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be at home in such circles, to be recognised as the martyrs of loyalty within the very precincts of the shrine where the object of their worship dwelt, — such privileges would go far to compensate the expatriated Loyalists for all that they had endured and sacrificed.
Their disappointment was in proportion to their expectations. They found the upper class of Great Britain absorbed in its own affairs, and intent upon pleasures most uncongenial to a plain and frugal American on account of the money they cost, the amount of time they consumed, and the scandal which not unfrequently attended them. In 1790 the French emigrants, who sought sanctuary across the British Channel, experienced much comfort and advantage from the fraternity which had long existed between the nobility of France and of England; but in 1775 the knowledge that a stranger came from Boston, whether of his own accord, or because he could not help it, was a poor
introduction to the good graces of Almack's, of Newmarket, and of Ranelagh. The Bostonian habit of mind, according to the language then in vogue, was marked by “the low cunning of a petty commercial people;" and the mere circumstance that a citizen of the obnoxious town was a Tory, instead of a Whig, did not exempt him from the social consequences of that sweeping criticism. A ghost at a banquet was hardly more out of place than a sober and melancholy New Englander in a St. James's Street Club. George Selwyn, and his like, had little use for a companion who, when people of fashion were mentioned, did not know to what county they belonged, or with what families they were connected; who had never in his life amused himself on a Sunday, and not much on any day of the week; who was easily shocked, and whose purse was slender. The hand of charity, (Judge Curwen said,) was very cold; and the barriers which fenced in the intimacy of the titled and the powerful were all but impenetrable. More than twelve months after he first landed at Dover, the diarist noted, as a very uncommon event, that he had a free conversation with a couple of
very affable gentlemen ; "the better sort of gentry being too proud or reserved to mix with those whom they did not know, or to indulge in a promiscuous chat." 1
Loyalist emigrants, who desired to talk American politics with Englishmen from the English point of view, were thrown back upon the casual acquaintances of the coffee-house, the stage-coach, and the inn parlour. Recruiting-officers, commercial travellers, tradesmen on a surburban jaunt, and gentlemen of the turf on the road to a race-meeting, were among those with whom they frequently were reduced to consort. The allusions to their own country, by which on such occasions they were regaled, though not discourteously meant, affected them with more pain than pleasure; for they consisted mainly in sweeping denunciations of vengeance against the New England people, and blatant depreciation of the New England character. More than once an exile confessed that he felt nowhere so much at ease as in the company of quiet middle-class citizens of Birmingham or Bristol who were opponents of the war; for there, at all events, whatever difference of opinion might exist between the guest and his hosts, he was sure of hearing nothing said which grated on his feelings. Over and over again, in public vehicles and in places of general resort, the refugees would gladly have taken their share in a reasonable talk about the equity of demanding that the colonies should contribute towards the expenses of our empire, and the importance to America of retaining her connection with Great Britain; but the dialogue almost always took such a turn that, before half a dozen sentences had been spoken, they were forced by their self-respect as Americans to assume the cudgels against defamers of their nation. Judge Curwen, while journeying from the West
1 june 10, and July 13, 1776. 2 Curwen was only once subjected to direct and intentional imperti
“In our way through Long Row we were attacked by the virulent tongue of a vixen, who saluted us by the name of damned American rebels.'' - Curwen's Journal; Bristol, June 17, 1777.
by way of Tewkesbury, met an officer who allowed himself great liberties respecting America. “I took the freedom of giving him several severe checks; and my companion spared not till he was thoroughly silenced and humbled. He said many ungenerous, foolish, and false things, and I did not forbear telling him so.” In December 1776 a Mr. Lloyd of the Twentieth Regiment, who had just arrived from Canada, treated the New England Loyalists to a discourse which he no doubt sincerely intended as a compliment to themselves, and a tribute to their political views. “He speaks,” said Curwen, “of the Yankees, (as he is pleased to call them,) as cowards, poltroons, cruel, and possessing every bad quality the depraved heart can be cursed with.
It is my earnest wish the despised Americans may convince these conceited islanders, by some knockdown irrefragable argument, that, without regular standing armies, our continent can furnish brave soldiers and expert commanders; for then, and not till then, may we expect generous or fair treatment. It piques my pride, I confess, to hear us called 'our Colonies, our Plantations, with such airs as if our property and persons were absolutely theirs, like the villains in the old feudal system.”1
Those were strange sayings in the mouth of a man who had broken up his life, and wrecked his happiness, because he would not side with the colonists in the attitude which they had adopted towards the mothercountry. The most distressing element in the lot of the emigrants was that they had always been animated, and now were tortured, by a double patriotism; for they were condemned to stand by, idle and powerless, while the two nations, which they equally loved, were tearing at each other's vitals. Symptoms of the conflict between loyalty to Britain, and affection for America, are visible on every page of Judge Curwen's Journal, and in every paragraph of his correspondence. He rejoiced at having justice done to his countrymen by an English officer of character in Sir Guy Carleton's
1 Curwen's Journal ; Sept. 11, and Dec. 18, 1776.
PT. II. - VOL. II.
army, who testified that Arnold and the Provincials had displayed great bravery in the battle on Lake Champlain, but had been out-matched by superior weight of metal. He expressed himself as not a little mortified when, standing on a height which overlooked Plymouth Harbour, he saw a captured American privateer brought round from Dartmouth; nor were his ears a little wounded when they were condemned to hear another such prize sold at open auction. He noted with despair the determination of the King and his advisers to overwhelm and ruin the rebellious colonies. “Would to God,” he cried, "that moderate and just views of the real interests of both countries might possess the minds of those who direct the public measures here, and there! The language of the Court, (the papers say,) is, as it ever has been, Delenda est Carthago. If this be not slander, woe betide my poor country. At last, when Lord North and his colleagues began to reap the fruits of their senseless policy in a harvest of national perils, Curwen's fears for America, though none the less gloomy, became overshadowed by his anxiety about the future of England. In March 1778 he heard “the dreaded sound, War declared against France." Some few days before, he had written to a Birmingham friend that, when he contemplated the decline and fall of great and powerful states, and the causes of that decline which, in the history of the world, were uniformly the same, he could not recall to his mind the commanding and secure position of Great Britain four years since, as compared with the present alarming crisis, without horror and trembling. “May my apprehensions,” he said, “exist only in imagination ! I had rather be a mistaken man than a true prophet.'
Those apprehensions about the stability of the British power, which racked the imagination of the banished
1 Journal of Dec. 21, 1776, and Feb. 28, 1777. Letter to the Reverend Isaac Smith, Jan. 17, 1778.
2 Journal of March 20; and letter of March 16, 1778.
American, were always present to the minds of Englishmen who had watched many wars, who knew the continent of Europe, who cared for their country, and who understood that country's interests. Horace Walpole, in more than one manly and thoughtful passage, reviewed the long correspondence with his old friend at Florence which had begun when his own father was still Prime Minister; had continued while England was "down at Derby, and up at Minden ;” and was still in progress now that she had dashed herself, (so he sorrowfully declared,) below the point to which no natural law of gravitation could have thrown her in the course of a century. The middle portion, said Walpole, of that correspondence had been the most agreeable. Its earlier part was the journal of a civil war, when an army of Scottish rebels penetrated almost unopposed into the very centre of the island. Fifteen years afterwards, — when our generals marched, and our fleets sailed, under Chatham's auspices, -- it was his proud and pleasant task to recount victory upon victory, and conquest upon conquest; but for the last five years his letters had been the records of a mouldering kingdom. The ministers, indeed, encouraged their countrymen by recalling how England had more than once maintained herself successfully against both France and Spain; but, (said Walpole,) we on former occasions had America as a weight in our scale of the balance, whereas now it was in theirs; and moreover we then possessed a Lord Chatham, who did not seem to have been replaced. “As I have no great faith,” he subsequently wrote, “ in virtue tempted by power, I expect that the American leaders will not easily part with dictatorships and consulships to retire to their private ploughs. Oh, madness to have squandered away such an empire !”2
Predictions of that sort were no new things; and people endeavoured to relieve their uneasiness by reminding each other how there never had been a time
1 Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann ; Sept. 5, 1779.