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TO THE PRINCE REGENT:

ON THE DISPUTE WITH AMERICA.

(Political Register, September, 1811.)

LETTER II. Sır.-Intelligence, received since the date of the former Letter, which I did myself the honour to address to your Royal Highness, makes it more imperious upon us to examine well the grounds upon which we are proceeding with regard to the American States. The President has called the Congress together; and, there can be little doubt of his object being to propose to them, for their approbation, some measure more of a warlike character than any which he has hitherto adopted ; nor, can we it seems to me, be at all surprised at this, if, as is rumoured, it be true, that Mr. Foster, our new minister in America, has made a communication to the American government, making the revocation of our Orders in Council depend upon the conduct of Napoleon as to the Continental System.

The rise and progress of the Orders in Council and of the French De. crees have already been noticed, ard sufficiently dwelt upon; it has been shown, that the grounds of the present dispute, namely, the flagrant violation of neutral rights, did not originate with France, but with England, or, if not with England, with Prussia ; it has been shown, and no one will attempt to deny the fact, that the French Decrecs were passed after the issuing of our Orders in Council ; that they were passed expressly in the way of retaliation ; that they were to be revoked when we revoked our Orders. It has been shown, that we professed to be animated with a sincere and most earnest desire to revoke our Orders, and, indeed, that we expressly declared that we would revoke them whenever the French would revoke their Decrees. It has been shown, that the French officially informed the American Government, that the Decrees were revoked, and that, thereupon, the American Government called upon us to fulfil our promises in revoking our Orders ; but, that we did not do this; that we evaded the fulfilment of these promises, and, in short, that we have not revoked, or softened the rigour of, any part of our Orders. It has, in a word, been shown, that while the French have revoked their Decrees, while they, in consequence of the remonstrances of America, have ceased to violate her neutral rights, we persevere in such violation.

The pretext for this was, at first, that the Emperor Napoleon, though he said he had revoked his Decrees, had not done it, and meant not to do it. This, may it please your Royal Highness, was, it appears to me, a very strange kind of language to use towards other powers. It was treating the American government as a sort of political idiot. It was telling it that it did not understand the interests of America, and that it was unworthy to be intrusted with power. And, it was saying to the Emperor of France, that he was to be regarded as shut out of the pale of sovereigns; that he was on no account to be believed ; that no faith was

to be given to the official communications of his ministers, or of any persons treating in his name. Thus, then, the door against peace, against exchange of prisoners, against a softening of the rigours of war in any way or in any degree, was for ever barred ; and, the termination of war was, in fact, made to depend upon the death of Napoleon.

But, this pretext could not last long ; for the Decrees were actually revoked; the revocation went into effect; and those Decrees are now wholly dead as to any violation of the neutral rights of America. It was, therefore, necessary to urge some new objection to the revocation of our Orders in Council; and it is now said, that Mr. Foster has demanded, that, as a condition of the revocation of our Orders in Council, the French shall revoke all the commercial regulations which they have adopted since the Orders in Council were issued ; that is to say, that Napoleon shall give up what he calls the Continental System, and admit English goods into the Continent of Europe.

I do not say, may it please your Royal Highness, that Mr. Foster has been instructed to make such a demand : state the proposition as I find it described in our own public prints ; but, this I can have no hesitation in saying, that a proposition so replete with proof of having flowed from impudence and ignorance the most consummate is not to be found in the history of the diplomacy of the universe. The Government of America can have no right whatever to interfere with the internal regulations of the French Empire or of any other country; and, the Continental System, as it is called, consists merely of internal regulations. These regulatlons have nothing at all to do with the rights of neutrals; they do not violate in any degree, any of those rights; and, therefore, America cannot, without setting even common sense at defiance, be called upon to demand an abandoment of that system.

But, Sir, permit me to stop here and to examine a little into what that system really is. It forbids the importation into the Empire of Napoleon and the states of his allies any article being the manufacture or produce, of England or her colonies. This, in a few words, is the Continental System. And your Royal Highness certainly need not be reminded, that it is a system which has been very exactly copied from the commercial code of England herself. Your Royal Highness's ministers and many members of Parliament have spoken of this system as the effect of vindictiveness on the part of Napoleon ; as the effect of a mad despotism, which threatens Europe with a return of the barbarous ages; but, I see nothing in this system that has not long made part of our own system. It is notorious, that the goods manufactured in France are prohibited in England; it is notorious that French wine and brandy are for. bidden to be brought hither; in short, it is notorious that no article being the manufacture or produce of France is permitted to be brought into England; and, that seizure, confiscation, fine, imprisonment, and ruin attend all those wbo act in infraction of this our commercial code.

This being the case, it does seem to require an uncommon portion of impudence or of self-conceit for us to demand of the Americans to cause the Continental System to be abandoned as a condition upon which we are willing to cease to violate their rights. But, it has been said, that Napoleon enforces his system with so much rigour and barbarity. This does not at all alter the state of the case between us and America, who has no power, and, if she had the power, who has no right, to interfere with his internal regulations. Yet, Sir, it is not amiss to inquire a little

into the fact of this alleged barbarity of Napoleon. All rulers are content with accomplishing their object; and, in this case, it would not be his interest to inflict greater penalties than the accomplishing of his object required. Our own laws against smuggling are not the mildest in the world; and, we have seen them hardened by degrees, till they answered the purpose that the Government had in view. We have been told, indeed, that Napoleon punishes offences against his commercial code with enormous fines, with imprisonment, and we have heard of instances where he has resorted to the punishment of death. These severities have been made the subject of most grievous complaints against bim here; they have brought down upon him reproaches the most bitter; they have been cited as proofs indubitable of the intolerable despotism, under which his people groan. But, Sir, I have confidence enough in your justice and magnanimity to remind you, that there is nothing which his commercial code inflicts; that there is nothing in any of the punishments that even rumour has conveyed to our ears; no, nothing in any of these surpassing in severity ; nay, nothing in any of them equalling in severity, the punishments provided for in the commercial code of England, having for their object, towards France, precisely that in view which the Continental System has in view towards England, namely, her embarrassment, and finally, her overthrow.

In support of this assertion I could cite many of the acts in our statutebook ; but I allude particularly to that which was passed in the month of May 1793, at the breaking out of the war against the Republicans of France. That act, which appears to have been drawn up by the present Lord Chancellor, makes it high treason, and punishes with death, and also with forfeiture of estates, all those persons, residing or being in Great Britain, who shall have any hand whatever, either directly or indirectly, in selling any goods (mentioned in the said act) to the French government, or to any body residing in French territories. This act punishes in the same awful manner, any one who shall send a Bank-note to any one residing in the French territory, or shall have any hand, in the most distant manner, in causing such notes to be sent. It punishes in the same manner any person residing or being in Great Britain, who shall have any hand in purcliasing any real property in any country under the dominion of France; and it extends its vengeance to all those, who, in the most distant manner, shall have any hand in such transaction. This act is the 27th chap. of the 33rd year of the reign of George the Third ; and I have never seen and never heard of any act or edict that dealt out death and destruction with so liberal a band.

It was said at the time, by the present Lord Chancellor, and by the greater part of those men who compose your Royal Highness's ministry, that this act, terrible as it was, was demanded by the safety of the nation. This Mr. Fox denied, and he strenuously laboured to prevent the passing of an act so severe. I shall offer no opinion upon this matter; but it is certain that the code of Napoleon is not, because it cannot, be more terribly severe than this act ; and this being the case, common decency ought to restrain those who justified this act from uttering reproaches against the author of the continental code. Our Government then said that the act of 1793 was necessary in order to crush the revolution that had reared its head in France, and that was extending its principles over · Europe. They justified the act upon the ground of its necessity. So does Napoleon his code. He says that that code is necessary to protect the continent against the maritime despotism and the intrigues of Eng. land. His accusations against us may be false, but he is only retorting upon us our accusations against France; and between two such powers, there is nobody to judge. In truth our Government passed its act of 1793, because it had the will and the power to pass and to enforce it ; and Napoleon has established bis continental system, because he also has the will and the power. It is to the judgment of the world that the matter must be left, and I beseech your Royal Highness to consider, that the world will judge of our conduct according to the evidence which it has to judge from, and that that judgment will leave wholly out of view our interest and our humours.

To return and apply what has here been said to the case on which I have the honour to address your Royal Highness, what answer would have been given to America, if she, in the year 1793, had demanded of our Government the rescinding of the act of which I have just given a faint description ? In supposing, even by the way of argument, America to have taken such a liberty, I do a violence to common sense, and commit an outrage upon diplomatic decorum ; and it is quite impossible to put into words an expresssion of that indignation which her conduct would have excited. And yet, Sir, there appears to me, to be no reason whatever for our expecting America to be permitted to interfere with Napoleon's continental system, unless we admit that she had a right to interfere with our act of 1793. The dispute between us and America relates to the acknowledged rights of neutral nations. These rights of America we avow that we violate. We have hitherto said, that we were ready to cease such violation as soon as the French did the same ; but now, if we are to believe the intelligence from America and the corresponding statements of our public prints, we have shifted our ground, and demand of America that she shall cause the continental system to be done away, or, at least, we tell her that it shall be done away, or we will not cease to violate her rights.

The language of those, who appear to be ready to justify a refusal, upon the ground above stated, to revoke our Orders in Council, is this; that it was natural to expect that the revocation would be made to depend upon a rcal and effectual abolition of the French decrees ; that the revocation is merely nominal unless all the regulations of Napoleon, made since 1806, are also repealed; that when these latter are repealed, it will be right for America to call upon us for repeal of our Orders in Council, and not before; and, it is added, that the American President will not have the support of the people if he attempt to act upon any other principles than these. So that, as your Royal Highness will clearly perceive, these persons imagine, or, at least, they would persuade the people of England, that, unless the President insist upon the admission of English manufactures and produce into the dominions of France, he will not be supported by the people of America in a demand of England to cease to violate the known and acknowledged rights of America. The President is not asking for any indulgence at our hands : he is merely asking for what is due to his country; he is merely insisting upon our ceasing to violate the rights of America; and if wliat the public prints tell us be true, we say in answer : “ We will cease to violate your rights; we will “ cease to do you wrong; we will cease to confiscate your vessels in the “ teeth of the law of nations, but not unless Napoleon will suffer the cop“ tinent of Europe to purchase our manufactures and commerce.” If my neighbour complain of me for a grievous injury and outrageous insult committed against him, am I to answer him by saying, that I will cease to injure and insult him, when another neighbour with whom I am at variance will purchase his clothing and cutlery from me? The party whom I injure and insult will naturally say, that he has nothing to do with my quarrel with a third party. We should disdain the idea of appealing to America as a mediatress, and, indeed, if she were to attempt to put herself forward in that capacity, indignation and vengeance would ring from one end of the kingdom to the other. Yet, we are,

it seems, to look to her to cause the French to do away regulations injurious to us, but with which America has nothing at all to do.

As to the disposition of the people of America, your Royal Highness should receive with great distrust whatever is said, come from what quarter it may, respecting the popular sceling being against the President and his measures. The same round of deception will, doubtless, be used here as in all other cases where a country is at war with us. It is now nearly twenty years since we drew the sword against revolutionary France; and, if your Royal Highness look back, you will find, that, during the whole of that period, the people of France have been, by those who have had the power of the press in their bands in this country, repiesented as hostile to their government, under all its various forms, and as wishing most earnestly for the success of its enemies. The result, however, has been, that the people have never, in any one instance, aided those enemies; but have made all sorts of sacrifices for the purpose of frustrating their designs. On the contrary, the people in all the countries, allied with us in the war, have been invariably represented as attached to their government, and they have, when the hour of trial came, as invariably turned from that government and received the French with open arms. After these twenty years of such terrible experience, it is not for me to presume, that your Royal Highness can suffer yourself to be deceived with regard to the disposition of the American people, who clearly understand all the grounds of the present dispute, and of whom, your Royal Highness may be assured, Mr. Madison, in his demands of justice at our hands is but the echo. The Americans do not wish for war : war is a state which they dread ; there is no class amongst them who can profit from war : they have none of that description of people to whom war is a harvest : there are none of those whom to support out of the public wealth the pretext of war is necessary: they dread a standing army : they have witnessed the effects of such establishments in other parts of the world: they have seen how such establishments and loss of freedom go hand in hand. But, these considerations will not, I am persuaded, deter them from going far enough into hostile measures to do great injury to us, unless we shall, by our acts, prove to them, that such measures are unnecessary.

The public are told, and the same may reach the ear of your Royal Highness (for courts are not the places into which truth first makes its way), that the American President is unpopular ; that the people are on our side in the dispute. Guard your ear, I beseech you, Sir, against such reports, which are wholly false, and which bave their rise partly in the ignorance and partly in the venality of those by whom they are propagated. It is a fact, on which your Royal Highness may rely, that, at the last election (in the Autumn of 1810) the popular party had a majority far greater than at any former period; and, it is hardly necessary

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