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their tempers quite as violent. They, for gratifying their animosity against as well as the French politicians, wish. England. The commercial 'hostility ed to make their country great by of France during the peace, although commerce ; and as the established as- never considered by Great Britain as a cendency of England appeared to them ground for war, was not however forto stand in the way, they scrupled not gotten when hostilities were renewed : about the means which might be em- and the English ministers therefore deployed to remove it. Their minds were termined to employ the naval power not susceptible of a generous emula- which was at their command, to the tion ; envy was the only feeling which annihilation of the foreign commerce of a near view of the naval and commercial their enemy. Their measures were such greatness of England could excite in as the interests of England demandtheir breasts. They had no dread of ed, and which a state of hostility fully France, who had in the course of the justified; and they completely succeed. war lost her commerce, her colonies, ed in accomplishing the object which and her ships ; whose power never they had in view. The foreign comcame into contact with their own ; merce, of France was annihilated-her whose resources of all kinds were de- industry checked-her resources wasvoted to the prosecution of a war, in ted; and her ruler discovered, when the issue of which they vainly thought it was too late, how gross were the erthat America had no interest. But rors which he had committed. It was they hated England, her commerce and impossible, however, to retract; and her power, as cordially even as the he resolved on carrying his commermembers of the French government cial war to the utmost pitch of fudid : and had America been as little ry. In this temper did Buonaparte issue dependent on commerce as France, his famous Berlin decree, which renewed had her citizens been as indifferent to all the old prohibitory regulations, and its real interests, or had her rulers pos. ludicrously declared the British islands sessed the same despotic sway over their to be in a state of blockade, at the very fortunes which the French government moment when the fleets of Great Bri. had assumed over those of its own sub- tain actually blockaded all the ports jects, it is probable that Mr Maddison of France and her dependencies. Neuand his friends would at once have fol. tral vessels bound to or returning from lowed the example of Buonaparte, by a British port were made liable to capprohibiting all commercial intercourse ture by this singular decree.-Matters with the British empire. But the remained for some time in this state, Americans had not yet been wholly the French ruler being unable to exeoverawed by their rulers ; and it be- cute his decree, and the British governcame necessary therefore to pursue a ment being averse to advance further more indirect and insidious course with in so barbarous a warfare. But hathem, than that which had been fo!- ving again proved successful in his lowed by Buonaparte in his dealings northern campaign, Buonaparte rewith a people whom he had entirely sumed with fresh vigour his prohibitsubdued.
ory system ; he confirmed all the proThe measures pursued by France in visions of the Berlin decree ; excluded the execution of her anti-commercial the merchandise of Great Britain and system, suspended for a while the in- her colonies from the ports of France ternational law of Europe, and afford- and her dependencies, and accompanied ed to the rulers of America the pre, these prohibitions with the severest pe. text which they had so long desired, nalties. Every article of British produce
was searched for, seized, and commit
tions, than the right of Great Britain ted to the flames ; while the most cruel to retaliate
her enemies their own punishments were inflicted on the sub- violence and injustice.- What has been jects of France who dared to violate called the rule of the war 1756, forms these arbitrary laws.This violent sys- the first link in that chain of commertem had now reached its height, and cial restrictions, which in the sequel it seemed to be the determination of became so complicated ; and the perthe French ruler to have it executed fect equity of this rule has always apwith the greatest rigour ; the British peared manifest to the most enlightengovernment, therefore, could no long- ed minds. France, like the other Eu. er, either in prudence or honour, de- ropean powers who possessed distant lay the retaliation which its power en- colonies, endeavoured to secure for herabled it to inflict. The famous Orders self the monopoly of their markets ; in Council were therefore issued ; all and during peace strictly prohibited all trade to France or her dependencies strangers from carrying on trade with was strictly prohibited; all vessels, of them. When she goes to war with whatever nation, which ventured to en- England, however, the superiority of gage in this trade, were declared liable her enemy's naval power compels her to seizure, and France with her de to relax the rigour of her colonial po. pendencies was thus reduced to that licy; and she is willing that neutral state of blockade with which she had vessels should bring home the produce vainly threatened the British islands. of her American settlements. The orders in council admitted but of interference of these neutrals, however, one single exception to this general the English are manifestly deprived of blockade of the French empire : the the advantages which their naval power French decrees had declared all vessels would otherwise secure to them ; of the liable to seizure which had touched at chance of captures, and the certainty a British port; the orders in council, of reducing the enemy's colonies withto counteract this provision, declared out striking a blow. But no neutral on the other hand, that only such ships can, upon any pretext, claim greater as were in that situation should be advantages after, than she enjoyed bepermitted to sail for France. Thus fore the war ; she has a right to insist did the utter extinction of the foreign that her relative condition to the beltrade of France result as a consequence ligerents shall not be rendered worse of the very measures of her own go- by the hostilities in which they may vernment; measures which no despo- engage, but she can have no right to tism, how ignorant soever, would have demand that it should be improved. ventured to adopt, had it not trusted By admission, however, to the coloto a power which effectually silences nial trade of France during war, a all popular opinion.
trade from which neutrals are excluded I'wo questions have been put on the by France herself during peace, the subject of these orders in council, Were condition of the neutral is manifestly they founded in justice, and were they improved ; it is improved at the ex. supported by reasons of expediency? pence of England, who is deprived of On the first point, with which alone the chance of captures and conquests foreign powers had any concern, the which her
would otherwise give advocates of these measures had a very her; and it is improved to the great easy task to perform ; for nothing gain of France, whom the interference surely can be more obvious to those of neutrals protects against the overwho know any thing of the law of na- whelming power of her enemies. There
can be no doubt then as to the equity The date of the publication of the of the rule of the war 1756, that rule Milan decree appeared to her to be of which France and America have so that season ; time enough had been al. loudly complained. The order in coun- lowed to the different neutral powers cil of January, 1807, which was not to remonstrate against the conduct of issued --ll after the Berlin decree had the enemy; they had failed to improve been published by. Buonaparte, was the opportunity afforded them, and also justifiable on the very same prin- England could no longer remain silent ciple; it went merely to exclude neu- when a new decree was issued, more trals during war from a branch of the unjust and insulting than its predecesenemy's trade to which they had no ac- sor ; more absurd and barbarous than cess in time of peace. So far then the any thing, which had ever occurred measures adopted by the British gm. among civilized nations. She, therevernment rested on the clearest princi- fore, issued her orders in council, which ples of international law.
in effect reduced the French empire to And what were the measures adopt- a state of blockade, and cut off the ed by the French ? had they any foun- whole commerce which neutrals had dation in the acknowledged principles hitherto carried on with the enemy. and usages of public law ? The de- Of these measures France of course cree of Berlin prohibited
all commerce had no right to complain ; and a very in British commodities; France indeed little reflection will be sufficient to had a right to do this, how fatal so- shew that if America had any just ever the measure might be to her own grounds of remonstrance, she should interest and that of her dependencies ; have offered them to France alone, and and had the Berlin decree gone no far- not to England, against whom she was ther, although it might have had the so prompt to bring forward accusaeffect of embittering the hostile spirit tions. of the two countries, it neither could France was the first of the bellige. have justified, nor would it have been rents to violate the law of nations. met by any specific act of retaliation She issued the Berlin decree, and fols on the part of England. But the lowed it up by the other, dated at French ruler, in a moment of despair, Milan, by both of which the Ameriventured to declare the British islands cans and all other neutrals were prein a state of blockade, and to interdict vented from maintaining their usual all neutrals from trading with a Bri- intercourse with England. These meatish port. This was a violent infringe- sures were in their principle a direct ment of the law of nations ; a daring invasion of neutral rights, and it was insult on neutral rights; an act of mad therefore the duty of neutral powers to injustice, which loudly call
all have remonstrated against them with parties to avenge themselves on its au- firmness. But America did not thus thors. The honour of England pre- resist ; and she in this manner commiteminently demanded that she should re- ted herself with the enemy. It was pel this outrage with becoming spirit ; a principle maintained by Buonaparte and although she at first seemed wil. on all occasions, that those who did ling to treat so impotent a measure not resist an injury offered them by with contempt alone, and to wait till either of the belligerents, were no she might learn its result on the con- longer to be considered as neutrals ; duct of America, yet the right still re- that by their acquiescence, they made mained to her of exercising retaliation themselves parties to the cause of the when the proper season should arrive. enemy, and that of course they were to be treated in the same way as if cisely the same as during peace ; that they had actually declared war against neutral powers are entitled to demand the nation to whose interests they of either belligerent, that in their in, stood opposed. It was on some prin. tercourse with the other they shall ciple of this kind, that he declared not be subjected to greater restraints the ships of all neutrals which sub- than they experienced during a season mitted to what he called the tyranny of tranquillity ; but no neutral is enof the English, denationalized-an titled to require more than this, or uncouth and barbarous word, invented can expect that a belligerent should to serve the occasions of these unhap- sacrifice to the convenience of the py times, when Europe was no longer neutral, any of the just rights which under the guidance of wise and sound she may acquire by a state of war. principles. To submit to any thing The principle of this doctrine is obwhich France pretended to call a de. vious ; no nation can expect that a parture from the international law of foreign power is to sacrifice its own Europe, was therefore held sufficient immediate interest to her convenience to denationalize the ships of neutral or advantage. When we come to conpowers, and although the application sider these general principles with reof this principle may frequently have ference to the case of America, their been erroneous, there can be no doubt force seems to be irresistible. Supthat the principle itself was just. If pose that America had been entirely France violated the law of nations, as out of the question ; that her name she unquestionably did by her Berlin were unknown in Europe, and that decree; and if America calmly ac- she had still remained in her ancient quiesced in this insult on her rights, state of dependence on the British there can be no sort of doubt that empire ; suppose for a moment, that she thus made herself a party in the the question had arisen entirely bequarrel which France had with Eng. twixt Great Britain and France; that land ; that she in effect combined France had violated the law of nations, with the common enemy, and that her by presuming to declare the British ships were, to use the jargon of the islands in a state of blockade, and French government, clearly “dena. then let any impartial person say, tionalized.” Had England therefore what is the policy which Great Brimeditated hostility towards America; tain would have been entitled and had she been anxious to avail herself called upon to pursue ? She would of a pretext for making a quarrel; clearly have had a right to do the had she been desirous of exacting from same thing to France which France ą secret enemy the full penalties of had attempted to do to her ; that is, her accession to the cause of the other she would have been entitled to debelligerent ; she might very well have clare the French empire in a state of proceeded, on the simple fact of Ame. blockade, and to have followed up rican acquiescence in French violence, the blockade with all possible vigour. at once to have treated the -Ameri. Such then was her undoubted right; cans as her enemies,
and will it be pretended that AmeriA candidexposition, therefore, of the ca-that a foreign nation was entitled rights and duties of belligerents and neu- to interfere with her in the exercise trals, must exculpate England from all of her rights? It is of no importance blame in issuing her orders in council. to enquire, whether the blockade of It is the doctrine of all jurists, that the France was, or was not, on the whole rights of neutrals during war are pre- beneficial to England ; that was
matter for England alone to consider; upon any sound principle, object to it was a question with which America the orders in council. had no sort of concern ; and it is of Different opinions were entertained the rights of America alone that we on the question as to their expediency; now speak. America, then, had no and although these famous measures right to complain of the exercise of are said to have been in the first in. the powers which England possessed, stance strongly pressed upon minias one of the great European bellige- sters by the mercantile interest, there rents,—which she derived immediately can be no doubt, that the
government from that state of hostilities, in which was in some measure deserted by this she, and not America, was involved, powerful body, before the orders in and which of course she had a right to council were finally repealed. The inprove to her own advantage, and to discussions which at intervals ensued the annoyance of her enemies.
on this subject, were signalized by the There is still another light in which uncommon zeal and acuteness of the this momentous question may be con- advocates on both sides; and an acsidered, with reference to the esta- count of them in the order in which blished law of nations. It is in the they occurred, will form not the least power of England to exclude Ameri- interesting branch of the history of ca or any other nation from trading public affairs for the present year. with herself, and it is in the
power Although the question arising out France to do the same. Suppose that
of the orders in council formed at both nations had mutually agreed to first the chief subject of dispute be. treat America in this manner, could twixt Great Britain and America, yet she have ventured to complain? But in the course of the discussion, many it is the same thing whether these other points were introduced scarcely powers do so directly, and in conjunc- less difficult of arrangement.–At the tion, or indirectly by means not less meeting of the American congress in efficacious; whether they exclude the the end of the preceding year, the Americans by the operation of a speech delivered by the president gave peaceful league betwixt themselves, or evident indications of a very hostile by a series of measures adopted during spirit towards Great Britain ; and as
If France, by attempting to this speech was followed by a report exclude all neutrals from English of the committee of congress for foports, communicated to her enemies a reign affairs, which was no less warright to retaliate, can the Americans like, the hopes which had been enterinterfere, or are they in a worse con
tained of an amicable arrangement dition than if the belligerents had se- seemed to vanish. The committee, parately, and in a time of profound with an affectation of impartiality, be. peace, determined to renounce all com- gan by a general complaint as to the mercial intercourse with them ? Sure. wrongs which America had sustained ly
, they could not with justice com- both from France and England, in the plain ; they could not demand that seizure of the property of the citizens their condition should be improved by of the United States, when peaceably a state of European warfare ; they pursuing their lawful commerce on could not claim the forbearance of the high seas ; and reprobated the deEngland towards her enemies, for the fence which had been offered by each sole purpose
of conferring a favour up- party—that its acts of violence were on neutrale ; they could not, in short, merely retaliatory, on similar acts com .