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those provinces ; it would compel us to send a larger naval force to North America and the West Indies than is now there ; it would compel us to send convoys with every fleet of merchant vessels to the end of their voyage; it would, of course, divide our feets, and thereby weaken our strength in the European seas ; it would (as far as that is an evil) make it much more expensive and difficult to maintain our armies in Spain and Portugal; it would greatly augment our expenses, and, at the same time, our danger.
If I were asked what ought to be done to prevent war with America, I should say, certainly, first repeal the Orders in Council; but, I am far from supposing, that that measure alone would be sufficient. Indeed, it seems to me, that the impressment of American seamen must be abandoned ; and to this I would add a declaration, that England would not interfere in the affairs of Spanish South America. There would then be an end of the causes of ill-blood ; we should then have in America, not a faction for us, but we should have the whole nation for our friends. We should also have a friend in South America; and, to these countries we might look with confidence for the means of forming a combination against the overwhelming power of France.
I am well aware, Sir, of the great obstacles to such an arrangement; but, those obstacles it is in the power of your Royal Highness to re
This country, which has so long been suffering, now looks to you for some mitigation, at least of its sufferings; and I, therefore, trust, that the dawn of your authority will not be clouded with an additional war; a war that will complete the round of English hostility to nations looked upon as free. It was a fatal day which saw the sword of England drawn against the republicans of France. What a lesson do the effects of that war hold out to your Royal Highness! There is no man, be he who he may, who does not now dread the ultimate consequences. That that war might have teen prevented all the world is now convinced; and, if war should take place with America, the same opinion with respect to it, will hereafter prevail, but it will prevail, perhaps, when it will be useless. Princes, more than other men, are liable to be deceived, and it is too often a matter of great difficulty to undeceive them; yet, of what vast importance it is that they should know the truth! And how urgent a duty it is to convey it to their ear if one has the power! The lives of thousands, and the happiness of millions depend upon the decision which your Royal Highness shall make with regard to this question of war or peace with America ; and, therefore, that you should weigh it well before you decide must be the anxious hope of every man who has a sincere regard for the fame and the safety of the country. I am, &c., &c.,
WM. COBBETT. State Prison, Newgate, Feb, 13th, 1812.
TO THE PRINCE REGENT:
ON THE DISPUTE WITH THE AMERICAN STATES.
(Political Register, June, 1812.)
LETTER VI. Sir, Since I was imprisoned in this jail for writing and publishing an article on the flogging of English Local Mililiamen, at the town of Ely, and on the employing of German troops upon that occasion, I have presumed to do myself the honour to address five Letters to your Royal Highness, relative to the dispute between this country and the United States of America. In the first three of these Letters, which were published in August and September last, I exerted my humble endeavours to draw the attention of your Royal Highness to the nature of that dispute; to caution you against the danger of suffering your ministers 10 urge us on to a war with America ; to give you a true account of the feelings of the people of America upon the subject; and to prevail on you to cause the Orders in Council to be rescinded. I had, nine months before the date of these Letters, exhorted your ministers to adopt this measure, giving them what I deemed sufficient reasons for believing, that they would be compellrd to adopt it at last; or, that they would have to justify themselves for plunging the country into a war with America.
What has now taken place in the House of Commons, in that same House which have, for so long a time, supported the ministers in their adherence to the Orders in Council, can hardly fail to have awakened in the miud of your Royal Highness a recollection of these my efforts, which, to the misfortune of the country, appear to have been despised by your late minister and his colleagues. Now, however, those great teachers, experience and adversity, seem to have commanded attention ; and, in consequence of a motion of Me. BROUGHAM, at the close of an investigation brought forward by that gentleman, and conducted by him to the close, with spirit, perseverance, and ability which do him infinite honour, and which have received, as they merit, that highest of honours, the thanks and applause of all the sensible and public-spirited part of the nation ; in consequence of this motion, made on the 16th instant, the ministry appear to have yielded rather than put the question to the vote, and to have agreed, that the Orders in Council, as far as objected to by America, should be annulled.
Here, then, Sir, is an occasion for you to pause and to reflect. And, the first thing to ask is, what new grounds present themselves for the annulling of these Orders. There are none. They stand upon precisely the same footing that they have stood on ever since the month of November, 1810, when your ministers were, by the American government, called upon to annul them in imitation of the revocation of the decrees of Berlin and Milan. I backed the application of the American minister; I told your ministers that the sooner they repealed the Orders the better;
I fores aw that war must, at last, be the consequence of their persisting in a refusal; I urged them to do what they ought to do of their own accord, and not to wait till they should be compelled to do it. But, Sir, your minister, that minister for whose public services we, the people of England, are now to pay 50,0001, down and 3,0001. per annum; that minister, to whose memory we are now to erect a monument; that minister persisted in his refusal, and tauntingly set America at defiance; the best, and, indeed, the only excuse, for which, is, to suppose him profoundly ignorant of the temper and the means of America, and of the interests of England in respect to her transatlantic connections.
America, whose government is very properly obliged to consult the wishes of the people at large, was slow in her movements towards measures of hostility. Like a truly wise man, the President not only used all the means in his power to avoid the extremity of war; but he also took care to prove to the world that he had done so. At last, however, the Congress began to make preparations for war, beginning with fully explaining to the people the grounds of their so doing. From one step they proceeded to another, and, at every step, their proceedings became more and more a subject of mockery with all those who, in England, take to themselves the exclusive appellation of loyal men and friends of government.
It was in this stage of the occurrences, on the 1st of February last, just after the arrival of the Report of the Committee of Foreign Relations to the Lower House of Congress, that I thought it my duty to address a Fourth Letter to your Royal Highness, the chief object of which was to exhort you not to believe the representations of the hired press, which was hard at work to inculcate a belief, that the Report in question, and that all the warlike steps taken by the Congress, were mere empty noise ; mere boasting and bullying ; that all would end in smoke, and that our ministers might adhere to their Orders in Council with perfect safety. I occupied no less than four pages in my earnest endeavours to impress upon the mind of your Royal Highness a distrust of this hired, this base, this prostituted press, which, while it was vilifying the President and the Congress, while it was calling them tools in the hands of France, was telling the people of England, that a war with America would be felt by them no more than a war with the rocks of Scilly.” Many were the prints that laboured to these ends ; but the print pre-eminent in this as in almost every other imposition on the public, was the Times, the prostituted columns of which has, within these two years, done England more mischief than those of all the other prints put together.
What will be said by these prints now that they see the Orders in Council annulled even before America has struck a blow, is more a matter of curiosity than of concern; but, it must, with your Royal Highness, be a subject of deep sorrow and mortification to see your ministers now lowering their tone, taking a cowering attitude, without any new reason being afforded in the conduct of either France or America, and before the iok is hardly dry of that DECLARATION, wherein you were advised to proclaim to the whole world, that you would not annul the Orders in Council, till France had, by a distinct and solemn act made an unqualified revocation of her decrees. France, so far from doing this, has, in the most distinct manner, proclaimed the contrary ; and yet our Orders are, or are to be annulled ! After all the bold talk of your ministers ; after all the pledges of perseverance that they have put in your mouth; after
all their contemptuous defiance of America, herë we are doing the very act which we might have done nearly two years ago, and might thereby have prevented much of the misery, and all the melancholy consequences of that misery, in the central counties of England !
That we should be forced to adopt this measure, or to sustain a war with America, might have been foreseen, and ought to have been foreseen, by your ministers from the beginning. I am warranted in asserting this, because I foresaw and foretold it; but, so long ago as the month of January last, it became so evident to me, that I could not refrain from reiterating a positive assurance that it would and must be the case. At the time, to which I here reser, your minister, that minister to whose memory we are now to erect a monument, told the House of Commons, that America would be totally ruined if she persisted in her measures against England, and he, with a sort of supercilious benignity, observed, that he did not wish to see her “destroyed." I saw her affairs in a very different light, and, at that very moment, told the public, that what is now come to pass would come to pass. My words of the 18th of January were these :
“ The Americans said, that the Orders ought to be repealed, and we refused to “ repeal them; and they now say, that we shall repeal them, or that we shall "have them amongst our enemies. Now, then, shall we repeal them, or shall “ we not? Shall we, after all, give way? Shall we, after all our vaunts and all " our threats, yield at the name of war? Shall we who can conquer thirty mil“ lions of people in five days, retract our determinations at the menace of eight “ millions? And, shall we do it, too, in consequence of a Manifesto, in which; “ according to the interpretation of the Times Newspaper, our Court is called a “ corrupted Court? Shall we yield, at last, upon terms like these? My opinion “ is, that we shall. Aye, hard as the thing may be to get down, my opinion is, " that we shall swallow it. « The wise-acres of the hired press say, that the Orders will be repealed, üben “ Napoleon revokes the Decrees 'with the same formality that he employed in pro. “ mulgating them. Here they foolishly make new disgrace for themselves; for « he will, i dare say, do no such thing. The Americans say, that he has revoked " them to their satisfaction. They will not call upon him to issue any proclama“ tions or edicts. They are perfectly satisfied with what he has done; and, “ therefore, this new pretension is a very foolish thing; it is keeping just the “ ends of the horns projectiny. When the wise men were at it, they would have “ done well to draw them in out of sight. For, draw them in they must, or there " is a war with America, “ By-and-by I shall offer an observacion or two upon the reasons the Americans “ have for going to war, and upon the probable consequences of such war, if it should “ take place. At present, I shall as to this point, only repeat my opinion that it “ will take place, unless the Orders in Council be repealed; and also my opinion, « that these Orders will be repealed; and, that, too, without any of the saving con “ ditions, of which the half-horned Courier is so silly as to talk. It will mortify “ some people, but it will be done. It will make those Jacobins and Levellers in “ America laugh, and Mr. Madison more, perhaps, than any body else ; but I say, • it will be done. Buonaparte will laugh too; but it will be done; and, perhaps, " the least mortifying circumstance will not be, that it is what I recommended fit. 1 teen months ago. How much better would it have been, IF IT HAD BEEN " DONE THEN! How much better in every respect; and especially how much “ better for our character! However, better late than never; only when it is “ done, I hope it will be done with as good a grace as possible, and that after that, " the venal prints in London will never more foretel the downfall of Mr. Madison, “ and will see the fully of venting their spleen in words, against those who are “ beyond our reach ; of showing the teeth where one cannot bite."
These passages, Sir, were published on the 18th of January lust; so that it would seem, that, though shut up in one of " His Majesty's Jails,” I knew what was doing in the world better than “his Majesty's Ministers" did. “How much better would it have been, if it had been done then !" These were my words five months ago, Sir ; and therefore they apply with the more force now. “How much better would it have been, if it had been done then !" How much better would it have been, if my opinion had been acted upon ; if my advice, so urgently and so respectfully tendered to your Royal Highness, had been followed! What national shame, what humiliation, what misery, what melancholy scenes would have been avoided! There, can, I think, be no doubt in the mind of your Royal Highness, that the troubles which we have witnessed in the manufacturing counties, have arisen chiefly from the want of employment amongst the manufacturers, which, lowering the wages at the same time that corn was rising in price, has, in the end produced all the scenes of misery, all the acts of violence, and the melancholy fate of so many of our countrymen. There can, I think, be no doubt, that the perseverance in the Orders in Council, and certain other parts of our maritime system connected with them, have been the chief cause of all these calamities; and, when we behold the sufferings of the people, as proved before the House of Commons; when we see the soldiers stationed to protect the judges in the courts of justice ; when we see the soldiers employed (as is stated in the public prints) to guard the sheriff and his officers in the performance of their awful duty of executing the men at Chester ; when we are now told of 38 men being just committed in a body to Lancaster-jail, out of which 8
persons have just been taken to be hanged, amongst which eight, one is stated to have been a woman, “ Hannah Smith, for committing a “ highway robbery, by STEALING POTATOES at Bank Top, in the “ town of Manchester :" when we behold all these things, Sir, and scores of others that might be added to the list, and when we reflect, that they might all have been prevented if my advice had been followed a year and a half ago; when we thus reflect, and when we see that we have to pay 50,0001. down, and 30001, to the family, and have further to be taxed to pay for a monument in honour of the minister who rejected this advice, what must be the feelings of the people ?
Even in December last when the Corporation of the City of London, upon the motion of Mr. ALDERMAN Wood, prayed your Royal Highness to take measures for "re-opening the usual channels of intercourie with neutral nations ;” if, even then the Orders in Council had been annulled, the greater part of the calamities above-mentioned might have been prevented. But, your ministers, with the late Mr. Perceval at their head, advised your Royal Highness to reject this part of the prayer of the City of London, and to tell them, that "nothing should be wanting on your “ part to contribute towards the restoration of commercial intercourse " between this country and other nations to the footing on which it had “ been usually conducted even in the midst of wir." This, Sir, was only repeating what your ministers had before said ; but, Sir, you have not been able to do this. You have not been able to make the Emperor of France relax in the smallest degree. His Continental System remains in full vigour; and so it will remain, even after our Orders shall have been completely done away. What, then, Sir, are we to think of the minister who advised you to give such an answer to the City of London ? What are we to think of a monument to the memory of that minister ??
There is yet one point, and it is a point of great interest, upon which I am anxious to address your Royal Highness; and that is, the effect