« PreviousContinue »
say, my lords, their intentions are hostile : I know it: their coasts are lined with troops, from the furthermost part of the coast of Spain up to Dunkirk. What have you to oppose them? Not five thousand men in this island ; nor more in Ireland ; nor above twenty ships of the line manned and fit for service. My lords, without peace, without an immediate restoration of tranquillity, this nation is ruined. What has been the conduct of your ministers? How have they endeavoured to conciliate the affection and obedience of their American brethren ? They have gone to Germany ; they have sought the alliance and assistance of every pitiful, beggarly, insignificant, paltry German prince, to cut the throats of their loyal, brave, and injured brethren in America ; they have entered into mercenary treaties with those human butchers, for the purchase and sale of human blood. But, my lords, this is not all ; they have entered into other treaties ; they have let the savages of America loose upon their innocent, unoffending brethren,-loose upon the weak, the aged, and defenceless ; on old men, women, and children ; upon the very babes upon the breast, to be cut, mangled, sacrificed, broiled, roasted, nay, to be literally eat alive. These, my lords, are the allies Great Britain now has : carnage, desolation, and destruction, wherever her arms are carried, is her newly adopted mode of making war.* Our ministers have made alliances at the German shambles, and with the barbarians of America ; with the merciless tortures of their species : where they will next apply, I cannot tell : for my part, I should not be surprised if their next league was the king of the gypsies ; having already scoured all Germany and America, to seek the assistance of cannibals and butchers. The arms of this country are disgraced, even in victory, as well as defeat. Is this
6 and at his heels,
consistent, my lords, with any part of our former conduct? Was it by means like these we arrived at that pinnacle of fame and grandeur, which, while it establihsed our reputation in every quarter of the globe, gave the fullest testimony of our justice, mercy and national integrity ? Was it by the tomahawk and scalping-knife that British valour and humanity became in a manner proverbial, and the triumphs of war and the eclat of conquest became but matters of secondary praise, when compared to those of national humanity, and national honour? Was it by setting loose the savages of America, to embrue their hands in the blood of our enemies, that the duties of the soldier, the citizen, and the man, came to be united ? Is this honourable warfare, my lords? Does it correspond with the language of the poet?
w The pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war,
THOMAS (LORD) LYTTLETON, Succeeded his father in 1773. He was a young man of great talents,
but very profligate in his manners. He died in 1779, at the age of 35.
On American Affairs. He lamented the fate of general Burgoyne, on whom, as an officer and a man, he bestowed the highest encomiums, and wished, while the noble earl had been so profuse of his commendations, he had acted with more real candour, and not, as by the effect of the present motion, were it to be agreed to, called that unfortunate but able and brave officer's conduct in question, and ex. posed him in his absence to an enquiry in which it would be impossible to defend himself. He objected to the intelligence ; said it could not come properly before the house. It was but rumour, and as such, was no solid foun,
dation for a parliamentary enquiry. He avowed himself as good and genuine a whig as the noble earl. He had been bred in all the principles of whiggism from his earliest days, and should persevere in them to the end. He loved the principles of whiggism, as much as he despised those of anarchy and republicanism. But if the bare name of whig was all that was meant, he disdained the name. If an impatience under every species of constitutional government, if a resistance to legal restraint, if the abetting of rebels, was the test of modern whiggism, he begged leave to be excluded, as not one avowing or professing such doctrines. He would, indeed, much rather share the odium which had been unjustly cast upon ano. ther set of men, and be accounted a tory, in preference to a modern whig. His lordship then entered into a general consideration of the question of right between this country and America. He said the noble lords on the other side of the house had acknowledged the war to be popular. He was convinced it was, more than any other he ever recollected. The supremacy of this coun
. try was at stake. Shall we then forego all our just rights, rights, I will be bold to say, on which the very existence of this country depends, for a single check, when it is notorious that we have been victorious in every other quarter where our arms have been carried ? Shall we crouch to America, because, allowing the fact to be true, we have met with one disaster? This was not the language of the noble lord heretofore. He once rescued this country from impending ruin ; and I call upon the noble lord to declare, if he was now at the head of his majes. ty's counsels, would he despair? Would he advise this country to humiliate itself, and sue for peace to America ? or if he was of that opinion, does he think that America would either accede to terms he thinks reasonable, or desist, even though we should declare her independent from farther pretensions ? I know the noble earl too well to believe he could be so far deceived: look on the other effect of such a procedure. We humble ourselves to
our rebellious subjects. What, in that event, would all Europe think of us? What would our ancient enemies, France and Spain? Would they not actually realize what it is now pretended they have in contemplation? They would despise as well as detest us. It would operate to afford them the highest encouragement to attack us. They would immediately conclude, that we were weak, defenceless, pusillanimous ; that we were emptied of all that spirit of military glory and na. tional pride that has hitherto proved our best defence. They would look on us as a nation of merchants, poor, tame, grovelling and mercenary ; they would no longer envy, they would despise us; such a conduct would fill them with confidence, and that confidence would most assuredly terminate in our utter destruction. It is necessary, therefore, even in that light, to act with vigour, to combat our misfortunes with resolution. It will have a double good effect; it will serve to convince both our domestic and foreign enemies, of our strength, courage, and resources; and will, I maintain on good ground, be the best security for our own safety, and the only effectual means of bringing about those events which the noble earl has this night drawn in such strong and inviting colours.
His lordship entered fully into the great question of parliamentary supremacy, and endeavoured to prove that it must be supported in its true constitutional extent, otherwise the nation would be undone. He did not, he said, presume to point out the precise terms; but even the noble earl himself had admitted the necessity of American dependency. He was firmly persuaded that the supreme right even to tax, though parliament was willing to relax, could not be given up. Parlia. ment could not give up the rights of the empire: they were inherent; they were inalienable; and the great controlling superintending power of the state was inviolable and indivisible. We were, he said, contending for the very existence of the empire; should America prevail,
instead of submitting to acts of navigation from hence, she would prescribe them to us. The right of binding America in all cases whatsoever, we clearly possessed; and he trusted he should never see it relinquished. We should always maintain the right, though, at least for the present, it might be inexpedient to exercise it. The supremacy of the legislature extended to every part of the British empire; nay, in a case of emergency, he was clear we had a right to tax Ireland ; that emergency had never arose, for that country was always ready to contribute fairly and equitably to her share of the public burthens. But if an event should happen to call the right in question, he was clear that the right was with us. Would America consent to do as Ireland had done? Would she give support in return for protection? If she would, though he did not pretend to advise, not having the honour to assist in his majesty's councils, that might be a proper ground perhaps to go upon; but no step towards conciliation could be taken consistently with the rights and dignity of this country, till the supreme right of this legislature was first acknowledged in all its parts; till they owned themselves subjects; till they submitted to the supremacy of this country. He said, a great deal of blame had been thrown upon ministers this night, as if the measures pursued relative to America were solely their measures. Was that really the case ? By no means ; they were the measures of parliament, of the whole nation: they were measures which almost every Briton approved of. Parliament, in the most full and solemn manner, had given them the fullest public sanction. They echoed in so doing nothing but the voice of the nation; and shall one little check, said his lordship, induce us to desert ? No; I trust, as Englishmen, feel. ing the treachery, perfidy, and ingratitude of our rebellious and unnatural subjects, it will inspire us, and call forth that spirit which has always led us to victory. His lordship condemned in particular, the absurdity of immediately withdrawing our troops, as suggested by the Vol. II.