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Chapter 8: How the mandamus councillors were dealt with. August, 1774. on Saturday, the sixth day of August, Gage received Chap. VIII.} 1774. Aug. an authentic copy of the act of parliament for the better regulating the province of the Massachusetts bay, introduced by Lord North in April, and, as we have seen, assented to by the king on the twentieth of May. Rockingham and his friends have left on the records of the house of lords their protest against the act, because, said they, a definitive legal offence, by which a forfeiture of the charter is incurred, has not been clearly stated and fully proved; neither has notice of this adverse proceeding been given to the parties affected; neither have they been heard in their own defence; and because the governor and council are intrusted with powers, with which the British constitution has not trusted his majesty and privy council, so that the lives and properties of the subjects are put into their hands without control. T
ke fell into an in- Chap. XVI.} 1774. Oct. Nov. expressible melancholy, and thought of renouncing public life, for which he owned himself unfit. There seemed for him no way to St. Stephen's chapel, except through a rotten borough belonging to Rockingham; and what influence would the first man in England for speculative intelligence exert in the house of commons, if he should appear there as the paid agent of an American colony and the nominee of an English patron? Such seemed his best hope, wThere are now men walking in the streets of London, who ought to be in Newgate, or at Tyburn, said Hillsborough; referring for one to Quincy of Boston. After a long and vehement debate, his motion prevailed by a vote of about five to one. But Rockingham, Shelburne, Camden, Stanhope, and five other peers made a written protest against the inconsiderate temerity which might precipitate the country into a civil war. The king's speech, wrote Garnier to Vergennes, will complete the work of aliena
nite every branch of the opposition in one line of policy, Chatham desired a cordial junction with the Rockingham whigs. That party had only two friends who spoke in the house of lords, and in the house of commons was mouldering away. And yet Rockingham was impracticable. I look back, he said, with very real satisfaction and content, on the line which I, indeed, emphatically I, took in the year 1766; the stamp-act was repealed, and the doubt of the right of this country was fairly faced and r peril was near, and that it could be averted only by a circumscription of the absolute power of parliament. To further that end, the aged statesman paid a visit to Rockingham. At its opening, Chatham's countenance beamed with cordiality; but Rockingham had learned as little as the ministers, and with a per- Chap. XVII.} 1774. Dec. verseness equal to theirs, insisted on maintaining the declaratory act. The Americans have not called for its repeal, was his reply to all objections; and he neve
ors, the bar being crowded with Americans. The statesmanship of Chatham and the close reasoning of Camden, availed no more than the whistling of the winds; the motion was rejected by a vote of sixty-eight against eighteen; but the duke of Cumberland, one of the king's own brothers, was found in the minority. The king, triumphing in the very handsome majority, was sure nothing could be more calculated to bring the Americans to submission; but the debate of that day, notwithstanding that Rockingham had expressed his adherence to his old opinion of the propriety of the declaratory act, went forth to the colonies as an assurance that the inevitable war would be a war with a ministry, not with the British people. It took from the contest the character of internecine hatred, to be transmitted from generation to generation, and showed that the true spirit of England, which had grown great by freedom, was on the side of America. Its independence was foreshadowed, and three of Chat- Cha
y followed a chief like Grafton, or yielded his judgment to the king. Lord George Germain was fitly selected to deliver the message of the commons at the bar of the lords. There is in the address one paragraph which I totally disclaim; said Rockingham; I openly delare, I will risk neither life nor fortune in support of the measures recommended. Four-fifths of the nation are opposed to this address; for myself, I shall Chap. XX.} 1775. Feb. 7. not tread in the steps of my noble but ill-fatns went in state to the palace, and in the presence of the representatives of the great powers of Europe, presented to George the Third the sanguinary address which the two houses of parliament had jointly adopted, and which, in the judgment of Rockingham and his friends, amounted to a declaration of war. The king, in his reply, pledged himself speedily and effectually to enforce obedience to the laws and the authority of the supreme legislature. His heart was hardened. Having just heard of t
ould carry them. He then abused the Americans for not paying their debts, and ascribed their associations to a desire to defraud their creditors. It is memorable, that when on the twenty-first, the debate was renewed and the bill passed, both Rockingham and Shelburne, the heads of the old whigs, and the new, inserted in their protest against the act, that the people of New England are especially entitled to the fisheries. Franklin, as he heard the insinuations of Sandwich against the honestss. Full of feeling, even to passion, he observed, and reasoned, and spoke serenely. Of all men, he was a friend to peace; but the terrors of a sanguinary civil war did not confuse his perceptions or impair his decision. Neither Chatham, nor Rockingham, nor Burke, blamed Franklin for renouncing allegiance; and we shall see Fox once more claim his friendship, and Shelburne and the younger Pitt rest upon him with the confidence which he deserved. He went home to the work of independence, and,