« VorigeDoorgaan »
to pursue measures and what measures, my Lords? The measures that have produced the imminent perils that threaten us; the measures that have brought ruin to our
doors. 5 Can the minister of the day now presume to expect a
continuance of support in this ruinous infatuation ! Can Parliament be so dead to its dignity and its duty as to be thus deluded into the loss of the one and the violation of
the other ? To give an unlimited credit and support for 10 the steady perseverance in measures not proposed for our
parliamentary advice, but dictated and forced upon us — in measures, I say, my Lords, which have reduced this late flourishing empire to ruin and contempt?" But yesterday,
and England might have stood against the world ; now 15 none so poor to do her reverencc." I use the words of a
poet; but, though it be poetry, it is no fiction. It is a shameful truth that not only the power and strength of this country are wasting away and expiring, but her well
earned glories, her true honor, and substantial dignity are 20 sacrificed.
France, my Lords, has insulted you; she has encouraged and sustained America ; and, whether America be wrong or right, the dignity of this country ought to spurn at the
officious insult of French interference. The ministers and 25 embassadors of those who are called rebels and enemies,
are in Paris ; in Paris they transact the reciprocal interests of America and France. Can there be a more mortifying insult? Can even our ministers sustain a more humiliating
disgrace? Do they dare to resent it? Do they presume 30 even to hint a vindication of their honor, and the dignity
of the state, by requiring the dismission of the plenipotentiaries of America ? Such is the degradation to which they have reduced the glorics of England !
The people whom they affect to call contemptible rebels, 35 but whose growing power has at last obtained the name of
enemies; the people with whom they have engaged this
country in war, and against whom they now command our implicit support in every measure of desperate hostilitythis people, despised as rebels, or acknowledged as ene
mies, are abetted against you, supplied with every military 5 store, their interests consulted, and their embassadors en.
tertained, by your inveterate enemy! and our ministers dare not interpose with dignity or effect. Is this the honor of a great kingdom? Is this the indignant spirit
of England, who “but yesterday" gave law to the house 10 of Bourbon ? My Lords, the dignity of nations demands a decisive conduct in a situation like this.
My Lords, this ruinous and ignominious situation, where we cannot act with success, nor suffer with honor, calls
upon us to remonstrate in the strongest and loudest lan15 guage of truth, to rescue the ear of majesty from the delu.
sions which surround it. The desperate state of our arms abroad is in part known. I love and honor the English troops. No man thinks more highly of them than I do.
I know their virtues and their valor. I know they can 20 achieve anything except impossibilities; and I know that the conquest of English America is an impossibility.
You cannot, I venture to say, you cannot conquer America. Your armies last war effected everything that could
be effected; and what was it? It cost a numerous army, 25 under the command of a most able general, (Lord Am
herst,) now a noble lord in this house, a long and laborious campaign, to expel five thousand Frenchmen from French America. My Lords, you cannot conquer America. What
is your present situation there? We do not know the worst; 30 but we know that in three campaigns, we have done noth
ing and suffered much. Besides the sufferings, perhaps total loss, of the Northern force, the best appointed army that ever took the field, commanded by Sir William Howe,
has retired from the American lines. He was obliged to 55 relinquish his attempt, and with great delay and danger
to adopt a new and distinct plan of operations. We shall
soon know, and in any event have reason to lament, what
effort still more 5 extravagantly; pile and accumulate every assistance you
can buy or borrow; traffic and barter with every little pitiful German prince that sells and sends his subjects to the shambles of a foreign despot; your efforts are forever
vain and impotent - doubly so from this mercenary aid on 10 which you rely; for it irritates, to an incurable resent
ment, the minds of your enemies, to overrun them with the mercenary sons of rapine and plunder, devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty! If
I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a for15 eign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms — never
XXX. - THE DEATH OF CHATHAM.
(WILLIAM BELSHAM, an English author, was born in 1752, and died in 1827. In 1806, he published a “ History of Great Britain, to the conclusion of the Peace of Amiens, in 1802,” in twelve volumes. He was an ardent friend of civil and religious liberty, and his history is written in a corresponding spirit. He was also the author of numerous other productions of an historical and political character.]
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 5 knees in flannel. On his arrival in the house, he refreshed
himself in the lord chancellor's room, where he stayed 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 son-in-law, Mr. William Pitt and Lord Viscount Mahon, all the lords standing up out of respect,
and making a lane for him to pass to the earl's bench, he bowing very gracefully to them as he proceeded.
He looked pale and much emaciated, but his eye retained all its native fire; which, joined to his general 5 deportment, and the attention of the house, formed a spec
tacle very striking and impressive. When the Duke of Richmond had sat down, Lord Chatham rose, and began by lamenting that his bodily infirmities had so long, and at
so important a crisis, prevented his attendance on the 10 duties of parliament. He declared that he had made an
effort almost beyond the powers of his constitution, to come down to the house on this day, perhaps the last time he should ever be able to enter its walls, to express the in
dignation he felt at the idea which he understood was 15 gone forth of yielding up the sovereignty of America.
“My Lords,” continued he, “I rejoice that the grave has not yet closed upon me, that I am still alive to lift up my voice against the dismemberment of this ancient and noble
monarchy. Pressed down as I am by the load of infirm20 ity, I am little able to assist my country in this most per
ilous conjuncture; but, my Lords, while I have sense and memory, I never will consent to tarnish the lustre of this nation by an ignominious surrender of its rights and fair
est possessions. 25 “Shall a people, so lately the terror of the world, now fall
prostrate before the house of Bourbon ? It is impossible ! In God's name, if it is absolutely necessary to declare either for peace or war, and if peace cannot be preserved
with honor, why is not war commenced without hesitation ? 30 I am not, I confess, well informed of the resources of this
kingdom, but I trust it has still sufficient to maintain its just rights, though I know them not. Any state, my Lords, is hetter than despair. Let us at least make one
effort, and if we must fall, let us fall like men.” 35 The Duke of Richmond, in reply, declared himself to be
“ totally ignorant of the means by which we were to resist,
with success, the combination of America with the house of Bourbon. He urged the noble lord to point out any possible mode, if he were able to do it, of making the
Amcricans renounce that independence of which they were 5 in possession. His Grace added, that if he could not, no
man could; and that it was not in his power to change his opinion on the noble lord's authority, unsupported by any reasons but a recital of the calamities arising from a
state of things not in the power of this country now to 10 alter.”
Lord Chatham, who had appeared greatly moved during the reply, made an eager effort to rise at the conclusion of it, as if laboring with some great idea, and impatient to give
full scope to his feelings ; but, before he could utter a 15 word, pressing his hand on his bosom, he fell down sud
denly, in a convulsive fit. The Duke of Cumberland, Lord Temple, and other lords near him, caught him in their arms.
The house was immediately cleared ; and his lordship being carried into an adjoining apartment, the 20 debate was adjourned. Medical assistance being ob
tained, his lordship in some degree recovered, and was conveyed to his favorite villa of Hayes, in Kent, where, after lingering some few weeks, he expired May 11, 1778, in the seventieth year of his age.
XXXI. — CHARACTER OF CHATHAM.
(HENRY GRATTAN, the celebrated Irish patriot and orator, was born in Dublin, July 3, 1746, and died in London May 14, 1820. He entered the Irish parliament in 1775, and immediately devoted himself, with great energy and eloquence, to lighten the burdens, politicai and commercial, under which his country then languished. The ability and courage which he displayed and tho results he accomplished, made him the idol of the Irish people. He opposed the Union, but aster it had been effected, sat in the imperial parliament, where he maintained the cause and rights of Ireland with unabated eloquence and spirit He was a zealous advocate of Roman Catholic emancipation,