History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 4

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
AMERICA AND GREAT BRITAIN.
1782–1783.

THE king of France heard from Vergennes, with surprise and resentment, that the American deputies had signed their treaty of peace;* Marie Antoinette was conciliated by the assurance that “they had obtained for their constituents the most advantageous conditions.” “The English buy the peace rather than make it,” wrote Vergennes to his subaltern in London; their “concessions as to boundaries, the fisheries, and the loyalists, exceed everything that I had thought possible.”† “The treaty with America,” answered Rayneval, “appears to me like a dream.”‡ Kaunitz# and his emperor∥ mocked at its articles.

King George of England was mastered by a consuming grief for the loss of America, and knew no ease of mind by day or by night. When, on the fifth of December, in his speech at the opening of parliament, he came to read that he had offered to declare the colonies of America free and independent states, his manner was constrained▵ and his voice fell. To wound him least, Shelburne in the house of lords, confining himself to the language of the speech from the throne,

* Count Mercy’s report from Paris, 6 December 1782. MS. from Vienna archives.

† Vergennes to Rayneval, 4 December 1782. MS.

‡ Rayneval to Vergennes, 12 December 1782. MS.

* Kaunitz’s note of 22 December 1782, written on the emperor’s copy of the speech of the king of England at the opening of parliament. MS.

∥ Autograph memorandum of Joseph. MS. Joseph II. und Leopold von Toscana. Ihr Briefwechsel von 1781 bis 1790, i., 146.

▵ Rayneval to Vergennes, 12 December 1782. MS.

-36-

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