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his penitence. Indeed he had already, on the day after his trial, made a full confession, owning his incendiary attempts at Portsmouth, at Plymouth, and at Bristol, and repeating his former statement as to Silas Deane. "Mr. "Deane told me, when the work was done, by which he "meant burning the Dockyards at Portsmouth, Woolwich, "and Bristol Harbour, but not the houses, I should make "my escape, and come, if possible, to him at Paris, and "I should be rewarded. As a reward, my own expec"tations prompted me to hope that I should be preferred "to a commission in the American army." In this confession, John the Painter added, that with respect to another American, Dr. Bancroft, who resided in London, and on whom Mr. Deane had directed him to call, he had found that gentleman wholly adverse to his schemes. "And seeing that the Doctor did not approve of my "conduct, I said I hoped that he would not inform "against me, to which the. Doctor said, he did not like "to inform against any man."*
Another trial, at nearly the same period, appears to have attracted more than common interest. The Rev Mr. Horne had at length flung off his clergyman's gown, which, by his own showing, he should have long since laid aside, or never worn.f He now called himself John Horne, Esquire, and as such, continued active and eager on the democratic side. In the summer of 1775, he had taken the lead in a subscription which he had announced as being for "the relief of the widows, orphans, "and aged parents of our beloved American fellow-subjects, "who faithful to the character of Englishmen, and pre"ferring death to slavery, were for that reason only "inhumanly murdered by the King's troops at or near "Lexington and Concord, on the 19th of last April." For the libel comprised in these words he was indicted,
* See the whole confession in Howell's State Trials, vol. xx. p. 1365.
f Mr. Horne did not resign his vicarage of New Brentford till 1773. (Life by Stephens, vol. i. p. 419.) Yet so early as 1766 we find him write to Wilkes as follows: "It is true I have suffered the "infectious hand of a Bishop to be waved over me. I allow that "usually at that touch—fugiunt pudor, verumque, Jidesque; but I "hope I have escaped the contagion." (Ibid. p. 76.)
VOL. VI. L
and, after some of those delays in which our law delights, was brought to trial in the summer of 1777. The presiding Judge on this occasion was Lord Mansfield, recently raised to an Earldom; and on the part of the Crown appeared the Attorney-General, Thurlow. Home conducted his own defence, in rambling, but acute and able speeches, sparing neither the Judge on the bench, nor yet the Administration, nor yet the Parliament. Nevertheless he was found Guilty, and sentenced to imprisonment for the space of twelve months.
A few days only before the Session terminated, Lord Chatham, after two years of sickness and seclusion, once again emerged. He had desired his friend Lord Camden to give a notice in his name; and on the 30th of May, still swathed in flannels, he went to the House of Lords. There he moved an Address to the Crown, lamenting the unnatural war against the British Colonies in America, and beseeching His Majesty to take the most speedy measures for arresting it, upon the only just and solid foundation, namely, the removal of accumulated grievances. "You cannot conquer the Americans J" he cried. "You "talk of your powerful forces to disperse their army; "why—" and here he raised, and showed, the support to his gouty limbs—"I might as well talk of driving them "before me with this crutch! . . . You have ransacked "every corner of Lower Saxony; but 40,000 German "boors never can conquer ten times the number of "British freemen; they may ravage—they cannot con"quer! But what would you conquer — the map of "America? And what will your troops do out of the "protection of your fleet? In the winter, if together, "they are starved, and if dispersed, they are taken off in "detail. I am experienced in spring hopes and vernal "promises; I know what Ministers throw out; but at "last will come your equinoctial disappointments. You "have got nothing in America but stations. You have (i been three years teaching them the Art of War, and "they are apt scholars. What you have sent are too "many to make peace,—too few to make war. If you "did conquer them, what then? You cannot make them "respect you; you cannot make them wear your cloth; "you will plant an invincible hatred in their breasts "against you. Coming from the stock they do, they "never can respect you. If Ministers are founded in "saying there is no sort of treaty with France, there is "still a moment left; the point of honour is still safe. ".... I have at different times made different pro"positions adapted to the circumstances in which they "were offered. The plan contained in my former Bill "is now impracticable; the present motion will tell you "where you are, and what you have now to depend upon. "It may produce a respectable division in America, and "unanimity at home; it will give America an option; "she has yet had no option. You have said, 'Lay down "'your arms ;' and she has given you the Spartan answer, "—' Come and take them!'"
Lord Chatham, then reciting the words of his motion, proceeded to enforce them. "The proposal," he said, "is "specific. I thought this so clear, that I did not enlargr "upon it. I mean the redress of all their grievances, and "the right to dispose of their own money. This is to be "done instantaneously. I will get out of my bed to move "it on Monday. This will be the herald of peace; this "will open the way for treaty; this will show Par
"liament sincerely disposed If a treaty with France
"were to appear, that moment you must declare war, "though you had only five ships of the line in England: "but France will defer a treaty as long as possible. You "are now at the mercy of every little German chancery; "and the pretensions of France will increase daily, so as "to become an avowed party in either peace or war. "We have tried for unconditional submission ; try what "can be gained by unconditional redress. Less dignity "will be lost in the repeal, than in submitting to the de"mands of German chanceries. We are the aggressors. "Wc have invaded them. We have invaded them as "much as the Spanish Armada invaded England. Mercy "cannot do harm: it will seat the King where he ought "to be—throned in the hearts of his people; and millions "at home and abroad, now employed in obloquy or revolt, "would pray for him!"
The debate which ensued upon this motion, called forth the highest energies of both contending parties. On the one side there spoke Lord Gower and the second Lord Lyttleton, Lords Mansfield and Weymouth, and Dr. Markham, newly named Archbishop of York. On the other side were the Dukes of Grafton and Manchester, Lords Camden and Shelburne, and Dr. Hinchcliffe, Bishop of Peterborough. Chatham himself exerted his right of reply. Among the strangers present on this occasion, as in 1775, was his son William, who next morning wrote to Lady Chatham as follows: "My father's first speech "took up half an hour, and was full of all his usual force "and vivacity. I only regretted that he did not always "raise his voice enough for all the House to hear every
"thing he said He spoke a second time in answer
"to Lord Weymouth, to explain the object of his motion, "and his intention to follow it by one for the repeal of "all the Acts of Parliament which form the system of "chastisement. This he did in a flow of eloquence, and "with a beauty of expression, animated and striking "beyond conception."— Such praise of Chatham's eloquence from so affectionate a son might deserve no credit, did we not find it confirmed, nearly to its full extent, from his political opponents. Yet, perhaps, all that eloquence came too late: certainly it was exerted in vain. A large majority of the Peers present (76 against 26) rejected the Earl's motion; and the Session of Parliament closed without any overture of reconciliation towards America.
In the course of this summer, Lord Chatham underwent another severe illness. As he was riding at Hayes, he was smitten with some kind of stroke: he fell from his horse, and lay senseless for ten minutes. His friends endeavoured to keep this event a profound secret from the world. They did not entirely succeed; yet it remained unknown to all the earlier biographers, and was first divulged to this age through the confidential letter in which Lord Camden relates it to the Duke of Grafton. Lord Camden adds, "Whether this was apoplectic, para"lytic, or gout in the stomach, I cannot learn. I wish it "may not prove fatal." Only a few weeks later the same friend was enabled to write, "Your Grace will not be sorry "to hear that the Earl is now—though it seems almost "miraculous—in bodily health, and in mental vigour, as "equal to a strenuous exertion of his faculties, as I have "known him these seven years." *
At Paris, the progress of the American War excited scarcely less interest or attention than in London. Both Franklin and Silas Deane found themselves, though in secret, yet favourably received by the Count de Vergennes. They continued busily employed in making overtures and urging treaties to the Court of France; while Arthur Lee, who had arrived from England, was despatched on the same errand to the Court of Spain. In these overtures, judging from the instructions sent out, the Congress showed utter disregard of any rights besides their own. They directed their plenipotentiaries to promise that, in case France and Spain would enter into the war, the United States would assist the former in the conquest of the British sugar islands, and the latter in the conquest of Portugal.t Yet, even on their own rules, and adopting their own point of view—if, as they said, England had no right to crush the independent State of North America — could they show any superior claim for crushing, without the smallest provocation, the independent State of Portugal?
King Charles of Spain was a man too upright to enter readily into such views of conquest, and too far-sighted not to fear the ill example to his own Colonies of successful insurrection. Though full of bitter feeling against the British, he was not as yet prepared to break with them. He directed Arthur Lee to stop short at Burgos, lest his presence at Madrid should give umbrage to the English embassy. But, at Burgos, Lee was met by the leading Minister Grimaldi; and, after several secret interviews, Grimaldi was prevailed upon to grant a small sum of money for the purchase of military stores, which were shipped to the United States from Bilbao. In like manner, the Count de Vergennes, and the other Ministers of
* Lord Camden's Letters of July 27. and October 29. 1777. Grafton MSS. and Lord Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors, vol. v. p. 303. I find the rumour that " Lord Chatham has had a fall from "his horse in a fit," noticed by Horace Walpole, in the correspondence between him and Mason, as just published (vol. i. p. 304. ed. 1851).
f See Franklin's Works, vol. viii. p. 207. ed. 1844.