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son of the Duke of that name. He was born in 1750, and George the Second was his godfather. His life was not a long one, since he died at the age of forty-two, yet within that space few men have ever run through more fantastic vicissitudes. He began his career as a Midshipman; he ended his career as a Jew. At this time, however, he was a Christian; and scarce allowed any others, besides Protestants, to be so. He had entered Parliament in 1774, as Member for the small borough of Luggershall . and though silent for some Sessions, and even apparently during the progress of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, he began shortly afterwards to be noted for vehement No Popery harangues. Showing little talent he excited little attention in the House, but his zeal was sufficient to win him the confidence of the multitude whose prejudices he espoused.
In these prejudices, as in most other popular delusions, we may no doubt discover, or think that we discover, some foundation of truth. We may be willing to acknowledge that they proceeded from a just attachment to the Reformed faith and established Churches of the country. But we must deplore, as a foul stain on our national character, the errors and excesses to which, in the ensuing years, that attachment gave rise.
We left Washington at the close of 1777 contending against difficulties and privations of no ordinary kind. On his urgent and renewed representation, the Congress at length decided that a Committee, consisting in part of Members of their own body, should proceed to his camp at Valley Forge. These gentlemen beheld his distress with their own eyes. Yet still the practical succours of the Government were doled out with a slow and niggard hand. On the 20th of March we find the Commander-inchief write to one of his Generals as follows :— "By death "and desertion we have lost a good many men since we "came to this ground, and have encountered every species "of hardship that cold, wet, and hunger, and want of "clothes were capable of producing. Notwithstanding, "and contrary to my expectations, we have been able to "keep the soldiers from mutiny or dispersion. They have "two or three times been days together without provi"sions; and once six days without any of the meat "kind. Could the poor horses tell their tale, it would be "in a strain still more lamentable, as numbers have actu"ally died from pure want. But as our prospects begin to "brighten, my complaints shall cease."
Under circumstances of such discouragement, and slighted as Washington's advice as to promotions had now begun to be, it is not surprising that the greatest dissatisfaction should have prevailed among his officers. Four days later he thus reports : — "As it is not improper for "Congress to have some idea of the present temper of the "army, it may not be amiss to remark in this place that, "since the month of August last, between two and three "hundred officers have resigned their commissions, and "many others were with difficulty dissuaded from it."
The military business at the seat of Government was at this period directed by a new Board of War, which
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had been formed early in the winter, and which had for President, General Gates, flushed with his success at Saratoga, and constant in his enmity to Washington. There was now in progress a secret intrigue to deprive, if possible, the latter of the chief command, and confer it either on Gates himself, or on Charles Lee. For it is remarkable that there was no native American whom Washington's gainsayers could oppose to him with any prospect of success. This intrigue has been called "Conway's Cabal," from the name of one of those most forward in it. Brigadier Thomas Conway was an officer of Washington's army. In October 1777 Washington heard that it was the intention of Congress to promote this person to the rank of Major General. Hereupon Washington addressed a letter to one of the leading Members, Richard Henry Lee, representing that Conway was the youngest Brigadier in the service; that to put him over the heads of all the elder would offend them grievously; that Conway's merits existed in his own imagination more than in reality; and, finally, that Washington himself could not hope to be of any further service if such insuperable difficulties were thrown in his way. Mr. Lee replied in these words: "No such ap"pointment has been made, nor do I believe it will "whilst it is likely to produce the evil consequences you "suggest." Yet, notwithstanding this denial, the appointment was made only a few weeks afterwards.
Thus promoted, Conway became an active instrument of the cabal which has subsequently borne his name. He leagued himself with several other ambitious officers and scheming Members of Congress; several, above all, from the New England States. It is striking to observe the impression produced by these intrigues on the ingenuous mind of La Fayette. Thus he writes to Washington: —"When I was in Europe I thought that here almost every"man was a lover of liberty. You can conceive my as"tonishment when I saw that Toryism was as apparently "professed as Whiggism itself. There are open dissen'' sions in Congress; parties who hate one another as "much as the common enemy; men who, without "knowing any thing about war, undertake to judge you"and to make ridiculous comparisons. They are in"fatuated with Gates, without thinking of the difference "of circumstances, and believe that attacking is the only "thing necessary to conquer."*
Of these intrigues the conduct pursued to La Fayette himself was soon to afford another instance. He was appointed the chief of an expedition against Canada, which had been planned and ordered by the Board of War, without any reference whatever to the Commanderin-chief. La Fayette accordingly set out for Albany. There, on consultation with General Schuyler and other good officers, he found that the Board of War, so strenuous on paper, had neglected any real preparation for the field. Neither men nor clothes, nor money nor supplies, were in readiness, nor likely to be so. It therefore became necessary for La Fayette, though with great regret, to relinquish the enterprise and return to the middle provinces. It is due to him to observe that, through the whole of this transaction, he had acted with perfect honour and cordial regard to Washington. The latter pithily observes, in one of his private letters of the period: "I shall say no more of the Canada expedition "than that it is at an end. I never was made acquainted "with a single circumstance relating to it." f
It was not until mid-April that a better hope for harmony arose, a majority of Congress deciding that General Gates should relinquish the Board of War and resume his command in the Northern district. Such was the prospect of affairs in the camp at Valley Forge, when Washington received the first draft of Lord North's Conciliatory Bills. While forwarding them to the President
* Letter, Dec. 30. 1777. See Washington's Writings, vol. v. pp. 99. 488. The whole of Mr. Sparks's note in the Appendix headed "Conway's Cabal," is well deserving of perusal, though seeking to glide gently over the participation of the New England members. For his proof to the contrary he appeals to the biography of Mr. Elbridge Gerry, which, however, seems to me wholly inconclusive, and to make (for an American book) one most singular blunder. It says that "Mr. Samuel Adams left Philadelphia" — meaning the seat of Congress — "for Massachusetts, on November "11. 1777." But Philadelphia was then in possession of the British troops. See Austin's Life of Gerry, vol. i. 236.
t To Majo:-General Armstrong, March 27. 1778.
of Congress, he did not conceal his apprehensions that they might have what he terms "a malignant influence" on the public in America.* But joy and thankfulness became predominant in his mind when, early in May, landed Mr. Simeon Deane, brother of the plenipotentiary at Paris, and bearer of the treaty of alliance between France and the United States. "It has pleased the Al'" mighty Ruler of the Universe," says Washington, in his General Orders, "to raise us up a powerful friend among "the Princes of the earth. It becomes us then to set apart "a day for gratefully acknowledging the Divine goodness "and celebrating the important event." The day thus set apart was commenced with public prayer; there was afterwards a general muster of the troops, and a general discharge of the small arms; a volley from the cannon of thirteen rounds in honour of the Thirteen States; and a huzza from the whole army, "Long live the King of "France!"
Earlier in the year Washington, among his other military cares, had attentively considered the best measures to be taken for the defence of Hudson's River. Hitherto that object had been attained by Forts Montgomery and Clinton. But these having been demolished by the British, the question arose as to the most eligible place for the construction of new works. On full reflection and inquiry West Point was selected. There, accordingly, strong batteries were soon in rapid progress which, supported as they were by Chkvaux-de-frisk and by the old boom of Fort Montgomery, seemed fully sufficient to secure the passage up the stream.
The first step taken by Washington to commence the campaign was in the middle of May, by sending the Marquis de La Fayette with 2400 men to take post on Barren Hill. Against this force a much larger was despatched from Philadelphia in two divisions, which La Fayette only escaped by a precipitate retreat. Such, together with a few foraging excursions, is the only feat to be recorded of the British troops during many months. Through the whole of the spring and winter they had remained almost wholly inactive; the young officers engaged
* Letter, April 18. 1778.