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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 avowed origin of this. quarrel was on taxation. This quarrel has indeed brought on new disputes on new questions; but certainly the least bitter, and the fewest of
all, on the trade laws. To judge which of the two be 8 the real radical cause of quarrel, we have to see whether the commercial dispute did, in order of time, precede the dispute on taxation ? There is not a shadow of evidence for it. Next, to enable us to judge whether at this
moment a dislike to the trade laws be the real cause of 10 quarrel, it is absolutely necessary to put the taxes out
of the question by a repeal. See how the Americans act in this position, and then you will be able to discern correctly what is the true object of the controversy, or
whether any controversy at all will remain. Unless you 15 consent to remove this cause of difference, it is impossi
ble, with decency, to assert that the dispute is not upon what it is avowed to be. And I would, Sir, recommend to your serious consideration whether it be prudent to
form a rule for punishing people, not on their own acts, 20 but on your conjectures? Surely it is preposterous at
the very best. It is not justifying your anger by their misconduct, but it is converting your ill-will into their delinquency.
But the Colonies will go further. Alas! alas ! when 25 will this speculation against fact and reason end? What
will quiet these panic fears which we entertain of the hostile effect of a conciliatory conduct? Is it true that no case can exist in which it is proper for the sovereign
to accede to the desires of his discontented subjects ? 30 Is there anything peculiar in this case to make a rule
for itself? Is all authority of course lost when it is not pushed to the extreme ? Is it a certain maxim that the fewer causes of dissatisfaction are left by government, the more the subject will be inclined to resist and rebel ?
All these objections being in fact no more than sus
picions, conjectures, divinations, formed in defiance of fact and experience, they did not, Sir, discourage me from entertaining the idea of a conciliatory concession founded on the principles which I have just stated.
In forming a plan for this purpose, I endeavored to 5 put myself in that frame of mind which was the most natural and the most reasonable, and which was certainly the most probable means of securing me from all error. I set out with a perfect distrust of my own abilities, a total renunciation of every speculation of my own, and 10 with a profound reverence for the wisdom of our ancestors who have left us the inheritance of so happy a constitution and so flourishing an empire, and, what is a thousand times more valuable, the treasury of the maxims and principles which formed the one and obtained 15 the other.
During the reigns of the kings of Spain of the Austrian family, whenever they were at a loss in the Spanish councils, it was common for their statesmen to say that they ought to consult the genius of Philip the Second. 20 The genius of Philip the Second might mislead them, and the issue of their affairs showed that they had not chosen the most perfect standard ; but, Sir, I am sure that I shall not be misled when, in a case of constitutional difficulty, I consult the genius of the English Constitution. 25 Consulting at that oracle -- it was with all due humility and piety - I found four capital examples in a similar case before me; those of Ireland, Wales, Chester, and Durham.
Ireland, before the English conquest, though never 30 governed by a despotic power, had no Parliament. How far the English Parliament itself was at that time modelled according to the present form is disputed among antiquaries; but we have all the reason in the world to i be assured that a form of Parliament such as England 35 then enjoyed she instantly communicated to Ireland, and we are equally sure that almost every successive improvement in constitutional liberty, as fast as it was made here, was transmitted thither. The feudal baronage and 8 the feudal knighthood, the roots of our primitive Con
stitution, were early transplanted into that soil, and grew and flourished there. Magna Charta, if it did not give us originally the House of Commons, gave us at
least a House of Commons of weight and consequence. 10 But your ancestors did not churlishly sit down alone to
the feast of Magna Charta. Ireland was made immediately a partaker. This benefit of English laws and liberties, I confess, was not at first extended to all Ireland.
Mark the consequence. English authority and English 15 liberties had exactly the same boundaries. Your stan
dard could never be advanced an inch before your privileges. Sir John Davis shows beyond a doubt that the refusal of a general communication of these rights was
the true cause why Ireland was five hundred years in 20 subduing; and after the vain projects of a military gov
ernment, attempted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was soon discovered that nothing could make that country English, in civility and allegiance, but your laws and
your forms of legislature. It was not English arms, but 25 the English Constitution, that conquered Ireland. From
that time Ireland has ever had a general Parliament, as she had before a partial Parliament. You changed the people; you altered the religion ; but you never touched
the form or the vital substance of free government in 30 that Kingdom. You deposed kings; you restored them;
you altered the succession to theirs, as well as to your own Crown; but you never altered their Constitution, the principle of which was respected by usurpation, restored
with the restoration of monarchy, and established, I 35 trust, forever, by the glorious Revolution. This has made Ireland the great and flourishing kingdom that it is, and, from a disgrace and a burthen intolerable to this nation, has rendered her a principal part of our strength and ornament. This country cannot be said to have ever formally taxed her. The irregular things done in the 5 confusion of mighty troubles and on the hinge of great revolutions, even if all were done that is said to have been done, form no example. If they have any effect in argument, they make an exception to prove the rule. None of your own liberties could stand a moment, if the 10 casual deviations from them at such times were suffered to be used as proofs of their nullity. By the lucrative amount of such casual breaches in the constitution, judge what the stated and fixed rule of supply has been in that kingdom. Your Irish pensioners would starve, if they 15 had no other fund to live on than taxes granted by English authority. Turn your eyes to those popular grants from whence all your great supplies are come, and learn to respect that only source of public wealth in the British Empire.
20 My next example is Wales. This country was said to be reduced by Henry the Third. It was said more truly to be so by Edward the First. But though then conquered, it was not looked upon as any part of the realm of England. Its old Constitution, whatever that might 25 have been, was destroyed, and no good one was substituted in its place. The care of that tract was put into the hands of Lords Marchers a form of government of a very singular kind; a strange heterogeneous monster, something between hostility and government; perhaps 30 it has a sort of resemblance, according to the modes of those terms, to that of Commander-in-chief at present, to whom all civil power is granted as secondary. The manners of the Welsh nation followed the genius of the government. The people were ferocious, restive, savage, 36