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and active exertions, I cannot, for my life, avoid a suspicion, that the plan itself is not correctly right.
If, then, the removal of the causes of this American liberty be, for the greater part, or rather entirely, impracticable; if the ideas of criminal process be inapplicable, or if applicable, are in the highest degree inexpedient, what way yet remains ? No way is open, but the third and last--to comply with the American spirit as necessary; or, if you please, to submit to it as a necessary evil.
If we adopt this mode, if we mean to conciliate and concede, let us see of what nature the concession ought to be; to ascertain the nature of our concession, we must look at their complaint. The colonies complain that they have not the characteristic mark and seal of British freedom. They complain that they are taxed in a Parliament in which they are not represented. If you mean to satisfy them all, you must satisfy them in regard to this complaint. If you mean to please any people, you must give them the boon which they ask; not what you may think better for them, but of a kind totally different. Such an act may be a wise regulation, but it is no concession ; whereas our present theme is the mode of giving satisfaction.
The question with me is, not whether you have a right to render your people miserable; but whether it is not your interest to make them happy. It is not, what a lawyer tells me, I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tell me I ought to do. Is a politio act the worse for being a generous one ? Is no concession proper but that which is made from your want of right to keep what you grant? Or does it lessen the grace or dignity of relaxing in the exercise of an odious claim, because you have your evidence room full of titles, and your magazines stuffed with arms to enforce them? What signify all those titles, and all those arms ? what avail are they, when the reason of the thing tells me that the assertion of my title is the loss of my suit; and that I could do nothing but wound myself by the use of my own weapons ?
Such is steadfastly my opinion of the absolute necessity of keeping up the concord of this empire by a unity of spirit, though by a diversity of operations, that if I were sure the colonists had, at their leaving this country, scaled a regular compact of servitude; that they had solemnly abjured all the rights of citizens; that they had made a vow to renounce all ideas of liberty for them and their posterity, to all generations, yet I should hold myself obliged to conform to the temper I found universally prevalent in my own day, and to govern two millions of men, impatient of servitude, on the principles of freedom. I am not determining a point of law; I am restoring tranquillity; and the general character and situation of a people must determine what sort of government is fitted for them. That point nothing else can or ought to determine.
My idea, therefore, without considering whether we yield as matter of right, or grant as matter of favor, is, to admit the people of our colonies into an interest in the constitution ; and by recording that admission in the journals of Parliament, to give them as strong an assurance as the nature of the thing will admit, that we mean forever to adhere to that solemn declaration of systematic indul. gence.
In forming a plan for this purpose, I endeavored to put myself in that frame of mind, which was the most natural, and the most reasonable; and which was certainly the most probable means of securing me from all error. I set out with a perfect distrust of my own abilities; a total renunciation of every speculation of my own; and with a profound reverence for the wisdom of our ancestors, who have left us the inheritance of so happy a constitution, and so flourishing an empire, and what is a thousand times more valuable, the treasury of the maxims and principles which formed the one, and obtained the other.
During the reigns of the kings of Spain of the Austrian family, whenever they were at a loss in the Spanish councils, it was common for their statesmen to say, that they ought to consult the genius of Philip the Second. The genius of Philip the Second might mislead them, and the issue of their affairs showed that they had not chosen the most perfect standard. But sir, I am sure that I shall not be misled, when, in a case of constitutional difficulty, I consult the genius of the English Constitution. Consulting at that oracle (it was with all due humility and piety) I found four capital examples in a similar case before me : those of Ireland, Wales, Chester, and Durham.
Ireland, before the English conquest, though never governed by a despotic power, had no parliament. How far the English Parliament itself was at that time modelled according to the present form, is disputed among antiquarians. But we have all the reason in the world to be assured, that a form of parliament, such as Eng. land then enjoyed, she instantly communicated to Ireland; and we are equally sure that almost every successive improvement in constitutional liberty, as fast as it was made here, was transmitted thither. The feudal baronage and the feudal knighthood, the roots of our primitive constitution, were equally transplanted into that soil; and grew and flourished there. Magna Charta, if it did not give us originally the House of Commons, gave us at least a House of Commons of weight and consequence. But your ancestors did not churlishly sit down alone at the feet of Magna Charta. Ireland was made immediately a partaker. This benefit of English laws and liberties, I confess, was not extended to all Ireland. Mark the consequence. English authority and English Jiberty had exactly the same boundaries. Your standard could never be advanced an inch before your privileges. Sir John Davis shows beyond a doubt, that the refusal of a general communication of these rights, was the true cause why Ireland was five hundred years in subduing; and after the vain projects of a military government attempted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was soon discovered that nothing could make that country English, in civility and allegiance, but your laws and your forms of legislature. It was not English arms, but the English Constitution, that conquered Ireland. From that time, Ireland has ever had a general parliament, as she had before, a partial parliament. You changed the people, you altered the religion; but you never touched the form of the vital substance of free government in that kingdom. You deposed kings, you restored them; you altered the succession to theirs, as well as to your own crown; but you never altered their constitution; the principle of which was respected by usurpation; restored with the restoration of monarchy, and established, I trust, forever by the glorious Revolution. This has made Ireland the great and flourishing kingdom that it is; and from a disgrace and a burden, intolerable to this nation, has rendered her a principal part of our strength and ornament.
My next example is Wales. This country was said to be reduced by Henry the Third. It was said more truly to be so by Edward the First. But though then conquered, it was not looked upon as any part of the realm of England. Its old constitution, whatever that might have been, was destroyed, and no good one was substituted in its place. The care of that tract was put into the hands of lord marchers-a form of government of a very singular kind; a strange, heterogeneons monster, something between hostility and government; perhaps it has a sort of resemblance, according to the modes of those times, to that of commander-inchief, at present, to whom all civil power is granted as secondary The manners of the Welsh nation followed the genius of the government; the people were ferocious, restive, savage, and uncultivated; sometimes composed; never pacified. Wales within itself, was in perpetual disorder; and it kept the frontier of England in perpetual alarm. Benefits from it to the state, there were none.
Wales was only known to England by incursion and invasion.
Sir, during that state of things, Parliament was not idle. They attempted to subdue the fierce spirit of the Welsh by all sorts of rigorous laws. They prohibited by statute the sending all sorts of arms into Wales, as you prohibit by proclamation (with something more of doubt on the legality) the sending arms to America. They disarmed the Welsh by statute, as you attempted (but with still more question on the legality) to disarm New England by an instruction. They made an act to drag offenders from Wales into England for trial, as you have done (but with more hardships) with regard to America. By another act, where one of the parties was an Englishman, they ordained that his trial should be always by English. They made acts to restrain trade, as you do; and they prevented the Welsh from the use of fairs and markets, as you do the Americans from fisheries and foreign ports. In short, when the statute book was not quite so much swelled as it is now, you find no less than fifteen acts of penal regulation on the subject of Wales.
Here we rub our hands a fine body of precedents for the authority of Parliament and the use of it I-I admit it fully; and pray add likewise to these precedents, that all the while Wales rid this kingdom like an incubus; that it was an unprofitable and oppressive burden; and that an Englishman in that country could not go six yards from the high road without being murdered.
The march of the human mind is slow. Sir, it was not until after two hundred years discovered, that by an eternal law, Providence had decreed vexation to violence, and poverty to rapine. Your ancestors did however at length open their eyes to the ill husbandry of injustice. They found that the tyranny of a free people, could of all tyrannies the least be endured ; and that laws made against a whole nation were not the most effectual methods for securing its obedience. Accordingly, in the 27th year of Henry VIII., the course was entirely altered. With a preamble stating the entire and perfect rights of the crown of England, it gave to the Welsh all the rights and privileges of English subjects. A political order was established; the military power gave way to the civil; the marches were turned into counties. But that a nation should have a right to English liberties, and yet no share at all in the fundamental security of these liberties, the grant of their ow property, seemed a thing so incongruous, that eight years after, that is, in the thirty-fifth of that reign, a complete and not ill-proportioned representation by counties and boroughs was bestowed upon Wales, by act of Parliament. From that moment, as by a charm, the tumults subsided; obedience was restored; peace, order, and civilization followed in the train of liberty. When the day star of the English Constitution had arisen in their hearts, all was harmony within and without.
Simul alba nautis,
The very same year the county palatine of Chester received the same relief from its oppressions, and the same remedy to its disorder. Before this time Chester was little less distempered than