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into war; yet he could not endure to think that England should ever lose these jewels from her crown. In 1778, on learning that a motion was to be made to grant to the Colonies their independence, he struggled up from his sick-bed to make a passionate and successful protest against a policy that would dismember England, and let her “fall prostrate before the House of Bourbon.” He was already a dying man. At the close of the speech he fell in convulsions, was carried out, and, after lingering a few days, breathed his last, May 11, 1778.
SPEECH ON AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
Reporters of the last century rarely attempted to do more than to give the general drift of thought and argument; at their hands a fiery eloquence like that of Chatham was sure to lose most of its vital quality. Barely five of his speeches seem to have been written out by competent listeners from notes taken on the spot; and in these alone have we any clear approximation to what was actually said. The one we have chosen for this volume claims to have had Chatham's revision; but of this there is no certainty. By many critics it is accounted his master effort. The occasion was this: The assembling of Parliament in November, 1777, had called forth the usual Address to the Throne, congratulating the King on the birth of a princess, indorsing the measures adopted by the Ministry, and promising to support the Crown to the uttermost in its struggle with the Colonies. Chatham seized the occasion to move an Amendment to the Address, and to protest once more against the injustice and folly of the war.
Page 76, 5–7. The Minister was Lord North. See note to
30, 31. Adapted from Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar, III. ii. 123– 125.
PAGE 78, 21. Lord Amherst, in the campaign of 1758–1759, ending in the capture of Quebec.
28. The force under General Burgoyne, which surrendered at Saratoga, Oct. 13, 1777. “ The news of this terrible calamity gave force to the words with which Chatham, at the very time of the surrender, was pressing for peace.” Green's History.
in any event, because British success would only serve to make reconciliation impossible.
See p. 79,
1. 7-14. PAGE 79, 18. Lord Percy. PAGE 80, 8, 9. Shakespeare, Othello, III. iii. 349 ff.
PAGE 82, 18. Note how carefully the speaker avoids recognizing the validity of Washington's military title.
PAGE 83, 20. but you can address. A special use of the verb address growing out of the special use of the noun explained in the Note on Forms of Procedure, p. 322. The thought is expanded below, l. 24, 25.
PAGE 87, 13-23. For the classes separately appealed to here, see Note on the House of Lords, p. 318.
27. The walls of the old House of Lords were hung with tapestry representing striking scenes in English history. Among these was the fight with the Spanish Armada, in August, 1588. Lord Howard, Admiral of the English feet on that occasion, and presumably conspicuous on the tapestry, was the ancestor of Lord Suffolk referred to.
PAGE 88, 29. enormous, in the sense of atrocious, a sense which survives in the kindred noun enormity.
Chatham's eloquence, like that of Burke, was all in vain upon this question. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 97 to 24.
SPEECH AT BRISTOL.
During his first and second Parliaments, Burke sat as member for Wendover. At the dissolution of 1774 he lost his seat because the friend who owned the borough, and who had given him the election, was now in need of money, and must sell the seat to some one who could pay for it. Burke was proposed for a little borough in Yorkshire, and his election was actually secured, when there appeared on the scene a deputation from Bristol, the second city in the kingdom, urging him to “stand ” for them. The honor and the opportunity were too great to be neglected. Burke waived his election at Malton, hurried to Bristol, and after an exciting canvass was elected as one of the two representatives of that city. In thanking his constituents after the election, Burke's colleague promised strictly to obey their wishes in all his parliamentary action. With characteristic independence, Burke took a different view of the relation between a representative and his constituents. “ Their wishes,” said he, “ought to have great weight with him; their opinions, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasure, his satisfactions to theirs; and, above all, ever and in all cases to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion. Government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of reason is that in which the determination precedes the discussion, in which one set of men deliberate and another decide, and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments ?”
For six years the proud merchants of Bristol were content to be served by a man of this sort. But upon the sudden dissolution of Parliament in 1780, Burke came down to Bristol to find an active canvass against him already in progress. Calling a meeting of the Mayor and prominent citizens, he rendered an account of his stewardship in the speech we are now considering. Its simplicity, its directness, and the calm dignity of its tone, are finely suited to the audience and the occasion, and are in marked contrast with the splendid rhetoric and the magnificent movement of the speech on Conciliation with America. But in devotion to principle, in lofty patriotism, in manly courage, in all that makes the difference between the statesman and the adroit politician, Burke is the same in both. As a noble defence of his own conduct on the part of a public servant, this speech is unsurpassed.
Burke's arguments presuppose a somewhat broad acquaintance with the history of that eventful time, and especially with England's part in it, whether at home or in America, Ireland, France, and the East Indies. The materials for such a synoptic view may be found in Green's Short History of the English People, chapter X., sections ii., iii., iv., supplemented by topical readings from other standard works, especially Lecky's England in the Eighteenth Century.
PAGE 89, 13, 14. the means of honorable service — his election to a seat in Parliament.
19. For the general conduct of elections, see note on the House of Commons, p. 320. In the United States all elections are “contested ; ” i.e., are brought to the test of actual voting. In England such is not always the case. Where there is no hope of carrying the election, or of gain from agitation, the weaker party often saves itself trouble and expense either by putting forward no candidates at all, or by withdrawing them after the canvass has progressed far enough to demonstrate its futility. In such cases, if there are no more candidates than there are seats to fill, the proper officer “ returns” those candidates — certifies that they are duly elected — without actually calling for the votes. Such would seem to have been the case in this election — see note upon the conclusion of this speech. For vivid portrayals of the excitements and strain of a contested election in England, the student should consult George Eliot's Middlemarch and Charles Reade's Put Yourself in His Place.
PAGE 91, 20–30. The student can hardly fail to note the striking application which Burke's utterances often have to present conditions in our own politics and public life. Cf. pp. 92–93, 103, et passim. This is due to his habit of fixing his attention upon the principles involved, rather than upon the passing forms of life and thought.
Page 92, 24 ff. The most shameless intrigues and bribery were resorted to under George III., to enable him to control the legislation and policy of the realm, that he might rule as well as reign. See Green's Short History, X. ii., the House of Commons and the Crown. Burke himself has left a startling picture of this state of affairs in his Thoughts on the Present Discontents. A court party in English politics seems happily now no longer possible. The initial step towards reform Burke had already been urging with characteristic energy in the session just ended (see p. 96, 1. 2 ff). It was not unlike our own Civil Service Reform an attempt to cut short the means for bribery by greatly curtailing the lucrative offices within the gift of the Crown. (Cf. Burke's speech on Economical Reform, delivered Feb. 11, 1780.) The final steps in this same reform were the redistricting of the realm and the extension of the franchise in such a way as to make the House of Commons a body really representing the people. See Macaulay's speech on the Reform Bill, p. 252 ff. of this volume.
35. violate their consciences; e.g., by pledging absolute subserviency to the dictates of their constituents. This is the “ infallible receipt ” spoken of below.
PAGE 96, 31. This was in August, 1776, when Washington was obliged to abandon New York. The victory seemed so deci