Page images

the whole Treaty as derogatory to Great Britain, and which have been extensively circulated through the continent of Europe. The writer of the article referred to—and which is in many respects a very able one—has chosen to consider some remarks which have appeared in one or two of our newspapers as representing public opinion in England, and says that, upon mature consideration of the Treaty of Washington, the general feeling here is divided between satisfaction at having settled one of our most embarrassing political questions, and regret at having paid so very dear for the friendship of America. Now this writer has either very much misunderstood the provisions of the Treaty, or, from some motive, has represented several of them in a very different sense to their obvious and true one. Whatever the reason may have been, it is very clear that his assertions that the honour and interests of this country have been overlooked in the late negotiations, required that the facts should be misrepresented, before the assertions could be made even plausible, and this is what has been done. Of these misrepresentations a few may be cited. After stating that the British Government at length withdrew its consent to the award of the King of the Netherlands, he proceeds to say:—

“Lord Palmerston proposa encore que la “rivière Saint-Jean fåt prise pour ligne limi“ trophe, ce qui a €té en grande partie adopté “ dans le dernier Traité. A cette époque, les “Etats Unis refuserent cette proposition*.”

This statement unequivocally betrays the loose manner in which so grave a subject has been treated. It is true that Mr. Forsyth, the American Secretary of State, did, on the 29th February, 1836, in a note to Charles Bankhead, Esq., propose to terminate the controversy by making the St. John from “its source to its “mouth” the boundary between the two countries; but as this proposition involved the surrender to the United States of a territory which had never been in dispute, containing near 3,000,000 acres of land, as well as the flourishing town of St. Andrews, and various settlements of British subjects, Mr. Bankhead, in his answer, says, he forbears to make any allusion to such a proposition, as the best proof he can give “ of “its utter inadmissibility.”

This was the proposition, it will be remembered, which had been rejected by the British Government during the negotiations at Paris in

* Lord Palmerston proposed after this that the river St. John should be agreed upon as the boundary, and which has been in a great measure adopted in the late Treaty. At this period the United States refused this proposition.

1782, and since that period it had never, been entertained for a moment by any administration in Great Britain. But although Wiscount Palmerston never made so extravagant a proposition, or any one that resembled it, it is true that that statesman, in his despatch to Mr. Bankhead, dated October 30, 1835, did propose, by way of compromise, a line which is substantially the same for all useful purposes with that which has now been settled by the Treaty of Washington, with the sole exception that the St. John was to be the boundary from the point where the North line intersects that river to its southernmost source. The passage in the despatch is as follows:— “His Majesty's Government would there“fore propose to that of the United States, “to adjust the present difference, by dividing “equally between Great Britain and the United “States the territory in dispute; allotting to “each party that portion which, from con“tiguity or other circumstances, would be most “ desirable as a possession for each. “The general outline of such a division “would be, that the boundary between the two “states should be drawn as required by the “Treaty, due north from the head of the St. “Croix River, and should be carried straight “on till it intersected the St. John : from

“ thence it should run up the St. John, to the “ southernmost source of that river; and from “ that point it should be drawn to the head of “ the Connecticut River, in such a manner as “ to make the northern and southern allot“ments of the divided territory as nearly as possible equal to each other in eatent; the “ northern allotment to remain with Great “Britain, the southern allotment to belong to “ the United States. “You are therefore instructed to present to “Mr. Forsyth a note, of which I enclose you “a copy, for the purpose of enabling him to “bring distinctly before the Government of “ the United States the propositions now made “by His Majesty's Government.” Now, even if Mr. Lemoinne had supposed Mr. Forsyth's proposition to have proceeded from Lord Palmerston, it could not be carried to account of the Treaty of Washington, and the mistake, or whatever it may be considered, was at best but the visionary basis to an inference, that the British Government has always been prone to make unnecessary sacrifices to the United States. But, in another part of his paper we find him positively asserting that Lord Ashburton proposed to the American Government to agree upon the very line which Mr. Bankhead had at once pronounced

“inadmissible,” and which had never been proposed or alluded to either directly or indirectly even by the Maine Commissioners. His words are:— “Quels étaient les termes proposés par le “Plénipotentiaire Anglais ? Ils pouvaient se “resumer ainsi: il offrait de prendre pour “ligne de demarcation la Rivière Saint Jean, dans tout son cours, sauf une seule excep“tion *.” If this statement, then, of Mr. Lemoinne, which goes the whole length of asserting that the British Government was prepared to make the St. John, from its source to its mouth, the boundary between the two countries, is to be defended as a mistake on his part, arising from inattention to the conditions of the Treaty, why, it may be fairly asked, did he, who admits —“nous avons sous les yeux cette correspondance+,” think himself competent to expound this Treaty to all Europe, and at liberty to draw from it conclusions of a most offensive character to Great Britain, which he will be utterly unable to justify? As to the exception

* What were the terms proposed by the British Plenipotentiary 2 They may be thus shortly stated: he offered to take as the line of demarcation the River St. John, in its entire course, with one sole exception.

t We have this correspondence before us.

« PreviousContinue »