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Reign of George III. (Continued.)


The Winter in Massachusetts - Blockade of Boston - Departure of the British Troops - Warfare in South Carolina - Americans expelled from Canada - Arrival of Admiral Howe - Pamphlets of Thomas Paine - Silas Deane's Mission to France - Independence proposed by Lee - Promulgated - The Name of the United States assumed - The British on Long Island - Battle of Brooklyn - Project to burn New York - The Barber Captain - Franklin's Mission to France - Overtures to Prince Charles Stuart - Washington's Night-march to Trenton - Surprise of the Hessians - Action at Princeton - New Jersey recovered by the Americans - Close of the Campaign- Parliament in England - Fire in the Dockyard at Portsmouth - Similar attempt at Plymouth - Jack the Painter - His Execution - Trial of Home Tooke - British Ambassador at Paris - Kosciusko - La Fayette goes to America - Skirmish at Quibbletown - Battle of Brandywine - British enter Philadelphia - Battle of Germontown - Condition of Washington's Army - Burgoyne re-takes Forts Ticonderoga and Edward - Miss M'Rea - Battle on Behmus's Heights - Burgoyne's Retreat - Negotiations with General Gates - Surrender of Burgoyne - Terms of the Convention broken - British Parliament - Chatham's Speech on the Employment of Indians - News of Burgoyne's Surrender - and of American Treaty with France.
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Whilst affairs in America were rapidly assuming that shape which seemed to preclude every hope of accommodation, efforts were not wanting in Great Britain, even at this late period, still to check the fatal progress of the government. The Irish, who had for ages been an oppressed people, sympathised intensely with the Americans. The Protestant dissenters of Dublin voted thanks to lord Howard of Effingham, for resigning his commission in the army, rather than sanction the war against the colonies. They voted the same thanks to the peers in opposition, who had exerted themselves to put an end to this unnatural quarrel. The common council of Dublin, prevented by the lord-mayor and aldermen from sending a strong petition and remonstrance to the king against the war, passed a resolution, expressing their deep sympathy with the injured inhabitants of America, and with their own countrymen about to be sent to slaughter their innocent fellow-subjects; and, aiming at the lord-mayor and aldermen, they declared all who opposed a petition tending to undeceive the king, by which the shedding of blood might be prevented, were enemies to the constitution. Soon after, on lord Harcourt, the lord-lieutenant, proposing to the Irish house of commons to send four thousand men out of Ireland, and receive as many foreign troops at no expense to Ireland, the house absolutely refused to admit the foreign troops. The conduct of lord Harcourt was brought before the English house of commons, on the plea that he had made an offer of public money contrary to the rule which required such matters to come first from the English commons. The case was clearly a breach of privilege, but ministers got out of it by their standing majority.

The English opposition was not so readily disposed of. The spirit of that body rose higher, as the imminence of war became greater. Charles James Fox made a motion for a committee to inquire into the causes of the inefficiency of his majesty's arms in North America, and of the defection of the people in the province of Quebec. He took a searching review of the whole proceedings since 1774, and contended that there was a great lack of ability and management somewhere, either in the government which planned, or the generals who had to execute the ministerial orders. His motion was rejected by two hundred and forty to one hundred and four votes.

But on the 29th of February the treaties lately entered into by the British government with a number of German princes to furnish troops to fight in America, were laid on the table of the commons; and a just and intense indignation was raised against this most odious and impolitic measure. There had been negotiations with Russia for the purpose of procuring her savages to put down our kinsmen in America; but this barbarous attempt had failed. It was more successful with the petty princes of Germany, the relations of the king and queen of England, who, always poor and always rapacious, were only too glad to turn the blood of their subjects into money. The duke of Brunswick, the landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, and other little despots, for whose protection England had lavished oceans of blood and millions of money to prevent their being, as they would have been but for this long ago, swallowed up by Russia, Prussia, or France, now greedily seized on the necessity of England, to drive the most extravagant terms with her. Under the name of levy-money, they were to receive seven pounds ten shillings for every man; and besides maintaining them, we were to pay to the duke of Brunswick, who supplied four thousand and eighty-four men, a subsidy of fifteen thousand five hundred and nineteen pounds; the landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, who furnished twelve thousand men, did not get such good terms as Brunswick - he had ten thousand pounds; the hereditary prince of Hesse, six thousand pounds a-year, for only six hundred and eighty- eight men. Besides this, the men were to begin to receive pay before they began to march. The duke of Brunswick was also to receive double his sum, or thirty-one thousand and thirty-eight pounds a-year, for two years after they ceased to serve; and the landgrave of Hesse was to receive twelve months' notice of the discontinuance of the payment after his troops had returned to his dominions, and that year's payment was to be four hundred and fifty thousand crowns, or nearly one hundred thousand pounds. The prince of Waldeck soon after engaged to furnish six hundred and seventy men on equally good terms. Beyond all these conditions, England was bound to defend the dominions of these German harpies in the absence of their troops, so that had Frederick of Prussia, or had France or Austria, chosen to invade their petty territories, we should have been involved in a continental war on their account.

Surely never were mercenaries engaged by the most distressed nation on such disgraceful terms. Frederick of Prussia, who himself would have engaged mercenaries without any scruple, did not, however, omit the opportunity to express his contempt of George III.'s rapacious relatives, who sold him the blood of their subjects on such terms. Whenever any of the Brunswickers or Hessians passed through his territories on their march to the place of embarkation, he is said to have charged them toll as cattle, seeing that they were sold like cattle. Lord Mahon says, that " as the traveller lingers over the delicious garden slopes of Wilhelm's Höhe, he may sigh to think at what sacrifice they were adorned; how many burghers' sons from the adjoining town of Cassel were sent forth for no object but replenishing the coffers of their sovereigns, to fight and fall in a quarrel not their own." But if the improvement of their castles and estates with the blood-money of England had been the worst mode of its expenditure, it had been well. You have only to converse with the Germans themselves, to learn that our money, thus easily obtained, went to pamper the vilest sloth and lust of princely swine - went to pay the debts and mistresses of men that were loathed by their own people as monsters of sensuality; and these princes, who did not bring anything like the number of soldiers into the field for which they were paid, spent the money of moral George and moral England in satisfying greedy concubines and long-waiting creditors, and then plunged into still deeper sensual mire, in reliance on the lavish, unscrutinising, and exhaustless subsidies of England. The stories of such facts, still detailed in Germany, are painful to English ears. And what were the men they sold us? They were the offscouring of their populations, not raised, as now, by conscription, but raked together by every means, and we shall but too soon have to discover their real value to our service. In short, these Menschen Verkäufer, or men-sellers, as they are styled by their own people, had driven a very hard bargain with us for very worthless wares. We paid for about seventeen thousand mercenaries a million and a half yearly!

There is no point of view in which it is possible to regard these transactions in too severe a spirit. What a spectacle was it to the world to see England, in open defiance of her own constitutional principles, hiring the vilest of men to massacre our own fellow-subjects! It was a circumstance which greatly exasperated the Americans, and greatly encouraged them, by making it appear that we were too weak to contend against them ourselves. In the same degree, and for the same reasons, it encouraged France to make common cause with the colonists, and nothing is clearer than that, had we given an extra bounty and pay, we could, at an infinitely less annual cost, have raised infinitely better men at home. But the whole of the policy of the reign of George III. had from the first been so impolitic, and so grossly hostile to liberty, the monarch himself growing every day more and more obstinate, and more and more insisting on his own narrow and incapable ideas, that nothing but a frightful catastrophe could result from it.

The independent members of both houses nobly discharged their duty in condemnation of this engagement of German mercenaries. Even Lord Irnham, a Luttrel, stimulated into a violent oppositionist by the treatment of his daughter, the duchess of Cumberland, by the court, could grow virtuous on the occasion. He compared the German princes, the relatives of the king and queen, to Sancho Panza, when he wished that all his subjects of Barataria were black-a- moors, that he might turn them into ready money by selling them for slaves. He declared that they were guilty of the additional crime of selling their people to destroy much better and nobler beings than themselves. Other members anticipated that we were only paying for the emigration of these Germans to America, where 150,000 of their countrymen had already crossed from their despotic masters at home; but the ministry were of opinion that these gallant Hessians and Brunswickers had only to show themselves in the colonies to frighten the insurgents into submission.

In the house of lords, the duke of Richmond denounced the whole scheme of setting rude mercenaries to butcher our own kinsmen. He represented the rapacity of the petty princes of Germany as unparalleled, and he complained of the secret influence which rendered all appeals to the throne for wise and humane measures abortive. That influence, however, was now well known to be the king's own stubborn will and incapability for perceiving the calamitous course that he was pursuing. He thought it perfectly monstrous that for seventeen thousand three hundred mercenaries we should be paying a million and a half annually. On every possible occasion, the opposition in both houses renewed the appeal to better principles. The duke of Grafton, on the 14th of March, moved an address to his majesty, that opportunity should be given to the colonists still to offer their list of grievances, and that a suspension of arms should be granted to afford time to consider them. He assured government that negotiations between America and France were already on foot for sending assistance by the French to the colonies; that two French gentlemen had been to America, had conferred with Washington at his camp, and had then proceeded to the congress at Philadelphia.

Ministers blindly treated all these warnings as groundless and ridiculous, declaring that we were never on better terms with France. In one of the debates, the earl of Coventry stated the true philosophy of colonisation. He begged their lordships to look at the map of America, and then ask themselves whether, at best, we could long hope to retain such a vast continent under our sway? He declared that the profits of a great and growing legitimate commerce were the real advantages of states planted by the parent country to that country; and that the true wisdom was to secure the affection of such peoples by granting them the most perfect freedom of action. Such doctrines, however, were far beyond the majority of statesmen of the time, and had to be made intelligible by humiliation and misfortune. Even the most enlightened of the opposition contemplated the separation of America from us as synonymous with the ruin of our trade. They did not yet comprehend the depth of the roots of blood and affinity, even though shaken and outraged, nor the mighty force of mutual necessities in nations. On the 10th of May, alderman Sawbridge, now lord mayor, made a motion for placing the Americans in the same position with regard to this country as Ireland; and general Conway made a final motion for inspecting the powers of the commissioners sent to America. All these efforts were vain.

During these discussions Wilkes brought in a motion for reform in parliament, by increasing the number of representatives for the larger counties, for the metropolis, and by conferring the franchise on the great manufacturing towns of Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham. Such a motion required, yet, many long years to render it effective. The lords, also, spent a great deal of time investigating the question of the legality of the marriage of the celebrated beauty, the duchess of Kingston, formerly Miss Chudleigh, who was accused of being at the same time married to Mr. Augustus John Hervey, now earl of Bristol. Though she had, before marrying the duke of Kingston, procured a sentence of the Consistorial Court for the dissolution of her first marriage, the lords pronounced her guilty of bigamy; but, on the plea of her privileges as a peeress, exempted her from punishment. By this decision she was reduced to the rank and title of countess-dowager of Bristol, but not deprived of the benefit of the late duke of Kingston's will on her behalf. Her former husband, the earl of Bristol, also, was now deceased.

The king prorogued parliament, under the pleasing delusion that his German mercenaries would soon bring his rebellious subjects to reason; and the ministers apparently as firmly shared in this fallacious idea.

In America, during this time, various encounters had taken place betwixt the English and American forces. Washington, spite of the severity of the winter weather, was pressing the blockade of Boston. But the difficulties with which he had to contend were so enormous, that, had general Howe had any real notion of them, as he ought to have had, he might have beaten off the American troops over and over. Iiis troops, it is true, only amounted to about seven thousand, and Washington's to about fifteen thousand; but besides the deficiency of powder in Washington's camp, the conditions on which his troops served were such as kept him in constant uncertainty. He declared that it took two or three months to bring them into any tolerable degree of subordination. By the time that was partly done, the period of their engagement terminated, and he was reduced to relax discipline, and coax them to renew their term. He complained, too, that the patriotism of the New Englanders did not bear a close inspection. He declared in his letter to his friend, Joseph Reed, that the conduct of the New England troops was scandalous, and that " a dirty, mercenary spirit pervaded the whole;" that " notwithstanding all the public virtue which is ascribed to the people of Massachusetts, there is no nation under the sun, that I ever came across, which pays greater adoration to money than they do... Such a dearth of public spirit and want of virtue; such stock-jobbing and fertility in all the low arts, to obtain advantage of one kind or another in this great charge of military management, I never saw before, and pray God I may never be witness to again." He declared that, could he have foreseen what he should have to suffer from them, he would never have accepted the command.

Fortunately for him, the English in Boston were benumbed with that kind of lethargy which God sends when he means to punish a nation. The affairs of the commissariat, though they had the command of the sea, and had plenty of ships to bring in provisions, were managed with that ineffable neglect, which has made that department of our service, down to our time, the scorn of the whole world. In the terrible weather of this winter the troops suffered miserably from want both of fuel and food, and they were compelled to pull down houses for the timber for their fires. The officers tried to get through this wretchedness the best they might by establishing a theatre, holding balls, and projecting masquerades. They observed that England seemed to have forgotten them, and they tried to forget themselves.

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.)

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