Category Archives: 1780’s

Item of the Day: Sir Henry Clinton’s Observations on the Answer of Cornwallis (1783)

Full Title: Observations on Some Parts of the Answer of Earl Cornwallis to Sir Henry Clinton’s Narrative. By Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton, K.B. To which is added An Appendix; Containing Extracts of Letters and Other Papers, to which reference is necessary. London: Printed for J. Debrett, (Successor to Mr. Almon,) opposite Burlington-House, Piccadilly, M.DCC.LXXXIII. [1783]

 

WHEN I published a Narrative of my conduct during the period of my command in North America, which comprehends the campaign of 1781, I was in hopes I had said every thing that was requisite to explain the motives of my own actions, and to convince every unprejudiced person, that certain positions respecting them, advanced in Lord Cornwallis’s letter to me of the 20th of October, had no foundation. But it gives me extreme concern to observe, that his Lordship’s seeming to avow nearly the same sentiments in his Introduction to a late publication, styled, an Answer to that Narrative, lays me under the necessity of troubling the public again upon a subject, which they are probably tired of; and I sincerely wished to have done with. I hope, therefore, it may not be judged improper to request their attention to the following Observations on some of the opinions and assertions therein stated. Which (to be as concise as possible) I shall take according to the order in which they occur; — adding only, in an Appendix, the copies of such extracts from my correspondence, and other papers, as appear necessary.

I find upon enquiry that the four letters were omitted to be sent to the Secretary of State, which Lord Cornwallis mentions to have been wanting when the papers relating to this business were laid before the House of Lords. But the reasons for his Lordship’s march from Cross-creek to Wilmington, and from thence into Virginia (stated in the first of them) had been before given in his letters of the 23d and 24th of April, to the Secretary of State, General Phillips, and myself; and these stand the first of those letters from his Lordship’s correspondence, read before the House of Lords; the other three letters had been inserted in a pamphlet containing extracts from our correspondence, handed about at the time of the enquiry; and one of those pamphlets had been presented, by my order, to Lord Townshend, as a man of honour, and a friend to both parties, previous (I believe) to his noticing this omission to the House; and all the four missing letters were soon after published in the Parliamentary Register, along with those which had been read to the Lords. So that Lord Cornwallis could not well have sustained any injury by that omission. This, however, cannot be said to have been the case with mine of the 30th of November, and 2d of December to his Lordship, and of the 6th of December to his Lordship, and of the 6th of December to the American Minister; which were with-held, whilst Lord Cornwallis’s letters of the 20th of October and 2d of December (to which they were answers) were suffered to operate, for a long time, upon the minds of the public, to my prejudice. . . .

Every man of sensibility must lament that Lord Cornwallis has so indiscreetly availed himself of the liberty, he supposed was given him by the late change in American measures. For as my secret and most private letter to General Phillips, dated April 30, contained nothing necessary for this Lordship’s justification; the publishing it was highly impolite at least, not to say more—for reasons to obvious to need explanation. . . .

There remains little more necessary in reply to Lord Cornwallis’s introduction, but to observe, that the army and its followers in Virginia had been so increased in consequence of his Lordship’s move into that province; that it would have been impracticable to withdraw them by water (as his Lordship is pleased to suggest) for want of transports, even if the American minister had not directed me to support his Lordship there, and a pressing contingency had required it. And I must take the liberty to say, that the sending his Lordship’s corps back to South Carolina by land, would have been a most absurd idea for me to adopt after the opinions I had given of the risks it run in its former march by that route.

I shall now beg leave to conclude with an opinion, which I presume is deducible from the foregoing (I trust candid) review of circumstances. Which is, that Lord Cornwallis’s conduct and opinions, if they were not the immediate causes, may be adjudged to have at least contributed to bring on the fatal catastrophe which terminated the unfortunate campaign of 1781.

H. CLINTON

Harley -Street

April 3, 1783.

 [SEE ALSO: SIR HENRY CLINTON’S NARRATIVE and AN ANSWER TO SIR CLINTON’S NARRATIVE]

 

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Item of the Day: An Answer to the Narrative of Sir Henry Clinton (1783)

Full Title: An Answer to That Part of the Narrative of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton, K.B. Which relates to the conduct of Lieutenant-General Earl Cornwallis, during the Campaign in North-America, in the Year 1781. By Earl Cornwallis. London: Printed for J. Debrett, (Successor to Mr. Almon,) opposite Burlington-House, Piccadilly, M.DCC.LXXXIII. [1783]

 

THE

INTRODUCTION.

THE feelings, which dictate this publication, have originated from the contents of a Narrative, signed by Sir Henry Clinton, late Commander in Chief in America. In which Narrative events are attributed to my conduct during the campaign of 1781, which, I trust, it will appear, were by no means the unavoidable consequences of any part of it.

The materials, hitherto produced, cannot be deemed complete, either in form or substance. There were many deficiencies in the papers laid before the House of Lords; in particular, four letters, dated July 24th, August the 16th, 20th, and 22d, from me to Sir Henry Clinton, were wanting; one of which contained my reasons at large for undertaking the march into Virginia: This omission, as the Secretary of State informed the House, was owing to their not having been transmitted by the Commander in Chief. Four other letters (three of them dated the 2d, 27th, and 30th of August, and one the 14th, 15th, and 18th of October) from Sir Henry Clinton to me, were read to the Lords, according to the order of their dates; although they were only delivered to me, by the Secretary to the Commander in Chief, in the latter end of November, at New-York, above a month after my surrender; and consequently, their contents could not influence my conduct in any manner.

I own I am pefectly aware of the impropriety of publishing official letters for private reasons; but, since the measures with respect to America have now undergone a total change, I hope, I shall in some degree stand excused for producing the whole correspondence, in my possession, relative to the principal transactions of that campaign; as it is the most candid and complete mode, in my power, of submitting them to the public consideration.

The perusal of this Correspondence will, I think, render not only the military, but every other reader a competent judge of the propriety of my conduct, either when I acted under positive orders, pressing contingencies, or discretionary powers.

It is foreign to the present purpose, and I shall therefore not endeavour to enumerate the many difficulites, which I had to struggle with, in my command of the Southern district, previous to the march into North Carolina, in the beginning of the year 1781. This measure was thought expedient not only by me, but by the Commander in Chief: I was principally induced to decide in favour of its expediency from a clear conviction, that the men and treasures of Britain would be lavished in vain upon the American war, without the most active exertions of the troops allotted for service; and, that, while the enemy could draw their supplies from North Carolina and Virginia, the defence of the frontier of South Carolina, even against an inferior army, would be from its extent, the nature of the climate, and the dispostion of the inhabitants, utterly impracticable. The many untoward circumstances, which occurred during the four months succeeding the complete victory of Camden, had entirely confirmed me in this opinion. Our hopes of success, in offensive operations, were not founded only upon the efforts of the corps under my immediate command, which did not much exceed three thousand men; but principally, upon the most positive assurances, given by apparently credible deputies and emissaries, that, upon the appearance of a British army in North Carolina, a great body of the inhabitants were ready to join and co-operate with it, in endeavouring to restore his Majesty’s Government.

The disaster fo the 17th of January cannot be imputed to any defect in my conduct, as the detachment was certainly superior to the force against which it was sent, and put under the command of an officer of experience and tried abilities. This misfortune, however, did not appear irretrievable; and to have abandoned, without absolute necessity, the plan of the campaign, would have been ruinous and disgraceful: ruinous, by engaging us in a defensive system, the impracticability of which I have already stated; and disgraceful, because the reasons for the undertaking still existed in their full strength, the public faith was pledged to our friends in North Caroline, and I believed my remaing force to be superior to that under the command of General Greene. That this opinion was well founded, the precipitate retreat of that General from North Carolina, and our victory at Guildford, after his return with Virginian reinforcements, are sufficient proofs.

The unexpected failure of our friends rendered the victory of Guildford of little value. I know that it has been asserted or insinuated that they were not sufficiently tried upon this occasion: But can any dispassionate person believe, that I did not give every encouragement to people of all descriptions to join and assist us, when my own reputation, the safety of the army, and the interests of my country, were so deeply concerned in that junction and assistance? All inducements in my power were made use of without material effect; and every man in the army must have been convinced, that the accounts of our emissaries had greatly exaggerated the number of those who professed friendship for us, as they must have observed, that a very inconsiderable part of them could be prevailed upon to remain with us, or to exert themselves in any form whatever. . . .

 [SEE ALSO: SIR HENRY CLINTON’S NARRATIVE and SIR HENRY CLINTON’S RESPONSE TO CORNWALLIS’ ANSWER]

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Filed under 1780's, American Revolution, Great Britain, Military, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Sheffield on American Commerce (1784)

Full Title: Observations on the Commerce of the American States. By John Lord Sheffield. With an Appendix; Containing Tables of the Imports and Exports of Great Britain to and from all Parts, from 1700 to 1783. Also, the Exports of America, &c. With Remarks on those Tables, on the Trade and Navigation of Great Britain, and on the late Proclamation, &c. The Sixth Edition, Enlarged with a Complete Index to the Whole. London: Printed for J. Debrett, opposite Burlington House, Piccadilly, M,DCC,LXXXIV. [1784]

 

INTRODUCTION.

SINCE the first publication of this work upwards of a year has elapserd, and no less than seven professed answers have appeared; I am not, however, convinced that they disprove one material fact, or confute one essential argument. Many parts, indeed, are misquoted or mis-stated, and others are misunderstood.

It is the opinion of all with whom I have conversed, that those pamphlets do not require any answer; but as they contain strong assertions, which may perplex or deceive, and as many people may not have taken the trouble of informing themselves sufficiently to see that they are in general without foundation, it is perhaps due to the public, to shew that their authors proceeded upon grounds that are fallacious, and that not one of them fairly meets the question.

I do not mean to enter the lists in the way of controversy, as such a labour would be almost endless, and would afford no gratification either to the public or myself — To expose their numberless absurdities and misrepresentations, I should indeed be obliged to comment on almost every page they have written; several of their errors, however, are marked in the notes to the following work, and some others will be noticed in this introduction. Had some of them not been quite so angry, they would possibly have reasoned better: they must excuse me if I do not think it worth while to be angry in my turn; I have no object but to discover and lay open the truth for the public benefit.

The pamphlet which first appeared, and is entitled “A Letter from an American to a Member of Parliament,” does not attempt, even in the most distant manner, to disprove a single fact, or to answer a single argument that I have advanced, unless by asserting, for truths, the greatest extravagancies, without even a shadow of proof to support them. The following is a specimen of this author’s knowledge: —He says, that the American States can now supply the West Indies with beef, butter, tallow candles, soap, beer, and even bar iron, cheaper than Europe — but enough of such a writer. The second pamphlet is entitled “Considerations on the present Situation of Great Briatian and the Untied States of America; particularly designed to expose the dangerous Tendency of Lord Sheffield’s Observation,” &c. This appears to claim more attention. The author informs us, that he has spent the summer in collecting materials; but he gives no authority for the calculations he has produced, or the tables he has inserted: wherever he found them, they differ materially from the Custom-house entries both of Briatian and America, and contradict them in very frequent instances; many facts advanced, as from those entries, are found to be without foundation, or enormously exagerated. The author says, the Americans formerly took 25,000 hogsheads of sugar annually from our islands. The Americans had no motive for entering less sugar at the Customs House than what they actually imported from those islands; yet certainly their importations from thence never, in any year, exceeded 6700 hogsheads, reckoning only 1000 cwt. to the hogshead. The exaggeration of the account he gives of the quantity of refined sugar taken from hence, is equally great. Above 150 pages of his work are filled with calculations and assertions, hazarded without any apparent authority: the article relative to shipping is the most extraordinary of the whole; it is entirely built on an erroneous foundation, and therefore the deductions from it must be fallacious. The same author argues, that the American States, although now foreign, ought to be indulged with nearly all the commercial privileges which they enjoyed whilst British subjects; that in return they will supply our West-India islands with provisions, lumber, &c. and take from thence sugar, rum, &c. That they will become our ship builders, we being unable to build ships but at an intolerable loss. Singular as this mode of reasoning is, it is completely of a piece with all his other disquisitions. He holds out this farther advantage to us, That the Americans will take our manufactures when they cannot get the same articles cheaper, better, and on longer credit, than elsewhere. This work at first appeared anaonymous, but a second editon is now published with the name of Richard Champion, Esq. late Deputy Paymaster, &c. with many additions; which serve however only to confirm what was sufficiently evident before, that the author had no sufficient grounds for his former assertions. He seems now to give up the extraordinary account of sugar, and complains that he has been misquoted, particularly as to the shipping. I had no intention of quoting his every words, nor professed to do so; the mistake, as to his meaning, has been general among those whom I have heard mention that passage; but my observation is omitted in the present editon; and it is unnecessary to state particulary what he has said, because no part of his argument is admissible, from the entire want of authority. . . .

 

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Item of the Day: Ramsay’s History of the American Revolution (1791)

Full Title: The History of the American Revolution. By David Ramsay, M.D. of South Carolina. Vol. II. London: Soldy by J. Johnson and J. Stockdale, M.DCC.XCI. [1791]

 

APPENDIX, NO. III.

Of the treatment of prisoners, and of the distresses of the Inhabitants.

 MANY circumstances concurred to make the American war particurlary calamitous. It was originally a civil war in the estimation of both parties, and a rebellion to its termination, in the opinion of one of them. Unfortunately for mankind doubts have been entertained of the obligatory force of the law of nations in such cases. The refinement of modern ages has stripped war of half of its horrors, but the systems of some illiberal men have tended to re-produce the barbarism of Gothic times, by withholding the benefits of that refinement from those who are effecting revolutions. An enlightened philanthropist embraces the whole human race and enquires, not whether an object of distress is or is not an unit of an acknowledged nation. It is sufficient that he is a child of the same common parent, and capable of happiness or misery. The prevalence of such a temper would have greatly lessened the calamities of the American war, but while from contracted policy, unfortunate captives were considered as not entitled to the treatment of prisoners, they were often doomed without being guilty, to suffer the punishment due to criminals.

The first American prisoners were taken on the 17th of June 1775. These were thrown indiscriminately into the jail at Boston, without any consideration of their rank. Gen. Washington wrote to Gen. Gage on this subject, to which the latter answered by asserting that the prisoners had been treated with care and kindess, though indiscriminately “as he acknowledged no rank that was not derived from the King.” To which Gen. Washington replied “You affect, Sir, to despise all rank not derived from the same source with your own; I cannot conceive one mroe honorable, than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the purest sourse and original fountal of all power.”

Gen. Carlton during his command conducted towards the American prisoners with a degree of humanity, that reflected the greatest honor on his character. Before he commenced his operations on the lakes in 1776, he shipped off those of them who were officers for New-Enlgand, but previously supplied them with every thing requisite to make their voyage comfortable. The other prisoners, amounting to 800, were sent home by a flag after exacting an oath from them, not to serve during the war unless exchanged. Many of these being almost naked were comfortably cloathed by his orders, previously to their being sent off.

The capture of Gen. Lee proved calamitous to several individuals. Six Hessian field officers were offered in exchange for him but this was refused. It was said by the British, that Lee was a deserter from their service, and as such could not expect the indulgences usually given to prisoners of war. The Americans replied, that as he resigned his British commission previously to his acepting one from the Americans, he could not be considered as a deserter. He was nevetheless confined, watched, and guarded. Congress thereupon resolved, that Gen. Washington be directed to inform Gen. Howe, that should the proffered exchange of Gen. Lee for six field officers not be accepted, and the treatment of him as above mentioned be continued, the principles of retaliation should occasion five of the said Hessian field officers, together with Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell to be detained, in order that the said treatment which Gen. Lee received, should be exactly inflicted on their persons. The Campbell thus designated as the subject of retaliation, was a human man, and a meritorious officer, who had been captured by some of the Massachusett’s privateers near Boston, which, from the want of information, he was proceeding soon after the British had evacuated it. The above act of Congress was forwarded to Massachusetts with a request that they would detain Lt. Col. Compbell and keep him in safe custody till the further order of Congress. The council of Massachusett’s exceeded this request, and sent him to Concord jail, where he was lodged in a gloomy dungeon of twelve or thirteen feet square. The attendance of a single servant on his person was denied him, and every visit from a friend refused.

The prisoners captured by Sir William Howe in 1776, amounted to many hundreds. The officers were admitted to parole, and has some waste houses assigned to them as quarters; but the privates were shut up in the coldest season of the year in churches, sugar houses, and such like the open buildings. The severity of the weather, and the rigor of their treatment, occasioned the death of many hundreds of these unfortunate men. The filth of the places of their confinement, in consequence of fluxes which prevailed among them, was both offensive and dangerous. Seven dead bodies have been seen in one building, at one time, and all lying in a situation shocking to humanity. The provisions served out to them were deficient in quantity, and of an unwholsome quality. These suffering prisoners were generally pressed to enter into the British service, but hundreds submitted to death, rather than procure a melioration of their circumstances by enlisting with the enemies of their country. After Gen. Washington’s successes at Trenton and Princeton, the American prisoners fared somewhat better. Those who survived were offered to be sent out for exchange, but some of them fell down dead in the streets, while attempting to walk to the vessels. Others were so emaciated that their appearance was horrible. A speedy death closed the scene with many.

The American board of war, after conferring with Mr. Boudinot the commissary-general of prisoners, and examining evidences produced by him, reported among other things, “That there were 900 privates and 300 officers of the American army, prisoners in the city of New-York, and about 500 privates and 50 officers prisoners in Philadelphia. That since the beginning of October all these prisoners, both officers and privates, had been confined in prison ships or the Provost: That from the best evidence the subject could admit of, the general allowance of prisoners, at most did not exceed four ounces of meat per day, and often so damaged as not to be eatable: That it had been a common practice with the British, on a prisoner’s being first captured, to keep him three, four or five days without a morsel of meat, and then to tempt him to enlist to save his life: That there were numerous instances of prisoners of war, perishing in all the agonies of hunger.”  . . .

 

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Filed under 1770's, 1780's, American Revolution, Culture, Eighteenth century, History, Military, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Prisoners

Item of the Day: The New Book of Chronicles [1789]

Full Title: The New Book of Chronicles; Delineating in Eccentrical Sketches of the Times a Variety of Modern Characters of the Great and Small Vulgar. London: Printed for T. Massey, Snow-Hill, and sold by all the booksellers of Great Britain, [1789].

 

CHAPTER III.

ARGUMENT.

In those days the fire burned in Gallia, as the multitude mused on their mighty Monarch.

2.  Behold, the fury of the flame spread far and wide even until it reached the region of captivity,

3.  Called in the Hebrew tongue the Tophet of Tyranny but by the Gauls the Bastile.

4.  Lo, in that horrible pit were found the Records of Royal Rebellion, written with the blood of the brave asserters of Liberty.

5.  On that day the Grand Monarch much marveled, and humbled himself before the Lord, and all the people of the Provinces.

6.  Then fled the Queen and hid herself in a solitary Sanctuary,

7.  Which proved not an asylym, for the assembly of the nation for her head offered three hundred thousand livres.

8.  In the mean time the enraged multitude seized the Governour of the Bastile, and put him to Death, who dealt with him as he deserved.

9.  The Commandant also was pushed by the people within the reach of the tyrant, whose slave he had been.

10. And behold, when the frightful king had done to these twain even as they had done to the prisoners of the dungeon, they descended to the shades of Erebus,

11. Not meeting in all the way the place which the priests of Rome call Purgatory, even the place of fools.

12. Now it came to pass, as these slaves of authority arrived at the gate of Pandoemonium,

13. That behold Brownrig the wife of Lucifer looked out at a window over the portal of the unhallowed hall.

14. And she cried with a loud voice, saying, behold, my brethren of the Bastile knock at the door, open it unto them.

15. As the high harlot of hell spake, lo the gates opened wide to the harsh sound of ten thousand hogs making melody in the Museum of Mawby.

16. And when forty and five infernals had whipped the slaves into the hall of justice, they stood before Eacus, Minos, and Rhadamanthus.

17. Howbeit, Belial blushed, Moloch grew mad, Satan saddened his countenance, and all the peers proclaimed a fast, when they were told that their kingdom was falling.

18. On that day the King caused all the regions of his dominions to be hung with sable, and commanded also the court to appear in the hue of hell, saying:

19. Peradventure the mercers and drapers of London may open a trade hither, through the medium of the taylors.

20. And when he had caused his servants to set before the keepers of the Bastile the bread which Belial had baken and the beer of his brewing,

21. At the motion of his sceptre seven of the infernal phalanx thrust them into the fiery furnace;

22. And it came to pass, when the door was shut that the whole herd of hardned fiends fell into a fit of festivity, rejoicing to hear the roar of the _____s.

 

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Filed under 1780's, Foreign Relations, France, French Revolution, Great Britain, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Royal Interview (1789)

Full Title: The Royal Interview: A Fragment by the Author of a Letter from a Country Gentleman to a Member of Parliament. Third Edition. London: Printed at the Logographic Press, and sold by J. Walters, No. 169, Opposite Old Bond Street, Piccadilly; C. Stalker, Stationers-Court, Ludgate-Street; and W. Richardson, under the Royal-Exchange, MDCCLXXXIX. [1789]

 

ROYAL INTERVIEW, &c.

K.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * To say the truth, it has been my wish and intention not to enter into any conversation with your Royal Highness concerning the public conduct of my ministers, or those who have acted in opposition to them during the affecting interval of my government. It was rather an anxious desire of my own heart to pass over the chasm which the lapse of my understanding occasioned in the public administration of my kingdom. It appeared to me, that there was not intermediate event which could afford a pleasing topic of discussion between you and myself: and as it would ill become me to accompany the blessing of my recovery with resentment to my son, whatever his conduct might have been, I became extremely solicitous to avoid a retrospect. –It is enough for me, that, on awaking from my delerium, I find my kingdom uninjured by my infirmity, and exulting in my restoration. –But as you seem to apprehend ill impressions, of some kind or other, and declare, that the comfort of your life depends on my hearing from yourself the reasons which governed your conduct during my affliction, I shall comply with your requisiton, and listen to you with a paternal patience. It becomes me, however, previously to inform you, that I am well acquainted with every transaction of the late important period, and that my opinion is already formed of the measures that have been adopted, of the opposition that was made to them, and of the persons who have appeared as principal actors on the occasion. It may be also necessary, for a right understanding between us, in the business on which we are about to engage, to observe, that while you possess a full right to plead, I may take the liberty, if I see occasion, to condemn. —-My kindest attention awaits you.

 

P.

I have very reason to apprehend that some particular leading indivduals, among your Majesty’s servants, have represented my demeanour during the late unhappy period, as undutuful to yourself, unfeeling to your situation, and hostile to the interests of your kingdom.

 

K.

What convincing reason you may possess whereon to buld such an hypothesis, I am not anxious to enquire, because they are without foundation. Both the Lord Chancellor and the first minister have, in their communications to me, delivered themselves with the most respectful attention to you; and if I could suppose it possible for such wise men and faithful servants to step beyond the bounds of decorum in their consultations with me, I should conclude they had done it in the more than earnest manner with which they recommended me to check any, and every suspicion of my breast with respect to the motives that governed the late conduct of your Royal Highness. Indeed, I cannot but express my concern, that, on the very threshold of the business, you should begin with answering an accusation that has never been made, and charging those men with practising against you all the injustice of misrepresentation, who have, on the contrary, acted with a spirit of magnanimity, which would do honour to yourself. But, not to turn you aside from the mode of apology, which, perhaps, you are prepared to adopt; –you are at liberty to suppose that I am perfectly well acquainted with your plans of operation during the time when it was doubtful, whether it would please God to restore me to myself and to my people.

 

P.

I should be truly sorry, Sir, to suspect where suspicion would be unjust; and your royal word is more than sufficient to remove mine, in the matter before us, from certain of your Majesty’s Ministers; but as I know them to be indisposed towards me, I had something like a right to imagine, that, in representing their own services to your Majesty, they would not fail to misrepresent those who oppose them.

 

K.

I cannot answer for the secret designs or thought of my Ministers, any more than for those of my children. —To search into the recesses of the human heart, and to discover what is passing there, belongs to that Power alone, before which the monarchs of the world must bend; –but as I wish to hear your sentiments on something more than vague opinion, I must beg your Royal HIghness to confine yourself to yourself; and that you will not do your heart and understanding so great injustice as to look for your justification in the misconduct of others. —But I perceive your embarrassment; — to relieve you, therefore, as far as may be in my power, from your very unpleasant situation, and to save you the trouble, as well as the pain, of stating the supposed charges, which your propose to answer — I will turn catechist, if you please, and offer such interrogatories as may call forth those replies, which will involve all that you wish to say to me in the very interesting subject of the present conference. I shall therefore suppose, what I trust you feel yourself prepared to prove, that, during the late extraordinary and awful period, you have done every thing which was required, by your duty to me, who am your father — the dignity of your station, which places you next to your Sovereign — and the interests of the Empire, which, if you live, will one day be your own. On this idea I shall conclude, that, when you had recovered from the severe shock which must have been felt by your mind, on the unexpected nature and possible consequences of my illness, you immediately called to your councils and consolation, some of the first, the wisest, and the best men in this country: or, if you should have thought it more proper, as it might have been at first, to rest the burthen of your mind on one rather than many, I should hope that the distinguished individual would be most worthy of your confidence, and be esteemed as such by the nation, as well as yourself. May I, therfore, ask, whom did your Roayl Highness honour with your earliest communications?

 

P.

Mr. Sheridan. —

 

K.

Mr. Sheridan! –In the name of reason, common sense, and honour, what could induce you to place such a confidence, in such a man? — . . .

 

 

 

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Filed under 1780's, George III, Government, Great Britain, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Royal Family

Item of the Day: Mr. Bridge’s Election Sermon (May 27, 1789)

Full Title: A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency John Hancock, Esq. Governour; His Honor Benjamin Lincoln, Esq. Lieutenant-Governour; The Honourable The Council, Senate and House of Representatives, of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, May 27, 1789. Being the Day of General Election. By Josiah Bridge, A.M. Pastor of the Church in East-Sudbury. Boston: Printed by Adams & Nourse, Printers to The Honourable General Court, M,DCC,LXXXIX. [1789]

 

AN

Election SERMON.

PSALM LXXXII. VERSE I.

GOD standeth in the Congregation of the Mighty; He judgeth among the GODS.

THIS passage of scripture may well possess the minds of this mumerous and respectable audience, with reverence and a sacred awe, before him, who is greatly to be feared in the assembly of his saints; and who will be sactified in all them that come nigh to him: It is particularly adapted to arrest the most serious attention of our honoured Rulers; at whose invitation we are assembled in the House of God on this auspicious anniversay, –to supplicate the Divine Presence with them, and his smiles and blessing upon the special business of the day; and their admiration of government the ensuing year; and to enquire of him from his word, agreeable to the laudable practice of our pious Progenitors, from the first settlement of the country, to the present period.

Our text has a primary reference to the Rulers of God’s ancient covenant people. But as this passage of scripture is of no private interpretation, it will as fitly apply to our civil fathers now before God, as the the Jewish Sanhedrim of old.

The words before us, will naturally lead us —“To make some brief and general observations on government.” —The propriety and usefulness of an assembly, for conducting the important affairs of it. —The sublime characters rulers sustain. —The Surpeme Ruler present with them, as an observer, and judge; ready for their assistance and support, when acting up to their character; and carefully noticing whenever they lose sight of the great end of their appointment: And the powerful influence, the consideration of his presence and inspection must have, to engage them in a conscientious discharge of the duties of their exalted stations. May I be indulged your serious and candid attention, while I attempt to dilate a little, upon these several particulars; all obviously contained in, or easily deducible from our text. God standeth in the Congregation of the Mighty: He judgeth among the Gods.

That our text applies to the supreme government of a community, and involves the various departments of it, is readily seen by looking into the Psalm before us; where we find this congregation of the mighty, reproved for the improper use of their power, and a different mode of conduct enjoined upon them. “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless: Do justice to the afflicted and needy: Deliver the poor and needy, rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”

Civil government is both a dictate of nature, and revelation; and is accordingly indifferently denominated, the ordinance of God, and the ordinance of man. Man was originally formed for society, and furnished with faculties adapted thereto: Faculties for the improvement of which social intercourse is indispensably necessary. Some of the most important duties, and refined delights of human life are of the social kind.

In order to obtain the benefits of society, civil rule is essentially requisite. Those lusts of men, from whence come wars and fightings, are so prevalent in this apostate world, that they are obliged to form compacts and combinations, for mutual assistance and support. And there is perhaps no people no [sic] earth, however uncultivated and barbarous, but who have adopted some kind of civil polity.

The light and law of nature, which uniformly urges to this mode of procedure, may well be accepted, as an expression of the divine will: For God addresses the human mind in divers manners; and he does it by the voice of reason, as well as revelation.

The providence of God is particularly concerned, in elevating man to post of honour and dignity; and giving them a seat among the congregation of the mighty. “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south: But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and fitteth up another.” “By me (says wisdom, or that glorious Being who is the wisdom of God) by me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” And in the New-Testament, we have the same idea held up, in terms equally express. “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power, but of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” Again, “submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the King, as supreme, or unto Governours, as unto them that are sent by him for the pinishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God.”

These declarations apply to civil government in general, which is indispensably necessary to social felicity and safety. But they are by no means to be extended to every mode of government that has obtained among mankind: Not certainly to despotic and lawless domination. This is not the ordinance of God. Nor indeed any other government, but such a sprotects the subjects in the peaceable possession of their just rights, properties and priviledges.

. . . Power is an intoxicating quality; and for a single individual to be vested with sovereign rule, is subjecting him to a temptation too strong for human virtue. A desire of pre-eminence is a natural passion, and when properly restrained, may prove highly beneficial to society. But when it has a full free course, and attains the summit of its wish, and feels itself without controul; the  subject of this undue elevation, is apt to be puffed up with pride, to become intolerably supercilious and tyrannical; and to trample upon those rights of the community, and individuals, which it is the prime design of government to protect.

Wherever the will of a despot is the supreme law, the great end of government is usually perverted. This is sufficently attested by facts: And it is no other than what might justly be expected from the nature of man.  . . .

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Filed under 1780's, Early Republic, Elections, Government, Massachusetts, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Religion, Sermons