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INTEREST OF GREAT BRITAIN CONSIDERED,
WITH REGARD TO HER COLONIES
AND THE ACQUISITIONS OF
CANADA AND GUADALOUPE.
This pamphlet was first published anonymously in London, in the year 1760. At that time the war with France was about coming to a close, and the politicians were fruitful in their speculations on the terms of peace, particularly after Canada had fallen into the hands of the British, by the brilliant victory of Wolfe at Quebec. It was a question much discussed, whether Canada should be retained, or whether it should be given back to the French as a set-off for acquisitions in the West Indies. The controversy was carried on with warmth, and the public attention was attracted to it, not more from the importance of the subject, than from the ability of the writers enlisted on each side.
The Earl of Bath wrote and published a Letter to Two Great Men, (Mr. Pitt and the Duke of Newcastle,) in which he advanced reasons for keeping Canada, as more valuable to England than any West India possessions, that could be obtained as an equivalent. Shortly afterwards appeared "Remarks on the Letter to Two Great Men," without a name, but ascribed by some to Edmund Burke, and by others to William Burke. The author took the opposite ground, preferring Guadaloupe to Canada, and maintaining his position with much display of political knowledge and ingenious argument.
At this stage of the controversy, Franklin entered the lists, and sent out the following tract, in which he comments upon these two performances, and applies himself particularly to expose the fallacies and confute the arguments of the Remarker. This task was so successfully executed, and his views were enforced by such clearness of illustration and cogency of reasoning, that the pamphlet was believed to have had great weight in the ministerial 1
councils, and to have been mainly instrumental in causing Canada to be held at the peace.
The arguments were ably met, however, in a subsequent pamphlet entitled, "An Examination of the Commercial Principles of the late Negotiation between Great Britain and France in 1761," supposed likewise to have been written by Mr. Burke; and the style of its execution might well have justified such a conjecture, if there had not been other grounds for the belief. The same doctrines are advanced, as in the "Remarks." The writer puts forth his chief strength to confute the following pamphlet; and the estimation, in which he held the author of it, may be inferred from his manner of introducing the subject. After stating that he should confine his remarks to the writer of this performance, he adds as a reason, because, of all those, who had treated the opposite side of the question," he is clearly the ablest, the most ingenious, the most dexterous, and the most perfectly acquainted with the fort and foible of the argument; and we may therefore conclude, that he has said every thing, and every thing in the best manner, that the cause could bear." This was high praise to come from an opponent, who, if he hoped to triumph, was fully aware of the arduous nature of his undertaking. In fact he failed; for he could not convince the public, nor the ministry, that Guadaloupe was better for England than Canada; nor could his zeal and eloquence avail to divert the negotiation from its first channel. - EDITOR.
I HAVE perused, with no small pleasure, the Letter addressed to Two Great Men, and the Remarks on that letter. It is not merely from the beauty, the force, and perspicuity of expression, or the general elegance of manner, conspicuous in both pamphlets, that my pleasure chiefly arises; it is rather from this, that I have lived to see subjects of the greatest importance to this nation publicly discussed without party views or party heat, with decency and politeness, and with no other warmth, than what a zeal for the honor and happiness of our King and country may inspire; and this by writers, whose understanding, however they
may differ from each other, appears not unequal to their candor and the uprightness of their intention.
But, as great abilities have not always the best information, there are, I apprehend, in the Remarks, some opinions not well founded, and some mistakes of so important a nature, as to render a few observations on them necessary for the better information of the public.
The author of the Letter, who must be every way best able to support his own sentiments, will, I hope, excuse me, if I seem officiously to interfere; when he considers, that the spirit of patriotism, like other qualities good and bad, is catching, and that his long silence, since the Remarks appeared, has made us despair of seeing the subject farther discussed by his masterly hand. The ingenious and candid Remarker, too, who must have been misled himself, before he employed his skill and address to mislead others, will certainly, since he declares he aims at no seduction, be disposed to excuse even the weakest effort to prevent it.
And surely, if the general opinions that possess the minds of the people may possibly be of consequence in public affairs, it must be fit to set those opinions right. If there is danger, as the Remarker supposes, that "extravagant expectations" may embarrass "a virtuous and able ministry," and "render the negotiation for peace a work of infinite difficulty," there is no less danger, that expectations too low, through want of proper information, may have a contrary effect; may make even a virtuous and able ministry less anxious, and less attentive to the obtaining points, in which the honor and interest of the nation
* Remarks, p. 6.