網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Ample scope might, one would think, be enjoyed by those fond of adventure, without their walking over embers which but a little agitation might wake into a dangerous fame. Why not, if determined to occupy themselves with the concerns of the public, make it their business to see, but with an eye candid and liberal, that Government contract no unworthy alliances; that it preserve with vigilance our pacific arrangements, and support with good faith our military engagements ; that it introduce into every department of state, an economy strict and unbending, though widely removed from any thing little or mean; and that, even amid the distraction of war, wise legislative measures be adopted in aid of general industry and productive labor. The moderate pursuit of objects like these could be followed by no regret, for it would be no indication of folly; the attainment of them would be gratifying to all whose regard they had challenged, because eminently beneficial to the country.

Public Affairs.

The external relations of this country have lately undergone a change, of which, but a short time ago, no human sagacity could form a just conception. America, the government of which, with a certain description of its citizens, had for years appeared as if actuated by an inextinguishable hatred to every thing British, has entered into a pacific arrangement with us, accompanied with incontestable proofs of satisfaction on the part of the more respectable portion of its population: and France, whose princes felt and expressed many weighty obligations to this country, while its people manifested, if not a friendly, at least a pacific disposition towards us, has once more forced us to have recourse to arms. The former event, though by no means generally looked for at the time when it took place, excited more pleasure than surprise : the latter, by its silent subtle approach, and the awful consequences with which it is fraught, has filled the minds of men with alarm.

Never was the restoration of amity between two countries more Seasonable, than that which has been effected between these kingdoms and the United States; at the same time that there have been few events on which a greater variety of opinions have been delivered. That every body here should approve of the terms of the Treaty of Ghent, was not to be expected. Men engaged in public affairs—whose principles were different from those of the servants of the crown, could not approve of the treaty in all its bearings; and commercial men, who were deriving great emolument from the continuance of the contest, were likely to disapprove of any terms of accommodation. It was known besides, that many people, recollecting that the Americans had been aggressors, deemed it every way right, that suitable means should be employed to take them at orice regret their past temerity, and proceed more cautiously in future; while not a few considered Great Britain as

[ocr errors]

having lost enough of her glory both naval and military, to justify some strenuous effort to retrieve her character. The diversity of opinion in the United States was comparatively small. And whatever the President's demeanour might previously have been, he manifested no want of alacrity, when his signature came to be definitively called for. This was to be expected. The termination of hostilities in the Peninsula had greatly augmented the means which we might employ beyond the Atlantic. Our forces along the American 'shores, as well as on the Canadian and New Brunswick frontiers, were daily encreasing ; Admiral Cochrane was known to be at sea with a considerable armament; and it is ascertained, that at the period of his arrival in the Mississippi, the dread of his success which prevailed at Washington, far exceeded any hopes entertained of it by rational observers in this country. From these considerations, Mr. Madison did not hesitate to ratify the treaty; at the same time that he is known to have felt a reluctance, which subsequent events at New Orleans, and in France, may by and by be found to have converted into settled regret.

Did the war still continue, would the President accept the terms of accommodation to which he has agreed? If his partiality to France, and his malignity to this kingdom, be only half as great as they have been represented to be, he doubtless would, under circumstances like the present, prefer the continuance of war to a peace which does not insure the main object for which he commenced hostilities. He would go on flattering his own unworthy prepossessions—though at the expense of his country; he would feel a desire to acquire among his friends a title to consistency of conduct; and he might reckon upon fortune's one day granting to his exertions a success and an eclat, which mal-administration had hitherto rendered unattainable.

But there is another point that is every way worthy of attention, and which it would be desirable to have ascertained could that be done. Will the peace with America be durable ?- In the treaty of Ghent, the right to search American ships for our own inveigled seamen was not acknowledged. The discussion of it was waived; and although that could be disgraceful only to the American government, which had repeatedly proclaimed its determination to force us to relinquish the right, still it left a door open for serious

complaint and quarrel between the contracting powers. The right of blockading an enemy's ports to the exclusion of neutrals was, likewise, pot provided for by that treaty ; and yet a dread of the greatest of national calamities--an invasion by a powerful neiglibour, may leave Government no alternative. Again, the line of demarcation between British America and the United States remains to be settled—than which it would be difficult to point out a more fertile source of dissension, should the commissioners on either side be disposed to cavil. Besides all this, what do sea-faring men think of the courteous manners which they may in future expect to find in American commanders of all denominations, when speaking of naval actions ? What say our merchants to the probabüity there is of the love of gain urging American traders to contrive the means of putting to sea, one of these days, furnished with French papers ? His Imperial Majesty will rejoice in giving facility to the projects of adventurers of this sort; because such proceedings will give him a chance of seeing America once more embroiled with England; and Mr. Madison has afforded no ground, on which we can rest in full assurance of his not taking pleasure in again embarking his fortunes with those of his faithful friend."

It may be alleged, that a great proportion of the citizens of the United States are mercantile men, whose substantial interests can be effectually promoted only by their continuing at peace-especially with this country. This is true. But the landed interest there—the proprietors of districts in the newly-created states, compose a majority in the legislature; and as the President always takes care to gratify their wishes, they make a point of supporting his measures ; so that there, as in other countries, commerce is not always the prime consideration. If therefore, from any cause what

1 What an unaccountable ignorance did the negociators of 1783 evince we do not say of diplomatic forms, or of political science, but simply-of the use of the globes ! and to say the truth, it does not appear that the negociators of last autumn have a good opinion of each others' proficiency in that branch of knowledge. In treating further with gentlemen on the other side the water, it will be very proper, as it was of late, that an acute lawyer be present; but as the question of amnity or of enmity, will depend chiefly on a geographical problem, why not the astronomer-royal also ?

con

[ocr errors]

ever, Mr. Madison should choose to incur the risk of another
test, he will not want supporters in Congress ; nor yet, perhaps,
throughout the States, in which, as in France, the wounds of war
may be closed without having been healed.

Both parties have acknowledged, that the intentions of the negociators of 1783 respecting the boundaries, have not been duly fulfilled. But the Americans have alleged, and may still do so, that be the present line of separation what it may, it was sanctioned by the customary forms; they may plead too, as they have already done, the right of occupancy, as well as the delicacy and difficulty of prevailing on any of their brethren on the frontiers, either to migrate southward, or to become the subjects of another power. But arguments like these are not conclusive, and come too late to be applicable. The ties of friendship between the two countries having been broken, an opportunity was afforded of trying to ascertain the true spirit and intent of the treaty of 1783; and of either acting upon it, or concluding one every way new. And if the former mode was preferred, it seems to have been because it was that to which the fewest objections could be started on the part of America ; and which, in the imposing attitude which Great Britain had assumed, bespoke the greatest moderation on her part.

It might be considered affectation in us, to view the relative state of Great Britain and France, at this moment, as any thing else than a state of war. The head of the government of that perturbed country, has infringed a treaty to which England was a party; and he manifests his insolence by talking about terms of lasting peace, while he disdains not merely to apologise, but so much as to notice the infraction of which he has been guilty. But not merely is the honor of sovereigns now put to the test; the independence and happiness of nations are in imminent danger. And all Europe is eager to behold, whether the Allies will vigorously maintain an object which they are solemnly pledged to maintain ; or pusillanimously abandon it, because their mortal enemy, whose ill-gotten power would be confirmed by their pusillanimity, thinks proper to call upon them to do so. It is possible, but barely so, that for the sake of preventing an appalling effusion of blood, the restoration of the Bourbons may not be proposed to France as an indispensable point; but it seems totally impossible

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »