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"must not appal you. Prepare for it, with unsubmitting spirit, renew the com" bat, till your great enemy, like the whale of the deep, weakened with many " wounds, yields himself up a prey to smaller foes on his own element. This, hy “the order of Providence, has been the case before. When they possessed the sea “ in full security, our sailors issued out in a few small barks, mounted with the
pieces dug from the rubbish of years, and scanty stores of ammunition, seized " their trade, and baffled their power. From such beginnings grew a numerous "shipping, that fearlessly braved them on their own coasts, and on every sea ; " that brought plenty into the land, and at once armed and enriched it. What “ shall prevent this again ? Have our enemies grown stronger, or we become “ weaker? Or has Heaven dropped its sceptre, and rules no more by justice
and mercy? We are now three times as many as in 1775, when we engaged " them before. Our territory is greatly enlarged, and teems with new and useful “ products. Cotton, formerly known only to the domestic uses of a part of the
people in two or three States, is now in sufficiency to supply clothing to all
America, and from its lightness can be easily conveyed by land to every quarter. “ Wool, flax and hemp are furnished in increasing quantities every day.--Ma“ chines for every work, manufactories for every useful article, are invented and “ establishing continually. Large supplies of salt, sugar and spirits are provided “ for in the western countries, and can never be wanting on the sea coast. Lead, “iron, powder and arms we have in abundance- parks of artillery for the field " and fortifications—magazines and arsenals ready formed and increasing-a “ sufficient force of disciplined troops and instructed officers to become the basis
of larger armies-a number of ships of war, with men and officers trained and “prepared for naval enterprise-a people ready in the spirit of independence, to “ rush against the enemy that wrongs and challenges them-a government formed, “ established, operating all round, with every material for intelligence, direction "and power-revenues, credit, confidence-good will at home and abroad"justice and necessity obliging, and Heaven, I hope, approving.– It is a com
mon opinion that our enemies are stronger; but this appears an illusion, “ from the fleets of other nations having been vanquished one by one, and left " the ocean.
Her strength has not increased in proportion. She indeed possesses a thousand ships of war, but no increase of people. Her commerce is " distressed, her manufactures pining, her finances sinking under irrecoverable “ debts; her gold and silver gone, her paper depreciating; her credit failingdepending upon other countries for food, for materials of manufacture, for
supplies for her navy; her wants increasing; her means lessening. Every “island and port she takes demands more from her, divides her force, increases “ her expense, adds to her cares, and multiplies her dangers. Her government " is embarrassed, her people distracted, her seamen unhappy and ready to leave
her every moment. The American commerce has been a staff of support, but
will now become a sword to wound her. Instead of supplying, we shall take “ her colonies. Her West India possessions will be able to contribute nothing ; “ their labour's turned to raise bread. Their trade stopped as it passes our
coast; obliged to make a further division of her forces, her European enemies “ will seize the opportunity to break upon her there. Ireland is in a ferment “ and must be watched. The East Indies bode a hurricane. She is exposed to
injury in a thousand places, and has no strength equal to the extension. She
may inflict some wounds on us, but they cannot go deep; while every blow " she receives in such a crisis may go to her vitals. She will encounter us in “ despair; we shall meet her with hope and alacrity.-The first occasion that has
presented, proved this fact; though the sottishness of her Federal Republican “ attempted to prevent the volunteer offering of our seamen to Decatur, as a
proof of our inability to procure men.-Had we inpressed, as England does "all her crews, what would it have proved by the same logic?
"An OLD AMERICAN.”
Such, Sir, are the sentiments of the people of America. Great pains are taken by our venal writers to cause it to be believed, that the people are divided, and that Mr. Madison is in great disrepute. This, as I had the honour to observe to you before, is no more than a continuation of the series of deceptions practised upon this nation for the last twenty years with such complete and such fatal success. If, indeed, the Americans were to say as much of Ireland, there might be some justification for the assertion; but, there is no fact to justify the assertion as applied to America, in the whole extent of which we hear not of a single instance of any person acting in defiance of the law: no proclamations to prevent the people from meeting ; no calling out of troops to disperse the people ; no barracks built in any part of the country; no force to protect the government but simply that of the law, and none to defend the country but a population of proprietors voluntarily bearing arms.
There can be no division in America for any length of time; for, the moment there is a serious division, the government must give way: those who rule, rule solely by the will of the people : they have no power which they do not derive immediately from that source ; and, therefore, when the government of that country declares against us, the people declare against us in the same voice.
The infinite pains which have been taken, in this country, to create a belief, that the American President has been rendered unpopular by the publications of Mr. Smith, whom he had displaced, can hardly have failed to produce some effect upon the mind of your Royal Highness, especially as it is to be presumed, that the same movers have been at work in all the ways at their command. I recommend to the perusal of your Royal Highness, an address to this Mr. Smith; and, from it, you will perceive, that, by some of his countrymen at least, he is held in that contempt, which bis meanness and his impotent malice so richly merit. And, Sir, I am persuaded, that his perfidy will meet with commendation in no country upon earth but this, and in this only amongst those, who have always been ready to receive with open arms, any one guilty of treason against his country, be his character or conduct, in other respects, what it might. This person appears to have received no injury but what arose from the loss of a place which he was found unfit to fill, and from which he seems to bave been removed in the gentlest possible manner. Yet, in revenge for this, he assaults the character of the President, he discloses everything upon which he can force a misconstruction ; and, after all, after having said all he is able to say of the conduct of the President, whose confidence he seems to have possessed for nearly eight years, he brings forth nothing worthy of blame, except it be the indiscretion in reposing that very confidence. The publication of Mr. Smith is calculated to raise Mr. Madison and the American government in the eyes of the world; for, how pure, how free from all fault must government be, if a Secretary of State, who thus throws open an eight years' history of the cabinet, can tell nothing more than this man, animated by malice exceeding that of a cast-off coquette, has been able to tell !
The praises, which have, in our public prints, been bestowed upon the attempted mischief of this Mr. Smith, are by no means calculated to promote harmony with America, where both the government and the people will judge of our wishes by these praises. This man is notoriously the enemy of the American government, and, therefore, he is praised here. This is not the way to prove to the American government, that we are its friends, and that it does wrong to prefer Napoleon to us.
That we ought to prefer the safety and honour of England to all other things is certain ; and, if the American government aimed any blow at these, it would become our duty to destroy that government if we could. But, Sir, I suspect, that there are some persons in this country, who hate the American government because it suffers America to be the habitation of
freedom. For this cause, I am satisfied, they would gladly, if they could, annihilate both government and people ; and, in my mind there is not the smallest doubt, that they hate Napoleon beyond all description less than they hate Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Madison. This description of persons are hostile to the existence of liberty any where, and that, too, for reasons, which every one clearly understands. While any part of the earth remains untrodden by slaves, they are not at heart's ease. They hate the Emperor Napoleon because they fear him; but they hate him still more because they see in his conquests a tendency to a reforming result. They are the mortal enemies of freedom, in whatever part of the globe she may unfurl her banners. No matter what the people are who shout for freedom ; no matter of what nation or climate ; no matter what language they speak; and, on the other hand, the enemy of freedom is invariably by these persons, hailed as a friend. Such persons are naturally averse from any measures that tend to restore harmony between this country and America, which they look upon as a rebel against their principles. What such persons would wish, is, that America should exclude not only from her ships, but also from her soil, all British subjects without distinction. This would exactly suit their tyrannical wishes. This would answer one of their great purposes. But this they never will see. No government in America would dare to attempt it. The very proposition would, as it ought to do, bring universal execration down upon the head of the proposer.
The charge against the Americans of entertaining a partiality for the Emperor of France is one well worthy of attention ; because, if it were true, it would naturally have much weight with your Royal Highness. But, from the Address to Mr. Smith, you will perceive, that the same men in America, who complain the most loudly of Great Britain, condemn, in unqualified terms, the system of government existing in France. And, which is of much more interest, Mr. Jeffekson himself (supposed to be the great founder and encourager of the partiality for France) expresses the same sentiments, as appears from a letter of his.
With these papers before you, Sir, it will, I think, be impossible for you to form a wrong judgment as to the real sentiments of the American government and people; and, I am persuaded that you will perceive that every measure, tending to widen the breach between the two countries, can answer no purpose but that of favouring the views of France. Even the Order in Council, issued on the 7th instant, will, I fear, have this tendency, while it cannot possibly do ourselves any good. The impossibility of supplying the West India Islands with lumber and provisions from our own North American Provinces is notorious. The Order, therefore, will merely impose a tax upon the consumer, without shifting, in any degree worth notice, the source of the supply. And, indeed, the measure will serve to show what we would do if we could.
There is one point, relative to the intercourse between America and England, of which I am the more desirous to speak, because I have heretofore myself entertained and promulgated erroneous notions respecting: it : I allude to the necessity of the former being supplied with woollens by the latter. Whence this error arose, how it has been removed from my mind, and what is the real state of the fact, your Royal Highness will gather from the Preface to an American work on Sheep and Wool, which I, some time ago, republished, as the most likely means of effectually eradicating an error which I had contributed to ren
der popular, and the duration of which might have been injurious to the country. This work, if I could hope that your Royal Highness would condescend to peruse it, would leave no doubt in your mind, that Ame. rica no longer stands in absolute need of English wool or woollens ; that, if another pound of wool, in any form, were never to be imported by her, it would be greatly to her advantage ; and, in short, that it comports with the plans of her most enlightened statesmen not less than with her interests and the interests of humanity, that she should no longer be an importer of this formerly necessary of life. This, Sir, is not one of the most trifling of the many recent revolutions in the affairs of the world ; and, it is one, which, though wholly overlooked by such statesmen as Lord Sheffield, is well worthy of the serious consideration of your Royal Highness.
There is no way in which America is now dependent upon us, or upon any othes country. She has every thing within herself that she need to have. Her soil produces all sorts of corn in abundance, and of some sorts, two crops in the year upon the same ground. Wool and flax she produces with as much facility as we do. She supplies us with cotton. She has wine of her own production; and, it will not be long, before she will have the oil of the olive. To attempt to bind such a country in the degrading bonds of the Custom-house is folly, and almost an outrage upon nature. In looking round the world ; in viewing its slavish state; in looking at the miserable victims of European oppression, who does not exclaim : "Thank God, she cannot so be bound !” A policy on our part, that would have prolonged her dependence would have been, doubt. less, more agreeable to her people, who, like all other people, love their ease, and prefer the comfort of the present day to the happiness of posterity. We might easily have caused America to be more commercial ; but, of this our policy was afraid ; and our jealousy has rendered her an infinite service. By those measures of ours, which produced the former Non-importation Act, we taught her to have recourse to her own soil and her own hands for the supplying of her own wants; and then, as now, we favoured the policy of Mr. Jefferson, whose views have been adopted and adhered to by his successor in the Presidential chair.
The relative situation of the two countries is now wholly changed. America no longer stands in absolute need of our manufactures. We are become a debtor rather than a creditor with her; and, if the present Nonimportation Act continue in force another year, the ties of commerce will be so completely cut asunder as never more to have much effect. In any case they never can be any thing resembling what they formerly were ; and, if we are wise, our views and measures will change with the change in the state of things. We shall endeavour, by all honourable means, to keep well with America, and to attach her to us by new ties, the ties of common interest and unclashing pursuits. We shall anticipate those events which nature points out : the absolute independence of Mexico, and, perhaps, of most of the West India Islands. We shall there invite her population to hoist the banners of freedom; and, by that means, form a counterpoise to the power of the Emperor of France. This, at which I take but a mere glance, would be a work worthy of your Royal Highness, and would render your name great while you live, and dear to after ages. The times demand a great and far-seeing policy. This little Island, cut off, as she will be, from all the world, cannot, I am persuaded, retain her independence, unless she now exert her energies in something other than expeditions to the continent of Europe, where every creature seems to be arrayed in hostility against her. The mere colonial system is no longer suited to her state nor to the state of Europe. A system that would combine the powers of England with those of America, and that would thus set liberty to wage war with despotism, dropping the Custom House and all its pitiful regulations as out of date, would give new life to an enslaved world, and would ensure the independence of England for a time beyond calculation. But, Sir, even to deliberate upon a system of policy like this, requires no common portion of energy. There are such stubborn prejudices and more stubborn private interests to encounter and overcome, that I should despair of success without a previous and radical change of system at home; but, satisfied I am, that, to produce that change, which would infallibly be the ground-work of all the rest, there needs nothing but the determination, firmly adhered to, of your Royal Highness.
To tell your Royal Highness what I expect to see take place would be useless : whether we are to hail a chance of system, or are to lose all hope of it, cannot be long in ascertaining. If the former, a short delay will be amply compensated by the event; and, if the latter, the fact will always be ascertained too soon. I am, &c. &c.
WM. COBBETT. State Prison, Newgate, Thursday, 12th September, 1811.
TO THE PRINCE REGENT:
ON THE DISPUTE WITH THE AMERICAN STATES.
(Political Register, February, 1812.)
LETTER IV. Sir,-In looking back to the real causes of the miseries, which afflict this country, and of the greater miseries with which it appears to be threatened, your Royal Highness will, I am persuaded, find that one of the most efficient has been the prostitution of the Press. It is, on all hands acknowledged, that the Press is the most powerful engine that can be brought to operate upon public opinion and upon the direction of public affairs ; and, therefore, when used to a bad end, the mischief it produces must necessarily be great. If left free, it is impossible that it can, upon the whole, produce harm; because, from a free press free discussion will flow; and where discussion is free, truth will always prevail; but, where the press is in that state, in which a man dares not freely publish his thoughts, respecting public men and public affairs, if those thoughts be hostile to men in power, the press must of necessity be an evil ; because, while it is thus restrained on that side, there will never be wanting slaves to use it in behalf of those who have the distribution of the public money. Thus the public mind receives a wrong bias, and measures are approved of which in the end prove destructive, and which would never have met with approbation, had every man been free to communicate his thoughts to the public.