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BEFORE Parliament met the ensuing winter, very important events had taken place in America. General Howe, with the main army, had gained several victories, which many
have asserted might have put an end to the war.
General Burgoyne, with the northern arıny, endeavouring to effect a junction with the Commander in Chief, got into a defile, and was compelled to surrender.
In the sessions 1777 Burke returned to his vigorous attention to parliamentary business. During no preceding meeting had there been so great a quantity of important affairs, and in none had the powers of Burke
been more frequently called forward. Not America only, but France and Ireland, occupied the attention of Parliament. The discussion of the concerns of the sister kingdom brought him into a very delicate predicament, in which, in the discharge of his duty, he was under the necessity of acting, contrary to the opinion of his constituents, who had, unsolicited, applied to him to be their representative, as the strenuous champion of mercantile interest.
An amendment recommending peace was proposed to the address. Burke dwelt less on the original injustice and inexpediency of the war than formerly. He confined himself chiefly to its management and effects. He entered into a very minute and extensive consideration of the force employed, and the expence incurred; proving from documents that the year 1777 cost as many men, and more money, against the Americans, than any year of our wars against the combined power of the house of Bourbon. November 28, Mr. Fox having moved, that certain
papers should belaid before the house, Lord North at first agreed, but afterwards made exceptions. Burke said, “ I never heard the noble Lord behave with so much candour, generosity, and spirit, as he had shewn in agreeing to the request. He had published a bond, wherein he granted all ; but in the end was inserted a little defeasance, with a power of revocation, by which he preserved himself from the execution of every grant he had made. His conduct reminded me of a certain Governor, who, when he arrived at the place of his appointment, sat down to a table covered with profusion, and abounding in every dainty and delicacy, that art, nature, and a provident steward could furnish: but a pigmy physician watched over the health of the Governor, excepted to one dish, because it was hard of digestion ; to another, because it was unhealthy; in this progressive mode robbed the Governor of every dish on his table, and left him without a dinner.'
When the news arrived of the melancholy catastrophe of Burgoyne's expedition, Burke joined the warmest of the party in imputing the failure to Administration, although hitherto there were no documents to prove Ministers to be blameable, either in the plan, or in the means afforded for its execution. What Burke said on the subject was therefore, however ingenious, mere invective, on an assumption, not reasoning on information. Men, in that case, were evidently his objects; not measures, as he did not know wliat the measures were. It must be acknowledged by the greatest admirers of Burke, that his proceedings on this occasion, in conjunction with those of other members of Opposition, tended rather to thwart and einbarrass Government than to support their country under its late disaster. Whether the war was right or wrong originally, ceased now to be the question. As we were involved in it, we must either get o:it of it bonourably, or carry it on VIGOROUSLY. The surest way to procure a good peace was not to succumb under misfortune, but to