Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

speaking of America, and could not help speaking well of its climate, soil, and inhabitants ; for you must know, sir, America was always a favorite with me; but will you believe it, sir, yet I assure you it is true, more than two thirds of this island at that time thought the Americans were all negroes !”

'I replied I did not in the least doubt it, for that if I was to judge by the late acts of parliament, I should suppose that a majority of the people of Great Britain still thought so; for I found that their representatives still treated them as such. He smiled, and the discourse dropped. Colonel Barré was among those, who voted for the Boston Port Bill.'

pp. 289, 290. The part taken by Colonel Barré on the Port Bill, has appeared strangely inconsistent with his uniform conduct, in every other instance, on American affairs. He partook, it appears, of the general indignation excited in England, by the destruction of the tea in Boston. It was considered as a culpable violation of private property, and unworthy of the high principle, which bad gained to the American cause many distinguished advocates in England. Dr Franklin was so impressed with the unfavorable influence produced by this incident, that he wrote to influential men in Massachusetts, earnestly recommending payment for the property destroyed. This would probably have been done, if the severe measure of the Port Bill had not been so immediately adopted, or even afterwards, if the terms of that act had not precluded any hope or expectation of relaxation, though such payment should have been made.

Again, writing to Mrs Quincy, January 11, 1775, he says;

In the nation you have many friends and hearty well wishers to your cause. The lords and commons arewhat they are; but ANOTHER CHARACTER is in principle your adversary, and will never be reconciled to your deliverance, till he sees, what, peradventure, he will not wait long for, a spirit going forth, which compels rulers to their duty. I shall take care to keep you constantly informed of events as they rise. Very important ones must occur in a short time. The stanch friends of our country are here in high spirits. I should flatter your national vanity, if I told you all that is said and thought of Americans at this day; but the sentiments of this people are as fluctuating, and sometimes as boisterous as the ocean.' pp. 303, 304.

" January 20th. Attended the debates in the House of Lords. Good fortune gave me one of the best places for hearing, and taking a few minutes. VOL. XXII.-NO. 50.

26

"Lord Chatham rose like Marcellus,--Viros supereminet omnes. He seemed to feel himself superior to those around him. His language, voice, and gesture were more pathetic, than I ever saw or heard before, at the bar or senate. He seemed like an old Roman senator, rising with the dignity of age, yet speaking with the fire of youth. The illustrious sage stretched forth his hand with the decent solemnity of a Paul, and rising with his subject, he smote his breast with the energy and grace of a Demosthenes.

• This great and astonishing character opened with some general observations, on the importance and magnitude of the present American quarrel, (as he called it). He enlarged upon the dangerous and ruinous events, that were coming upon the nation, in consequence of the present dispute, and of the measures, already begun and now carrying on by his majesty's ministers. He arraigned their conduct with great severity and freedom. pp. 318, 319.

Lord Chatham's speech is given at length in the journal, from Mr Quincy's notes taken at the time. He afterwards remarks, that he had great satisfaction in reading his reports of the debates in the House of Lords, to one or two friends who heard them, that they thought them very correct, and spoke of the blunders, omissions, and misrepresentations of the printed accounts. Dr Franklin, in a letter to Mr Quincy's father, observes, “The notes of the speeches taken by your son, whose loss I shall ever deplore with you, are exceedingly valuable, as being by much the best account preserved of that day's debate.'

We continue the extracts froin the journal.

Lord Camden (undoubtedly the first common lawyer in England) spoke next on the side of America, and in support of the motion. fle equalled Lord Chatham in everything but that fire and pathos, which are the forte of his lordship. In learning, perspicuity, and pure eloquence, probably no one ever surpassed Lord Camden.'

"The Marquis of Rockingham also supported the motion. Lords Littleton, Suffolk, Gower, Townsend, Rochford, and Weymouth, spoke in opposition. I omit stating what their lordships said, lest I should be suspected by any, who may see this journal, of an unfair report of their speeches. But a very remarkable saying of Lord Gower I cannot omit. His lordship said, “ My lords, I am for enforcing these measures; and” (with great sneer and contempt) “ let the Americans sit talking about their natural and divine rights ! their rights as men and citizens! their rights from God and nature!"

p. 329.

• The Duke of Richmond, in the course of his speech, said, "Some nobles seem to think that regular troops can easily vanquish raw soldiers. But, my lords, discipline was intended ouly as a substitute for what the Americans have already; attachment to their cause, virtue to inspire, a common cause, their all, to keep them to their duty. Americans will keep to their duty without discipline. They will keep to their standard without fear of discipline in case they desert it. My lords, Americans have the substance of what discipline is only the shadow. Discipline is only the substitute for a common cause, to attach through fear, and keep to their ranks and standard those, who would otherwise desert them. But, my lords, suppose you succeed, you can. not enforce these acts; you cannot force a government upon any people. You may spread fire, sword, and desolation, but that will not be government. You must change your places as you make your march of destruction. When you leave one place to subdue another, your government is gone."

66 You cannot force men to serve in office. You cannot force men to be counsellors, judges, or sheriffs. You cannot compel jurors to sit on trial. You cannot force juries to present offences; in short, no people can ever be made to submit to a form of government they say they will not receive.”

• The house divided on the question about ten, after the preceding debates. Contents, eighteen ; noncontents, seventyseven, including proxies.*

• The Duke of Richmond, Lord Shelburne, and Lord Camden, pledged themselves to attend at all hazards, and at all times, as Lord Chatham had done.' pp. 333-335.

January 23d. Attended a long debate in the House of Com-a mons on American affairs. Speakers for the Americans ; Burke, Johnston, Charles Fox, T. Townsend, Lord J. Cavendish, Captain Lutterell, Alderman Sawbridge, &c.—eightytwo. Against the Americans ; Sir William Meredith, Lord North, Lord Clare, Sir George Macartney, Sir G. Eliot, Lord Stanley, &c.—total one hundred and ninetyseven.

• This debate and division show that if king, lords, and commons can subdue America into bondage, against the almost universal sentiment, opinion, wish, and hope of the Englishmen of this island, the deed will be done. p. 337.

. It is a good deal against my own private opinion and inclination, that I now sail for America. I have had no letter from there since they knew of my arrival. I know not what my next letters may contain. Besides the fine season is now coming on here, and

* The question was on Lord Chatham's motion, for an address to the King, for the removal of his majesty's forces from the town of Boston.

Dr Fothergill thinks Bristol air and water would give me perfect health.

“On the other hand, my most intimate friends (except Mr Bromfield) insist upon my going directly to Boston. They say, no letters can go with safety, and that I can deliver more information and advice viva voce, than could or ought to be written. They say, my going now must be (if I arrive safe) of great advantage to the American cause.

• March 1st. On this day I had about an hour and a half of private conversation with Dr Franklin, on the subject of the present situation of American affairs, and what course America, and especially New England, ought now and during the spring and summer to hold. p. 340.

March 3d. This day being the day before my departure, I dined with Dr Franklin, and had three hours private conversation with him. Dissuades from France or Spain. Intimate with both the Spanish and French ambassadors, the latter a shrewd, great man. By no means take any step of great consequence, unless on a sudden emergency, without advice of the continental Congress. Explicitly, and in so many words, said, that only New England could hold out for ages against this country, and if they were firm and united, in seven years

would

Conquer them. Said, he had the best intelligence that the manufacturers were bitterly feeling, and loudly complaining of the loss of the American trade.

Let your adherence be to the nonimportation and nonexportation agreement a year from next September, or to the next session of parliament, and the day is won.'' pp. 341, 342.

Here the journal ends. It contains copies of several valuable letters to and from his American correspondents, which have not been mentioned. Among these are letters from his father, from Joseph Reed, Rev. Dr Chauncy, John Dickinson, James Lovel, Joseph Warren, Nathaniel Appleton, and Thomas Cushing. The letter from Dr Warren, as the author of the Memoir observes, 'is peculiarly interesting, because few similar records of his mind remain, and as it evidences, that the life he sacrificed on Bunker's Hill was offered, not under the excitement of the moment, but with a fixed and deliberate purpose. No language can be more decisive of the spirit, which predominated in his bosom, “It is the united voice of America to preserve their freedom, or lose their lives in defence of it." The letter is dated Boston, November 21,1774.

As nothing interesting, which I am at liberty to communicate, has taken place since your departure from home, except such matters as you could not fail of being informed of by the public papers, I have deferred writing to you, knowing that upon your first arrival in London, you would be greatly engaged in forming your connexions with the friends of this country, to whom you have been recommended. Our friends, who have been at the continental congress, are in high spirits on account of the union which prevails throughout the colonies. It is the united voice of America, to preserve their freedom, or lose their lives in defence of it. Their resolutions are not the effect of inconsiderate rashness, but the sound result of sober inquiry and deliberation. I am convinced, that the true spirit of liberty was never so universally diffused, through all ranks and orders of people, in any country on the face of the earth, as it now is through all North America. The provincial congress met at Concord at the time appointed. About two hundred and sixty members were present. You would have thought yourself in an assembly of Spartans, or ancient Romans, had you been a witness to the ardor which inspired those, who spoke upon the important business they were transacting. An injunction of secrecy prevents my giving any particulars of their transactions, except such as by their express order were published in the papers; but in general you may be assured, that they approved themselves the true representatives of a wise and brave people, determined at all events to be free. I know I might be indulged in giving you an account of our transactions, were I sure this would get sate to you, but I dare not, as the times are, risk so inportant intelligence.,

Next Wednesday, the 23a instant, we shall meet again according to adjournment. All that I can safely communicate to you shall be speedily transmitted. I am of opinion that the dissolution of the British Parliament, which we were acquainted with last week, together with some favorable letters received from England, will induce us to bear the inconvenience of living without government, until we have some farther intelligence of what may be expected from England. It will require, however, a very masterly policy to keep the province, for any considerable time longer, in its present state. The town of Boston is by far the most moderate part of the province; they are silent and inflexible. They hope for relief, but they have found from experience, that they can bear to suffer more than their oppressors or themselves thought possible. They feel the injuries they receive,—they are the frequent subject of conversation ; but they take an honest pride in being singled out by a tyrannical administration, as the most determined enemies to arbitrary power. They know that their merits, not their crimes, have made them the objects of ministerial vengeance. We endeavor to live as peaceably as possible with the soldiery, but disputes and quarrels often arise between the troops and the inhabitants.

« PředchozíPokračovat »