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"Oh! talk not of taxes," said my friend, "till you have resided in a country where the boor disposes of his produce to strangers for a foreign mart, not to bring back to his family the comforts and conveniences of foreign manufactures, but to procure that coin which his lord is to squander away in a distant land. Neither can I with patience hear it said, that your laws act only to the negative ends of government. They have a manifold positive influence, and their incorrupt administration gives a color to all your modes of thinking, and is one of the chief causes of your superior morality in private as well as public life."*
My limits compel me to strike out the different incidents which I had written as a commentary on the former three of the positive ends of government. To the moral feelings of my readers they might have been serviceable; but for their understandings they are superfluous. It is surely impossible to peruse those ends, and not admit that all three are realized under our government to a degree unexampled in any other old and long peopled country. The defects of our constitution, in which word I include the laws and customs of the land as well as its scheme of legislative and executive power, must exist, therefore, in the fourth, namely, the production of the highest average of general information, of general moral and religious principles, and the excitements and opportunities which it affords to paramount genius and heroic power in a sufficient number of its citizens. These are points in which it would be immorality to rest content with the presumption, however well founded, that we are better
* "The administration of justice throughout the continent is partial, venal, and infamous. I have, in conversation with many sensible men, met with something of content with their governments in all other respects than this; but upon the question of expecting justice to be really and fairly administered, every one confessed there was no such thing to be looked for. The conduct of the judges is profligate and atrocious. Upon almost every cause that comes before them interest is openly made with the judges; and woe betide the man, who, with a cause to support has no means of conciliating favor, either by the beauty of a handsome wife, or by other methods."This quotation is confined in the original to France under the monarchy; I have extended the application, and adopted the words as comprising the result of my own experience: and I take this opportunity of declaring, that the most important part of Mr. Leckie's statement concerning Sicily, I myself know to be accurate, and am authorized by what I myself saw there, to rely on the whole as a fair and unexaggerated representation.
than others, if we are not what we ought to be ourselves, and are not using the means of improvement. The first question then is, What is the fact? The second upon the supposition of a defect or deficiency in one or all of these points, and that to a degree which may affect our power and prosperity, if not our absolute safety, are the plans of legislative reform that have hitherto been proposed fit or likely to remove such defect, and supply such deficiency? The third and last question is,-Should there appear reason to deny or doubt this, are there any other means, and what are they? Of these points in the concluding essay of this section.
A French gentleman in the reign of Louis XIV. was comparing the French and English writers with all the boastfulness of national prepossession. "Sir!" replied an Englishman, better versed in the principles of freedom than the canons of criticism, "there are but two subjects worthy the human intellect, politics and religion, our state here and our state hereafter; and on neither of these dare you write." Long may the envied privilege be preserved to my countrymen of writing and talking concerning both! Nevertheless, it behooves us all to consider, that to write or talk concerning any subject, without having previously taken the pains to understand it, is a breach of duty which we owe to ourselves, though it may be no offence against the laws of the land. The privilege of talking and even publishing nonsense, is necessary in a free state; but the more sparingly we make use of it the better.
Then we may thank ourselves,
Who spell-bound by the magic name of peace
LITTLE prospective wisdom can that man obtain, who hurrying onward with the current, or rather torrent, of events, feels no interest in their importance, except as far as his curiosity is excited by their novelty; and to whom all reflection and retrospect are wearisome. If ever there were a time when the formation of just public principles becomes a duty of private morality; when the principles of morality in general ought to be made to bear on our public suffrages, and to affect every great national determination; when, in short, his country should have a place by every Englishman's fireside; and when the feelings and truths which give dignity to the fireside and tranquillity to the death-bed, ought to be present and influential in the cabinet and in the senate that time is now with us. As an introduction to, and at the same time as a commentary on, the subject of international law, I have taken a review of the circumstances that led to the treaty of Amiens, and the recommencement of the war, more especially with regard to the occupation of Malta.
In a rich commercial state, a war seldom fails to become unpopular by length of continuance. The first, or revolution war, which towards its close, had become just and necessary, perhaps
beyond any former example, had yet causes of unpopularity pecu liar to itself. Exhaustion is the natural consequence of excessive stimulation, in the feelings of nations equally as in those of individuals. Wearied out by overwhelming novelties; stunned, as it were, by a series of strange explosions; sick too of hope long delayed; and uncertain as to the real object and motive of the war, from the rapid change and general failure of its ostensible objects and motives: the public mind for many months preceding the signing of the preliminaries had lost all its tone and elasticity. The consciousness of mutual errors and mutual disappointments disposed the great majority of all parties to a spirit of diffidence and toleration, which, amiable as it may be in individuals, in a nation, and above all in an opulent and luxurious nation, is always too nearly akin to apathy and selfish indulgence. An unmanly impatience for peace became only not universal. long a resistance as the nature of our constitution and national character permitted, or even endured, the government applied at length the only remedy adequate to the greatness of the evil, a remedy which the magnitude of the evil justified, and which nothing but an evil of that magnitude could justify. At a high price they purchased for us the name of peace at a time when the views of France became daily more and more incompatible with our vital interests. Considering the peace as a mere truce of experiment, wise and temperate men regarded with complacency the treaty of Amiens, for the very reasons that would have insured the condemnation of any other treaty under any other circumstances. Its palpable deficiencies were its antidote; or rather they formed its very essence, and declared at first sight, what alone it was, or was meant to be. Any attempt at that time, and in this treaty, to have secured Italy, Holland, and the German empire, would have been, in the literal sense of the word, preposterous. The nation would have withdrawn all faith in the pacific intentions of the ministers, if the negotiation had been broken off on a plea of this kind for it had taken for granted the extreme desirableness, nay, the necessity of a peace, and, this once admitted, there would, no doubt, have been an absurdity in continuing the war for objects which the war furnished no means of realizing. If the First Consul had entered into stipulations with us respecting the continent, they would have been observed only as long as his interest from other causes
might have dictated; they would have been signed with as much sincerity and observed with as much good faith, as the article actually inserted in the treaty of Amiens, respecting the integrity of the Turkish empire. This article indeed was wisely insisted on by us, because it affected both our national honor and the interests of our Indian empire immediately; and still more, perhaps, because this of all others was the most likely to furnish an early proof of the First Consul's real dispositions. But deeply interested in the fate of the continent, as we are thought to be, it would nevertheless have been most idle to have abandoned a peace, upon the supposition of its being at all desirable, on the ground that the French government had refused that which would have been of no value had it been granted.
Indeed there results one serious disadvantage from insisting on the rights and interests of Austria, the Empire, Switzerland, &c. in a treaty between England and France, and, as it should seem, no advantage to counterbalance it. For so, any attack on those rights instantly pledges our character and national dignity to commence a war, however inexpedient it may happen to be, and however hopeless: while if a war be expedient, any attack on these countries by France furnishes a justifiable cause of war in its essential nature, and independently of all positive treaty. Seen in this light, the defects of the treaty of Amiens become its real merits. If the government of France made peace in the spirit of peace, then a friendly intercourse and the humanizing influences of commerce and reciprocal hospitality would gradually bring about in both countries the dispositions necessary for the calm discussion and sincere conclusion of a genuine, efficient, and comprehensive treaty. If the contrary proved the fact, the treaty of Amiens contained in itself the principles of its own dissolution. It was what it ought to be. If the First Consul had both meant and dealt fairly by us, the treaty would have led to a true settlement: but he acting as all prudent men expected that he would act, it supplied just reasons for the commencement of war, and at its decease left us, as a legacy, blessings that assuredly far outweighed our losses by the peace. It left us popular enthusiasm, national unanimity, and simplicity of object; and removed one inconvenience which cleaved to the last war, by attaching to the right objects, and enlisting under their proper banners, the scorn and hatred of slavery, the passion for freedom,