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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

To remaining in a rebellious country


The

generals shut up in Boston knew nothing of the cares that harassed the mind of Washington. All they knew was that they were closely beleaguered; that they were cooped up in Boston by a large if irregular army, and that they could not get out. They affected, of course, to despise their enemy. At the private theatricals which were given to divert the enforced leisure of Lord Howe an actor who came on as a caricature of Washington, attired like a military scarecrow, never failed to please. Burgoyne was confident that sooner or later he could find that "elbow-room" the ungratified desire for which has served to immortalize his name. But neither Howe nor Burgoyne nor any one else could dissipate the ragged regiments that invested Boston, nor baffle the plans of the great soldier who commanded them. For nearly a year the world saw with wonder the spectacle of an English army confined in Boston, and an English fleet riding idly in the Charles River. Then the end came. Washington, closing in, offered Lord Howe, the English general then in command, the choice of evacuation or bombardment. The English general chose the former. The royal troops withdrew from Boston, taking with them the loyalist families who had thrown in their lot with the King's cause. The English ships that sailed from Boston were terribly overcrowded with the number of refugees who preferred flight, with all its attendant sorrows, to remaining in a rebellious country. The English fleet sailed away from Boston
and the Continental Army marched in. So far the cause of King George was going very badly indeed; so far the rebellious colonists had failed to justify the confident prophecies of Lord Sandwich. With any other king and with any other ministers one such year's work would have been enough at least to induce them to reconsider their position. But the King was George the Third, and his ministers were what they were, and it was resolved that the war must go on.

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[Sidenote: 1775-81--The Declaration of Independence]

The war did go on. It lasted for five years more, in spite of the protests of every truly patriotic Englishman, in spite of proof after proof that nothing could break the spirit or crush the courage of the colonists. While in England Fox arrayed himself in the blue and buff that composed the uniform of the Continental Army, while the Duke of Richmond made it a point to speak, and with excellent reason, of the Continental Army as "our army," while the eloquence of Chatham and the eloquence of Burke were launched in vain against campaigns as idle as they were infamous, the war went stubbornly on. The King and his ministers proposed new measures of repression and expended vast sums in the purchase of Hessian regiments to dragoon the defiant colonists. Soon all pretence of loyalty had to be abandoned by the Americans. The statue of King George was dragged from its place of honor in Bowling Green, New York, and run into bullets to be used against his German levies. In the summer that followed the evacuation of Boston the rebellious colonies proclaimed their independence in the most memorable declaration of a people's right ever made by men. This was in 1776. The disastrous war had still five years to run.


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