Imágenes de páginas

passed with unanimous approbation. Burke's support of this liberal bill also added to the displeasure his constituents at Bristol had - conceived against him on account of his speeches in favour of įreland.

General Burgoyne had now returned from America on his parole. He soon found that he was no longer an object of court favour, or of ministerial countenance. When the principal personages withdrew their regard, others followed their example. He applied for a court-martial, which was refused him, on the ground that, whilst a prisoner, his preceding conduct was not cognizable by any court in this country. There, it appears, Government was right, because a court-martial's sentence, if unfavourable, might be ineffectual; as the infliction of either confinement or death on a prisoner belonging to the enemy, would be injustice to the enemy, by whose courtesy only the prisoner was in this country.

[ocr errors]

Fox and Burke very warmly embraced the cause of the General, with an eagerness,

[ocr errors]

indeed, that outwent cognizance of its merits.' Burgoyne solicited parliamentary inquiry. This the American Minister declared could not be granted until after a military investigation, then impracticable, and adduced apposite precedents to justify the refusal. The discussion, after much altercation, and very bitter invectives against the Minister by Fox and Burke, was postponed. The last acts of that session were testimonies to the merits and services of the illustrious Chatham, recently deceased.

answer the

This year Sir William Howe asked permission to resign his command, alledging that he had not enjoyed the confidence and support of Ministry in such a way as to

of his commission. The desired leave was granted ; and Sir Henry Clinton was appointed in his place. The justice of his allegations respecting confidence and support was a subject afterwards of a parliamentary inquiry, which ended in such a manner as to leave the case doubtful,


France, as Burke had often predicted, took an open part in the contest with Annerica. If we consider this junction with its consequences, it was a very important epoch even to the history of Burke ; as it generated, or rather fostered those principles which have since produced effects, that called forth the full exertion of his extraordinary powers.

[ocr errors]

The account given of the commencement of the naval war in the Annual Register of 1779, carries with it internal evidence of having been written by Burke: it is a very able account, and it leans to the side of Admiral Keppel. Besides its general ability, it bears some peculiar marks of his pen: many parts of the account are rather ratio. cinative than narrative, the production of one that wished to throw blame on the Ministry and to praise the Admiral, rather than of one who merely stated facts, indifferent to whom either approbation or censure should attach. It endeavours to prove,


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

force to cope

the First Lord of the Admiralty had been negligent, and had not provided a sufficient

with that of the French. The reasoning on that subject is nearly the same as Burke often used in the house; the answer to it was the actual state of the navy, the number of ships well manned and equipped, which had been sent to various parts of the globe.

The commissioners sent to America were not successful; their secretary, the celebrated Dr. Fergusson, was refused a passport to the Congress. The Congress, as before, would receive no overtures, unless their independence was previously acknowledged: thió Burke had foreseen ; and it required much less ability than he possessed, to foresee that terms not essentially different from those offered by the Howes, when the British armament was in unimpaired force, and America without an ally, would not be received by her, elated with the capture of Burgoyne's army, and strengthened by an alliance with France,

[ocr errors]

This campaign was on the whole disastrous. The elements seemed to have combined with the enemy in annoying the British fleet on the American seas. On the European, the issue of a battle was not altogether such as the Ministry and indeed the nation expected, and afterwards thought it might have been. The consideration of that action, and its consequences, occupied much of the attention of Burke during the following session. The speech from the thronę, though it did not express, implied a çensure on the operations of the campaign; it asserted, that our arms had not been attended with the success which the vigour of our exertions promised, Burke imputed the failure to the inferiority of our fleets and the tardịness of our preparations. The conciliatory propositions, he contended, met with the issue which he expected, and all men might expect. The valedictory manifesto of the commissioners was strongly censured by Burke. This manifesto, the political reader will remember, declared, that if the Americans did not accede ta

« AnteriorContinuar »