« ForrigeFortsett »
more than compensated for by the information that he has given me and the world that my efforts, as to America, coincide with those of Mr. Adams ; and, in return, I will inform him, that he has the honour to agree, not only in sentiments, but also in expressions, with every literary slave in the British dominions, with every one whose hand is like the beggar's dish, and whose columns have a price as regular, though not, perhaps, so moderate, as stalls at a market or beds at an inn.
From this digression I should now return to the Proceedings in the American Congress, a regular account of which I should lay before your Royal Highness; but the performance of this duty must, for want of time, be deferred till my next.
I am, &c. &c.
WM, COBBETT. State Prison, Newgate, January 30, 1812.
TO THE PRINCE REGENT:
ON THE DISPUTE WITH THE AMERICAN STATES.
(Political Register, February, 1812.)
LETTER V. Sır, I now proceed to place before your Royal Highness an account of the measures proposed by the American Congress to be adopted, in consequence of the refusal of our government to comply with the demands of the American President, relative to the Orders in Council and the Impressment of American Seamen.
The Lower House of Congress began by receiving and approving of a Report of their Committee of Foreign Relations. That Report can be regarded in no other light, than as a manifesto against England. It sets forth the grounds of complaint ; and it then recommends preparations for war.
This recommendation has been acted upon, and preparations for war are actually going on. An Act was brought forward immediately for raising a body of regular troops ; and, after much deliberation, this Act appears to have been passed, the number of troops amounting to 25 thousand men. And, here let me beg your Royal Highness to observe, that these troops are to have a bounty in lands, of which every man is to receive 160 Acres. These men will have the soil to fight for; their motive of action will not be of that vague and indefinite kind which is held forth by Colonel Dillon, in his work addressed, as he says, by per. mission, to you. That these troops are not intended for purposes of mere defence will be obvious to your Royal Highness; but, of the way in which they will probably be employed I shall speak by and by.
Besides these the President is to be enabled to employ 50 thousand Volunteers, whose services may, at any time, be extended beyond the limits of the United States, if the parties volunteering choose to be so employed.
The Militia, consisting of all the able men in the country, without any exception as to rank or degree, the President may call out in such numbers as may be found necessary.
Some national ships are to be built ; those that they now have, are to be repaired and armed ; gun-boats are to be fitted out; and the merchant ships are to be permitted to arm and to defend themselves at sea. But, the greatest of the maritime measures is, a high reward to be offered to any Americans on board British ships, and to the associates of such Americans, in case of their bringing in to an American port any British ship of war. This is, in fact, a reward offered to the crews of British ships to desert to the enemy, and to carry their ship with them, upon the same principle, I presume, that our Consul at Valencia and our commandant at Gibraltar are, in our public prints, said to have offered so much a man to each soldier of the French army that should desert to them, and so much in addition provided the deserter brought his horse. Whether this be consistent with morality, I shall not, at present inquire ; but, of this I am very sure, that the measure adopted, or proposed to be adopted, by the Congress, is of a very dangerous tendency, especially when we consider how large a portion of Americans and other foreigners we have on board of our ships.
'These measures are not, Sir, to be considered as the measures of a faction, whose object, in getting the nation into a war, is to create the means of fattening themselves and their families and dependents and supporters; they are the measures of the people of America, speaking through the lips of their real Representatives, unbribed themselves and chosen without the aid of bribery; and they arise out of the grounds of complaint against us, which I before had the honour to lay before your Royal Highness. The prostituted press of London has, for many months past, been endeavouring to make its deluded readers believe, that the partisans of England, in America, were the most numerous ; and that, if the government engaged in war against us, the people would turn against it, and that a separation of the States would take place. I endeavoured to guard the public and your Royal Highness against these delusive statements; and we now see, that, though there are two parties in America, both parties have united against us, with as much cordiality as the two parties in our House of Commons united against Mr. Madocks's motion of the 11th of May 1809 for an inquiry into the Sale of Seats in that Hon. House, and, surely, an union more cordial than that has seldom been heard of between opponents of any description. Those members of the Congress who have voted against the war with England are so few, and those who have spoken against it, are, for the most part, so notoriously contemptible, that the measure may be regarded as having been adopted without opposition. The Congress has not been long elected; they have just received the instructions of their constituents; and it will not be long before those constituents will again have an opportunity of deciding upon their merits or demerits. None of those members hold offices of any sort ; none of them have pensions or sinecures, and none of them can touch, in any way, a farthing of the money which may be expended in consequence of their votes for the creation of any office. This being the case the voice of the Congress must be the voice of the nation; and it would be delusion unexampled to believe, that the people of America are not entering heartily into this war.
Our prostituted press, unable any longer to keep up the delusion of
the disinclination of the American nation to resist by force of arms, now tell the public, that the war will not be of long duration ; and, this prediction they found chiefly upon the supposition, that America has not the pecuniary means sufficient for the carrying on of war.
The collection of taxes, is, indeed, what the Americans do not like ; but, it does not follow, that, for a great purpose, they would not submit to a trifling tax ; and a very trifling tax, indeed, would suffice. It is true, that they now pay but little. Jn America the taxes do not amount to a Dollar a head ; taking the people one with another ; here, if we exclude the army, the navy, the paupers, and the prisoners, the taxes amount to fifty Dollars a head. By putting on a second Dollar, the Government would double its means; and, surely, an American can pay 2 Dollars as well as an Englishman can pay 50. One of your Royal Highness's servants, that stirring old gentleman, Mr. George Rose, assures us, that our population increases in war, and that the longer the war continues the faster we increase in numbers. He says nothing of the increase of paupers ; but, upon his principle, American population cannot be checked by war ; for, he will hardly contend, that this quality of fecundity appertains exclusively to us. Another of your servants, Lord Harrowby, has lately asserted, that the prosperity of this country is now greater than it ever was. Your Royal Highness will not, therefore, believe, that America is to be beggared and ruined by a war, which, in all probability will last only a few years.
Besides, the resources of America in her lands are very great. She has, owing to her peculiar situation, a species of fund to draw upon which no other nation has. She is now about to raise an army with a bounty, in money, of 16 Dollars a man. The rest of his bounty is to consist of lands, which, of course, cost the people nothing ; and, in this same way a large portion of the demands of a war may and will be met.
Much has been said about the natural ties between the two countries. This, considered as an impediment to war, is the grossest of all the delusions, and never could have been practised upon any nation but this. All that remains of a recollection of the former connection is calculated to produce hostility. It is fine enough to flourish away upon the subject of the Americans being of the same family with us; but, there are many and many hundreds and thousands of men in America, who recollect that their fathers were killed by those Brunswickers and Hessians and other German Mercenaries, whom England hired to send against them, because they insisted upon the principle of No Taxation without Representation, These ideas of kindred might do very well in a poem; but, they are despicable in political reflections, and only discover the folly, or the wickedness, of those who obtrude them upon the public.
There appears, then, no good reason to suppose, that the Americans will not enter upon the war, and that they will not persevere in it, till they obtain its object, or, at least, till they have fairly tried their strength. As to the consequences of such war to us, some of them I should regard as ultimately beneficial. The loss of Canada I should deem a gain, though it is worth to us a thousand Empires in the East; that is to say, it is not a thousandth part so mischievous to us.
Another loss would be deeply felt, I mean the loss, for ever, of America as a market for our goods. Lord Sheffield has lately said, that what America does not take this year, she must take neri year; that, pass what Acts she will, she must, in the end, be clothed by us. His Lord
ship's mind does not keep pace with the events of the world. The Morning Post and Courier are, I suspect, his chief instructors as to what has been passing for the last ten years; or, he would have known, that manufactures have arrived at great perfection in America; that she is able to supply herself; and that she already exports cotton and wool in a partly manufactured state. A war of a few years continuance would sever the two countries for ever as to manufactures; and, this is one reason why the government of America, which wishes to cut off the con. nection with England, is disposed for war. This, however, is not, in my opinion, an evil. A temporary one it is : but, I can see no good that can arise to England from being the workshop for America, while we do not rạise corn enough to feed ourselves.
But, Sir, there are consequences, which may be produced by a war with America, well calculated to make one think seriously on the event. MR. JOEL BABlow, who in the year 1792, went as a deputy from a Society of men in England to present a congratulatory Address to the National Convention of France, and who was, at that time, hunted down and proscribed like Paine and many others, is now American Ambassador at the Court of Napoleon, where he has to negotiate with Count DARU, who, in that same year 1792, was in England, and was chased out of Eng. land along with MR. CHAUVELIN. These two men, who are old acquaintances, will not be long in coming to a clear understanding. They have both now an opportunity of repaying the kindness they received from England, and there can be little doubt of their having the disposition to do it,
By a hearty co-operation between America and France, fleets, and formidable fleets too, may be sent to sea much sooner than our overweening confidence will, perhaps, permit us to believe ; and, if a force of forty ships of the line, with a suitable number of frigates, can be sent out from the ports of France and Holland, in the course of a year, there is no telling what may be the consequence to this kingdom. America has more than a hundred thousand seamen; she has facilities of all sorts for building ships ; and, with the aid of France, would soon become truly formidable ; because, we should not dare to send a merchant ship to any part of the world without a convoy. Americans would enter into the French naval service; those, who are now captains of merchantmen, would be tempted with the honour of commanding ships of war ; they have, for the greater part, some particular cause of hatred against England, and would be animated by the double motive of ambition and revenge.
No man at all acquainted with American seamen will ever speak of them with contempt. They are universally allowed to be excellent seamen'; active and daring, but not more so than they are skilful and cool. These are precisely the ingredients that the Emperor Napoleon stands in need of; and, what, then, Sir, shall be said of those English Ministers who shall force them into his hands !
A war with America would hasten the work of revolution in Mexico, and it would have the further effect of making that country, in its state of independence, start in hostility to us; because, between North and South America there would inevitably be a close connection. Indeed, Sir, this appears to me to be one of the great objects which America has, in now going to war. She sees that a revolution is taking place io South America; she sees, that, if that revolution be crushed, England, under
the character of Protector of Spain, will, in fact, govern South America, if for no other purpose, for that of keeping the mines out of the hands of France. That England should govern South America is what North America can never permit; therefore the latter must, by some means or other, assist the South Americans to secure their independence; and this assistance North America cannot give with effect, unless she be at war with England; for, as she has seen, in the case of the Floridus, the moment she makes a move towards the Spanish territory, England steps forward as the Protector of Ferdinand, and complains of her conduct.
If, therefore, the President of the United States has resolved upon doing all that he is able to promote and secure the independence of South America, he must also bave resolved upon a war with England, which, in that case, is not to be avoided by a repeal of the Orders in Council, and an abandonment of our practice of impressing American seamen, unless we have the wisdom to declare beforehand, that we shall leave the South Americans wholly to themselves. This is the golden opportunity for the South Americans to assert their rights and to become free. Our war against Napoleon on the land disables us (if we were inclined to do it) from sending soldiers to support the old system ; and our fleets are exceedingly well employed in preventing Napoleon from sending soldiers for that purpose; the government of Old Spain has neither troops nor ships ; there are no Brunswickers or Hessians or Waldeckers or Anspachers to be hired by the government of Old Spain, as in the case of the war for independence in North America ; and thus are the South Americans left to settle the dispute with their own colonial governments.
To this state of things the American President as appears from his Speech at the opening of the Session, has not been inattentive ; and, it appears to me very clear, that we have here the real foundation of the sudden change of the tone of the American Government towards us. It may be asked, how these views of the United States comport with those of the Emperor of France; and whether he will approve of a separation of South America from Old Spain, of which he, with but too good reason, expects to be the master ? In the first place, he has seen the result of a war against independence in North America, and the love of dominion must have bereft bim of reason, if he fail to profit from so memorable a lesson. In the next place, he must see, that, unless New Spain become independent, it will become dependent upon England, he not having a sufficient maritime force to keep it in colonial subjection to himself against the will of England. And, even if he were to receive it in its colonial state, at a peace, he would only be entailing upon himself and his heirs the possession of a vulnerable point, exposed to the attack of England. These reasons are quite sufficient to induce him not to oppose any project for separating New from Old Spain, who, notwithstanding the independence of the countries containing the mines, would still be a great receptacle of the treasures thence derived.
But, when to these reasons are added the many weighty reasons for seeing America engaged in a war with England, there can be no doubt as to what will be his decision. Such a war would favour his views against us in so many ways that the bare enumeration would be tedious. It would lock up the troops that we have now in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada, and would demand new levies of militia and fencibles in