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Burke and Fox, and of Lord North, who had formed the famous coalition.
On the meeting of Parliament, Dec. 5th, 1732, Fox explained the grounds of his resignation and that of his colleagues. When in Administration, he had proposed · to recognize the independence of the United States in the first instance, and not to reserve it as a condition of peace. To this proposal Lord Shelburne had agreed, and had written an official letter to the Commander in Chief in America, to communicate the resolution to the United States. Fox then considered Shelburne as having pledged himself to agree to an unconditional acknowledgement of the independence of America. • Judge, then,' said Fox,' of my grief and astonishment, when, during the illness of my noble friend (the Marquis of Rockingham) another language was heard in the cabinet ; and the noble Earl and his friends began to consider the above letter as containing offers only of a conditional nature, to be recalled, if not accepted as the price of peace. Findingmyself thus ensnared and betrayed, and all
confidence destroyed, I quitted a situation in which I found I could not remain either with honour or safety. Burke declared himself actuated by the same motives, and determined by the same reasons as Mr. Fox, to retire from the Ministry. He made a very able and brilliant speech, full of wit, satire, and argument, against the Prime Minister; contending that his conduct had been a composition of hypocrisy and absurdity. Although many might blame Burke and Fox for withdrawing their powers from Administration, merely because they had been thwarted in some measures, and in one appointment, when the country so much wanted the services of its greatest men, yet no one can charge them with artifice or duplicity; what they did, they did boldly and avowedly.
However much several members disapproved of certain parts of the King's speech, considering unanimity as necessary at so critical a juncture, no one proposed an amendment. When the conclusion of peace
was announced to Parliainent, the terms on which it had been made excited great disapprobation, both from Burke, Fox, and their friends; and from Lord North and his friends. Pitt, with the assistance of hardly any very able man but Dundas, had, in the House of Commons, to cope with the combined strength of the North and Fox parties. The Ministerial speakers defended the peace as the best that could be attained in the circumstances of the country. The coalesced opponents maintained that our resources were still in a flourishing state, and that the army and navy were in the best condition, and could easily stand the brunt of another campaign. This favourable view of our situation was certainly much more consistently exhibited by Lord North, Mr. Courtenay, Mr. Adam, and Lord Mulgrave, who had uniformly maintained that
navy were in a vigorous state, than by Burke, Fox, and Sheridan, who had as uniformly maintained that they were in an exhausted state during many years, when the national finances had certainly not been so much drained, nor so many of its
troops consumed as at that time. Burke and Fox could not justly alledge that the state of our finances and forces was much meliorated during their short Administration. They had repeatedly asserted that peace on any terms was adviseable to Britain, when in a much less exhausted situation. They had offered peace to Holland; they had proposed unconditionally to recognize the independence of America ; they had shewn themselves anxious to attain what they so often said' was necessary to the salvation of Britain on any terms.
Their disapprobation, therefore, of peace we may, without any deviation from candour, conclude to have arisen fully as much from party opposition as from a conviction of its inexpediency.
The ministerial speakers, after defending the main object, attacked the coalition. They contended, that an union between men of so heterogeneous principles as those which Burke and Fox, on the one hand, and Lord North, on the other, had always professed
to entertain, must be from some different reason than mutual agreement of political idea. The combined parties procured a majority in the house, and passed a vote of censure on the Ministry. The coalition was bitterly inveighed against both in and out of Parliament.
Though prevalent in both houses, it was on the whole unpopular. To arraign an union of men once opposite or even inimical to each other, without considering the object of the combination, or the conduct of its members in their combined capacity, would be the result of prejudice, not of judgment. A change of circumstar.ces often renders it just to deviate from that plan of political conduct which it was once right to pursue, and to act with those men whom it was once right to oppose. The abuse thrown out against Burke and the other coalesced leaders, merely because they had coalesced, after much mutual oblcquy, was the abuse of ignorant declaimers, not of impartial, informed, and able reasoners. Very able, well informed reasoners, no doubt, did very severely blame the coalition;