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ground to place a single gun on for its de- ; compelled to lay down their arms, and refence; therefore, to surround it with great ceive laws from their enemies, was a matter works to secure yourselves in winter quar- so new, that he doubted if such another ters, must create an immense expence, instance could be found in the annals of besides the lateness of the season making our history. The effrontery with which it such an undertaking almost impracticable was told, excited no less astonishment to be carried into execution. It is then a than indignation. Ignorance had stainped glorious conquest to those who rnay en- every step taken during the course of the rich themselves by that new expence, but expedition ; but it was the ignorance of a calamity to those who are to be taxed the minister for the American department, for that new extravagance. Or do we and not to be imputed to general Bur: wish to be in possession of the most goyne, of whose good conduct, bravery, beautiful town in America only to set fire and skill, he did not entertain even the to it? Are the British legions gone forth shadow of a doubt. The noble lord said, merely to warm themselves by the burning if there was any blame to be laid.” towns upon the coast? Can bishops per- Without blame somewhere, could an ensuade us, their snioke shall rise to an ap- tire army be reduced to the painful, the proving God, or on earth celebrate the distracting necessity of laying down their dignity, the wealth, the honour, the hu. arms, and becoming prisoners of war? manity of the British nation?
With the general and his troops, he was But ministers are very brave to-day, persuaded, there was no fault to be found; they are ready to seal with their blood that it could be traced no where but to the the mischief of their counsels; and whilst noble lord, whose ignorance was not they are so loudly supported by a majority brought as an extenuation, but as a justifiof parliament, that language sounds well. cation of his crime. But I must beg leave to remind them of a The Americans had, he observed, been story which is related of a certain general always represented as cowards ; this was and statesman, who drew all his former far from being true; and he appealed to friends about the court, with the heads of the conduct of Arnold and Gates towards birds and beasts upon their shoulders. He general Burgoyne, as a striking proof of drew bis mistress with the head of a swal. their bravery. Our army was totally at low, and he wrote this motto underneath, their mercy. We had employed the sa• Je fuis le mauvais temps,' alluding to her vages to butcher them, their wives, their having forsaken him in his misfortunes. aged parents, and their children ; and yet, Let ministers beware, lest the swallow's generous to the last degree, they gave our head and that motto should best suit the men leave to depart on their parole, never most strenuous and forward of their pre- more to bear arms against North Amesent advocates. For, Sir, had I an hun- rica. Bravery and cowardice could never dred tongues, and the eloquence of much inhabit the same bosom ; generosity, va. atler men than myself who speak within lour, and humanity are ever inseparable. these walls, I could not sufficiently express Poor, indeed, the Americans were, but in all the horrors, all the mischief, all the ruin that consists their greatest strength. Sixty of this savage war ; but this I will say, that thousand men had fallen at the feet of whilst such desperate, unfeeling ministers, their magnanimous, because voluntary advise his Majesty, with such an expensive poverty. They had not yet lost all regard war to carry on, without an object of ad- for the country from whence they sprung: vantage in return, with such a cause to anxious still for our home-defence, they disgrace the British arms, and spill the best had sent us back our troops; and left their blood of this country, what man in his hands free to fight against every enemy of senses can be satisfied with the times, or Great Britain, but themselves. He recan agree to vote for a perseverance in proached the noble lord for his misconmeasures, which have already produced duct and foolish credulity. He said he such dreadful disgrace and calamity, that was astonished at him. In the beginning Great Britain is shook to its foundation ? of last year, the noble lord informed
Mr. Burke thanked the two hon. gen. them, that the enemy were cowardly, and tlemen, who had spoken before him, for our army superior in number. On what having afforded him some time to calm the did he ground this information ? On retumult and perturbation in his breast, oc- port, mere idle report, to which the noble casioned by the information given to the lord was always an implicit slave. He House by the noble lord. A whole army said, that the information on which mi
misters confided, should be precise and certain: that misinformation was no palliation for their errors; and he did not imagine that the House would admit it as such. He said, the intended measure was a conjunction between Howe and Burgoyne, but that it was to be produced in the strangest manner he had ever heard of. The armies were to meet—yes; Howe was travelling southwards, and Burgoyne in the very same direction 1 The advocates for administration, he said, had delighted in representing America in an abject situation—as being without salt, without shoes, without a rag on their back, without stockings, &c. If the House had apFo to him in the beginning of the war, e could have told them of many more wants than all those together under which the Americans laboured, but he could also have informed them, that men fighting for liberty were not influenced by such particulars; that these only affected the body, but that the souls of the Americans were unreduced. He concluded with a few words on the Solicitor General, whom he called the counsel to the noble lord. Upon this The Solicitor General rose, and described his own political character: his opinions, he said, were genuine; they were his own; he never spoke the sentiments of any man, but those only which his own reason suggested; nor did he ever in that House plead the cause of any man. He had been invariable in his opinion, as well on one side of the House as on the other; and not seldom differed from both. The calamity, he could not deny, was great; but he could not infer from it that our condition was desperate. We had often received checks; but the spirit of the nation had always made us rise superior to our distresses: an exertion of that spirit would, on the present occasion, infallibly rescue us from danger. Britons ever shewed magnanimity in distress; and certain victory was the sure consequence of that spirit: he wished therefore, that gentlemen would not be cast down: that before now as great misfortunes had happened to us, from which we reaped substantial advantages. As to the fact of a whole army surrendering, which had been described as unprecedented, the annals of this country had furnished a most remarkable instance of it in the reign of queen Anne, when after the battle of Almanza, general Stanhope was obliged to surrender, with the whole of the British forces under
his command. This, however, did not damp the ardour of the British nation, but urged to greater, and more successful exertionS. Mr. T. Townshend condemned the whole of this expedition; the employing colonel St. Leger in the horrid war and devastation, which, with the aid of the savages, he had orders to commit on the provincials. He gave a striking picture of the desolation which would have happened had that officer succeeded; and vindicated the decrees of Providence in the overruling power it exerted in counteracting such a diabolical system of blood and carnage. He likewise spoke very favourably of general Burgoyne, and imputed his want of success to the ignorance and incapacity of those who directed him from hence. Mr. For expressed his happiness at being prevented from speaking immediately after the fatal tidings of our disgrace had been communicated to the House: rage and indignation so swayed his breast at that time, that if he had attempted to speak, his words must have been unintelligible. An army of 10,000 men destroyed through the ignorance, the obstinate, wilful ignorance, and incapacity of the noble lord, called loudly for vengeance; and if no one else would take upon himself the task of moving directly for an enquiry into the affair, he himself would do it. A gallant general sent like a victim to be slaughtered, where his own skill and personal bravery would have earned him laurels, if he had not been under the direction of a blunderer, which circumstance alone was the cause of his disgrace, was too shocking a sight for humanity to bear, unmoved. The general and the House had been imposed on and deceived: general Burgoyne's orders were to make his way to Albany, there to wait the orders of sir William Howe, and to co-operate with him; but general Howe knew nothing of the matter, for he was gone to a different country, and left the unhappy Burgoyne and his troops to make the best terms for themselves, in a country that was by nature so defended, that strong holds were to be met at almost every mile; and every hour's march presented almost insurmountable obstacles to his progress. He inveighed most bitterly against lord George Germain ; looked upon him as solely responsible in the first degree; and next expressed his opinion, that all those who had concurred in the measures of the war, by giving their vote in support of it, were
likewise criminal, though in an inferior degree. He concluded by pronouncing the panegyric of his hon. friend Mr. Burke. Mr. Rigby, as one of the many who had voted for the war, thought it necessary to say something in his own vindication: and declared, that for upwards of thirteen years he had been invariably consistent: he had been convinced, that Great Britain was supreme over all her dominions; it was declared so, early in the reign of George the 2nd, who taxed the colonies, and acknowledged by them when they submitted to be taxed: from a tax imposed and submitted to, he inferred a right to tax; and from that conviction he had acted when he voted for the war; and he was still of opinion, that every nerve should be strained to prosecute it with vigour. t Lord North rose, and expressed his sorrow at the present unhappy news. He said, that no man from the beginning more firmly wished for peace than he had; and that no man would do more to obtain it now : if the laying down his place and honours would accomplish it, he would gladly resign them all. He owned he had been dragged to his place against his will: a place which, while in possession, however disagreeable, he would support to the best of his power. As to the noble lord in the American department, he trusted he had acted on the soundest principles of candour and deliberation. He could not possibly make any objection to the inquiry into that noble lord’s conduct, as he made no doubt but he would acquit himself before that House. He concluded with defending the general subject of the American war, by observing, that he thought it entirely necessary that every part of the British empire should contribute to the defraying the common necessary expences. He said the ministers were unjustly accused, when they were reproached with their want of information, for that they had always given the best they could procure; and that he was ready when the general voice of the House should call for it, to explain his own conduct; and that whether we were for peace or war, the present supply was absolutely necessary, as the men must be, supposing a cessation of arms, conducted home. The Resolutions were then agreed to. After which, Mr. For moved for “Copies of all Instructions, and other Papers, relative to the to from Canada, under lieutenant general Burgoyne; and also, a copy
of such parts of the instructions given to general sir William Howe, as relate to any intended co-operation with lieut.-general Burgoyne.”—It was negatived.
Debate in the Commons on the Ordnance Estimates.] Dec. 4. The Report of the Committee of Supply was brought up. On the Resolution that 682,816l. be granted for the ordinaries and extraordinaries of the office of Ordnance for the year 1778, being read, Sir Philip Jennings Clerke moved to recommit the report, and said: When I am called upon to vote this enormous supo I hope I shall not be thought irreguar, if I say a few words on the great American business, which is the occasion of the present demand. Shocked as I was at hearing of the fate of general Burgoyne and his army, I did presume to hope, that some possible good might be produced, as it often happens, from great evil. I began to think, that disappointment and misfortune might bring j. who have the conduct of our American affairs to a more moderate way of thinking, and incline them to turn their thoughts to that which is the object of almost every person in this kingdom, peace and conciliation. I was justified in that expectation, because the noble lord who presides over the American department, when he came here the day before, with the extraordinary gazette in his hand, full of victory, full of triumph, told us then, it was not yet a time for peace. What does the noblelord tellus now? We are defeated, we must not be discouraged, we must renew our efforts, for there are great resources still left in this country. Neither victory nor defeat, then, are to produce any good to this country; for if victory was not to be the means, I thought defeat might have been. But whether victors or vanquished, according to the noble lord’s declarations, we are still to pursue this hopeless, ruinous quarrel. The noble lord has talked of resources still left. Does he think that all the money in this country will be given to support this ill-planned, ill-conducted, sanguinary project: Has he told the country what benefits are to arise from the success of his plans ? No, Sir, he has not; but I will venture to pronounce then, that if he was to succeed to the extent of his wishes, no one man in this country could ever obtain the return of a single guinea, for all the blood. and treasure which has been already so profusely lavished away in this very unnatural contest. Let the noble lord tell them these truths, before he applies for further support. Conscious of a majority in this House, he sits here, and seems to bid defiance to the country; but let me tell the noble lord, there is a spirit still left in this country to resent injury, and resist oppression: I hear nothin even now, but murmurs and complainings in the streets. When I return to the country, I expect to find dissatisfaction and clamour. Let me advise the noble lord to be a little cautious, lest those anathemas which he has been so long thundering out against America, should fall with redoubled violence on his own head. It will appear wonderful that the noble lord, or any man high in office, should so obstinately persist in prosecuting a war against the sense of the people, which must ever be attended with difficulty and danger to the conductors of it, in preference to peace when he might repose himself in ease and affluence; it wants explanation, and to the public it shall here be explained. The true cause is really this; the noble lord knows that he never can make peace with America. The people of that country will have no treaty with him, or any man now in administration. They have long since branded them with the appellation of Tories, and justly have they done it; for they have almost ruined this great empire, by endeavouring to establish an arbitrary, despotic system of government in the colonies. These are the reasons, Sir, why this country and America are both deprived of the blessings of peace ; and while that noble lord can shelter himself in a majority of this House, we have little chance to obtain it but by a remedy which would be worse than the disease. The situation of this country then may be pronounced to be truly dépo though I hope some means may e yet thought of to extract us from our present difficulties, even to the satisfaction of all parties. I have no personal dislike to any gentleman in aduministration. I wish them all well, but I wish them well out of their offices. May I be allowed to make a proposal, which I think might be very advantageous to them and to the public There is an establishment in the sea service calculated to support superannuated officers, or who wish to decline further service. Now, if an establishment of that sort could take place, and an appointment made for ministers who have proved themselves unable and unfit for
service, I think it would, in the present case, remove all difficulties. An appointment of yellow flag ministers would be no very extraordinary expence; perhaps a hundred thousand pound a year or two, might be sufficient to pay the salaries of all the gentlemen now in office. It would be an easy composition for their past services. The nation would save many millions a year by it: we should be restored to the blessings of peace: our ancient grandeur would again revive under the auspices of those great men who have formerly exalted us to the highest pitch of glory. These gentlemen would be in full
enjoyment of their emoluments, and would
escape the threats and dangers, which hang over their heads, and which must inevitably fall upon them, if they persevere in their endeavour to ruin this country. Colonel Barré. I think it my duty to enquire into the reasons why such a supply is wanted: 683,000l. is a larger sum than was called for in the year 1759, that year in which the British name was in its zenith; when her arms were employed in every part of the world. But permit me to repeat to you, Mr. Speaker, the votes for the five first years of the iast war. It will serve, in some degree, to shew the extent of the present contest. The ordnance charge for the first year then, was no more than 300,000l. for ordinaries and extraordinaries. The second 390,000l. the third, 393,000l. the fourth, 544,000l. and the fifth, which was the greatest year of the British name, no more than 543,000l. This, Sir, is a plain unornamented tale.
There is no figure of rhetoric so demon
strative and convincing as a figure of arithmetic. Our ordnance charge, this year, the fourth of the American war, exceeds by 140,000l. the charge for the year 1759, and is greater than any grant ever made for any one year except 1761, when every resource of this kingdom was strained to an extent unknown before, and incredible even to ourselves; and yet the charge for 1761 exceeds the present by no more than 40,000l. I hope we shall seriously investigate the cause of this monstrous charge.
Sir Charles Bunburysaid, he had formerly been an advocate for lenient measures and a reconciliation with the colonies; every day shewed him more and more the necessity of adopting the advice he had presumed to give. America was invincible ; the experience of every campaign added credit to the assertion: our resources have been sounded, and sorry he was to say they were not unfathomable: excessive sums are borrowed, and the whole art of financiering ransacked, to find out means of raising the necessary sums to pay the interest. As a country gentleman, he called on his brethren of that denomination to interpose and serve their country; their passive acquiescence to every new burden had made sir Robert Walpole say, that the landed gentlemen were like the flocks upon their plains; they suffered themselves to be shorn without resistance; while the trading part of the nation resembled the boar, who would not let a bristle be plucked from his back without making the whole parish echo with his complaints: what with specious pretences and fair words to the one, and treasury acorns, with which the other was fed, the minister had effectually silenced the hog, and imposed upon the honest simplicity and patience of the sheep. What America would do now, he would not take upon him to say; but he could assure the House from the authority of a dear, but unfortunate relation of his, the unhappy general Lee, that the Americans would, at the beginning of the dispute, have been perfectly satisfied to submit in every respect to Great Britain, provided they should be at liberty to raise, by what means they thought proper, any sum which the parliament of England should demand of them. would make such an offer now : but he would put them to the test; and, by offering them peace, employ the only possible means to subdue them; and that was by dividing them: their independence was carried in the Congress but by a majority of two; it was therefore probable, that a strong party might be brought over, by granting them honourable terms: etiquette, F. and every consideration of that kind should be given up; the public good should overbalance every motive of that nature. The state physicians had employed wrong remedies to cure them; they prescribed blisters, and set their patients mad: for his part, as he was but an humble apothecary in politics, he would apply a healing plaister. It might be objected, that, perhaps, they would not bear it: he would in that case make use both of persuasion and force. The ingredients of his plaister were a repeal of all the laws enacted against them since the beginning of the disturbances; and a positive re. nunciation on the part of the parliament to any claim of right to tax the colonies. [VOL. XIX.]
He could not tell whether they
This was a remedy which he flattered himself would still be able to effect a cure. He alluded to Mr. Rigby’s assertion in the committee last night, that he had been invariably consistent in his political tenets for 13 years; for his part, he was of opinion with the author of Tristram Shandy, that what in a good cause should be called perseverance, in a bad one deserves no other name than that of obstinacy; it was possible, that the right hon. gentleman might have been wrong for a great part of the time he mentioned; in his opinion, he certainly was wrong; he therefore did not think he had a right to plume himself so much upon his consistency. He did not approve of the Solicitor General’s endeavours to rouse the spirit of the nation to a further exertion, when it seemed already to have been screwed up to the highest key, without bringing us a jot nearer to a conquest of America. He let fall some expressions rather injurious to the consistency of general Conway's politics. He said, so long as there was a prospect of success or any real advantage from conquest, if we should prevail, he supported the measures of administration ; but when it was acknowledged to be impracticable, by the very minister who had the conduct of our American affairs; and that the noble lord owned, that if we should subdue America it would not be worth keeping; he could no longer, consistent with his conscience, vote for a continuance of measures which could be productive of no good; and would, if persisted in, most probably bring on ruin and destruction. The contest with America struck him in this light before he heard it acknowledged by the noble lord. Towards the conclusion of the last session, he was persuaded of the truth of what he now said; and as soon as he was, he most earnestly recommended peace. He now did the same; and sincerely wished, that some person in his Majesty's confidence, having the salvation of his country at heart, would advise him to consider of the impending calamities, which threatened this country, should the presentruinous system be longer pursued. Mr. George Onslow insisted, that it was better to lose America by arms than by treaty; negociation would put an end to any further claim, while even a total defeat did not preclude us from renewing the war whenever we should find ourselves able to prosecute it with a probability of success : [2 N]