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terms of conciliation, and adhered to the alliance of France, the British would change the nature of the war, and do every thing possible to render America an useless accession. Burke inveighed against this declaration as contrary to the principles of humanity and civilized society; that if a system of desolation was begun by us, it would be retorted by the Americans, and so a horrible addition be made to the usual calamities of war. Besides, he said, that threats of devastation and destruction from those, who manifestly were not now superior in force, were idle and vain. It shewed a wish for barbarity, without the means of being effectually barbarous. It was requested that the manifesto should be disavowed by Administration ; and a motion was made for an address to his Majesty, expressing the disapprobation of the House of Commons. This motion was negatived.
The action of the 27th of July now became the subject of parliamentary discussion. Sir Hugh Palliser had published a letter in
a morning paper, containing a statement of the particulars of the engagement, and replete with indirect insinuation and direct censure against the conduct of Admiral Keppel. Keppel declared, that unless this letter was disavowed, he would accept of no command under which Palliser was to be employed. Palliser, in the house, charged Keppel, in whose praises he before had been lavish, with misconduct and incapacity, and applied to the Admiralty for a court-martial on the Commander in Chief. This was readily granted, and Keppel was honourably acquitted. *
Great dissensions in the navy were the consequence of the dispute between the two Admirals. One party blamed Palliser for his proceedings against the Commander in Chief, another censured Keppel for losing an advantageous opportunity, by an un
* This trial, of great consequence in itself, derived an adventitious importance, from its having afforded the first opportunity of a display of his powers to the greatest judicial speaker of modern times,
necessary apprehension of the dangers of a ler-shore.
One of the judges, Captain Duncan, when afterwards elevated to a situation in which his wisdom, skill, and vigour could fully operate, has demonstrated, to the complete satisfaction of both friends and enemies, that an Admiral may gain a signal victory, though very near a LEE-SHORE. Lord Nelson's authority supports the same theory.
Fox and Burke endeavoured to prove, that the fleet had been so inferior to what was requisite, as to manifest great neglect of duty in the First Lord of the Admiralty. A motion was made, to censure Lord Sandwich and his colleagues in office. Here Burke, as on many questions respecting the conduct of Ministry, was a mere party man, not a philosophical politician. No facts were adduced to justify the censure. Had Burke been, on every question, the impartial philosopher, he certainly would have been a still greater character. Impar
with so very
tiality, however, was not to be expected from the ablest of men,
violeirt passions, in a situation tending so much to inflame passion. Unconnected with party politics, in the calm investigation of the closet, lis extraordinary genius must have been a more constant agent of wisdom than when so often biassed by party contentions.
A question now occurred, not of ministerial conduct, but of national policy, on a subject that had been partly discussed the preceding session, respecting the trade of Ireland. Here it was Burke's province to take the lead; he took a very active part in endeavouring to procure to his native country that relief which she wanted, and which it was just and politic she should receive. The Minister for some time did not interfere in the business, but finding a great clainour excited against the propositions by the British traders and manufacturers whose particular interests they would affect, he at last'opposed them, and they were negatived by a small majority.
About this period Burke was defendant in a Chancery suit, in which Lord Verney was plaintiff. It was alledged by Lord Verney, that Burke, his brother, and cousin, had been engaged with him in a stock-jobbing speculation, by which very great loss had been incurred; that Lord Verney was the ostensible man, and had been obliged to make out the engagements; that Edmund Burke being the only one of the rest, who had any property, Verney had applied to him to defray his share of the debt. Oni refusal, he filed a bill against him in Chancery, claiming Burke as his partner. Burke making affidavit that he was not, the matter was, of course, concluded in Burke's favour. A great clamour arose against Burke for clearing himself in this manner : but a positive oath of a man of character is certainly better evidence than vague rumour.
The Roman Catholic bill, which had passed during the preceding session, had excited great alarms in Scotland, as it was supposed to be the intention of Parliament to extend