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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

De Choiseul was thus writing to M


America

protested its loyalty and rejected with indignation all idea of separation. "It is said that the development of the strength of the colonies may render them more dangerous and bring them to declare their independence," wrote Franklin in 1760; "such fears are chimerical. So many causes are against their union, that I do not hesitate to declare it not only improbable but impossible; I say impossible--without the most provoking tyranny and oppression. As long as the government is mild and just, as long as there is security for civil and religious interests, the Americans will be respectful and submissive subjects. The waves only rise when the wind blows."

In England, many distinguished minds doubted whether the government of the mother-country would manage to preserve the discretion and moderation claimed by Franklin. "Notwithstanding all you say of your loyalty, you Americans," observed Lord Camden to Franklin himself, "I know that some day you will shake off the ties which unite you to us, and you will raise the standard of independence." "No such idea exists or will enter into the heads of the Americans," answered Franklin, "unless you maltreat them quite scandalously." "That is true," rejoined the other, "and it is exactly one of the causes which I foresee, and which will bring on the event."

The Seven Years' War was ended, shamefully and sadly for France; M. de Choiseul, who had concluded peace with

regret and a bitter pang, was ardently pursuing every means of taking his revenge. To foment disturbances between England and her colonies appeared to him an efficacious and a natural way of gratifying his feelings. "There is great difficulty in governing States in the days in which we live," he wrote to M. Durand, at that time French minister in London; "still greater difficulty in governing those of America; and the difficulty approaches impossibility as regards those of Asia. I am very much astonished that England, which is but a very small spot in Europe, should hold dominion over more than a third of America, and that her dominion should have no other object but that of trade. . . . As long as the vast American possessions contribute no subsidies for the support of the mother-country, private persons in England will still grow rich for some time on the trade with America, but the State will be undone for want of means to keep together a too extended power; if, on the contrary, England proposes to establish imposts in her American domains, when they are more extensive and perhaps more populous than the mother-country, when they have fishing, woods, navigation, corn, iron, they will easily part asunder from her, without any fear of chastisement, for England could not undertake a war against them to chastise them." He encouraged his agents to keep him informed as to the state of feeling in America, welcoming and studying all projects, even the most fantastic, that might be hostile to England.

When M. de Choiseul was thus writing to M. Durand, the English government had already justified the fears of its wisest and most sagacious friends. On the 7th of March, 1765, after a short and unimportant debate, Parliament, on the motion of Mr. George Grenville, then first lord of the treasury, had extended to the American colonies the stamp-tax everywhere in force in England. The proposal had been brought forward in the preceding year, but the protests of the colonists had for some time retarded its discussion. "The Americans are an ungrateful people," said Townshend; "they are children settled in life by our care and nurtured by our indulgence." Pitt was absent. Colonel Barre rose: "Settled by your care!" he exclaimed; "nay, it was your oppression which drove them to America; to escape from your tyranny, they exposed themselves in the desert to all the ills that human nature can endure! Nurtured by your indulgence! Nay, they have grown by reason of your indifference; and do not forget that these people, loyal as they are, are as jealous as they were at the first of their liberties, and remain animated by the same spirit that caused the exile of their ancestors." This was the only protest. "Nobody voted on the other side in the House of Lords," said George Grenville at a later period.


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