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the First Lord of the Admiralty had been negligent, and had not provided a sufficient force to
with that of the French. The reasoning on that subject is nearly the same as Burke often used in the house; the answer to it was the actual state of the navy, the number of ships well manned and equipped, which had been sent to various parts of the globe.
The commissioners sent to America were not successful; their secretary, the celebrated Dr. Fergusson, was refused a passport to the Congress. The Congress, as before, would receive no overtures, unless their independence was previously acknowledged: this Burke had foreseen ; and it required much less ability than he possessed, to foresee that terms not essentially different from those offered by the Howes, wlien the British armament was in unimpaired force, and America without an ally, would not be received by her, elated with the capture of Burgoyne's army, and strengthened by an alliance with France,
This campaign was on the whole disastrous. The elements seemed to have combined with the enemy in annoying the British fleet on the American seas. On the European, the issue of a battle was not altogether such as the Ministry and indeed the nation expected, and afterwards thought it might have been. The consideration of that action, and its consequences, occupied much of the attention of Burke during the following session. The speech from the throne, though it did not express, implied a censure on the operations of the campaign; it asserted, that our arms had not been attended with the success which the vigour of our exertions promised. Burke imputed the failure to the inferiority of our fleets and the tardiness of our preparations. The conciliatory propositions, he contended, met with the issue which he expected, and all men might expect. The valedictory manifesto of the commissioners was strongly censured by Burke. This manifesto, the political reader will remember, declared, that if the Americans did not accede to 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 de. claration 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 lee-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