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any recognition nor its Petition to any reply. Some degree of just weight may be acknowledged as attaching to these considerations. Yet after all they amount to little more than a punctilio - a punctilio, namely, as to the rank and title of the persons petitioning a punctilio which, as all parties when too late perceived, ought by no means to have barred a practical consideration of the Petition itself. Even then, perhaps, the terms not indeed expressed but implied in that Petition might if welcomed have averted the further growth of civil strife, and once more united together the two great branches of the British race. Its rejection on the contrary, though little considered at the time in England, was never forgotten in America. An American historian records that afterwards, when pressed by the calamities of war, a doubt would sometimes arise in the minds of many of his countrymen, whether they had not been too hasty in their resistance to their parent state.
“ To such minds,” he adds, “ it was usual to present the second Petition of Congress to the King,
observing thereon that all the blood and all the guilt of “ the war must be charged to British and not to American
Discarding this last overture of reconciliation, and cheered on by the popular favour at home, the Ministers determined that Parliament should be convoked for an early day, the 26th of October, and that the King's Speech should contain no vague expressions, but a clear and explicit scheme of policy. That document accordingly was framed with no common care. It began by inveighing in strong terms against the “ desperate conspiracy” and
general revolt” in North America. It called for decisive exertions, announcing a large increase both in the land and the sea forces, and
consequently greater estimates, And it added that “ In testimony of my
affection for my people I have sent to the garrisons of Gibraltar and • Port Mahon a part of my Electoral troops, in order that
a larger number of the established forces of this kingdom
may be applied to the maintenance of its authority." The King, it was subjoined, had received most friendly
Ramsay's History of the American Revolution, vol. i. p. 214. ed
offers of foreign assistance. Should he in consequence make any treaties he would not fail to lay them before his Parliament. In another paragraph His Majesty declared himself ready to receive the misled with tenderness and mercy; for which purpose he intended to give authority to certain persons upon the spot to receive the submission of any repentant Colony, and to grant general or particular pardons or indemnities in such a manner and to such persons as they should think fit.
Some men were not wanting, even among the King's official servants, to discern the danger of so extreme a
In the month of August the Duke of Grafton had written to Lord North warmly urging the necessity of a reconciliation with America. Lord North did not reply for seven weeks; when he did it was by enclosing a Draft of the King's intended Speech.* Hereupon the Duke came to town and resigned his post as Privy Seal. In the audience which he had of the King, as he tells us in his Memoirs, he ventured to avow his apprehensions. “ I added that, deluded themselves, his Ministers were "deluding His Majesty. The King vouchsafed to debate “ the business much at large; he informed me that a large body of German troops was to join our forces, and
appeared astonished when I answered earnestly that “ His Majesty would find too late that twice that number “ would only increase the disgrace and never effect his purpose."
The retirement of Grafton gave occasion to several changes. Lord Dartmouth, as pacific in his views but less resolute in his purposes, quitted the American Secretaryship and succeeded the Duke as Privy Seal. The American Secretaryship was bestowed on Lord George Germaine, whose military knowledge and undoubted talents ill atoned to the Government for his rash and violent temper.
Another of the Secretaries of State, Lord Rochford, was replaced by Lord Weymouth.
Thus freed from official ties the Duke of Grafton took a public part against the Ministers in the debate on the Address. General Conway, so lately another of their
* The letter of Lord North to the Duke of Grafton, dated October 20. 1775, will be found in the Appendix to this volume
colleagues, likewise spoke against them in the House of Commons. In both Houses nevertheless the Government was upheld by vast majorities; and through the whole remainder of the Session the members of the Opposition were never successful though always strenuous in their efforts. - In the month of November they displayed especial activity. They examined Mr. Penn at the Bar of the House of Lords, and proceeded to move that the Petition which he had brought from Congress afforded ground of conciliation. They raised debates in both Houses against the employing foreign troops without the consent of Parliament. Defeated on these occasions by overwhelming numbers they sped no better in various motions tending to peace with America that were subsequently made by Burke and Fox, by Aldermen Sawbridge and Oliver, by David Hartley, and by the Duke of Grafton. Ti Government was left at full liberty to pursue its negotiations with petty German Princes for the hire of mercenary troops. It was able to carry through before Christmas a new measure, which was called the American Prohibitory Bill, and was first brought forward by Lord North himself on the 20th of November. By this Bill the Boston Port Act and the two Restraining Acts of the last Session were repealed, as no longer applicable to the altered state of things. But all trade and commerce with the thirteen insurgent Colonies was absolutely interdicted so long as their rebellion should continue. The Bill authorized the capture of American vessels or goods, making them the property of the captors. The prisoners taken on such occasions might be pressed for sailors, and sent to serve against their countrymen. Harsh as were these clauses in themselves they were no less harshly defended in argument. Thus Lord Mansfield in supporting them reminded the Peers of the saying of a Swedish General in the reign of Gustavus Adolphus, who had pointed to the enemy, and exclaimed to his own soldiers : “My lads, you see those
men yonder ; if you do not kill them, they will kill
By this Bill moreover, in its last and, in design at least,
* Parl. Hist. vol. xviii. p. 1102.
its more conciliatory clause, the King was authorized to send to America Commissioners selected by himself with great, nay it might almost be said unlimited, authority. They were to grant pardons, and inquire into grievances; they were to have the sole power of judging whether the whole or any part of any Colony showed a disposition to return to its allegiance, and on their so declaring it, the restrictions of the Bill as applied to that Colony or part of a Colony were at once to cease. Such then, after so many previous failures, was the new legislative weapon hurled against America. As Burke some time afterwards said, bitterly indeed but most truly,—“It affords no
matter for very pleasing reflection to observe that our “ subjects diminish as our laws increase!
It may be doubted whether the administration would have stood its ground quite so firmly, had Lord Chatham continued to launch his thunder-bolts against it. But he was now again confined to his house, nay sometimes to his couch, by illness. Again at this time do we find an almost total blank in his correspondence; no letter proceeding from himself; the few to him opened and acknowledged by Lady Chatham ; only his nearest kindred admitted to see him; and only the least exciting topics mentioned in his presence. During the winter of 1775 Lord Camden, the most intimate of his friends and his neighbour in Kent, writes as follows: “Lord Chatham “ continues in the same melancholy way; and the house " is so shut that his sons are not permitted to receive “ visitors.” † His illness at this time appears to have closely resembled both in kind and duration that which had befallen him in his last administration. He had then
* Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, 1777. See also the masterly Protest of Lords Abergavenny, Rockingham, &c. against this Bill (Dec. 15. 1775). I have no doubt of its being Burke's. Lord Rockingham was wholly incapable of such a composition, and on other occasions at least we find Burke employed in writing the Protests for his Lordship's party. (Burke's Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 14.) Indeed the relation between these two statesmen is best described in three words by Horace Walpole where he speaks of Burke as being “ Lord Rockingham's governor !” (To Sir H. Mann, May 6. 1770.)
† To the Duke of Grafton, January 4. 1776. MS
been secluded from the world, from the spring of 1767 until the spring of 1769. Now again he was secluded from the world from the spring of 1775 until the spring of 1777, when as we shall find he once more emerged into public life with undiminished brilliancy and powers.
There was only one point of public moment on which during this second period of eclipse the will or the wish of Chatham was displayed. His eldest son, Lord Pitt, had entered the army; had become aide-de-camp to General Carleton in Canada, and in the autumn of 1775 was sent home with despatches. The question arising of his return to his post, Chatham, by the hand of his wife, intimated to General Carleton that, “from his fixed opi“nion with regard to the continuance of the unhappy war “ with our fellow-subjects in America,” he deemed it necessary to withdraw his son from such a service. Another officer of rank, a Howard, Earl of Effingham, had already on the same grounds resigned his commission also. These resignations being openly made gave matter for much public comment. That must indeed, cried the friends of the colonists, be a guilty and a wretched war, when even the Minister who conquered Canada will not allow his son to unsheath the sword for its defence!
In America the approach of winter did not arrest the progress of hostilities. Small privateers were fitted out, in several of the New England ports, to cruise against the British trade. In requital the British chiefs at Boston despatched early in October two vessels under Lieutenant Mowat with a small detachment of troops on board, and with instructions to annoy and destroy the shipping along the southward coast. Lieutenant Mowat appeared off the town of Falmouth, where, far exceeding his original instructions, he set on fire, not only the ships in the harbour but likewise the town itself. About five hundred houses were thus wantonly and cruelly consumed; and at the same time the Lieutenant was reported to have declared that general orders had been given by the British Ministry to burn the seaport towns. Such a report, not promptly contradicted, produced general and just indignation in America; rendering the spirit of resistance both more intense and more widely diffused. It appears, however, from the authentic documents which