[462] British conquest, which would close them once more
chap. XX.} 1763.
against all the world but the victors; even against the nations which had discovered and planted them. Leaving the nobler policy of liberty to find its defenders where it could, and wilfully, and as it were fatally blind to what would follow, England chose the policy of conquest and exclusion; and had already acquired much of the empire of Spain in America, and nearly the whole of that of France in both hemispheres.

The balance of the colonial system was destroyed for ever; there existed no longer the community of interest for its support on the part of the great maritime powers of Europe. The Seven Years War which doubled the debt of England, increasing it to seven hundred millions of dollars, had been begun by her for the possession of the Ohio Valley. She achieved that conquest, but not for herself. Driven out from its share in the great colonial system, France was swayed by its own commercial and political interests, by its wounded pride, and by that enthusiasm which the support of a good cause enkindles, to take up the defence of the freedom of the seas, and heartily to desire the enfranchisement of the English plantations. This policy was well devised; and we shall see that England became not so much the possessor of the Valley of the West, as the transient trustee, commissioned to transfer it from the France of the Middle Ages to the free people, who were making for humanity a new existence in America.

end of volume IV.

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