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The World’s Famous Orations.
Great Britain: II. (1780–1861). 1906.

Charles James Fox

I. On the British Defeat in America

WE are charged with expressing joy at the triumphs of America. True it is that, in a former session, I proclaimed it as my sincere opinion, that if the ministry had succeeded in their first scheme on the liberties of America, the liberties of this country would have been at an end. Thinking this, as I did, in the sincerity of an honest heart, I rejoiced at the resistance which the ministry had met to their attempt. That great and glorious statesman, the late Earl of Chatham, feeling for the liberties of his native country, thanked God that America had resisted. But, it seems, “all the calamities of the country are to be ascribed to the wishes, and the joy, and the speeches of Opposition.” O miserable and unfortunate ministry! O blind and incapable men! whose measures are framed with so little foresight, and executed with so little firmness, that they not only crumble to pieces, but bring on the ruin of their country, merely because one rash, weak, or wicked man, in the House of Commons, makes a speech against them!

But who is he who arraigns gentlemen on this side of the House with causing, by their inflammatory speeches, the misfortunes of their country? The accusation comes from one whose inflammatory harangs have led the nation, step by step, from violence to violence, in that inhuman, unfeeling system of blood and massacre, which every honest man must detest, which every good man must abhor, and every wise man condemn! And this man imputes the guilt of such measures to those who had all along foretold the consequences; who had prayed, entreated and supplicated, not only for America, but for the credit of the nation and its eventual welfare, to arrest the hand of power, meditating slaughter, and directed by injustice!

What was the consequence of the sanguinary measures recommended in those bloody, inflammatory speeches? Tho Boston was to be starved, tho Hancock and Adams were proscribed, yet at the feet of these very men the Parliament of Great Britain was obliged to kneel, flatter, and cringe; and, as it had the cruelty at one time to denounce vengeance against these men, so it had the meanness afterward to implore their forgiveness. Shall he who called the Americans “Hancock and his crew,”—shall he presume to reprehend any set of men for inflammatory speeches? It is this accursed American war that has led us, step by step, into all our present misfortunes and national disgraces. What was the cause of our wasting forty millions of money, and sixty thousand lives? The American war! What was it that produced the French rescript and a French war? The American war! What was it that produced the Spanish manifesto and Spanish war? The American war! What was it that armed forty-two thousand men in Ireland with the arguments carried on the points of forty thousand bayonets? The American war! For what are we about to incur an additional debt of twelve or fourteen millions? This accursed, cruel, diabolical American war!