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in diversions—as high play and loose amours—that gave no small offence to the sober Philadelphians. Sir William Howe was much beloved for his warm heart and winning manners; and the news of his recall was heard with great concern. Before he sailed for England twenty-two of the field officers combined to entertain him at a splendid festival, to which they gave the Italian name of Mischianza, or Medley. It was the imitation of a Tournament; the first, perhaps, ever displayed in the New World. Knights in rich array, each attended by a Squire, each bearing some motto or device, each appearing in honour of some peerless damsel whose name was publicly proclaimed, entered the lists and tilted against each other, whilst ladies looked on in Turkish attire, ready to bestow the prize of valour on the victors.* No doubt it was honourable to the General on his retirement to receive that parting token of regard, but perhaps more honourable still had he left his army a little less of leisure for it!
The successor of Howe, Sir Henry Clinton, was in character as upright and amiable; in skill and enterprise much superior. Had the earlier stages of the war been under his direction, his ability might not have been without influence upon them. But it was his misfortune to be appointed only at a time when other foes had leagued against us, when the path was beset with thorns and briars, when scarce any laurels rose in view. In consequence of the impending war with France, and in conformity with the advice of Lord Amherst to the King, instructions had been addressed to Sir Henry, on the 23d of March, to retire from the hard-won city of Philadelphia, and concentrate his forces at New York. This order reached him at Philadelphia in the month of May: only a few days after he had assumed the chief command; only a few days before there came on shore the British Commissioners for peace. These Commissioners might
* See a full account of the Mischianza (May 18. 1778) in the Annual Register for that year, p. 264. The device which the officers put forth for General Howe, was gracefully chosen ; a setting sun with the motto:
"Luceo discedens, aucto splendore resurgam." well complain with some warmth, in a secret letter to Lord George Germaine, that an order so important, so directly bearing on the success of their mission, should have been studiously concealed from them until they landed in America and beheld it in progress of execution. Thus to a private friend wrote Lord Carlisle: — "We "arrived at this place, after a voyage of six weeks, on "Saturday last, and found every thing here in great "confusion, the army upon the point of leaving the town, "and about three thousand of the miserable inhabitants "embarked on board of our ships to convey them from a "place where they think they would receive no mercy "from those who will take possession after us.*
Thus, from the first, the Commissioners had against them the news of a retreat from Philadelphia and the news of a treaty at Paris. Further still they had against them, as the Opposition in England had along foreseen and foretold, the fact of their connexion with Lord North. Even at the outset, before their offers could be known, one of the leaders in America, General Joseph Reed, answered a private note from one of them as follows: — "I shall only say that, after the unparalleled injuries "and insults this country has received from the men "who now direct the affairs of Britain, a negotiation "under their auspices has much to struggle with."f How different might have been his feelings had they brought their commission from Lord Chatham!
Not any, even the smallest opening, was afforded to these messengers of peace. They desired to despatch to the seat of Congress their secretary, Dr. Adam Ferguson, the well-known Professor of Edinburgh, and they applied to Washington for a passport, but Washington refused it until the pleasure of Congress should be known. The Congress, on the other part, had put forth a Resolution
* To G. Selwyn, Juno 10. 1778; printed in the Selwyn Correspondence. In a later letter from New York, Lord Carlisle thus sums up his general impressions: "The country is beautiful beyond "description; the climate the worst I ever experienced." It is interesting to compare his remarks with those of his grandson, the present Earl. (Lecture at Leeds, 1850.)
t To Governor Johnstone, June 14. 1778. Life of Reed, vol. i . p. declining even to hold any conference with the Commissioners, unless, as a preliminarj-, they should either withdraw the fleets and armies, or else, in express terms, acknowledge the Independence of the United States. In vain did the Commissioners address the President of Congress, and entreat some consideration of their terms. Their powers were, indeed, most ample. They declared themselves ready to agree that no military forces should be maintained in North America without the consent of the General Congress or particular Assemblies; that measures should be taken to discharge the debts of America and to raise the credit and value of the paper circulation; that in order to cement the union with the mother-country, there should be a reciprocal deputation of an agent or agents from the different States, who should have a seat and voice in Parliament, or, if sent from Britain, a seat and voice in the several Assemblies; and that there should be established the power of the respective legislatures in each State to settle its revenue, and to exercise a perfect freedom of legislation and internal government. In short, in the very words of the Commissioners, there was offered the irrevocable enjoyment of every privilege short of a total separation of interests. To none of these terms, so tempting heretofore, would the Congress hearken; and, after their first letter, they decided in a summary manner that no further reply should be returned.
Not that such offers were altogether without effect upon the people. Several Members of the Congress found it necessary to write to their constituents to explain and vindicate their votes in this transaction. Only a few weeks previously, Washington himself had observed: "There are symptoms which may authorise "an opinion that the people of America are pretty "generally weary of the present war."* So far as we can judge, it would seem, moreover, that dislike of the French nation, and distrust of the French alliance, were widely spread. But under all the circumstances of Great
* Letter to Mr. John Banister, April 21. 1778. On the 25th La Fayette writes to Washington, that he fears the three Commissioner more than ten thousand men.
Britain this was not so prevalent in any one State as of itself to overpower the common acquiescence in the measures of the central body.
The Commissioners throve no better with their private correspondence than with their public overtures. Governor Johnstone having exchanged some letters with Joseph Reed and Robert Morris, his former friends, let fall some hints as to the honours and rewards which might attend the promoters of a reconciliation. These hints, though incautiously made, were perhaps too jealously construed as attempts at corruption, as offers of a bribe. The letters were immediately laid before Congress, and by Congress were most angrily resented. Another incident which arose from these transactions was of the ludicrous kind; proceeding as it did from the boyish petulance of La Fayette. Some expressions in the public letter of the Commissioners to the President of Congress had reflected on the conduct of France; these moved his ire; and, in spite of Washington's advice, he challenged Lord Carlisle to meet him in single combat. To such a challenge, said Lord Carlisle, he found it difficult to return a serious answer.
Finding it impossible to proceed with their negotiation, the Commissioners prepared to re-embark for England. First, however, they issued a Manifesto, or Proclamation, to the American people, appealing to them against the decisions of the Congress, and offering to the Colonies at large, or singly, a general or separate peace. This Proclamation was in most parts both ably and temperately argued. But there was one passage liable to just exception. The Commissioners observed, that hitherto the hopes of a re-union had checked the extremes of war. Henceforth the contest would be changed. If the British Colonies were to become an accession to France, the laws of self-preservation must direct Great Britain to render the accession of as little avail as possible to her enemy. Mr. Fox, and others of the Opposition in the House of Commons, inveighed with great plausibility against this passage, as threatening a war of savage desolation. Others, again, as friends to Lord Carlisle and Mr. Eden, asserted that no such meaning was implied. The error, whatever it might be, lay with the Commissioners, and in no degree with the Government at home. For Lord North denied, in the most express terms, that Ministers had intended to give the least encouragement to the introduction of any new kind of war in North America. * Meanwhile the British army had relinquished Philadelphia and retired to New York. Sir Henry's first intention was to go by water, but he found that the transports were not sufficient for the whole, and that he must have left on shore great part of his cavalry, all the provisiontrains, and all the loyalists who dreaded the vengeance of their countrymen. Under these circumstances he determined to lead the troops by land; and his retreat through the Jerseys, encumbered as it was with baggage and camp-followers, has been often admired as a masterpiece of strategy. On the 18th of June the last of the British marched out of Philadelphia, and the first of the Americans marched in. An eye-witness among the latter, Joseph Reed, thus speaks of what he saw : — " The enemy eva"cuated this place on Thursday. I came in the same "evening, and it exhibited a new and curious scene; many "gloomy countenances, but more joyful ones. Shops shut "up, and all in great anxiety and suspense." By Washington's directions, General Arnold was immediately put in command of the city, with strict orders lo restrain as far as possible every kind of persecution, insult, or abuse. Nor was it long ere the Congress returned from the town of York to their former seat. Their presence in Philadelphia was of itself some security against acts of violence, although little or no regard had been shown to the wise and magnanimous advice of Washington for extending equal protection to men of opposite opinions.^
* Debate in the House of Commons, Dec. 4. 1778.
f Previous to the retreat of the British, Washington had seriously warned the Congress, that "for want of this" (pardon and protection), "hundreds, nay, thousands of people, and among them many "valuable artisans, with large quantities of goods, will be forced from
"Philadelphia, who otherwise would willingly remain A
"proscribing system, or laws having the same effect, when carried to "a great extent, ever appeared to me to be impolitic," &c. Mr. Sparks has refrained from inserting the letter containing these re 'markable words, but it may be tound in the collection of 1795 (vol. ii. p. 283.), the date being June 2. 1778.