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the Americans had sufficient grounds for resisting, as they did resist, the Ministerial and Parliamentary measures. But whether these had yet attained a pitch to justify them in discarding and renouncing their allegiance to the Throne, is a far more doubtful question a question on which, perhaps, neither an Englishman nor yet an American could quite impartially decide.
The time has come, however, as I believe and trust, when it is possible to do equal justice to the many good and upright men who in this great struggle embraced the opposite sides. The great mass of the people meant honestly on both shores of the Atlantic. The two chief men in both countries were alike pure-minded. On the one side there were deeds that savoured of tyranny, on the other side there were deeds that savoured of rebellion ; yet at heart George the Third was never a tyrant, nor Washington ever a rebel. Of Washington I most firmly believe, that no single act appears in his whole public life proceeding from any other than public, and those the highest, motives. But my persuasion is no less firm that there would be little flattery in applying the same terms of respect and commendation to “the good old King." I do not, indeed, deny that some degree of prejudice and pride may, though unconsciously, have mingled with his motives. I do not deny, that at the outset of these troubles he lent too ready an ear to the glozing reports of his Governors and Deputies—the Hutchinsons or Olivers,
-assuring him that the discontents were confined to a factious few, and that measures of rigour and repression alone were needed. For such measures of rigour he may deserve, and has incurred, his share of censure. But after the insurgent Colonies had proclaimed their Independence, is it just to blame King George, as he often has been blamed, for his steadfast and resolute resistance to that claim? Was it for him, unless after straining every nerve against it, to forfeit a portion of his birthright and a jewel of his Crown? Was it for him, without the clearest case of necessity, to allow the rending asunder of his empire, the array for all time to come of several millions of his people against the rest? After calling on his loyal subjects in the Colonies to rise, after requiring and employing their aid, was it for him on any light grounds to relinafter every
quish his cause and theirs, and yield them over unforgiven to the vengeance of their countrymen? Was it for him to overlook the consequences, not even yet, perhaps, in their full extent unfolded, of such a precedent of victory to popular and Colonial insurrection ? May not the King, on the contrary, have deemed, that on such a question, touching, as it did, both his honour and his rights, he was bound to be firm,
firmer than even the firmest of his Ministers? Not, of course, that he could be justified for persevering, - but, in truth, he did not so persevere, reasonable hope had failed. Not, of course, that he could be excused for continuing to demand, or to expect, unconditional submission ; but, as his own letters to Lord North assure us, such an idea was never harboured in his mind. To do his duty conscientiously, as he should answer it to God hereafter, and, according to the lights he had received
- such was his unceasing aim'and endeavour from the day, when young, but superior to the frailties of youth, he first assumed the reins of government, until that dismal period, half a century later, when bowed down by years and sorrows, and blind, - doubly blind, according to the fine thought of Calderon *,
he concluded his reign, though not as yet his life.
Before the American War had commenced, and during its first period, nearly all the statesmen and writers of England argued or rather took for granted, as too plain to stand in need of argument—that separation from our Colonies would most grievously weaken and impair, if not wholly ruin, the parent State. Dr. Tucker, Dean of Gloucester, and a prolific pamphleteer, stood almost alone in presuming to doubt that such consequences must ensue, and advising only that the separation should be prompt and amicable. It is worthy of note how much our experience has run counter to the general prognostication, - how little the loss was felt, or how quickly the
“ Entrar solo un hombre veo
Que sin luz y sin razon
Manañas de Abril y Mayo, Jornada i.
void was supplied. An historian of high and just authority – Mr. Macaulay-has observed that England was never so rich, so great, so forinidable to foreign princes, so absolutely mistress of the sea, as since the alienation of her American Colonies. * The true effect of that alienation upon ourselves, as time has shown, has been not positive, but by comparison ; it has lain not in the withdrawal of wealth and population and resources, but in the raising up a rival State from the same race, and with powers and energies not inferior to our own.
But how far, and in what degree, has the new form of government promoted the happiness of the United States themselves? In considering that question, we should, in the first place, discard the prejudice or vague notion prevailing in some minds, as if there were something unnatural in the continued connexion between the parent State and its Colony; as if the independence of the latter must be, at all times and under all circumstances, conducive to its good. To be assured of the contrary we need only cast our eyes from the Northern Continent of the New World to its Southern. There the sway of the Spaniards teemed with neglects and abuses. There the laws were faulty, and the execution of them more faulty still; there the Viceroys, though sometimes upright and able, were much oftener mere indolent grandees. These Colonies have now, amidst loud vaunts of their coming greatness, renounced what they termed the yoke that weighed upon them. Yet up to this time it must be owned that they have not changed for the better. In the place of King Log they have only gained Citizen Stork. They have forfeited tranquillity, without, in truth, securing freedom. Thus, as a recent traveller informs us, it has happened to the Republic of Buenos Ayres, in the course of only nine months, to undergo no less than fifteen changes in its government—each of the fifteen new Presidents being, according to the forms of the Constitution, elected for three years! Thus, also, in the remoter districts of South America, the same traveller was wont to hear the poor people recount their present grievances and sufferings, and usually end their com
* Essays, vol. ii. p. 42.
plaints by saying, “It was not so when we had a
It would be most unjust to compare, even for a moment, such a condition of society (if society it can be called) with that in North America. It would be folly, or worse than folly, to deny that since their Independence the prosperity of the United States has advanced with gigantic strides—that they have grown to be a first-rate powerthat immense works of public utility have been achieved with marvellous speed — that the clearing of new lands and the building of new cities have been such as to outstrip the most sanguine calculations— that among them the working classes have been in no common degree well paid and prosperous — that a feeling for the national honour is in no country stronger—that the first elements of education have been most widely diffused — that many good and brave men have been trained and are training to the service of the commonwealth. But have their independent institutions made them, on the whole, a happy and contented people? That, among themselves, is often proclaimed as undeniable; and certainly, among themselves, it may not always be safely denied. That, however, is not always the impression conveyed to him who only sojourns in their land, by the careworn faces, by the hurried steps, by the unsocial meals which he sees, or by the incessant party cries which he hears around him — by the fretful aspirations and the feverish hopes resulting from the unbounded space of competition open to them without check or barrier; and by the innumerable disappointments and heartburnings which, in consequence, arise. On the true condition of North America, let us mark the correspondence between two of the greatest and most highly gifted of her sons. There is now open before me a letter which, in August, 1837, and on the annexation of Texas, Dr. Channing wrote to Mr. Clay. In that letter, as published at Boston, I find the following words:
“ I cannot do justice to this topic without speaking “ freely of our country, as freely as I should of any other; ' and unhappily we are so accustomed, as a people, to
* See the Journal of Researches by Mr. Charles Darwin, vol. i. pp. 1+1. 295.
“ receive incense, to be soothed by flattery, and to account
reputation as a more important interest than morality, << that
be construed into a kind of disloyalty. But it would be wrong to make concessions to “ this dangerous weakness. ... Among us, a spirit of “ lawlessness pervades the community which, if not re
pressed, threatens the dissolution of our present forms of • society. Even in the old States mobs are taking the
government into their hands; and a profligate newspaper finds little difficulty in stirring up multitudes to 66 violence. When we look at the parts of the country “ nearest Texas we see the arms of the law paralysed by " the passions of the individual. .... Add to all this the “invasions of the rights of speech and of the press by “ lawless force, the extent and toleration of which oblige
us to believe that a considerable portion of our citizens “ have no comprehension of the first principles of liberty. “ It is an undeniable fact that in consequence of these “ and other symptoms, the confidence of many reflecting “ men in our free institutions is very much impaired. “ Some despair. That main pillar of public liberty, “ mutual trust among citizens, is shaken. That we must “ seek security for property and life in a stronger govern“ ment, is a spreading conviction. Men who, in public, “ talk of the stability of our institutions, whisper their “ doubts - perhaps their scorn-in private.”
Whether the people of the United States might have been as thriving and more happy had they remained British subjects, I will not presume to say. Certainly not, if violent men like Lord Hillsborough, or corrupt men like Mr. Rigby, had continued to take part in their administration. With other hands at the helm, the case might have been otherwise. Jefferson at least, in his first Draft of the Declaration of Independence, said of his countrymen and of the English, “We might have “ been a free and a great people together.” One thing, at all events, is plain — that, had these Colonies shared the fate of the other dominions of the British Crown, the main curse and shame of their existing system — the plague-spot of slavery-would have been long since removed from them ; but, as in the case of Jamaica, not without a large compensation in money to the slave