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of policy, of honour, and of energy, (as has been insinuated), they might have adopted a system of discrimination, between the two great belligerents; they might have drawn imaginary lines between the first and second aggressor; they might have resented, in the one, a conduct to which they tamely submitted, in the other; and, in this way, have patched up a compromise between honour and interest, equally mean and disgraceful.” By the present war with England, has not all this been done, with the exception only, “ of patching up a compromise between honour and interest;” for, now, we have totally sacrificed the last, without saving the other?
“ If honour,” says the Address, “ demands a war with England, what opiate lulls that honour to sleep, over the wrongs done us by France?” The honour to which government appeals, has none of the usual attributes of that tutelary goddess:-she is neither erect, nor clear-sighted, nor impartial, nor firm, nor circumspect; but halt and blinking;-irritable and vindictive, on one hand, callous, submissive, and time-serving, on the other; pliable, under the most unworthy influences, and rash in the extreme.--Her votaries have, it is true, asserted some share of prudence, for her. They tell us, that she shrinks from the evils of a double
contest. But expediency argues as strongly against a war with England alone, for that threatens us with every calamity. And, if motives of prudence were allowed to interfere, why not select the least formidable enemy, when justice requires no discrimination in his favour?
Had it been, in fact, the intention of government, ever to consider the discussions” with France, as closed, or, in the event already past, of their proving abortive, to take the same stand against her, as against England, the war with the latter, would have been postponed, at least for a few weeks, or months, within which time, all doubt, and affectation of doubt, as to the intentions of the former, must have been removed. The speech of Mr. Bayard, now before the public, on his motion in the Senate in favour of this postponement, presents such a view of the subject, that it is incredible, how his proposition could have been rejected, if we look, to the common efficacy alone of that sense of shame, of which it is difficult, under any circumstances wholly to divest the human breast.
England, as was remarked, had, undeniably, left to us the time of commencing the war, on the supposition, that it was unavoidable. Was then, the month of June last, the critical and mature juncture, for the purpose, which could not be pretermitted, without a sacrifice of the public interests? The
very reverse. Our military preparations, such as they were, had at that period, made but little progress; the country was yet in a defenceless situation; certainly without the means of waging offensive hostilities of any moment, and could not, with the utmost exertions be placed under much more favourable circumstances, within the term, when the enemy would be Apprised of the measure, and might bring her vast resources of annoyance, always at hand, to bear upon us. We had, abroad, a great amount of shipping, and a large body of seamen, exposed to capture. We had sixty millions of property at the mercy of Great Britain, which the delay of a few months, if the non-importation were suspended, would restore to us, and from which, twelve millions “ sinews of war” might be collected for the treasury, reduced to the lowest ebb of mendicant distress.. “ The moment was pregnant with great events: a little patience, and triumph might be secured to us by the people of England themselves, without bloodshed.” Our situation was not worse than it had been for years before; the British orders did not press more heavily upon us; our trade was even flourishing; procrastination for a short period, could imply no abandonment of right. It had never been deemed inconsistent with the honour of a nation, to defer the declaration of a war, until she could commence it with better prospects of success; particularly, if she did at last strike the blow.–Such, indeed, had been the practice, of every wise and prosperous government.
These, and other equally forcible arguments, drawn from the incalculable magnitude of the dangers, attending the experiment of war, from the necessity of wiping away from the proceedings of government, at such a crisis, every suspicion of foreign bias or influence, and of ascertaining, more fully, the state of the public mind, all these were urged, but in vain, to procure a postponement of hostilities, until the month of November next. Had it been our task, to address the men in power, we would have tried, after reasoning founded on views of public good, had failed, another kind of rhetoric. We would have endeavoured to persuade them, that the chance of the continuance, of their ascendency in the national councils, might not be less, even if they consented to the proposition of delay; that the emperor of France would not, as soon as he heard they had adjourned without “making their flag safe,” deprive them, before the term of delay expired, of every pretext for discrimi nation in his favour, by driving with all scorn, from the pre cincts of his despotism, their worthy minister plenipotentiary, bent under the load of his lists of grievances, his petitions for redress, his projects of treaties and conventions, his volumes of diplomatic instructions, his heads of argument in favour of special licenses, his cases in point to prove the revocation of the decrees, his minutes of ducal civilities and promises, his letters of condolence “ from general Turreau and others,” &c. &c.
Whoever wishes for an instance, properly illustrative of the character of the motives, which prompted the House of representatives to so sudden a declaration of war, should advert to their ultimate proceeding, with respect to the tax bills, so magnanimously proposed and committed, in the course of the session. The party-artifice in postponing the imposition of the taxes, until after the October-elections, is too glaring, to escape the notice of the dullest, or most prejudiced mind, even had it not been openly avowed, in the debate on the unsuccessful motion, for printing the bills. The mask did not fall off, as it frequently does, in the scuffles of the party, but was shamelessly thrown aside. That the taxes must be, at last, imposed, if the war should continue,—that the treasury required the earliest aid from this source of revenue, to be enabled to minister to the immediate, imperious necessities of the war,-it was almost imposible, with any front, to deny. What trust are we to repose, on any occasion, in the disinterestedness or public spirit, of a set of men, who, rather than hazard their popularity, or, to adopt one of their own pretexts,-rather than remain another fortnight longer, at their posts, would leave the treasury to hobble for months, on the rotten crutch of ruinous anticipations, and the energies of the country to stand still for the same period, when every moment of inaction was in the highest degree injurious, according to their own estimate of public good? What sentiments should we entertain of those, who, obviously from the same motive, of averting the danger, with which the imposition of taxes seemed to threaten their ascendancy, were upon the point of removing commercial restrictions, which they had before uniformly proclaimed, to be among the most efficacious means, of bringing the enemy to terms?
We cannot, in speaking of the house of representatives, but advert with indignation, to the conduct of the majority throughout, on the great question under consideration. The incoherence, and discordance of their numerous, mutable schemes of action, the disorder and confusion of their debates, the peculiar coarseness and ferocity of some of the many rancorous invectives poured forth against Great Britain;* their overbearing
* We allude to such speeches, as those of Wright, Widgery, Williams,
intolerance with respect to the minority, would have corrupted and disgraced the quarrel, in which they have involved us, even were it, in itself legitimate or honourable.
If there be any occasion on which a people should call for, and resent the absence of dignity, and temperance in the proceedings, as well as elevation and purity in the views of their government, it is when an appeal to arms is the subject of deliberation. Without the one they must be dishonoured; without the other their cause ceases to be just.
It seems to be admitted on all hands, that the war declared for this nation, was in every respect, one of the most solemn and awful events of the kind, ever meditated; critical as to all that is valuable to a people;-glory, prosperity, domestic union, individual security; national existence itself. Among the images in its train, were the horrid butcheries of the Indians, throughout the wide range of our internal frontier; the devastation of our populous sea board; the bombardment of our principal cities; the impoverishment of innumerable families, by the capture of an immense property on the ocean; the effusion of the blood of our citizens, and of that of the unoffending inhabitants of a neighbouring province. With what emotions then, should the patriotic, the considerate, and high-minded portion of the American community, look back on their house of representatives, listening with applause, to a speech of the chairman and organ of the committee, to whom they had referred the question of war, in which this portentous calamity was, in a strain of the most shocking levity, described as a feast?
Can it be remembered of the majority in this body, without the keenest feelings of shame and indignation, that it suffered, unreprovingly, one of its members, grossly to insult, in violation of the laws of nations, and of the common courtesies of civilized life, a member of the British legation, a gentleman of the most inoffensive and amiable character, when seated under its galleries, in virtue of a privilege extended to strangers, as well as to natives? * We know not, how men of taste and information, can read, with any sort of patience, the speeches which are given to us, as coming from individuals, who are among the most active of the majority. The illiteracy which they display, the total ignorance of the first principles of the &c. which breathed a spirit, suitable only to a war council of the savages on our frontiers.
* Mr. Baker, secretary of the British legation, was, while seated under the galleries of the house of representatives, pointed at by Mr. Wrights and vociferously stigmatized as a spy.
science of legislation, the utter disregard of the great common interests of the country, the heat and vindictiveness of spirit, are alike revolting and humiliating for those, who understand the qualifications proper for statesmen, and are jealous of the reputation of their country.
We are, at times, filled with amazement, when we reflect upon the blind fury, with which some, and the thoughtless alacrity, with which others, have rushed into a war, of such sombre aspect;--so full of dark and treacherous mazes. conscientious man,” says a great moralist, “ would be cautious how he dealt in blood. He would feel some apprehension at being called to a tremendous account, for engaging in so deep a play, without any sort of knowledge of the game. It is no excuse for presumptuous ignorance, that it is directed by insolent passion.” That boisterous multitude, and those designing demagogues, who have “hollowed and heartened” the more scrupulous and moderate of the members of our councils, into this fatal course of slaughter and ruin, will be among the last, either capable or willing, to afford them consolation and support, when the extent of the mischief begins to develop itself, and the tide of popular resentment to set irresistibly against its authors. Truly the leading men of the several states, the sober householders, the fathers of families, the well-meaning christians of this land, undertake an awful responsibility before the tribunal of God, and of the world, when they sanction such a body, as the majority of the house of representatives, animated by such passions, aiming at such objects as we have described, in a proceeding, that threatens to make “ an eternal rent and schism” in the American em. pire; to blast entirely our present, tranquil and smiling lot; to convert the present rich and honourable inheritance of our children, into one of poverty and barbarism;-to reduce them under a yoke of the basest servitude, to the basest, and most ferocious of the human race; to alienate from us the esteem and the good will of all nations:--for ever and irreparably to tarnish the American name.
Those must be worse than blind, who do not see all these results, in a war commenced under auspices, than which none more deplorable, can be imagined, within the limits of human misfortune and error. We enter upon this war as a divided people. This it is impossible to conceal or deny. The address, which we had under review shows it; the ominous voice of indignation and alarm, resounding from all the Atlantic states,