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In America hostilities were now commenced. It had frequently been asserted in Parliament that the colonists were cowards. One gentleman declared that with three thousand men he could over-run America. This opinion was also very generally received out of the house. Hardly was there to be met a half-pay officer, who did not, at his village club, declare, that with two or three regiments he HIMSELF could subdue America. Burke, who knew. the human mind, general history as well as the particular state, sentiments, and dispositions of the Americans, and could infer motive and action from situation and character, entertained a far different opinion; an opinion which the first battle between the British and provincial troops tended to confirm. Although the colonists were defeated at Bunker’s-hill, they lost fewer men than the British. Besides the valour of men fighting in what they conceived to be the cause of their own liberty, they had acquired great dexterity in the use of arms, and were excellent marksmen. The AmeCC3,
ricans made a successful inroad into Canada, and penetrated as far as Quebec.
The British Ministry not having foreseen so vigorous a resistance, had not made the preparations, which coercive measures were found to require. Indeed it does not appear that they had been at pains, proportionate to the importance of the object, to attain full information on the dispositions and resources of the colonies: therefore, although we should admit the justice and even the expediency of the measures of Administration, we cannot give them much credit for the wisdom of their plans and vigour of their efforts at the commencement of the rupture. . Perceiving, from the successes of the Americans, that the present force was very inadequate to the purposes of coercion, they resolved to open the following campaign with a much more powerful arinament,
· The Congress sent Mr. Penn and Mr. Lee to London, to represent the injustice sustained from the new system of statutes and
regulations; to state that they had been forced to take up arms in their own defence; to deprecate the farther effusion of blood; and to pray that his Majesty would adopt some mode for the repeal of the hurtful acts. A petition to this purport was signed by John Hancock, the president, and all the members of the Congress. It was delivered to Lord Dartmouth, Secretary of State. Soon afterwards the deputies were informed that no answer would be given.
The Parliament opened with a speech, declaring the necessity of coercion. An address was proposed, echoing as usual the speech, to which a very able opposition was made. Burke, besides going over the grounds of injustice and inexpediency, demonstrated, that the Ministers were either very deficient in point of information, or in faithful reports to Parliament. They had, he said, given false accounts, representing dissatisfaction as confined to Boston, although it was well known to impartial enquirers that it had pervaded the colonies.
He had himself repeatedly asserted, that the discontent was generally prevalent: the event had proved him to be right. Ministers, he argued, were either weak, in adopting momentous measures, or inadequate in information, or wicked in concealing the knowledge they possessed ; and in either case unworthy of being trusted any longer with the conduct of affairs. He entered into a very minute recapitulation of the boasts of Ministry, and contrasted them, with very severe humour, with the actual performance.
Fox, on the same occasion, poured forth a torrent of his powerful eloquence. In the plain, forcible language which forms one of the many excellencies of his speeches, he shewed what ought to have been done, what Ministers said would be done, and what was done. - Lord Chatham," he said, • the King of Prussia, nay, Alexander the Great, never gained more in one campaign than Lord North lost: he has lost a whole continent. His sagacious mind, at the com-'
mencement of the war, foresaw the event. Fox - perceived, and predicted, that men fighting for their liberty would be ultimately successful. He tried to dissuade his country from war, foreboding discomfiture and distress from such a contest. The admonitions of this great man were disregarded. His country hearkened not to his warning voice. The actual disaster and consequent : calamity far exceeded the anticipation of even Fox's foresight.
November 16th, 1775, Burke brought forward a new conciliatory bill. In his two - celebrated speeches of the preceding session; and the session before that, he had grounded his propositions of amity upon the mutual INTERESTS of the mother country and the colonies. The ground of his present motion was the right of subjects of this realm to grant or withhold all taxes, as recognized by the great financial statute passed in the reign of Edward I.--statutum de tallagio non concedendo. On this statute, he observed,