Abbildungen der Seite

he had represented their application for those instructions, as having a tendency to alienate the affections of the people from the King; which was also true, because such his representation had been confined to the expressions they had made use of concerning the invasion of their civil and religious liberties; the last of which is indeed no otherwise to be accounted for, than by the demand made upon them to establish a militia, and thereby oblige those to carry arms who made it a point of conscience to disavow resistance by force. Those expressions, he would needs have it, had the tendency he ascribed to them; because "he very well knew how fond the people were of their currency, and how averse to any restraint upon it." He endeavoured to embroil them with the crown for having called the instruction in question an infraction of the royal charter. He reproached them both with ingratitude and with injustice, for being pleased to be angry with their proprietaries. In vindicating the affections of those gentlemen to the province, he derived his argument from their interest in it; and he is peremptory, that, instead of entertaining designs to invade the just rights and privileges of the inhabitants, there was nothing they so much detested and abhorred; he adhered to the resolution he had taken, nevertheless, not to lay his instructions before them at that time; being sensible they were no way necessary, and that, the assembly having already declared them destructive to their liberties, they were not in a proper temper for the consideration of them. To show he was not restrained by proprietary instructions from passing bills for the defence of the country, he declares himself ready to pass a law for establishing a militia, &c., and for emitting any sum in paper money on proprietary terms ; that is to say, on such funds as might sink the same

in five years. He perseveres in maintaining, that the act of the sixth of Queen Anne had been shamefully slighted even in their province; because pieces of eight were then, and had been for many years past, current at seven shillings and sixpence; whereas, according to that act, they should pass for six shillings only; as if money, like all other commodities, would not find. and fix its own value, in spite of all the precautions and provisions the wit of man could invent. He also maintained, that, on a reëxamination of the provincial accounts, their revenue was seven thousand three hundred and eighty-one pounds per annum, clear of the five hundred pounds per annum for sinking the five thousand pounds formerly given for the King's use; and that the sums due, and which, by the laws in being, should have been paid in the September preceding, amounted at least to fourteen thousand pounds. He averred they could not but be sensible that the twenty thousand pounds currency they proposed to give, and called a generous sum, was very insufficient to answer the exigence, and that it was not two pence in the pound upon the just and real value of the estates of the province; and, in short, he said whatsoever else Occurred to him, which could favor his purpose of figuring here at home; as if he was in all respects right, and the assembly in all respects wrong.

Argumentatively then, if not historically, we have now the merits of the case before us; and may safely pronounce, that, if instructions may or can be construed into laws, instructions are then of more value than proclamations, which do not pretend to any such authority. That, though grants from the crown are in the first instance matter of grace, the subject may claim the benefit of them as matter of right. That when the prerogative has once laid any restraint on itself, nothing

short of a positive act of forfeiture, or act of Parliament can authorize any species of resumption. That, if a subsequent instruction may cancel or obviate an original grant, charters, under all the sanctions the prerogative can give them, are no better than quicksands. That in the charter given to William Penn, Esquire, and solemnly accepted as the basis of government by his followers, there is no reserve on the behalf of the crown to tie up the province from making the same use of its credit, which is the privilege of every private subject. That, notwithstanding all the pretended sacro-sanctitude of an instruction, probationary at first, neither renewed or referred to, directly or indirectly, by his Majesty or his ministers afterwards, and virtually discharged by a subsequent act of Parliament, which expressly restrained some colonies, and consequently left the rest in possession of their ancient liberty, the governor was notoriously ready to dispense with it on proprietary terms. That the difference between five and ten years for sinking the bills, was a point in which the national interest had no concern. That, if the eastern colonies, which were those restrained by the said act, might, nevertheless, in case of exigence, make new issues of paper money, those unrestrained might surely do the same in the like case, on such terms, and after such a mode, as appeared most reasonable to themselves. That, according to all the representations of the governor to the assembly, if true, the fate of the province, if not of the public, depended on their giving a supply. That, consequently, no exigency could be more pressing than the present, nor emission of paper money better warranted. And that he could, nevertheless, leave the province exposed to all the calamities, which that exigence could possibly bring upon it, or upon the service in general, rather than

give up one proprietary item; whereas the difficulty imposed upon the people manifestly was either to be a prey to their invaders, or give up every privilege that made their country worth defending; which shows, in the fullest, clearest, and most unanswerable manner, that all proprietary interposition between the sovereign and subject is alike injurious to both, and that the solecism of an imperium in imperio could hardly be more emphatically illustrated.

[blocks in formation]


The Assembly make their Appeal to the Crown. The Governor's expostulatory Message thereon. He demands a Copy of their Minutes; they order him one when the printed Copies were finished, and adjourn. Upon Braddock's Arrival in Virginia, they are re-assembled by special Summons; the Demands made by Message on that Occasion. Twentyfive Thousand Pounds granted to the King's Use, to be raised by an Emission of Paper Bills. Refused by the Governor, on the old Pretence of a contrary Instruction. A Provision demanded for the Expense of an Indian Treaty. A Memorial to the Assembly from Mr. Quincy, a Commissioner from the Government of Massachusetts Bay. The Assembly resolves to raise the said sum on the Credit of the Province. Another Paper of Acknowledgment from the said Mr. Quincy. The Governor revives the former Controversy. The Assembly's spirited Answer to his Message. A Remark thereon.

To the crown under this difficulty the assembly now thought it high time to make their appeal, in humble confidence, that a fair and modest state of their case would recommend them to the royal protection, and screen them from the malignity of their adversaries.

That the governor, however, might not, in the mean time, remain ignorant of their sentiments, they made another application to him by message; in which they apprized him of what they had done, and of their joining issue with him in submitting their cause to his Majesty's decision; as also, of their inclination to adjourn till May, for the sake of their own private affairs, to relieve the province from the expense they sat at, and suspend the uneasiness which a contest, like to be endless, and in which they were treated with so little decency, had given to them. And having thus, as they observed, reduced what immediately concerned them within a narrow compass, they first declare it was hard for them to conjecture how the governor came by his knowledge of the people's fondness of their currency

« ZurückWeiter »