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To impoverish the colonies in general, and in particular to arrest the noble course of their marine enterprises, would be a more easy task. I freely confess it. We have shown a disposition to a system of this 5 kind, - a disposition even to continue the restraint after the offence, looking on ourselves as rivals to our colonies, and persuaded that of course we must gain all that they shall lose. Much mischief we may certainly do. The
power inadequate to all other things is often more than 10 sufficient for this. I do not look on the direct and
immediate power of the colonies to resist our violence as very formidable. In this, however, I may be mistaken. But when I consider that we have colonies for no pur
pose but to be serviceable to us, it seems to my poor 15 understanding a little preposterous to make them un
serviceable in order to keep them obedient. It is, in truth, nothing more than the old and, as I thought, exploded" problem of tyranny, which proposes to beggar its
subjects into submission. But remember, when you have 20 completed your system of impoverishment, that Nature
still proceeds in her ordinary course; that discontent will increase with misery; and that there are critical moments in the fortune of all states, when they who
are too weak to contribute to your prosperity may be 25 strong enough to complete your ruin. Spoliatis arma supersunt.
The temper and character which prevail in colonies are, I am afraid, unalterable by any human art.
We cannot, I fear, falsify the pedigree of this fierce people and persuade them that they are not sprung from a nation in whose veins the blood of freedom circulates. The language in which they would hear you tell them this tale would detect the imposition ; your speech would 5 betray you. An Englishman is the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery.
I think it is nearly as little in our power to change their republican religion as their free descent, or to substitute the Roman Catholic as a penalty, or the Church of 10 England as an improvement. The mode of inquisition and dragooning is going out of fashion in the Old World, and I should not confide much to their efficacy in the New. The education of the Americans is also on the same unalterable bottom with their religion. You 15 cannot persuade them to burn their books of curious ? science, to banish their lawyers from their courts of laws, or to quench the lights of their assemblies by refusing to choose those persons who are best read in their privileges. It would be no less impracticable to think of 20 wholly annihilating the popular assemblies in which these lawyers sit. The army, by which we must govern in their place, would be far more chargeable 3 to us; not quite so effectual; and perhaps in the end full as difficult to be kept in obedience.
25 With regard to the high aristocratic spirit of Virginia and the southern colonies, it has been proposed, I know, to reduce it by declaring a general enfranchisement of 1 Foundation. Mysterious, occult.
their slaves. This project has had its advocates and panegyrists; yet I never could argue myself into any opinion of it. Slaves are often much attached to their masters. A general wild offer of liberty would not always be 5 accepted. History furnishes few instances of it. It is sometimes as hard to persuade slaves to be free as it is to compel freemen to be slaves; and in this auspicious scheme we should have both these pleasing tasks on
hands at once. But when we talk of enfranchisement, 10 do we not perceive that the American master may
enfranchise too, and arm servile hands in defence of freedom? a measure to which other people have had recourse more than once, and not without success, in
a desperate situation of their affairs. 15
Slaves as these unfortunate black people are, and dull as all men are from slavery, must they not a little suspect the offer of freedom from that very nation which has sold them to their present masters? froin that nation, one of
whose causes of quarrel with those masters is their refusal 20 to deal any more in that inhuman traffic? An offer of
freedom from England would come rather oddly, shipped to them in an African vessel, which is refused an entry into the ports of Virginia or Carolina, with a cargo of three hundred Angola negroes.
It would be curious to see the 25 Guinea captain attempting at the same instant to publish
his proclamation of liberty and to advertise his sale of slaves.
But let us suppose all these moral difficulties got over. The ocean remains. You cannot pump this dry; and as
long as it continues in its present bed, so long all the causes which weaken authority by distance will continue.
Ye gods, annihilate but space and time,
was a pious and passionate prayer, but just as reasonable 5 as many of the serious wishes of very grave and solemn politicians.
If then, Sir, it seems almost desperate to think of any alterative course for changing the moral causes (and not quite easy to remove the natural) which produce preju- 10 dices irreconcilable to the late exercise of our authority, but that the spirit infallibly wiil continue; and continuing, will produce such effects as now embarrass us, - the second mode under consideration is to prosecute that spirit in its overt acts as criminal.
At this proposition I must pause a moment. The thing seems a great deal too big for my ideas of jurisprudence. It should seem, to my way of conceiving such matters, that there is a very wide difference in reason and policy between the mode of proceeding on the irregular 20 conduct of scattered individuals, or even of bands of men, who disturb order within the state, and the civil dissensions which may, from time to time, on great questions, agitate the several communities which compose a great empire. It looks to me to be narrow and pedantic to apply the 25 ordinary ideas of criminal justice to this great public contest. I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people. I cannot insult and
ridicule the feelings of millions of my fellow-creatures, as Sir Edward Coke insulted one excellent individual (Sir Walter Raleigh) at the bar. I am not ripe to pass sentence on the gravest public bodies, entrusted with 5 magistracies of great authority and dignity, and charged with the safety of their fellow-citizens, upon the very same title that I am. I really think that for wise men this is not judicious; for sober men, not decent; for minds tinctured with humanity, not mild and merciful.
Perhaps, Sir, I am mistaken in my idea of an empire as distinguished from a single state or kingdom. But my idea of it is this: that an empire is the aggregate of many states under one common head, whether this head
be a monarch or a presiding republic. It does in such 15 constitutions frequently happen (and nothing but the
dismal, cold, dead uniformity of servitude can prevent its happening) that the subordinate parts have many local privileges and immunities. Between these privileges and the supreme common authority the line
be extremely Of course disputes often, too, very bitter disputes - and much ill blood will arise. But though every privilege is an exemption (in the case) from the ordinary exercise of the supreme authority, it is no denial of it.
The claim of a privilege seems rather, ex vi termini, to 25 imply a superior power; for to talk of the privileges of a
state or of a person who has no superior is hardly any better than speaking nonsense. Now in such unfortunate quarrels among the component parts of a great political 1 Imbued.
2 Fine, difficult to see.