Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

rican colonies and the American colonies with the money of each other, and of England and Ireland.

To this it may be objected, that the supplies granted by the colonies, even though joined with those of Ireland, never could have risen to such a height as to have counterbalanced the importance of the English commons.-I answer, in the first place, that there would have been no necessity that the aids granted by Ireland and America should have risen to an equality with those granted by the British parliament: it would have been sufficient to produce the effects we mention, that they had only borne a certain proportion to the latter, so far as to have conferred on the crown a certain degree of independence, and at the same time have raised in the English commons a correspondent sense of self-diffidence in the exercise of their undoubted privilege of granting or rather refusing, subsidies to the crown.

-Here it must be remembered, that the right of granting or refusing supplies to the crown is the only ultimate forcible privilege possessed by the British parliament: by the constitution it has no other, as hath been observed in the beginning of this chapter. This circumstance ought to be combined with the exclusive pos

session of the executive powers lodged in the crown-with its prerogative of dissenting from the bills framed by parliament, and even of dissolving it.*

I shall mention, in the second place, a remarkable fact in regard to this subject

Being with Doctor Franklin at his house in Cravenstreet, some months before he went back to America, I mentioned to him a few of the remarks contained in this chapter, and, in general, that the claim of the American colonies directly clashed with one of the vital principles of the English constitution. The observation, I remember, struck him very much : it led him afterwards to speak to me of the examination he had undergone in the house of commons; and he concluded with lending me that volume of the Collection of Parliamentary Debates, in which an account of it is contained. Finding the constitutional tendency of the claim of the Americans to be a subject not very generally understood, I added a few paragraphs concerning it in the English edition I some time after gave of this work; and on publishing a third edition of the same, I thought it might not be amiss to write something more compact on the subject, and accordingly added the present new chapter, into which I transferred the few additional paragraphs I mention, leaving in the place where they stood (page 45), only the general observations on the right of granting subsidies, which were formerly in the French work. Several of the ideas, and even expressions contained in this chapter, made their appearance in the Public Advertiser, about the time I was preparing the first edition : I sent them myself to that newspaper, under the signature of Advena,

(which may serve to show that politicians are not always consistent, or even sagacious in their arguments); which is, that the same persons who were the most strenuous advocates for granting to the American colonies their demands, were likewise the most sanguine in their predictions of the future wealth and greatness of America ; and at the same time also used to make frequent complaints of the undue influence which the crown derives from the scanty supplies granted to it by the kingdom of Ireland.*

Had the American colonies fully obtained their demands, both the essence of the present English government, and the condition of the English people, would certainly have been altered thereby : nor would such a change have been inconsiderable, but in proportion as the colonies should have remained in a state of national poverty.

For instance, the complaints made in regard to the pensions on the Irish establishment.

+ When I observe that no man who wished for the preservation of the form and spirit of the English constitution, ought to have desired that the claim of the American colonies might be granted to them, I mean not to say that the American colonies should have given up their claim. The wisdom of ministers, in regard to Ame. rican affairs, ought to have been constantly employed in

I

CHAPTER XXI.

Conclusion.- A few Words on the nature of the Di

visions that take place in England.

I shall conclude this work with a few observations on the total freedom from violence with which the political disputes and conten

making the colonies useful to this country, and at the same time in hiding their subjection from them (a caution, which is after all, more or less used in every government upon earth): it ought to have been exerted in preventing the opposite interests of Britain and of America, from being brought to an issue,-to any such clashing dilemma as would render disobedience on the one hand, and the resort to force on the other, almost unavoidable. The generality of the people fancy that ministers use a great depth of thought and much forecast in their operations; whereas the truth is, that ministers, in all countries, never think but of providing for present, inmediate, contingencies; in doing which they constantly follow the open track before them. This method does very well for the common course of human affairs, even is the safest; but whenever cases and circumstances of a new and unknown nature occur, sad blunders and uproar are the consequences. The celebrated count Oxenstiern, chancellor of Sweden, one day when his son was expressing to him his diffidence of his own abilities, and the dread with which he thought of ever engaging in

tions in England are conducted and terminated, in order both to give a further proof of the soundness of the principles on which the English government is founded, and to confute in general the opinion of foreign writers

the management of public affairs, made the following Latin answer to him: Nescis, mi fili, quam parvâ cum sapientia regitur mundus" You do not know, my son, “ with what little wisdom the world is governed.”

Matters having come to an eruption, it was no longer to be expected they could be composed by the palliative offers sent at different times from this country to America. When the earl of Carlisle solicited to be at the head of the solemn commission that sailed for the purpose we mention, he did not certainly show modesty equal to that of the son of chancellor Oxenstiern. It has been said, in that stage of the contest, the Americans could not think that the proposals thus sent to them were seriously meant: however this cannot have been the principal cause of the miscarriage of the commission. The fact is, that after the Americans had been induced to open their eyes on their political situation, and rendered sensible of the local advantages of their country, it became in a manner impossible to strike with them any bargain at which either nation would afterwards have cause to rejoice, or even to make any bargain at all. It would be needless to say any thing more in this place, on the subject of the American contest.

The motto of one of the English nobility should have been that of ministers, in their regulations for rendering the colonies useful to the mother country,- Faire sans dire,

L L

« AnteriorContinuar »