« AnteriorContinuar »
reduuble exertion. During the Christmas recess subscriptions had been offered by bodies of men, for raising regiments to make up for the loss sustained at Saratoga. Burke represented these efforts as illegal and unconstitutional : illegal, because it was levying men and money without consent of Parliament; unconstitutional, because such levies might be indefinite as to number, and might be employed to deprive the country of its liberties. He did not, however, prove from either statute or decision, that raising men without consent of Parliament was illegal; although to have raised money without its consent, either to pay troops or for any other
purpose, would have been contrary to the law and constitution. But the money here for bounties, &c. was not raised by Government, it was offered by individuals; there was no law against either individuals or bodies making a present of their own money to the King, or to whomsoever they pleased : such CONTRIBUTIONS HAD BEEN USUAL IN TIMES OF EMERGENCY, and had
been approved of by the most zealous supporters of the constitution.
The employment of the Indians, which had frequently, in the course of this session, excited the severe animadversions and páthetic lamentations of Burke, was on February 6, 1778, made by him the subject of a regular motion.
In his introductory speech he took a wide view of the state and manners of the Indian savages : he argued, that in cruelty they exceeded any barbarians recorded either in ancient or modern history; and after a particular detail rose to a general survey of savage life, sentiments, and actions. The infliction of individual pain, he said, more than the political annoyance of enemies, was their object; that therefore their mode of hostility was not conducive to the
purposes of civilized nations engaged in war, which are not torment, but reduction and pacification. The Indian tribes had formerly, he observed, been, relatively to either the British or French settled in their neighbourhood, powerful states: that then it was
necessary to be on terms of amity with them ; but that now their numbers were reduced, and the necessity to their neighbours of seeking their alliance no longer existed; and nothing but necessity could excuse the employment of so savage warriors. To the purposes of conquest or coercion they were generally inefficacious, whatever personal torment they might inflict. If extermination were the object, the Indians would do all they could to exterminate, by massacring man, woman, and child ; but their barbarities would only be carried to districts on their own frontiers, and as to the whole colonies would be impotent. The consequence of employing thèm was partial butchery, without answering any general end: though they might accompany our forces whilst successful, in hopes of plunder and butchery, they would immediately desert them on the appearance of danger, as they had done Burgoyne. He reprobated the employment of the Indians also as a measure of economy. He maintained, that even were their mode of warfare unex
ceptionable in other respects, the service did not nearly repay the expence; all that they did to annoy the enemy might have been done by regulars. The barbarities of the Indians must widen tlie breach between Britain and the colonies. He reprobated, at the same time, an attempt that had been made by Government to excite an insurrection in the southern colonies, of negro slaves against their masters, as equally barbarous and impolitic. The Virginians were so enraged at this atiempt that they declared, if all the other colonies should submit, they would not, to the instigators of treachery and barbarity. He concluded, that the only remedy for the alienation of affections, and the distrust and terror of our own Government, which had been brought on by their inhuman measures, was for Parliament to inquire seriously and strictly into them; and, by the most marked and public disapprobation, to convince the world that they had no share in practices which were not more disgraceful to a great and civilized nation, than they were contrary to all true policy, and repugnant to all the feelings of humanity: for, that it was not in human nature for any people to place a confidence in those, to whom they attributed such unparalleled sufferings and miseries; and the colonies would never be brought to believe, that those who were capable of carrying on a war in so cruel and dishonourable a manner, could be depended on for a sound, equitable, and cordial peace; much less, that they could be safely entrusted with power and dominion.
Ministers endeavoured to prove, that unless Britain had employed the Indians, America would have engaged them; but brouglit no proof to maintain this assertion.
A set of motions was now proposed, in which Mr. Fox took the lead, for an inquiry into the state of the forces in America, from the commencement of the war, and the losses sustained. His object was, to shew that the men and money employed in the contest had been thrown away, and that the