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[331]

The position of England towards its colonies in

Chap. LXI.} 1776. Mar.
North America, and the possible and probable consequences of the contest, whatever its issue may be, have beyond a doubt every claim to the most serious attention of France and Spain. Whether they should desire the subjection or the independence of the English colonies, is problematical; on either hypothesis they are menaced with danger, which human forecast can perhaps neither prevent nor turn aside.

If the continuation of the civil war may be regarded as infinitely advantageous to the two crowns, inasmuch as it will exhaust the victors and the vanquished, there is, on the other hand, room to fear, first, that the English ministry, feeling the insufficiency of its means, may stretch out the hand of conciliation; or, secondly, that the king of England, after conquering English America, may use it as an instrument to subjugate European England; or, thirdly, that the English ministry, beaten on the continent of America, may seek indemnity at the expense of France and Spain, to efface their shame and to conciliate the insurgents by offering them the commerce and supply of the isles; or, fourthly, that the colonists, on attaining independence, may become conquerors from necessity, and by forcing their excess of produce upon Spanish America, destroy the ties which bind our colonies to their metropolis.

These different suppositions can almost equally conduct to war with France and Spain; on the first, because England will be tempted, by the large force she has prepared, to make the too easy conquests, of which the West Indies offer the opportunity; on the second, because the enslavement of the metropolis

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