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momentarily suffered by an over-production contemporary with a diminished demand ; and these concurring causes were greatly exaggerated by the concomitant and painful pressure of labour without adequate employment. To restore a demand for these productions peace was equally necessary. . In India and in China the country was engaged in expensive and uncertain contests, and these could not be retired from before they were brought to that honourable conclusion which on the part of Great Britain was the real object sought to be accomplished, and which, by the valour and energy of her warriors by sea and land, has since been most gloriously accomplished.
Looking, therefore, at the extraordinary and lofty position which the interests and power of our country had compelled her to assume as conservator of the peace of the civilized world, and to the stern necessity of that peace to the prosperity of every branch of her own industry, it is manifest that the Queen's Ministers, by pursuing the path of peace as long as it could be trod with honour and safety, were giving the highest proofs of their determination to administer the affairs of the empire with wisdom. - There would appear indeed to have been
but three lines of conduct for them to pursue, upon coming into power. Convinced of that extreme right of Great Britain which had been demonstrated, they might have chosen to adhere to it, and have kept open an irritating question which was daily endangering the peace between the two countries, and of Europe also. They might have protracted the negotiation with the United States, for the purpose of referring the controversy to another arbitration; but where was the security afforded by this course that, after the unavoidable irritations engendered by a delay of eight or ten years, and an expense beyond the value of the territory in dispute, political caprice and jealousy might not in the end decide the question against us? What rational course then was left but that of calling into action a principle which sometimes happily extinguishes discord in private controversies, by inducing the most powerful to make generous yet prudent concessions in the name of peace and friendship, and thus converts an apprehended enemy into a permanent and sincere friend! This, which promised to heal for ever the growing breach between the two countries, was the course which Her Majesty's Ministers wisely determined to follow.
But the weighty considerations, growing out of the foreign and domestic affairs of Great
Britain, which have been before alluded to, could not fail to have seriously engaged the attention of Her Majesty's Government towards the close of the year 1841, and to justify themi in adopting that pacific mission to America from which Lord Ashburton has successfully returned. The period also was well chosen. The Government of the United States, embarrassed in an unusual manner by tho derangement of their finances, could not be otherwise than desirous of extinguishing all the causes of discontent that had menaced an interruption to the friendly relations of the two countries, and that seemed to render peace uncertain. It was important to them to give their citizens an opportunity of restoring the wounded credit of their country, by placing peace with Great Britain upon a basis that would inspire some confidence with our commercial capitalists, a quarter to which it was evident they were looking with anxiety. There was the further encouraging circumstance also, that since the appearance of the British Report in 1840, symptoms of a very unambiguous kind had appeared in the United States, of a desire to recede from every claim of an exclusive character, and to enter into a fair compromise of the controversy respecting the disputed territory. We heard of no more pledges to unite in maintaining
their exclusive claim, and propositions for the first time appeared in the legislative proceedings of the State of Maine itself offering to compromise the dispute*.
On the other hand, it had become more difficult for Her Majesty's Government, at this time, to succeed in making an equitable compromise of the question than it might have been previous to the year 1839, on account of the state of things existing in the disputed territory itself. Before that period the whole district in dispute had been, with the exception of a very few settlers from both governments, on the Roostuc, an uninhabited wilderness. This was no longer the case. The State authorities of Maine had not only caused surveys of numerous townships of land to be made in various parts of the country betwixt the Roostuc and the St. John, but had caused one fortified blockhouse to be erected on the Roostuc, another at the mouth of Fish River, and a good road to be opened between the Roostuc and the St. John. These operations were of course attended with a corresponding influx of settlers, and nothing was wanting but a little more time to place all that portion of the disputed territory which lies between the last-mentioned rivers, in the actual possession of hardy settlers from the State of Maine. This state of things had been brought about in a manner that was not to be prevented without having recourse to such forcible means as would inevitably have led to the collisions it was so desirous to avoid. Rer monstrances against these encroachments had been constantly made by the British authorities to the Federal Government, and if they were not reluctantly attended to, at least in no instance was satisfaction promptly given, as may very well be supposed, from the fact that all communications of that nature were submitted to the authorities of Maine before any answer was given. To have prevented these encroachments, in the first instance, might, by possi. bility, have been done, provided all parties had concurred in a determination to do it; but the question of dispossessing all these people by force, when Her Majesty's present Ministers came into power, was a most serious one ; and, as must be perceived, was a thing only to be accomplished by a state of war. Lord Ash burton's mission, therefore, as respected the Boundary question, was in fact to effect the compromise of a territorial question under adverse possession, an exceedingly disadvan, tageous position both in public and private controversies.
* Vide Reports of the Land Agent of Maine, 1841, 1842,