Imágenes de página

English Constitution had arisen in their hearts, all was harmony within and without:


Simul alba nautis

Stella refulsit,
Defluit saxis agitatus humor;
Concidunt venti, fugiuntque nubes,
Et minax (quod sic voluere) ponto

Unda recumbit.

The very same year the County Palatine of Chester 10 received the same relief from its oppressions and

the same remedy to its disorders. Before this time Chester was little less distempered ? than Wales. The inhabitants, without rights themselves, were the fittest

to destroy the rights of others; and from thence Richard 15 the Second drew the standing army of archers with which

for a time he oppressed England. The people of Chester applied to Parliament in a petition penned as I shall read

to you:

To the King our Sovereign Lord, in most humble wise shewen 2 20 unto your most excellent Majesty the inhabitants of your Grace's

County Palatine of Chester: (1) That where 3 the said County Palatine of Chester is and hath been always hitherto exempt, excluded and separated out and from your high court of Parliament,

to have any knights and burgesses within the said court; by reason 25 whereof the said inhabitants have hitherto sustained manifold dis

herisons,4 losses and damages, as well in their lands, goods and bodies, as in the good, civil and politic governance and maintenance of the commonwealth of their said country. (2) And forasmuch 1 Disordered.

2 Show. The form is obsolete. 3 Whereas.

4 Deprivations.

as the said inhabitants have always hitherto been bound by the acts and statues made and ordained by your said Highness and your most noble progenitors, by authority of the said court, as far forth as other counties, cities and boroughs have been, that have had their knights and burgesses within your said court of Parliament, 5 and yet have had neither knight nel burgess there for the said County Palatine; the said inhabitants, for lack thereof, have been oftentimes touched and grieved with acts and statutes made within the said court, as well derogatory unto the most ancient jurisdictions, liberties and privileges of your said County Palatine, as prejudicial 10 unto the commonwealth, quietness, rest and peace of your Grace's most bounden subjects inhabiting within the same.

What did Parliament with this audacious address ? Reject it as a libel? Treat it as an affront to government? Spurn it as a derogation from the rights of legislature ? 15 Did they toss it over the table ? Did they burn it by the hands of the common hangman? They took the petition of grievance, all rugged as it was, without softening or temperament, 2 unpurged of the original bitterness and indignation of complaint; they made it 20 the very preamble to their act of redress, and consecrated its principle to all ages in the sanctuary of legislation.

Here my third example. It was attended with the success of the two former. Chester, civilized as well as Wales, has demonstrated that freedom, and not servitude, 25 is the cure for anarchy; as religion, and not atheism, is the true remedy for superstition. Sir, this pattern of Chester was followed in the reign of Charles the Second with regard to the County Palatine of Durham, which is

[blocks in formation]


my fourth example. This county had long lain out of the pale of free legislation. So scrupulously was the example of Chester followed, that the style of the preamble is nearly the same with that of the Chester act; and 5 without affecting the abstract extent of the authority of Parliament, it recognizes the equity of not suffering any considerable district in which the British subjects may act as a body, to be taxed without their own voice in the grant.

Now if the doctrines of policy contained in these preambles and the force of these examples in the acts of Parliaments avail anything, what can be said against applying them with regard to America ? Are not the

people of America as much Englishmen as the Welsh? The 15 preamble of the act of Henry the Eighth says the Welsh

speak a language no way resembling that of his Majesty's English subjects. Are the Americans not as numerous ? If we may trust the learned and accurate Judge Barring

ton's account of North Wales, and take that as a standard 20 to measure the rest, there is no comparison. The

people cannot amount to above 200,000, - not a tenth part of the number in the colonies. Is America in rebellion ? Wales was hardly ever free from it. Have

you attempted to govern America by penal statutes ? 25 You made fifteen for Wales. But your legislative au

thority is perfect with regard to America. Was it less perfect in Wales, Chester, and Durham? But America is virtually ? represented. What! does the electric force

Essentially, though not actually.

1 As.



of virtual representation more easily pass over the Atlantic than pervade Wales, which lies in your neighborhood? or than Chester and Durham, surrounded by abundance of representation that is actual and palpable? But, Sir, your ancestors thought this sort of virtual representation, 5 however ample, to be totally insufficient for the freedom of the inhabitants of territories that are so near and comparatively so inconsiderable. How then can I think it sufficient for those which are infinitely greater and infinitely more remote?

You will now, Sir, perhaps imagine that I am on the point of proposing to you a scheme for a representation of the colonies in Parliament. Perhaps I might be inclined to entertain some such thought; but a great flood stops me in my course. Opposuit natura I can- 15 not remove the eternal barriers of the creation. The thing, in that mode, I do not know to be possible. As I meddle with no theory, I do not absolutely assert the impracticability of such a representation : but I do not see my way to it; and those who have been more confi- 2 dent have not been more successful. However, the arm of public benevolence is not shortened, and there are often several means to the same end. What Nature has disjoined in one way Wisdom may unite in another. When we cannot give the benefit as we would wish, let 25 us not refuse it altogether. If we cannot give the principal, let us find a substitute. But how? Where? What substitute? Fortunately I am not obliged for the ways



means of this substitute to tax my own unproductive invention.

I am not even obliged to go to the rich treasury of the fertile framers of imaginary commonwealths ; not to the Republic of Plato, not to the Utopia of More, 5 not to the Oceana of Harrington. It is before me; it is at my feet,

And the rude swain
Treads daily on it with his clouted shoon.

I only wish you to recognize, for the theory, the an10 cient constitutional policy of this kingdom with regard

to representation, as that policy has been declared in acts of Parliament; and as to the practice, to return to that mode which a uniform experience has marked out to you

as best, and in which you walked with security, advan15 tage and honor until the year 1763.

My resolutions, therefore, mean to establish the equity and justice of a taxation of America by grant, and not by imposition; to mark the legal competency of the colony

assemblies for the support of their government in peace 20 and for public aids in time of war; to acknowledge that

this legal competency has had a dutiful and beneficial exercise, and that experience has shown the benefit of their grants and the futility of parliamentary taxation as a method of supply.

These solid truths compose six fundamental propositions. There are three more resolutions corollary to these. If you admit the first set, you can hardly reject the others. But if you admit the first, I shall be far


« AnteriorContinuar »