Chapter 20:

England, grasping at the colonies of France and Spain, risks the loss of her own.—Bute's ministry.


while it was yet uncertain who among British
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statesmen would be selected to establish British authority in the colonies, the king, on the twentysixth of October, offering to return Havana to Spain for either the Floridas or Porto Rico, urged the instant consummation of the treaty. ‘The best dispatch I can receive from you will be these preliminaries signed. May Providence, in compassion to human misery, give you the means of executing this great and noble work.’ Thus beautifully wrote the young monarch to Bedford, not dazzled by victory, and repressing the thirst for conquest; a rare instance of moderation, of which history must gratefully preserve the record. The terms proposed to the French were severe, and even humiliating. ‘But what can we do?’ said Choiseul, who in his despair had for a time resigned the foreign department to the Duke de Praslin. ‘The English are furiously imperious; they are drunk with success; and, unfortunately, we are not in a condition to abase their pride.’ France [452] yielded to necessity, and on the third day of Novem-
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ber the preliminaries of peace, a peace so momentous for America, were signed between France and Spain on the one side, and England and Portugal on the other.

To England were ceded, besides islands in the West Indies, the Floridas; Louisiana to the Mississippi, but without the island of New Orleans; all Canada; Acadia; Cape Breton and its dependent islands; and the fisheries, except that France retained a share in them, with the two islets St. Pierre and Miquelon, as a shelter for their fishermen. For the loss of Florida France on the same day indemnified Spain by ceding to that power New Orleans, and all Louisiana west of the Mississippi, with boundaries undefined.

In Africa, England acquired Senegal, with the command of the slave-trade.

In the East Indies, France, according to a modification proposed and insisted upon by Bedford, only recovered in a dismantled and ruined state the little that she possessed on the first of January, 1749; England obtained in that region the undoubted sway.

In Europe, where Frederic was left to take care of himself, each power received back its own; Minorca, therefore, reverted to Great Britain.

England,’ said the king, ‘never signed such a peace before, nor, I believe, any other power in Europe.’ ‘The country never,’ said the dying Granville, ‘saw so glorious a war, or so honorable a peace.’ It maintains, thought Thomas Hollis, no flatterer of kings, the maritime power, the interests, the security, the tranquillity, and the honor of England. The [453] judgment of mankind, out of England, then and ever

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since, has pronounced on it similar decisions. For once, to the surprise of every body, Bute spoke well, rising in its defence in the House of Lords. ‘I wish,’ said he, ‘no better inscription on my tomb than that I was its author.’

On the morning of the ninth of December, the very day on which the preliminaries were to be discussed in parliament, Charles Townshend resigned his place as secretary at war. The opposition, on his resigning, had great hopes of his joining with them. But, always preserving intimate relations with George the Third, he still aspired to the management of the plantations as third secretary of state; and when Pitt spoke against the peace for three hours and twenty minutes,—for the first hour admirably, then with flagging strength, ‘though even in his scrawls showing the masterly hand of a Raphael,’ and an ‘indisputable superiority to all others,’—Charles Townshend, in a speech of but twenty-five minutes, made an answer ‘with great judgment, wit, and strength of argument,’ on the side of humanity.1

On the division the opponents of the treaty were but sixty-five against three hundred and nineteen. ‘Now,’ said the princess dowager, on hearing the great majority, ‘my son is indeed king of England.’ Yet Townshend, who had so much contributed to swell the vote, in the progress of his own ambition, had for a rival Halifax, his old superior at the Board of Trade, who was equally desirous of the department of the colonies, with the rank of a secretary of state.

In the first days of January, 1763, it was publicly [454] avowed what had long been resolved on, that a stand-

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ing army of twenty battalions was to be kept up in America after the peace;2 and, as the ministry were all the while promising great things in point of economy, it was designed that the expense should be defrayed by the colonists themselves.

On the tenth day of February, 1763, the treaty was ratified; and five days afterwards, at the hunting-castle of Hubertsburg, a definitive treaty closed the war of the empress queen and the Elector of Saxony against the great Frederic. The year of 1761 had ended for Frederic in gloom. Hardly sixty thousand men remained to him to resist the whole circle of his enemies. He has himself described the extremity of his distress, and has proudly bid the world learn from his example, that, in great affairs, perseverance lifts statesmen above perils.3 To the firm man the moment of deliverance assuredly comes. Deserted most unexpectedly by George the Third, the changes in Russia had been equally marvellous. That empire from an enemy had become an ally, desirable from its strength, yet dangerous from the indiscretions of its sovereign. But when the arbitrary seizure of the domains of the Russian clergy by Peter the Third, and the introduction into the army of an unwonted system, had provoked the clergy and the army to effect a revolution by his dethronement and murder, his wife, Catharine,—a German princess who had adopted the religion and carefully studied the language, the customs and institutions of Russia; a woman of such endowments, that [455] she was held to be the ablest person in its court;—was

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advanced, over the ruin of her husband, of which she was not guilty, to the imperial throne of the Czars. More wise than her predecessor, she abandoned his projects of war and revenge, and in the midsummer of 1762, recalling the Russian army, she gave to the world the instructive lesson of moderation and neutrality. The territories of Prussia, which France had evacuated, Bute left, as he said, ‘to be scrambled for;’ but there was no one to win them from Frederic; and after seven years of unequalled effort against the aristocracies and despotisms of continental Europe, the hero of Prussia won a triumph for freedom by the glorious treaty of Hubertsburg, which gave security of existence to his state without the cession of a hand's breadth of his dominions.

Thus was arrested the course of carnage and misery; of sorrows in private life infinite and unfathomable; of wretchedness heaped on wretchedness; of public poverty and calamity; of forced enlistments and extorted contributions; and all the unbridled tyranny of military power in the day of danger. France was exhausted of one half of her specie; in many parts of Germany there remained not enough of men or of cattle to renew cultivation. The number of the dead in arms is computed at eight hundred and eighty-six thousand on the battle-fields of Europe, or on the way to them. And all this devastation and waste of life and of resources produced for those who planned it no gain whatever, nothing but weakness and losses. Not an inch of land was torn from the dominions of Frederic; not a limit to the boundaries [456] of any state was contracted or advanced. Europe, in

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its territorial divisions, remained exactly as before. But in Asia and America how was the world changed!

In Asia, the victories of Clive at Plassy, of Coote at the Wanderwash, and of Watson and Pococke on the Indian seas, had given England the undoubted ascendency in the East Indies, opening to her suddenly the promise of untold treasures and territorial acquisitions without end.

In America, the Teutonic race, with its strong tendency to individuality and freedom, was become the master from the Gulf of Mexico to the poles; and the English tongue, which, but a century and a half before, had for its entire world a part only of two narrow islands on the outer verge of Europe, was now to spread more widely than any that had ever given expression to human thought.

Go forth, then, language of Milton and Hampden, language of my country, take possession of the North American continent! Gladden the waste places with every tone that has been rightly struck on the English lyre, with every English word that has been spoken well for liberty and for man! Give an echo to the now silent and solitary mountains; gush out with the fountains that as yet sing their anthems all day long without response; fill the valleys with the voices of love in its purity, the pledges of friendship in its faithfulness; and as the morning sun drinks the dewdrops from the flowers all the way from the dreary Atlantic to the Peaceful Ocean, meet him with the joyous hum of the early industry of freemen! Utter boldly and spread widely through the world [457] the thoughts of the coming apostles of the people's

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liberty, till the sound that cheers the desert shall thrill through the heart of humanity, and the lips of the messenger of the people's power, as he stands in beauty upon the mountains, shall proclaim the renovating tidings of equal freedom for the race!

England exulted in its conquests; enjoying the glory of extended dominion in the confident expectation of a boundless increase of wealth. But its success was due to its haying taken the lead in the good old struggle for liberty; and was destined to bring fruits, not so much to itself, as to the cause of freedom and mankind.

France, of all the states on the continent of Europe, the most powerful by territorial unity, wealth, numbers, industry and culture, seemed also by its place, marked out for maritime ascendency. Set between many seas, it rested upon the Mediterranean, possessed harbors on the German ocean, and embraced within its wide shores and jutting headlands, the bays and open waters of the Atlantic; its people, infolding at one extreme the offspring of colonists from Greece, and at the other, the hardy children of the Northmen, were called, as it were, to the inheritance of life upon the sea. The nation, too, readily conceived or appropriated great ideas, and delighted in bold resolves. Its travellers had penetrated farthest into the fearful interior of unknown lands; its missionaries won most familiarly the confidence of the aboriginal hordes; its writers described with keener and wiser observation the forms of nature in her wildness, and the habits and languages of savage man; its soldiers, and every lay Frenchman in America owed military service, [458] uniting beyond all others celerity with courage, knew

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best how to endure the hardships of forest life and to triumph in forest warfare. Its ocean chivalry had given a name and a colony to Carolina, and its merchants a people to Acadia. The French discovered the basin of the St. Lawrence; were the first to explore and possess the banks of the Mississippi, and planned an American empire that should unite the widest valleys and most copious inland waters of the world.

But New France was governed exclusively by the monarchy of its metropolis; and was shut against the intellectual daring of its philosophy, the liberality of its political economists, the movements of its industrial genius, its legal skill, and its infusion of protestant freedom. Nothing representing the new activity of thought in Modern France, went to America. Nothing had leave to go there, but what was old and worn out. The government thought only to transmit to its American empire, the exhausted polity of the Middle Ages; the castes of feudal Europe; its monarchy, its hierarchy, its nobility, and its dependent peasantry; while commerce was enfeebled by protection, stifled under the weight of inconvenient regulations, and fettered by exclusive grants. The land was parcelled out in seignories; and though quitrents were moderate, transfers and sales of leases were burdened with restrictions and heavy fines. The men who held the plough were tenants and vassals, of whom few could either write or read. No village school was open for their instruction; nor was there one printing press in either Canada4 or Louisiana. [459] The central will of the administration, though checked

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by concessions of monopolies, was neither guided by local legislatures, nor restrained by parliaments or courts of law. But France was reserved for a nobler influence in the New World, than that of propagating institutions, which in the Old World were giving up the ghost; nor had Providence set apart America for the reconstruction of the decaying framework of feudal tyranny.5

The colonists from England brought over the forms of the government of the mother country, and the purpose of giving them a better development and a fairer career in the Western World. The French emigrants took with them only what belonged to the past, and nothing that represented modern freedom. The English emigrants retained what they called English privileges, but left behind in the parent country, English inequalities, the monarch, and nobility. and prelacy. French America was closed against even a gleam of intellectual independence; nor did it contain so much as one dissenter from the Roman Church; English America had English liberties in greater purity and with far more of the power of the people than England. Its inhabitants were self organized bodies of freeholders, pressing upon the receding forests, winning their way farther and farther forward every year, and never going back. They had schools, so that in several of the colonies there was no one to be found beyond childhood, who could not read and write; they had the printing-press, scattering among [460] them books, and pamphlets, and many newspapers:

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they had a ministry chiefly composed of men of their own election. In private life they were accustomed to take care of themselves; in public affairs they had local legislatures, and municipal self-direction. And now this continent from the Gulf of Mexico to where civilized life is stayed by barriers of frost, was become their dwelling-place and their heritage.

Reasoning men in New York, as early as 1748, foresaw and announced that the conquest of Canada, by relieving the Northern Colonies from danger, would hasten their emancipation. An attentive Swedish traveller in that year heard the opinion, and published it to Sweden and to Europe; the early dreams of John Adams made the removal of ‘the turbulent Gallics’ a prelude to the approaching greatness of his country. During the negotiations for peace, the kinsman and bosom friend of Edmund Burke, employed the British press to unfold the danger to England from retaining Canada; and the French minister for foreign affairs frankly warned the British envoy, that the cession of Canada would lead to the independence of North America.6

Unintimidated by the prophecy, and obeying a higher and wiser instinct, England happily persisted. ‘We have caught them at last,’7 said Choiseul to those around him on the definitive surrender of New France; and at once giving up Louisiana to Spain, his eager hopes anticipated the speedy struggle of America for separate existence. So soon as the sagacious [461] and experienced Vergennes, the French ambassador at

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Constantinople, a grave, laborious man, remarkable for a calm temper and moderation of character, heard the conditions of the peace, he also said to his friends, and even openly to a British traveller,8 ‘the consequences of the entire cession of Canada are obvious. I am persuaded,’ and afterwards he himself recalled his prediction to the notice of the British ministry,9— ‘England will ere long repent of having removed the only check that could keep her colonies in awe. They stand no longer in need of her protection; she will call on them to contribute towards supporting the burdens they have helped to bring on her; and they will answer by striking off all dependence.’ Lord Mansfield, also, used often to declare that he too, ‘ever since the peace of Paris, always thought the Northern Colonies were meditating a state of independency on Great Britain.10

The colonial system, being founded on injustice, was at war with itself. The principle which confined the commerce of each colony to its own metropolis, was not only introduced by England into its domestic legislation, but was accepted as the law of nations in its treaties with other powers; so that while it wantonly restrained its colonists, it was jealously, and on its own theory rightfully excluded from the rich possessions of France and Spain. Those regions could be thrown open to British traders, only by the general abrogation of the mercantile monopoly, which would extend the benefit to universal commerce, or by [462] British conquest, which would close them once more

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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.

1 See Powlett to Horatio Gates, 4 January, 1763.

2 A. Oldham to H. Gates, 6 January, 1763. Bernard, in 1765, says the new measure had been ‘long’ determined on.

3 Frederic: $CEuvres Posthunmes, i. 273. Hist. de la Guerre de Sept Ans.

4 General Murray to the Earl of Egremont, Quebec, 5 June, 1762: ‘The former government would never suffer a printing press in the country.’ And again Gen. Murray to Secretary Shelburne, 30 August, 1766: ‘They are very ignorant, and it was the policy of the French government to keep them so; few or none can read; printing was never permitted in Canada, till we got possession of it.’

5 Gayarre Histoire de la Louisiane, II. 121.

6 Hans Stanley to William Pitt, 1760, printed in Thackeray's Chatham.

7 From oral communications to me by the late Albert Gallatin, confirmed by papers in my possession, relating to periods a little earlier and a litt'e later.

8 Lind's three letters to Price. 137.

9 Lord Stormont, British Ambassador at Paris, to Lord Rochford, Secretary of State. No. 19. Separate. 31 October, 1775.

10 Lord Mansfield in the House of Lords, 20 Dec. 1775, in Almon. v. 167. Force, VI. 233.

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