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ON AN ADDRESS TO THE THRONE CONCERNING AFFAIRS IN
HOUSE OF LORDS, NOVEMBER 18, 1777.
I RISE, my Lords, to declare my sentiments on this most solemn and serious subject. It has imposed a load upon my mind which I fear nothing can remove, but which impels me to endeavor its alleviation by a free and unreserved communication of my sentiments.
In the first part of the Address I have the honor of heartily concurring with the noble Earl who moved it. No man feels sincerer joy than I do— none can offer more genuine congratulations – on every accession of strength to the Protestant succession. I therefore join 10 in every congratulation on the birth of another Princess, and the happy recovery of her Majesty.
But I must stop here. My courtly complaisance will carry me no farther. I will not join in congratulation on misfortune and disgrace. I cannot concur in a blind 15 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 flattery cannot now avail 20
cannot 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.
This, my Lords, is our duty. It is the proper function of this noble assembly, sitting, as we do, upon our honors 5 in this House, the hereditary council of the Crown. Who
is the Minister — where is the Minister, that has dared to suggest to the Throne the contrary, unconstitutional
language this day delivered from it? The accustomed · language from the Throne has been application to Parlia10 ment for advice, and a reliance on its constitutional
advice and assistance. As it is the right of Parliament to give, so it is the duty of the Crown to ask it. But on this day, and in this extreme momentous exigency, no
reliance is reposed on our constitutional counsels! no 15 advice is asked from the sober and enlightened care of
Parliament! but the Crown, from itself and by itself, declares an unalterable determination to pursue measures — and what measures, my Lords? The measures
that have produced the imminent perils that threaten us; 20 the measures that have brought ruin to our doors.
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 viola25 tion 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 30 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. It is a shameful truth
that not only the power and strength of this country 35 are wasting away and expiring, but her well-earned
glories, her true honor and substantial dignity, are sacrificed.
France, my Lords, has insulted you; she has encouraged and sustained America ; and, whether America be wrong or right, the dignity of this country ought to spurn 5 at the officious insult of French interference. The ministers and embassadors of those who are called rebels and enemies are in Paris; in Paris they transact the reciprocal interests of America and France. Can there be a more mortifying insult? Can even our Ministers sus- 10 tain a more humiliating disgrace? Do they dare to resent it? Do they presume even to hint a vindication of their honor and the dignity of the state, by requiring the dismission of the plenipotentiaries of America ? Such is the degradation to which they have reduced the 15 glories of England! The people whom they affect to call contemptible rebels, but whose growing power has at last obtained the name of enemies; the people with whom they have engaged this country in war, and against whom they now command our implicit support 20 in every measure of desperate hostility — this people, despised as rebels, or acknowledged as enemies, are abetted against you, supplied with every military store, their interests consulted, and their embassadors entertained, by your inveterate enemy! and our Ministers dare 25 not interpose with dignity or effect. Is this the honor of a great kingdom? Is this the indignant spirit of England, who “ but yesterday” gave law to the house of Bourbon ? My Lords, the dignity of nations demands a decisive conduct in a situation like this. Even when the 30 greatest prince that perhaps this country ever saw filled our throne, the requisition of a Spanish general, on a similar subject, was attended to, and complied with ; for, on the spirited remonstrance of the Duke of Alva, Elizabeth found herself obliged to deny the Flemish exiles all 35 countenance, support, or even entrance into her dominions, and the Count Le Marque, with his few desperate followers, were expelled the kingdom. Happening to arrive at the Brille, and finding it weak in defence, they 5 made themselves masters of the place; and this was the foundation of the United Provinces.
My Lords, this ruinous and ignominious situation, where we cannot act with success, nor suffer with honor,
calls upon us to remonstrate in the strongest and loudest 10 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 honor the English
troops. I know their virtues and their valor. I know 15 they can achieve anything except impossibilities; and I
know that the conquest of English America is an impossibility. You cannot, I venture to say it, you cannot conquer America. Your armies last war effected every
thing that could be effected; and what was it? It cost 20 a numerous army, under the command of a most able
general, now a noble lord in this House, a long and laborious campaign to expel five thousand Frenchmen from French America. My Lords, you cannot conquer
America. 25 What is your present situation there? We do not
know the worst; but we know that in three campaigns we have done nothing and suffered much. Besides the sufferings, perhaps total loss, of the northern force, the
best appointed army that ever took the field, commanded 30 by Sir William Howe, has retired from the American
lines. He was obliged to relinquish his attempt, and with great delay and danger to adopt a new and distant plan of operations. We shall soon know, and in any
event have reason to lament, what may have happened 35 since. As to conquest, therefore, my Lords, I repeat, it
is impossible. 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 5 efforts are forever vain and impotent — doubly 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 10 rapacity of nireling 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.
Your own army is infected with the contagion of these 15 illiberal allies. The spirit of plunder and of rapine is gone forth among them. I know it; and, notwithstanding what the noble Earl who moved the Address has given as his opinion of the American army, I know from authentic information and the most experienced 20 officers, that our discipline is deeply wounded. While this is notoriously our sinking situation, America grows and flourishes; while our strength and discipline are lowered, hers are rising and improving.
But, my Lords, who is the man that, in addition to 25 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 defence of disputed 30 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. I believe it is 35