Page:American Archives, Series 4, Volume 1.djvu/114

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BILL FOR GOVERNMENT OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY.

sons with the hatred and curses of North America. Indeed, my Lords, we are treating posterity very scurvily. We have mortgaged all the lands; we have cut down all the oaks; we are now trampling down the fences, rooting up the seedlings and saplings, and mining all the resources of another age. We shall send the next generation into the world, like the wretched heir of a worthless father, without money, credit, or friends; with a stripped, encumbered, and perhaps untenanted estate.

Having spoke so largely against the principles of the Bill, it is hardly necessary to enter into the merits of it. I shall only observe, that even if we had the consent of the People to alter their Government, it would be unwise to make such alterations as these. To give the appointment of the Governor and Council to the Crown, and the disposal of all places, even of the Judges, and with a power of removing them, to the Governor, is evidently calculated with a view to form a strong party in our favour. This I know has been done in other Colonies; but still this is opening a source of perpetual discord, where it is our interest always to agree. If we mean any thing by this establishment, it is to support the Governor and the Council against the People, i. e. to quarrel with our friends, that we may please their servants. This scheme of governing them by a party is not wisely imagined, it is much too premature, and at all events, must turn to our disadvantage. If it fails, it will only make us contemptible; if it succeeds, it will make us odious. It is our interest to take very little part in their domestic administration of Government, but purely to watch over them for their good. We never gained so much by North America as when we let them govern themselves, and were content to trade with them and to protect them. One would think, my Lords, there was some statute law, prohibiting us, under the severest penalties, to profit by experience.

My Lords, I have ventured to lay my thoughts before you, on the greatest national concern that ever came under your deliberation, with as much honesty as you will meet with from abler men, and with a melancholy assurance, that not a word of it will be regarded. And yet, my Lords, with your permission, I will waste one short argument more on the same cause, one that I own I am fond of, and which contains in it, what, I think, must affect every generous mind. My Lords, I look upon North America as the only great nursery of freemen now left upon the face of the earth. We have seen the liberties of Poland and Sweden swept away, in the course of one year, by treachery and usurpation. The free towns in Germany are like so many dying sparks, that go out one after another, and which must all be soon extinguished under the destructive greatness of their neighbours. Holland is little more than a great trading company, with luxurious manners, and an exhausted revenue; with little strength and with less spirit. Switzerland alone is free and happy within the narrow enclosure of its rocks and vallies. As for the state of this country, my Lords, I can only refer myself to your own secret thoughts. I am disposed to think and hope the best of Public Liberty. Were I to describe her, according to my own ideas at present, I should say that she has a sickly countenance, but I trust she has a strong constitution.

But whatever may be our future fate, the greatest glory that attends this country, a greater than any other nation ever acquired, is to have formed and nursed up to such a state of happiness, those Colonies whom we are now so eager to butcher. We ought to cherish them as the immortal monuments of our public justice and wisdom: as the heirs of our better days, of our old arts and manners, and of our expiring national virtues. What work of art, or power, or public utility, has ever equalled the glory of having peopled a continent without guilt or bloodshed, with a multitude of free and happy commonwealths; to have given them the best arts of life and Government, and to have suffered them under the shelter of our authority, to acquire in peace the skill to use them. In comparison of this, the policy of governing; by influence, and even the pride of war and victory, are dishonest tricks and poor contemptible pageantry.

We seem not to be sensible of the high and important trust which Providence has committed to our charge. The most precious remains of civil liberty, that the world[104] can now boast of, are lodged in our hands; and God forbid that we should violate so sacred a deposit. By enslaving your Colonies, you not only ruin the peace, the commerce, and the fortunes of both countries, but you extinguish the fairest hopes, shut up the last asylum of mankind. I think, my Lords, without being weakly superstitious, that a good man may hope that heaven will take part against the execution of a plan which seems big, not only with mischief, but impiety.

Let us be content with the spoils and the destruction of the East. If your Lordships can see no impropriety in it, let the plunderer and the oppressor still go free. But let not the love of liberty be the only crime you think worthy of punishment. I fear we shall soon make it a part of our national character, to ruin every thing that has the misfortune to depend upon us.

No nation has ever before contrived, in so short a space of time, without any war or public calamity (unless unwise measures may be so called) to destroy such ample resources of commerce, wealth, and power, as of late were ours, and which, if they had been rightly improved, might have raised us to a state of more honorable and more permanent greatness than the world has yet seen.

Let me remind the noble Lords in Administration, that before the Stamp Act, they had power sufficient to answer all the just ends of Government, and they were all completely answered. If that is the power they want, though we have lost much of it at present, a few kind words would recover it all.

But if the tendency of this Bill is, as I own it appears to me, to acquire a power of governing them by influence and corruption; in the first place, my Lords, this is not true Government, but a sophisticated kind which counterfeits the appearance, but without the spirit or virtue of the true: and then, as it tends to debase their spirits and corrupt their manners, to destroy all that is great and respectable in so considerable a part of the human species, and by degrees to gather them together with the rest of the world, under the yoke of universal slavery; I think, for these reasons, it is the duty of every wise man, of every honest man, and of every Englishman, by all lawful means, to oppose it.


Anno Decimo Quarto Georgii III. Regis.

An Act for the Better Regulating the Government of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England.

Whereas by Letters Patent under the great seal of England, made in the third year of the reign of their late Majesties King William and Queen Mary, for uniting, erecting, and incorporating, the several Colonies, Territories, and tracts of land therein mentioned, into one real Province, by the name of Their Majesties Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England; whereby it was, amongst other things, ordained and established, that the Governor of the said Province should, from thenceforth, be appointed and commissionated by their Majesties, their heirs and successors; it was, however, granted and ordained, that, from the expiration of the term for and during which the eight and twenty persons named in the said letters patent were appointed to be the first Counsellors or Assistants to the Governor of the said Province for the time being, the aforesaid number of eight and twenty Counsellors or Assistants should yearly, once in every year, for ever thereafter, be, by the General Court or Assembly, newly chosen: and whereas the said method of electing such Counsellors or Assistants, to be vested with the several powers, authorities, and privileges, therein mentioned, although conformable to the practice theretofore used in such of the Colonies thereby united, in which the appointment of the respective Governors had been vested in the General Courts or Assemblies of the said Colonies, hath, by repeated experience, been found to be extremely ill adapted to the plan of Government established in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, by the said letters patent herein-before mentioned, and hath been so far from contributing to the attainment of the good ends and purposes thereby intended and to the promoting of the internal welfare, peace, and good government, of the said Province, or to the maintenance of the just subordination to, and conformity with, the