Page:Lord Chatham as an Orator.djvu/37

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32
Lord Chatham as an Orator

Once again in this year 1777 Chatham was to speak, and again the subject was America. Parliament had re-opened in November, and the Address to the King was little suited to procure a peace. Chatham is profoundly depressed at the humiliated state of the country which twenty years before he had made and left so great.

 'But yesterday,
And England might have stood against the world:
Now none so poor to do her reverence.'

Again he insists, 'You cannot conquer America,' and, apart from this impossibility, he has the front to declare, 'If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms, never! never! never!'

This is the speech in which he makes his famous but hardly discreet reply to Lord Suffolk, who had urged, in defence of the employment of the Indian tribes in America, that it was perfectly justifiable to 'use all the means that God and nature put into our hands'. Then followed the amazing outburst which critics will estimate according to their temperaments, in which the impassioned orator, scarcely remembering what he had himself sanctioned twenty years before, denounces such 'abominable principles as equally abhorrent to religion and humanity'; 'they shock me as a lover of honourable war and a detester of murderous barbarity'.

And then he makes his fervent appeal to the Bishops and the Judges to join in protest against such a pollution; and, pointing to the tapestry on the walls of the House representing the destruction of the Spanish Armada, he taunts Lord Suffolk with the exploits of his 'immortal ancestor', Lord Howard of Effingham, 'who led your victorious fleets against the invaders of Spain,' and had ordered this pictured monument to be wrought in the looms of Holland.