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on the present occasion. There are questions of a general and permanent importance involved in the discussion; some of them, too, never yet treated of by writers on public law, nor ever, so far as we can discover, introduced by statesmen into their views of national policy or rights. The consideration of these topics is not only called for by the great ignorance which appears to prevail respecting them, but it is peculiarly adapted to the plan of a literary journal. We purpose, therefore, to examine at large the questions of publie law and policy suggested by the present state of foreign and colonial affairs. The subject of neutral conmerce, and, in general, the disputes between Great Britain and the neutral powers, are no doubt intimately connected with the situation of our West Indian colonies. We shall endeavour, however, to separate the latter from the more extensive subject; and shall examine it, in a subsequent article of this Number, with the care wlrich its extraordinary importance demands. We shall begin, at present, with noticing the three pamphlets whose titles we have prefixed.
The speech of Mr Randolph is certainly the production of a vigorous mind. It abounds in plain and striking statements, inixed with imagery by no means destitute of merit, though directed by an exceedingly coarse and vulgar taste. But his arguments and opinions are of more importance than his rhetorical pretensions ; for he speaks the sentiments of a respectable party in the United Sotes. He maintains, that a rupture with Great Britain is by all means to be avoided; that America is in much less danger from the preponderance of the English marine in 1806, than she was in 1793, from the coalition against France ; that the French conquests have now reversed the policy of America towards Europe ; and that the only barrier between France and a universal dominion, before which America as well as Europe must fall, is the British navy. He ridicules the conduct of those who would quarrel with England for maritime rights, and at the same time truckle, or give bribes to Spain, the tool of France, after the greatest outrages have been committed upon the very territory of the Union. The cry for war, he says, is raised by the clamorous traders of the seaport towns, men who cannot properly be said to belong to America, and who, at any rate, drive a commerce uncertain and transitory in its own nature, liable to be terminated at once by a peace in Europe, and much inferior, both in respectability and solidity, to those regular branches of industry which consist in the cultivation or the exchange of American produce. He treats with still greater severity those who undervalue the losses and risks of war with England. The transference of the carrying trade to whatever
nation may remain neutral,- the ruin of American navigation by the British navy, without the possibility of gaining any equivalent by means of privateering; the want of English manufactures, the augmentation of debts and taxes, the choice either of carrying on hostilities feebly, or of endangering the liberties of the country by strengthening the executive ;—these calamitous effects of a rupture with England would, according to Mr Randolph, make even the present champions of neutral rights repent of their violence, in six months after they should drive the government into a war.
Such, abstracted from a good deal of declamation chiefly on local and personal topics, is the substance of Mr Randolph's speech, which the able and eloquent author of · War in Disguise, the great leader of the argument on this side of the water, extols both for its own merits, and as a complete justification of his former predictions respecting the conduct of America in the dispute. This introduction, though very hastily prepared for the press, is, like all his other works, spirited and acute; but we must protest against quoting Mr Randolph's speech, as any conclusive evia dence of the probable conduct of the United States, or, indeed, as possessing any weight beyond the intrinsic value of the arguments which it contains. Mr Randolph is the orator of a party professedly in opposition to the government. His evidence respecting the bent of public opinion in America, is not much better than the assertion of an English disputant, who espouses the same side of the question; and although his party succeeded in throwing out the first violent measure which was proposed to Congress, it has since failed completely in opposing the more moderate, but determined proofs of irritation against England, which, being given by a great majority of the legislature, cannot surely be regarded as the clamours of a few adventurers in seaport towns, whom Mr Randolph and his commentator are unwilling to call Americans.
With respect to the opinions maintained by Mr Randolph as an American statesman, we are for the most part disposed to speak in favourable terms. He seems, indeed, to give nearly the same advice to his country, which has been offered to England by those distinguished political leaders, whose counsels, if followed, would have saved Europe from the dreadful calamities of the present war. To cultivate a friendly intercourse with all their European customers, but, if forced to chuse in such a crisis as this, to prefer the alliance of England, and to make considerable sacrifices rather than go to war at all, appears to be the soundest policy for the Americans. But we cannot help observing, that Mr Randolph has gone a great deal too far in depreciating the importance of the A 2
carrying trade now in the hands of his countrymen. Admitting that the American merchant merely performs the part of what has been termed “a neutralizing agent;' that he purchases on a long credit in the French or Spanish Íslands, and then sells in Europe on a shorter credit, or merely carries the colonial produce circuitously from the plantations to the planter or his consigneethus effecting the transport of other men's goods without any adequate capital of his own,-does it follow that this is an unproFitable line of employment ? Rather, is it not the very traffic of all others the most gainful to speculative merchants ? A person of a very small capital, is, in this manner, enabled to share in the profits of large capitalists. He is repaid exactly as the consignees of our own West Indian planters are. Then, as to the persons só engaged being adventurers of no substance or respectability, we presume there must be a considerable mistake. How comes it that such persons enjoy an unbounded credit with the planters and their agents in Europe ? How have they contrived to purchase, according to some statements, the whole French and Spanish shipping,-according to all accounts a very large proportion of it? After above twelve years of such lucrative practices, are they still needy adventurers? By the American public accounts, it appears, that in the year ending September 1806, the foreign goods exported from the United States, exceeded sixty millions of dollars in value. If they who began so large a traffic were once mere agents trading for a commission, they must now have become capitalists; and as the whole remaining exports of the. country fall short of this by about nineteen millions, we may easily conjecture how great a proportion of the mercantile men are engaged in it, and how many of the commercial fortunes are derived from this quarter. About half of this branch of commerce, belonging to the French and Spanish colonies, is what England wishes to lop off, in order to hurt her enemies, who profit by it as well the Americans. Can she be much surprised, if those who are to be entirely ruined for the purposes of British policy, should endeavour by all means to prevent such a blow from being given ? or, that other members of the community, who are but little injured by it, should still make common cause with their countrymen ? It is, no doubt, the interest of the Americans not to quarrel with England, and it was still less their interest to rebel against her thirty years ago. By a rupture, too, they would infallibly lose the very object for which they threaten hostilities, besides incurring a great many other losses. But if such considerations had any weight in the councils of states, war would be banished from the world; for a declaration of war, whatever be
its motive, never fails to ensure in the mean time a repetition of the offence which provoked it. But by defeating the enemy, which is always expected, a stop may, in the end, be put to the evil. Just so may the Americans argue. They may hope to establish for the future the rights which they now claim, and may rather choose to fight for them, at the risk of losing more, than give them up without resistance.
The second pamphlet now before us, is written by a gentleman engaged in the West India trade, and, by its minute coincidence in several of the details with the evidence of Mr Maryatt before the West India Committee, appears clearly to be the production of that gentleman. It is well written, and shews the author to be practically acquainted with his subject. It exhibits marks of acuteness, too, in reasoning, which we are convinced would have led him to sounder opinions, had his mind been free from the bias of his professional habits, and indeed, interests. After describing the distressed state of the West India proprietors, (a task unhappily too easy), the author imputes it entirely to the surrender which England has made of her maritime rights. He speaks in a very declamatory manner, of giving up to America now, what we refused to the armed neutrality when our naval power was much more limited; as if the discussions of 1780 and 1801, had the least connexion with the points now in dispute. He replies, at some length, to the arguments upon the present question delivered in the State of the Nation;' but, as a specimen of his success in the controversy, our readers may take the following. It had been maintained, that it was sufficiently detrimental to the enemy, to make him receive his colonial produce by a circuitous instead of a direct voyage. No; says Mr Maryatt, very triumphantly ; the fact is, that notwithstanding the double voyage, our enemies have their sugars transported from 8s. 11d., to 12s.6d. per cwt., cheaper than we can carry ours to the same market.' But has he forgotten, that we too must carry our produce there by a circuitous voyage
? And can he deny, that however great the difference between our war expences and theirs may be, still there remains a great difference between their war and their peace expences ?--and this difference they owe to the war and the loss of their maritime power. The only answer given to the very imA 3
The only question then moved by the Northern Powers, which can be supposed to have any allusion to the rule of the war 1756, is that of
Free lips, free goods ; '-but the rule was in that war maintained against the Dutch, to whom we nevertheless admitted the latter princifle in virtue of the treaty of 1674.
portant argument, that France, by transferring her trade to neutrals, loses the nursery of her navy, is a sort of assertion, that Britain is doing so herself by the interference of the Americans, contrary to every statement of our commerce and navigation which possesses any claims to authenticity, and in utter contempt of the very obvious consideration, that the Americans never can breed or shelter sailors who shall afterwards man the French navy, while England is sure of receiving a large supply of American seamen, and a return of her own who have been employed there, as soon as the war is at an end. For one thing, we must give this author the praise due to frankness and candour; he fairly states, that the object which he proposes in blockading the ene, my's islands, or rather in stopping entirely their commerce with the Americans and other neutrals, is to ruin their cultivation, and force the proprietors to turn part of their sugar and coffee plantations into provision grounds. This he thinks the best way of relieving our own planters. We shall in the sequel of the present article, and in examining the West India question, have occasion to consider this project more at length.
The title of Mr Medford's pamphlet is by much the worst thing we have found in it. The saying about the effects of an ill nane, applies to books as well as other objects; and we fear, that this tract will suffer greatly from a circumstance almost wholly irrelevant to its inerits. It is in truth one of the most sensible political essays that have lately appeared, far exceeding any other which has been produced by the present differences, in the rare qualities of candour and impartiality. The general doctrine of Mr Medford is, that both England and America are deeply interested in remaining at peace,--that the government and the most respectable part of the people in each country are averse to war, --but that certain individuals on both sides, have contrived to raise an outcry for hostile measures, and to engage the rabble in its favour. · He maintains, that each party should carefully examine not merely what is its right, but what rights it has really an interest in asserting ; that there should be mutual concessions of the unimportant points, and that a stand should be made for the objects of consequence only. This view of the matter leads him to consider the value of the things claimed on both sides; and he is strongly inclined to depreciate them. With respect to seamen escaping from the English navy under colour of American citizenship, he is at a loss to imagine how this evil can be remedied. There was a dispostion to quarrel at Norfolk, he admits, which produced the offensive parading of the deserters; but if this had not taken place, the men would have