« AnteriorContinuar »
sary an agreement was for America, since it was so easy for Britain to burn all our sea-port towns, I grew warm, said that the chief part of my little property consisted of houses in those towns; that they might make bonfires of them whenever they pleased, that the fear of losing them would never alter my resolution to resist to the last that claim of parliainent; and that it behoved this country to take care what mischief it did us, for that sooner or later it would certainly be obliged to make good all damages with interest! The doctor smiled, as I thought, with some approbation of my discourse, passionate as it was, and said he would certainly repeat it tomorrow to lord Dartmouth.
In the discourse concerning the Hints, Mr. Barclay happened to mention, that going to lord Hyde's, he found lord Howe with him; and that lord Hyde had said to him, “you may speak any thing before lord Howe, that you have to say to me, for he is a friend in whom I confide;" upon which he accordingly had spoken with the same freedom as usual. By this I coll. cted how lord Howe came by the paper of Hints, which he had shown me:-and it being mentioned as a measure thought of, to send over a commissioner with powers to inquire into grievances and give redress on certain condia tions, but that it was difficult to find a proper person; I said, why not lord Hyde? he is a man of prudence and temper, a person of dignity, and I should think very suitable for such an employment: or, if he would not go, there is the other person you just mentioned, lord Howe, who would, in my opinion, do excellently well: this passed as mere conversation, and we parted.
Lord Chatham's rejected plan being printed, for the public judgment, I received six copies from lord Mahon, his sonin-law, which I sent to different persons in America.
A week and more passed, in which I heard nothing further of the negotiation, and my time was much taken up among the members of parliament; when Mr. Barclay sent me a note to say, that he was indisposed, but desirous of seeing me, and should be glad if I would call on him. I waited upon him the next morning, when he told me, that he had seen lord Hyde, and had some further discourse with him on the ArTICLES; that he thought himself now fully possessed of what would do in this business; that he therefore wished another meeting with me and doctor Fothergill, when he would en. deavor to bring prepared a draft conformable chiefly to what had been proposed and conceded on both sides, with some propositions of his own. I readily agreed to the meeting, which was to be on Thursday evening, Feb. 16th.
We met accordingly, when Mr. Barclay produced the following paper, viz.
A PLAN, which it is believed would produce a permanent union
between Great Britain and her colonies. 1, The tea destroyed to be paid for; and, in order that no time may be lost, to begin the desirable work of conciliation, it is proposed that the agent or agents, in a petition to the king, should engage that the tea destroyed shall be paid for; and in consequence of that engagement, a commissioner to have authority, by a clause in an act of parliament, to open the port, (by a suspension of the Boston port act) when that engagement shall be complied with,
2d, The tea-duty act to be repealed, as well for the advantage of Great Britain as the colonies.
3d, Castle William to be restored to the province of the Massachusetts Bay, as formerly, before it was delivered up by governor Hutchinson.
4th, As it is believed that the commencement of conciliatory measures will in a considerable degree quiet the minds of the subjects in America, it is proposed that the inhabitants of the province of the Massachusetts Bay should petition the king, and state their objections to the said act. And it is to be understood, that the said act shall be repealed. Interim, the commissioner to have power to suspend the act, in order to enable the inhabitants to petition.
* Supposed to mean the Boston port act. B. F.
5th, The several provinces who may think themselves aggrieved by the Quebec bill, to petition in their legislative capacities; and it is to be understood that so far of the act as extends the limits of Quebec beyond its antient bounds, is to be repealed.
6th, The act of Henry VIIIth to be formally disclaimed by parliament.
7th, In time of peace the Americans to raise within their respective provinces, by acts of their own legislatures, a certain sum or sums, such as may be thought necessary for a peace establishment, to pay governors, judges, &c.
Vide-Laws of Jamaica.
8th, In time of war, on requisition made by the king, with consent of parliament, every colony shall raise such sums of money, as their legislatures may think suitable to their abilities and the public exigency, to be laid out in raising and paying men for land or sea service, furnishing provisions, transports, or such other purposes as the king shall require and direct.
9th, The acts of navigation to be re-examined, in order to see whether some alterations might not be made therein, as much for the advantage of Great Britain, as the ease of the colonies.
10th, A naval officer to be appointed by the crown to reside in each colony, to see those acts observed.
N. B. In some colonies they are not appointed by the
11th, All duties arising on the acts for regulating trade with the colonies, to be for the public use of the respective colonies, and paid into their treasuries, and an officer of the crown to see it done.
12th, The admiralty courts to be reduced to the same powers as they have in England.
13th, All judges in the king's colony governments, to be appointed during good behavior, and to be paid by the province, agreeable to article 7th.
N. B. If the king.chooses to add to their salaries, the same to be sent from England.
14th, The governors to be supported in the same manner.
Our conversation turned chiefly upon the first article. It was said that the ministry only wanted some opening to be given them, some ground on which to found the commencement of conciliating measures, that a petition, containing such an engagement as mentioned in this article, would answer that purpose: that preparations were making to send over more troops and ships: that such a petition might prevent their going, especially if a commissioner were proposed : I was therefore urged to engage the colony agents to join with me in such a petition. My answer was, that no agent had any thing to do with the tea business, but those for Massachusetts Bay, who were, Mr. Bollan for the council, myself for the assembly, and Mr. Lee, appointed to sacceed me when I should leave England; that the latter, therefore, could hardly yet be considered as an agent; and that the former was a cautious exact man, and not easily persuaded to take steps of such importance without instructions or authority; that therefore if such a step were to be taken, it would lie chiefly on me to take it; that indeed, if there were, as they supposed, a clear probability of good to be done by it, I should make no scruple of hazarding myself in it; but I thought the empowering a commissioner to suspend the Boston port act, was a method too dilatory, and a mere suspension would not be satisfactory; that if such an engagement were entered into, all the Massachusetts acts should be immediately repealed.
They laid hold of the readiness I had expressed to petition on a probability of doing good, applauded it, and urged me to draw up a petition immediately. I said it was a matter of importance, and with their leave I would take home the paper, consider the propositions as they now stood, and give them my opinion to-morrow evening. This was agreed to, and for that time we parted.
Weighing now the present dangerous situation of affairs in America, and the daily hazard of widening the breach there irreparable, I embraced the idea proposed in the paper, of sending over a commissioner, as it might be a means of suspending military operations, and bring on a treaty, whereby mischief would be prevented, and an agreement by degrees be formed and established; I also concluded to do what had been desired of me as to the engagement, and essayed a draft of a memorial to lord Dartmouth, for that purpose, simply; to be signed only by myself. As to the sending of a commis. sioner, a measure which I was desired likewise to propose, and express my sentiments of its utility, I apprehended my colleagues in the agency might be justly displeased if I took a step of such importance without consulting them, and there. fore I sketched a joint petition to that purpose for them to sign with me if they pleased; but apprehending that would meet with difficulty, I drew up a letter to lord Dartmouth, containing the same proposition, with the reasons for it, to be sent from me only. I made also upon paper some remarks on the propositions; with some hints on a separate paper of further remarks to be made in conversation, when we should meet in the evening of the 17th. Copies of these papers (except the first, which I do not find with me on shipboard,) are here placed as follows, viz.
To the King's most excellent Majesty. The PETITION and MEMORIAJ. of W. Bollan, B. Franklin,
and Arthur Lee, Most humbly showeth,
THAT your petitioners, being agents for several colonies, and deeply affected with the apprehension of impending calamities that now threaten your majesty's subjects in America, beg leave to approach your throne, and to suggest with all huinility, their opinion, formed on much attentive consi. deration, that if it should please your majesty to permit and authorise a meeting of delegates from the different provinces, and appoint some person or persons of dignity and wisdom