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be affected by the bills in favour of Ireland, supported by their representative. They intimated their opinion to him, probably expecting that the intimation might induce him to withdraw his support of the bills. Burke was convinced that the bills were generally equitable as to Britain and Ireland; not impolitical to Britain, and not injurious even to Bristol. It came to be the question whether he would follow the voice of his constituents, or the voice of his conscience. The lesser obligation he made give way to the greater ; and though he anticipated rejection at a future poll for Bristol, continued to support the laws which he judged to be right.
After much discussion, in which the supporters had the advantage, it was agreed by both parties to defer the main business until the next session of Parliament. The opposers gave way to some enlargements with regard to Irish trade, from which its supporters hoped that, by allowing them another session before its final determination,
they might become well disposed to promote some more of the propositions.
May Ist, a bill was proposed for excluding contractors from sitting in Parliament. The reasons for such an exclusion appeared to be so very obvious, that even the ingenuity of Burke brought little novelty of argu
So near were he and his friends to carrying this question, that they lost it by a majority of two voices only, 113 to 115.
A bill, moved by Sir George Saville for repealing certain penalties and disabilities to which Roman Catholics were subject, was vigorously promoted by Burke. He went on the ground that no penalties for difference of religion should be in force after the cause of their enaction had ceased : that restraints, which were judicious and even necessary at the time of their imposition, in order to secure the Protestant religion, were now totally useless : what was then defence, was now persecution; a principle entirely inconsistent with rational religion. The bill
passed with unanimous approbation. Burke's support of this liberal bill also added to the displeasure his constituents at Bristol had conceived against him on account of his speeches in favour of Ireland,
General Burgoyne had now returned from America on his parole. He soon found that he was no longer an object of court favour, or of ministerial countenance. When the principal personages withdrew their regard, others followed their example. He applied for a court-martial, which was refused him, on the ground that, whilst a prisoner, his preceding conduct was not cognizable by any court in this country. There, it appears, Government was right, because a court-martial's sentence, if unfavourable, might be ineffectual; as the infliction of either confinement or death on a prisoner belonging to the enemy, would be injustice to the enemy, by whose courtesy only the prisoner was in this country.
Fox and Burke very warmly embraced the cause of the General, with an eagerness, indeed, that outwent cognizance of its merits. Burgoyne solicited parliamentary inquiry. This the American Minister declared could not be granted until after a military investigation, then impracticable, and adduced apposite precedents to justify the refusal. The discussion, after much altercation, and very bitter invectives against the Minister by Fox and Burke, was postponed. The last acts of that session were testimonies to the merits and services of the illustrious Chatham, recently deceased.
Sir William Howe asked permission to resign his command, alledging that he had not enjoyed the confidence and support of Ministry in such a way as to answer the purposes of his commission. The desired leave was granted ; and Sir Henry Clinton was appointed in his place. The justice of his allegations respecting confidence and support was a subject afterwards of a parliamentary inquiry, which ended in such a manner as to leave the case doubtful,
France, as Burke had often predicted, took an open part in the contest with Annerica. If we consider this junction with its consequences, it was a very important epoch even to the history of Burke; as it generated, or rather fostered those principles which have since produced effects, that called forth the full exertion of his extraordinary powers.
The account given of the commencement of the naval war in the Annual Register of 1779, carries with it internal evidence of having been written by Burke: it is a very able account, and it leans to the side of Admiral Keppel. Besides its general ability, it bears some peculiar marks of his pen: many parts of the account are rather ratiocinative than narrative, the production of one that wished to throw blame on the Ministry and to praise the Admiral, rather than of one who merely stated facts, indifferent 10 whom either approbation or censure should attach. It endeavours to prove, that