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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 9

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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.

The great historian, accustomed to weigh the character of nations, foresaw the terrible consequences which must necessarily result from such a state of things. Surveying the social and political elements then effervescing in the United States, he said: - " Is it possible to doubt what sort of legislature will be chosen? On one side is a statesman preaching patience, respect for vested rights, strict observance of public faith; on the other is a demagogue ranting about the tyranny of capitalists and usurers, and asking why anybody should be permitted to ride in a carriage and drink champagne while thousands of honest folks are in want of necessaries? Which of the two candidates is likely to be preferred by a working man who hears his children crying for more bread? I seriously apprehend that you will, in some such season of adversity as I have described, do things which will prevent prosperity from returning. Either some Caesar or Napoleon will seize the reins of government with a strong hand, or your republic will be as fearfully plundered and laid waste by barbarians in the twentieth century as the Roman empire was in the fifth, with this difference - that the Huns and Vandals will have been engendered within your own country by your own institutions."

Unquestionably, if there be a divine ruler of the universe, the disregard of human rights by the Americans on the one hand, and of principles of political and diplomatic integrity on the other, will produce their certain punishment in terrors and convulsions; and it will, in our opinion, be only through such a purifying process that America will eventually rise to sounder principles and nobler sentiments (Written before the American Civil War.).

When the conduct of the American commissioners, in making a separate peace, came to the knowledge of the French government, great was its indignation. M. Vergennes, writing to the minister of France at Philadelphia, thus plainly expressed himself: - " You will surely be gratified, as well as myself, with the very extensive advantages which our allies, the Americans, are to receive from the peace; but you certainly will not be less surprised than I have been at the conduct of the commissioners. They have cautiously kept themselves at a distance from me. Whenever I have had occasion to see any one of them, and inquire of them briefly the negotiations, they have constantly clothed their speech in generalities, giving me to understand that they did not go forward, and they had no confidence in the sincerity of the British ministry. Judge of my surprise when, on the 30th of November, Dr. Franklin informed me that the articles were signed! The reservation retained on our account does not save the infraction of the promise which we have made to each other, not to sign, except conjointly. This negotiation is not yet so far advanced in regard to ourselves as that of the United States; not but that the king, if he had shown as little delicacy in his proceedings as the American commissioners, might have signed articles with England long before them."

On the 5th of December parliament met, and the king, though not yet able to announce the signing of the provisional treaty with France and America, intimated pretty plainly the approach of that fact. Indeed, lord Shelburne had addressed a letter to the lord mayor of London eight days before the articles with America were actually signed, that this event was so near at hand that parliament would be prorogued from the time fixed for its meeting, the 26th of November, to the 5th of December. It was, indeed, hoped that by that day the preliminaries with France and Spain would be signed too. This not being the case, the king could only declare that conclusion all but certain. He admitted that he had sanctioned a provisional compact with America, granting full independence. George said: - " In thus admitting the separation of those colonies from the crown of these kingdoms, I have sacrificed every consideration of my own to the wishes and opinions of my people. I make it my humble and earnest prayer to Almighty God, that Great Britain may not feel the evils which might result from so great a dismemberment of the empire, and that America may be free from the calamities which have formerly proved, in the mother country, how essential monarchy is to the enjoyment of constitutional liberty. Religion, language, interest, affections may, and I hope will, yet prove a bond of permanent union between the two countries; to this end neither attention nor disposition on my part shall be wanting."

This announcement drew from the opposition a torrent of abuse of ministers, who, in reality, had only been carrying out the very measure which they had long recommended, and which Fox, in particular, had been zealously endeavouring to accomplish whilst in office. Their censures appeared to arise rather from the fact that the war was ended without their mediation than from anything else. Fox upbraided lord Shelburne with having once said that, when the independence of America should be admitted, the sun of England would have set. Yet this had been the opinion not of lord Shelburne merely, but of numbers who now saw reason to doubt that gloomy view of things, and there was the less reason for Fox to throw this in the face of the prime minister, as he had been himself, whilst his colleague, earnestly labouring with him for that end. Burke declared the king's speech to be a medley of hypocrisies and nonsense, yet it only announced what Burke had himself warmly and long called for, and for which, with a strange inconsistency, he thanked the king before he sate down. Fox, on the 18th of December, moved for copies of such parts of the provisional treaty as related to American independence; but in this he was supported by only forty-six members.

On the 26th, the houses adjourned for a month, for the Christmas recess, and during this time the treaties with France and Spain made rapid progress. The fact of America being now withdrawn from the quarrel, coupled with the signs of returning vigour in England - Rodney's great victory, the astonishing defence of Gibraltar, and the offer of various parties in England, proposing to build ships and present them ready armed and equipped to the government - these things acted as wonderful stimulants to pacification. Spain still clung fondly to the hope of receiving back Gibraltar, and this hope was for some time encouraged by the apparent readiness of lord Shelburne to comply with the desire, as Chatham and lord Stanhope had done before. But no sooner was this question mooted in the house of commons than the public voice denounced so energetically the idea, that it was at once abandoned. Franklin did not omit, at the last moment, to throw in a farewell damaging influence against England. He strongly supported count D'Aranda, the Spanish ambassador at Paris, in his demand for the cession of the rock; he insisted that it ought to be one of the conditions of the peace, and put arguments into the count's mouth to this end. D'Aranda, under this guidance, became quite violent in persisting upon this point; but, finding it useless, he offered Oran, and then Oran and Porto Rico, in exchange. The English commissioner, Mr. Alleyne Fitzherbert, informed him that his government would consent to no terms for the surrender of the fortress; and, as France was resolved to complete the treaty, Spain was compelled, though sullenly, to acquiesce.

On the 20th of January, 1783, Mr. Fitzherbert signed, at Versailles, the preliminaries of peace with the comte de Vergennes, on the part of France, and with D'Aranda, on the part of Spain.

By the treaty with France, the right of fishing off the coast of Newfoundland and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence was restored, as granted by the treaty of Utrecht; but the limits were more accurately defined. The islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, on the coast of Newfoundland, were ceded for drying of fish. In the West Indies, England ceded Tobago, which France had taken, and restored St. Lucia, but received back again Granada, St. Vincent, Dominica, St. Kitt's, Nevis, and Montserrat. In Africa, England gave up the river Senegal and the island of Goree, but retained Fort St. James and the river Gambia. In India, the French were allowed to recover Pondicherry and Chandernagore, with the right to fortify the latter, and to carry on their usual commerce. They regained also Mahe and the Comptoir of Surat, with their former privileges. The articles regarding the demolition of the fortifications of Dunkirk, in the treaty of Utrecht, were abrogated.

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