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"As to the dispositions of foreign Powers, which is "asserted in the Speech from the Throne to be pacific "and friendly, let us judge, my Lords, rather by their "actions, and the nature of things, than by interested "assertions. The uniform assistance supplied to America "by France, suggests a different conclusion; the most "important interests of France in aggrandising and en"riching herself with what she most wants—supplies of "every naval store—from America, must inspire her "with different sentiments. The extraordinary prepara"tions of the House of Bourbon by land and by sea, "from Dunkirk to the Straits, equally ready and willing "to overwhelm these defenceless islands, should rouse us "to a sense of their real disposition, and of our own "danger. Not 5000 troops in England!—hardly 3000 "in Ireland! What can we oppose to the combined "force of our enemies? Scarcely twenty ships of the "line fully or sufficiently manned, that any Admiral's "reputation would permit him to take the command of. "The river of Lisbon in the possession of our enemies! * "The seas swept by the American privateers; our "Channel trade torn to pieces by them! In this com-plicated crisis of danger, weakness at home, and calamity abroad—unable to act in America, or acting "only to be destroyed—where is the man with the fore"head to promise or hope for success in such a situation, "or from perseverance in the measures that have driven "us to it? Who has the forehead to do so? Where is "that man? I should be glad to see his face!"
In the debate which ensued, Lord Shelburne, Lord Camden, and the Duke of Grafton, spoke in favour of Lord Chatham's amendment. The difficult task of answering him devolved upon Lords Weymouth, Suffolk, and Sandwich. The latter declared that the number of our ships fit for immediate service had been grossly underrated. "We have now," said the First Lord of the Admiralty, "forty-two ships of the line in commission
* This refers to the recent fall of the Marquis de Pombal, one of the first effects of which was a thorough reconciliation, and as it was feared, though it did not prove so, an entire union of councils between the Courts of Portugal and Spain. See the Ann. Kegist. 1777, p. 182.
"in Great Britain; thirty-five of which are completely "manned, and ready for sea at a minute's warning. . . ". . I do not believe that France or Spain entertain "any hostile disposition towards us; but, my Lords, from "what I have now submitted to you, I am authorised to "affirm that our navy is more than a match for that of "the whole House of Bourbon." It may be observed in passing, that the controversy as to the numbers of our ships was renewed by Lord Chatham, on another day, in the House of Lords, and by several Members upon the Navy Estimates, in the House of Commons.*
Lord Suffolk, in his speech, undertook to defend the employment of the savages. "The Congress," said he, "endeavoured to bring the Indians over to their side; 'and if we had not employed them, they would most "certainly have acted against us." This statement, which at the time was doubted or denied, has been, it must be owned, in no small degree borne out by the documents that have subsequently come to light. Even several months later, we find the Congress in treaty to engage several parties of Indians in their service, f But instead of merely alleging this fact in mitigation, and defending the course pursued as the least of two evils, Lord Suffolk took up higher ground, and went the length of declaring that we were fully justified in exerting "every means to "repel the attempts of our rebellious subjects—every "means that God and Nature have put into our hands!" —These last words called up Lord Chatham to reply: "My Lords, I did not intend to have encroached again "upon your attention; but I cannot repress my indigna"tion—I feel myself impelled by every duty. We are "called upon, as members of this House, as men, as "Christian men, to protest against such notions standing "near the Throne, polluting the ear of Majesty. * That "' God and Nature have put into our hands!' I know
* Parl. Hist., vol. xix. pp. 450. 477, &c.
f See Washington's Writings, vol. v. p. 273., and Appendix to vol. iii. p. 494. "Divesting them," says Washington, "of the "savage customs exercised in their wars against each other, I think "they may be made of excellent use as scouts and light troops, "mixed with our own parties." But what more did the English ever design or desire?
"not what ideas that Lord may entertain of God and "Nature; but I know that such abominable principles "are equally abhorrent to religion and humanity. What! "to attribute the sacred sanction of God and Nature to "the massacres of the Indian scalping knife—to the "cannibal savage, torturing, murdering, roasting, and "eating — literally, my Lords, eating — the mangled "victims of his barbarous battles!
"These abominable principles, and this more abomin"able avowal of them, demand the most decisive indigna"tion. I call upon that Right Reverend Band, those "holy ministers of the Gospel and pious pastors of our "Church; I conjure them to join in the holy work, and "vindicate the religion of their God; I appeal to the "wisdom and the law of this Learned Bench to defend "and support the justice of their country. I call upon "the Bishops to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their "lawn—upon the Judges to interpose the purity of their "ermine, to save us from this pollution. I call upon the "honour of your Lordships to reverence the dignity of "your ancestors and to maintain your own; I call upon "the spirit and humanity of my country to vindicate the "national character; I invoke the genius of the Consti"tution. From the tapestry that adorns these walls the "immortal ancestor of this Noble Lord (the Earl of "Effingham) frowns with indignation at the disgrace of "his country. * In vain he led your victorious fleet "against the boasted Armada of Spain; in vain he de"fended and established the honour, the liberties, the "religion, the Protestant religion of this country, against "the arbitrary cruelties of Popery and the Inquisition, if "these more than Popish cruelties and Inquisitorial prac"tices are let loose among us; to turn forth into our
* This appeal to the tapestry hangings, which has been often quoted and justly admired, was not entirely original. We may trace the germ of it in Lord Chatham's own mind, at an earlier period (Corresp, voL iv. p. 55.); and thirty-two years before this speech, Lord Chesterfield had made a similar allusion in reference to the war of that time. According to Horace Walpole, "he turned "with a most rhetorical allusion to the tapestry, and said with "a sigh, that he feared there were no historical looms at work now!" (To G. Montagu, July 13. lT^.^
"settlements, among our ancient connexions, friends and "relations, the merciless cannibal thirsting for the blood "of man, woman, and child!—to send forth the infidel "savage—against whom?—your Protestant brethren; "to lay waste their country; to desolate their dwellings, "and extirpate their race and name!"
From the extracts, brief and imperfect though they be, which I have given of Lord Chatham's speeches, it will be seen how little either age or sickness had been able to quench his fire. The Duke of Grafton thus speaks in his Memoirs:—"It would be useless to attempt to de"scribe the brilliancy of Lord Chatham's powers as an "orator on this memorable occasion, for no relation can "give more than a faint idea of what he really displayed. "In this debate he exceeded all that I had ever admired "in his speaking." This the Duke says more especially of Chatham's first speech; while of the splendid burst in reply—wholly unpremeditated as it must have been—his Grace declares that it "appeared to me to surpass all that "we have ever heard of the celebrated orators of Greece "or Rome." *
Notwithstanding its blaze of splendid eloquence, this reply was not deemed entirely conclusive. Earl Gower rose to express his wonder that those who had the conduct of the last war should forget the means by which it was conducted, and now condemn the measures they had formerly authorised, adding that Indians had been employed on our side during the former campaigns in Canada, that presents had been given, and treaties made with them. Up started Lord Chatham again : — " I do not forget," he cried; "I well know they had been employed, for the "necessary purpose of war as I presume, and not to be "stretched far and wide for murder and massacre, and all "their concomitant horrors. If the previous use of them "by the French, our natural enemy, and the inevitable "necessities of our army obliged us to employ them in
* See in my Appendix an extract from the MS. Memoirs, headed 'Lord Chatham and the Duke of Grafton, 1777." The reports of Lord Chatham's speeches in this debate, appear far superior to most others of the same period ; they were supplied by Mr. Hugh Boyd. In Almon's Register the whole spirit evaporate*.
"military purposes to scour the country, or cover our "flanks, the General who then commanded and acted from "those necessities — the General who has now a seat "among your Lordships — will account for them. To "that General, here present, I appeal. Upon that Ge"neral, I call to declare whether the administration in that "war ever directed or authorised the use of the savages? "whether ever a line from office had given that measure "a public or official sanction?" Lord Amherst, thus called upon, could not forbear to rise, but rose with great embarrassment. He had been the General, he was still the friend,of Chatham; but, on the other hand, he now stood high in the confidence of Ministers, who shortly before had made him a peer, and who shortly afterwards made him Commander-in-chief.* In few brief words, he said that certainly Indians had been employed during the last war in America; that they had been employed by both sides; that perhaps both sides might have been in the wrong; but that he did not impute any sanction or knowledge of their use to the administration of that day. Lord Townshend, who, on the death of Wolfe, had succeeded to his post, supplied a more ample explanation. "The case was this; M. de Montcalm employed them "early in the war, which put us under the necessity of "doing the same; but they were never employed in the "army I commanded but to assist the troops in the la"borious services necessarily attending an army; they "were never under military command, nor arrayed for "military purposes."—The controversy did not end here, but was renewed in the House with no less acrimony on another day. At the request of Lord Chatham, there were supplied to him copies of his instructions to the Generals in Canada, and of their despatches bearing on this point. From these papers it appears that General Amherst had, on one occasion, been desired to keep a constant correspondence with the Indians, and endeavour "to en"gage them to take part and act with our forces in all
* A few days only before this debate, we find in a letter from Mr. Lancelot Brown, who had just seen the King: "The Court sal"volatile is Lord Amherst." (To the Countess of Chatham, November 11. 1777.)