« AnteriorContinuar »
indulgence and favour, emigrants are become rich, they shall not contribute to their own defence, but at their own pleasure; and that they shall not be included, like millions of their fellow subjects, in the general system of representation; involves such an accumulation of absurdity, as nothing but the show of patriotism could palliate. He that accepts protection, stipulates obedience. We have always protected the Americans s we may there* Fore subject them to government. The less is included in the greater. That power which can take away life, may seize upon property. The parliament may enact for America a law of capital punishment; it may therefore establish a mode and proportion of taxation. But there are some who lament the state of the poor Bostonians, because they cannot all be supposed to have committed acts of rebellion, yet all are involved in the penalty imposed. This, they say, is to violate the first rule of justice, by condemning the innocent to suffer with the guilty. This deserves some notice, as it seems dictated by equity and humanity, however it may raise contempt by the ignorance which it betrays of the state of man, and the system of things. That the innocent should be confounded with the guilty, is undoubtedly an evil; but it is an evil which no care or caution can prevent. National crimes require national punishments, of which many must necessarily have their part, who have not incurred them by personal guilt. If rebels should fortify a town, the cannon of lawful authority will endanger equally the harmless burghers and the criminal garrison. In some cases, those suffer most who are least intended to be hurt. If the French in the late war had,
taken an English city, and permitted the natives to keep their dwellings, how could it have been recovered, but by the slaughter of our friends? A bomb might as well destroy an Englishman as a Frenchman; and by famine we know that the inhabitants would be the first that should perish. This infliction of promiscuous evil may therefore be lamented, but cannot be blamed. The power of lawful government must be maintained; and the miseries which rebellion produces, can be charged only on the rebels. That man likewise is not a fiatriot, who denies his governors their due praise, and who conceals from the people the benefits which they receive. Those therefore can lay no claim to this illustrious appellation, who impute want of public spirit to the late parliament; an assembly of men, whom, notwithstanding some fluctuation of counsel, and some weakness of agency, the nation must always remember with gratitude, since it is indebted to them for a very ample concession in the resignation of protections, and a wise and honest attempt to improve the constitution, in the new judicature instituted for the trial of elections. The right of protection, which might be necessary when it was first claimed, and was very consistent with that liberality of immunities in which the feudal constitution delighted, was by its nature liable to abuse, and had in reality been sometimes misapplied, to the evasion of the law, and the defeat of justice. The evil was perhaps not adequate to the clamour; nor is it very certain, that the possible good of this privilege was not more than equal to the possible evil. It is however plain, that whether they gave any thing or not to the public, they at least lost something from themselves. They divested their dignity of a very splendid distinction, and showed that they were more willing than their predecessors to stand on a level with their fellow-subjects. The new mode of trying elections, if it be found effectual, will diffuse its consequences further than seems yet to be foreseen. It is, I believe, generally considered as advantageous only to those who claim seats in parliament; but, if to choose representatives be one of the most valuable rights of Englishmen, every voter must consider that law as adding to his happiness, which makes his suffrage efficacious; since it was vain to choose, while the election could be controlled by any other power. With what imperious contempt of ancient rights, and what audaciousness of arbitrary authority former parliaments have judged the disputes about elections, it is not necessary to relate. The claim of a candidate, and the right of electors, are said scarcely to have been, even in appearance, referred to conscience; but to have been decided by party, by passion, by prejudice, or by frolic. To have friends in the borough was of little use to him, who wanted friends in the house; a pretence was easily found to evade a majority, and the seat was at last his, that was chosen not by his electors, but his fellow-senators. Thus the nation was insulted with a mock election, and the parliament was filled with spurious representatives; one of the most important claims, that of right to sit in the supreme council of the kingdom, was debated in jest, and no man could be confident ot success from the justice of his cause. A disputed election is now tried with the same scrupulousness and solemnity, as any other title. The candidate that has deserved well of his neighbours, may now be certain of enjoying the effect of their appro-
bation; and the elector, who has voted honestly for known merit, may be certain that he has not voted in vain. Such was the parliament, which some of those, who are now aspiring to sit in another, have taught the rabble to consider as an unlawful convention of men, worthless, venal, and prostitute, slaves of the court, and tyrants of the people. That the next House of Commons may act upon the principles of the last, with more constancy and higher spirit, must be the wish of all who wish well to the public; and it is surely not too much to expect, that the nation will recover from its delusion, and unite in a general abhorrence of those who, by deceiving the credulous with fictitious mischiefs, overbearing the weak by audacity of falsehood, by appealing to the judgment of ignorance, and flattering the vanity of meanness, by slandering honesty and insulting dignity, have gathered round them whatever the kingdom can supply of base, and gross, and profligate; and, raised by merit to this bad eminence, arrogate to themselyes the name of Patriots.
TAXATION NO TYRANNY;
THE RESOLUTIONS AND ADDRESS
or The AMERICAN CONGRESS.
all the parts of human knowledge, whether terminating in science merely speculative, or operating upon life private or civil, are admitted some fundamental principles, or common axioms, which being generally received are little doubted, and being little doubted have been rarely proved. Of these gratuitous and acknowledged truths it is often the fate to become less evident by endeavours to explain them, however necessary such endeavours may be made by the misapprehensions of absurdity, or the sophistries of interest. It is difficult to prove the principles of science, because notions cannot always be found more intelligible than those which are questioned. It is difficult to prove the principles of practice, because they have for the most part not been discovered by investigation, but obtruded by experience; and the demonstrator will find, after an operose de