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power, of the King's generals prevents | The Duke of Richmond said, general me from being more particular as to the Gates, from his situation, was of great immediate situation of the man [general weight in the eyes of America; that the Lee] you so much regarded. I beg | only means of getting at the sense of a your lordship will present my affectionate country was by hearing the sentiments of compliments to Hall, and sir Charles Da- men of importance in that country; that vers. With the greatest respect, I have to negative the motion was to pursue the the honour to be, &c. Horatio Gates." old ruinous plan of shutting the ear to in« To the Right Hon. the
formation, and continuing wilfully in Earl of Thanet.”
error; and that general Gates's letter conThe Duke of Richmond moved, “ That tained information respecting America, as general Gates's Letter do lie on the table.” well worthy the attention of the ministers,
The Earl of Suffolk said he was against as the information which they had received the motion; the letter was from one pri: from governors Bernard, and Hutchinson. vate gentleman to another ; the writer was He could, indeed, see one reason for the neither an ambassador nor plenipotentiary, King's servants refusing to suffer the letter he had no public commission to offer terms to remain on the table, and that was, the of peace; on the contrary, he was an offi- l invective against administration which it cer at the head of a rebel army, and at contained. This invective was too true, this moment in arms against his sovereign. and however the ministers might now treat Did the letter say that the Congress enter- it with contempt, a day would come when. tained similar sentiments with the writer they must acknowledge its truth. The of it? Did it convey any thing like a basis duke disclaimed any sinister motive for to 'erect a treaty on? The very terms | his conduct, and declared, that America vaguely mentioned in it were such as their would never make peace with the present lordships had repeatedly reprobated. The administration ; and, in reply to the sneer letter contained an insinuation that Ame that those who opposed ihe measures of rica was determined to preserve her inde administration 'wanted their places, it was pendency. Ought the King's servants to easy to retort, that those in office would accede to that position ? Ought they to adopt any measure, however injurious to withdraw the army and the fleet, and to their country, rather than give up their throw the nation at the feet of America ? employments. Another part of the letter deserved rather The Lord Chancellor asked their lordthe contempt than the attention of the ships if it could possibly be deemed right, House. It was made up of invective to accept a letter which held out such against the present administration. In terms as were not only exceedingly improvective, which, notwithstanding the good per, but grossly insulting? What, acstile of the letter, had been much more knowledge the independency of America, forcibly and elegantly expressed by noble and withdraw our army and our fleet ! lords in that House, and which would Confess the superiority of America, and doubtless be repeated as long as the poble wait her mercy! He desired the House lords should continue out of place. The to consult their own feelings for an anearl paid lord Rockingham great compli. swer. menis on his candour, for having read, | The Duke of Manchester contended for with so much distinctness and firmness of the motion. And said, that he wished his voice, that part of the letter which spoke noble friends to acknowledge that power so highly of lord Chatham.
was one of their objects, and as he was The Marquis of Rockingham declared convinced, if they had power, they would the noble earl had imputed that to his exert their abilities to save their country, candour, which he did not feel ascribable he most earnestly hoped they would acto any such motive. He read the letter | quire it. For his part, he disclaimed because he was anxious to give the House | every idea of preferment; he had been all information, which the King's servants, on his life connected with so many of the every occasion, wilfully withheld, and he first families in the kingdom, that had he was desirous of attending to general Gates's thought it worth while to solicit court fapropositions, because he was determined to vour, he certainly might have obtained it; serve his country, by making peace at any he trusted, however, that no man suprate.
posed him influenced by so base, so mean Viscount Weymouth said it was impro- la motive. There certainly had been a per for the letter to be laid upon the table. season for making an honourable and happy
peace with America ; that season he feared I went into a Committee on the State of was now past. His grace mentioned the the Nation. loss of the United Provincos by Spain, The Duke of Richmond rose, and said after forty years war, and ended with ex- a few words prefatory to the Resolutions pressing his hopes that our unhappy quar- he meant to offer, which, he declared, rel with America was not to be equally turned chiefly on these points : the state prolonged, or to end so fatally to this of the army, and number of effective men country.
in America in 1774, 1775, 1776, and 1777, The Ear! of Bristol, instead of speak with the services and events of each caming to the question, talked of the heavy paign, as appeared from the papers referburdens, and of the melancholy aspects of red to the consideration of the committee. Great Britain. Transports had been hired | His grace gave his reasons for adopting a at an immense expence. Ships of war different mode of conduct from that which might have transported the stores to Ame- he had followed on a preceding occasion, rica, and thus two thirds of the money and therefore only read his first Resolu. expended might have been saved.
tion, which was as follows: " That it ap. The Earl of Sandwich defended the pears to this Committee, so far as they state of the navy. The ships weré well are informed from the Returns upon the officered, and manned. At least in case table, that the greatest number of Land of a war with France, a ship had been as Forces serving in North America, in 1774, signed for the noble lord, and that it consisted of 6,920 effective men, including might be presumed was very amply sup- | officers.” plied.
Viscount Wcymouth rose to object to The Earl of Bristol intreated to be ex. the expediency and propriety of the comcused. He was very willing to serve his mittee coming to any resolutions of truths country in the line of his profession. But which were sufficiently obvious, just at God forbid that he should set his foot in that time; and concluded with declaring, the ship which had been assigned him, so that as the same arguments which had wretchedly as it was at present manned. been used at the last meeting of the com
The Earl of Sandwich wished that the mittee, applied to the present question, he commanders of the several ships in com- would not trouble their lordships with a mission might be called to the bar of the repetition of them, but, as the most gentle House, and interrogated as to the manner method of disposing of the resolution, in which their ships were manned. As to would move that the chairman quit the the motion, that the letter of general Gates chair. should be laid on the table, he objected to The Duke of Grafton complained exit. The advice of general Gates was not ceedingly of the lords in office adopting so to be taken, because he had displayed his short a method of preventing the ascer. ignorance of the sentiments of those very tainment of truth, and refusing to afford men, whom he had recommended as proper the nation an opportunity of acquiring the persons to succeed the present ministers. most certain knowledge of the state of General Gates did not appear to know their affairs ; it was to no purpose to con. that the earl of Chatham had disclaimed tinue the enquiry, if the steps which it the idea of American independence. pointed out, as proper to be taken in con
The Duke of Grafton said, the letter sequence of it, were not pursued : that the contained information. It was written by reasons for the committee's refusing to a leading man in America. There was no come to resolutions of fact, were frivolous : more impropriety in having a letter from that the idea of preventing foreign nations general Gates called for by the House, from getting at the knowledge of our true than in having a letter written by governor situation, was absurd in the extreme : that Bernard, lie on the table. The papers the courts of France and Spain had much which communicated the most informa. | better information than could be collected tion, were the papers which at this time from the papers upon the table: that the should be sought after.
only people ignorant of the facts which The motion was then negatived. the present inquiry was entered upon with
a view of establishing, were the people of Debate in the Committee on the State of England, from whom administration with. the Nation upon the Duke of Richmond's held every species of information, and by Motion respecting the State of the British thus keeping them ignorant of their real Forces in America.] The House then situation, deluded them into an acquies.
cence with every measure taken respecting America. His grace declared, that it would be acting a more manly part for ministers to say at once they disliked the enquiry, and break up the committee, than thus insidiously to deceive the public, by letting an idea prevail that they wished to give every information that was asked for, and that they countenanced the enquiry, when, in fact, they were resolved to negative every resolution moved in consequence of it, and thus in an underhand manner effectually to check its progress, and render it useless and unserviceable. From the noble viscount's rising to speak to the question, he had hopes of hearing from him something relative to the pacific intentions of the courts of France and Spain, and the probability of our not having a war to sustain, at this critical period, against the House of Bourbon. The noble viscount had formerly stood up, and given the House information on that head : such information would now be particuHarly welcome. After enlarging on our resent situation, and the additional emarrassment which a war with France would occasion, his grace concluded with urging their lordships to admit the noble duke's resolution, and not act so inconsistently as to declare they approved the enquiry, when they were taking every possible method of defeating its purpose. Viscount Weymouth expressed his surprize that the noble duke should introduce a subject so foreign from the question as a war with France, and a wish that he would give their lordships information relative to the probability of such an event. It was true he had a year ago assured their lordships of the pacific professions of the court of Versailles; he could now do the same; nothing could be more pacific than the professions of that court at this time; he would not, however, hold himself answerable to be called upon, should a war happen to break out shortly. What he stated was a fact, but that minister would, in his opinion, act very unwisely, who should so far rely on mere professions, as not to prepare for the defence of the kingdom, at a time when any of the continental powers were busy in military preparation, much more when France was arming herself. With regard to the resolution, he declared he could not see the utility of the committee's coming to any resolution at present: that in fact it was not their business so to do; that they were to proceed regularly with the enquiry, and after having gone [VOL. XIX.]
through it progressively, and adverted to every distinct object of it, were to form some general conclusion deduced from and grounded upon the result of the whole investigation. Lord Camden said it had at all times been the usage of parliament to form resolutions on matters of fact, which resolutions were considered as the data from which the conclusions were to be drawn; and finally to be the ground of the measures meant to be proposed, in consequence of such information. The present mode of putting a negative on every, resolution proposed, was in fact pretending to give information, but refusing the use of that information; for when every fact was established, and the whole enquiry at an end, and the grand conclusions relative to future measures came to be made, where were the facts on which the House was to proceed? On the Journals, negatived by the previous question, which in so many words imported, that as it was not proper to resolve the facts, of course it must be improper to agree to the conclusions. The argument was obvious and incontrovertible. This, then, fairly amounted to a premature dissolution of the committee; and, for his part, if administration were determined to adhere to the same conduct throughout the future progress of the enquiry, he thought it would be much better to dissolve it at once; than, by a mere outside shew of an enquiry, amuse the people without doors with high expectations, when it was finally resolved, by those who led the majorities of that House, that no one benefit should be derived from it. This, he foresaw, was the intention of ministers, as soon as he understood that a noble lord in the other House, (lord North) gave notice, that he intended to move some plan, tending to peace and conciliation with America. It was pretty evident, from the conduct of ministers in this House, that they intended it from the first day the committee was formed; but the noble lord’s proposing a plan of conciliation, in the other House, pending the enquiry, put that suspicion beyond a doubt. For what would be the real effect of such a proposition ? But that, as soon as it was made, the enquiry, from that instant, would be at an end, at least in that House, and consequently in this. The noble lord, by what he could learn, meant to bring in what he intended to propose, by way of Bill; indeed, it could not be otherwise, as [3 B1
no minister dare offer any terms to Ame- relinquished ? After the high-sounding rica without the consent of parliament, be terms of the supremacy of parliament; of cause parliament had already, by the Pro. the inalienable rights of the British legis hibitory Bill, chalked out the specific man lature, to compel America to unconditional ner in which government was to treut. submission; will he acquaint them, that What, then, was the enquiry to do? Why, that country is to be treated with as an into produce information to that House, in dependent state? After spending upwards order to ground measures upon ; while a of 25 millions, and after the loss of 20,000 Bill, in its several stages, was going through lives, will he fairly confess, that both were the same House, fixing the terms, and thrown away; and, in return for the nudirecting the mode in which we were to merous evils he has heaped on this country, treat. The idea was to the last degree will he confine his apology to a single preposterous and absurd : apply the same word; that he had been deceived, or mis. mode of reasoning to this House. A Bill led? There were but two methods of is passing the other House, which is to treating with the colonies; that adopted, of come here for our approbation, while we holding out pardons, which had already are actually engaged in an enquiry, which failed; the other by Bill, containing paris intended to lay a foundation for measures liamentary powers, to agree to specifie of conciliation. The truth was, that mi. terms. Suppose that it should answer the nisters were in a panic, when they first purpose it was intended to effect, it would be consented to the enquiry; they had since | but acknowledging, at least in the first inrecovered their wonted confidence. The stance, the independency of America. state of things was too critical, and the na. | His lordship next observed, that the colotion too much alarmed, for ministers to nies had solemnly declared themselves incontinue to treat the public in the lofty, dependent, and adhered strenuously to that contemptuous manner they had bitherto declaration, when their affairs were at the uniformly done. The enquiry must go | lowest ebb. Would any noble lord in ad. on, or some substitute, to prevent a cla- ministration, now pretend even to hint, mour without doors, must be adopted in after the flourishing state of their affairs, its stead. The idea was ingenious, and in the moment of victory, and elated with well worthy of those who contrived its success as they were ; that they would Plans of conciliation are held out, or in- consent to treat on more favourable terms? tended; plans perhaps very different in No, most certainly not; so that it was their nature, cannot, at the same time, clear, whatever pretended appearance of by the same parliament, be adopted; one parliamentary supremacy might be kept up, must be thrown aside : ministers carry those very ministers, who had all along their point; the enquiry is thus strangled contended for unconditional submission, in its birth, and the affairs of the nation and supremacy, in its fullest extent, were are of course trusted to the conduct of the now proposing a treaty, the very basis of same ministers for another year, and the which was to be an acknowledgment of worst that can happen is, that they shall | American independency. have failed in their last attempt as they He lamented the fatal counsels which did in all the preceding. ; ·
had brought this nation into its present · He augured ill, as soon as he heard of alarming situation; and the supineness of what was intended; he foresaw clearly, the people, in suffering themselves to be that the committee would be short-lived; governed by such weak and destructive that it would meet with a sudden and im measures. To be told at one time, that a mature death; that it would be strangled few thousand men would look America into in its birth, by the minister and his mutes. submission ; again, that the resistance proWill the noble lord in the other House, ceeded only from the ambitious views of a after assuring it, that Great Britain would few individuals ; and that a force sufficient never relax, till America was at her feet, to free the people from the tyranny of their tell his friends there, that America must leaders, would immediately put an end to be treated with ; that all the obnoxious the revolt; and finally, when they failed Acts mm ist be repealed ? After so frequently in all their predictions and promises, relaassuring the country gentlemen that a re- tive to the degree and extent of the resistvenue, and a substantial revenue, was to ance, and the disposition of the people be drawn from the colonies; will he in- | there, then, that it would be necessary to forin their of the melancholy tidings, that exert the full force of this country, to com all thoughts of taxing our colonies are now pel them to a full acknowledgment of tkę high-sounding terms and big words of the peace or reconciliation was entirely vásupreme rights of parliament, and uncon- nished. If the minister knew this, and ditional submission : yet two campaigns knowing it, looked to the consequences, have since passed; the whole strength of which must inevitably be a French war, this country has been exerted; and what his proposition would be a mockery of the has been the consequence? A proposition nation, whom he had all along misled ; and from those who promised every thing, and if such a farce should be discovered, woe to effected nothing; confessing that we are them who had acted in it! for, however unequal to the task; and that the only slow the people were to avenge the insults means left untried, is to offer to accede to and injuries put upon them, he ventured to what had been so often said we never affirm, that it would end fatally to its auwould consent to, while we had a man to thors and contrivers. It was criminal to fight, or a shilling to spend.
heap every species of accumulated ruin on If the plan intended, proved a good one, the nation; but, it would be insolent and he sincerely wished it success. The mi- cruel to aggravate their miseries, by so nister acted right, to accommodate himself. gross and barefaced a deception. He His dreams of conquest, revenue, &c. were concluded with recommending to ministers, at an end. There was a time, and not long that whatever was done might be speedily since, when he might have succeeded. done; the moment was critical and deThat moment was, he had every reason to cisive, in any event; he feared, it was too believe, passed away, never to be recovered. late ; but whether or not, the chance of If, when a noble lord, now absent from his success could only arise from expedition. place (lord Chatham) proposed the mea- 1 The Lord Chancellor begged to call sure of withdrawing the troops before the their lordships' attention back to the morecess, it had been accepted of, probably tion before them, agreeing with the learned such a measure would have succeeded : it l law lord that it was always customary for was now too late. Ministers were warned, I committees to agree to resolutions of fact, in the most plain and specific language, of but asserting, that the conclusion meant the danger of rejecting that noble lord's to be deduced from these facts ought to proposition. They were told, that some be opened to the committee, previous to thing, which in its nature might sever the their entering into any resolution. The colonies for ever from the parent state, was noble duke's intention, his lordship dethen in contemplation; that instead of clared, was altogether a secret to the com America, or France separate, we might mittee as yet, but if he could guess at all have America, with the whole united force from what had fallen from the lords who of Bourbon, to contend with. What was bad spoken in favour of the resolution, the the conduct of ministers? They moved proposition that his grace meant to offer and carried an adjournment, on the 11th to their lordships' consideration, was some. of December, to the 20th of January, a what similar to the proposition in general recess of six weeks, at so awful and impor-Gates's Letter; in which their lordships tant a crisis ; they abandoned the interests were advised to withdraw their fleets and of the nation to chance; and now, at the armies, and then to let America make her end of more than two months, when it was own terms. His lordship declared, he too late, came with a proposition to parlia- should vote for the chairman's leaving the ment. What he now said, was not the chair. effect of mere idle surmise or conjecture. The Duke of Richmond, with regard to He had, within a few days, seen the extract the learned law lord, who spoke last, of a letter from Dr. Franklin. He did not guessing at the conclusion he meant to himself correspond with that gentleman, draw from the various resolutions which (though on any other subject, but the me- he had moved, and might, in the progress lancholy one alluded to, he should esteem of the enquiry, rove, said, the learned lord his correspondence the highest honour) in was certainly at libcrty to guess as much as which he said, that a proposition tending to he pleased, but it would be rather extraordipeace, would have been accepted by Ame- nary if he hit upon the conclusion that rica, at the period alluded to, but, that it would be offered, because he really had it was then too late. He understood, that not yet in his head what conclusion to this was further authenticated by accounts form, nor could he possibly ascertain it received, which he feared were too true, till he had gone through the whole enthat America had entered into an alliance quiry, and had established the various with France ; apd that any prospect of facts on which the ultimate conclusion