« PreviousContinue »
Arr. II. Lettre aux Espagnols- Americains. Par un de leurs i Compatriotes. A Philadelphie. 8vo. Pp. 42.
This curious ani interesting address is the production of Don
1 Juan Pablo Viscardo y Gusman, a native of Arequipa in Peru, and an ecclesiastic of the Order of Jesus. When the Jesuits were banished from all the territories of Spain, he, with the rest of his order, who, whatever may have been their demerits in other parts of the world, had been the chief benefactors of Spanish America, * was deprived of his country, and took refuge in the dominions of the Pope in Italy. Ai the time when the dispute about Nootka Sound threatened to produce a war between Great Britain and Spain, and when Mr Pitt, in the view of that event, had adopted the scheme of revolutionizing the Spanish colonies in America, he invited, at the suggestion of General Miranda, a certain number of the ex-Jesuits of South America from Italy, for the purpose of using their influence in disposing the minds of their countrymen for the meditated changes. Of this number was the author of the present appeal, in which the inhabitants of South America are called upon, by every consideration interesting to human kind, to take the management of their own affairs into their own hands, and to establish a just and beneficent government, which may at once insure their own happiness, and open a liberal intercourse of benefits with the rest of mankind. This uncommon person, who evinces a share of knowledge, of thought, and of liberality, worthy of the most enlightened countries, died in London in the month of February 1798, and left the present tract, in manuscript, together with several
* Montesquieu says of this Order, « Il est glorieux pour elle d'avoir été la premiere qui ait montré dans ces contrées [SpanishAmerica] l'idée de la religion jointe à celle de l'humanité. En reparant les devastations des Espagnols, elle a commencé à guerir une des grandes plaies qu'ait encore reçues le genre humain. ? Esprit des Lois, liv. iv. ch. 6. Dr Robertson, too, when treating of the rapacious, oppressive, and licentious lives of the ecclesiastics of that country, says, “ It is remarkable that all the authors, who cen. sure the licentiousness of the Spanish regulars with the greatest severity, concur in vindicating the conduct of the Jesuits. Formed under a discipline more perfect than that of the other monastic orders, or animated by that concern for the honour of the Society, which takes such full possession of every member of the order, the Jesuits, both in Mexico and Peru, it is allowed, maintained a most irreproachable decency of manners. '--History of America, vol. iv. Note ziz.
other papers, in the hands of Mr King, at that time minister in this country from the United States. It was afterwards printed, by means of General Miranda, for the purpose of being circulated among his countrymen.
At a moinent like the present, we doubt not it will appear of importance to our readers to contemplate the sentiments of a man who may, to so great a degree, be considered as the representative of the leading classes of his countrymen, on a question at all times highly interesting to Great Britain, but which, in the present situation of Europe, assumes an incalculable importance.
In presenting to his countrymen a short sketch of their history, he tells them, after Herrera, that their progenitors won the country by their own enterprize, and established themselves in it at their own charges, without a farthing of expense to the mother country; that, of their own free accord, they made to her the donation of their vast and opulent acquisitions ; that, instead of a paternal and protecting government, they had experienced, at her hands, the most galling effects of a jealous, rapacious, and oppressive administration ; and that, for the long period of three centuries, their attachment to her had triumphed over the strongest causes of resentment. He then draws a picture of the oppression to which the colonies of Spain have been subjected; and, after enlarging on the galling restraints in respect to personal liberty, and the ruinous effects of the exorbitant commercial monopoly to which they have been condemned, he alludes to their exclusion from all offices of profit and trust, even in their own country, in a strain of patriotic indignation.
After this picture of slavery, the author proceeds to demonstrate the foundations of liberty; and, considering the education he had received, the country where he was reared, and the society to which he belonged, the beneficence and justness of his views are worthy of no ordinary approbation. He then displays the solid principles of liberty which were originally interwoven in the constitution of Spain, and assisted by the spirit of the people; and, in the following short passage, states, with much discernment, the miserable, but delusive causes of its loss.
• La réunion des royaumes de Castille & d'Arragon, ainsi que les grands Etats, qui dans le même temps échurent aux rois d'Espagne & les trésors des Indes donnèrent à la couronne d'Espagne une prépondérance imprévue, & qui devint si puissante qu'en très-peu de temps, elle renversa toutes les barrières élevées par la prudence de nos ayeux, pour assurer la liberté de leur postérité : l'autorité royale, telle que la mer sortie de ses bornes, inonda toute la monarchie, & la volonté du roi & de ses ministres devint la loi universelle. ... Le pouvoir despotique une fois si solidement établi, l'ombre même des apciens cortes n'exista plus ; il ne resta, aux droits naturels, civils & religieux des Espagnols, d'autre sauvegarde que le bon plaisir des ministres, ou les anciennes formalités de justice, appellées Voies Juridiques; ces dernières ont pu quelquefois s'opposer à l'oppresion de l'innocence, sans empêcher cependant que le proverbe ne soit toujours vérifié : Là vont les lois, où veulent les rois.' p. 23, 24.
When he at last comes to call upon his countrymen, from a united view of the nature of things, and of their own particular circumstances, to adopt the resolution of becoming their own masters, he cites, for their example, the celebrated revolt of the provinces of Holland, which all the world admires, against the tyranny and oppression of Spain ; that of Portugal against the same country; the recent acquisition of independence by their neighbours in North America, - an event which had made upon them, as might be expected, the deepest impression, and concludes, in a strain of sublime piety, and genuine philanthropy, which cannot be too much admired-including every nation upon earth, and even the Spaniards themselves, in his generous view of the blessings to be derived from the prosperity and freedom of that vast portion of the world.
The brilliant prospects which seem to be opened up for our species in the New World, and the cloud which still thickens over the fortunes of the Old, present, at the present hour, a subject of contemplation to the thinking part of the British people ; than which, excepting the great question of slavery or freedom, we know not if one more interesting can be imagined. We seize, with avidity, the present opportunity of communicating to them such information on this grand topic as we have been able to collect; and doubt not that our readers will partake with us in the deep interest with which it has inspired us, i
- After a tremendous struggle, to which the world has seen, perhaps, no parallel, the power of the despot of France now extends uncontrouled over almost every part of the continent of Europe. The hopes of the instability of that power, which so long continued to flatter the multitude, who draw their conclu. sions, not from reason, but feeling, have given way to the fears which a series of tremendous success has irresistibly engendered; and we are now placed in the hazardous and most critical situation, of neighbour to a power which combines against us all the resources of Europe, and cuts off from us that important branch of our own, which we drew from her coinmercial intercourse.
To the period, too, which may elapse before the affairs of Europe assume a condition more favourable to human nature, or even to our security, foresight can assign no definite boundary,-even hope can hardly anticipate a very speedy terinination. In this new and portentous condition of Europe, we are called upon to
look more widely around us, and to inquire, whether, in the rest of the world, barriers can be found to resist the torrent whose - pressure we must continue to dread, and resources to supply those, the channel of which is closed against us.
In taking this important surrey, every eye, we believe, will al. rimately rest on South America. A country far surpassing the whole of Europe in extent, and still more, perhaps, in natural fertility, which has been hitherto unfortunately excluded from the beneficent intercourse of nations, is, after a few prudent steps on our part, ready to open to us the immense resources of her territory, of a population at present great, and likely to increase with most extraordinary celerity, and of a position unparalleled on the face of the globe for the astonishing combination of commercial advantages which it appears to unite. From the ma. turity for some beneficent change, which circumstances and events have for a series of years been working in those magnificent regions, and from the mighty effects they are capable of yielding for the consolation of afflicted humanity, it seems as if that Provi dence, which is continually bringing good out of evil, were about to open a career of happiness in the new world, at the very moment when, by the mysterious laws of its administration, it apa pears to have decreed a period of injustice and calamity in the old. .
For the mighty benefits to be expected from a just and wise arrangement of the affairs of Spanish America, we are not left to the results of speculation, clear and unambiguous as they are ; we can appeal to experience and to fact. We have the grand experiment of North America before us, which the inhabitants of the South are so ambitious to imitate. The states of North America were our own colonies, and they had been always beneficente ly administered ; yet has their independence been far more profitable to us than their subjection. What is the result with regard to commerce alone ?--the very extraordinary fact, that for several past years we have exported more goods of British growth and manufacture to the United States of America, than to the whole of Europe taken together. If such are the benefits resulting from the prosperity of the United States, how many times greater will be those which must necessarily flow from the prosperity of South America ? How many times more extensive , is the country which the Spanish Americans possess. That country, from enjoying a much greater diversity of climate compared with Europe, than North America, is much more richly provide : ed with those commodities for which Europe presents the most eager demand. Of the soil of South America, a great part is. much more favourable to cultivation, much more fruitful, and.
cleared by nations who had made some progress in civilization, of all the countries in the world, South America possesses the most important advantâges in respect to internal navigation, being intersected in all directions by mighty rivers, which will bear, at little cost, the produce of her extensive provinces to the ocean. If the population of the United States, amounting perhaps to 6,000,000 souls, afford so extraordinary a demand for British commodities, what may not the population of South America, extending already to no less than 16,000,000, be expected to afa ford ? It is no doubt true, that the moral and intellectual habits of the people of South America are not so, favourable to improvement às were those of North America. Their industry has been cramped, their minds have been held in ignorance by a bad government; hence are they indolent and superstitious. But remove the cause, and the effects will cease to follow. So sweet are the fruits of labour, wherever the labourer enjoys them un. impaired, that the motives to it are irresistible,--and his activity may be counted upon with the certainty of a law of nature. The deduction, therefore, is so very'small which, on this score, it will be requisite to make, that a very subordinate proportion of the superior advantages in soil and climate, which the South American enjoys, will suffice to compensate the better habits with which the inhabitant of the United States commenced his career.
In respect to wants, the two countries eminently resemble one another. From the immense extent of uncultivated soil, which it will require many ages to occupy, the whole bent of the population will be turned to agriculture, and it will be their interest, and their desire, to draw almost the whole of the manufactured goods, which their riches will enable them to consume, from other countries. The country to which the greater part of this prodi. gious demand will come, is unquestionably Great Britain. So far before all other countries, in respect to manufacturing advantages, does she stand, that were the circumstances of Europe much more likely to encourage industry than unhappily they are, we could meet with no rival; and as we supply North America, só could we South, on terms which would infallibly draw to us the greater part of her custom. With this magnificent source of industry and wealth, the channels which Bonaparte can shut against us hardly deserve to be named, since that even of the United States surpasses them all. With South America, then, under a free and beneficent government; -- though we night weep for the calamities heaped upon our brethren of Europe by an insatiable despot, who, with the words liberty and good of mankind on his lips, would rivet his chains on the whole human race, and expend their blood and sweat for his own momentary pleasure or caprice,-we might - VOL:XIII, NO. 26.