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troops, without the consent and during the sitting of parliament, to be absolutely illegal, unconstitutional, and a high violation of the fundamental privileges of parliament; and declared that the
committees at the London Tavern and at Bristol, who conducted: + the subscriptions in these cities, had acted a daringly illegal and
truly alarming part, having assumed a legislative power, and act ed in that capacity, in which, according to the spirit of the con
stitution, and the express meaning of the bill of rights, parliaE ment only were empowered to act. ..
; . The question of benevolence and free gifts did not undergo less discussion, nor their being brought into practice incur less cen
sure, than the doctrine of raising forces without the participation I of parliament. They were declared to have been illegal at all s times, and in all the stages of the constitution. It was observed,
that the present measure overthrew the only colourable argumenti ever brought to justify the conduct of parliament in endeavouring to tax the colonies. It had held out, " That if the colonies, now that they are grown powerful and opulent, should give free grants to the crown, as they have hitherto customarily done up on requisition, the crown may become independent on parlia
ment for supplies.” This, it was said, became the constant cry j ministers to amuse and deceive the people, and the cloak to
hide their worst designs. - On the 6th of February, the treaties between France and the
United States were signed. The alliance between these two pow- ers had not been concluded much more than eight and forty hours
before it was known by the British ministy..
ferent calculations, that the number of men lost to the army, in Cikilled, disabled, deserted, and from various other causes, since
the commencement of hostilities, amounted to about twenty
thousand. 2. The duke of Richmond in a committee of the house of lords
stated, about the same time, the following facts--that since the i commencement of hostilities, the number of vessels belonging
to Great-Britain and Ireland, taken by the American ships of war 1 - and privateers, amounted to seven hundred and thirty-three ; · forty-seven of which had been released, and one hundred and
twenty-seven retaken:-That the loss of the remaining five hun
dred an fifty nine appeared from the examination of merchants i to have been worth at least two millions and six hundred thou"sand pounds : That of two hundred ships einployed every year,
in the African trade, before the present troubles, whose value upon an average was nine thousand pounds each, only forty res ained in that branch of trade, which was therefore diminished
one million four hundred and forty thousand pounds annually and that the number of American ships of war and privateers, amounted to one hundred and seventy-three, carrying two thotsand five hundred and fifty-six guns, and about fourteen thousand. seamen. Lord Sandwich on the other side, stated the number of American prizes that had been taken at nine hundred and four, which he estimated at two thousand pounds each, making altoge-, ther one million eight hundred and eight-thousand pounds; to which he added the value of the fisheries, from which the Amtricans were excluded, and then fixed the damage they had sustained at two millions two hundred thousand pounds. Upop a. nother occasion the duke stated the extraordinary war-expences of each of the four last years separately ; and the whole being ascertained, as near as could be possibly done for the presentamounted to the gross sum of twenty-three millions eight hun. dred ninety-four thousand seven hundred and ninety-two pounds. He showed also, that was a pacification, to take place, no less than ninė millions more would be requisite to bring all matters relating to the war to a final settlement.
[Feb. 17.] Lord North introduced his conciliatory propositions. His plan was to enable the crown to appoint commissioners to treat with the colonies concerning the means of putting an end to the present contest between them and Great-Britain. Five persons were to be invested with ample powers; and authorized to treat with congress as a lawful assembly, representing Amer ica--with any of the provincial assemblies--and with any individuals. They were to be empowered to order a suspension of arms; to suspend the operation of laws; and to grant pardons, im. munities and rewards. The title of Independent States might be allowed till the treaty had been ratified by the king and parliament: The commissioners, were to negociate, upon a re-union of the empire, for a reasonable contribution to its common exigencies; but this demand was not to be insisted on, and to be given up rather than noi terminate the quarrel. His lordship said in his speech, that Sir W. Howe had been, in the late actions and in the whole course of the campaign, not only in the goodness of troops, and in all manner of supplies, but also in point of numbers, much superior to the American army which opposed him in the field ; that general Burgoyne had been in numbers, until the affair of Beonington, near twice as strong as the army of the enemy: that he promised a great army should be sent out; and that a great army had accordingly been sent out, to the amount of 60,000 men and upward. The speech was long, able and eloquent, and kept him up two full hours.--A dull melancholy silence for some time succeeded. It was hea
with profound attention ; but without a single mark of approbation. Astonishment, dejection and fear, over-clouded the whole assembly. It was conjectured that some powerful motive had induced ministry to adopt such an alteration of measures. The idea was confirmed by the positive assertion of Mr. Fox, that a treaty had been signed at Paris, between the colonies and France by which she recognized their independence. Some of the country gentlemen being piqued at Lord North’s having said,
that “they had not been misled or deceived,” rose with great - warmth, and asserted with indignation, that they had been gross
dy deceived and misled by the uniform language of government for three years past. In general the party declared, that as the point of taxation, which could be the only rational ground of the war, was now given up, peace should be procured by any means, and in the speediest manner.” - His lordship should have early attended to the hints contained
in the letter to Dr. Fothergill, which the doctor got transcribed - and sent him, but the minister thought the doctor's correspondent too sanguine. The intimation that a foreign power might interfere, should have produced a determination to treat immediately a message to the American commissioners assuling them of it and the introduction, if possible of the passing of the conciliatory bills before the delivery of the preliminaries to the commissioners on the 16th of December ; wliereas they were not passed till the 2d of March.
The day before the conciliatory propositions were introduced, a particular incident happened in the house of lords.After the Saratoga convention, general Gates wrote a very pathetic and interesting letter to the earl of Thanet, with whom he had formerly lived upon a footing of great intimacy. It related chiefly to the situation of affairs between Great Britain and America. He lamented the misfortunes that had befallen his native country, and the danger to which it was exposed; and tlien stated the necessity of speedily applying the only remedy remaining, for the cure of the many evils that afflicted or threatened Great-Britain. This remedy he declared to be an acknowledgment of American independence, which he said the United States never would part with..“ A wise minister,” he added,
by rescinding the resolutions passed to support that system which no power on earth can establish, will endeavor to pre." serve so much of the empire in prosperity and honor, as the circumstances of the times, and the mal-administration of those who ruled before him, have left to his government. The United States of America are willing to be the friends, but never will submit to be the slaves of the parent country. They are by conVOL. II.
sanguinity, by language, and by the affection which 'naturally springs from these more attached to England than to any other country under the sun. Therefore spurn not the blessing which yet remains; instantly withdraw your fleets and armies ; cultivate the commerce and friendship of America, Thus, and thus: only can England hope to be great and happy. Seek that in a commer, cial alliance ; seek it ere it be too late ; for there only you must expect to find it.” The earl of Thanet produced this letter in the house ; and after some controversy it was read; and the duke of Richinond moved that it should lie upon the table. The mo- . tion was rejected after a warm debate, to the concern of several, who flattered themselves that the letter might have afforded an opening to a favorable accommodation.
The French ambassador delivered a rescript to lord Waymouth, in which he informed the court of London, that the king had signed a treaty of friendship and commerce with the United States of America. The knowledge of this transaction was communicated under the parade of cultivating the under. standing subsisting between France and Great-Britain, and was accompanied with a declaration, that the contracting parties have paid great attention not to stipulate any exclusive advantages in favor of France ; and that the United States have reserved the liberty of treating with every nation whatever, upon the same footing of equality and reciprocity. The rescript concludes with an intimation that the French king being determined to protect effectually the lawful commerce of his subjects, and to maintain the dignity of his flag, had, in consequence, taken eventualmeasures for these purposes, in concert with the United States of Anierica. No sooner was the account conveyed to the French court, of the immediate effects which the delivery of the rescript seemed to have produced in London, than orders were issued for the seizure of all the British vessels in any of the French ports. The example was followed by a similar order in Great-Britain. But there were few ships in the ports of either. The French are still for preserving certain appearances, and therefore the king's ordnance, affording new and extraordinary advantages to the captors of prizes, although signed on the twenty-eighth of March, is kept dormant, without publication or effect.
The reception of this rescript was notified by the minister: to the house of commons on the 17th. The notice was accompa nied with a message from the king, intimating that he should be under the necessity of resenting so unprovoked and so unjust ani aggression on the honorof his crown and the essential interests of his kingdom, and expressing his firm confidence on the zealous
and affectionate support of his faithful people. An address was moved for in answer to it, to assure the king of the readiness of his people to stand by hiin in asserting the dignity of his crown and the honor of the nation, and to submit with cheerfulness and spitit, to the expences that would be requisite for that necessary purposes and was carried after a long debate. In the house of lords, the debates upon the like occasion, were attend ed with an acrimony of language and a freedom of thought, that seemned to scorn all restraint. In the course of them it was said In substance_-56 The treatment we have received from France is mortifying; but if we are wise, we shat, suppress our resentment at the present hour, and reserve it for a more convenient opportunity. In the continual vicissitude of political events on the continent of Europe, we need not wait long for a favorable occasion of returning the blow given us by France in the present instance. Nor let us forget; that we have ourselves, on former pocasions, acted a partisinibar to that of which we now.so grievously complain. When the Seven United: Provinces of the Netherlands, threw off the yoke of Spain, England befriended them in the same manner France does now, the United States of America. When France was torn by civil dissentions, we made it our business to interfere, and to espouse the cause of one of the parties. The frequency of the practice, has rendered it a common rule of European politics. Every nation is-watchfal of what passes among its neighbors, to the well known intent of Profiting by their divisions. It was by a strict and constant-ob"servance of this maxim, that some of the greatest princes and ministers had made só splendid a figure. Queen Elizabeth in England, and cardinal Richlieu in France, had ruled with so much prosperity, and risen to such fame, by never losing sight of it. The safest way of revenging ourselves, wili be by following their example,”? The question for an address was carried by a majority of nearly three to one... *** [March 21.] A public audience and reception was given to the American commissioners, Messrs. Franklin, Deane and Lee, by the French monarch. They were introduced by Monsieur Vergennes, and received by the king with the usual formalities and ceremonials. This striking acknowledgment of the pleni. potentiaries from the United States, must have inortified the miHistry and crown of Great-Britain, and may be pronounced the political phenomenon of Europe. The day before it was exhiobited, the French ambassador, in consequence of orders to quit . London, set out for Paris. ' . D'An enquiry into the state ofthe nation had been proposed some time back, and continued with unabated assiduity in both houses.