Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

America into England without consent of Parliament, which probably would not like it, as a few years since they had not liked the introduction of the Hessians and Hanoverians, though justified by the supposition of its being a time of danger. That, if there should be at any time real occasion for British troops in America, there was no doubt of obtaining the consent of the Assemblies there; and I was so far from being willing to drop this article, that I thought I ought to add another, requiring all the present troops to be withdrawn, before America could be expected to treat or agree upon any terms of accommodation ; as what they should now do of that kind might be deemed the effect of compulsion, the appearance of which ought as much as possible to be avoided, since those reasonable things might be agreed to, where the parties seemed at least to act freely, which would be strongly refused under threats or the semblance of force. That the withdrawing the troops was therefore necessary to make any treaty durably binding on the part of the Americans, since proof of having acted under force would invalidate any agreement. And it could be no wonder, that we should insist on the crown's having no right to bring a standing army among us in time of peace, when we saw now before our eyes a striking instance of the ill use to be made of it, viz. to distress the King's subjects in different parts of his dominions, one part after the other, into a submission to arbitrary power, which was the avowed design of the army and fleet now placed at Boston. Finding me obstinate, the gentlemen consented to let this stand, but did not seem quite to approve of it. They wished, they said, to have this a paper or plan that they might show as containing the sentiments of considerate, impartial persons, and such as they might as Englishmen support, which they thought could not well be the case with this article.

i

The ninth article was so drawn, in compliance with an idea of Dr. Fothergill's, started at our first meeting, viz. that government here would probably not be satisfied with the promise of voluntary grants in time of war from the Assemblies, of which the quantity must be uncertain ; that, therefore, it would be best to proportion them in some way to the shillings in the pound raised in England; but how such proportion could be ascertained he was at a loss to contrive. I was desired to consider it. It had been said, too, that Parliament was become jealous of the right claimed and heretofore used by the crown, of raising money in the colonies without Parliamentary consent; and, therefore, since we would not pay Parliamentary taxes, future requisitions must be made with consent of Parliament, and not otherwise. I wondered that the crown should be willing to give up that separate right, but had no objection to its limiting itself, if it thought proper; so I drew the article accordingly, and contrived to proportion the aid by the tax of the last year

of since it was thought, that the method I should have liked best, would never be agreed to, viz, a Continental Congress to be called by the crown, for answering requisitions and proportioning aids, I chose to leave room for voluntary additions by the separate Assemblies, that the crown might have some motive for calling them together, and cultivating their good will, and they have some satisfaction in showing their loyalty and their zeal in the common cause, and an opportunity of manifesting their disapprobation of a war, if they did not think it a just one.

This article therefore met with no objection from them; and I had another reason for liking it, viz. that the view of the proportion to be given in time of war, might make us the more frugal in time

peace. And

of peace.

For the tenth article, I urged the injustice of seizing that fortress, (which had been built at an immense charge by the province, for the defence of their port against national enemies,) and turning it into a citadel for awing the town, restraining their trade, blocking up their port, and depriving them of their privileges. That a great deal had been said of their injustice in destroy ing the tea; but here was a much greater injustice uncompensated, that castle having cost the province three hundred thousand pounds. And that such a use made of a fortress they had built, would not only effectually discourage every colony from ever building another, and thereby leave them more exposed to foreign enemies, but was a good reason for their insisting that the crown should never erect any hereafter in their limits, without the consent of the legislature. The gentlemen had not much to say against this article, but thought it would hardly be admitted.

The eleventh article, it was thought, would be strongly objected to; that it would be urged the old colonists could have nothing to do with the affairs of Canada, whatever we had with those of the Massachusetts; that it would be considered as an officious meddling merely to disturb government; and that some even of the Massachusetts acts were thought by administration to be improvements of that government, viz. those altering the appointment of counsellors, the choice of jurymen, and the forbidding of town meetings. I replied, that we, having assisted in the conquest of Canada, at a great expense of blood and treasure, had some right to be considered in the settlement of it. That the establishing an arbitrary government on the back of our settlements might be dangerous to us all ; and that, loving liberty ourselves, we wished it to be extended among mankind, and to have no foundation

for future slavery laid in America. That, as to amending the Massachusetts government, though it might be shown that every one of these pretended amendments were real mischiefs, yet that charters being compacts between two parties, the King and the people, no alteration could be made in them, even for the better, but by the consent of both parties. That the Parliament's claim and exercise of a power to alter our charters, which had always been deemed in violable but for forfeiture, and to alter laws made in pursuance of these charters, which had received the royal approbation, and thenceforth deemed fixed and unchangeable, but by the powers that made them, had rendered all our constitutions uncertain, and set us quite afloat. That, as, by claiming a right to tax us ad libitum, they deprived us of all property; so, by this claim of altering our laws and charters at will, they deprived us of all privilege and right whatever, but what we should hold at their pleasure. That this was a situation we could not be in, and must risk life and every thing rather than submit to it. So this article remained.

The twelfth article I explained, by acquainting the gentlemen with the former situation of the judges in most colonies, viz. that they were appointed by the crown, and paid by the Assemblies. That, the appointment being during the pleasure of the crown, the salary had been during the pleasure of the Assembly. That, when it has been urged against the Assemblies, that their making judges dependent on them for their salaries, was aiming at an undue influence over the courts of justice; the Assemblies usually replied, that making them dependent on the crown for continuance in their places, was also retaining an undue influence over those courts; and that one undue influence was a proper balance for the other; but that whenever the

crown would consent to acts making the judges during good behaviour, the Assemblies would at the same time grant their salaries to be permanent during their continuance in office. This the crown has however constantly refused. And this equitable offer is now again here proposed; the colonies not being able to conceive why their judges should not be rendered as independent as those in England. That, on the contrary, the crown now claimed to make the judges in the colonies dependent on its favor for both place and salary, both to be continued at its pleasure. This the colonies must oppose as inequitable, as putting both the weights into one of the scales of justice. If, therefore, the crown does not choose to commission the judges during good behaviour, with equally permanent salaries, the alternative proposed that the salaries continue to be paid during the pleasure of the Assemblies as heretofore. The gentlemen allowed this article to be reasonable.

The thirteenth was objected to, as nothing was generally thought more reasonable here, than that the King should pay his own governor, in order to render him independent of the people, who otherwise might aim at influencing him against his duty, by occasionally withholding his salary. To this I answered, that governors sent to the colonies were often men of no estate or principle, who came merely to make fortunes, and had no natural regard for the country they were to govern. That to make them quite independent of the people, was to make them careless of their conduct, whether it was beneficial or mischievous to the public, and giving a loose to their rapacious and oppressive dispositions. That the influence supposed could never extend to operate any thing prejudicial to the King's service, or the interest of Britain ; since the governor was bound by a set of particular instructions, which

« ZurückWeiter »