- Software name: appdown
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But this was only the lull before the storm. Burke and Francis were living, and the thunder-bolts were already forged which were to shatter his pleasing dream of approval. His agreeable delusion was, indeed, soon ended. On the 24th of January, 1787, Parliament met, and Major Scott, an officious friend of Hastings, unfortunately for the ex-Governor-General, relying on the manifestation of approbation of Hastings by the Court and fashionable circles, got up and asked where now was that menace of impeachment which Mr. Burke had so long and often held out? Burke, thus challenged, on the 17th of February rose and made a call for papers and correspondence deposited in the India House, relative to the proceedings of Hastings in India. He also reminded Pitt and Dundas of the motion of the latter on the 29th of May, 1782, in censure of the conduct of Hastings on the occasions in question. This was nailing the ministers to their opinions; but Dundas, now at the head of the Board of Control, repeated that he still condemned the conduct of Hastings, but taken with the services which he had rendered to the country in India, he did not conceive that this conduct demanded more than censure, certainly not impeachment. Fox supported Burke, and Pitt defended Hastings, and attacked Fox without mercy. There was a feeling abroad that the king was determined to support Hastings, and the proceedings of Pitt confirmed this. Burke's demand for papers was refused, but this did not deter Burke. On the 4th of April he rose again and presented nine articles of impeachment against Hastings, and in the course of the week twelve more articles. To these a twenty-second article was afterwards added.
The Americans did not make their Declaration of Independence till they had communicated with France. The British Government, as Lord North publicly declared in Parliament, had long heard of American emissaries at Paris seeking aid there. A secret committee, which had Thomas Paine for its secretary, was appointed to correspond with the friends of America in Great Britain, Ireland, and other parts of the world. Encouraged by the assurances of France, the secret committee was soon converted into a public one, and agents were sent off to almost every court of Europe to invite aid of one kind or another against the mother country, not omitting even Spain, Naples, Holland and Russia. Silas Deane was dispatched to Paris in March of this year, to announce the growing certainty of a total separation of the colonies from Great Britain, and to solicit the promised co-operation.The House of Commons received the speech with enthusiasm, and carried up an address of thanks in a body. Very different, however, was the reception of the speech in the House of Lords. Lord Wharton proposed that in the address they should declare themselves against a separate peace, and the Duke of Marlborough supported that view. He said that for a year past the measures pursued were directly opposed to her Majesty's engagement with the Allies, had sullied the glories of her reign, and would render our name odious to all nations. Lord Strafford, who had come over from the Hague purposely to defend the Government policy, and his own share in it at Utrecht, asserted that the opposition of the Allies would not have been so obstinate had they not been encouraged by a certain member of that House who corresponded with them, and stimulated them by assurances that they would be supported by a large party in England. This blow aimed at Marlborough called up Lord Cowper, who directed his sarcasm against Strafford on the ground of his well-known illiterate character, observing that the noble lord had been so long abroad that he had forgotten not only the language but the constitution of his country; that according to our laws it could never be a crime in an individual to correspond with its allies, but that it was a crime to correspond, as certain persons did, with the common enemy, unknown to the allies, and to their manifest prejudice. The amendment of Lord Wharton, however, was rejected, and the protest, entered against its rejection by twenty peers and bishops, was voted violent and indecorous, and erased from the journal.
And that, to Dick, spelled disaster.
The situation of Lord Cornwallis was now growing desperate. An attempt to destroy the enemy's batteries failed on the 16th. "At this time," he says, "we knew that there was no part of the whole front attacked in which we could show a single gun, and our shells were nearly exhausted. I had therefore only to choose between preparing to surrender the next day, or endeavouring to get off with the greater part of the troops; and I determined to attempt the latter." Having conceived this desperate scheme of endeavouring to escape, Cornwallis that night wrote to Sir Henry Clinton, in cypher, telling him not to risk fleet or army in the attempt to rescue them. He was sure that something had prevented the fleet from sailing at the time proposed, and he sought to steal away with the bulk of his army, leaving a small number to capitulate for the town. The idea, with such troops of well-mounted cavalry at his heels, was a wild one, and there were other obstacles in the way. He must first ferry his troops across the river to Gloucester, and, as he had not vessels enough to carry all at once, he had sent over part of them, when a violent storm arose, and prevented the return of the boats. This was decisive. With his forces thus divided, Cornwallis had scarcely soldiers enough left to man the guns in York Town, and there was nothing for it but to surrender.