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The colonists had a powerful ally in the public

chap. XX.} 1765. Dec.
conscience and affections of the mother country. They could appeal against the acts of its government to the cherished opinions of the nation. The love of liberty was to the true Englishman a habit of mind, grafted upon a proud but generous nature. His attachment to freedom was stronger than the theory or the absolute power of a parliament, of which an oligarchy influenced the choice and controlled the deliberations. The British constitution was in its idea more popular than in its degenerate forms; it aimed at the perfection of carrying out ‘the genuine principles of liberty,’ by securing a free and unbiased ‘vote to every member of the community, however poor;’ but time and a loose state of national morals had tended to produce corruption. ‘The incurvations of practice,’ whether in England or the colonies, were becoming ‘more notorious by a comparison with the rectitude of the rule.’ ‘To elucidate the clearness of the spring conveyed the strongest satire on those who had polluted or disturbed it.’1 America divided English sympathies by appealing with steadfast confidence to the principles of English liberty in their ideal purity.

It is the glory of England, that the rightfulness of the Stamp Act was in England itself a subject of dispute. It could have been so nowhere else. The king of France taxed the French colonies as a matter of course; the king of Spain collected a revenue by his own will in Mexico and Peru, in Cuba and Porto Rico, and wherever he ruled. The States General or the Netherlands had no constitutional scruples about

1 Blackstone's Commentaries, b. i., c. II

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