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assertion? Was your Boston Port Bill a measure of lenity ? Was your Fishery Bill a measure of lenity ? Was your Bill for taking away the charter of Massachusetts Bay a measure of lenity, or even of justice? I omit your many other gross provocations and insults, by which the brave Americans have been driven to their present state. Sir, I disapprove, not only the evil spirit of this whole Address, but likewise the wretched adulation of alm st every part of it.
My wish and hope, therefore, is, that it will be rejected by this House ; and that another, dutiful yet decent, manly Address, will be presented to his Majesty, praying that he would sheathe the sword, prevent the further effusion of the blood of our fellow-subjects, and adopt some mode of negotiation with the general Congress, in compliance with their repeated petition, thereby restoring peace and harmony to this distracted Empire.
54. REPLY TO THE DUKE OF GRAFTON. – Lord Thurlow. Edward Thurlow, who rose to be Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, was born in 1732, and died in 1806. Butler, in his “Reminiscences," says: “It was my good fortune to hear his celebrated reply to the Duke of Grafton, who reproached Lord Thurlow with his plebeian extraction, and his recent admission into the peerage. His Lordship had spoken too often, and began to be heard with a civil but visible impatience; and, under these circumstances, he was attacked in the manner we have mentioned. Lord Thurlow rose from the woolsack, and advanced slowly to the place from which the Chancellor generally addresses the Ilouse of Lords, and then, fixing on the Duke the look of Jove when he has grasped the thunder, he said (in a level tone of voice), 'I am amazed at the attack which the noble Duke has made on me.' Then, raising his voice, — Yes, my Lords, I am amazed,' &c."
I am amazed at the attack which the noble Duke has made on me. Yes, my Lords, I am amazed at his Grace's speech. The noble Duke cannot look before him, behind him, or on either side of him, without seeing some noble Peer who owes his seat in this House to his successful exertions in the profession to which I belong. Does he not feel that it is as honorable to owe it to these, as to being the accident of an accident ? To all these noble Lords the language of the noble Duke is as applicable, and as insulting, as it is to myself. But I do not fear to meet it single and alone.
No one venerates the Peerage more than I do; but, my Lords, I must say that the Peerage solicited me, not I the Peerage. Nay, more, I can say, and will say, that, as a Peer of Parliament, as Speaker of this right honorable House, as keeper of the great seal, as guardian of his Majesty's conscience, as Lord High Chancellor of England, — nay, even in that character alone in which the noble Duke would think it an affront to be considered, but which character none can deny me, as a MAN, — I am, at this moment, as respectable, I beg leave to add, I am as much respected, as the proudest Peer I now look down upon!
55. WORTH OF PRESENT POPULARITY. - Lord Mansfield. Born, 1705 ; died, 1783.
Against Parliamentary exemption from arrest for debt, May 9, 1770. It has been imputed to me by the noble Earl * on my left, that I, too, am running the race of popularity. If the noble Earl means, by
* The Earl of Chatham.
popularity, that applause bestowed by after ages on good and virtuous actions, I have long been struggling in that race : to what purpose, all-trying Time can alone determine. But if he means that mushroom popularity, which is raised without merit, and lost without a crime, he is much mistaken in his opinion. I defy the noble Earl to point out a single action of my life in which the popularity of the times ever had the smallest influence on my determination. I thank God I have a more permanent and steady rule for my conduct — the dictates of my own breast. Those who have foregone that pleasing advice, and given up their minds to the slavery of every popular impulse, I sincerely pity: I pity them still more, if vanity leads them to mistake the shouts of a mob for the trumpet of fame. Experience might inform them that many, who have been saluted with the huzzas of a crowd one day, have received its execrations the next; and many, who, by the popularity of their own times, have been held up as spotless patriots, have, nevertheless, appeared on the historian's page, when truth has triumphed over delusion, the assassins of liberty. Why, then, the noble Earl can think I am ambitious of present popularity, that echo of folly and shadow of renown, I am at a loss to determine.
Besides, I do not know that the Bill now before your Lordships will be popular; it depends much upon the caprice of the day. It may not be popular to compel people to pay their debts; and, in that case, the present must be a very unpopular Bill. It may not be popular, neither, to take away any of the privileges of Parliament; for I very well remember, and many of your Lordships may remember, that, not long ago, the popular cry was for the extension of privilege ; and so far did they carry it at that time, that it was said the privilege protected members even in criminal actions ; nay, such was the power of popular prejudices over weak minds, that the very decisions of some of the courts were tinctured with that doctrine. It was, undoubtedly, an abominable doctrine; I thought so then, and I think so still ; but, nevertheless, it was a popular doctrine, and came immediately from those who are called the friends of liberty, — how deservedly, time will show. True liberty, in my opinion, can only exist when justice is equally administered to all, — to the king and to the beggar. Where is the justice, then, or where is the law, that protects a member of Parliament, more than any other man, from the punishment due to his crimes ? The laws of this country allow of no place, nor any employment, to be a sanctuary for crimes; and, where I have the honor to sit as judge, neither royal favor nor popular applause shall ever protect the guilty.
56. MAGNANIMITY IN POLITICS, 1775. – Edmund Burke. Born, 1730; died, 1797.
A REVENUE from America, transmitted hither? Do not delude yourselves! You never can receive it — no, not a shilling! Let the Colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with your Government, and they will cling and grapple to you. These are ties
which, though light as air, are strong as links of iron. But let it once be understood that your Government may be one thing and their privileges another, — the cement is gone, the cohesion is loosened ! Do not entertain so weak an imagination as that your registers and your bonds, your affidavits and your sufferances, your cockets and your clearances, are what form the great securities of your commerce. These things do not make your Government. Dead instruments, passive tools, as they are, it is the spirit of the English communion that gives all their life and efficacy to them. It is the spirit of the English Constitution, which, infused through the mighty mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies, every part of the Empire, even down to the minutest member.
Do you imagine that it is the land tax which raises your revenue ? that it is the annual vote in the committee of supply which gives you your army? or that it is the mutiny bill which inspires it with bravery and discipline? No! Surely no! It is the love of the People ; it is their attachment to their Government from the sense of the deep stake they have in such a glorious institution, which gives you your army and your navy, and infuses into both that liberal obedience, without which your army would be a base rabble, and your navy nothing but rotten timber.
All this, I know well enough, will sound wild and chimerical to the profane herd of those vulgar and mechanical politicians, who have no place among us; a sort of people who think that nothing exists but what is gross and material ; and who, therefore, far from being qualified to be directors of the great movement of Empire, are not fit to turn a wheel in the machine. But, to men truly initiated and rightly taught, these ruling and master principles, which, in the opinion of such men as I have mentioned, have no substantial existence, are, in truth, everything, and all in all. Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom ; and a great Empire and little minds go ill together. Let us get an American revenue, as we have got an American Empire. English privileges have made it all that it is; English privileges alone will make it all it can be !
67. ENTERPRISE OF AMERICAN COLONISTS, 1775.- Edmund Burke. Burke, the greatest of Irish statesmen, and unsurpassed as a writer of English prose, impaired his immediate success as a speaker hy a badly-regulated voice, and an infelicitous delivery. Grattan, his countryman and contemporary, wrote of him: “Burke is unquestionably the first orator of the Commons of England, notwithstanding the want of energy, the want of grace, and the want of elegance, in his manner.” “ He was a prodigy of nature and of acquisition. He read everything - he saw everything. His knowledge of history amounted to a power of foretelling ; and, when he perceived the wild work that was doing in France, that great political physician, cognizant of symptoms, distinguished between the access of fever and the force of health, and what others conceived to be the vigor of her constitution he knew to be the paroxysin of her madness ; and then, prophet-like, he pronounced the destinies of France, and in his prophetic fury admonished nations."
For some time past, Mr. Speaker, has the Old World been fed from the New. The scarcity which you have felt would have been a desolating famine, if this child of
age, -if America, – with a true filial piety, with a Roman charity, had not put the full
breast of its youthful exuberance to the mouth of its exhausted parent. Turning from the agricultural resources of the Colonies, consider the wealth which they have drawn from the sea by their fisheries. The spirit in which that enterprising employment has been exercised ought to raise your esteem and admiration. Pray, Sir, what in the world is equal to it? Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the People of New England have of late carried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay, and Davis' Straits, whilst we are looking for them beneath the Arctic Circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of Polar cold, that they are at the antipodés, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the South. Falkland Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of their victorious industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging to them than the accumulated winter of both the Poles. We know that whilst some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude, and pursue their gigantic game, along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their fisheries. No climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland,
nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and firm sagacity of English enterprise, ever carried this most perilous mode of hardy industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent People; a People who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone, of manhood.
When I contemplate these things, — when I know that the Colonies in general owe little or nothing to any care of ours, and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the constraints of a watchful and suspicious Government, but that, through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection, — when I reflect upon these effects, when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of human contrivances melt, and die away within me. My rigor relents. I pardon something to the spirit of liberty.
68. ON AMERICAN TAXATION, APRIL 19, 1774.-Id. Could anything be a subject of more just alarm to America, than to see you go out of the plain high road of finance, and give up your most certain revenues and your clearest interests, merely for the sake of insulting your Colonies ? No man ever doubted that the commodity of tea could bear an imposition of three-pence. But no commodity will bear three-pence, or will bear a penny, when the general feelings of men are irritated, and two millions of men are resolved not to pay. The feelings of the Colonies were formerly the feelings of Great Britain. Theirs were formerly the feelings of Mr. Hampden, when
called upon for the payment of twenty shillings. Would twenty shillings have ruined Mr. Hampden's fortune? No! but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the principle it was demanded, would have made him a slave! It is the weight of that preamble, of which you are so fond, and not the weight of the duty, 'that the Americans are unable and unwilling to bear. You are, therefore, at this moment, in the awkward situation of fighting for a phantom; quiddity; a thing that wants, not only a substance, but even a name; for a thing which is neither abstract right, nor profitable enjoyment.
They tell you, Sir, that your dignity is tied to it. I know not how it happens, but this dignity of yours is a terrible incumbrance to you; for it has of late been ever at war with your interest, your equity, and every idea of your policy. Show the thing you contend for to be reason, show it to be common sense, show it to be the means of obtaining some useful end, and then I am content to allow it what dignity you please. But what dignity is derived from the perseverance in absurdity, is more than I ever could discern! Let us, Sir, embrace some system or other before we end this session. Do you mean to tax America, and to draw a productive revenue from thence ? If you do, speak out: name, fix, ascertain this revenue; settle its quantity ; define its objects ; provide for its collection; and then fight, when you have something to fight for. If you murder, rob; if you kill, take possession : and do not appear in the character of madmen, as well as assassins, — violent, vindictive, bloody and tyrannical, without an object. But may better counsels guide you !
59. DESPOTISM INCOMPATIBLE WITH RIGHT, 1788. - Id. My Lords, you have now heard the principles on which Mr. Hastings governs the part of Asia subjected to the British empire. Here he has declared his opinion, that he is a despotic prince; that he is to use arbitrary power; and, of course, all his acts are covered with that shield. I know,” says he, “ the Constitution of Asia only from its practice.” Will your Lordships submit to hear the corrupt practices of mankind made the principles of Government ? He have arbitrary power!— My Lords, the East-India Company have not arbitrary power to give him; the King has no arbitrary power to give him; your Lordships have not; nor the Commons; nor the whole Legislature. We have no arbitrary power to give, because arbitrary power is a thing which neither any man can hold nor any man can give. No man can lawfully govern himself according to his own will, — much less can one person be governed by the will of another. We are all born in subjection, - all born equally, high and low, governors and governed, in subjection to one great, immutable, preexistent law, prior to all our devices, and prior to all our contrivances, paramount to all our ideas and to all our sensations, antecedent to our very existence, by