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From the beginning of the troubles, George the

Chap. LI.} 1775.
Third had regarded the renunciation of the colonies as preferable to the continuance of the connection on the American principles; for such a continuance would have overturned or endangered his system of government at home. To him it was an option between losing the brightest jewel in his crown, or losing the crown itself, in so far as it was an emblem of monarchical power. The same consideration animated Fox and Rockingham to defend American liberty as the bulwark of the rights of the British people. If a cordial reconciliation should not be speedily effected, to lose America entirely seemed to them a less evil than to hold her as a conquered country; for the maintaining of that dominion by an army only would inevitably terminate in the downfall of the constitution.

Outside of parliament, the most intelligent among the philosophers of North Britain yielded to the ministerial measures a reluctant acquiescence or discountenanced them by open rebuke. The lukewarm Presbyterian, William Robertson, whose smooth style in his more elaborate pages is like satin without a crease, and whose discreet method in history palliated or veiled the enormities of the Spaniards, forgot how well he had written at the time when the men in power were repealing the stamp act. ‘If the wisdom of government could now terminate the contest with honor instantly,’ he thought ‘that would be the most desirable issue;’ but yet he would have the British ‘leaders at once exert the power of the British empire in its full force.’ He would even have approved stationing a ‘few regiments in each capital.’

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