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CHAP, feeble state of his body, and indeed the distempered agitation CXI'V' of his mind, that I did forbode that his strength would certainly fail him before he had finished his speech. In truth, he was not in a condition to go abroad, and he was earnestly requested not to make the attempt; but your Grace knows how obstinate he is when he is resolved. He had a similar fit to this in the summer; like it in all respects, in the seizure, the reaching, and the recovery; and after that fit, as if it had been the crisis of the disorder, he recovered fast, and grew to be in better health than I had known him for many years. Pray heaven that this may be attended with no worse consequences. The Earl spoke, but was not like himself; his speech faltered, his sentences broken, and his mind not master of itself. He made shift, with difficulty, to declare his opinion, but was not able to enforce it by argument. His words were shreds of* unconnected eloquence, and flashes of the same fire which he, Prometheus-like, had stolen from heaven, and were then returning to the place from whence they were taken. Your Grace sees even I, who am a mere prose man, am tempted to be poetical while I am discoursing of this extraordinary man's genius. The Duke of Richmond answered him, and I cannot help giving his Grace the commendation he deserves for his candour, courtesy, and liberal treatment of his illustrious adversary. The debate was adjourned till yesterday, and then the former subject was taken up by Lord Shelburne, in a speech of one hour and three quarters. The Duke of Richmond answered; Shelburne replied; and the Duke, who enjoys the privilege of the last word in that House, closed the business, no other Lord, except our friend Lord Ravensworth, speaking one word; the two other noble Lords consumed between three and four hours. And now, my dear Lord, you must with me lament this fatal accident; I fear it is fatal, and this great man is now lost for ever to his country; for after such a public and notorious exposure of his decline, no man will look up to him, even if he should recover. France will no longer fear him, nor the King of England court him; and the present set of ministers will finish the ruin of the state, because, he being in effect superannuated, the public will call for no other men. This is a very melancholy reflection. The opposition, however, is not broken, and this difference of opinion will wear off; so far, at least, the prospect is favourable. I think I shall not sign the protest, though, in other respects, I shall be very friendly. I have troubled your Grace with a deal of stuff, but the importance of the subject will excuse me.
"Your Grace's, &c.
"P. S. I understand the Earl has slept well last night, and is to be removed to-day to Downing Street. He would have gone into the country, but Addington thinks he is too weak."
On the day when the debate was resumed, Lord Camden was silent; and it was remarked, that thenceforth during the rest of the struggle with America, being deprived of his great associate,— from grief, or despair of doing good, he hardly ever addressed the House.
However, when the Bill to mark the gratitude of the His eulogy nation for the immortal services of Lord Chatham was op- Chatham, posed by the Lord Chancellor Apsley, although the King professed to approve of it, Lord Camden's indignation burst forth, and he exclaimed, "The noble and learned Lord on the woolsack has praised very deservedly — I hope with no insidious intention — the memory of the Duke of Marlborough — but seems entirely to have forgotten the victories of the deceased Earl. I will remind the noble and learned Lord that while he, who it is now wished to treat with neglect, as if by some accident alone he had been elevated to an office he was incompetent to fill, ruled the destinies of this mighty empire, from the extremest east to the setting sun — in every quarter of the globe — to earth's remotest bounds — were the arms of England borne triumphant ; — our operations on the sea and on the land were invariably accompanied by extension of territory and extension of commerce, and we had at once all the glories of war and all the enjoyments of peace. But, my Lords, what I consider a more substantial claim to your admiration and your gratitude, he was ever the assertor of liberty
and the defender of the rights of Englishmen at home and abroad. Had his advice been followed, the country would now have been free, tranquil, and happy; and it is only by returning to his principles that we can be rescued from the state of degradation and suffering to which, by despising them, we have been reduced."* It is not very creditable to the House that, at the division, the attendance of Peers was so small; — perhaps the dinner hour had arrived ; — but the Bill was carried by a majority of 42 to 11.
Lord Camden warmly supported Lord Rockingham's motion for a censure on the manifesto of our Commissioners in America which put the country under martial law — when he took occasion to reprobate the cruel manner in which hostilities were conducted, and still more the arrogant tone in which this cruelty was defended: "Were not tomahawks and scalping-knifes considered the proper instruments of war? Was not letting loose savages to scalp and murder the aged and the impotent, called using the instruments of war which God and nature have put into our hands." Then, in the spirit of his departed friend, he counselled that, instead of trying to lay waste America, we should immediately strike a blow against France, evidently preparing to take part against us. "Distress France," said he; "render her incapable of assisting America. Attack France immediately: attack her powerfully by sea. England is still mistress of the ocean. To wound America is to wound ourselves. To aim a blow at France, is to prevent a blow from being aimed at us by an inveterate enemy." The motion being negatived by 71 to 37, he drew up a spirited protest which was signed by almost all the Whig Peeraf
When the indecisive engagement off Ushant took place in the summer of 1778, Lord Camden, in a letter to the Duke of Grafton, showed much sagacity in penetrating the intentions of France and Spain to assist the Americans: "Keppel's engagement with the French fleet is only the beginning of this cursed war. I don't apprehend the French avoided the action through fear but policy, and that they came out of
Brest only to provoke Keppel to make the first assault, so CHAP, as to be justified in America, by maintaining England to be CXLVthe aggressor, and so to bring the war within the case of their treaty of alliance, by which America is bound to assist, and, indeed, to be a principal in the French war, and Keppel's chasing will be called the first assault. These arc my politics, for I am, as I always have been, persuaded that France was determined at all events to make the war, and I am equally certain that Spain will join, notwithstanding the Spanish ambassador's journey hither, which is no better than an imposture, and that too shallow to impose on any but children and our ministers."
In the Session of 1779, Lord Camden entered into a la- He exposes borious exposure of the abuses of Greenwich Hospital, which ^g^"^8 were rendered famous as the subject of Lord Erekin's first wich Hosspeech at the bar;—and he was of essential service in render- pital" ing this noble establishment more serviceable to our brave seamen.
He then made an effort to obtain liberal measures for Ire- Lord Camland, which, being withheld, up sprang the volunteers, who t„0b^rt petitioned with arms in their hands: "I hope and believe," justice for said he, "notwithstanding the ill treament the Irish have Irelandreceived from this country which has brought upon them an accumulation of distresses and calamities, they will still retain their affection and attachment for England. Let us meet them with generous kindness. Nothing should be done by halves—nothing niggardly—accompanied with apparent reluctance."*
Soon after, in a debate on pensions and sinecures, being He defends taunted about his own pension, or as we Bhould call it "re- hls Pensiontired allowance," he said "he received it for long services, and in lieu of a valuable office (Chief Justice of the Common Pleas) and it would be a hardship to his family to lose it, and the reversion which was to supersede it; but if they must be included in a measure for clearing away abuses, he should rejoice in it, however the loss might distress him, when he
* 20 Pari. Hist. 1177. C70.
CHAP, reflected on the great and permanent advantages which would C thereby accrue to his country."*
s,.pt. iIn the autumn of this year Lord Camden proposed to the 1779. Duke of Grafton a new plan of operations to be pursued by
He re- . - . . . ... A
commends the Opposition: —" A conversation with your Urace upon course to tlie 8tate of tne kingdom at present, will give me as much be pursued satisfaction as I am capable of receiving upon so hopeless a position°P~ 8uDject . If your Grace can suggest any plan of proceeding for the Opposition, likely to change the Court system or animate the public, I shall be happy to adopt as well as to promote it. For my own part, I confess fairly my own opinion that the opposition to the Court is contracted to a handful of men within the walls of parliament, and that the people without doors are either indifferent or hostile to any opposition at all. Whether this singular and unexampled state of the country is owing to a consciousness among the people that they are as much to blame as the Ministers, and are ashamed to confess their own error, or whether, in truth, they hold the Opposition so cheap as to think the kingdom would suffer instead of mending by the exchange, or from a combination of all these motives choose to suffer patiently rather than encounter the troubles that are apt to follow upon a general disturbance: whatever is the cause of that slavish resignation which is predominant at present, the fact is, they do not desire a change. What then is to be done in order to obtain some degree of popularity? I shall make a simple answer by saying, 'Nothing P and yet perhaps that nothing, if well conducted, might have a stronger operation than the vain repetition of those feeble efforts that have hitherto been made in parliament by perpetual wrangles, personal animosity, abuse, and bad language, for this attack has been returned twofold upon us, and has set the parties against each other like a couple of prize-fighters combating for the entertainment of the gazing public, who are greatly diverted by a blow soundly given or dexterously parried, without a wish for the victory of either of the combatants. This has been the conduct of opposition hitherto. If, on the other hand, a firm and temperate opposition in short speeches, a
* 20 Pari. Hist. 1363.