Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

but by every thing he could learn, his fate was not proportioned to his merit: he might have received orders it was not in his power to execute. Neither should he condemn ministers; they might have instructed him wisely; he might have executed his instructions faithfully, and judiciously, and yet he might have miscarried. There are many events which the greatest human foresight cannot provide against; it was on that ground, therefore, he meant to frame his motion. The fact was acknowledged ; the general had miscarried. It might not have been his fault; it might not be that of his employers or instructors. To know where the fault lay, he was desirous of having the orders given to general Burgoyne laid before the House. So much of the plan at home, had, however, transpired, as justified him in affirming that the measures were founded in weakness, barbarity and inhumanity. Savages had been employed to carry ruin and devastation among our subjects in America. The tomahawk and scalping-knife were put into the hands of the most brutal and ferocious of the human species. Was this honourable war : Was it the means which God and Nature [alluding to what had fallen from lord Suffolk on the opening of the session] put into the hands of Englishmen, to assert their rights over our colonies, and to procure their obedience, and conciliate their affection ? His lordship spoke in the most pointed terms of the system introduced within the last 15 years at St. James's: of breaking all public and family connection, of extinguishing all o and private principle. A few men

ad got an ascendency, where no man should have a personal ascendency; by the executive powers of the state being at their command, they had been furnished with the means of creating divisions. This brought pliable men, not capable men, into the highest and most responsible situations; and to such men was the government of this once glorious empire now entrusted. The spirit of delusion had gone forth; the ministers had imposed on the people; parliament had been induced to sanctify the imposition; false lights had been held out to the country gentlemen: they had been seduced into the support of a most destructive war, under the impression, that the land tax would be diminished, by the means of an American revenue. The visionary phantom, thus conjured up for the basest of all purposes, that of deception, was now about to va.

mish. He condemned the contents of the speech in the bitterest terms of reproach. He said it abounded with absurdity and contradiction. In one part it recommended vigorous measures, pointing to conquest, or unconditional submission; while in another, it pretended to say, that peace was the real object, as soon as the deluded multitude should return to their allegiance. This, his lordship contended, was the grossest and most insolent delusion. It was by this strange mixture of firmness and pretended candour, of cruelty and mercy, justice and iniquity, that this infatuated nation had been all along misled. His lordship returned to the situation of general Burgoyne, and paid him, indeed, very high compliments. He said, his abilities were confessed; his personal bravery not surpassed; his zeal in the service unquestionable. He experienced no pestilence, nor suffered any of the accidents which sometimes supersede the most wise and spirited exertions of human industry. What then, says his lordship, is the great cause of his misfortune? Want of wisdom in our council, want of ability in our ministers. His lordship laid the whole blame on ministers: it was their duty to shield that ill-treated officer from the temporary obloquy he must suffer under, till he had an opportunity to justify himself in person. His motion bore no personal relation to the conduct of that able, but abused officer; it was meant to be solely pointed to draw forth those instructions, which were the cause of his defeat and captivity. General Burgoyne was subject to the events of war; so was every other man who bore a command in time of war; for his part, when he was in office, he never attempted to cover his own incapacity, by throwing the blame on others; on the contrary, he gave them every support and becoming countenance in his power. His lordship condemned the plan of operations, which he insisted was sent from hence; that of penetrating into the colonies from Canada. It was a most wild, uncombined, and mad project; it was full of difficulty; and though success had declared in our favour, would have been a wanton waste of blood and treasure. He next animadverted on the mode of carrying on the war, which he said was the most bloody, barbarous, and ferocious, recorded in the annals of mankind. He contrasted the fame and renown we gained in the last war, with the feats and disgraces of the present; then, he said, we arrived at the highest pinnacle of glory; now we had sullied and tarnished the arms of Britain for ever, by employing savages in our service, by drawing them up in a British line, and mixing the scalping-knife and tomahawk with the sword and firelock. The horror he felt was so great, that had it fallen to his lot to serve in an army where such cruelty was permitted, he believed in his conscience he would sooner mutiny than consent to serve with such barbarians. Such a mode of warfare was, in his opinion, a contamination, a pollution of our national character, a stigma which all the water of the rivers Delaware and Hudson would never wash away; it would rankle in the breast of America, and sink so deep into it, that he was almost certain they would never forget nor forgive the horrid injury.

His lordship observed, that similar instructions relative to the Indians had been imputed to him. He disclaimed the least recollection of having given any such instructions; and in order to ascertain the matter, so as to remove any ground of future altercation on the subject, he called upon administration to produce the orders, if any such had been given.

We had, he said, swept every corner of Germany for men: we had searched the darkest wilds of America for the scalping-knife. But those bloody measures being as weak as they were wicked, he recommended that instant orders might be sent to call home the first, and disband the other—indeed, to withdraw our troops entirely; for peace, he was certain, would never be effected, as long as the German bayonet and Indian scalping-knife were threatened to be buried in the bowels of our American brethren. Such an expectation was absurd, mad, and foolish. The colonies must consider us as friends, before they will ever consent to treat with us: a formal acknowledgment of our errors, and a renunciation of our unjust, illfounded, and oppressive claims, must precede every the least attempt to conciliate. He declared himself an avowed enemy to American independency. He was a Whig; and though he utterly from his heart abhorred the system of government endeavoured to be carried into execution in America, he as earnestly and zealously contended for a Whig government, and a Whig connection between both countries, founded in a constitutional dependence and subordination.

His lordship recurred to the melancholy momentous situation of public affairs in general. He said, America was lost, even by the accounts which administration in the Gazette had thought proper to impart. General Washington proved himself three times an abler general than sir William Howe; for, with a force much inferior in number, and infinitely inferior in every other respect, as asserted from an authority not to be questioned (lord Germain) he had been able to baffle every attempt of ours, and left us in such a situation, that if not assisted by our fleet, our troops in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia must probably share the same unhappy fate with those under general Burgoyne. He condemned the motives of the war in the most pointed and energetic expressions, and the conduct of it in still stronger; and compared the situation of this country to that brought on his dominions by the duke of Burgundy, surnamed the Bold.—A prince of the House of Savoy had his property seized by him; the injured prince would not submit; war was determined on; and the object strongly resembled the paltry pretence on which we had armed, and had carried fire, sword, and devastation, through every corner of America. The seizure was about a cargo of skins; he would have them, but the prince of Saumur would not submit. The duke was conjured not to go to war; but he persisted: “he was determined steadily to pursue the same measures:” he marched against “the deluded multitude:” but at last gave one instance of his magnanimity, by imputing his misfortunes to his own obstinacy; “because,” said he, “this was owing to my not submitting to be well advised.” The case of the duke of Burgundy

was applicable to England. Ministers had

undertaken a rash enterprize, without wisdom to plan, or ability to execute. What had occasioned, since last war, the rise in the value of English estates ? America, which he now feared was for ever lost. She had been the great support of this country; she had produced millions; she afforded soldiers and sailors; she had given our manufacturers employment, and enriched our merchants. The gentlemen of landed property would probably feel this; for, when commerce fails, when new burdens are incurred, when the means by which those burdens were lightened are no more, the land owner will feel the double pressure of heavy taxes: he will find them doubled in the first instance, and

his rents proportionably decreased. But / Whiggism from his earliest days, and what had we sacrificed all those advan should persevere in them to the end. He tages for? In pursuit of a pepper-corn! loved Whiggish principles, as much as he And how did we treat America ? Petitions despised those of anarchy and republic rejected-complaints unanswered-dutiful canism. But if the bare name of Whig representations treated with contempt was all that was meant, he disclaimed the an attempt to establish despotism on the name. If an impatience under every ruins of constitutional liberty-measures species of constitutional government, if a to enforce taxation by the point of the resistance to legal restraint, if the abetting sword. Ministers had insidiously betrayed l of rebels, was the test of modern Whigus into a war; and what were the fruits of gism, he begged leave to be excluded, as it? Let the sad catastrophe which had one not avowing or professing such docbefallen Mr. Burgoyne speak the success. trines. He would, indeed, much rather

In the course of his speech, he adverted share the odium which had been unjustly to the language and Tory doctrine held in cast upon another set of men, and be acprint, and in that House, by a most counted a Tory, in preference to a modern reverend prelate : and, he trusted, lie Whig. should yet see the day, when those per- His lordship then entered into a genenicious doctrines would be deemed libel- /ral consideration of the question of right lous, and treated as such. They were the between this country and America. He doctrines of Atterbury and Sacheverell. said the noble lords on the other side had As a Whig, he should never endure them; acknowledged the war to be popular. He and doubted not, the author or authors was convinced it was, more than any other would suffer that degree of censure and he ever recollected. The supremacy of punishment they were justly entitled to this country was at stake. Shall we, then,

After recommending measures of peace forego all our just rights ? rights, I will instead of measures of blood, and pro- be bold to say, on which the very existence mising to co-operate in every measure that of this country depends, for a single might promise to put a stop to the effusion check ? when it is notorious that we have of the one, and to promote the other, been victorious in every other quarter, which might still prove the means of once where our arms have been carried. Shall more uniting our colonies to us, his lord. we crouch to America, because, allowing ship moved, “ That an humble Address the fact to be true, we have met with one be presented to his Majesty, most humbly disaster? This was not the language of beseeching his Majesty to be graciously the noble lord hcretofore. He once respleased to give directions, that the proper cued this country from impending ruin ; officer do lay before this House, Copies and I call upon the noble lord to declare if of all orders and instructions to lieute- he were now at the head of his Majesty's nant-general Burgoyne, relating to the counsels, would he despair? Would he operations of that part of his Majesty's advise this country to humiliate itself, and forces in North America, under his sue for peace to America; or if he is of command.”

that opinion, does he think that America Lord Lyttelton lamented the fate of ge- would either accede to terms he thinks neral Burgoyne, on whom, as an officer | reasonable; or desist, even though we and a man, he bestowed the highest enco- should declare her independent, from farmiums; and wished, while the noble earl | ther pretensions? I know the noble earl had been so profuse of his commendations, too well, to believe he could be so far dehe had acted with more real candour, and ceived. Look on the other effect of such not as by the effect of the present motion, a procedure. We humble ourselves to were it to be agreed to, call that unfortu. | our rebellious subjects. What would in nate but brave officer's conduct into ques- that event all Europe think of us ? What tion, and expose him in his absence to an would our ancient enemies, France and enquiry in which it would be impossible to Spain, think of us? Would they not actudefend himself. He objected to the intel- ally realize, what it is now pretended they ligence ; said it could not come properly have in contemplation? They would debefore the House. It was but rumour, spise as well as detest us. It would opeand, as such, was no solid foundation for a rate to afford them the highest encourageparliamentary enquiry. He avowed him- ment to attack us. They would immeself as genuine a Whig, as the noble earl. diately conclude, that we were weak, deHe had been bred in the principles of fenceless, pusillanimous; that we were emptied of all that spirit of military glory | till the supreme right of this legislature and national pride that has hitherto proved was first acknowledged in all its parts. our best defence. They would look on A great deal of blame had been thrown us as a nation of merchants, poor, tame, upon ministers this night, as if the meagroveling and mercenary; they would no sures pursued relative to America were longer envy, they would despise us; such solely their measures. . Was that really a conduct would fill them with confidence; the case? By no means; they were the and that confidence would most assuredly measures of parliament, of the whole na. terminate in our utter destruction. It is tion; they were measures which almost necessary, therefore, even in that light, to every Briton approved of. Parliament, in act with vigour, to combat our misfortunes the most full and solemon manner, had given with resolution; it will have a double them the fullest public sanction. They effect; it will serve to convince both our echoed in so doing nothing but the voice domestic and foreign enemies of our of the nation : and shall one little check strength, courage and resources; and be induce us to desist? No: I trust, as Engthe best security for our own safety, and lishmen feeling the perfidy and ingratitude the only effectual means of bringing about of our unnatural subjects, it will call forth those events which the noble earl has this that spirit which has always led us to vic. night drawn in such strong and inviting tory. His lordship condemned the abcolours.

surdity of immediately withdrawing our His lordship entered fully into the great troops, as a preparatory step to negociaquestion of parliamentary supremacy; and tion, now become necessary; on the conendeavoured to prove that it must be sup- trary, if negociation and peace were the ported in its true constitutional extent; real objects to be attained, so far from otherwise the nation would be undone. such a measure having the desired effect, He did not, he said, presume to point out he believed, upon his honour, the Amerithe precise terms; but even the noble earl cans would laugh at us for our want of himself had admitted the necessity of Ame- spirit, or impute it to imbecility, and the rican dependency. He was firmly per- want of means to either assert our rights, suaded that the supreme right even to tax, or maintain our national reputation. though parliament was willing to relax, His lordship next observéd, that the nocould not be given up-parliament could ble earl had mentioned, that America was not give up the rights of the empire; they subordinate and dependent on this counwere inherent; they were inalienable ; try, and contended, as the true test of that and the great controuling superintending subordinate relation, that the Navigation power of the state was inviolable and india Act should be preserved inviolate, in all visible. We were contending for the its commercial operations; yet the effect very existence of the empire; should of the noble earl's speech, was all calcuAmerica prevail, instead of submitting | lated to prove, that we were not able to to acts of navigation from hence, enforce that Act, nor of course that conshe would prescribe them to us. The stitutional dependence of which he sup. right of binding America in all cases poses it to be the true basis. "He had whatsoever, we clearly possessed, and, he heard the noble earl say, “ That if Ametrusted, would never relinquish. We rica persisted in asserting her independshould always maintain the right, though ence, after the troops had been withdrawn, at least for the present, it might be inex. he would throw himself in their way!" pedient to exercise it. The supremacy | What could he mean by such a declaraof the legislature extended to every part tion, unless that of acknowledging the imof the British empire; nay in a case of possibility of subduing them, by evacuatemergency, he was clear we had a right to ing those posts we have got, which no futax Ireland. That emergency had never ture force could perhaps regain? For if arisen, for that country was always ready they were thus left to the exercise of their to contribute equitably to her share of the own will, they would not only be inde. public burthens. Would America consent peodent of this country, but in the course to do as Ireland had done? Would she of 20 years, America, when she had estagive support in return for protection ? If blished her marine, would be a superior she would, that might be a proper ground empire! In reply to that part of lord perhaps to go upon; but no step towards Chatham's speech in which he denied ever conciliation could be taken consistently officially sending out orders for hiring the with the rights and dignity of this country, Indian savages to wage war against the

French, his lordship observed, that savages were employed on that occasion, and in great numbers, and though perhaps not under the express direction of the noble earl, the measure was notwithstanding his, since the officers, so far from being called to any account for it by him, were at least tacitly justified in the deed. As to giving up the idea of subduing America, because we had been in one instance unfortunate, it was a proposition every way disgraceful to Britons. What would the House of Bourbon think of such unexampled pusillanimity ? Would she not conclude us an exhausted nation, and this a fit moment for her to wreak her vengeance on us? His lordship here apologized for the warmth into which the subject had betrayed him; but said he should have had to accuse himself, if he had permitted the supposed fears of a British senate to get into the world, without rising up, and shewing the folly of them. He was much astonished, at the great parade the noble earl had made respecting the tomahawk and scalping-knife: was an Indian’s knife a more dreadful weapon than an Englishman’s bayonet? In the resent war, the chief of the blood which had been shed, was shed by the point of the bayonet; yet, who talked of the bayonet as a savage instrument of war : He wished as heartily as any noble lord for a happy and honourable end of the contest, and perhaps the late misfortune might make it proper to hold out terms to America. He wished not however that it should induce us to withdraw our troops, as such a fatal measure would most assuredly give America an advantage we should never be able to surmount. It would be, indeed, at once rendering her independent, and the moment America was lost, Great Britain would be ruined and undone. The Earl of Suffolk contended, that general report was not sufficient to found a parliamentary enquiry upon. The report of the defeat and capture of general Burgoyne had every mark of external authenticity; but still, till it came officially before that House, he did not see how they could properly take notice of it. His lordship joined in the eulogiums on that gallant but unsuccessful officer, and pleaded his services as the best grounds for not giving the papers now called for. He said, that the motion was in every light unseason. able; and though it were proper to agree with the motion at present, the time that

would be necessary to prepare the information, so as to avoid the ill consequences which the whole of the instructions given to general Burgoyne might be productive of, was by much too short. The papers were voluminous, and contained a variety of matter not at all connected with the immediate object of the present question. They might disclose transactions not proper to be revealed; their contents, if nakedly laid before their lordships, might materially affect several individuals. Besides, taking the fact of general Burgoyne's overthrow to be certain, it would be extremely improper to accede to the motion. Frequent instances occurred in the English history, where the spirit of the nation had been roused by an unlucky accident, similar to the late defeat of general Burgoyne; and as brilliant successes as could be wished, had been the consequence of fresh exertions of the national vigour. His lordship instanced the surprise of general Stanhope at Brihuega; and said, if Mr. Burgoyne was made prisoner, the terms of his release were equally true; and, in consequence of that, his return to England was daily expected. His own account of that unhappy affair would throw more light upon the subject, than the most ample information it was in the power of the King's servants to give. When that period arrived, the whole of the plan and execution would be seen, and might be connected together, so as to enable their lordships to form a proper judgment. He had no possible objection to agree with a similar motion to the present, or any other which might tend to shew the measure in its true and genuine light. He wished to explain his own sentiments relative to a subject so often alluded to by the noble earl; that of employing Indians in the army commanded by general Burgoyne; because it had got out of that House, that he had approved and justified the measure in every supposed circumstance it might bring after it; such as, that we had a right to use all the means which God and Nature had put into our hands, to enable us to reduce our rebellious subjects; and that God and Nature, as a part of those means, justified the act of arming the Indians with the tomahawk and scalpingknife, for the purpose of committing the most horrid barbarities on the weak, unoffending, and defenceless part of our American subjects. Nothing could be farther from his wish or intentions. He never meant to sanctify the abuse, but the

« ElőzőTovább »