He moves for an Address to the Crown to put a stop to hostilities in America, and his speech begins without preamble: 'My Lords, this is a flying moment; perhaps but six weeks left to arrest the dangers that surround us. The gathering storm may break; it has already opened and in part burst.' This is the speech in which he taunts the Ministry with hiring soldiers from abroad to crush British subjects lately so loyal. 'You have ransacked every corner of Lower Saxony; but forty thousand foreign boors never can conquer ten times the number of British freemen. You may ravage, you cannot conquer. It is impossible. You cannot conquer the Americans.... I might as well talk of driving them before me with this crutch.'
A bold stroke for a gouty invalid, but, coming from such a man at such a crisis and with such a voice and eye, doubtless impressive.
The young eager son, conscious already of a genius of his own, can hardly have been shocked by it, though he may have been startled. This at least I should gather from what he wrote to his mother next morning:
'I cannot help expressing to you how happy beyond description I feel in reflecting that my Father was able to exert, in their full vigour, the sentiments and eloquence which have always distinguished him. His first speech took up half an hour, and was full of all his usual force and vivacity. I only regretted that he did not always raise his voice enough for all the House to hear everything he said. If they felt as I did, however, they must have heard abundantly enough to be charmed and transported.... He spoke a second time in answer to Lord Weymouth, to explain the object of his motion.... This he did in a flow of eloquence, and with a beauty of expression, animated and striking beyond description.'