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EXTRACT FROM MR. PITT'S SPEECH, Nov. 18, 1777, ON AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
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 endeavour its allevia tion, 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 congratulation on every accession of strength to the Protestant succession: I therefore join 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 and servile address, which approves, and endeavours to sanctify, the monstrous measures that have heaped disgrace and misfortune upon us; that have brought ruin to our doors. This, my lords, is a perilous and tremendous moment! It is not a time for adulation. The smoothness of flattery cannot now avail; 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 delusion and the darkness which envelop it; and display, in its full danger and true colours, the ruin that it has brought to our doors.
And who is the minister; where is the minister, who 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 Parliament 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 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 imminent perils that threaten us; 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 violation of the other? To give an unlimited credit and support for the perseverance in measures, 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 poeti but though it is poetry, it is no fiction. It is a shameful truth, that not only the power and strength of this country are wasting away and expiring; but her well earned glories, her true honors, 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 at the officious insult of French interference. The ministers and ambassadors 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 sustain 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 dismissal of the plenipotentiaries of America? Such is the degradation to which they have reduced the 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 in every measure of desperate hostility: this people, despised as rebels, are acknowledged as enemies, are abetted against you; supplied with every military store; their interests consulted, and their ambassadors entertained, by your inveterate enemy! and our ministers dare 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.
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 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 they can achieve any thing 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 a númerous 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. 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. We shall soon know, and in any event, have reason to lament, what may have happened 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, who sells his subjects to the shambles of a foreign power; your 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 rapacity of hireling cruelty! If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign. troop remained in my country, I NEVER would lay down my arms; NEVER, NEVER, NEVER.
SCENE FROM THE TRAGEDY OF CATO.
Cato. FATHERS, we once again are met in council:
Cesar's approach has
And Rome attends her fate from our resolves.
Sempronius. My voice is still for war.
Attack the foe, break through the thick array
Luc. My thoughts, I must confess, are turn'd on
Already have our quarrels fill'd the world
Our vain attempts. To urge the foe to battle,