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blance to a sort of qualified hostility towards an independent power than the punishment of rebellious subjects. All this seems rather inconsistent; but it shows how difficult it is to apply these juridical ideas to our present
In this situation, let us seriously and coolly ponder. What is it we have got by all our menaces, which have been many and ferocious ? What advantage have we derived from the penal laws we have passed, and which, for the time, have been severe and numerous ? What 10 advances have we made towards our object by the sending of a force which, by land and sea, is no contemptible strength ? Has the disorder abated ? Nothing less. When I see things in this situation after such confident hopes, bold promises, and active exertions, I cannot, for 15 my life, avoid a suspicion that the plan itself is not correctly right.
If, then, the removal of the causes of this spirit of American liberty be for the greater part, or rather entirely, impracticable; if the ideas of criminal process be 20 inapplicable - or, if applicable, are in the highest degree inexpedient; what way yet remains ? No way is open but the third and last, - to comply with the American spirit as necessary; or, if you please, to submit to it as a necessary evil.
If we adopt this mode, if we mean to conciliate and concede, - let us see of what nature the concession ought to be. To ascertain the nature of our concession, we must look at their complaint. The Colonies complain that they have not the characteristic mark and seal of 30 British freedom. They complain that they are taxed in a Parliament in which they are not represented. If you mean to satisfy them at all, you must satisfy them with regard to this complaint. If you mean to please any people you must give them the boon which they ask; 35
not what you may think better for them, but of a kind totally different. Such an act may be a wise regulation, but it is no concession; whereas our present theme is the mode of giving satisfaction.
Sir, I think you must perceive that I am resolved this day to have nothing at all to do with the question of the right of taxation. Some gentlemen startle - but it is true; I put it totally out of the question. It is less
than nothing in my consideration. I do not indeed won10 der, nor will you, Sir, that gentlemen of profound learn
ing are fond of displaying it on this profound subject. But my consideration is narrow, confined, and wholly limited to the policy of the question. I do not examine
whether the giving away a man's money be a power ex15 cepted and reserved out of the general trust of govern
ment, and how far all mankind, in all forms of polity, are entitled to an exercise of that right by the charter of nature; or whether, on the contrary, a right of taxa
tion is necessarily involved in the general principle of 20 legislation, and inseparable from the ordinary supreme
power. These are deep questions, where great names militate against each other, where reason is perplexed, and an appeal to authorities only thickens the con
fusion; for high and reverend authorities lift up their 25 heads on both sides, and there is no sure footing in the middle. This point is the great
“ Serbonian bog, Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk.” 30 I do not intend to be overwhelmed in that bog, though
in such respectable company. The question with me is, not whether you have a right to render your people miserable, but whether it is not your interest to make them
happy. It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do, but 35 what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to
do. Is a politic act the worse for being a generous one ? Is no concession proper but that which is made from your want of right to keep what you grant? Or does it lessen the grace or dignity of relaxing in the exercise of an odious claim because you have your evidence-room 5 full of titles, and your magazines stuffed with arms to enforce them? What signify all those titles, and all those arms ? Of what avail are they, when the reason of the thing tells me that the assertion of my title is the loss of my suit, and that I could do nothing but wound 10 myself by the use of my own weapons ?
Such is steadfastly my opinion of the absolute necessity of keeping up the concord of this Empire by an unity of spirit, though in a diversity of operations, that, if I were sure the Colonists had, at their leaving this country, 15 sealed a regular compact of servitude; that they had solemnly abjured all the rights of citizens; that they had made a vow to renounce all ideas of liberty for them and their posterity to all generations; yet I should hold myself obliged to conform to the temper I found uni- 20 versally prevalent in my own day, and to govern two million of men, impatient of servitude, on the principles of freedom. I am not determining a point of law, I am restoring tranquillity; and the general character and situation of a people must determine what sort of gov- 25 ernment is fitted for them. That point nothing else can or ought to determine.
My idea, therefore, without considering whether we yield as matter of right, or grant as matter of favor, is to admit the people of our Colonies into an interest in 30 the Constitution; and, by recording that admission in the journals of Parliament, to give them as strong an assurance as the nature of the thing will admit, that we mean forever to adhere to that solemn declaration of systematic indulgence.
Some years ago the repeal of a revenue Act, upon its understood principle, might have served to show that we intended an unconditional abatement of the exercise of a taxing power. Such a measure was then sufficient to 5 remove all suspicion, and to give perfect content. But unfortunate events since that time
may make something further necessary; and not more necessary for the satisfaction of the Colonies than for the dignity and consist
ency of our own future proceedings. 10 I have taken a very incorrect measure of the dispo
sition of the House if this proposal in itself would be received with dislike. I think, Sir, we have few American financiers. But our misfortune is, we are too acute,
we are too exquisite in our conjectures of the future, for 15 men oppressed with such great and present evils. The
more moderate among the opposers of Parliamentary concession freely confess that they hope no good from taxation, but they apprehend the Colonists have further
views; and if this point were conceded, they would in20 stantly attack the trade laws. These gentlemen are
convinced that this was the intention from the beginning, and the quarrel of the Americans with taxation was no more than a cloak and cover to this design. Such has
been the language even of a gentleman of real modera25 tion, and of a natural temper well adjusted to fair and
equal government. I am, however, Sir, not a little surprised at this kind of discourse, whenever I hear it; and I am the more surprised on account of the arguments
which I constantly find in company with it, and which 30 are often urged from the same mouths and on the same day.
For instance, when we allege that it is against reason to tax a people under so many restraints in trade as the
Americans, the noble lord in the blue ribbon shall tell 35 you that the restraints on trade are futile and useless
of no advantage to us, and of no burthen to those on whom they are imposed ; that the trade to America is not secured by the Acts of Navigation, but by the natural and irresistible advantage of a commercial preference.
Such is the merit of the trade laws in this posture of 5 the debate. But when strong internal circumstances are urged against the taxes; when the scheme is dissected; when experience and the nature of things are brought to prove, and do prove, the utter impossibility of obtaining an effective revenue from the Colonies; when these 10 things are pressed, or rather press themselves, so as to drive the advocates of Colony taxes to a clear admission of the futility of the scheme; then, Sir, the sleeping trade laws revive from their trance, and this useless taxation is to be kept sacred, not for its own sake, but as a 15 counter-guard and security of the laws of trade.
Then, Sir, you keep up revenue laws which are mischievous, in order to preserve trade laws that are useless. Such is the wisdom of our plan in both its members. They are separately given up as of no value, and yet one 20 is always to be defended for the sake of the other; but I cannot agree with the noble lord, nor with the pamphlet from whence he seems to have borrowed these ideas concerning the inutility of the trade laws. For, without idolizing them, I am sure they are still, in many 25 ways, of great use to us; and in former times they have been of the greatest. They do confine, and they do greatly narrow, the market for the Americans; but my perfect conviction of this does not help me in the least to discern how the revenue laws form any security what- 30 soever to the commercial regulations, or that these commercial regulations are the true ground of the quarrel, or that the giving way, in any one instance of authority, is to lose all that may remain unconceded.
One fact is clear and indisputable. The public and 35