chapter  V
PETER PORCUPINE IN AMERICA
Pages 21

FoR more than seven and a half years-from the twenty-ninth to the thirty-seventh year of his age, Cobbett was a sojourner in the United States. This was an eventful time. For nearly the whole of it, Great Britain was at war with France, engaged in that long warfare which, beginning as a contest against the principles of the Jacobin revolution, developed into a death-struggle with Napoleon for European supremacy. Feeling ran high in the United States. Only seventeen years had passed since the Declaration of Independence, and the memory of French sympathy with the Americans in their contest with the might of England was still fresh. Tom Paine and Lafayette served to link the two revolutions together: the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration des Droits de l'homme et du Citoyen made appeal to the same fundamental emotions and ideas. True that, before Cobbett reached America, Paine and Lafayette were both manifestly on the losing side in France, and the French Revolution was passing into a phase which estranged many sympathisers. But Americans had but hardly won their own political independence ; and they could see the sister republic girt round by hostile monarchies, struggling for its young existence, and driven to dictatorship and bloodshed as means of self-preservation. Small wonder if American sympathy-popular sympathy in particular-was mainly on the side of the Revolution and of France. There was a strong interventionist movement, a strong party anxious to renew the quarrel with Great Britain and to take up arms on the French side. Jefferson and the Democrats were all for an open French alliance.