Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

and uncultivated ; sometimes composed, never pacified. Wales, within itself, was in perpetual disorder, and it kept the frontier of England in perpetual alarm. Bene

fits from it to the state there were none. Wales was 5 only known to England by incursion and invasion.

Sir, during that state of things, Parliament was not idle. They attempted to subdue the fierce spirit of the Welsh by all sorts of rigorous laws. They prohibited by

statute the sending all sorts of arms into Wales, as you 10 prohibit by proclamation (with something more of doubt

on the legality) the sending arms to America. They disarmed the Welsh by statute, as you attempted (but still with more question on the legality) to disarm New Eng

land by an instruction. They made an Act to drag of15 fenders from Wales into England for trial, as you have

done (but with more hardship) with regard to America. By another Act, where one of the parties was an Englishman, they ordained that his trial should be always by

English. They made Acts to restrain trade, as you do; 20 and they prevented the Welsh from the use of fairs and

markets, as you do the Americans from fisheries and foreign ports. In short, when the Statute Book was not quite so much swelled as it is now, you find no less than fifteen acts of penal regulation on the subject of Wales.

Here we rub our hands. - A fine body of precedents for the authority of Parliament and the use of it!-I admit it fully ; and pray add likewise to these precedents that all the while Wales rid this Kingdom like an incu

bus, that it was an unprofitable and oppressive burthen, 30 and that an Englishman travelling in that country could

not go six yards from the high road without being murdered.

The march of the human mind is slow. Sir, it was not until after two hundred years discovered that, by an 35 eternal law, providence had decreed vexation to violence,

25

and poverty to rapine. Your ancestors did however at length open their eyes to the ill-husbandry of injustice. They found that the tyranny of a free people could of all tyrannies the least be endured, and that laws made against a whole nation were not the most effectual 5 methods of securing its obedience. Accordingly, in the twenty-seventh year of Henry the Eighth the course was entirely altered. With a preamble stating the entire and perfect rights of the Crown of England, it gave to the Welsh all the rights and privileges of English sub- 10 jects. A political order was established; the military power gave way to the civil; the Marches were turned into Counties. But that a nation should have a right to English liberties, and yet no share at all in the fundamental security of these liberties — the grant of their 15 own property — seemed a thing so incongruous, that, eight years after, that is, in the thirty-fifth of that reign, a complete and not ill proportioned representation by counties and boroughs was bestowed upon Wales by Act of Parliament. From that moment, as by a charm, the 20 tumults subsided ; obedience was restored; peace, order, and civilization followed in the train of liberty. When the day-star of the English Constitution had arisen in their hearts, all was harmony within and without

25

66 – simul alba nautis

Stella refulsit,
Defluit saxis agitatus humor;
Concidunt venti, fugiuntque nubes,
Et minax (quod sic voluere) ponto

Unda recumbit."

30

The very same year the County Palatine of Chester received the same relief from its oppressions and the same remedy to its disorders. Before this time Chester was little less distempered than Wales. The inhabitants, without rights themselves, were the fittest to destroy the 35 rights of others; and from thence Richard the Second drew the standing army of archers with which for a time he oppressed England. The people of Chester applied to Parliament in a petition penned as I shall read to you:

5 “To the King, our Sovereign Lord, in most humble wise

shewen unto your excellent Majesty the inhabitants of your Grace's County Palatine of Chester: (1) That where the said County Palatine of Chester is and hath been al

ways hitherto exempt, excluded, and separated out and 10 from your High Court of Parliament, to have any Knights

and Burgesses within the said Court; by reason whereof the said inhabitants have hitherto sustained manifold disherisons, losses, and damages, as well in their lands,

goods, and bodies, as in the good, civil, and politic govern15 ance and maintenance of the commonwealth of their said

county; (2) And forasmuch as the said inhabitants have always hitherto been bound by the Acts and Statutes made and ordained by your said Highness and your most noble

progenitors, by authority of the said Court, as far forth 20 as other counties, cities, and boroughs have been, that have

had their Knights and Burgesses within your said Court of Parliament, and yet have had neither Knight ne Burgess there for the said County Palatine; the said inhab

itants, for lack thereof, have been oftentimes touched and 25 grieved with Acts and Statutes made within the said Court,

as well derogatory unto the most ancient jurisdictions, liberties, and privileges of your said County Palatine, as prejudicial unto the commonwealth, quietness, rest, and

peace of your Grace's most bounden subjects inhabiting 30

within the same."

What did Parliament with this audacious address ? Reject it as a libel ? Treat it as an affront to Government? Spurn it as a derogation from the rights of legis

lature ? Did they toss it over the table ? Did they 35 burn it by the hands of the common hangman ? - They

took the petition of grievance, all rugged as it was, without softening or temperament, unpurged of the original

15

bitterness and indignation of complaint - they made it the very preamble to their Act of redress, and consecrated its principle to all ages in the sanctuary of legislation.

Here is my third example. It was attended with the 5 success of the two former. Chester, civilized as well as Wales, has demonstrated that freedom, and not servitude, is the cure of anarchy; as religion, and not atheism, is the true remedy for superstition. Sir, this pattern of Chester was followed in the reign of Charles the Second 10 with regard to the County Palatine of Durham, which is my fourth example. This county had long lain out of the pale of free legislation. So scrupulously was the example of Chester followed that the style of the preamble is nearly the same with that of the Chester Act; and, without affecting the abstract extent of the authority of Parliament, it .recognizes the equity of not suffering any considerable district in which the British subjects may act as a body, to be taxed without their own voice in the grant.

Now if the doctrines of policy contained in these preambles, and the force of these examples in the Acts of Parliaments, avail anything, what can be said against applying them with regard to America ? Are not the people of America as much Englishmen as the Welsh ? 25 The preamble of the Act of Henry the Eighth says the Welsh speak a language no way resembling that of his Majesty's English subjects. Are the Americans not as numerous ? If we may trust the learned and accurate Judge Barrington's account of North Wales, and take 30 that as a standard to measure the rest, there is no comparison. The people cannot amount to above 200,000; not a tenth part of the number in the Colonies. Is America in rebellion ? Wales was hardly ever free from it. Have you attempted to govern America by 35

20

But your

15

penal statutes ? You made fifteen for Wales. legislative authority is perfect with regard to America. Was it less perfect in Wales, Chester, and Durham ? But America is virtually represented. What! does the 5 electric force of virtual representation more easily pass

over the Atlantic than pervade Wales, which lies in your neighborhood — or than Chester and Durham, surrounded by abundance of representation that is actual and pal

pable? But, Sir, your ancestors thought this sort of 10 virtual representation, however ample, to be totally

insufficient for the freedom of the inhabitants of territories that are so near, and comparatively so inconsiderable. How then can I think it sufficient for those which are infinitely greater, and infinitely more remote?

You will now, Sir, perhaps imagine that I am on the point of proposing to you a scheme for a representation of the Colonies in Parliament. Perhaps I might be inclined to entertain some such thought; but a great flood

stops me in my course. Opposuit natura. I cannot 20 remove the eternal barriers of the creation. The thing,

in that mode, I do not know to be possible. As I meddle with no theory, I do not absolutely assert the impracticability of such a representation; but I do not see my

way to it, and those who have been more confident have 25 not been more successful. However, the arm of public

benevolence is not shortened, and there are often several means to the same end. What nature has disjoined in one way, wisdom may unite in another. When we can

not give the benefit as we would wish, let us not refuse so it altogether. If we cannot give the principal, let us find a substitute. But how? Where? What substitute ?

Fortunately I am not obliged, for the ways and means of this substitute, to tax my own unproductive invention.

I am not even obliged to go to the rich treasury of the 35 fertile framers of imaginary commonwealths — not to

« AnteriorContinuar »