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BOOK the resistance, the difficulty, the danger of the at,
tempt ? No,' says the madman, I have considered nothing but the right. Man has a right of dominion over the beasts of the forest, and therefore I will shear the wolf.' How wonderful that a nation could be thus deluded! But the noble lord dealt in cheats and delusions. They were the daily traffic of his invention. And he would continue to play off his cheats on that house so long as he thought them necessary to his purpose, and so long as he had money enough at command to bribe gentlemen to pretend that they believed him. But a black and bitter day of reckoning would surely come; and whenever that day came, he trusted that he should be able, by a PARLIAMENTARY IM. PEACHMENT, to bring upon the heads of the au, thors of our calamities the punishment they de. served."
An amendment of the same import with that proposed by Mr. Fox was moved in the upper house by the earl of Shelburne, and supported by the duke of Richmond, who declared " the misfortunes of this country to be owing to that wretched system of government which had been early adopted in the reign of his present majesty, and to the in. fluence of that INTERIOR CABINET which (he said) had been the ruin of this country;" and he recalled to the recollection of the house the memorable de, claration of the late earl of Chatham, that he was
duped and deceived, and that he had not been ten BOOK days in the cabinet before he felt the ground rotten under his feet.'
In both houses, however, the addresses were carried by great majorities, and a most melancholy and alarming prospect presented itself to the nation, of a fatal perseverance in a war which, from an involuntary and irresistible conviction universally impressed, was now regarded as desperate, and passionately deprecated as tending to certain and remediless ruin.
In a very few days, a motion being made by sir Grey Cooper for the house to resolve itself into a committee of supply, a vehement debate arose. Mr. Fox, in the course of a most animated speech, asked “ if ministers would give any satisfactory assurance to the house, that the military forces which should hereafter be sent across the Atlantic would be employed more successfully or honorably than those which had already been sent thither ? Did the American secretary wish to dispatch a third army to America, that general Washington might a third time receive them as prisoners of war? Did he wish that more British troops should be devoted to slaughter, captivity, and disgrace? Notwithstanding the defeat and dishonor which had attended the measures of administration, they had yet discovered no signs of humiliation or penitence. Instead of acknowledging that they turned their eyes with in.
BOO K quietude and shame upon the criminal expenditure
of fruitless millions, they did not blush to move for an increase of grants, that they might prosecute, till ruin should have stopped their infamous career, hostilities which were the result of barbarous am. bition, of implacable malevolence, of a detestation of liberty, of a contempt for every principle of justice, equity, and honor.”
The ministers were so vigorously pushed in this debate, and seemed so utterly incapable of defending themselves or their measures, that it was probably a welcome surprise to them, to find in their favor, on the division, 172 voices to 77.
It being understood that preparations were making condemna. for another embarkation of troops from Ireland to American America, a very important motion was on the 12th James Low-of December made by sir James Lowther, “ That
it be resolved by the house, that the war carried on against the colonies and plantations of North America had been ineffectual to the purposes for which it was undertaken; and that it was also the opinion of this house that all further attempts to reduce the Americans to obedience by force must be injurious to this country, by weakening her powers to resist her antient and confederated enemies." In
support of this motion, which was indeed the plain dictate of common sense, the mover observed, “ that the late speech from the throne had given a just alarm to the nation-it had shown
them that the ministers were determined to perse- BOOK vere in the American war-that more blood and
1781. more money were to be lavished in this fatal contest-the men invested with the
government derived no advantage from experience the surrender of one army only gave them spirit to risk a second, and the surrender of the second only in. stigated them to venture a third. There was no end of loss nor of madness. The unexampled ignorance and misconduct of the ministry were now visible to all the world. It was therefore become the indispensable duty of that house to come to some solemn resolution, in order to mark and define their idea of the American war, and to convince their constituents that they were awake to the real situation of the country.”
The motion was seconded by Mr. Powys, member for Northamptonshire, who acknowledged, “ that a variety of pretexts insidiously advanced by the ministers, and too credulously received by the majority of that house, had seduced them, from one session to another, to move with fatal steps along the path to national destruction. The war with the colonies was the idol of his majesty's ministers; they had bowed before it themselves, and had made the nation bow. The conduct which at the commencement of hostilities might be denomi. nated firmness had now degenerated into obstinacy man obstinacy which called upon all honest and
BOOK independent men to desert the present administra
tion, unless a change of measures were adopted. 1781. That men who were indebted to war for their emo
luments, power, and influence, should persevere in such iniquitous and selfish measures, was not extraordinary; but it was a just cause for wonder that they should be supported by individuals of inde. pendent principles and independent fortunes. The insidious pretence of revenue was grown too stale for imposition. The American war had been a war of delusion from beginning to end. Every promise had been broken, every assertion had been falsified, every object relinquished. It was now a war of this sort, then a war of that sort; now a war of revenue, then a war of supremacy; now a war of coercion, and then a war of friendship and affection for America. But it was time to put an end to these chicaneries. Whatever might be the nature of the war, no prospect of success in it remained. He therefore not only gave the motion his full concurs rence, but he should feel the highest pleasure if it received the general approbation of the house.”
This speech bore a very ominous aspect with res lation to the ministers; for, Mr. Powys being himself a principal leader of the independent interest, or country gentlemen, in the house, there was rea. son to apprehend the speedy and general defection of that high and haughty class of members : and a mere ministriak majority of placemen and pen