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gregation of these " Saints," in a neighbouring county, cashiered ther Minister because he spoke at a town meeting, against the clamorous outcry of “ No Popery;" and, in consequence thereof, a gentleman gave him a living in the Church.
Many, very many, instances of their base time-serving in politics might here be mentioned; but, enough has, I think, been said to show, that the increase of their members cannot be expected to be attended with any good effect. I would let them alone ; but, I would give them no encouragement. There are persons who like them, because they look upon them as hostile to the Church. Their hostility is for the tithes, which they would exact with as much rigour as the present Clergy, and would, if possible, deserve them less. But, my great dislike to them is grounded on their politics, which are the very worst in the country; and, though I am aware, that there are many very honourable exceptions amongst them, I must speak of them as a body; and, as a body i know of none so decidedly hostile to public liberty. This is an age of cant. The country has been ruined by cant; and they have been the principal instruments in the work, and have had their full share of the profit.
WM. COBBETT. State Prison, Newgate, Friday,
24th May, 1811.
TO THE PRINCE REGENT:
ON THE DISPUTE WITH THE AMERICAN STATES.
(Political Register, August, 1811.)
Sir,– Feeling, as the people of this kingdom do so severely, smarting, writhing, as we are, under the effects of the war with France, and con. sidering how easily this war might, in 1793, have been avoided without either danger or dishonour to England; thus feeling and thus reflecting, it is natural for us, when threatened with a new war, to inquire betimes, what are the grounds of such war; whether it would be just; if just, whether it would be necessary; and, be the cause what it may, whether the consequences are likely to be good or evil.
If, Sir, the counsels of Mr. Fox had been listened to, in the years 1792, and 1793, the state of England, of Europe, and of the world, would have been very different indeed from what it now is. A war against opinions and principles would not have been waged; England, instead of becoming a party in that fatal and disgraceful war, would have been a mediatress between the conflicting parties, if, indeed, she had not wholly prevented the conflict. So many governments would not have been overthrown; such rivers of human blood would not have been shed ; reformation might and would have been produced, because the state of things and the temper of men's minds demanded it; but nowhere need there have been destruction; all the states of Europe might have remained on their old foundations, and the Bourbons might at this day have been upon the Thrones of France and Spain. This kingdom, too, might
and must have shared in the reformation ; but, such reformation would have made no inroads upon rank or property; and the nation would have avoided all those measures of coercion, all those before unheard-of laws to which the contest gave rise ; and those enormous expenses, which, first producing Debt and tenfold Taxation, led by degrees to that pauper. ism and paper-money, which now form the two great and hideous features in the state of our internal affairs, and which no man, who really loves the country, can contemplate without the most serious apprehensions.
Such being the consequences of that war, or, rather, a part of these consequences, the far greater proportion of them being, in all probability, yet to come, it behoves those who have power to act to consider well, before they launch the country into a new war; and it is the right of every man to express, in the way which he may think most likely to be efficient, his opinions upon the subject. This right I am now about to exercise, and if I have chosen, as the vehicle, an address to your Royal Highness, it is because that respect, which inclination as well as duty dictate upon such an occasion, will not fail to make me dismiss from my mind all partiality and prejudice, and to offer nothing unsupported by fair reasoning and undeniable facts.
As to the grounds of the present dispute with the American States, they are some of them of very Inng standing. The conduct of this government relative to the war against those Slates was extremely unwise ; but, its conduct since the war is, I am convinced, unparalleled in the annals of diplomatic folly. The moment that war was at an end, the people of the two countries, attached to each other by all the ties which imperious nature has provided, were ready to rush into a mutual embrace, and like children of the same common parent, whose harmony had been disturbed by a transient quarrel, to become even more affectionate towards each other than they had been before. Not so the governments. With them ambition and resentment had something to say. But, the American Government being, from the nature of its constitution, a thing of such transient possession, it would have been impossible for any set of men long to remain in power if they had been discovered to entertain a vindictive disposition towards England ; that is to say, if the government of England had discovered no such disposition towards America. Une happily such a disposition was but too plainly seen in the whole of the conduct of our government; and hence we havo witnessed, from the end of the American war to this day, a dispute and an angry dispute too, upon some ground or other, constantly existing and in agitation between the two countries, to the great injury of them both, to the great injury of the cause of freedom, and to the great advantage of France as a nation, and to the cause of despotic sway all over the world. The war was at an end, but the quarrel seemed only to have begun : a seven years' war, and an already eight and twenty years of quarrel !
It was full ten years before we condescended to send a Minister to reside in America, and when we did it, the object seemed to be only to recall, or to render more active, ancient animosities. A miserable dispute about old claims for debts due to English subjects on one side, and about negroes carried off at the peace on the other side, clouded and made gloomy the dawn of this new diplomatic intercourse. This dispute was kept alive till new claims for vessels unlawfully coofiscated arose on the part of the American Government. The treaty of 1794, which provided for Commissioners to settle these claims would, it was hoped, produce harmony; but it is well known that it only widened the breach. At last, however, we patched up this matter : we yielded, but it was without magnanimity: we gave our money, the nation was taxed to make up for the blunders of the cabinet; but we gave without the credit of generosity. In the meanwhile, the English creditors have remained, many of them until this day, unsatisfied, while a Board of Commissioners, who have been sitting either here or in America ever since the year 1794, or, at least, have been paid all that time, have swallowed up in expenses to the nation, a great part of what would have sufficed to satisfy our own claimants without any application for money for that purpose to the American States. In the course of this part of the dispute there was much unfairness on the part of the American Government; and we might have been fully justitied, strictly speaking, in coming to a rupture upon that ground. But, we came to neither a rupture nor a reconciliation: we asserted our claims and then gave them up ; but we took care to choose that manner of doing it, which effectually took all merit from the thing.
This point was hardly patched up, when another subject of dispute arose : to that another and another and another have succeeded, the long-contested question relative to the impressment of American Scamen running through the whole. So that, at last, there has grown together a mass of disputes and of ill-blood, which threatens us with a new war, and which war threatens us with new burdens, and, still worse, which threatens the world with the extinguishment of some part, at least, of its remaining liberties. The points, however, more immediately at issue, are those relating to the present non-importation law and the affinir between the American Frigale, President, and our sloop of war, the Little Bell. As to the former points in dispute the Americans were the complainants: they called for satisfaction, and, whether they ought to have obtained it or not, it is certain that they have not yet obtained it. Upon these two recent points, therefore, as being thought likely to lead to war, and as being so represented by those public prints which are known to be under the influence of persons in power, I shall now proceed most respectfully to offer to your Royal Highness such remarks as the occasion appears to me to demand.
The Non-importation Act, that is to say, the law which has been passed in America to prohibit the importation of any thing being the growth or manufacture of Great Britain or Ireland, and which law is now in force in America, must doubtless be regarded as a measure of a hostile, though not of a warlike nature, because the same law does not apply to the enemy with whom we are at war; and, besides this commercial prohibition, our ships of war are shut out from the harbours, rivers, and waters of the United States, while our enemy's ships of war are permitted freely to enter and abide in them. These are dis. tinctions of an unfriendly nature: they are, indeed, measures of hostility; but, then, I beg your Royal Highness to bear in mind, that they are acts of a much lower degree of hosiility than were the acts of your Royal Father's ministers against France in the year 1792, though they, to this hour, contend, that that war was a war of aggression on the part or France; and, of course, their own doctrine, if now cited against this country, would be quite sufficient on the part of America. But, the fact is, that the Non-importation Act and the exclusion of British ships from the waters of America, while importation is permitted from France
and while French ships have free entrance and abidance in the waters of the United States, are acts of a hostile nature, and would, if unjustified by provocation, fully authorize, on our part, acts of reprisal and of war.
But, Sir, these measures on the part of America have not been adopted without alleged provocation and without loud and reiterated remonstrances. They have, in fact, arisen out of certain measures adopted by us, and which measures are alleged to be in violation of the rights of America as a neutral nation ; and, therefore, before we can justify a war in consequence of the hostile measures of America, we must ascertain whether her allegations against us be true; for, if they be, we may find, perhaps, that she is not only not blamable for what she has now done, but is entitled to praise for her forbearance and moderation.
That we have violated the rights of America as a neutral state, there can be no doubt. The fact is not denied ; nor is it pretended, that the violation would not, in itself, be sufficient to justify any degree of hostility on the part of the offended state. Indeed, to dispute these facts would be to show a total disregard of truth; for, we have published, and, as far as in us lies, we have carried, and still carry into execution, an interdict against all irade on the purt of America, except such as we choose to license. We have said to her, that she shall not carry the produce of her soil and exchange it for the produce of the soil of France, Italy, or Holland. If we meet with one of her ships laden with the flour of Pennsylvania and owned by a Pennsylvanian merchant bound to any port of the French empire, we compel such ship to come into some one of our ports, and there to unlade and dispose of her cargo, or else, to pay duty upon it, before we permit her to proceed on her voyage. lo short, we hare issued and acted upon such edicts as establish an absolute control and sovereignty over the ships of America, and all that part of the population and property of America that are employed in maritime commerce.
That the rights of America are herein openly violated all the world knows. Your Royal Highness need not be reminded of the dispute, so long continued, relative to the right of search; that is to say, a right on the part of a belligerent to search merchant neutral ships at sea, in order to ascertain whether they had on board contraband goods of war, or goods belonging to an enemy. It was contended by those who denied the right of search, that no belligerent had a right to search a neutral at sea in any case ; and, that, if this point was given up, the goods of an enemy in a neutral ship ought not to be seized, for that the neutrality of the ship protected the goods. To this doctrine English writers and statesmen have never subscribed ; they insisted, that we had a right to search neutral ships upon the high seas, and if we found contraband articles or enemy's goods on board of them, to seize them, and, in some cases, to make ship as well as cargo lawful prize. But, no statesman, no lawyer, no writer ever pretended, that we had a right to seize in a neutral ship the goods of a neutral party. No one ever dreamt of setting up a right like this, which, in fact, is neither more nor less than making war upon the neutrals; because we do them the very worst that we can 10, short of wanton cruelty, of which the laws and usages of war do not allow.
In justification of the adoption of these our measures towards America, our Government asserted, that France had begun the violation of the neutral rights of America, and that our measures were in the way of retaliation, and that the laws of war allowed of retaliation. It is a singular species of law, which, because a weak nation has been injured by one powerful nation, subjects it to be injured by another. If Belcher were to beat Mr. Perceval and Lord Liverpool in the street, Crib would not, for that reason, be justified in beating them too : this would, I presume, be deemed a new and most outrageous species of retaliation ; and there is little doubt that the belligerent pugilists would soon be sent to a place where they would have leisure to study the laws of war. But, it is al. leged by our Government, that the Americans submitted to the decrees of Napoleon; that they acquiesced in his violation of their rights; and that it was just in us to treat them in the same manner that he had treated them, because they had so submitted and acquiesced. The same reason would apply equally well in justification of the above supposed retaliatory measures of Crib, who also might, with just as much truth, accuse Mr. Perceval and Lord Liverpool of submission and acquiescence with regard to Belcher; for they could not avoid submission and acquiescence to superior force; they might cry out, indeed, and, they would cry out ; and so did the Americans, who, from the first day to the last of the existence of the French Decrees, ceased not to remonstrate against them, and that, too, in the strongest terms ; and, therefore, there appears not to have been the slightest ground whereon to build a justification of our measures as measures of retaliation.
But, Sir, if our measures were not justifiable upon the supposition that this violation of neutral rights was begun by the enemy, surely they must be declared to be wholly without justification, if it appear, that we ourselces were the beginners in this career of violation of the rights of America as a neutral state ; and that this is the fact is clearly proved by the documents, which have long ago been laid before the public, but which I beg leave to call to the recollection of your Royal Highness.
This rivalship in the violation of neutral rights began in a declaration on our part, made to America through her Minister here, that she was to consider the entrances of the Ems, the Weser, the Elbe, and the Trave as in a state of rigorous blockade, though it was notoriously impossible for us to maintain such blockade by actual forces. The grounds for this measure were stated to be, that the King of Prussia (and not France) had forcibly and hostilely taken possession of various parts of the Electorate of Hanover and other dominions belonging to his Majesty, and had shut English ships out of the Prussian ports. This might be a very good reason for shutting the Ems, the Weser, the Elbe, and the Trave against Prussian ships ; but, surely it gave us no right to shut them against the ships of America, whose government had had nothing to do with the King of Prussia's hostile seizure upon the Electorate of Hanover; who had neither aided him, abetted him, nor encouraged him in any manner whatever; and, it was very hard that the people of America should be made to suffer from the result of a dispute, be it what ic might, between the King of Prussia and the Elector of Hanover. The King of Prussia is closely connected by marriage with your Royal Highness's illustrious family; it is not therefore for me to dare to presume that he should have been capable of any thing unbecoming his high rank; but this I may venture to say, that, whatever his conduct might be, there could be no justice in making the people, or any portion of the people, of America suffer for that conduct. Indeed, Sir, it appears to me, that to involve, in any way whatever, England in this dispute about Hanover was not very closely