Page images

important countries of the East. There may be little that is new in our remarks, and indeed we make them chiefly as introductory to another subject, to which recent intelligence has given a melancholy interest; to the question, how to protect the lives and properties of our citizens, resorting to or residing in the East. It is not necessary to separate the objects for which they may repair thither, whether it be for the purposes of benevolent exertion, or of curious research, or for the profits of commercial intercourse.

As respects one of these groups, the Philippine Islands, it is well known that the existence of a colonial authority there, modifies the question of protection from the same question under independent native governments. In reference to this group, we remark, that our present intercourse is still in great measure governed by the old rules of Spanish colonial policy.

Foreign vessels are restricted to one port; double duties are charged on imports under their flags. Difficulties are thrown in the way of foreigners desiring to make Manila their residence. Their limits, if permitted to reside there, extend but over one out of twenty-eight provinces, into which the islands are divided. They remain heretics and aliens. And lest any ideas should enter at variance with this system, all books are rigorously excluded, unless licensed by the clergy.

The Spanish officers governing these islands are a remarkable example of the absence of all ambition of personal distinction and the desire of general improvement. Had they even felt the desire of colonial advancement, these islands would not have remained stationary so long. Had they even felt the pride of political independence, it would have been seen, ere this, that these colonies are bound to the mother country by no necessary tie. There is no doubt a deep feeling of ecclesiastical dependence pervading the people and country clergy, and forming the strongest bond of union to the mother country. The higher ecclesiastics, however, cannot but have noticed, that a declaration of independence does not sever the connexion with the Holy See. Still, until now, neither the desire of political nor ecclesiastical independence, has outweighed, with the colonial authorities, the satisfaction of comfortable places, the recollections they have brought from the peninsula, and the attachments they have left there. Whether such a separation will take place soon, or ever, or whether these colonies will pass into the power of a more liberal government, are questions not susceptible of any satisfactory answer.

As respects intercourse with Siam, it may be said, that on the few occasions when our merchant vessels have entered the Meinam, they have suffered so severely from official exaction, that we cannot be said to have any real commercial intercourse with that country. It is not probable that this state of things has been changed by our late treaty with the king, nor will it be by any mere treaty. We entirely approve of the attempt to form treaties with the Siamese and other Eastern governments; but we fear too much confidence, superseding a watchful public re gard, may be reposed in these paper engagements.

As respects the group of islands lying between the Dutch and Spanish colonies the Loochoo Islands, Japan, &c., our intercourse with them is entirely prospective for they have scarcely ever been visited by vessels under American colours.

Sumatra, the west coast of Sumatra, affords, perhaps, the best instance of an in tercourse carried on, without intervention, between our own citizens and natives a South-Eastern Asia under independent government. On this instance, therefore extensible prospectively to other instances, we may ground our remarks on the mod of protecting the lives and properties of our citizens, exposed by this intercourst “This island,” Mr. Abeel says, “is a favourite resort for trading vessels from Eng land and America; and from the testimony of one who has been engaged in th

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

traffic, the most dishonourable and dishonest means are often employed to defraud the natives.” We believe these unworthy means have always been discountenanced by the parties interested in England and America. We believe, too, that comparing the past with the present, there has been a change for the better in this particular. Still, we get from this statement, under these limitations, one of the “ concessa under which foreign intercourse is carried on wit South-Eastern Asia.

Again, throughout Eastern Asia, the great agent of intoxication, depravation, and misery, is the leading article of traffic, Commerce supplies opium to the Malay, as it has given spirits to the North American Indian, and fire arms to the Polynesian Islander.

Again, in the exchange which thus takes place, the enlightened European or American is the giver, the half-civilized native the receiver: the one elevated by civilization and Christianity, the other sunk through ages of declension from knowledge and virtue. These are the parties to intercourse in Eastern Asia, and these the antecedents of aggression on either hand, or of collision with each other.

We may suppose the occurrence of a very strong case; an aggression by the native on foreign intercourse. We may look forward to cases when the suffering foreigner shall be an innocent individual; when his superior intelligence will not have made him the more a criminal; when he will suffer for no act of his own; when he will be the victim of irritated or debased men, without having done anything to provoke the vengeance, or produce the degradation. In such cases it is not likely that the injured party will be a silent sufferer. He will appeal to his government. Hence the occasions for government interference.

Now, we would not be understood to have an extravagant confidence in such intervention in Eastern Asia. We have more confidence in the influence of the conscientious merchant, or able missionary, than in the political agent or naval officer. Yet we suppose that such intervention may be often useful, and will be sometimes necessary. The question then comes up, which we have proposed to examine. How shall our government proceed to redress wrongs inflicted on its citizens in their intercourse with South-Eastern Asia, and to give them permanent security ? One conviction is, by open, peaceful, conciliatory, manly measures, in opposition to disguises, hostilities, and retaliation.

Let us take first the case of an actual injury inflicted, and see if open, judicial, yet firm and prompt measures, be not commended by justice and expediency, over retaliation.

The intelligence of such an act perpetrated on the Sumatran or some other coast, reaches this country; brought, perhaps, by the party who suffered, or has well nigh suffered. What are the measures commended by justice on the receipt of such intelligence? Does not justice remind us, that “ a great body may sometimes suffer in some of its parts, by the outbreaking of passions, to whose excitement its other members have ministered ?" Does it not demand that we take into account the condition and character of the offender, by descent and by temptation? The fact may be established; but on what evidence ? An ex parte statement, the accuser's evidence ? His loss may not be doubted; but was there no provocation? He may not have given that provocation; but do we know the ideas of a native islander on the degree of the responsibility of countrymen, or on the extent to which they may be justly called to make reparation, or to suffer for each other?

Suppose the native offender convicted, what shall be his sentence? Can justice expect, in an Eastern Pagan, a Christian sense of guilt, and impose a like measure of punishment? Or shall one conventional law with native princes, in the Islands of the East, class all crimes together, and annex to their commission one penalty ?

Suppose the same offender to be adjudged worthy of death; how shall he be brought to punishment? Shall it be by a measure that reverses the maxim, " better that the guilty escape than that the innocent perish ?" Will justice permit us to forego the form of judicial apprehension, and, approaching the offender in disguise, to strike him, with a blow that levels him and all around him in the same death together ? Should this be done at an hour when wakeful guilt may take the alarm, but sleeping innocence is sure to suffer? It

may be said that these suppositions are irrelevant--that they do not apply to the most common and serious case, that of outrages in which the native authorities are implicated. But here too justice must admit the existence and force of difference of national character, and of possible provocation. It must also ascertain the degree of implication.

Now, we would ask, what are these native authorities, supposed to be thus implicated? Are they governments, or not? If governments, should we not treat them as such, and require, mutually, that international offenders be delivered up or punished ? If not, and in the western sense perhaps they are not governments, can responsibility be taken justly from the “authorities,” such as they are, and fastened on the multitude ? These subjects, if we please to call them such, suffer much from their irregular rulers. Shall they also be required to suffer in their stead ?

But it may be objected that all this is irrelevant also. That all are more or less implicated--that society, in these regions, is an association to plunder for the common benefit-that expediency requires that examples should, from time to time, be made that offenders cannot be apprehended, and that the only possible mode of punishment, is by a sudden, disguised, and undiscriminating stroke.

Let us put the argument, then, on the footing of ability and expediency, and consider, not what can be done justly, but what our means permit, and our interest demands. Is there any then among these petty governments beyond the reach of the American government? And if our national honour requires what one sloop cannot perform in a manly manner, should we not send a larger force? If we could apprehend no criminal, might no prisoners, no hostages be taken? And if it were, in the last resort, necessary to punish the innocent for the guilty, should it not be done, for effect's sake, in a judicial manner, and under a show, at least, of justice ?

But it may be objected here that the weakness of these tribes is their defence. That if warned of the approach of a chastising force, they escape to the jungle, and evade all pursuit. But do they leave no pledges behind? Would not the sequestration of their abandoned goods, or the destruction of their villages and boats, do something towards compensating the loss of the property of our citizens, and preventing future attacks? Should this first measure prove insufficient, would not the privilege of an indiscriminate massacre be still open, as a last resort ?

Again, if severity were both easy and justifiable in these cases, what are we to think of the expediency of attempting to produce, by retaliation, on the Eastern Islanders, “a lasting, and wide, and beneficial impression?"

As to the matter of duration, it is certainly true, that a blow will be felt and remembered in proportion to its severity. The wretched will never forget the stroke that made him so. But if you would render an effect extensive among the broken and rival tribes of Eastern Islands, you must first bind them together by those fine cords of common feeling, which carry impressions through all the members of so-. ciety, with us, with electrical quickness and force. And why desire to produce effects that shall be lasting and extensive, if they must be misinterpreted, or injurious, or unjust? What security have you, when aiming to produce these “effects," that the Diak will not suppose you are collecting “ trophies,” or the Malay that you

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

are glutting revenge? What more likely, when the guilt you would punish is severed from its deserts, by the undiscriminating nature of the stroke.

Besides, commerce is, in its nature, essentially voluntary and peaceful. Our merchants send property to the ends of the earth, not for safe keeping, but for gain. Security is necessary on its way. But security would be too dearly purchased by the destruction of friendly intercourse. We therefore deprecate all retaliator sures, and all severity, beyond judicial reparation. We fear those wide and lasting effects spoken of, must cease to be felt before peaceful intercourse can be resumed, and that then, this purchased blessing, this new security, will be as if never possessed. We fear, too, for this reason, that the same measures will prostrate the high enterprises of our country's benevolence toward the East.

But will a mild conciliatory mode of dealing, give to our future intercourse with South-Eastern Asia, the requisite security? We contend, that this result is in a considerable degree to be effected, by the very use of the just and wise measures we have advocated, at the times and places of collision. It cannot be said that our past security has resulted from severe measures, since they have been scarcely resorted to, except in a single and recent instance. Our argument is directed against individual views of this subject, unsanctioned by official practice. And when we remember, that our intercourse has been carried on with South-Eastern Asia so long with so few embarrassments, is it not highly probable that it will come to be conducted with perfect security, when it receives, for the first time in the history of our nation, a kind, public regard ?

Hitherto our government has taken no measures to inform itself of the political and general condition of that part of the world. It has never come in peace to make itself known there. Our national flag has hardly ever been seen there. It has appeared, perhaps, in a single instance, to see that justice was done to its citizens; but when to see that justice was done by those citizens ? What additional security would be given to American intercourse with the East, if its merchant colours were associated, in the mind of every native prince, as they float in the mild breezes of his island dominion, with the protective care of a just and powerful nation!

Our conclusion from this argument is, that justice and expediency both require the adoption of watchful, judicial, and yet conciliatory measures, by our government, towards these insular kingdoms, in contradistinction to a system of retaliation and force. Christian nations, after neglecting to make common their peculiar blessings, for so many centuries, owe forbearance at least to those unhappy societies of men, whose degradation they have refused to elevate, nay, cooperated to produce.

It is evident, from the work before us, that there are vast openings for enterprise in South-Eastern Asia. The higher objects of Christian philanthropy, are identified there, with the establishment of political relations, and the gains of commercial intercourse. We will not direct statesmen and Christians what they should do in this case. But, as merchants, we will say, had we assigned to us, in perpetuity, the advantages of the commerce of the East, the diffusion of knowledge, the exertion of benevolence, and the support of missions there, are the measures to which we should feel directed, by a regard to pecuniary interests. To society, Providence has made such an assignment.

A word of criticism and we conclude this review. This work is written in an easy, unpretending style, sometimes rather carelessly, generally without ornament. We are told in the preface, that the writer has been unable, since his return to this country, to give the benefit of revision to what was written abroad under many unfavourable circumstances, and particularly in ill health. Our extracts furnish some specimens of good description. There are in the volume other highly impressive VOL. XVII.--NO. 33.


passages. But, on the whole, and without the explanations of the preface, we should say, there is not so much effort exhibited in the book as was due to the greatness of the subject, nor so much talent as might have been expected from the author.

Regarded as an individual contribution, it is certainly respectable. It is by no means complete, nor have we to depend, in future, on any individual contribution, for a complete view of this subject. Now that Eastern Asia is attracting so much attention among our countrymen, and is thrown open to a kindred sentiment and enterprise in Great Britain, we may look for a succession of publications on both sides of the Atlantic.

The two nations are pledged to the great work which no other can accomplish, of civilizing and Christianizing the East. The work demands an accomplished and powerful instrumentality, in every step of its progress. For this, we look to British and American intelligence and piety, under Him, “ without whom agents cannot be qualified, nor agency successful.”

The Life of the Emperor Napoleon. With an Appendix, con

taining an examination of Sir W. Scott's “ Life of Napoleon Bonaparte;" and a notice of the principal errors of other writers, respecting his character and conduct. By H. Lee. Complete in four vols. Vol. I. New York : 1835.

We cannot say, that as Americans, we derive much pleasure from the contemplation of this work. There is something we do not relish in the spectacle of a citizen of these United States, the proper foe of despotism by his very birth, proclaiming himself with a loud voice the champion of one who was the absolute personification of arbitrary power, and entering the lists, with the object of making an impetuous onset upon the most formidable antagonist of the despot. True it is, this antagonist is not the friend of republics; but it is the cause, not the foe, which im. parts a character to the contest. The aristocrat who essays to destroy the pernicious illusions with which unhallowed sway is encircled by the glare of military glory, performs a labour far more republican in essence than that of the democrat who endeavours to strengthen and perpetuate the imposture. The tory baronet advances much stronger claims in this instance to the gratitude of every advocate of the rights of man, than the American whig. We are aware, indeed, that a sort of ill-defined idea exists, that from the fact of Napoleon's not having been what is technically styled a legitimate monarch, but, to use a favourite phrase, a child of the revolution, sprung from the people, his cause is in some degree identified with that of republicanism. So far, however, from this being the case, the very circumstance indicated must render his tyranny doubly obnoxious. There may be some excuse for the offspring of a royal line, reared and pampered in the belief that “he is the state," if his conduct be impelled by such conviction; but none can be ad. duced for the man who has learnt to sympathize with his fellow creatures as his equals, and tramples them under foot when elevated above them by fortune, forgetful or heedless of the lesson, and hearkening only to the dictates of inordinate selfishness. Such a man is a traitor as well as a tyrant. As a child of the revolution, Napoleon was guilty of political parricide as well as of the worst species of usurpation, for he it was who strangled that parent, by subverting all the beneficial effects which he himself, in an especial manner, might have enabled it to produce.

That injustice has been done him by Sir Walter Scott, is an impression with which, prevalent as it is, we cannot bring ourselves to coincide. Rarely has a work been more sinned against than sinning, than the production of the great novelist;

« PreviousContinue »