Imagens das páginas



pay taxes,--refuse to take an oath in cases prescribed by the laws, like other citizens :- -What right have such men to enjoy the benefits of a civil association, to the maintenance and protection of which they decline contributing, and with the regulations of which they refuse to comply? We knew, however, that such men existed among you when we agreed to the union, as you knew we had slaves. Allow us our negroes, and we will allow you your Quakers.” The gallery was at that moment principally filled by persons of that sect,zealous abolitionists.

The revolutionary war, which separated the English colonies from England, created a strong partiality in favour of the French, to whom indeed they were in some degree indebted for their independence. The sentiment of gratitude, from which that partiality sprung, was just and honourable in itself; but, by an association, as absurd as it was natural, it has united, ever since, inseparably the idea of liberty with that of France in these republican heads : while England and despotism formed another association. The two great parties, which took, at the union of the states in 1789, the names of federalists and anti-federalists, sincere and pure as their objects might be, assumed the colours of the two great rival powers;

and there has been, undoubtedly, ever since, a French and an English party. The Americans may say that England and France are for them more abstract watch-words, like St. Denis and St. George. But there is virtue in names; and it cannot be denied that one-half of the inhabitants of the United States are in the habit of approving whatever France does, while the other does as much for England ;not exactly half, however, for the French party




much the most numerous.

The other has on its side a decided majority of the talents, the wealth, * and the gentility of the country; from all appearances, I might say of the morality also, if I was not aware that much may be placed to the account of principles which is the effect of situation. A very remarkable circumstance is, that most of the veterans who bore arms against England during the revolution, are now of the party. I call English. Washington himself, that model of patriots, whom all parties unite, since his death, in considering as eminently pure and. wise, was openly. denounced by the French party during his life.

It is now nine years since the reins of the United Stateş government fell from the weak hands of the last federalist who can ever have any chance of holding them till a separation takes place. The universality of suffrage secures a decided preponderance to St. Denis; and all candidates for power, from the highest to the lowest, must bow to him, and never to St. George. The American government has done so accordingly

. since 1801. Either. from choice, or from the necessity of pleasing the multitude, its measures have been directed by a visible partiality in favour of St. Denis.

Les saints Anglois ont dans le caractère
Je ne sais quoi de dur et d'insulaire ;
On tient toujours un peu de son pays,
En vain notre âme est dans le paradis ;
Tout n'est pas pur, et l'accent de province
Ne se perd point même à la cour du prince.

* Talents are generally to be found in opposition to the government, in England, as well as in America, because it is the brilliant side ; but wealth in England is arrayed on the side of government,. which protects it. In America, it feels the ill-will of a government


[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

It is therefore natural that St. George should feel some irritation, and we see him accordingly obstinately bent on points of form, rather than of substance ; acting from ill temper and pride, rather than on sound principles of policy. St. Denis, who observés all this, blows up the coals between the two angry governments, who appear to me to be doing exactly what he would wish, and to enter, of themselves, into his views, of which, however, he makes no secret; viz. to destroy maritime commerce, which he cannot enjoy, and to deprive St. George of what is universally considered as the great foundation of his power. If England did not interdict the French ports to America, France herself would have done so. There seemed, therefore, to be no necessity for the former to take upon herself the odium of the measure. England may very probably begin to see, in the growing commerce of America, the foundation of a great naval power, to which her obnoxious restrictions might be intended as a check. This danger, however, appears to me far distant. Rich and

populous as the United States are destined to be, in an extraordinary degree, their power will never be in any proportion. The American states are bound, not united, by the federal government, bound like different sets of horses to the same car, one before, and the other behind. The charioteer, who is placed between them, is without either whip or reins, and can only reason with his horses, and call to them; at his voice they never fail to exert their strength in opposite directionsg-sometimes it is one side which gets the better--sometimes the other; but dependent on the multitude, naturally jealous of the rich. Wealth, therefore, in America, seeks the protection of talents in the oppo




[ocr errors]

it is easy to perceive that the car cannot proceed very far. Should it happen to be at last torn asunder, one set of horses and a pair of wheels drawing, one way, and another the contrary way, there might indeed be something more effectual done ; but, either bound together, or at liberty, the United States will ever feel an aversion to taxes;

they will not have a sufficient number of destitute individuals to fill the ranks of their army, or to man their navy, or a government strong enough to make the people fight and pay. Every new generation there, comes into life to enjoy it to increase and multiply, in peace and obscurity, in abundance and security, and leave, at the call of nature alone, a life of content, undisturbed by either raptures or torments, exposed to few sacrifices, as well as spent without much glory.

It is impossible to become acquainted with the interior of families in England without discovering a very different state of things. The army, the navy, the East and West Indies, carry away and consume the rising generation as fast as it attains to manhood. The necessity of acquiring, not merely the real necessaries and comforts of life, but the means of living in style,-a certain inveterate national habit of luxury, inexorable vanity in short, answer, in England, the same purpose as the conscription in France; and the fondest mother thinks as little of resisting the one as the other. This 'universal principle of activity constitutes the strength of England. Whether it secures private happiness is not so certain. Placed as England is, she must be great and glorious, or perish. The people of the United States may be weak and happy with impunity, and remain so, in spite of themselves for a century to come.

[ocr errors]



One of the chief complaints which the United States make against Great Britain is, the right the latter assumes of taking her sailors wherever she can find them, or rather the manner of exercising that right. Her ships of war search American vessels at sea, and take away forcibly any man who cannot prove, by a certain document called a protection, that he is an American, or whose physiognomy and language is at variance with this same protection,-a mode of proceeding humiliating and odious, and which leads to the intolerable consequence of sometimes pressing an American instead of an Enga. lishman. Whatever

Whatever may be the natural and moral right of an individual to change his country, or the right any government may have to protect a naturalized citizen, there can be no obligation on the part of that government to grant naturalizations, if, by so doing, it endangers its peace with other powers. The British government, setting aside abstract rights, but relying on a principle of public law acknowledged in Europe, says, that an Englishman is always an Englishman. The political existence of England depends, in a great degree, on her navy; and if the United States have not only favoured the desertion of her seamen, but pretend to screen them at sea under their flag, they are clearly in the wrong, and need not complain of any violence on the part of their adver

. sary. On the other hand, if England refuses to listen to arrangements, which, at the same time that her abstract rights to her natives should be acknowledged, would regulate the practice; if she should refuse to abandon, not the right of search and challenge of suspected seamen, but the right of impressment at sea, or to subject the taking any seamen out of an American ship to a legal, in:

« AnteriorContinuar »