« ZurückWeiter »
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 him in. asserting the dignity of his crown , and the honor of the nation, and to submit with cheerfulness and spirit, to the expences that would be requisite for that ne. cessary purpose; and was carried after a long debate. In the house of lords, the debatez upon the like occasion, were attend.. ed with an acrimony of language and a freedom of thought, that seemed to scorn all restraint. In the course of thein it was said in substance-" The treatruent we have received from France is mortifying ; but if we are wise, we shall 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 occasions, acted a part similar to that of which we now go grieva ously complain. Vlen 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. Whea 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 watchful of what passes among its neighbors, to the well know) intent of profiting by their divisions. It was by a strict and constant observance of this maxim, that some of the greatest princes and ministers had made so 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 cara ried 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 picnic potentiaries from the United States, must have mortifea the ministry and crown of Great-Britain; and may be pronounced the political phenomenon of Europe. The day before it was exhı bited, the French ambassador, in consequence of orders to quit London, set out for Paris.
An enquiry into the state of the nation had been proposed soine time back, and continued with unabated assiduity in both houses,
In the house of peers, the duke of Richmond, its principal conductor, brought all matters relating to it, into a clear and perspicuous arrangement. He at length, on the 7th of Apul, put an end to that intricate and laborious service, by one of the most resolute and animated speeches ever pronounced in that assenbly. He moved for an address to the king, in which a representation of the state of his dominions was given, and the conduct of the ministers severely censured, and his majesty urged to put an end to that system which had prevailed in his court and administration. He insisted upon it, as he had repeatedly done on former occasions, that the only measure of safety was to recal the British forces from the colonies, and to conclude an accommodation with them upon the most advantageous terms that could be obtained. He would even agree to their independence. Opposition was not, however, unanimous. The earl of Chatham resisted it with a strength of determination, and a vehemence of speech that were peculiar. The earl of Shelburne embraced similar sentiments. They jointly protested against any measure that tended to the dismemberment of the empire, and to the acknowledgınent of American independence. The latter emphatically stiled it the "setting forever of the British sun." . All dangers and all trials were to be encountered sooner than to submit to such a dismemberment. Great-Britain was in possession of ample resources to prevent such a disaster. The numbers and spirit of her people, their riches and their strength, were greater than her foes suspected; and even than she herself could well ascertain till they had been justly tried. During the debate of the day, the earl of Chatham, while engaged in his eager speech against the acknowledgment of American independence, was seized with that fainting which was the prelude to his death on the 11th of May, in the seventieth year of his age. He has left behind him the character of one of the greatest orators and statesmen that this or any other country has ever produced; with the finest opportunities in his hands of acquiring an ample fortune, he left his family destitute of all suitable provision. 'The house of commons, however, to testify their gratitude to him for his important and eminent public services, provided for the payment of his debts, and settled an honorable income upon his posterity.
The Duke of Richmond's proposed address was rejected by a great majority. But a protest was signed upon the occasion, by twenty peers, wherein they condemned, with the utmost freedom and asperity of language, tlie design to persist in the measures carried on in the colonies,
. [April 13.) A Fiench squadron which had for several months been equipping at Toulon, sailed from that port under the command of count d'Estaing. It consisted of twelve ships of the line, and four frigates of superior size. Mr. Silas Deane and Mr. Gerard, who has been appointed the French minister to congress, were on board. On the 4th of May, authentic intelligence of his sailing, arrived at St. James's. Some of the ininisters happening to be out of town, the cabinet could not meet till the sixth; when orders and instructions were instantly dis, patched to Portsmouth; and on the next day all hands were eniployed in preparing for the immediate sailing of a powerful squadron. On Friday the sth, the wind changed to the west, and it was not till the 20th that admirals Byron and Hyde Parker sailed from Portsmouth, with twelve ships of the line; but the Britisli minister's not knowing whither count d'Estaing's squadron was destined, nor that Deane and Gerard were on board, they sent an express to stop their final sailing till further orders, so that they put into Plymouth. It length being relieved from their doubts by the 5th of June, they determined to send admiial Byron to America, and at the same time to give him the command on that station, by sending with him that leave to return which lord Howe had desired; and on the oth the admiral sailed froni Plyinouth. Lord Howe had been deceived into his command; had been deceived while in the exercise of it; and being tired and disgusted, had required perinission to resign.* :
[May 13.) General Burgoyne landed at Portsmouth. On his arrival at London, he soon discovered that he was no longer an, object of court favor. He was refused admission to the royal presence; and from thence experienced all those marks of being in disgrace, which are so well understood, and so quickly observed by the retainers and followers of courts.
[May 14.] Sir George Saville moved for leave to bring in a bill for the repeal of certain penalties and disabilities provided in an act of the jo:i and nith of William Ul. entitled an act to prevent the further growth of popery. He proposed that a sufficient test might be formed, by which the papists should bind themselves to the support of the civil governnient by law established. The motion was received with universal approbation. A bill was brouglit in and carried through both houses with un-common unanimity; ministry and opposition vied with eaci. other in activity io forward it; the first considered it as a prelude to the employing of papists in the fleets and armies; thutrespectable body who called themselves olii whigs, took the lead avowedly in support of it; and the bench of bishups cooperated heartily with the other promoters of it; i: Was passed without it * Lord lewe in the house of commons:
single negative, and received the royal assent on the 27th of May. By this act the clause in the act of William III. for prosecuting of popish bishops, priests or jesuits, is repealed; also that for subjecting papists keeping schools for the education of youth, to perpetual imprisonment, and that likewise which disables papists from inheriting lands by descent, and gives to the bext of kin (being protestants) a right to inherit such lands;. beside that which disables papists from purchasing manors, lands or hereditaments, in England or Wales; but the act leaves all lands in possession, just as they were, and all causes in litigation, as if it had never been made; and the benefits arising from it, rest on the condition of taking a certain prescribed oath of allegiance within six months of its passing into a law.
[May 25.) Sir William Meredith observed in the house of commons, that the British ministers had early and complete intelligence of the French preparations at Toulon. He said that on the 3d of January they had notice of the cquipment; on the 8th of February they had advice of the number of ships that was to compose the squadron; and on the 28th of the same month, that the crews were all completed; and that they had early information of count d'Estaing's arrival, and of the day on which he intended to sail. He moved, among other matters, that it did not appear to the house, that any orders were sent until the 29th of April, for any fieet of observation, to attend the motions of that from Toulon; but the strength of ministry. was too great to admit of its being carried.
On the 3d of June a period was put to the session of parlize ment; and on the 9th the earl of Chatham's remains were honorably interred in Westminster Abbey, at the public expence; at which also, a magnificent monument has been ordered to be erected in the same place, to his remembrance.
Warlike preparations are going forward in every part of Great-Britain; but the French have undoubtedly the start, and are in the greater forwardness. Admiral Keppel sailed from St. Helen's on a cruise off Ushant [June 13.] with twenty ships of the line ; but not in that excellent order, nor so well manned, as the critical situation of affairs between the two nations appears to require.
What could not be mentioned in the order of time, must now be related, that capt. Jones, of the Ranger privateer, from Portsmouth, in New Hampshire state, toward the end of April, landed in the night, at Whitehaveri, in Cumberland, a party of 30 men, and set tire to one of the ships in the harbour; by the exertion of the inhabitants the fames were extinguished before they had reached the rigging. He afterward larded some men on the
western coast of Scotland, and plundered the house of Lord Sela kirk, near Kirkudbright, of plate, jewels and other valuable anticles. He is a Scotchman by birth, and is said to have lived formerly with his lordship.
You may expect from me the earliest intelligence of those im-portant transactions, that are about to commence in this quur. ter of the world.
L ET T E R
Rotterdam, Aug. 15, 1775.
THE French, to perplex the councils of the British couri as
I sembled a multitude of regiments from all parts of the kingdom, and marched them down to the sea side, where they forned large encampments opposite to the shores of Great-Biitwin.--These manæuvres-accasioned the calling out and embodying of the militia of England upon the rising of parliament. The mili. tia being joined by the regular forces, camps were formed in dif. ferent places : but the nation trusted most to the navy.
My last closed with the account of Admiral keppel's having sailed. He was deservedly in the highest esteem with his own profession, as well as the public. · It was extremely proper therefore that he should be appointed to coinmand tia: feet, to which was committed the defence of the island, the protection of the homeward bound trade, and the preservation of the dignity of the British flag in the adjoining seas. On his arrival at Portsmouth toward the end of March, he found matters very diffc:ent from the opinion that had been generally circulated, and from what he himself had been led to expect. Instead of a strong and well appointed fleet, he discovered to his astonishment, that there were only six sail of the line in any degree of condition for immediate service; even these on his reviewing them, with a seaman's eye, gave him no peculiar pleasure. The paucity and condition of both men and ships was nut more alarming, than the deficiency of all kinds of naval stores was 1.