Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

nion that the victors could not boast 'of their conquest I782« in taking an hospital. The indignation and grief expressed by the British troops on their being at length vanquished, was mentioned in terms of admiration, and of the highest honor to the garrison, in the Spanish published accounts of this transaction. During the siege from the 19th of August 1781, to the 4th of February inclusive, the total of the killed was 59, and of the wounded 149.

The sympathy discovered by the enemy upon the occasion, was highly to their honor. Several of the common soldiers of both armies were so moved by the wretched condition of the garrison, that involuntary tears dropped from them as the prisoners passed along. The subsequent tenderness shown by the duke de Crillon, the count of the fame name and family, and the baron de Falkinhayn, who commanded the French troops, in their continued supply of all necessaries to the sick, and their unremitted attention to their recovery, was beyond all praise.

The members in the British house of commons op- . posed: to the administration, aimed at binding up the j hands of the executive government by a strong and explicit declaration of the opinion of parliament. Gen. Conway therefore moved—" That an humble address 22. be presented to his majesty, that he will be pleased to give directions to his ministers not to pursue any longer the impracticable object of reducing his majesty's revolted colonies, by force, to their allegiance, by a war on the continent of America, and to assure his majesty, that his faithful commons will most cheerfully concur with him in such measures as may be found necessary to

Q^3 acce

i782' accelerate the blessing of returning peace." The debates were warm, and held till two in the morning; when upon the division the numbers for the motion were 193, and against it 194. The majority of one only on the side of ministry, proved that their influence was nearly at an end. Five days after Conway renewed his motion. The debates it occasioned continued till near two in the morning, when the attorney general moved —" That the present debate be adjourned until the 13th of March." There were for the adjournment 215 against 234. The original motion, and an address to the king formed upon the resolution, were then carried without a division, and the address was ordered to be presented by the whole house. The next day, the attorney general moved to bring in a bill to enable his majesty to conclude a peace or truce with the revolted colonies in America, which was agreed to. The bill had for its object the repeal of all acts relative to the commerce of America, from the 12th of Charles II. The fame day the secretaries of state sent a letter to the lord mayor of London, informing him of the apprehension which existed of riots and tumults in the evening; that so proper measures might be taken for securing the public peace. It was feared, that the great and general joy occasioned by the carrying os Conway's motion would Mar. have produced those riots. On the 4th of March, his 4' majesty's answer was reported to the house, and the thanks of the house unanimously voted to the king for the same. Aster which Conway rose and moved another resolution—" That this house will consider as enemies to his majesty and this country, all those who shall endeavour to frustrate his majesty's paternal care for the case and happiness of his people, by advising, or by '78z» any means attempting, the further prosecution of offensive war on the continent of North America, for the purpose of reducing the colonies to obedience by force." Government made a feeble opposition to the motion, and at length suffered it to pass without a division. On that day also, a commission passed the great seal, appointing Sir Guy Carleton commander in chief in America.

The resolutions that were passed in the house, and the warm reception they met with from the public, served to show that a complete revolution in the internal policy of government must succeed, which was an event no wife agreeable to the sentiments of the court.

The opposition sought to obtain a vote, from which g, it might appear, that the house of commons had totally withdrawn its confidence from the present administration. Lord John Cavendish made several motions with that view, and a long debate ensued, when the house divided at last on the order of the day, which had been moved for and was carried by a majority of 10. That day week, a motion was made by Sir John Rous, i*. in which it was proposed to resolve, that the house could have no further confidence in the ministers, who had die direction of public affairs. On this occasion the strength of both parties was mustered. Near 480 members were presents and on the division the question was negatived by a majority of only 9, Notice was given after the division, that a motion to the fame effect would be made on the Wednesday following.

On that day, the house was again uncommonly crowd- 20, ed> when after a while, lord North assured the house

0^4 with.

•with authority, that the administration, against which the intended motion was levelled, did no longer exist; and that his majesty was come to a full determination of changing his ministers. He then moved for an adjournment, that leisure might be given for the forming of a new administration. He • afterward took leave of the house as minister. His speech was decent and pathetic. He thanked them for the honorable support they had given him during so long a course of'years, and in so many trying situations; and concluded with signifying, that he was both ready and desirous to encounter the strictest scrutiny into his conduct.

During the adjournment, which was to the 25th, the new administration was formed under the auspices of the marquis of Rockingham, on whose public principles and private honor, the nation can rely with confidence, after the violent struggle with which it has been agitated. The cabinet, including the marquis as first commissioner of the treasury, is composed of the earl of Shelburne and Mr. Fox, who have been appointed secretaries of state; lord Camden, president of the council ■, the duke of Grafton, privy seal j lord John Cavendish, chancellor of the Exchequer; admiral Keppel, first commissioner of the admiralty; general Conway, commander in chief of the forces; the duke of Richmond, master-general of the ordnance; Barre, treasurer of the navy j and Edmund Burke, paymaster general.

The public measures for which the new minister is said to have stipulated with the court, before he would consent to enter into any negotiation for office, are these —1. Peace with the Americans; and the acknowledgment of their independence not to be a bar to the attainment tainment of the same—2. A substantial reform in the se- '78z veral branches of the civil list expenditure, on the plan of Mr. Burke—3. The diminution of the influence of the crown, under which article the bills for excluding contractors from feats in parliament, and disqualifying the revenue officers from voting in the election of members were included.

The revolution that has taken place in the British administration, is chiefly owing to the capture of lord Cornwallis and his army; and must diffuse a general joy through the United States of America, whenever the account reaches them; by exciting their hopes of soon possessing the great object for which they have been . contending. But the disagreeable intelligence received at the admiralty office from the West Indies on the 12th and 26th of March, did undoubtedly promote and confirm the said revolution.

The superiority of the French by sea and land in that part of the world, enabled them to undertake what they pleased. The loss of Statia was but the prelude to further misfortunes on the side of Britain. St. Kitt's was doomed to become a victim to the policy and power of

France. The marquis de Bouille landed 8000 men on T

n Jan.

the island, and was supported by count de Grasse, with "• 32 ships of the line. The garrison under gen. Fraser 1 did not exceed.600 effective men: so that the great superiority of the enemy prevented ail resistance to their landing. The garrison retired to Brimstone-hill, which, beside some newly erected fortifications, was considered from its height and almost inaccessible 'situation, as one of the strongest posts in- the West India islands. -_ But the troops were too few for its defence through a long siege.

The

« ZurückWeiter »