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BOOK the execution of a plan which had conciliation for its object. They were not, however, the less severe upon the defence set up by the minister.


Mr. Fox asserted, "that his lordship had attempted a justification of the most unjustifiable measures which had ever disgraced any government or ruined any country. But his arguments might be collected into one point, his excuses comprised in one apology-in one single word

IGNORANCE: a palpable and total ignorance of every part of the subject. He hoped, and he was disappointed-he expected a great deal, and found little to answer his expectations - he thought America would have submitted to his laws, and they had resisted them-he thought they would have submitted to his armies, and they had defeated them-he made conciliatory propositions, and he thought they would succeed, but they were. rejected-he appointed commissioners to make peace, and he thought they had powers; but he found they could not make peace, and that they had not sufficient powers. Had the present concessions been offered in time, Mr. Fox said, they would undoubtedly have been successful; for, however obscure his former propositions of conciliation might be deemed, NECESSITY had at length compelled the noble lord to speak plain. But what censure would be found sufficient, he asked,


on those ministers who had adjourned parliament, BOOK in order to make a proposition of conciliation, and then neglected to do it until France had 1778, concluded a treaty with the United and Independent States of America, and acknowledged them as such? He did not speak from surmise, he said, he had it from authority he could not question, that the treaty he mentioned had been signed in Paris ten days before; he therefore wished that the noble lord would give the house satisfaction on that interesting point." The minister, being closely pressed, at length reluctantly acknowledged, "that it was but too probable such a treaty was in agitation, though he had no authority to pronounce absolutely that it was concluded:" and it was animadverted upon as a very extraordinary circumstance, that the intelligence of a private member of that house should be sooner received, and more authentically ascertained, than that of the government. The conciliatory bills were carried through both houses early in March.

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On the second reading of the bills in the house of peers, the duke of Grafton informed their lordships, that he had what he conceived to be indubitable intelligence that a treaty had been actually signed between France and America: and his grace demanded from the ministers a public avowal or disavowal of this important


BOOK fact. To which lord Weymouth, secretary of state, challenging the future recollection of the 17 house, replied, "that he knew nothing of any such treaty, nor had received any authentic information of its being either in existence or contemplation." Nevertheless, within a very few days after this extraordinary declaration, lord North delivered a royal message to the house of commons, and lord Weymouth to the house of peers, in which the king informed the two houses, "that a rescript had been delivered by the ambassador of his most christian majesty, 'containing a direct avowal of a treaty of amnity, commerce, and alliance, recently concluded with America; in consequence of which offensive communication on the part of the court of France, his majesty had sent orders to his ambassador to withdraw from that court; and, relying on the zealous support of his people, he is prepared to exert all the force and resources of his kingdoms, to repel so unprovoked and unjust an aggression." Addresses were voted by both houses, containing the strongest assurances of assistance and support. An amendment moved by Mr. Baker, containing a severe reflection on the conduct of the minister, was previously rejected in the house of commons by 263 voices against 113.

A similar amendment was moved in the upper house by the duke of Manchester, which gave

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rise to a debate, chiefly interesting as it brought BOOK into a full view a very important difference of opinion subsisting between the lords in opposi- 1778. tion, and which had on various occasions more covertly appeared, respecting the recognition of American independence. The marquis of Rockingham, and the whole Rockingham connection, maintained without reserve the necessity of admitting the independence of America. "To attempt impossibilities," said they, can only render our ruin inevitable; it is not now in our power to recover what we have wantonly thrown. away." On the other hand, the earls of Chatham, Temple, and Shelburne, and several other lords, who had unhappily established a distinct connection, and were, throughout the long course of opposition to the present ministry, considered as a separate party, disclaimed every idea of relinquishing America, and deprecated its independence as the greatest of all political and national evils; and as including the utter degradation and final ruin of this country. The numbers on the division were, 100 lords who voted against the amendment, to 36 who supported it.

On the 7th of April, the duke of Richmond, at the close of the grand committee of enquiry, in which the upper house as well as that of the commons had been during the greater part of the



BOOK session deeply engaged, moved an address to the king on the state of the nation. In his speech in support of this address, his grace declared in strong terms his conviction of the necessity of an immediate recognition of American independence. "The mischief," he said, "whatever might be the magnitude of it, was already done; America was already lost; her independence was as firmly established as that of other states. We had sufficient cause for regret, but our lamentation on the subject was of no more avail than it would be for the loss of Normandy or France." The earl of Chatham, in full expectation that this point would come under discussion this day, resolved, however enfeebled and afflicted by his corporcal infirmities, to make his personal appearance in the house, in order to bear his decided testimony against such recognition. The mind feels interested in the minutest circumstances relating to the last day of the public life of this renowned statesman and patriot. He was dressed in a rich suit of black velvet, with a full wig, and covered up to the kness in flannel. On his arrival in the house, he refreshed himself in the lord chancellor's room, where he staid till prayers were over, and till he was informed that business was going to begin. He was then led into the house by his son and sonin-law, Mr, William Pitt and lord viscount

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