Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/54

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44
Ch. 2.
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.

Hitherto the British press had shown no marked signs of the insanity which sometimes seized a people under the strain of great excitement, but the "Chesapeake" affair revealed the whole madness of the time. August 6, three days after Canning had disavowed pretension to search national vessels, the "Morning Post" published an article strongly in favor of Berkeley and war. "Three weeks blockade of the Delaware, the Chesapeake, and Boston Harbor would make our presumptuous rivals repent of their puerile conduct." August 5 the "Times" declared itself for Berkeley, and approved not only his order, but also its mode of execution. The "Courier" from the first defended Berkeley. Cobbett's peculiar powers of mischief were never more skilfully exerted:—

"I do not pretend to say that we may not in this instance have been in the wrong, because there is nothing authentic upon the subject; nor am I prepared to say that our right of search, in all cases, extends to ships of war. But of this I am certain, that if the laws of nations do not allow you to search for deserters in a friend's territory, neither do they allow that friend to inveigle away your troops or your seamen, to do which is an act of hostility; and I ask for no better proof of inveigling than the enlisting and refusing to give up such troops or seamen."

Owing to his long residence in the United States, Cobbett was considered a high authority on American affairs; and he boldly averred that America could