« PreviousContinue »
sion with perfect simplicity and frankness. My instructions, too, point to that course, as required by the honour of the two governments, and as suited to the confidence which the President entertains in the disposition of his majesty's government to view in its true light the subject to which they relate. With such inducements to exclude from this communication every thing which is not intimately connected with its purpose, and, on the other hand, to set forth with candour and explicitness the facts and considerations which really belong to the case, I should be unpardonable if I fatigued your lordship with unnecessary details, or affected any reserve.
It is known to your lordship that Mr. Jackson arrived in America as the successor of Mr. Erskine, while the disappointment produced by the disavowal of the arrangement of the 19th of April, was yet recent, and while some other causes of dissatisfaction, which had been made to associate themselves with that disappointment, were in operation. But your lordship also knows, that his reception by the American government was marked by all that kindness and respect which were due to the representative of a sovereign, with whom the United States were sincere. ly desirous of maintaining the most friendly relations.
Whatever were the hopes which Mr. Jackson's mission had inspired, of satisfactory explanations and adjustments upon the prominent points of difference between the two countries, they certainly were not much encouraged by the conferences, in which, as far as he thought proper, he opened to Mr. Smith, soon after his arrival, the nature and extent of his powers and the views of his government. After an experiment, deemed by the government of the United States to be sufficient, it appeared that these conferences, necessarily liable to misconception and want of precision, were not likely to lead to any practical conclusion.
Accordingly, on the 9th of October, Mr. Smith addressed a letter to Mr. Jackson, in which, after stating the course of proceeding which the American government had supposed itself entitled to expect from him, with regard to the rejected arrangement and the matters embraced by it, and after recapitulating what Mr. Smith believed to have passed in their recent interviews relative to those subjects, he intimated that it was thought expedient that thcir fur
ther discussions, on that particular occasion, should be in writing.
It is evident, my lord, from Mr. Jackson's reply of the 11th of the same month, that he received this intimation (which, carefully restricted as it was, he seems to have been willing to understand in a general sense) with considerable sensibility. He speaks of it in that reply as being without example in the annals of diplomacy; as a step against which it was fit to enter his protest ; as a violation in his person of the most essential rights of a publick minister; as a new difficulty thrown in the way of a restoration of a thorough good understanding between the two countries.
I need not remark to your lordship that nothing of all this could with propriety be said of a proceeding, in itself entirely regular and usual, required by the state of the discussions to which only it was to be applied, and proposed in a manner perfectly decorous and unexceptionable. The government of the United States had expected from Mr. Jackson, an explanation of the grounds of the refusal on the part of his government to abide by Mr. Erskine's arrangement, accompanied by a substitution of other propositions. It had been collected from Mr. Jackson's conversations, that he had ro power whatsoever to give any such explanation; or, in the business of the orders in council, to offer any substitute for the rejected agreement; or, in the affair of the Chesapeake, to offer any substitute that could be accepted ; and, it had been inferred from the same conversations, that, even if the American government should propose a substitute for that part of the disavowed adjustment which regarded the orders in council, the substitute could not be agreed to (if, indeed, Mr. Jackson had power to do more than discuss it) unless it should distinctly recog. nise conditions which had already been declared to be wholly inadmissible.
To what valuable end, my lord, loose conversations, having in view, either no definite result, or none that was attainable, could, under such circumstances and upon such topicks, be continued, it would not be easy to discover; and I think I may venture to assume that the subsequent written correspondence has completely shown, that they could not have been otherwise than fruitless, and that they were not too soon abandoned for that more formal course, to which, from the beginning, they could only be considered as preparatory.
After remonstrating against the wish of the American government to give to the further discussions a written form, Mr. Jackson disposes himself to conform to it; and, speaking in the same letter of the disavowal of the arrangement of April, he declares that he was not provided with instructions to explain the motives of it; and he seems to intimate that explanation through him was unnecessary, not only because it had already been made through other channels, but because the government of the United States had entered into the arrangement with a knowledge that it could only lead to the consequences that actually followed.” In the conclusion of the fourth paragraph of the letter he informs Mr. Smith, that the despatch of Mr. Canning to Mr. Erskine, “ which Mr. Smith had made the basis of an official correspondence with the latter minister, and which had been read to the American minister in London,” was the only despatch by which the conditions were prescribed to Mr. Erskine for the conclusion of an arrangement with the United States on the matter to which it related.
Mr. Smith's answer to this letter bears date the 19th of October; and I beg your lordship's permission to introduce from it the following quotation : " The stress you have laid on what you have been pleased to state as the substitution of the terms finally agreed on” (in the arrangement of April, on the orders in council) " for the terms first proposed” (by Mr. Erskine)." has excited no small degree of surprise. Certain it is that your predecessor did present for my consideration the same conditions which
appear in the present document; that he was disposed to urge them more than the nature of two of them (both palpably inadmissible, and one more than merely inadmissible) could permit, and that on finding his first proposal unsuccessful, the more reasonable terms comprised in the arrangement respecting the orders in council, were adopted. And what is there in this to countenance the conclusion you have drawn in favour of the right of his Britannick majesty to disavow the proceeding? Is any thing more common in publick negotiations than to begin with a higher demand, and, that failing, to descend to a lower? To have, if not two sets of instructions, two, or more than two grades of propositions in the same set of instructions ; to begin with
what is the most desirable, and to end with what is found to be admissible, in case the more desirable should not be attainable? This must be obvious to every understanding, and is confirmed by universal experience.
• What are the real and entire instructions given to your predecessor, is a question essentially between him and his government. That he had, or, at least, that he believed he had, sufficient authority to conclude the arrangement, his formal assurances during our discussions were such as to leave no room for doubt. His subsequent letter of the 15th of June, renewing his assurances to me, that the terms of the agreement so happily concluded by the recent negotiation will be strictly fulfilled on the part of his majesty,' is an evident indication of what his persuasion then was as to his instructions. And with a view to show what his impressions have been even since the disavowal, I must take the liberty of referring you to the annexed extracts (see C.) from his official letters of the 31st of July, and of the 14th of August.
“ The declaration, that the despatch from Mr. Canning to Mr. Erskine, of the 23d of January, is the only despatch by which the conditions were prescribed to Mr. Erskine for the conclusion of an arrangement on the matter to which it relates,' is now for the first time made to this government. And I need hardly add, if that despatch had been communicated at the time of the arrangement, or if it had been known that the propositions contained in it, and which were at first presented by Mr. Erskine, were the only ones on which he was authorized to make an arrangement, the arrangement would not have been made."
I suppose, my lord, that it was impossible to disclaim for the American government, in more precise and intelligible language than is found in this quotation, all knowledge of Mr. Erskine's instructions, incompatible with a sincere, honourable, and justifiable belief that he was, as be professed to be, fully authorized to make the agreement, in which he undertook to pledge the faith of his majesty's government. Yet in Mr. Jackson's next letter (of the 23d of October) to Mr. Smith, he says: “I have therefore no hesitation in informing you that his majesty was pleased to. disavow the agreement concluded between you and Mr. Erskine, because it was in violation of that genileman's instructions, and altogether without authority to subscribe to
the terms of it. These instructions I now understand from your letter, as well as from the obvious deduction which I took the liberty of making in mine of the 11th instant, were at the time in substance made known to you. No stronger illustration, therefore, can be given of the deviation from them, which occurred, than by a reference to the terms of your agreement."
Your lordship will allow me to take for granted that this passage cannot be misunderstood. Its direct and evident tendency is to fasten upon the government of the United States, an imputation most injurious to its honour and veracity. The charge, that it had all along been substantially apprized, however it might affect to be ignorant, of the instructions, which Mr. Erskine's arrangement was said to have violated, had before been insinuated; but it is here openly made; in reply, too, to a paper, in which the contrary is formally declared by the official organ of the American government.
This harsh accusation, enhanced by the tone of the letter in which it appeared, was in all respects as extraordinary as it was offensive. It took the shape of an inference from facts and asseverations, which necessarily led to the opposite conclusion.
It was preferred as an answer to a claim of explanation which Mr. Jackson professed not to be authorized by his government to offer at all, but which he chose so to offer from himself as to convert explanation into insult. It was advanced not only without proof, and against proof, but against all colour of probability. It would scarcely have been advanced under any conviction that it was necessary to the case which Mr. Jackson was to maintain ; for his majesty's government had disavowed Mr. Erskine's arrangement, according to Mr. Jackson's own representations, without any reference to the knowledge which this accusation imputed to the government of the United States : and it need not be stated that no allusion whatsoever was made to it, by Mr. Secretary Canning, in those informal communications to me, which Mr. Jackson has mentioned. It was not, moreover, to have been expected that, in the apparent state of Mr. Jackson's powers, and in the actual posture of his negotiation, he would seek to irritate where he could not arrange, and sharpen disappointment by studied and unprovoked indignity.