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news was received was standing out to sea. Rodney, in

Formidable," was in the van. Sir Samuel Hood, in the “Barfleur," led the second division. An indecisive action took place on the gth, in which two of the French ships suffered. On the following night another French ship was greatly disabled by a collision. The result of this manæuvring was, that by the night of the 11th Rodney succeeded in bringing his fleet so close to the French that avoidance of an action on the following day was not possible, if the English determined to fight, and such was Rodney's stern purpose.

He commenced the action as early as it was light, on the morning of the 12th of April, about seven. There was little wind, so Hood's division only reached the scene of action towards the close of the battle. It was occasion that Rodney, in the “Formidable,” led the way in breaking the French line, by which the ships so formed were thrown into confusion. The action lasted until dark. Five ships of the line were taken, one was sunk. Among

. those taken was the “ Ville de Paris,” which was fought with great gallantry to the last. The other French ships escaped, excepting four, subsequently taken by Hood. All the vessels were so disabled, that it was owing to the calm which succeeded and made pursuit impossible that any of them remained untaken. The loss of the French in the actions of the 9th and 12th is generally named at 3,000 killed and 6,000 wounded. The British loss in killed and wounded was under 1,000, and Rodney did not lose a ship.

On board the “Ville de Paris" were the entire train of artillery and the military chest. The French ships which sailed away from the scene of action were so shattered that they sought shelter as soon as they could find it. They could not be re-united for any operation of war. In the view of continuing any further aggressive movement, the French fleet had been destroyed, and Jamaica and Canada remained unassailed.

Rodney repaired to Jamaica and thence to England. The service he had rendered to his country met the full appreciation it deserved. History has placed on record how this victory raised the fortunes of Great Britain from the desperate position into which they had fallen. Its influence on the peace was immediate. But as the operations were still actively urged on against Gibraltar, there was still the hope that England might be humiliated in that quarter. The recognition of Rodney's service, when estimated by the honours paid to lord North and Germain, does not exact our respect. Germain had received an earldom, lord North a pension of £4,000 a year, both at the personal desire of the king. In modern times no such reward for obsequious incompetence could be granted. Rodney was created a baron with a life pension of £2,000.

The strength which Rodney's victory gave the administration led to Grenville being authorized, if he found it to be expedient, to offer the recognition of the independence of the United States, previous to entering into the conditions of a general treaty. As secretary for foreign affairs, Fox had claimed that the negotiations entirely appertained to his department. Shelburne, however, still maintained, that his position as secretary for the colonies gave him control in all intercourse with them. In this view he had the support of the king, and he was sustained by a majority of the cabinet in his proposition for the return of Oswald to Paris, in accordance with the desire of Franklin. Fox desired to place the matter entirely in the hands of Grenville. Grenville on arriving at Paris had found Franklin ready to discuss the points for the negotiation of peace, but when Franklin had been informed by Oswald that Grenville would be one of a commission to treat with the United States ministers, Franklin's manner was changed to extreme reserve. Oswald spoke to Grenville as openly as to Franklin, and it was from Oswald that Grenville learned the fact of Franklin's paper being placed in Shelburne's hands. Grenville, accordingly, wrote to Fox, detailing this information, and suggested that 1782]



he should be recalled, and the duty assigned to some person of high rank to conduct the whole negotiation.

Fox was exceedingly indignant at this intelligence. For the first time he had been informed of the paper placed by Franklin in Oswald's hands, and he was ignorant of the intention on the part of Shelburne to invest Oswald with full powers, although Franklin had been made acquainted with it. This proceeding he regarded as a direct interference with Grenville's mission. Franklin has recorded, on Oswald's authority, that when the cession of Canada had been mentioned to Fox, he was entirely opposed to it; and it had been advanced in Franklin's paper as a basis of negotiation. Fox communicated his views to Rockingham, Richmond, and lord John Cavendish, and they agreed with him that the negotiations should be conducted by Grenville.

The matter was brought before the cabinet. Rockingham was then dying, and in his absence the members were equally divided. At the first meeting, Fox's motion for the recall of Oswald was refused, the reason assigned being that there was cause for disbelief in de Vergennes' sincerity, and the expectation that a separate peace might be negotiated with the United States, so that England, freed from operations in America, would be able to cope with the powers in Europe hostile to her. Fox determined to make a last effort to assert his position, and on the 30th of June moved that the independence of the United States should be unconditionally acknowledged, arguing that the minute which had been passed was virtually to this effect. The motion was opposed by Shelburne, for assent to it would have taken the negotiations entirely out of his hands, and have placed them with Fox as foreign secretary. The cabinet was equally divided, but Conway voted with Shelburne. Fox immediately stated his determination to resign, and it was only from the extreme illness of Rockingham that he did not so act. Rockingham died the succeeding day. Rockingham's death was followed by an effort on the part of the members of the cabinet who sided with Fox, to place the duke of Portland at its head.

With this view they proposed his name to the king. The king without delay answered that he had appointed Shelburne first lord of the treasury. Fox immediately resigned. The only member of the cabinet who accompanied him was lord John Cavendish. The duke of Portland, Burke, Sheridan, Althorpe, with some others not in the cabinet, took the same course. On July the 11th, parliament was prorogued and did not meet again until December.

The negotiations were now carried on entirely by Shelburne, and for the next two months little progress was made. France and Spain were waiting to see the result of the operations against Gibraltar, in the hope that their success would enable them to wrest that fortress from England. Shelburne was prepared to cede it, and the king attached little value to it, provided he could obtain some equivalent to satisfy the national feeling. Great Britain was really desirous of peace; it was, however, the general sentiment that in recognizing the independence of the United States, the country was making great sacrifices, and was conceding the principle to attain which the war had been begun. The United States were obtaining the object of their contention, and were equally desirous that hostilities should cease. Whatever bold face they assumed in Europe after Cornwallis' surrender, it was felt in the provinces which were the seat of the war that the cause was still desperate. The navy no longer existed. Of the thirteen vessels ordered to be constructed by congress, not one remained. Two had been destroyed on the Hudson, three on the Delaware, and the remainder, with those which had been bought, had been taken or burned at Charleston, Penobscot or at sea. One vessel, the "America," had been presented to the king of France. The debt had become immense for the confederacy, and the continental paper had ceased to have value. Congress was destitute of money, and the several states, as they now claimed to be, paid nothing into the treasury as they had been assessed. Recruiting for the continental army had almost ceased. What additions to the force were made, were levies raised for a few months' ser1782]



vice by the different states. Congress, nevertheless, remained a name which had great weight, and every step was taken to increase its importance. Meetings were held with closed doors; no reports of debates were permitted ; and the whole proceedings, with the jealousies, differences, and disputes accompanying them, remained concealed. It is now known that the numbers present were often below thirty. When they met it was for the transaction of business. There were no speeches delivered, the discussion was in the tone of men familiarly dealing with the matters to be transacted. The want of money was the burden terribly felt, and it was on this point France really rendered assistance.

In the last year

of the war, although the rulers of France saw that bankruptcy was sure to overtake their own country, nevertheless, they lavishly subsidized the United States, from the knowledge that the revolutionary movement must otherwise have collapsed.

This condition of the United States at that time being now known, it is impossible to refuse our sympathy to the constancy of purpose, and the perseverance which dictated the continuance of the contest. The feeling was strong, with those who knew precisely the condition of the country, that it would be impossible to keep an army in the field for another year. No new men could be obtained. The interest of the debt remained unpaid. Congress endeavoured to introduce a customs act, levying five per cent. on imports. It met so much opposition, especially in Virginia and Massachusetts, that it was abandoned. Hancock, the governor of Massachusetts, vetoed the act, and Virginia protested against it as injurious to its sovereignty, and destructive of liberty.

The United States negotiators at Paris had no illusions regarding the absolute necessity of peace, and were desirous of concluding the war on the best conditions they could obtain. They distinctly saw that France was actuated by no such view ; on the contrary, that she desired to prolong the war for her own ends, and would assent to peace only on the conditions desired by herself. This feeling was the more

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