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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Our Illogical Distrust of England

By John Sylvester John Gardiner (1765–1830)

[Born in Haverford West, So. Wales, 1765. Rector of Trinity Church, Boston. Died at Harrowgate, England, 1830. From his Fast-Day Sermon at Trinity Church. 1808.]

THOUGH submissive and even servile to France, to Great Britain we are eager to display our hatred and hurl our defiance. The American eagle, though meek as a dove before the Gallic cock, yet to the British lion will present the “terrors of his beak, the lightnings of his eye,” and the strength of his talons. Every petty dispute which may happen between an American captain and a British officer is magnified into a national insult. The land of our fathers, whence is derived the best blood of the nation, the country to which we are chiefly indebted for our laws and knowledge, is stigmatized as a nest of pirates, plunderers, and assassins. We entice away her seamen, the very sinews of her power; we refuse to restore them on application; we issue hostile proclamations; we interdict her ships of war from the common rites of hospitality; we pass non-importation acts; we lay embargoes; we refuse to ratify a treaty in which she had made great concessions to us; we dismiss her envoy of peace, who came purposely to apologize for an act unauthorized by her government; we commit every act of hostility against her proportioned to our means and situation. Observe the contrast between the two nations, and our strange conduct. France robs us, and we love her; Britain courts us, and we hate her. France is hostile, Britain friendly. With France we have a treaty, with Britain none. France is fighting for the subjugation of the world, Britain for its independence. France is contending for her own aggrandizement, Britain for her salvation. If France is victorious we are slaves; if Britain proves victorious we remain free. France is a land of slavery; Britain of freedom. The insults and injuries we receive from France are unpardonable, and the immediate acts of her government; the insults and injuries we receive from Britain are not authorized by her government, and are often provoked by the rudeness and ill-manners of our own people. France makes actual war upon us, and yet we court her. We make actual war on Britain, and yet she tries every expedient to conciliate us.