« PreviousContinue »
courts. We have not room to exhibit an abstract of the argument, which nevertheless we recommend to our American statesmen to peruse and confute. We have already hinted at a reason for our forbearing to do this. We believe the ultimate settlement of the controversy will depend more on the actual situation of the parties at the present day, than upon the course of their former conduct and opinions, when their situation was exceedingly dissimilar. The author supposes fraud on the part of neutrals, in covering enemy’s property, to a much greater extent than American merchants will believe is the fact.* Yet he undertakes, p. 102, to say, that his conclusion does not depend on the fact assumed. For
* If the hostile cofonies are supplied with all necessary imports,and their produce finds its way to market, the enemy is effectually relieved from the chief pressure of the war, even though both branches of the trade should pass into foreign hands, in reality as well as in form.” He adds, that “the produce of the West-Indies sells cheaper at present, clear of duties, in the ports of our enemies than in our own.”—P. 105.
If this be true, we cannot see why the French colonies should not prosper beyond those of England. He tells us this is the fact; and repeats, as well founded, the boast of Bonaparte,
* That Guadaloupe and Martinique are flourishing so much beyond all former experience, that since 1789 they have doubled their population.”
* There is probably some misrepresentation, and certainly some czaggeration of the conduct of neutrals, in this part of the pamphlet. There is also an evident want of correct information
concerning the consumption of sugar and coffee
in the United States. These errors seem to be less excusable, because accurate knowledge was easy to be procured, and it is admitted, By thc writer himself, that the force of his main argu
meat does not depend on their truth,
That colonies should thrive iro produce and wealth, because the mother country is driven from the sea, and abandons them to shift as they can without naval protection, and that the English colonies should droop and decline, in consequence of the empire of the British navy on every sea, is certainly a strange assertion. The author strenuously insists, that this is the fact. English vessels are exposed to the peril of capture, and to war freights and premiums, and of course English West India produce goes dearer to market than the products of the enemy's colonies in neutral vessels. In this way, he says, the commerce of England, in West India products, is every where obstructed, and is nearly lost. But he insists, that the tendency of this system, to augment and man the marine of France, and to cramp and discourage that of G. Britain, is a still more disheartening and urgent consideration.
Having in detail treated of the origin, extent, and nature of the . evil, he proceeds, page F37, to consider “ the remedy, and the right of affilying it.”
“If,” he continues, “ neutrals have no right, but through our concession, to carry on the colonial trade of our enemies, we may, after a reasonable notice, withdraw that ruinous indulgence.” One of the chief topicks of complaint in America has been the condemnation of our vessels, without any such notice of their being liable to Indeed, if GreatBritain could make out a right to seize them, it appears, that it has been exercised with an unwarrantable precipitancy and unnecessary harshness. As booty,the prizes go to the captors; and even if the government of England participated in
the proceeds, it cannot be supposed to be of magnitude enough to operate as a motive for the captures. “Nothing,” says the author, “can be more advantageous to England, than the suppression of the fraudulent commerce of neutrals. But if it requires a breach of jus: tice, let us inflexibly abstain.” These are honourable sentiments, whether the author really feels them, or thinks fit, in order to give force to his reasoning, to affect them. He professes to think, there is no doubt of the British right to stop this trade. "
* Neutral ships (he observes) when taken in a direct voyage to or from the hostise countries and their colonies, or in a trade between the latter and any other neutral country, but their own, have been always condemned by our prize courts, both in the last and the present war. These restrictions can be warranted by "no other principle, than the unlawfulness of trading with the colonies of a belligerent in time of war, in a way not permitted in time of peace.” He asks, “whether it is possible that neutral states, in peace and amity with Great-Britain, should have a right to persevere in conduqt, which may, in its natural consequences, make England a province of France #"
Supposing this to be the natural consequence, it would be difficult to prove, that a neutral has any such right : for the right of the belligerent to exist, is to be preferred to the right of neutrals to make gain.
“With what intention,” he asks, “did the enemy open his colonial ports to neutrals 2 The single, manife-t, and undissembled object was, to obtain protection and advantage in the war, to preserve his colonial interests without the risk of defending them, and to shield himself, in this most vulnerable part, from the naval hostilities of England.” -
* I see not,” he continues, “how any mind can doubt, that a co-operation in *uch an expedient, by powers in amity
with England, is a violation of the duties of neutrality.” He adds, that “this very motive for opening the colonial ports is avowed in the publick instruments, by which they were opened. With the first news of a war the orders of the mother country to open those ports are dispatched, as of course. Neutrals can shew no treaty, no convention with the enemies of GreatBritain, as a title to these privileges, that grow out of war, begin and end with it.”
Page 183. He considers the probability of a quarrel with the neutral powers, in consequence of the resort to the remedy he has recommended, i.e. of withdrawing the indulgence hitherto allowed to this trade ; and he endeavours, 3dly, to vindicate the firudence of the remedy by shewing, that the neutral powers will not quarrel with England on that account. He firmly believes they will not, because he is sure they ought not. On this head, the writer seems disposed to speak of the United States with some respect. He thinks the Americans are a sagacious people, who will not fail to discern their interest ; that they respect justice, and therefore will acquiesce in the exercise by GreatBritain of her just rights, as a belligerent ; and that, being lovers of liberty, they will not like to see France lord of the navies, as well as of the armies of Europe.
“But (he goes on to say, page 196) he would not recommend a total prohibition of the colonial trade, though he maintains the right of Great-Britain to interdict it without reserve. We might extend to all the French colonial ports the privileges, enjoyed by Americans at some of those ports in time of peace (which privileges he specifies); nay, we might allow such an intercourse with the colonies of Spain and Holland.” “The farmers of America would in that case find the same market for their produce, and of course they would be on the side of conciliation and peace.”
But even a war with the neutral powers, bad as he admits such a war to be, would be a less evil than the abuses of neutrality. “Peace with the neutral powers is more likely, after all, (he says) to be preserved by a firm than a pusillanimous conduct.” “To conclude : a temperate assertion of the true principles of the law of war, in regard to neutral commerce, seems, as far as human foresight can penetrate, essential to our publick safety.”
On the soundness of the doctrine of this writer, it belongs to the ablest American jurists and statesmen to pronounce a decision. JAs the pamphlet is written with considerable ability, and no little 3abour of research; as it is thought by many to convey the sense of the English government, and probably expresses the opinion of the nation too, it is obvious, that it will sigAnify nothing on our side, to attempt an answer either by sophistry or invective. Indeed the answer will no less disgrace than disappoint -America, if it should prove' deficient either in candour or solidity. What can be plainer, than that nations, when they disagree, must appeal to reason, if they will not resort to force : If they do not choose to fight, they must negociate ; and if they negociate, they must argue. Though our first Imagistrate assures us, that reason is the umpire between just nations, yet with his unfortunate and very unphilosophical antipathy against the British nation and government, and after all the false and silly things his adherents have said against the British treaty, negociation is understood to be the last expedient, to which our administration will think of resorting. It is palpably clear to common sense, that it should have been the first. For had an attempt been made to negociate when the British treaty !, - - .
was near expiring ; when the British cabinet wished to make friends; and was discouraged to see itself without any ; there is no doubt the dispute might have been prevented. At any rate, it would have been anticipated ; and if our merchants had anticipated it, they would have saved some millions of dollars, which have since been captured and condemned. Thus it is, that the people have to pay for the national partialities and aversions of their rulers. If our administration should attempt to frame a new treaty, they will not find in the federalists, we hope, the same want both of sense and principle, that fostered and protracted the opposition to Mr. Jay’s. The negociation, it must be confessed, will be attended with great, we hope not insurmountable difficulties; and no man of sense will expect from it the recovery of every lucrative, neutral advantage, that we have at some times enjoyed. Our commercial and political situation would be much mended, if it were better ascertained ; if our merchants knew what was safe, instead of conjecturing in the dark, what is right, what is permitted, or what will be maintained. . . . . * Great Britain most certainly is averse to a war with America. She is not only interested in our commerce and friendship, but dearly concerned to conciliate the exercise of her naval supremacy, if it be possible, with the judgment and conviction of the wise and able
ties to obstruct its energies, and will surely find some at last to subvert its foundations. Nothing, we know from observation and experience, proves so fatal to the duration of any sort of dominion, as the wantonness of its abuse. GreatBritain, strong by her navy, by her insular position, by her liberty, and, perhaps, not less so by her justice, will desire, will endeavour, and ought really to make considerable sacrifices, rather than not succeed to gain, in favour of her maritime principles, the acquiescence, if not the applause of the well informed
and fair minded classes of men in the neutral states. The American re-impression of
this pamphletis executed in a style of great typographical elegance, and prefaced with the following short notice.
“It was intended to have prefixed te this edition, an introduction of some length, exposing, in a succinct manner, some of the sophistries with which this singular work abounds, by way of putting the reader on his guard against them ; but as it is now proposed to follow it shortly with a formal answer, nothing more is thought necessary here, than merely to apprize the reader of this circumstance.”
will assuredly listen to it with friendly attention, and promptly do what in them lies to remove it.
With the Reviewers, and every other anonymous writer on this subject,they now take a final leave.
Gentlemen, - Jan. 22, 1806. YOU will please give the inclosed a place in the Anthology for January, and oblige Your humble scrwts. GILBERT & DEAN. oUR feelings having been severely wounded by the appearance of a paragraph in the Monthly Anthology for December last, concerning the miscellaneous works of Col. David HuMPH K Eys, and which did not meet our eye until the latter end of last week, we beg leave, through the medium of your Anthology, to express our gratitude to that gentleman for the humanity which first prompted him to present us with the work; himself having discharged every demand for paper, printing, &c. and the liberality with which he allows us the use of several hundred dollars, which we have received from the subscribers to his work, and of which he has never drawn a single cent—constântly evading it, whenever we have requested to be permitted to settle with him. Of the abilities of Col. Humphreys, as an author or poet, better judges than either the Editors of the Anthology, or ourselves, must decide. As a soldier, and a patriot, he has deserved well of his country—and as a man of benevolence, he will be gratefully remembered by many; but by none with more respect and esteem, than his obliged humble servants, GILBERT & DEAN.