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their various relations, it does not appear
may impute the proposed
A motion was made, and introduced by the energetic eloquence of Fox, for the house to resolve itself into a committee, to consider of the American war. The motion was supported by the whole force of Opposition, a combination of talents of the highest rank, seldom united,-by Sheridan, by Dunning, by Pitt, by Burke, and by Fox. Each of these orators, all fit for being leaders of a political party, exerted his eloquence on the question. The motion was negatived ; and soon after the session closed.
When we consider the number of enemies with whom Britain had to cope, we might supose that she would be compelled to act chiefly on the defensive. This, however, was not the case. Her offensive
operations were vigorous, and in some casessuccessful. Admiral Kempenfelt, with an inferior force, defeated a French Fleet off Ushant. Admiral Parker fought the Dutch off the Dogger Bank, with little advantage to either side. In the West Indies, the British, after capturing St. Eustatius, had several actions with the French fleets; but without any signal advantages on either side. In America, the British were victorious by sea : by land several successful inroads were made into the provinces, and affairs for some time wore rather a favourable aspect ; but received a fatal reverse in the capture of the brave Cornwallis, with the whole of the southern army. This event contributed, more than any that had yet happened, to produce an irresistible conviction in the minds of the British, that the subjugation of America was impracticable.
As mankind in general judge more from EVENTS than from PLANS, the discomfiture of our forces produced great clamours against the Ministry; even from those who had before been most strenuous in recommending the coercion of America, and most sanguine in their expectation of success. The Opposition, from the arrival of the accounts, which came about the commencement of the Christmas holidays, proposed to proceed against the Ministry with a vigour now animated by a well grounded expectation of success. Many, who had professed themselves the friends of Lord North, either now really disapproving of his measures, or, what is as probable, foreseeing that he could not much longer continue in office, left him.
It was concerted, that the attack should be begun, immediately after the recess, by Mr. Fox, who was to make a motion for an investigation into the conduct of Lord Sandwich. Indisposition for some days prevented that orator from attending the house :.. on which Burke said, no one laments Mr. Fox's illness more than I do ; and I declare, if he should continue ill, the inquiry into the conduct of the First Lord of the Ad.. miralty should not be proceeded upon; and even should the country suffer so serious a calamity as his death, it ought to be followed up earnestly and solemnly ; nay, of so much consequence is the inquiry to the public, that no bad use would be made of the skin of his departed friend, should such be his fate, if, like that of John Zisca, it should be converted into a drum, and used for the purpose of sounding an alarm to the people of England.”
February 7, 1782, Mr. Fox began his attack on the Ministry, by moving accusations against Lord Sandwich, under five several heads, which he summed up as the ground of a resolution declaratory of mismanagement in naval affairs. Burke supported the motion; and though it was negatived, the majority was so small as to render it probable that Ministers could not much longer
stand their ground. February 22d, General Conway made a motion for addressing his Majesty to put an end to the American War. Burke supported this motion by all his powers of humour and of serious reasoning: - It was lost by a majority of only one. Fe-. bruary 27th, General Conway put the motion in a different form, and carried it by a majority of nineteen. The country gentlemen now joined Opposition. Lord John Cavendish made a motion, declaring that the house could no longer repose confidence in the Ministry, which was at first rejected by a small majority ; but a few days after, a similar motion was made, on which Lord North rose, and declared that he was no longer Minister. A new Administration was formed, of which the Marquis of Rockingham was the nominal head and Mr. Fox the real. Burke was appointed Paymaster-General.
Thus have we seen Burke steadily and vigorously endeavouring, first, to prevent the contest with America ; then to end the war, and to have its supporters deprived of