Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/424

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Stamp Act Controversy

the maxim must be considered in this latitude, for in a literal sense or construction it ever was, and ever will be, impracticable. Let me ask, is the isle of Man, Jersey, or Guernsey, represented? What is the value or amount of each man's representation in the kingdom of Scotland, which contains near two millions of people, and yet not more than three thousand have votes in the elec f ion of members of parliament? But to shew still further, that, in fact and reality, this right of representation is not of that consequence it is generally thought to be, let us take into the argument the moneyed interest of Britain, which, though immensely great, has no share in this representation ; a worthless freeholder of forty shillings per annum can vote for a member of parliament, whereas a merchant, tho worth one hundred thousand pounds sterling, if it consist only in personal effects, has no vote at all : But yet let no one suppose that the interest of the latter is not equally the object of parliamentary attention with the former. . . .

The jurisdiction of parliament being established, it will follow, that this jurisdiction cannot be apportioned ; it is transcendant and entire, and may levy internal taxes as well as regulate trade ; there is no essential difference in the rights : A stamp duty is confessedly the most reasonable and equitable that can be devised, yet very far am I from desiring to see it established among us, but I fear the shaft is sped, and it is now too late to prevent the blow. . . .

Enlarging the power of the court of admiralty, is much complain'd of by the honourable author. I shall open my mind to you freely on this head.

It is notorious, that smuggling, which an eminent writer calls a crime against the law of nature, had well nigh become established in some of the colonies. Acts of parliament had been uniformly dispensed with by those whose duty it was to execute them ; corruption, raised upon the ruins of duty and virtue, had almost grown into a system ; courts of admiralty, confined within small territorial jurisdictions, became subject to mercantile influence ; and the king s revenue shamefully sacrificed to the venality and perfidiousness of courts and officers. — If, my friend, customs are due to the crown ; if illicit commerce is to be put an end to, as ruinous to the welfare of the nation : — If, by reason of the interested views of traders, and the connivance of courts and custom-house officers, these ends could not be compassed or obtained in the common and ordinary way ; tell me, what could the government do, but to apply a remedy desperate as the disease : There is, I own, a severity in the method of prosecution, in the new established court of admiralty, under