« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
confess that truth is a file which we bite in vain ; that
Your friendly Opponent, and
A View of Mr. Evans's Mistake concerning-I. The Absoluteness of our Property.-II. The Nature of Slavery.—III. The Origin of Power.--And, IV. The proper Cause of the War with America.A Note concerning the Anabaptists.
I would have taken my leave of you in the preceding letter, had I not considered that a patient Controvertist ought to contend for Truth, till she enjoys her full liberty. The truth I defend is not yet free. She is still bound with three or four of the chains with which you have loaded her. Nor can I complete my res. cue, without breaking them with my polemical hammer.
I. The first of these chains is your error, or that of Lord Camden, concerning the absoluteness of our property.
Page 34, You still insinuate, that, “What a man has is absolutely his own." Nevertheless, pressed by my tion I make between our actual and our legislative home is frivolous ; for Dr. Price, your oracle, says, “ They [the Colonies] gloried in their relation to us ;-and they always spoke of this country and looked to it as their home.” Now, as the Colonists were never so destitute of good sense, as to look on England as their actual home; it remains, that your oracle has spoken nonsense, or that England is their principal, legisla. tive home. And would to God, they were not grown so uneasy, as to despise this “home, be it ever so homely!”
You hint indeed at the inconvenience and impossibi. lity of the Colonists coming back to their legislative home; but this objection makes as much against your scheme of representation as against ours ; for you insi. nuate, that all the non-voters in England may go and settle in the few boroughs, where the Constitution allows every pot-boiler to be a voter ; and you give us a hint, that if they do not, “ it is their own fault.” But is it not more practicable for all the freeholders in America, to crowd into Great Britain ; than for all the non-voters in Great Britain, to crowd into such privileged boroughs as you speak of; or for all the women, who have free. holds in England, to change their sex, that they may have a vote at the next election ?
You reply, p. 38, “ The representation in England is unequal; owing to a great variety of casual circum. stances, which it would be useless to enumerate.” Now, Sir, applying to all the British empire, what you say of England, I answer, The representation, with respect to America, “is unequal; owing to a great variety of casual circumstances,” such as emigration, distance, interposing seas, and the impropriety of multiplyings
Mr. Evans wants each American assembly to be invested with supreme power in conjunction with the Kiug, after the model of the Irish parliament; but I wish the British Empire too well to be of his sentiment. The same rnle holds in po. lities and in mechanics; the more a government and a ma. chine are needlessly complicated, the weaker are their motions, and the greater the danger of their being out of order. It is the glory and strength of our Constitution to be
parliaments, which would as much weaken the empire, as you would do a piece of clock-work, if you contrived to make each wheel move by means of a separate spring. Thus, if I am not mistaken, your own concessions, backed by one of Dr. Price's observations, shew that, so far, your attempt to demonstrate that the parliamentary doctrine of taxation is contrary to the Constitution, only shews that it is truly constitutional.
Come we now to your capital argument, the first part of which runs thus :-“ The American can have no voice in the disposal of his property ; and what is worse, those who are to have the power of disposing of it, are under every possible temptation to abuse the power, because every shilling they take out of the pocket of an American is so much saved in their own.” To this I reply, Vind. p. 31, “You mistake: For as many of the Colonists as choose to purchase a freehold in Eng. land, may become electors ; and as many as have a sufficient fortune, may be candidates at the next election ;" adding, that you yourself speak of a late American Candidate, who was a friend to America. But you take no notice of this sufficient answer.
Pressing you still farther, I remind you that “ there are several members in both houses of parliament, who have a very large property in America, and who, when they tax the Colonists, take far more money out of their own pockets than they probably do out of the pocket of Mr. Hancock.” To this you reply, page 41, “ But what security have the Americans, that there will always' be such members in parliament ?" I answer:- They have the same security for it, which we have, that there will always be a prince to fill the throne, and a num
compact, “in se totus teres atque rotund11s." As I could not admire an human body with one head and a dozen stomachs, I sbould not be pleased to see Great Britain and her Colonies exhibiting to the world a political body, with one royal head and a dozen supreme courts of parliament. If such needless divisions and multiplications do not tend to speedy dissolu: tion, they certainly do to weakness, confusion, slowness of operation, and a thousand evils, which France with her several unconnected parliaments so severely feels.
ber of peers to compose a House of Lords. It is no impossible that a plague should sweep away all the royal family, and all the nobility : But would it be right to distress the public by such a supposition ? Would it not be ridiculous to frighten the simple, by telling them that the Constitution is in danger, and that, as we have no security that all the royal family and all the nobility will not die of the plague, or be blown up by a second gunpowder plot, “ our Constitution is almost lost," and we are likely soon to have another rump parliament, without king, and without house of lords?
But you add :_“Unless all the members of the Bri. tish parliament had American property, they would not be on a level with the non-voters in England.” I reply: If the American Colonies are, as some patriots suppose, the capital spring of British wealth, all the members of parliament have a particular, though indirect concern in the prosperity of the Colonists; nor does the Constitution require that taxed subjects should be on a level with each other in every possible respect. The Americans should be thankful for being on a level, not only with the non-voters of England, in the impor. tant right of qualifying themselves to be voters, or can. didates for seats in parliament, but also with the free. holders in London, who have no vote, and with the mem. bers of parliament abroad, who, through emigration, cannot actually share in the legislature. I repeat it, to attempt to bring about a representation, equal in every respect, is as absurd as to attempt making all our fellow-subjects of one size, one age, one sex, one country, one revenue, one rank, and one capacity.
Another of my answers to your grand argument ran thus :-“ It is improbable that our law-givers would save a dirty shilling in their pockets, by oppressively taking one out of an American's pocket. Being men of fortune they are raised by their circumstances above the felonious trick you speak of.” Page 40, you humour. ously reply, “ I suppose, Sir, if you should lend a few thousands to any of our legislators, you would not pre
tend to ask for a bond. It would be ungenerous to sus. pect men of such circumstances, as the Constitution obliges all our Law-givers to be, of such a felonious trick as not paying you again.” But this reply of yours is fully obviated by my fifth answer, which is as follows: _" If the Colonists were afraid of being taxed more heavily than the rule of proportion allows, should they not have humbly requested, that the parliament would settle the matter by an acta—or a bond,' which might have been an effectual check upon the abuse of the power of taxation ?”
You think to unnerve this answer by saying, p. 42, * What the Colonists should have done is one thing, and what the British Parliament has done is another." True: The parliament has laid upon the Colonists a little tax, and they have revolted, instead of paying it with the loyalty which becomes good subjects, and with the prudence which becomes men jealous of their liber. ty; and therefore their conduct is unjustifiable, and that of the parliament reasonable. You farther insi. nuate, that as you are not obliged “ to conform to the Established Church,” so the Colonists were not obliged to submit to British taxation in the prudential manner I have mentioned. But the case is not parallel. Nei, ther Christianity nor the Constitution obliges us to conform to the Established Church; whereas both enjoin us to render to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due,' that is, to the supreme protective power.
You have another string to your bow. Sensible that the preceding argument is not strong enough to shoot the arrow of conviction into a thinking man's breast, you add, p. 42, “A man that robs me on the highway, may think that I should have previously asked him if he did not want my money.--But I presume this will not justify his robbing me.” So, Sir, you will always insinuate, that we are no more bound to pay reasonable taxes to the legislative power which protects us, than we are bound to give our money to a robber who demands