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With the Bourbons, Europe is not likely to be soon again involved in war;-the substitution of any other rule in France would be the signal for general hostilities. Whatever may be the dispositions of the Bourbons, whatever they may do to establish despotism at home, a worse than that of Bonaparte it is not in the power of man to establish, they cannot assail nor affect the cause of liberty abroad, as did their predecessors with unwearied malignity and awful power. The United States have had sufficient experience in their relations with all the revolutionary governments of France—the Imperial especially—to know that they cannot but gain in the exchange for that of a Bourbon, whether as to the light in which their institutions may be viewed and treated; the freedom of their commerce, and the community of policy and effort between them and France as respects the British power. The Bourbons, if they do not relish our republicanism, cannot at least hope, and will not, therefore, intrigue, to injure it; they are compelled by every motive of necessity and expediency, to open a wide door to trade, and to abstain from depredation on the commerce of other nations; they may be willing, obliged, to keep up certain appearances as to England, but they must view her in secret with jealousy and dislike; they must be disposed to promote the prosperity, particularly the commercial— of the true maritime rival of England, and to ripen the sympathy of interest into one of feeling, its surest auxiliary. We have, on the other hand, from the same cause, a direct concern in the growth of the French navy and commerce; consequently, in the peace of France, in the subordination of the military spirit in that country, and, if the remarks made above are just, in the continuance of the Bourbon government. Without an express knowledge of the fact, I yet cannot doubt, but that our cabinet has received from the French, assurances in unison with this theory; assurances very different in their sense and drift from those of Bonaparte; connected with no schemes of action impracticable for our united faculties, and pernicious to ourselves in the execution. But to return to the contents of the present volume. The translation from the French of Mr. de Say, as well as that of the Report of the French Minister of Finance, I owe to the Honourable Eligius Fromentin, of the Senate of the United States, a gentleman of a truly classical education, enlightened mind, and most independent character. He attaches more importance to the pamphlet of Mr. de Say than I am myself disposed to allow it, at the same time that I think it merits attention and preservation. It is, indeed, in its very errors—which are many both of fact and speculation— curious as the production of one who is placed by general opinion at the head of the French writers on political economy. The flippant, emphatic, doctrinal tone, the distension of small particulars into teeming causes, the misapplication of postulates, the loose
ness of discussion which mark the writings of Mr. de Say, belong to the whole modern French school of economists. The refutation of his fallacies is to be found complete in the English journals, and present experience sufficiently disproves his statements relative to exchanges, the sale of British goods on the continent, &c. I shall have occasion in my next volume to show, what must be at once evident to all who attend to the present bibliography of England, how much he is mistaken in his ideas respecting the diminution of the number of serious readers in that country, and the general decline of English literature. Mr. Brackenridge, who has arranged the article on the Florida question, is the author of the well-known “Views of Louisiana,” the most valuable work of the kind, along with the Geographical Tract of Mr. Darby recently published, which our literature has as yet produced. I am entirely convinced from a patient investigation of the subject, that the claims of the United States to West Florida are just under the treaty of St. Ildephonso, and this point Mr. Brackenridge appears to me to have satisfactorily established. As an impartial enquirer he has stated, in their full force, the arguments which have been employed to overthrow the American title, without entertaining, himself, a doubt of its validity. The United States will have serious feuds with Spain, and are likely, as far as the temper of their government can now be understood, to pursue the true policy in the case, a course of moderation accompanying a resolute maintenance of their rights. The dispositions of Spain are hostile, but she wants the means and the spirit to wage open war. She suffered a cruel and still rankling disappointment by our acquisition of Louisiana. She had parted with it, chiefly for the purpose of interposing the power of France between us and her Mexican empire. It is this corrosive recollection which animates her, more than any calculation of present loss, in the controversy concerning West Florida. Without absolute necessity, the United States will not, however, we may presume, admit of a rupture with any power. War is a vicious circle; it is a strong eddy. Who may ultimately be the parties to it, can never be foreseen at the outset. War, says a wise statesman, never left where it found a nation. I had hopes of collecting some authentic information, for my readers, concerning the origin and progress of the insurrections in South America. But so contradictory are the accounts from that quarter, so inaccessible the sources of full or correct information, that I have preferred being silent on the subject, to running the risk of scantiness or inaccuracy. What may be safely inferred from the past history and condition of the population of South America, what seems to be generally admitted, is, that they are by no means ripe for republican institutions. Whether they will ever be qualified to enjoy them, I very much doubt; but of this I am sure, that they can adopt no government of their own which will not be preferable to the sway of the old Spanish cabinet. Selfgovernment in any shape exalts the being by inspiring selfrespect; revolution, anarchy if you will, generates energy, and has within it some seeds of improvement; but the colonial system, the domestic government of Spain, quenches all the fire, breaks all the springs, deadens all the fine susceptibilities, of the human character. When I think of the government of Ferdinand, I have before my imagination on one side an “adored monarch,” embroidering, to the passionate delight of his people, a robe for the Virgin Mary; on another, the Intendant of Valentia expiring on the rack; General O’Donoghue writhing under the state-tourniquet; the ardent patriots of the Cortes who sustained, unshaken through a long agony, the fortunes of their country and of Ferdinand himself— perishing in dungeons, as their recompense, or dragging an iron chain at the galleys.-I am oppressed, in touching on this subject, with a more intense emotion of indignation, I may say—grief, as I have, among these victims, a friend to whom I am warmly attached, and to whom the esteem of the world is eminently due. I allude to Don Augustin Arguélles of Oviedo, who took the lead in the Cortes, particularly in the formation of that liberal constitution, the irremissible sin of himself and his colleagues, for which they are now suffering the vengeance of the doltish tyranny they would have corrected. Augustin Arguélles, whom I found in London, in 1807, studying, as in the best European school of speculative freedom, the principles of good government, with a view to the service of Spain, would do honour to any nation by his enlarged and various knowledge, especially in the science of political legislation; by his elegant taste, his enlightened liberality, the suavity of his nature, his elevated disinterestedness, and his patriotic ardour which led him to devote himself wholly to the cause of his country;—and—yet, he who would have died a thousand times to rescue her, has been condemned as a traitor to serve for ten years, and now serves, as a common soldier at Ceuta, strictly watched and, though always of a delicate constitution of body, severely tasked! If ever there was a case in which we should “obtest heaven and whatever justice or feeling there is yet on earth,”—if ever there was a catastrophe ominous to the principle of patriotism, blighting for all public virtue, it is that of the patriots of the Spanish Cortes. Were their case susceptible of aggravation, it would be from the circumstance, that the judges chosen for such of them as were condemned with any forms of law, before whom they were dragged as rebels, as traitors, as the vilest of criminals, were men who had concurred in betraying Spain into the hands of France, who had deserted the cause of Ferdinand, and even fought under the banners of Joseph.
The speeches which I have caused to be extracted from Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, will, as they have never before been published entire in this country, prove an acceptable and solid present to the American people. The speech of Mr. Grattan—the first of Irish orators and the true model of Irish patriots—furnishes, perhaps, the most exquisite specimen of his manner, as well as a most instructive commentary on a great crisis in history. Those of Lord Wellesley and Sir James Mackintosh are of particular importance to us, as they treat both historically and argumentatively of our own affairs. I am delighted with the discourse of Sir James Mackintosh on “the peace with America,” not only because it recalls the full-flowing eloquence of the days of Burke and Pitt, but as expressing so powerfully the sentiments which I have myself always felt with respect to the spirit and mode of the British hostilities on our coast. They were, in truth, wretchedly unworthy of the British name; and grossly impolitic, as they tended, without yielding any national profit, to give new vigor to our party-rancour on one side, and to unite us all, ultimately, in obstinate and desperate efforts of resistance and revenge: et jam una vox omnium, magis odio firmata quam prasidio. The conflagration of hamlets and rustic dwellings, the spoliation of tobacco-warehouses and farm-yards, occasionally the plunder of a church and the dilapidation of a school,—these the only hostilities attempted by a considerable fleet for many months in succession, and emblazoned to the British public in the shape of a diary from an admiral,—are truly recollections of shame for a nation, who had selected the lion and not the wolf as her ensignarmorial. The destruction of the public edifices of Washington was a proceeding which cannot be too strongly detested and deplored. It was equally at variance with true dignity and sound policy. It savoured of the most ignoble resentment and malice. If we could not be seriously injured, we were to be stung and degraded. “The king of France,” said his minister M. de Vergennes, in council, “is sufficiently great not to stand in need of humiliating any people.” Le Roi de France est assez grand pour m’avoir pas besoin d’humilier personne. So should a British minister or general have thought with respect to his own mighty nation.
The late war between this country and Great Britain is fruitful in salutary lessons to both parties. It has taught the latter, among other things, that a nation does wisely, as well as an individual, never to despise a determined adversary. It teaches her, in the deeds of which I have just spoken, and the memory of which I would not have revived, but for the sake of the admonition,-it teaches her how far the indulgence of sinister jealousies and petty animosities interpolated, as it were, into her councils by small minds, may reduce a nation habitually lofty and magnanimous, below her proper level, and exhibit her at variance with her own principles.
The speech of Marquis Wellesley stands as a demonstration and memento of the influence of a spirit foreign to her general history and character, in her negotiations at Ghent. She set out with pretensions exorbitant and inflammatory, instead of fulfilling the obligation which Heaven seemed to have imposed upon her in raising her to such a height of power and glory—that of furnishing a splendid example to mankind of temperance and conciliation. She exacted what, if it could have been granted—would have finally redounded to her greater prejudice, as a source of incurable hatred and discord between the two countries, through many generations. Moderation is always the best policy even in a victorious enemy, a character which she could not claim. An exceedingly humiliating or injurious treaty can never be faithfully received, while there remains a possibility of eluding its execution, or of recovering sufficient strength to break through its stipulations. How much Britain lost by her conduct at Ghent, I shall not here enquire, but I do not believe it too late to effect what she certainly ought now to desire, a cordial reconciliation. If, by a more adroit or energetic policy, she could have, in the late war, materially affected our national weal, the opportunity is now irrevocably lost. She can no longer hope to defeat or arrest, by any exertion of her force or dexterity, our solid aggrandizement. She is viewed with an evil eye by most of the nations of Europe. She will require a powerful auxiliary, and should seek it among her descendants here; at least she should beware of enlisting us, from any want of generosity or magnanimity, in the number of her enemies.
The unexpected felicity of the issue, will not, I trust, make the American people disregard the instruction, of the war. We ought not, in our complacency at the present state of things, lose sight of the just terrors by which we were agitated, the straits to which we were reduced, the dangerous extremities with which we were seriously threatened. Our government must now know, that, when war is in question, it is not enough that external circumstances be favourable; there should be adequate preparation at home; organized internal resources with which to meet casualties and the vicissitudes of fortune abroad. It is better to seem to overlook or sacrifice rights of some importance, studying at the same time to improve your means of vindicating them, than to embark in an undertaking greatly disproportionate to your strength, and which must end by laying bare your exhaustion and impotence.
We ought to be satisfied with the Peace; and allowing, for argument's sake, that the war was originally prudent and just, the American cabinet would be liable to no reproach, nor could the nation lose in consideration, by the terms accepted. There is no great people either of ancient or modern times, in whose history are not to be found even several instances of an oblivion of rights or pretensions for which they made war, in consequence of a sud