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We can, upon the whole, discover no obstacles which stand opposed to way in which the claims of the catho. them, we must fairly own, that we lics can be reconciled with the natural can see no prospect of their speedy feelings, or just demands of the
protes- removal. tants ; and much as we regret the
Affairs of America. Retrospective View of the Disputes betwist the Britisk
and American Governments. Progress of the Differences.
The relations subsisting betwixt British government in its intercourse Great Britain and the United States with the ministers of the United States. of America, had for many years exhi. England had many obvious reasons bited a very singular aspect. The na for endeavouring to avert the calami. tions were not indeed in a state of open ties of an American war at this period; war with each other; but the conflict she was engaged in a very arduous of opposite pretensions, the angry dis. contest in Europe,--she had the most cussion of many intricate questions numerous and formidable enemies to of international law, the charges and contend with,—she had the interests recriminations which had for a series of her commerce to maintain, which
years formed the only subject of are always dependent in some degree their diplomatic intercourse, had dif on a friendly connexion with America; fused over both countries a spirit of and she had, moreover, a natural and distrust and animosity, which could a generous aversion to conquer, before find in war alone its natural gratifica. she could bring herself to draw the tion. As this unhappy result was ac sword against a people connected with tually produced in the course of the her by a resemblance in language, present year, it may not be uninterest. laws, and institutions. These were ing to take a hasty retrospect of the motives sufficiently powerful to have causes which led to an event so much restrained the intemperance of the Jamented by the enlightened men of English ministers, even if they had both countries.
not been otherwise remarkable for It seems to be generally thought mildness and forbearance. Had the that the Americans, whether right or principles of international law advanwrong in the principles of public law, ced by the Americans been as sound on which they so obstinately insisted, as an impa tial examination of them (a point which shall be afterwards ex- may perhaps shew that they were unamined) might have brought matters reasonable, still it would have been to an amicable arrangement, without in the power of America, had she any material sacrifice even of the ques. sincerely desired peace, to have pretionable maxims for which they con served it by an honourable compromise tended-for never was the spirit of on those points which had created conciliation carried farther than by the the greatest difference of opinion, or
almost by any thing short of an abso- culations as to the motives of its hoslute surrender of the rights and honour tility towards Great Britain, it must of Great Britain, which it was rather be very far gone in vulgar absurdi. too much in any people to expect. ty: National prejudices so indiscriBut if there be any point in recent minating and so mischievous, are every history which even the arts of faction where but in America confined to the cannot involve in doubt, it is this, lowest ranks ;-they have been long that the government of America was banished out of the more respectable not sincerely desirous of peace with circles even of private life, and could Great Britain,--that it took all pos never find their way into the councils sible means to disturb the moderation of a great European state without deand provoke the anger of the British voting it to the unsparing ridicule and ministers; and that upon all occasions contempt of its neighbours. it betrayed symptoms of the most un. With the narrow prejudices of the accountable partiality to the despotism American mob, other causes combined of France. Those who have studied to hasten a rupture with England.the history of American affairs for the The commercial system, that miselast three or four years, will be well rable tissue of blunders which had aware of the grounds on which this so long kept down the growing pros. opinion has been formed; and a curi- perity of Europe,—had been wisely exous enquiry thus suggests itself, ploded by the most enlightened of the how it should have happened that the European states before the French only republican government in the revolution. The enlarged views and world should, at the greatest crisis of fine talents of the political philosoaffairs, have combined with the most phers who cast a lustre round the close odious of despotisms against a country of the last century, had triumphed which has always been recognised as over every obstacle which ignorance an illustrious model of practical free- and prejudice could oppose ; and Eng. dom, and which was at this very mo land and France at last discovered that ment engaged in a grand effort to vin they had a mutual interest in the com dicate the independence of nations. mercial greatness of each other. They
In attempting to account for this did more than this ; they reduced their singular phenomenon in politics, some- principles to practice, and embodied thing must, no doubt, be allowed for them in a treaty which, if not unexthe yet unextinguished animosity pro- ceptionable in all respects, was at least duced by our unfortunate colonial a great step towards the triumph of war. It may be thought that preju- genuine philosophy over the errors dices so antiquated must long since and absurdities of the old political have become the exclusive property of school. The French revolution, howthe vulgar; and must have given way, ever, deranged all the plans of enin the minds of enlightened men, to lightened men,-it engendered a ran, considerations more recent in point of cour and animosity betwixt the natime, and more important in their tions more violent and pernicious than practical influence on American af. the ancient jealousies of the commerfairs. It is a common belief in Eu. cial system, and terminated at last in a rope, however, that the government despotism which threw France and her of America is, to a more than ordin dependencies far back in the scale of nary degree, under the discipline and improvement. The commercial systemcontroul of the rabble ; and if indeed was revived by the new French governthere be'any truth in the common spe ment with a barbarous and destructive
fury which had never been even con extended and desolating warfare ; and templated at any former period; the at the close of a contest of long durarefined and generous principles which tion and unparalleled fury, in which so many great men had contributed to the empire had sometimes contended establish, were forgotten; their works with the combined energies of Euwere neglected or proscribed ; the rope, it not only remained untouched, progress of human improvement was but had mightily extended itself duarrested, and all seemed about to be- ing every year of hostility. The war come a sacrifice to the rude genius of had terminated in the establishment of an overwhelming despotism. Even du- a naval power which had gathered . ring the short interval of repose which strength by all the efforts made to succeeded the treaty of Amiens, the weaken it ; and had now risen so high maxims of the new government were as to bid defiance to all rivalry. The sufficiently indicated in the impolitic rulers of France reflected on these restraints and prohibitions by which matters with bitterness corresponding the commercial intercourse of the coun to the disappointment of their hopes ; tries was fettered. England did not they despaired of being able to meet indeed pretend that such measures af- this enormous power by any ordinary forded a legitimate ground for hostili. efforts; and could think of no way of ties, since every nation being supreme checking its further growth, but by within itself, has a right to determine the entire sacrifice of their own comwhether it shall receive the commodi. merce and resources. They hoped, ties of foreign states; but if the com- that by excluding all the productions mercial animosity of France could not of British industry from their ports, have justified England in declaring war, and by prohibiting the use of British it certainly afforded her a solid ground commodities throughout France and for entertaining jealousy against a pow. her dependencies, they might gradualer thus hostile to her interests, and ly undermine this overgrown power ; called upon her to watch all the pro- while their depraved policy at the ceedings of that power with the most same time sought to inculcate a belief scrupulous vigilance.
among their subjects, that such meaThe unrivalled commercial greatness sures would promote the industry of of England at this period, surpassing France. Thus was a system establishall that history records, and all that ed (if indeed so rude and impolitic a even the most flattering visions of her thing deserve the name) in direct opstatesmen had contemplated, was an position to all the views of modern object of bitter and unceasing mortifi- science ; a system which was in truth cation to the politicians of France, but a barbarous extension of the old her naval supremacy, which was found theories, which so many enlightened ed on the prosperity of her commerce, men had endeavoured to banish for and promised for it an indefinite dura. ever from the world. tion, filled their minds with jealousy The measures thus adopted by and apprehension. These feelings rose France had a twofold connection with to the highest pitch after the peace of the affairs of America. In the first Amiens. Europe seemed to learn, for place, the American statesmen enterthe first time, that the commercial tained much the same feelings with grandeur of England possessed a sta- respect to the commercial and naval bility which had never been supposed greatness of England with their friends to belong to this species of power. It in France ; their understandings were had withstood the shock of the most in general of the same character, and
their tempers quite as violent. They, for gratifying their animosity against as well as the French politicians, wish. England. The commercial hostility ed to make their country great by of France during the peace, although commerce ; and as the established as never considered by Great Britain as a cendency of England appeared to them ground for war, was not however forto stand in the way, they scrupled not gotten when hostilities were renewed : about the means which might be em- and the English ministers therefore deployed to remove it. Their minds were termined to employ the naval power not susceptible of a generous emula- which was at their command, to the tion ; envy was the only feeling which annihilation of the foreign commerce of a near view of the naval and commercial their enemy. Their measures were such greatness of England could excite in as the interests of England demand. their breasts. They had no dread of ed, and which a state of hostility fully France, who had in the course of the justified; and they completely succeed. war lost her commerce, her colonies, ed in accomplishing the object which and her ships ; whose power never they had in view. The foreign comcame into contact with their own ; merce of France was annihilated-her whose resources of all kinds were de- industry checked-her resources wasvoted to the prosecution of a war, in ted; and her ruler discovered, when the issue of which they vainly thought it was too late, how gross were the er. that America had no interest. But rors which he had committed. It was they hated England, her commerce and impossible, however, to retract; and her power, as cordially even as the he resolved on carrying his commermembers of the French government cial war to the utmost pitch of fudid : and had America been as little ry. In this temper did Buonaparte issue dependent on commerce as France, his famous Berlin decree, which renewed had her citizens been as indifferent to all the old prohibitory regulations, and its real interests, or had her rulers pos. ludicrously declared the British islands sessed the same despotic sway over their to be in a state of blockade, at the very fortunes which the French government moment when the fleets of Great Brihad assumed over those of its own sub- tain actually blockaded all the ports jects, it is probable that Mr Maddison of France and her dependencies. Neuand his friends would at once have fol. tral vessels bound to or returning from lowed the example of Buonaparte, by a British port were made liable to cap. prohibiting all commercial intercourse ture by this singular decree.-Matters with the British empire. But the remained for some time in this statė, Americans had not yet been wholly the French ruler being unable to exe: overawed by their rulers ; and it be. cute his decree, and the British governcame necessary therefore to pursue a ment being averse to advance further more indirect and insidious course with in, so barbarous a warfare. But hathem, than that which had been fol-' ving again proved successful in his lowed by Buonaparte in his dealings northern campaign, Buonaparte rewith a people whom he had entirely sumed with fresh vigour his prohibitsubdued.
ory system ; he confirmed all the proThe measures pursued by France in visions of the Berlin decree ; excluded the execution of her anti-commercial the merchandise of Great Britain and system, suspended for a while the in- her colonies from the ports of France ternational law of Europe; and afford- and her dependencies, and accompanied ed to the rulers of America the pre- these prohibitions with the severest petext which they had so long desired, nalties. Every article of British produce