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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 8


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It might have been imagined that this magnificent and destructive repulse would have convinced the allies that the siege was hopeless, but they were pretty well informed that general Elliot had well nigh exhausted his ammunition in this prodigal death-shower, and they had still their great combined fleet, snug in the narrow bay, with scouts in the straits to prevent the carrying in of supplies. But on the 24th of September news arrived at Madrid that the fleet of lord Howe was under weigh for Gibraltar. Immediately two thousand land troops were put on board the fleet, but it still continued to lie in the bay of Algesiras. On the 11th of October lord Howe's fleet came in sight, convoying one hundred and fifty transports and trading vessels, carrying all sorts of supplies for the garrison of Gibraltar. Howe's fleet of thirty-four sail-of-the-line, six frigates, and three fire-ships, though in the immediate neighbourhood of one of fifty sail-of-the-line, besides a number of frigates and smaller vessels, managed to get into the bay of Gibraltar all safe, and amid the wildest acclamations of soldiers and inhabitants. By the 18th all the store-ships had discharged their cargoes, and had passed through the straits, and on the 19th lord Howe followed them with his fleet. The enemy's fleet then came out after him, and the next day they were in the open ocean, and Howe proceeded to their leeward to receive them. Some of their vessels had suffered in the late gales, but they had still at least forty-four sail to Howe's thirty-four, and, having the weather-gage, had every advantage. But after a partial firing, in which they received great damage from Howe, they hauled off, and got into Cadiz bay. Howe, then dispatching part of his fleet to the West Indies, and a second squadron to the Irish coast, returned home himself. The news of the grand defence of Gibraltar produced a wonderful rejoicing in England; thanks were voted by parliament to the officers and privates of the brave garrison; general Elliot was invested with the order of the Bath on the king's bastion in sight of the works which he had preserved, and on his return, in 1787, at the age of seventy, he was created a peer as lord Heath- field of Gibraltar. But the noblest fame which the veteran has achieved was that accorded by his enemies, who venerated him for his virtues, and long remembered with blessings his humanity in seeking with such zeal to save his defeated assailants.

With these superb demonstrations on the part of England terminated the war. Her enemies discovered that her hoped-for fall was yet far off, and were much more inclined to listen to overtures of peace, of which they were now all in great need. Before the dissolution of the Rockingham ministry, private negotiations had for some time been going on betwixt the English government and Franklin in Paris. Lord Shelburne, as secretary of state, had received an intimation of pacific views from Franklin, and had dispatched Mr. Richard Oswald, a London merchant, well versed in American affairs, to have an interview with the doctor. Franklin, with an astonishing coolness of demand, proposed that not only should the independence of the United States be acknowledged, but that Canada should be thrown into the bargain. This looked rather like a studied insult than a real desire for negotiation. The English ministry, howę ever, without regarding for a moment the proposition regarding Canada, continued to state their views of a treaty, and Thomas Grenville was also dispatched to endeavour to induce M. Vergennes to enter into the negotiations on the part of France.

Upon the formation of the Shelburne cabinet, and the news of Rodney's victory over De Grasse, the negotiations were still continued, Mr. Grenville only being recalled, and Mr. Alleyne Fitzherbert, afterwards lord St. Helens, being put in his place. France, Spain, Holland, were all groaning under the costs and disasters of the war, yet keeping up an air of indifference, in order to enhance their demands. The Americans were more decided, for they were stimulated by the accounts of the wretched condition of affairs at home. It was represented to Franklin by congress, that, however France or Spain might delay proposals for peace, it was necessary for the United States. That, with their coasts blockaded by an English fleet, now augmented to twenty- six sail of the line, besides frigates, fire ships, &c., and the French so completely beaten at sea, without money and without credit, the American population, as well as the army, were fast sinking into the lowest condition of human misery.

The position of Franklin, nevertheless, was extremely difficult. There was the treaty of alliance betwixt France and the States of 1778, strictly stipulating that neither party should conclude either peace or truce without the other. What added to the difficulty was, that France had, within the last two years, shown an unusual interest and activity of assistance. It had not only dispatched a fleet and army to America, but, besides its annual loans and advances to the United States, it had made them free gifts, amounting, together, to twelve millions of livres. Franklin, in order to strengthen his hands for the important crisis, requested that other commissioners might be sent to Paris; and John Jay quickly arrived from Spain, John Adams from Holland, and Henry Laurens from London. The American commissioners soon became strongly impressed with the sentiment, that France and Spain were keeping back a peace solely for their own objects; and this was greatly confirmed by a letter of M. de Marbois, the secretary of the French legation at Philadelphia, which had been seized by an English cruiser, and had been laid by Mr. Fitzherbert before them. This letter appeared to be part of a diplomatic correspondence betwixt the French minister, Vergennes, and the French minister in America, which threw contempt on the claims which America set up to a share of the Newfoundland fisheries. It created a strong belief that France was endeavouring to keep America in some degree dependent on her; and Jay and Adams were extremely incensed at Vergennes, and not only accused Franklin of being blindly subservient to the French court, but it made them resolve that no time should be lost in effecting a separate treaty. Vergennes contended for the rights of the Indian nations betwixt the Alleghanies and the Mississippi, and of Spain on the lower Mississippi, and this the American commissioners called an attempt to divide and weaken their territory. Vergennes sought only to restrain them from aggressions. When these matters were afterwards cleared up, the Americans were convinced that the French had, notwithstanding appearances, acted throughout with entire good faith towards America. The suspicion, excited, however, for the time, operated to determine a separate and prompt treaty, and to cause the Americans to let fall any such chimerical demands as that of Canada. A private and earnest negotiation for peace was therefore entered upon as soon as a severe illness of Franklin permitted.

There was no difficulty in these negotiations as to the full and entire recognition of the independence of the states. The great and difficult points were but two - first, that regarding the fishery; and second, regarding the interests of the loyalists or tories. The British commissioners stood out strongly for the free permission of all who had been engaged in the war on the English side to return to their homes, and for the restitution of all property confiscated in consequence of such partisanship. The American commissioners endeavoured to get rid of this demand by saying the recommendations of congress would have all the effect that the English proposed. This the commissioners properly regarded as so many words, and they stood out so determinedly on this head, that it appeared likely that the negotiation would be broken off altogether. At last Franklin, who was never at a loss for subtle devices, said they would consent to allow for all losses suffered by the royalists, on condition that a debtor and a creditor account was opened, and recompense made for the damages done by the royalists on the other side, in burning houses and plantations, carrying off slaves, &c.; commissioners to be appointed for the purpose of settling all these claims. The English envoys saw at once that this was a deception, that there would be no meeting, or no use in meeting, and they therefore abandoned the point; and the question of the fishing being in part conceded, the provisional articles were signed on the 30th of November, by the four American commissioners on the one side, and by Mr. Oswald on the other. In the preamble, it was stated that these articles were to be inserted in and to constitute a treaty of peace, but which treaty was not to be concluded until the terms of peace were also settled with France and Spain.

This proviso, however, by no means affected the treaty with America. This secret treaty was made binding and effectual so far as America and England were concerned. The first article acknowledged fully the independence of the United States. Thesecond fixed their boundaries, much to the satisfaction of the Americans; and liberty was secured to them to fish on the banks of Newfoundland, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and wherever they had been accustomed to fish, but not to dry the fish on any of the king's settled dominions in America. By the fourth, fifth, and sixth articles it was engaged for congress that it should earnestly recommend to the several legislatures to provide for the restitution of all estates belonging to real British subjects who had not borne arms against the Americans. All other persons were to be allowed to go to any of the states and remain there for the settlement of their affairs. Congress also engaged to recommend the restitution of all confiscated estates on the repayment of the sums for which they had been sold; and no impediments were to be put in the way of recovering real debts. All further confiscations and prosecutions were to cease. By the seventh and eighth articles the king of England engaged to withdraw his fleets and armies without causing any destruction of property, or carrying away any negro slaves. By these articles, the navigation of the Mississippi, from its source to the ocean, was to remain for ever free and open to both parties. If West Florida happened to be in the possession of England at the termination of a general peace, a secret article determined its boundaries.

Such were the conditions on which this great contest was finally terminated. The Americans clearly had matters almost entirely their own way, for the English were desirous that everything should now be done to conciliate their very positive and by no means modest kinsmen, the citizens of the United States. It was, in truth, desirable to remove as much as possible the rancour of the American mind, by concessions which England could well afford, so as not to throw them wholly into the arms of France. The conditions which the Americans, on their part, conceded to the unfortunate royalists consisted entirely of recommendations from congress to the individual states, and when it was recollected how little regard they had paid to any engagements into which they had entered during the war - with general Burgoyne, for example - the English negotiators felt, as they consented to these articles, that, so far, they would prove a mere dead letter. They could only console themselves with the thought that they would have protected the unhappy royalists, whom Franklin and his colleagues bitterly and vindictively continued to designate as traitors. Franklin showed, on this occasion, that he had never forgotten the just chastisement which Wedderburn had inflicted on him before the privy council for his concern in the purloining of the private papers of Mr. Thomas Whateley, ia 1774. On that occasion, he laid aside the velvet court suit, in which he appeared before the council, and never put it on till now, when he appeared in it at the signing of the treaty of independence. For eight long years, filled with the great and anxious interests of a world, the sting of his own private chagrin had never died out.

And so the war of American separation was ended! On the part of England, it had been conducted with a degree of imbecility in all departments, in council and in action, with a wonderful blundering, and a total lack of foresight, such as no other period of her history can parallel. On the part of the Americans, it had been maintained with no want of bravery or ability, but a want of generosity and regard to principle and engagements, which astonished the whole world. In the very winding-up, in the last act of all - the treaty - they had been equally treacherous to their allies, France and Spain, as they had been to their enemies, the English. Bound by the most sacred engagements not to make peace without their allies, most sacred because doubly binding from gratitude, they, as soon as their own turn was served, made peace alone, and unknown to their friends and supporters. To England the honour of good faith at least remained, and it was surely no dishonour to have failed in a contest with four nations at once, some of them the most powerful in the world. For it was not by America that its own independence was achieved; it was by the united and gigantic action of France, Spain, Holland, and their colonists. In this contest France had spent seventy million pounds sterling; Spain, forty thousand; and Holland, ten millions. Such was the price paid by the European nations to snatch from us our American colonies. They succeeded in separating those included in the United States; but, to say nothing of the long-consequent exhaustion of Spain and Holland, or of the frightful Nemesis which France brought directly upon herself, fulfilling to the letter the warnings of the sagacious Turgot, the envy of Europe was no nearer to its gratification. England soon rose into a higher and more wonderful development: able to do battle against the whole world in arms; able, by her Nelson, to triumph on the seas, by her Wellington on land. England was taught* one great lesson by the contest with America, one by which she has wisely profited, to allow her colonies to govern themselves. She had yet to be taught another, equally needed - to cease her interference in continental quarrels betwixt kings and their people. Whilst learning these grand truths, she has gone on colonising and civilising all round the globe, in a manner unknown to any other nation in any other age. She has assumed a higher tone of magnanimity and Christian wisdom at home and abroad. Has America derived anything like these advantages? She has grown in population, but has she grown in real political greatness? With her free institutions, are her people or her public opinion free? Would she not have derived more true glory, more real freedom, a higher tone of public sentiment, had she remained a portion of the great British empire? Not many years have elapsed since every traveller thence brought home the sorrowful verdict of the best and most interesting portion of her population, that it was not the best but the worst and overwhelming portion of her community that swayed her destinies. Every one glanced with terror at the corruptions of principles and the perversions of Christian truths which the great canker of black slavery in her heart - a canker from which England has long freed her colonies - more and more inspired. Lord Macaulay, almost with his dying breath, put on record his deliberate verdict, that the boasted institutions of the United States, established on the separation of England, proved an utter failure.

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 8

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