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increasing intellectual vigor. It was distinguished in philosophy by Hume and Reid and Price and Adam Smith; in painting by Reynolds; in poetry and various learning by Gray and Goldsmith, Johnson and Cowper; in legislative eloquence by Chatham, Burke, and Fox; in history by Gibbon; in the useful arts by Brindley, Watt, and Arkwright. That the nation, in a state of high and advancing culture, should have been governed by a sordid ministry, so inferior to itself as that of Lord North, was not ple of vital liberty diffused through Chap. I.} 1778. all the parts of the commonwealth. The two ideas struggled for the ascendency in the mind of the British nation and in its legislature. They both are so embalmed in the undying eloquence of Burke, as to have led to the most opposite estimates of his political character. They both appear in startling distinctness in the speeches and conduct of Fox, who put all at hazard on the omnipotence of parliament, and yet excelled in the clear state
the war. Richard Jackson to Wm. S. Johnson, 30 Nov., 1784, Ms. Carlisle, the first commissioner, had in the house of lords spoken with warmth upon the insolence of the rebels for refusing to treat with the Howes, and had stigmatized the people of America as base and unnatural children of England. The second commissioner was an under-secretary, whose chief, a few weeks before, in the same assembly, had scoffed at congress as a body of vagrants. Suffolk, 11 Dec., 1777, in Almon, x. 119; Burke, III. 372. The third was Johnstone, who had lately in parliament justified the Americans and charged the king with hypocrisy. There never was any expectation on the part of the ministry that the commission would be successful, or it would have been differently constituted. In the certainty that it would not be received, Germain had given orders for the prosecution of the war, and on a different plan, Most secret instructions of Lord George Germain to Sir H. Clinton, Whitehall, 8 March,
hat the extremes of war should so distress the people and desolate the country, as to make them of little avail to France. Congress published the paper in the gazettes to convince the people of the insidious designs of the commissioners. In the British house of commons, Coke of Norfolk proposed an address to the king to disavow the declaration. Lord George Germain defended it, insisting that the Americans by their alliance were become French, and should in future be treated as Frenchmen. Burke pointed out that the dreadful menace was pronounced against those who, conscious of rectitude, stood up to fight for freedom and country. No quarter, said the commissioner Johnstone, who in changing sides on the American question had not tamed the fury of his manner, no quarter ought to be shown to their congress; and, if the infernals could be let loose against them, I should approve of the measure. The proclamation certainly does mean a war of desolation: it can mean nothing else. Gibbo
; their channel fleet lay idle in the harbor of Brest; British ships, laden with rich cargoes from all parts of the world, returned home unmolested; and the dilatory British admiralty gained unexpected time for preparation. All this while British armed vessels preyed upon the commerce of France. To ascertain the strength of the fleet at Brest, a British fleet of twenty ships of the line put to sea under Admiral Keppel, so well known to posterity by the pencil of Reynolds and the prose of Burke. On the seventeenth of June, June 17. meeting two French frigates near the island of Ouessant, Keppel gave orders that they should bring to. They refused. One of them, being fired into, discharged its broadside and then lowered its flag; the other, the Belle Poule, repelled the pursuit of the Arethusa, and escaped. The French government, no longer able to remain inactive, authorized the capture of British merchantmen; and early in July its great fleet sailed out of July Brest. After
Spain and England might make common cause against America. Ibid. Two days after this private interview, congress re- 17. ferred the subject of the terms of peace to a special committee of five, composed of Gouverneur Morris, of New York; Burke, of North Carolina; Witherspoon, of New Jersey; Samuel Adams, of Massachusetts; and Smith, of Virginia. Of these, Samuel Adams demanded the most territory; while Morris would rather have had no increase than more lands at the south. On the twshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania; Georgia alone being absent. The French minister desired to persuade congress to be willing to end the war by a truce, after the precedents of the Swiss cantons and the United Netherlands. Burke, of North Carolina, seconded Chap. IX.} 1779. by Duane, of New York, wished no more than that independence should be tacitly acknowledged; but congress required that, previous to any treaty of peace, the independence of the United States should,
was there one word relating to the war in America. Now that Great Britain, without a single ally, was to confront Spain and France and the United States, no man showed more resoluteness than its king. He was impatient at the over-caution of his admirals, and sought to breathe his own courage into his ministers. Spain stood self-condemned; for an offer of mediation implies impartiality, and her declaration of war showed the malice of a pre-determined enemy. In reply to that declaration, Burke, Fox, and their friends joined in pledging the house of commons and the nation to the support of the crown. Fifty thousand troops defended the coasts, and as many more of the militia were enrolled to repel invasion. The oscillation of the funds did not exceed one per cent. But opinion more and more condemned the war of England with her children, denied to parliament the right of taxing unrepresented colonies, and prepared to accept the necessity of recognising their independence. In the c
raced to their source the evils under which the country was sinking, and invited their correction. There can be no radical cure, wrote he, till congress is vested by the several states with full and ample powers to enact laws for general purposes, and till the executive business is placed in the hands of able and responsible men. Requisitions then will be supported by law. Congress began to be of the same opinion. On the fifth of February, Witherspoon of New Jersey, Feb. 5. seconded by Burke of North Carolina, proposed to vest in that body the power to regulate commerce, and to lay duties upon imported articles. The proposition was negatived, but it was resolved to be indispensably necessary for the states to vest a power in congress to levy a duty of five per cent on importations of articles of foreign growth and manufacture. Before that power could be so vested, the separate approval of every one of the thirteen states must be gained. The assent of Virginia was promptly g
American war was made by Conway; was supported by Fox, William Pitt, Barre, Wilberforce, Mahon, Burke, and Cavendish; and was negatived by a majority of but one. Five days later, his resolution of tame purport for 27. an address to the king obtained a majority of nineteen. The next day, Edmund Burke wrote to Franklin: I congratulate you as the friend of America; I trust not as the enemy of Ee new tory or conservative party, toward which the part of the whigs represented by Portland and Burke were gravitating, had at that time for its most conspicuous and least scrupulous defender the chs alike of the Rockingham and the Chatham administrations. Men of the next generation asked why Burke was offered no seat in the cabinet. The new tory party would give power to any man, however borthose cradled in the purple. I have no views to become Chap. XXVI.} 1782. March. a minister, Burke said; nor have I any right to such views. I am a man who have no pretensions to it from fortune
During the ministry of Rockingham, the British house of commons for the first time since the days of Cromwell seriously considered the question of a reform in the representation of Great Britain. The author of the proposition was William Pitt, then without office, but the acknowledged heir of the principles of Chatham. The resolution of inquiry was received with ill-concealed repugnance by Rockingham. Its support by Fox was lukewarm, and bore the mark of his aristocratic connections. Edmund Burke, in his fixed opposition to reform, was almost beside himself with passion, and was with difficulty persuaded to remain away from the debate. The friends of Shelburne, on the contrary, gave to the motion their cordial support; yet by the absence and opposition of many of the Rockingham connection the question on this first division in the house of commons upon the state of the representation in the British parliament was lost, though only by a majority of twenty. The freedom of Ireland
country from which she did not recover in his lifetime. The old whig aristocracy was on the eve of dissolution. In a few years, those of its members who, like Burke and the Duke of Portland, were averse to shaking the smallest particle of the settlement at the revolution, were to merge themselves in the new tory or conservativation of its independence was, from the situation of the country and the necessity of the case, the wisest and most expedient measure that government could adopt. Burke called heaven and earth to witness the sincerity of his belief that the ministry of Lord Shelburne would be fifty times worse than that of Lord North, declaring thund in Machiavel, and that but for want of understanding he would be a Catiline or a Borgia. Shelburne has been faithful and just to me, wrote Sir WilliamJones to Burke, deprecating his vehemence: the principles which he has professed to me are such as my reason approved. In all my intercourse with him, I never saw any instance o