Page images



BOOK eloquence that the pen of history has recorded: "I am astonished!" exclaimed his lordship, "SHOCKED, to hear such principles confessed! to hear them avowed in this house, or even in this country! My lords, I did not intend to have encroached again on your attention, but I cannot repress my indignation-I feel myself IмPELLED to speak. My lords, we are called upon, as members of this house, as men, as Christians, to protest against such horrible barbarity.— That GoD and Nature put into our hands! What ideas of GoD and Nature that noble lord inay entertain I know not-but I know that such detestable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and humanity.What! to attribute the sacred sanction of GoD and Nature to the massacres of the Indian scalping-knife !-to the cannibal-savage, torturing, murdering, devouring, drinking the blood of his mangled victims! Such notions shock every precept of morality, every feeling of humanity, every sentiment of honor. These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them, demand the most decisive indignation. I call upon that reverend and this most learned bench to vindicate the religion of their Gop, to support the justice of their country. I call upon the bishops to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their lawn-upon the judges, to interpose the purity of their ermine-to save


us from this pollution. I call upon the honor of BOOK
your lordships, to reverence the dignity of your

ancestors, and to maintain
your own. I call upon
the spirit and humanity of my country, to vin-
dicate the national character. I invoke the GE-
NIUS of the CONSTITUTION. From the tapestry
that adorn these walls, the immortal ancestor
of this noble lord frowns with indignation at the
disgrace of his country *. In vain did he defend
the liberty and establish the religion of Britain
against the tyranny of Rome, if these worse than
popish cruelties and inquisitorial practices are en-
dured among us.
To send forth the merciless
cannibal thirsting for blood!-against whom?-
Your protestant brethren-to lay waste their
country, to desolate their dwellings, and extir-
pate their race and name by the aid and instru-
mentality of these horrible HELL-HOUNDS of
WAR! Spain can no longer boast pre-eminence
in barbarity. She armed herself with blood-
hounds to extirpate the wretched natives of
Mexico; but we, more ruthless, loose these
DOGS of WAR against our countrymen in Ame-
rica, endeared to us by every tie that should sanc-

*Lord Effingham, lord high-admiral of England, of the

illustrious house of Howard, whose name is immortalized in
history, by his defeat of the Spanish Armada, depictured on
the tapestry of the house of lords.



BOOK tify humanity. My lords, I solemnly call upon XVIII. your lordships, and upon every order of men 1777. in the state, to stamp upon this infamous procedure the indelible stigma of the public abhorrence. More particularly I call upon the holy prelates of our religion to do away this iniquity; let them perform a lustration to purify their country from this deep and deadly sin. My lords, I am old and weak, and at present unable to say more, but my feelings and indignation were too strong to have said less. I could not have slept this night in my bed, nor reposed my head upon my pillow, without giving this vent to my eternal abhorrence of such enormous and preposterous principles."

[ocr errors]

Although lord Chatham on this occasion seemed, like some great master of the powerful spell," to have uttered "those thrilling accents. that awake the dead," the event, as on former occasions, proved that no impression could be made on the temper and disposition of the house, more cold and callous than alpine snows or monumental marble; for, on the division, 28 lords only voted in support of the motion, against 97 who opposed it.

On the 2d of December (1777) Mr. Fox moved for an enquiry into the state of the nation, in which the minister professed his cordial acquiescence. Amongst other papers which were



thought necessary to elucidate the subsequent in- BOOK vestigation, Mr. Fox moved for returns of such colonies or places as had, in pursuance of the powers vested in the commissioners, been declared at the king's peace, or copies of such papers as had relation thereto. This motion the minister vehemently opposed, and declared he neither could nor would consent to make discoveries inconsistent with sound wisdom and policy, and prejudicial to the real interests of the country.

During the heat of the debate intelligence was brought, that, in consequence of a motion of the duke of Richmond, these very papers had been actually laid upon the table of the other house; but the minister, as if to try how far the obsequiousness of the house would extend, still persisted in his refusal, and maintained "that the house of commons were not to be guided in their determinations by any extrinsic consideration ;" and on a division, incredible as it may seem, the motion was actually negatived by a majority of 178 to 89. An act by which the dignity of the house was more wantonly sacrificed by ministerial caprice and insolence, it would be most assuredly impossible to find on the records of parliament.

The succeeding day was rendered for ever memorable by the disclosure of the melancholy ca

BOOK tastrophe at Saratoga. The American secretary AVIL being called upon to declare the purport of the 1777. dispatches recently received from Canada, with

shame and reluctance communicated the intelligence of that fatal event. This was followed by a long and profound silence, and one general sentiment of amazement and consternation seemed to pervade the house. At length a torrent of invective, accompanied by taunts the most bitter and sarcastic, were poured out by the leaders of the opposition against the ministers, whose pride, ignorance, and incapacity, had occasioned a more signal disgrace and calamity than had ever before in the most disastrous war befallen the British arms. Mr. Fox, animadverting in a strain of the most poignant satire upon the cabinet plans of policy for a series of years past, and the remedial measures adopted by the executive power to heal the disorders of the state, stigmatized the minister as "a political Sangrado. Bleeding was his only prescription for all ills. Should mortal symptoms appear in the body politic in consequence of this regimen, still this state empiric will persist in crying out for more blood, merely because he has staked his reputation on the assertion that this is the only effectual remedy." The time did not serve for bold and lofty language on the part of ministers. Lord North, with much apparent dejection, and even tears-the

« PreviousContinue »