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He was pointedly severe on the gentlemen wlio had spoken against the address, and particularly on Mr. Sheridan. No man admired more than he did the abilities of that right honourable gentleman, the elegant sallies of his thought, the gay effusions of his fancy, his dramatic turns, and his epigrammatic points; and if they were reserved for the proper stage, they would no doubt receive, what the honourable gentleman's abilities always did receive, the plaudits of the audience; and it would be his fortune,
“ Sui plausu gaudere theatri." But this was not the proper scene for the exhibition of these ele. gancies ; and he therefore must bėg leave to call the attention of the House to the serious consideration of the very important question then before them.
The clamoure excited against the peace were loud in propor. tion to their injustice; and it was generally the case that where men complained without cause, they complained without temper. It was necessary to look back, notwithstanding all that the honourable gentleman on the other side of the way had said, to the language of that House, and to the sentiments of that House on this very subject. Had they forgot the résolutions of last session, by which ministers were bound to recognize the independence of America ? Had they considered that that resolution, in which he for one most heartily concurred, took at the same time from ministers their advantage ground in negociation; and deprived them of the opportunity of proposing independence as a boon to be conceded, as a matter to be offered as the price, or as the basis of peace? Had they forgot the application made by the right honourable gentleman over the way * to the Dutch, an application couched in terms to his feeling more degrading than any concession in the present peace ? Had they forgot the language of that day, when we were told that we must have peace on any terms ; peace for a year, for a day, just to give us a little breathing time? Were not these things to be remembered? or were they to be told, that times and circumstances were so completely changed, that what would have been desirable then,
* Mr. Fox.
would not be so now? Were the circumstances so materially changed? Yes, they were ; for these opinions were given, and these assertions made, when the right honourable gentleman was in office, and when the task of making peace was likely to fall on his own head. This was the change; this was the material alteration of circumstances which had taken place, and which now called for different conditions. The right honourable gentleman was no longer in place; he was no longer responsible for the terms, and therefore the circumstances were changed.
But to shew that there was no other change of circumstances, he went into a long and particular detail of the relative situation of the belligerent powers - their strength, their resources, their wants, their objects, and their prospects, deducing from this the inference, that it was absolutely and indispensably necessary for this country to have peace, and that under all thecircumstances of the nation at the time, the terms which he had procured, were fair and advantageous. That he might prove this to be the case, heexamined theartieles, andspoke particularly to the points which had been complained of the boundaries of Canada, the fishery of Newfoundland, the cession of the Floridas, the abandonment of the loyalists, and the other topics which had engaged the attention of the House; recommending to them temper and moderation, and spurning at all unseasonable and invidious schemes of opposition, in a moment so calamitous and alarming to the state.
With respect to the unnatural alliance which it was reported had taken place, Mr. Pitt said, it was undoubtedly to be reckoned among the wonders of the age. It was not easy to reduce such an event to any common rule of judging of men. It stretched to a point of political apostacy, which not only astonished so young a man as he was, but apparently astonished and confounded the most veteran observers of the human heart. He was excessively severe on this junction, and spoke in most pointed terms of reproach.*
• Mr. Sheridan, in rising afterwards to explain, took notice of the personal allusions which Mr. Pitt had introduced in his speech. " On the particular sort of personality which the righthonourablegentleman had thought proper to make use of he need not, he said, make any comment
the proAt half past seven in the morning the house divided
For the amendment... 224
Majority against ministers...16
February 21. 1783.
The discussion of the Preliminary Articles of Peace with France, Spain, and America, being this day resumed, the following resolutions censuring the terms of the peace, were moved by Lord John Cavendish.
1st. “ That in consideration of the public faith which ought to be preserved inviolate, this House will support His Majesty in rendering firm and permanent the peace to be conducted definitively, in consequence of the Provisional Treaty and Preliminary Articles which have been laid before the House.”
2d. “ that this House will, in concurrence with His Majesty's paternal regard for his people, employ its best endeavours to improve the blessings of peace, to the advantage of his crown and subjects.”
3d. “ That His Majesty, in acknowledging the independence of the United States of America, by virtue of the powers vested in him by the act of the last session of parliament, to enable His Majesty to conclude a peace or truce with certain colonies in North America, has acted as the circumstances of affairs indispensably required, and in conformity to the sense of parliament.”
4th. “ That the concessions made to the adversaries of Great Britain, by the said Provisional Treaty and Preliminary Articles, are greater than they were entitled to, either from the actual situation of their respective possessions, or from their comparative strength."
priety, the taste, the gentlemanly point of it, must have been obvious to the House. But, said Mr. Sheridan let me assure the right honourable gentleman, that I do now, and will at any time when he chooses to repeat this sort of allusion, meet it with the most sincere good humour. Nay, I will say more— flattered and encouraged by the right honourable gentleman's panegyric on my talents, if ever I again engage in the compositions he alludes to, I may be tempted to an act of presumption- to attempt an improvement on one of Ben Johnson's best characters, the character of the Angry Boy in the Alchymist."
After Mr. Fox had concluded a very long and forcible speech in support of the resolutions,
Mr. Pitt rose, and delivered his sentiments as follows:
Sir, Revering, as I do, the great abilities of the honourable gentleman who spoke last, I lament, in common with the House, when those abilities are misemployed, as on the present question, to inflame the imagination and mislead the judgment. I am told, Sir, “ he does not envy me the triumph of my situation on this day," a sort of language which becomes the candour of that honourable gentleman as ill as his present principles. The triumphs of party, Sir, with which this self-appointedminister seems so highly elate, shall never seduce me to any inconsistency which the busiest suspicion shall presume to glance at. I will never engage in political enmities without a public cause. I will never forego such enmities without the public approbation : nor will I be questioned and cast off in the face of this House, by one virtuous and dissatisfied friend. * These, Sir, the sober and durable triumphs of reason, over the weak and profligate inconsistencies of party violence ; these, Sir, the steady triumphs of virtue over success itself, shall be mine, not only in my present situation, but through every future condition of my life; triumphs which no length of time shall diminish; which no change of principle shall ever sully,
The fatal consequence of Tuesday's vote, which I then deprecated and foretold, is already manifest in this House, and it has been thought on all sides requisite, to give a new stability to the peace, which that vote had already shaken. But the proof which the present motion is about to establish, that we are determined to abide by this peace, is a declaration that we have examined the terms, and have found them inadequate. Still less consistent is this extraordinary motion with the language of Tuesday. It was then urged, that no sufficient time had been allowed us to determine on the articles before us; and in the short space of two days, we are ready to pass a vote of censure on what we declare we have not had leisure to discuss. This, Sir, is the first monstrous production of that strange alliance, which threat
* Supposed to allude to Sir Cecil Wray, Mr. Powys, &c.
ens once more to plunge this devoted country into all the horrors of another war.
It is not, Sir, an exception to any single article, if well-founded exceptions should really exist, that ought to determine the merits of this treaty.
Private interests have their respective advocates, and subjects may be easily found for partial complaints : but private interests must bend to the public safety. What these complaints may prove is indeed yet unknown: for whilst the honourable gentleman alone is describing with so much confidence the distresses and dissatisfactions of trade, she herself is approaching the throne with the effusions of gratitude and affection. The honourable gentleman who spoke last, has fairly stated the terms by which the merits of this peace are to be decided — the relative strength and resources of the respective powers at war. I will im. mediately meet him on this issue.
I shall begin, Sir, with a most important subject, the state of the British navy; and shall refer myself for proofs of what I assert, to the papers now lying on your table. This appeal, Sir, to solid and authentic documents, will appear the more just and necessary, when I acquaint the house, that apoble lord, from whom the honourable gentleman professes to receive his naval information, has varied in his statements to the cabinet, no less than twenty sail of the line.
We are informed, Sir, from the papers before us, that the British force amounted nearly to one hundred sail of the line.Many of these had been long and actively employed on foreign stations. With diligent exertions, six new ships would have been added to the catalogue in March. The force of France and Spain amounted to nearly one hundred and forty sail of the line, sixty of which were lying in Cadiz harbour, stored and victualled for immediate service. Twelve ships of the line including one newly built by the United States, had quitted Boston harbour under Vaudreuil, in a state of perfect repair. An immense landarmament was collected at St. Domingo. These several foroes were united in one object, and that object was the reduction of
• Lord Keppel.