« AnteriorContinuar »
1704, which was 6,509,000l. This detail he applies to prove the vast commercial inportance of the colonies to Britain.
The increase was so rapid, that sagacity would not have anticipated it as probable, in the usual course of events. • It happened within sixty-eight years, within the period of the life of man; in the remembrance of men still alive, and who in 1704 were of sufficient age to be acquainted with the commerce of their country. These could hardly have believed it possible, that in their lifetime the trade of Britain with America should come to equal that which there was, then, with the whole world. Here his imagination soared to a very grand poetical vision. "My Lord Bathurst * might re
* That enlightened, benevolent, and engaging man was then above ninety. His health was so firm and vigorous, that he used to sit up to enjoy the pleasures of social conversation for several hours after his son. The Lord Chancellor's more delicate temperament obliged him to go to bed. After Lord Apsley's departure for the night, the venerable peer used to call for the other bottle, and say, ' come, my friends, let us young men drink to the repose of the old gentleman that has left us.'
member all the stages of the progress. He was in 1704 of an age, at least, to be made to comprehend such things. He was then old enough, acta parentum jam legere, et quæ sit, poterit cognoscere virtus. Suppose, Sir, that the Angel of this auspicious youth, foreseeing the many virtues, which made him one of the most amiable as he is one of the most fortunate men of his age, had opened to him in vision, that, when, in the fourth generation, the third Prince of the House of Brunswick had sat twelve years on the throne of that nation, which (by the happy issue of moderate and healing counsels) was to be made Great Britain, he should see his son, Lord Chancellor of England, turn back the current of hereditary dignity to its fountain, and raise him to an higher rank of peerage, whilst he enriched the family with a new one. If, amidst these bright and happy scenes of domestic honour and prosperity, that Angel should have drawn up the curtain, and unfolded the rising glories of his country, and whilst he was gazing with admiration on the then
commercial grandeur of England, the Genius should point out to him a little speck, scarce visible in the mass of the national interest, a small seminal principle rather than a formed body, and should tell him-Young man, there is America, which at this day serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men and uncouth manners; yet shall, before you taste of death, shew itself equal to the whole of that commerce which now attracts the envy of the world. Whatever England has been growing to by a progressive increase of improvement, brought in by varieties of people, by succession of civilizing settlements, in a series of seventeen hundred years; you shall see as much added to her by America in the course of a single life!—If this state of his had been foretold to him, would it not require all the sanguine credulity of youth, and all the fervid glow of enthusiasm, to make him believe it? Fortunate man, he has lived to see it! Fortunate indeed, if he lives to see nothing that shall vary the prospect, and cloud the setting of this day! He proceeds to the agriculture and fisheries of the colonies, details their flourishing state, draws a general conclusion of the value of America ; and argues that force is by no means an effectual mode of securing to Britain so valuable a possession..
He next enters into the character of the Americans, their spirit of liberty ; arising, first, from descent : “ The people of the colonies are descended of Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation which, l'hope, still respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The colonists emigrated from you when this part of their character was predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas and on English principles. From thence, he says, the Americans inferred, that they must possess the power of granting their own money. • From England the colonies draw, as with their life-blood, these ideas and principles.' In the opinion which they, as the descen
dants of free Englishmen, entertain, they were confirmed by the form of their provincial legislative assemblies allowed by Bri,
tain. • Their governments were in the · highest degree popular.'
He proceeds to shew the influence of their religion (that is, among the northern colonies, where the inhabitants were principally Protestant dissenters) in nourishing the spirit of liberty. If, says he,any thing were wanting to this necessary operation of the form of government, religion would have given it the complete effect: religion, always a principle of energy in this new people, is no way worn out or impaired; and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of this free spirit. The people are Protestants ; and of that kind, which is the most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. This is a persuasion not only favourable to liberty, but built upon it. I do not think, Sir, that the reason of this averseness, in the dissenting churches, from all that looks like absolute govern-,