Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

luded colonies, to return to their loyalty and their former constitutional connection and attachment to this country. His lordship then moved the following Address: “Most Gracious Sovereign, “We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords spiritual and temporal, in parliament assembled, beg leave to return your Majesty our humble thanks for your most gracious Speech from the throne. “Permit us, Sir, to offer our congratulations to your Majesty on the increase of your domestic happiness by the birth of another princess, and the recovery of your royal consort; who is most highly endeared to this nation, as well by her Majesty's eminent and amiable virtues, as by every new pledge of security to our religious and civil liberties. “We are duly sensible of your Majesty's goodness in recurring to the advice and support of your parliament in the present conjuncture, when the rebellion in North America still continues: and we return }. Majesty our unfeigned thanks for aving communicated to us the just confidence which your Majesty reposes in the zeal, j and exertions of your Majesty's officers and forces, both by sea and land. But at the same time that we entertain a well-founded hope of the important successes which under the blessing of Providence, may be expected, we cannot but applaud your Majesty's unwearied vigilance and wisdom in recommending to us to prepare at all events, for such farther operations as the contingencies of the war and the obstinacy of the rebels may render expedient; we are therefore gratefully sensible of your Majesty's consideration in pursuing the measures necessary to keep your land forces complete to the present establishment: and we owe it both to your Majesty and ourselves to say, that we shall cheerfully concur in enabling your Majesty to make good such new engagements with foreign powers for the augmentation of the auxiliary troops, as the weighty motives your Majesty has stated to us may induce vou to contract. “It is with great satisfaction we learn that your Majesty receives repeated assurances from foreign powers of their pacific dispositions; and with hearts full of gratitude and admiration, we acknowledge your Majesty's humane, steady, and . conduct, which is equally well calculated to demonstrate to the world your Majesty's wish to preserve the general

tranquillity of Europe, and your determination to maintain the honour of the crown, the security of these kingdoms, and the commercial interests of your subjects. “We thankfully receive your Majesty's declaration of perseverance in the measures now pursuing for the re-establishment of a just and constitutional subordination through the several parts of your Majesty's dominions: and we beg leave to assure your Majesty that we participate the desire which at the same time animates your royal breast, to see a proper opportunity for putting an end to the effusion of blood, and the various calamities inseparable from a state of war. “The constant tenor of your Majesty's reign has shewn that your whole attention is employed for the safety and happiness of all your people: and whenever our uno fellow-subjects in North America shall duly return to their allegiance, we shall readily concur in every wise and salutary measure which can contribute to restore confidence and order, and to fix the mutual welfare of Great Britain and her colonies on the most solid and permanent foundations.” The Earl of Chesterfield heartily agreed with what had been urged by the noble lord. He was persuaded that the increase of the present royal family was the best security for the }. religion, and the preservation of the constitutional liberties of this country. He said, our commanders in America, both by sea and land, were entitled to our highest confidence and thanks, and he made no doubt that their military skill, and the native intrepidity, and discipline of the troops, would in the end prevail. He lamented the occasion of employing them; but, he observed, it became necessary: he should

therefore give his hearty concurrence to

the Address. The Earl of Coventry. I have frequently given my opinion of the impolicy of coercing America; and I am sorry that the means employed, as far as they have come to the knowledge of this House, have been so many fresh confirmations that I have not been mistaken. Not a noble lord is more firmly persuaded than myself, that the supreme controul over every dependency of this empire, is ultimately lodged in this legislature. The very essence of government require such a supremacy to be lodged somewhere; and it can hardly be seriously asserted, that the controul ne

cessary to carry on the purposes of civil

government, can be either divided or vest- taining; when that friendly tie was broken, ed elsewhere. This supreme power, I do we should have endeavoured to conciliate; venture to affirm, pervades every part of and if that did not succeed, then have prothe British dominions; but while I contend claimed her independent, and brought over for this, I am equally convinced of the ab- as friends and allies those whom a contrary surdity of exerting it at first, and the still | conduct would of necessity have made greater folly of persevering in a conduct our most inveterate and powerful enemies. which, I fear, will sooner or later prove | But, my lords, besides those general reathe destruction of this country. I now sons, others have since arisen, that give recommend what I have frequently before additional weight to my former arguments ; urged to your lordships, to consider this the chief of which is, the immediate imcountry and America, not what they are, practicability and danger of the measures but what they must be. Observe the scale now pursuing; the imminent peril of not both countries are laid down upon ;' con- only the premature loss of our colonies, sider the very different states they are, but, what I think infinitely more important, however slowly, approaching to. Attend the destruction of this country; the preto the vast extent of one, and the diminu- cipitating us into that ruin which could tive figure of Britain; to their domestic not be effected but by the slow progressive situations; to the increase of population operations of those political causes, which in one, and the inevitable decline of it in I have now alluded to: causes, which the other; the luxury, dissipation, and all / must, in all human probability, have taken their concomitant effects in this country, place, at some very remote period. Let and the frugality, industry, and consequent your lordships advert seriously to the true wiśe policy of America. These, my lords, state of this country; the critical situation were the main grounds on which I presum- of affairs in America; the disposition of ed to trouble you from time to time on this foreign powers; thcir ability and inclina. subject. I foresaw then, as I continue to tion to annoy us ; the uncertainty of mili. do, that a period must arrive, when Ame- tary events, and the numerous difficulties rica would render herself independent ; attending the carrying on a war at such a that this country would fall, and the seat distance; and I much doubt but your of empire be removed beyond the Atlan- lordships will be strongly inclined to look tic: nay, my lords, so firmly persuaded am forward to the very alarming consequences I of the event, that I always held it as a a perseverance such as that now recomcertain and natural consequence of the mended from the throne must be producconnection between both countries. I tive of. For my part, I see nothing but therefore always wished, that that day ruin before us, should they be adopted. should be postponed, as far as the causes | Though late, it is better to sit down with I have mentioned could possibly admit of: our present loss, than continue to multiply for as surely, and as long as the grass con- those perils which surround us on every tinues to grow, or the smoke to ascend, side. I think the only measure which the same causes will produce similar ef-promises even a temporary preservation, fects. As in the physical world they are is to withdraw our fleets and armies, and, uniform, so in the political they are no less by making a virtue of necessity, declare certain.

America independent. I should, my lords, be very sorry to be misunderstood, as if I desired to accelerate

The Earl of Chatham :* the independence of America, on account

My lords; I most cheerfully agree of its unimportance to this country;

with the first paragraph of the Address nothing ever was farther from my thoughts; I know its value too well : I wished for the farther enjoyment of it, till I perceived

* The following Report of the Earl of Chatthat such an expectation was founded in

ham's Speech upon this occasion, was

taken by Mr. Hugh Boyd. See vol. 18, error; that moment arrived, the instant

p. 149. See also Boyd's Works, vol. 1, the question relative to the right was agi

p. 283. tated, or at least persisted in, so as to lay a foundation for measures of coercion. So The Earl of Chatham said : long as we could have held America as a

I rise, my lords, to declare my sentidependency, acknowledging spontaneously ments on this most solemn and serious subject. her subordination and political obedience | It has imposed a load upon my mind, which, I to this country, America was worth re- fear, nothing can remove; but wbich impelu

moved by the noble lord. I would even go prostrate myself at the foot of the throne, were it necessary, to testify my joy at any event which may F. to add to the domestic felicity of my sovereign, at any thing which may seem to

give a farther security to the permanent enjoyment of the religious and civil rights of my fellow-subjects; but while I do this, I must at the same time express m

strongest disapprobation of the address, and the fatal measures which it approves.

me to endeavour its alleviation, by a free and unreserved communication of my sentiments. In the first part of the Address, l have the honour of heartily concurring with the noble earl who moved it. No man feels sincerer joy than I do ; none can offer more genuine congratulation on every accession of strength to the Protestant succession: I therefore join in every congratulation on the birth of another incess, and the happy recovery of her Majesty. But I must stop here; my courtly complaisance will carry me no further: I will not join in congratulation on misfortune and disgrace: I cannot concur in a blind and servile Address, which approves, and endeavours to sanctify, the monstrous measures which have heaped disgrace and misfortune upon us— which have brought ruin to our doors. This, my lords, is a perilous and tremendous moment' it is not a time for adulation. The smoothness of flattery cannot now avail—cannot save us in this rugged and awful crisis. It is now necessary to instruct the throne in the language of truth. We must dispel the delusion and the darkness which envelope it; and display, in its full danger and true colours, the ruin that is brought to our doors. This, my lords, is our duty; it is the proper function of this noble assembly, sitting, as we do, upon our honours in this House, the hereditary council of the crown: and who is the minister—where is the minister, that has dared to suggest to the throne the contrary, unconstitutional language this day delivered from it? —The accustoned language from the throne has been application to parliament for advice, and a reliance on its constitutional advice and assistance: as it is the right of parliament to give, so it is the duty of the crown to ask it. But on this day, and in this extreme momentous exigency, no reliance is reposed on our constitutional counsels' no advice is asked from the sober and enlightened care of parliament! But the crown, from itself, and by itself, declares an unalterable determination to !..."; measures—and , what measures, my rds 2—The measures that have produced the imminent perils that threaten us; the measures that have brought ruin to our doors. Can the minister of the day now presume to expect a continuance of support, in this ruinous infatuation ?, Can parliament be so dead to its dignity and its duty, as to be thus deluded into the loss of the one, and the violation of the other?—To give an unlimited credit and support for the steady perseverance in measures; that is the word and the conduct—proposed for our parliamentary advice, but dictated and forced upon us—in measures, I say, my lords,

which have reduced this late flourishing empire to ruin and contempt –“But yesterday, and England might have stood against the world; now none so poor to do her reverence.” I use the words of a poet; but though it be poetry, it is no fiction. It is a shameful truth, that not only the power and strength of this country, are wasting away and expiring; but her well-earned glories, her true honour, and substantial dignity, are sacrificed. France, my lords, has insulted you ; she has encouraged and sustained America; and whether America be wrong or right, the dignity of this country ought to spurn at the officious insult of French interference. The ministers and ambassadors of those who are called rebels and enemies, are in Paris; in Paris they transact the reciprocal interests of America and France. Can there be a more mortifying insult P. Can even our ministers sustain a more humiliating disgrace P Do they dare to resent it? Do they presume even to hint a vindication of their honour, and the dignity of the state, by requiring the dismission of the plenipotentiaries of America 2 Such is the degradation to which they have reduced the glories of England! The people whom they affect to call contemptible rebois, but whose growing power has at last obtained the name of enemies; the people with whom they have engaged this country in war, and against whom they now command our implicit support in every measure of desperate hostility: this people, despised as rebels, or acknowledged as enemies, are abetted against you, supplied with every military store, their interests consulted, and their ambassadors entertained, by your inveterate enemy and our ministers, dare not interpose with dignity or effect. Is this the honour of a great king

dom? Is this the indignant spirit of England,

who, “but yesterday,” gave law to the House of Bourbon : My lords, the dignity of nations demands a decisive conduct in a situation like this. Even when the greatest prince that perhaps this country ever saw fiiled our throne, the requisition of a Spanish general, on a simi. lar subject, was attended to, and complied with ; for, on the spirited remonstrance of the duke of Alva, Elizabeth found herself obliged to deny the Flemish exiles all countenance, support, or even entrance into her dominions; and the count le Marque, with his few desperate followers, was expelled the kingdom. Happening to arrive at the Brille, and finding it weak in defence, they made themselves mas. ters of the place: and this was the foundation of the United Provinces. My lords, this ruinous and ignominious situation, where we caunot act with success, nor

My lords, it was customary for the King, on similar occasions, not to lead Fol. ment, but to be guided by it. It was usual, I say, my lords, to ask the advice of this House, the hereditary great council

lords, what does this Speech say It tells you of measures already agreed upon, and very cavalierly desires your concurrence. It, indeed, talks of wisdom and support; it counts on the certainty of events yet in the womb of time; but in point of plan

of the nation, not to dictate to it. My

suffer with honour, calls upon us to remonstrate in the strongest and loudest language of truth, to rescue the ear of Majesty from the delusions which surround it. The desperate state of our arms abroad is in part known : no man thinks more highly of them than I do: I love and honour the English troops: I know their virtues and their valour: I know they can achieve any thing except impossibilities; and I know that the conquest of English America is an impossibility. You cannot, I venture to say it, you cannot couquer America, Your armies iast war effected every thing that could be effected; and what was it? It cost a numerous army, under the command of a most able general, (sir Jeffery Amherst), now a noble lord in this House, a long and laborious campaign, to expel 5,000 Frenchmen from French Ame. rica. My lords, you cannot conquer America. What is your present situation there? We do not know the worst; but we know, that in three campaigns we have done nothing and suffered much. Besides the sufferings, perhaps total loss, of the northern force “; the best appointed army that ever took the field, commanded by sir William Howe, has retired from the American lines; he was obliged to relinquish his attempt, and with great delay and datiger, to adopt a new and distant plan of operations. We shall soon know, and in any event have reason to lament, what may have happened since. As to conquest, therefore, my lords, I repeat, it is impossible.—You may swell every expence, and every effort, still more extravagantly; pile and accumulate every assistance you can buy or borrow ; traffic and barter with every little pitiful German prince, that sells and sends his subjects to the shambles of a foreign prince ; your efforts are for ever vain and impotent—doubly so from this mercenary aid on which you rely; for it irritates, to an incurable resentment, the minds of your enemies—to over-run them with the mercemary sons of rapine and plunder; devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty'. If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms—never—never—never.

* “General Burgoyne's army. The history of it is short: most of its bravest officers fell; and about half its numbers; the rest surrendered to the enemy on the 17th of October, 1777. See the Gazettes. The account of this total loss, as the noble speaker's prescience expressed it on the 18th of November, arrived in England in the beginning of December.” Boyd.

Your own army is infected with the contagion of these illiberal allies. The spirit of plunder and of rapine is gone forth among them. ... I know it—and notwithstanding what the noble earl, who moved the Address, has given as his opinion of our American army, I know from authentic information, and the most experienced officers, that our discipline is deeply wounded. Whilst this is notoriously our sinking situation, America grows and flourishes: whilst our strength alal discipline are lowered, theirs are rising and improving.

But, my lords, who is the man, that in addition to these disgraces and mischiefs of our army, has dared to authorise and associate to our arms the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage P To call into civilized alliance, the wild and inhuman savage of the woods; to delegate to the merciless Indian the defence of disputed rights, and to wage the horrors of his barbarous war against our brethren? ... My lords, these enormities cry aloud for redress and punishment; unless, thoroughly done away, it will be a stain on the national character—it is a violation of the coustitution—I believe it is against law. It is not the least of our national misfortunes, that the strength and character of our army are thus impaired; infected with the mercenary spirit of robbery and rapine—familiarized to the horrid scenes of savage cruelty, it can no longer boast of the noble and generous principles which dignify a soldier; no longer sympathize with the dignity of the royal banner, nor feel the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war, “that make ambition virtue!” What makes ambition virtue P−the sense of honour. But is the sense of honour consistent with a spirit of plunder, or the practice of murder? Can it flow from mercenary motives, or can it prompt to cruel deeds P Besides these murderers and plunderers, let me ask our ministers, what other allies have they acquired? What other powers have they associated to their cause 2 Have they entered into alliance with the king of the gypsies? Nothing, my lords, is too low or too ludicrous to be consistent with their counsels.

The independent views of America have been stated and asserted as the foundation of this Address. My lords, no man wishes for the due dependence of America on this country more than I do. To preserve it, and not confirm that state of independence into which your measures hitherto have driven them, is the object which we ought to unite in attaining. The Americans, contending for their rights against the arbitrary exactions, I love and admire; it is the struggle of free and virtuous patriots: and design it is peremptory and dictatorial. Is this a proper language to be used to your lordships ? Is this a language fit to be endured 2 Is this high pretension to over-rule the dispositions of Providence itself, and the will and judgment of par

liament, justified by any former conduct or precedent prediction ? No, my lords, it is the language of an ill-founded confidence; a confidence, my lords, I will be bold to say, supported hitherto only by a succession of disappointments, disgraces,

but contending for independency and total disconnection from England, as an Englishman, I cannot wish them success: for, in a due constitutional dependency, including the ancient supremacy of this country in regulating their commerce and navigation, consists the mutual happiness and prosperity both of England and America. She derived assistance and protection from us; and we reaped from her the most important advantages —she was, indeed, the fountain of our wealth, the nerve of our strength, the nursery and basis of our naval power. It is our duty, therefore, my lords, if we wish to save our country, most seriously to endeavour the recovery of these most beneficial subjects: and in this perilous crisis, perhaps the present moment may be the only one in which we can hope for success: for in their negociations with France, they have, or think they have, reason to complain : though it be notorious that they have received from that power important supplies and assistance of various kinds, yet it is certain they expected it in a more decisive and immediate degree. America is in ill humour with France, on some points that have not entirely answered her expectations: let us wisely take advantage of every possible moment of reconciliation. Besides, the natural disposition of America herself still leans towards Eng. land ; to the old habits of connection and mutual interest that united both countries. This was the established sentiment of all the continent; , and still, my lords, in the great and principal part, the sound part of America, this wise and affectionate disposition prevails; and there is a very considerable part of America yet sound--the middle and the southern provinces; some parts may be factious and blind to their true interests; but if we express a wise and benevolent disposition to communicate with them those immutable rights of nature, and those constitutional liberties, to which they are equally entitled with ourselves; by a conduct so just and humane, we shall confirm the favourable and conciliate the adverse. I say, my lords, the rights and liberties to which they are equally entitled with ourselves, but no more. I would participate to them every enjoyment and freedom which the colonizing subjects of a free state can possess, or wish to possess; and I do not see why they should not enjoy every fundamental right in their property, and every original substantial liberty, which Devonshire or Surrey, or the county I live in, or any other county in England, can claim ; reserving always, as the sacred right of the mother country, the due constitutional dependency of the colonies. The inherent supremacy of the state in regulating and protecting the navigation

and commerce of all her subjects, is necessary for the mutual benefit and preservation of every part, to constitute and preserve the prosperous arrangement of the whole empire. The sound parts of America, of which I have spoken, must be sensible of these great truths, and of their real interests. America is not in that state of desperate and contemptible rebellion, which this country has been deluded to believe. It is not a wild and lawless banditti, who having nothing to lose, might hope to snatch something from public convulsions; many of their leaders and great men have a great stake in this great contest:—the gentleman who conducts their armies, I am told, has an estate of 4 or 5,000l. a year; and when I consider these things, I cannot but lament the inconsiderate violence of our penal acts, our declarations of treason and rebellion, with all the fatal effects of attainder and confiscation. As to the disposition of foreign powers, which is asserted in the Speech from the throne to be pacific and friendly, let us judge, my lords, rather by their actions and the nature of things, than by interested assertions. The uniform assistance, supplied to America by France, suggests a different conclusion :--the most o interests of France, in aggrandizing and enriching herself with what she most wants, supplies of every naval store from America, must inspire her with different sentiments. The extraordinary preparations of the House of Bourbon, by land and by sea, from Dunkirk to the Streights, equally ready and willing to overwhelm these defenceless islands, should rouse us to a sense of their real disposition, and our own danger. Not 5,000 troops in England!--hardly 3,000 in Ireland! What can we oppose to the combined force of our enemies? Scarcely 20 ships of the line fully or sufficiently o that any admiral's reputation would permit him to take the command of. The river of Lisbon in the possession of our enemies! ---The seas swept by American privateers: our channel trade torn to pieces by them in this complicated crisis of danger, weakness at home, and calamity abroad, terrified and insulted by the neighbouring powers,—unable to act in America, or acting only to be destroyed;-where is the man with the forehead to promise or hope for success in such a situation? or, from perseverance in the measures that have driven us to it? Who has the forehead to do so 2 Where is that man P I should be glad to see his face. You cannot conciliate America by your present measures---you cannot subdue #: by your present, or by any measures. What, then, can you do? You cannot conquer, you cannot gain,

« ElőzőTovább »