Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

all which, as was truly said by Lord North, lured on America and blocked the efforts of the ministry.1 To be sure, the opposition were divided among themselves. Dean Tucker and Adam Smith favored letting the colonies go.2 Burke and Chatham, on the other hand, wished to retain them, but insisted upon a repeal of all coercive and aggressive laws. Again, Chatham always maintained that the American cause was essentially that of the Whigs. No taxation without representation“ is the common cause of the Whigs on the other side of the Atlantic and on this"; he extolled the Americans as “ Whigs in principle and heroes in conduct,” and openly wished them success. Others of that party, however, like Grenville, declared that the American cause was anti-Whig, 3 because, refusing the jurisdiction of Parliament, its supporters sought to extend the power of the King. It must be admitted that some of the ammunition of the American champions was drawn from Tory arsenals, and this circumstance naturally tended to alienate from them Whigs who were strict con

structionists. The difference tended to America were disappear as the contest proceeded: the

Whigs generally became pro-American, fearing that the conquest of those with whom they sympathized in America would also establish absolutism in England, an opinion expressed by Chatham, Fox, Horace Walpole, and Burke.4 Nor were the Whigs ever in full sympathy with

Fear for Eng.

conquered.

the Radicals. English Radicalism was born
in 1769, in the time of the Wilkes disturb-

Position of
Burke.

1 Lecky: XVIIIth Century, III, pp. 403, 404.
8 Ibid., p. 587.

2 Ibid., p. 421, etc. 4 Ibid., pp. 589, 590.

ances.

Then began the agitation for parliamentary reform, - a matter which the Whigs took up but slowly, differing among themselves. Burke, for instance, though he taught the fundamental Whig doctrine, that Sovereign, Lords, and Commons must be regarded as trustees of the people, and although he advocated the publication of the discussions of Parliament and other advanced measures, was yet stubbornly against “levelling doctrines,” opposing all attempts to lower the suffrage, to abolish rotten boroughs, to add to shire-representation, to modify in any way the framework of Parliament. “The machine is well enough to answer any good purpose, provided the materials were sound."

And again : “Our representation is as nearly perfect as the necessary imperfection of human affairs and of human creatures will suffer it to be.”1 As to parliamentary reform, he was in opposition to the elder and the younger Pitt, both of whom favored it, and he was far away on many points from the “Society of the Supporters of the Bill of Rights," who demanded thorough government of, by, and for the people. In opposing, as he did later in life, the French Revolution, he only carried out his earlier principles. The Radicals had no friendship for him. Mrs. Macaulay, their ablest writer, said of his “ Thoughts on the

· Cause of the Present Discontents," that it contain “ a poison sufficient to destroy all the little virtue understanding of sound policy left in the and that it was peculiarly fitted to di from organic and truly useful reform aristocratic faction." 2

[ocr errors]

1 Lecky: XVIIIth Century, III, p. 222.

The masses

can.

But for these dissensions in the opposition, the King and his party, energetic though they were, could scarcely have taken a step. The opposition grew to be very formidable in spite of the want of union. Though the anti-American majority in Parliament in 1774 was heavy, the American cause was powerfully upheld, and there was reason to believe that if the masses were counted, England was for

the rebels. Common people held the war pro-Ameri. in abhorrence. So, too, the manufacturers

and traders : these often were actuated by a selfish motive, for the war disturbed business; and yet it was mainly the demands of the commercial class which had brought the war about. Non-conformists were steadily and zealously pro-American. Dr. Price, a great light among them, expressed American ideas in his “Essay on Liberty,” and was only restrained by ill-health from going to America to manage the finances. In another sphere, the tried and skilful soldiers, Amherst, Conway, and Barre, did not conceal their sympathy. Fox eulogized Montgomery, slain at Quebec, in the House of Commons; while the Duke of Richmond said in the House of Lords, after Bunker Hill, that the Americans were not in rebellion, but resisting acts of the most unexampled cruelty and oppression. This remarkable nobleman, who had gone in 1776 to France to claim an old French peerage, wrote from Paris to Burke, that the political condition of England was one reason why he wished to claim the French peerage. He believed England to be on the verge of a despotism more oppressive than that of France, for it would be less tempered by habit and manners. He

66

وو

himself was likely to be proscribed, and in that case, “if America be not open to receive us, France is some retreat, and a peerage here is something."1 The gleeful exclamation of Horace Walpole, in the following year, over the surrender of Burgoyne, and the declaration of his belief that the Americans were better Englishmen than the English themselves, has already been quoted. In the House of Commons, the American army was spoken of as our army." William Pitt, in 1781, called the attempt to reduce America, “most accursed, wicked, barbarous, cruel, unnatural, diabolical.” In the ruling class, a minority containing personages of the highest rank and the ablest men in the nation had identified itself completely with the insurgents. They resisted with passion;

for they came to feel a feeling which modern writers declared thoroughly justified — that the defeat of the Americans would probably be followed by a subversion of the constitution of England. Meantime, among the people, the war was to the last degree unpopular. London was sometimes at the mercy of mobs; the army could be maintained only by press-gangs, by emptying into the regiments the prisons, and by buying Hessians.

If the King and his ministers were embarrassed by an opposition, the American patriots were no less embarrassed. An energetic minority, in fact, brought to pass the Revolution, Toryism in which proceeding especially from New England, was carried through in spite of a majority in the colonies, -a majority in great part quite apathetic, but to some extent actively resisting. Washington feared in 1776 that if his army were unsuccessful, the enemy would recruit faster than the patriots. The British government were sanguine as to help from loyalists, and sent out at one time equipments for eight thousand men, who, it was thought, could easily be raised among its friends. Large bodies in America were dragged into the war with extreme reluctance. Many rich Southern planters opposed; while the Pennsylvania Quakers were so recalcitrant as to draw upon themselves from stalwart Samuel Adams, the “Father of the Revolution,” the charge of being “puling, pusillanimous cowards.” In New York, two-thirds of the property was in loyalist hands; and, indeed, outside the city there was no serious disaffection in the colony. Galloway, a Tory active in the Congress of 1774, who afterwards went to England, said before the House of Commons that only one-fourth of the soldiers in arms really Americans. This, of course, was an exaggeration, but there is no doubt that ultimately recruits to the “Continentals” were in great part recently arrived Irish and Scotch immigrants. The Irish, in particular, both Catholic and Protestant, sustained the American cause, while many Scotch were Tories.? In 1780, the force of the Revolution was so far spent, and the opposition so powerful, that the patriot cause was completely dependent upon France. The emigration of Tories, when the day was at last won, was

Strength of

America.

1 Burke's Correspondence, II, pp. 112-120; in Lecky, III, p. 591. 2 p. 110. 3 Buckle : History of Civilization, I, p. 345, American ed.

were

1 Lecky: XVIIIth Century, III, p. 458, etc.

2 Ramsay: History of American Revolution, Appendix, No. IV. Dublin, 1795.

« AnteriorContinuar »