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THE WAR IN AMERICA.
LORD CHATHAI.. My Lords :-
1. I cannot concur in a blind and servile address, which approves, and endeavors to sanctify the monstrous measures which have heaped disgrace and misfortune upon us. This, my Lords, is a perilous and tremendous moment! It is not a time for adulation. The smoothness of Aattery can not now availcan not save us in this rugged and awful crisis. It is now necessary to instruct the throne in the language of truth. We must dispel the illusion and the darkness which envelop it, and display, in its full danger and true colors, the ruin that is brought to our doors.
2. Can the minister of the day now presume to expect a continuance of support in this ruinous infatuation? Can parliament be so dead to its dignity and its duty as to be thus deluded into the loss of the one and the violation of the other ? To give an unlimited credit and support for the steady perseverance in measures not proposed for our parliamentary advice, but dictated : and forced upon us—in measures, I say, my Lords, which have reduced this late flourishing empire to ruin and contempt! “But yesterday, and England might have stood against the world: now none so poor to do her reverence.” I use the words of a poet; but, though it be poetry, it is no fiction.
3. My Lords, this ruinous and ignominious situation, where we can not act with success, nor suffer with honor, calls upon us to remonstrate in the strongest and loudest language of truth, to rescue the ear of majesty from the delusions which surround it. The desperate state of our arms abroad is in part known. No man thinks more highly of them than I do. I love and
* « This,” says Professor Goodrich, speaking of the masterly speech of which the present Exercise forms a leading part, “ was Lord Chatbam's greatest effort. It would be difficult to find, in the whole range of parliamentary history, a more splendid blaze of genius.” It was delivered November 18th, 1777, at the opening of Parliament.
honor the English troops. I know their virtues and their valor I know they can achieve anything except impossibilities; and I know that the conquest of English America is an impossibility. You can not, I venture to say it, you can not conquer America !
4. You may swell every expense and every effort still more extravagantly; pile and accumulate every assistance you can buy or borrow; traffic and barter with every little, pitiful German prince that sells and sends his subjects to the shambles of a foreign prince; your efforts are forever vain and impotentdoubly so from this mercenary aid on which you rely; for it irritates, to an incurable resentment, the minds of your enemies, to overrun them with the mercenary sons of rapine and plunder, devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty! If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms-never-never-never !
5. But, my Lords, who is the man that, in addition to these disgraces and mischiefs of our army, has dared to authorize and associate to our arms the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage ? to call into civilized alliance the wild and inhuman savage of the woods; to delegate to the merciless Indian the defense of disputed rights, and to wage the horrors of his barbarous war against our brethren? My Lords, these enormities cry aloud for redress and punishment. Unless thoroughly done away, it will be a stain on the national character. It is a violation of the Constitution.
6. Infected with the mercenary spirit of robbery and rapine ; familiarized to the horrid scenes of savage cruelty, it can no longer boast of the noble and generous principles which dignify a soldier; no longer sympathize with the dignity of the royal banner; nor feel the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war, " that make ambition virtue !" What makes ambition virtue ? the sense of honor !
7. But is the sense of honor consistent with a spirit of plunder, or the practice of murder? Can it flow from mercenary motives, or can it prompt to cruel deeds ? Besides these murderers and plunderers, let me ask our ministers—what other allies have they acquired? What other powers have they associated to their cause ? Have they entered into alliance with the king of the Gypsies? Nothing, my Lords, is too low or too ludicrous to be consistent with their counsels.
8. I am astonished, shocked, to hear such principles confessed -to hear them avowed in this House, or in this country; principles equally unconstitutional, inhuman, and unchristian! My Lords, we are called upon, as members of this House, as men, as Deristian men, to protest against such notions standing near the throne, polluting the ear of majesty.
9. “ That God and nature put into our hands?” I know not what ideas that Lord may entertain of God and nature, but I know that such abominable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and humanity. What! to attribute the sacred sanction of God and nature to the massacres of the Indian scalping-knife
-to the cannibal savage torturing, murdering, roasting, and eating-literally, my Lords, cating the mangled victims of his barbarous battles ! Such horrible notions shock every precept of religion, divine or natural, and every generous feeling of humanity.
10. These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them, demand the most decisive indignation. I call upon that right reverend bench, those holy ministers of the gospel, and pious pastors of our church–I conjure them to join in the holy work, and vindicate the religion of their God. I appeal to the wisdom and the law of that learned..bench, to defend and support the justice of their country.
11. I call upon the bishops, to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their lawn; upon the learned judges, to interpose the parity of their ermine, to save us from this pollution. I call upon the honor of your lordships, to reverence the dignity of your ancestors, and to maictain your own. I call upon the spirit and humanity of my country, to vindicate the national character. I invoke the genius of the Constitution. From the tapestry that adorns these walls, the immortal ancestor of this noble Lord frowns with indignation at the disgrace of his country.
CAARLES JAMES Fox, a distinguished statesman and orator, and, in the judgment of Edmund Burke," the most accomplished debater the world ever saw," was born in London, January 24th, 1749, and died at Chiswick, September 13th, 1806. He was amiable in temper, but dissolute in life. He was utterly spoiled, in early life, by indulgence; yet did he acquit himself hand. : somely in his educational career. After a series of surprising, not to say shameful irregularities of conduct, carried on at home as well as during travel abroad, he found means, in 1768, to get a seat in Parliament. His whole political career was stormy, though splendid, and forms a memorable era in British parliamentary history. The speech of which we have taken the following famous passage, was delivered during a debate, in February, 1800, on a motion to reject certain overtures of peace, then just made by Napoleon Bonaparte, to the British government.
SPEECH ON THE OVERTURES OF BONAPARTE.
CHARLES JAMES FOX. 1. Where, then, sir, is this war, which on every side is pregnant with such horrors, to be carried ? Where is it to stop? One campaign is successful to you; another to them; and, in this way, animated by the vindictive passions of revenge, hatred, and rancor, which are infinitely more flagitious, even, than those of ambition and the thirst of power, you may go on forever; as, with such black incentives, I see no end to human misery.
2. And all this without an intelligible motive. All this because you may gain a better peace a year or two hence! So that we are called upon to go on merely, as a speculation! We must keep Bonaparte for some time longer at war, as a state of probation! Gracious God! sir, is war a state of probation ? Is peace a rash system? Is it dangerous for nations to live in amity with each other? Are your vigilance, your policy, your common powers of observation, to be extinguished by putting an end to the horrors of war? Can not this state of probation be as well undergone without adding to the catalogue of human sufferings ?
3. “But we must puuse !” What! must the bowels of Great Britain be torn out-- her best blood be spilled-her treasure wasted—that you may make an experiment? Put yourselves, · oh! that you would put yourselves in the field of battle, and
learn to judge of the sort of horrors that you excite! In formei wars, a man might, at least, have some feeling, some interest, that served to balance, in his mind, the impressions which a scene of carnage and of death must inflict.
4. If a man had been present at the battle of Blenheim,* for instance, and had inquired the motive of the battle, there was not a soldier engaged who could not have satisfied his curiosity, and even, perhaps, allayed his feelings. They were fighting, they knew, to repress the uncontrolled ambition of the Grand Monarch.
5. But, if a man were present now at a field of slaughter, and were to inquire for what they were fighting—" Fighting !” would be the answer; “ they are not fighting; they are pausing." “Why is that man expiring? Why is the other writhing with agony ? What means this implacable fury?” The answer must be,—" You are quite wrong, sir; you deceive yourselfthey are not fighting-do not disturb them—they are merely pausing !
6. “This man is not expiring with agony—that man is not dead—he is only pausing! Lord help you, sir! they are not angry with one another; they have now no cause of quarrel, but their country thinks there should be a pause! All that you see, sir, is nothing like fighting—there is no harm, nor bloodshed in it whatever: it is nothing more than a political pause! It is merely to try an experiment—to see whether Bonaparte will not behave himself better than heretofore; and, in the meantime, we have agreed to a pause in pure friendship!”
7. And is this the way, sir, that you are to show yourselves the advocates of order ? You take up a system calculated to uncivilize the world—to destroy order-to trample on religionto stifle, in the heart, not merely the generosity of noble sentiment, but the affections of social nature; and, in the prosecution of this system, you spread terror and devastation all around you.
* See Note on the next Exercise.