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Annotations on the King’s Speech

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

February 11.—A writer in the New Jersey Gazette of this date, gives the following annotations upon “his most gracious Majesty of most gracious Great Britain’s most gracious speech:”1

It is a great satisfaction to me that I can have recourse to the wisdom and support of my Parliament in this conjuncture.”—No doubt it is a satisfaction to your Majesty to be able to apply for each, to those who must support you in measures in which themselves are accomplices, and who are too dependent upon you to refuse any of your requisitions. The more money they give you, sir, the more offices you give them; and this old trick of one good turn’s deserving another, has more than half ruined the nation already.

When the rebellion in North America, demands our most serious attention.“—How wonderful that his Majesty begins to think the reduction of America a serious matter! Had he and his Parliament considered at all, they would have thought it a serious matter when they first began it. But they wanted, it seems, at least three years to discover that the enslaving three millions of people was a serious undertaking. Notable geniuses, to govern three kingdoms and the western world into the bargain, who require three years of blood and slaughter, desolation and havoc, to make them serious!

The powers you have intrusted me with, I have faithfully exerted.”—What powers his Majesty was intrusted with I know not, but the powers he has exerted have been the powers of breaking his oath, and violating all laws, divine and human; and if he undertook to suppress the revolt, he has not executed his trust, for that he has not done.

But I am persuaded you will see the necessity of preparing for such further operations as the contingencies of the war, and the obstinacy of the rebels, may render expedient.“— What, sir, a necessity for further preparations when General Gage was to have done the business with four regiments? Why don’t you order the invincible Grant to strike a terror through the whole continent with a file of musqueteers?

And if I should have occasion to increase them, by contracting new engagements.“—Worse and worse! What, increase your troops to beat an undisciplined militia, after having imported thirty-five thousand already! And increase them you certainly must, or quit your purpose with infamy. But whence to procure the augmentation! aye, that’s the question. The Prince of Hesse will tell you, “bye der donder, ich hebber nix meer

I have received repeated assurances from foreign powers of their pacific dispositions.”—And does your Majesty believe those assurances? Out of your own mouth will I prove that you do not, for

But at the same time, when the armaments in the ports of France and Spain continue.”—to confirm, I suppose, the assurances of their pacific disposition. What, all the powers of Europe pacific, and France and Spain continue their hostile preparations! For shame, sir; bastile your speech-maker for not putting his contradictions at a greater distance than that of two sentences.

I will always be a faithful guardian of the honor of the crown of Great Britain.“—A very proper keeper of what has been lost ever since the 25th of October, 1760, the very day that your Majesty ascended the throne!

The various services I have mentioned to you will unavoidably require large supplies.”—As true a word as ever was spoken; and larger supplies than your Parliament can furnish. Have you heard, sir, that your troops have already been obliged to take Pennsylvania currency? And when they cannot rob, you cannot pay.

I will steadily pursue the measures in which we are engaged for the re-establishment of that subordination.” &c.— How long your Majesty intends to pursue, is best known to yourself; but I am confident you must run much faster than you have ever yet done, or you will not overtake it. By your constitutional subordination we understand a most tyrannical domination, which we have long since bequeathed to your loyal subjects of Great Britain, whom you had previously prepared to relish that kind of legacy.

But I shall ever be watchful for an opportunity of putting a stop to the effusion of the Hood of my subjects, and the calamities which are inseparable from a state of war.“—Ring the bells! ring the bells backward! To church, all hands to church, for Nero is to give us a sermon against murder, and Jonathan Wilde an exhortation to abstain from robbery!

And I still hope that the deluded and unhappy multitude will return to their allegiance.”—And when the sky falls we shall catch larks. And so the late insignificant faction is now multiplied to a multitude. Indeed, did you but know, sir, what a multitude it is, you would as soon think of levelling Mount Etna as of conquering America. But they are not deluded, sir. They know that you had projected their slavery; and they will not be enslaved. If there be any delusion in the case it is the British nation that is deluded, and it is deluded by you, and yourself are deluded by a set of villains who expected to have divided our estates upon the success of your arms. Allegiance we owe you none. Then, sir, did we show our allegiance when we lay prostrate at your throne, supplicating for the continuation of those liberties which God and nature and the law had given us, and when you spurned us from it.

That the remembrance of what they once enjoyed, the regret of what they have lost, and the feelings of what they now suffer under the tyranny of their leaders, will rekindle in their hearts a spirit of loyalty to their sovereign, and of their attachment to their mother country.“—If you will be pleased, sir, to allow yourself a moment’s reflection, you will find they have lost nothing that was worth keeping. They have lost nothing but the pleasure of being oppressed under color of law, and of enriching myriads of harpies of your appointment, and appointed for the express purpose of fleecing them, and of lavishing the fruits of their toil and labor in British luxury and riot. Is this a loss to be regretted? If it is, I know who will regret it. Their feelings indeed are very great, and for them you must answer at that awful bar, where your royalty will but aggravate your condemnation. As to the tyranny of their leaders, it is indeed so gross and threadbare an absurdity, that I would advise your Majesty to drop it for the future for the mere sake of its vulgarity. In this contest the people in reality had no leaders. They fled, spontaneously and self-led, to extinguish the common fire, and for conducting with the greater regularity the measures which you compel them to adopt; they afterwards appointed the proper officers. Those officers (which to serve your purpose you call leaders) cannot tyrannize over them, because they are constituted by the people, and by them removable. Nor will any consideration rekindle in their hearts a spirit of loyalty to their former sovereign. That flame, sir, and an ardent one it was, and more ardent than that of your subjects in Britain, you have extinguished, totally extinguished, with torrents of blood, not leaving a single spark to light up the ancient blaze. And as for their mother country—America, sir, is our mother country, and Great Britain, making the most of the figure, could never claim to be more than our grandmother; and that she has been a most unnatural one, is written in such characters of blood as none of your flimsy coaxings will ever obliterate.

“And that they will enable me, with the concurrence and support of my Parliament, to accomplish.”—And so we are to assist the Parliament, it seems, in effecting our own bondage. Pray, sir, do not flatter yourself with so vain an imagination. We have too great a reverence for the instructions of our mother to follow the insidious advice of our grandmother, so evidently calculated for our destruction.2


1 Delivered December 17, 1777.
2 “Hortentius,” in the New Jersey Gazette, February 11.

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