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nies still more selfish, and the navigation laws were more rigidly enforced. Manufacturing and agricultural interests claimed to be considered at their expense. The growth of wool in the colonies would cause rents to fall in England; no woollen manufacture, the produce of any English plantation in America, could be carried by land or water to any other plantation or elsewhere. The currency of the colonies was depreciated for the gain of England. England encouraged the importation of slaves into the Southern States, against the will of the inhabitants, not only because it was profitable to her merchants, but because the negro was not likely to become a republican. There were germs of future disputes, in questions which as yet had scarcely come into discussion. What were the limits of the authority of the Crown and the Parliament ? Could the colonies be taxed at the discretion of Parliament; should officers appointed by the Crown distribute the money which the colonies voted, or should they be responsible to the colonial legislatures ? Reflecting men saw in the growing power of the colonies, and in these unsettled questions, elements of discord. In 1701 the lords of trade in a public document declared that the independency the colonies thirst after is now notorious; in 1705 it was said in print,“ that they would in time cast off their allegiance to England, and set up a government of their own." These were indications of an event yet afar off. The colonists felt the grievances under which they laboured, but they felt their own weakness also.* The colonial system was supported, not by the power of England only, but of all the commercial states of Europe; they would have discountenanced an attempt at emanci. pation which would be a dangerous precedent for themselves; the acknowledged principles of public law, the common interest of states, rejected the idea of interference between the mother country and her colonies. Those of North America had yet no union among themselves which could have made their resistance effectual. The vicinity of French settlements kept them in alarm, and retained them in allegiance to England, whose power alone was adequate to their protection, and the New England states during the war of the Austrian Succession attacked the
* Bancroft, vol. iii. ch. 19.
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French province of Cape Breton, and captured the strong fortress of Louisburg. At the close of that war, George Washington was a youth of sixteen, learning the art of a surveyor, in the woods of Virginia ; of all the eminent men of the Revolution, Franklin alone had taken any conspicuous part in public affairs. We shall conclude our extracts with Mr. Bancroft's ably drawn character of him, which we quote with the more pleasure, because he has been undervalued in an age which delights in a vague and mystical philosophy, and is disposed to overlook the claims of benevolence and practical wisdom, in its admiration of mental power and an indomitable will.
“The clear understanding of Benjamin Franklin was never perverted by passion, or corrupted by the pride of theory. The son of a rigid Calvinist, the grandson of a tolerant Quaker, he had from boyhood been familiar not only with theological subtleties but with a Catholic respect for freedom of mind. Adhering to none of all the religions in the colonies,' he yet devoutly, though without form, adhered to religion. But though famous as a disputant, and having a natural aptitude for metaphysics, he obeyed the tendency of his age, and sought by observation to win an insight into the mysteries of being. Loving truth without prejudice and without biàs, he discerned intuitively the identity of the laws of nature with those of which humanity is conscious; so that his mind was like a mirror in which the universe as it reflected itself revealed her laws. He was free from mysticism even to a fault. His morality, repudiating ascetic severities and the system which enjoins them, was indulgent to appetites of which he abhorred the sway; but his affections were of a calm intensity; in all his career the love of man gained the mastery over personal interest.—To superficial observers he might have seemed as an alien from speculative truth, limiting himself to the world of the senses ; and yet in study and among men his mind always sought, with unaffected simplicity, to discover and apply the general principles by which nature and affairs are controlled. Never professing enthusiasm, never making a parade of sentiment, his practical wisdom was sometimes mistaken for the offspring of selfish prudence; yet his hope was steadfast, like that hope which rests upon the Rock of Ages; and his conduct was as unerring, as though the light that led him was a light from heaven. He never anticipated action by theories of self-sacrificing virtue; and yet in the moments of intense activity, he, from the highest abodes of ideal truth, brought down and applied to the affairs of life the sublimest principles of goodness, as noiselessly and unostentatiously as became the man who, with a kite and a hempen string, drew the lightning from
the skies. He separated himself so little from his age that he has been called the representative of materialism; and yet when he thought on religion, his mind passed from reliance on sects to faith in God; when he wrote on politics, he founded the freedom of his country on principles that know no change; when he turned an observing eye on nature, he passed always from the effect to the cause, from individual appearances to universal laws; when he reflected on history, his philosophic mind found gladness and repose in the clear anticipation of the progress of humanity.”—Vol. iii. p. 378.
With the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748, Mr. Bancroft's History of the Colonization of the United States terminates, because in it he sees the commencement of that series of events, of which the War of Independence was the necessary result. He is understood to have been since diligently employed in preparing for the continuation of his work; and his present visit to Europe, in the high office to which his talents have raised him, will afford him the opportunity of perfecting it by new researches. The lessons which these volumes everywhere inculcate are the superiority of democracy to all other forms of government, the selfishness of the colonial system, and its consequent tendency to self-destruction. In regard to the first, we would suggest a modification, obvious to every one who reads the history, and not less seasonable, that to make the self-government of a democracy safe, it must be preceded by a long apprenticeship. The American colonies did not rush into republicanism; they carried with them from England the long-established habit and forms. of municipal government and representative legislation ;, to remove the controlling influence of the mother state was all that was wanted to enable them to enter on a course of independent action. Even the federation of the provinces had been prepared beforehand. In 1754, when invasion by the French was dreaded, Franklin proposed a scheme according to which, while each colony retained its own constitution, a general government should be formed by election from the several legislatures, which should have a President at its head, and exercise all those functions which did not obviously belong to the home government and the imperial legislature. It was laid aside for the time, being deemed by one party too favourable to
England, by the other to America, but it was resumed when the hour of independence arrived. The founders of the American constitution changed nothing in the organization of society, and therefore the healthy and combined action of its parts was only momentarily checked. In the government of her colonies England was undoubtedly selfish; she administered them according to the principles of an age when commercial policy, international law, criminal justice, even family relations, were all tainted with selfishness. Yet tried by a comparison with her contemporaries, the wisdom and liberality of the colonial government of England were not unworthy of her own preeminence in freedom. While America recals the restrictions on her commerce and her liberty as a reason for rejoicing in her independence, the contrast of her own condition with that of the colonies of Spain and Portugal, France and Holland, should make her grateful for her English descent and English education.
ART. III.-NATIONAL DEBT AND TAXATION.
1. The National Debt. (Article in Penny Cyclopædia.) 2. Thoughts on the Principles of Taxation, with Reference
to a Property Tax and its Exceptions. By Charles Babbage, Esq. London: Murray. 1848.
It is impossible for a thoughtful man in these days to avoid feelings of misgiving concerning our whole system of National Debt. The profligate expenditure in the French Court, from the time of Louis XIV. downward, occasioned the first dreadful overturn of the throne, the aristocracy, and the entire social life of that country, The equally profligate expenditure of Louis Philippe could not have continued much longer without issuing in a similar revolution to that which has been precipitated by other causes. But the conduct of French royalty has this unhappy excuse, that other powers have done the same. The Pope set the example of mortgaging the public taxes ; the Dutch and the French did but follow it. The English have been more eager imitators still, if the absolute amount of our engagements is considered : and, as if to rule and to borrow were things identical, we have run up in India also a debt which would seem gigantic, only that it is dwarfed to the imagination by the immeasurable heap of our English liabilities. In all Europe there is but one nation which has learned how to work herself clear of debt; the comparatively poor and very democratical Norwegians. Lest this should entice us to believe that prodigality is peculiar to monarchs, and that a republic is a cure for the vice, the United States on the other side of the Atlantic have just brought on themselves an unmanageable debt by their Mexican war. It is therefore fair to regard this as the besetting sin of our age, prompted by the high development of commercial credit and by the great stability of governments. As a hale and strong man persuades himself that he may without mischief indulge in a bout of intoxication ; so our governments, when their credit stands high, rush into courses which tend to lay that credit low. There never was, from the beginning of the world, a nation