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" that a most daring spirit of resistance and disobedience to the laws, unhappily prevailed in the province of Massachusetts Bay, and had broke forth in fresh violences of a very criminal nature, and that these proceedings had been countenanced and encouraged in the other colonies, and unwarrantable attempts had been made to obstruct the commerce of his kingdoms by unlawful combinations, and that he had taken such measures, and given such orders, as he judged most proper and effectual for carrying into execution the laws, which were passed in the last session of the late parliament, relative to the province of Massachusetts Bay.”
The ministry moved an address re-echoing the speech, which, of course, was carried. To the powerful arguments of the opposition, though no answer could be given, silent obstinacy might be efficaciously opposed. The corruption of the parliament of that day was more than a match for all the reasoning, which genius, taking its materials from truth, could supply.
In the house of lords, however, the minority have consecrated their titles to ever-lasting fame, by a protest against the address. The lords, who composed that virtuous body, said, in their protest, that, whatever might be the mischievous designs, or the inconsiderate temerity, which led others to that desperate course, they wished to be known, as persons, who disapproved of measures so injurious, in their past effects, and future tendency, and who were not in haste, without inquiry or information, to commit themselves in declarations, which might precipitate their country into all the calamities of civil war.
Such virtuous wishes deserve to be accomplished, and have had their deserts. He, who writing the history of that time, should fail to record the wise and pure conduct of these statesmen, would badly perform the sacred duty of an historian. The names of Richmond, -Portland,-Rockingham,--Stamford, -Stanhope,-Forringham,—Ponsonby, -Wycombe,--and Cambden,—will be read by posterity with rapture, as the authors of that protest.
All this time, ministers were ignorant of the proceedings of congress. They still remained in that flattering dream,
that the late acts of parliament would terrify the colonists, without further trouble, and humble the whole continent.-
They still relied upon the efficacy of the punishment they had inflicted upon Boston, as a cure for the discontent in the other provinces, who, they still, vainly hoped, would be panicstricken into compliance, by the apprehension of a similar fate. But as soon as the intelligence reached England of the proceedings of congress, they felt their presumption checked, and their minds confounded. The universal combination against their measures, which spread itself over the whole face of the New World, over-whelmed them with consternation.
That, which they called a small faction, was now found to be a whole people, unalterably determined upon resistance te every sort of oppression; and that majority, which, they boastfully asserted in parliament, would range itself on the side of government, they now found dwindled down to a minority so inconsiderable, as scarcely to deserve notice. The fond hope, that quarrels, arising from opposing interests, and from the diversity of manners, customs, and feelings, would cripple the proceedings of the mal-conten't colonists, and render impossible that unity of action so necessary to a successful opposition to government, now vanished ; and, in the place of all those, they found a system formed, as complete in its general scope, as perfect in its parts; and as promptly, consistently, and resolutely acted upon, as if it had received the maturity of years, had grown up in the early culture of their minds, and had been inter-woven, by long use, in the fabric of their habits and their feelings.
HISTORY OF THE PASSING TIMES.
DEBATES on the non-importation Bill, continued from Vol. 2.
FR. Randolph opened his address to the House by de
declaring that, so far as it depended upon details, connected with the subject, he had very little right to solicit their attention, on the present occasion. That he had not yet seen the documents, called for some time ago from the Treasury, which were to direct the judgment of the house, in the decision of the question before them-Nor indeed, after what he had that day heard, did he want those, or any other documents to guide him in his discussions.
Adverting in strong terms of disapprobation, to the secrecy which had been imposed upon the house, on subjects of foreign relations, and which were closely connected with the present question, Mr. Randolph proceeded to charge upon the friends of the resolution, the fact, of its being discussed, if not intended, as a war measure. That such a construction was denied by them must be granted; but that it was defended on principles, which none but war measures would justify, was sufficiently evident.-Nay, further, that some of them were even pleased with imagining, that such would ultimately be its effect. But if war was necessary, why not adopt that system at once? Why proceed with measures, which, at their outset, breathe sentiments of peace, but in the sequel involve us in all the calamities of war?
It had been remarked by Mr. Clay, that the situation of our country in 1793 was very different from what we find it in 1806. In reply to this, “ let me ask” said Mr. R. “ if " the situation of England is not since materially changed? “ Gentlemen, who, it would appear from their language, have “ not yet got beyond the horn-book of politics, talk of our " ability to cope with the British navy, and tell us of the war
c of our revolution. What was the situation of Great Bri“ tain then? She was contending for the empire of the British
channel, barely able to maintain a doubtful equality with her “ enemies, over whom she never gained the superiority, “ until Rodney's victory of the twelfth of April. What is “ her present situation? The combined fleets of France,
Spain, and Holland, are dissipated; they no longer exist. I am not surprised to hear men advocate these wild opinions, to see them goaded on by a spirit of mercantile avarice, “ straining their feeble strength to excite the nation to war, “ when they have reached this state of infatuation, that we
are an overmatch for Great-Britain on the Ocean. It is
mere waste of time to reason with such persons. They do “not deserve any thing like a serious refutation. The proper
arguments for such statesmen are, a strait waistcoat, a dark “room, water-gruel, and depletion !!"
Mr, Randolph proceeded to state, that in his view, there were three points to be maturely considered, before votes could be given on the present resolution. They were, First, Our ability to contend with Great-Britain in the present dispute. Secondly, The policy of such a measure. Aud, thirdly, In case both these shall be settled affirmatively, the manner in which we with can the greatest effect, annoy our adversary.
In entering the lists of warfare with any nation, it is not only necessary to examine into the nature of that strength, which may be found necessary on our part, either for attack, or for resistance; and of those resources, so indispensable in undertakings of such high importance, but, likewise, the power, the resources, and, even, the national character of the enemy, against whom we have to contend, ought to be duly appreciated. To enter the contest of blood, and the waste of treasure, to sacrifice the lives of our best citizens, and to drain those who cannot fight, of the means of their subsistance, in order to support those who must stand the brunt of the battle, and brave the greatest dangers ; are matters of too high moment, to be engaged in, without minutely investigating the means, that are placed in our hands, for accomplishing the purposes, which we may have in yiew.
have in yiew. And that government, which, without absolute necessity, involves itself in a war,
where the contest is unequal, and the issue doubtful, if not even destructive of the best interests of the nation at large, invites a responsibility, which, before it is aware, may snap its sinews, and lay its glory in the dust.
Such are some of the reflections, which a review of Mr. Randolph's arguments excited. If we have wandered from our province, as historians in the present instance, our excuse will be found in the interesting nature of the subject before usma subject, which, at the time of its discussion in Congress, threatened to blast our fairest prospects; to expose our numerous ships, richly frieghted, and whitening every sea with our sails, to inevitable capture, and condemnation ; and to leave our unprotected cities an easy prey to the vengeance of foes, as terrible by the mode of warfare which they would adopt, as by their bravery, and skill in always turning it to the best advantage. Nor would our own valour, and intrepidity—second to none, avail us in such a contest. For, without the adequate means of resistance, the display of the greatest bravery would be rashness; while the soundest judgment would exert its energies, and apply its rules in vain.But to return
It has often been remarked, that in the hands of a powerful antagonist, no weapons are so galling to the adversary as those of well directed irony, and pointed satire. It was to the use of these that Johnson owed so much of his superiority in company. When provoked by an obstinate opponent, his flashes were terrible, and his hearers soon were convinced, that though satire, as Swift has observed, in the lips of a blockhead, may be esteemed panegyric, yet, that when brought into play by a man of exalted talents, it is not only a most powerful instrument in the hands of the assailant; but is felt by the defendant with more cutting chagrin, then reasoning the most profound, and arguments the most dexterously managed.
Mr. Randolph seems to have been fully aware of the effects, which satire and irony can produce, when he entered upon the discussion before us; and happily for him there was on this occasion a large field for the display of his sa
In examining, therefore, the first of the