Page images

captain was pretty much the same with that now advanced, particularly in the reliance on the circumstance, “that a thirty-two pounder will fire three rounds, while a forty-two pounder will fire only two;" and thus, as Captain Carden expressed it, will throw more iron into the enemy's ship in a given time. Neither of these commanders was convinced by the other, and Decatur ended the dispute by good-humouredly saying to Captain Carden ; if our countries should be at war, and we should meet at sea, I will convince you of the truth of my argument. It happened, somewhat strangely, that they did afterwards meet as enemies in the same ships; and Decatur kept his promise, and established the soundness of his opinion by an unanswerable argument ; the capture of Captain Carden and his ship. We tender the same argument to the Reviewer. If, however, he is right in asserting the superiority of the British armament and metal, it but increases his difficulties in accounting for our victories.

We will not follow this true-hearted John Bull through the various remaining topics which he discusses to restore the spirits of his countrymen, mortified and depressed by their naval defeats. Heretofore, there was not a man in England who believed any one of the thirty-nine articles half as sincerely, as the impossibility of taking an English ship. Their critical comforter very gravely assures them, they “had no occasion for uneasiness." This is pleasant enough.

The subject of steam-ships and steam-boats, is next brought in review. The “ Fulton Steam-ship,” is laughed at as a ridiculous failure; but it is acknowledged, that in common steam-boats, we 6 beat them out and out ;" and, immediately returning to his national reluctance to allow us superiority in any thing, he declares he does not believe the fact on which he had made the acknowledgment, although the “authority appears to be good.” To soften the pain of this hesitating confession, he says, - as a set-off, however, the only steam-vessel sent from America across the Atlantic, was so complete a failure, that it is not probable they will try another such experiment.” We are glad to have an opportunity to say a word on this subject. When, within the last two years, a steam-vessel departed from England for India, it was pompously announced in an English journal, beating our Reviewer “out and out,” that it was the first attempt to perform a distant voyage in such a ship. And this was said in the face of the notorious fact, published in every part of Europe and America, that several years before, a steam-ship had left the United States; had gone to England ; to Sweden, and to Russia ; and returned, without interruption or accident. We now beg the Reviewer to ex plain to us what he means by asserting, that our experiment a “complete failure.” It may be true that it was found, as the English will probably find, that voyages of th e iption uro

better made by sails and the wind, perhaps on the score of expense or the difficulty of providing fuel, and therefore the experiment has not been tried again ; but as to the main purpose of ascertaining the practicability of making such voyages in steamvessels, the experiment was no failure, but completely successful. Many years elapsed before it was ventured upon by the English ; and we are yet to see whether they will repeat it. At all events, we led the way in this bold enterprise.

Our diplomatic intercourse with the European states, is brought under the animadversions of the critic, who attacks it with the same intrepid carelessness of facts, with which he spoke of our navy. He charges our Government, roundly, with being “generally prepared to start so many points of controversy, to put forward so many unfounded claims, and extravagant pretensions ; many of them contrary to the established law of nations, their self-interest predominating,” &c. In the same sweeping tone of authoritative condemnation, it is declared, that “under an affectation of humility and republican simplicity, no absolute monarchy can be more ostentatious and vain-glorious ;” and finally, our President or his ambassadors scorn to be " guilty of any of those little acts of courtesy and mutual civility, which subsist in the diplomatic intercourse between the organs of the monarchical governments of Europe.” To such undefined accusations, it is impossible to reply, but in the general terms of denial, and a reference to our foreign correspondence, to show, not only that a spi. rit of justice, but of moderation, courtesy, and forbearance, has been its general character. If we look back to the stormy period of the French revolution, and the wars that grew out of it; to the shameless disregard by all the belligerents of the rights of neutrals, manifestly to force them into the conflict ; to the unparalleled injustice and violence with which they trod down every thing which interfered with their eagerness and efforts to injure each other; if we advert to the British orders, and French decrees, under which millions of American property were plundered, without any defensible pretext or apology; "contrary to the established law of nations, their self-interest predominating;" and then turn to the firm but moderate remonstrances; to the unanswerable arguments; to the long and patient forbearance of our government under such injuries and insults, we shall have more reason to charge them with undue humiliation, than with “unfounded claims and extravagant pretensions.” The truth is, that this critic has the same grudge against our diplomatic “ argumentation” that he has against the strength of our ships ; they have found them both too strong; and this is an offence not to be forgiven. This superiority of our correspondence is proved, not only by the documents themselves, but by the acknowledgment of the most distinguished British statesmen ; particularly in relation to the negotiation at Ghent.

Our pretensions upon the subjects of search and impressment, a prominent part of the “new code of maritime law” imputed to us, have been so fully and frequently discussed, that we will here only say, that the difference between us, as to the power of the British government over their own subjects, does not consist so much in any principle of the law of nations, as in relation to the inevitable, and sometimes wanton abuses that have been practised under it, to our insufferable wrong and injury. We have the authority at least of one British statesman, for saying, that from the similarity between the people of the two nations, it is impossible to exercise this power without abuses so dangerous to the harmony desirable to both, that it is better for England to give up the inconsiderable benefits she might derive from it, than to keep up disputes and irritations, which grow out of the abuse of it, and constantly endanger the peace of the countries.

The desire and endeavours of the American Government, to suppress by treaty and contract, privateering as a legitimate mode of warfare, falls under the severe censure of the critic; it is called a novel “ doctrine;” it is a part of our new maritime code, as if we were asserting it as a principle of the “established law of nations.” Here is a very uncandid and absurd misrepresentation of the whole affair. This is not the occasion to discuss the question of the policy or morality of this species of warfare. The Reviewer doubtless knows, that learned and enlightened jurists have condemned it as being, at once, immoral and impolitic. Assuredly, it is liable to strong objections on both grounds. It is placing a business in the hands of individuals, to be pursued for their own gain, and very much at their own discretion, which properly belongs to national hands and national objects. Abuses of this power must ensue; and outrages have frequently been committed by privateers, which national ships could not have committed. Vessels of war of this description now bear the softened denomination of "privateers ;” but in past times they were called freebooters, and even pirates. It is true, they bear commissions from their governments ; but it nevertheless is true, that they are not, and cannot be under the same discipline and con. trol as national ships, commanded by national officers, directly and severely responsible to the Government for any misconduct or violation of duty. These topics may not now be dilated ; it is enough for our present purpose to say, that on this subject, the United States have put forth no " claims of an unreasonable nature;" nor of any kind; no " extravagant pretensions”- or “new doctrines;" nor offered a “new code of maritime law.”-When and where has the American Government advanced as a principle of the maritime law, that " belligerents should abstain from

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

commissioning privateers?”—when such an assertion was made by a Journal having much authority in its own country, and respected every where, it should have produced the proof, or been ready to do so. If we have introduced this restriction in treaties al. ready made with independent governments, and professed our willingness to do the same with others, as a matter of mutual agreement, can it be said, with any propriety, that we are putting forth pretensions, or advancing new doctrines of national law ?-Are we chargeable with a "frigid and exacting temper, particularly towards Great Britain, for proposing such a compact to her; which she is at full liberty to receive or reject at her pleasure? A moment's reflection must satisfy the most prejudiced, that, on this subject, at least, self-interest has not predominated; and that if there be an error in proposing to abolish privateering, it is because our interest is directly opposed to the measure. Our national navy being small, in comparison with those of Europe, it is important that we should obtain force on the Ocean from every source in our power; particularly for the annoyance of the commerce of the enemy. For this purpose, none is more effectual than privateering. It has always been a most formidable engine of war in our hands; we have peculiar facilities for employing it; and, if self-interest governed the question, we would never consent to abandon it.

The Reviewer slightly touches some questions now under negotiation between our governments; such as the boundary line; our claim to Columbia river, &c. which we shall leave to be settled by the proper authorities, who will not be much enlightened by any thing the critic has said, or we could say, concerning them.

As he proceeds with his subject, the liberality with which he commenced his labours, seems to be entirely exhausted. He falls into all the absurd and vulgar slang which characterizes the opinions and language of an English Journalist, when he speaks of the United States. Our "stupid Germans ;” our political parties; whiskey elections ; licentiousness of the press; all furnish gratifying topics of contempt and reproach; as if such things are entirely unknown in Great Britain. In spite of himself, the Reviewer, in composing his article, had been compelled to contemplate the increasing importance and strength, wealth, resources and improvements of these United States; to look at the glowing and undisturbed happiness of the people, living in ease, plenty and safety; and to compare their condition with the starving and squalid misery that is devouring a large portion of the British empire. The London Times” has just informed us, that " a paper has been printed, by order of the House of Commons, which exhibits but a melancholy picture of poverty in the lower VOL. III.-NO, 6.


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

orders of the English nation.” This paper is a return of the funds levied by parishes under the poor rate system for the year ending in March 1827. It is with grief, and “no slight alarm," the Editor finds the poor rate, during that year, amounted to nearly eight millions of pounds sterling ; and this in the thirteenth year of peace; and that the increase since the preceding year, was seven hundred thousand pounds. Now all the travellers and journals of the “ United Kingdom” may combine their zeal and labours to calumniate this country, by picking up private scandal in ale-houses, and heaping ridicule and contempt upon our public character and institutions; on our President, Congress, Courts, and Elections, and we will rest the comparison of our national prosperity and happiness on the single fact above mentioned. To reproach us with the licentiousness of our elections and press, is really an effort of audacity we did not expect. What is so gross, so turbulent, so openly corrupt, as an English election ? Our “Congress candidates” have no such “serious ordeals to go through," as peltings with mud and stones ; spitting in their faces, and compelling them to save their limbs and life, by flight and concealment.

The pious Reviewer deplores the state of religion in the United States, and our want of a National Church. We thank him for his concern, so far as it is sincere. We are, however, content, without such an establishment; we get along without it, pretty well, in this world, and hope we shall not feel the loss of it in the next. The persecuting and malignant animosities produced in Great Britain, by this ecclesiastical pre-eminence, offer no encouragement to us to adopt it. We even imagine, that the good will, equality, and harmony that subsist here, among the various sects of Christians, are a recommendation to the whole system, and present the character of our religion in its true purity and beauty. · The Reviewer surpasses all preceding effrontery, in asserting, that “ the Court is as low as it possibly can be, and the Bar not much higher.” The refutation of this calumny, at large, would require more time than can now be given to it. An occasion may, and ought to be taken, in a review of Mr. Brougham's late speech on the administration of the law in England, to show how many of the evils and abuses complained of, have already received correction and amendment in the United States ; in part by our legislatures, but more by the Courts and Bar. There is not a Court on earth of more learning, intelligence, independence, purity, and industry, than the Supreme Court of the United States. The Superior Courts of the several states are also entitled to the highest respect; and the subordinate tribunals, generally, afford no ground of complaint. The volumes of Reports willed from our Courts, will altogether satisfy any lawyer, ca

« PreviousContinue »