works, machines and combustibles for the purpose, but was strangely unsuccessful in all his attempts.--Owing to this failure in his machines, the nation was providentially saved from receiving some dreadful or irretrievable shock. He however succeeded in setting fire to the rope-house in the yard at Portsmouth, the beginning of last December. The next