« AnteriorContinuar »
and most durable, because the most pure, is the conquest over herself, over the desire of dominion, inherent in every human being, and the restraining and regulating of which is the first of moral duties, and the highest of political honours.
We pass, however, from the morals of this most moderate of all the American parties to their prospects for the future; and here the prophetic mantle of the democrats seems to have fallen on the federalists. -
'The resources, territorial, intellectual, and moral of this country are immense and various, and widening on all sides with inconceivable rapidity; and the settled conviction of the American people arising out of the circumstances of the late war is, that they are decidedly superior to the British; and can always beat them man to man, ship to ship, gun to gun, bayonet to bayonet, on the flood and in the field. And uncounted myriads of American hearts now beat high and quick in aspirations for another contest with Britain; a spirit which the government carefully cherishes by newspaper effusions, by public toasts and orations, by Congressional and State Legislative speeches and resolutions: the great objects of American ambition being to annex to their already too gigantic dominion, the British North American colonies on the continent, and the West India Islands; and also the Spanish colonies bordering on the southern states.'—p. 235.
These objects, like the party which pursues them, must be allowed to be indeed ' moderate'!
It is confessed that 'the general government was itself broken down during the last war; it fled at Bladensburg;' (indeed it did !) ' gave up Washington to a victorious and justly exasperated enemy; and was unable to send a single recruit to their skeleton armies, or to pour a single stiver into their exhausted treasury.' But, with true republican foresight, Mr. Bristed foretels that this will not happen again; for, says he—
'They are now preparing, in the bosom of peace, the means of future conflict; by building up the finances of the country; by planting every where the germs of an army, by sowing those teeth which will soon start up in bands of armed warriors; by a rapid augmentation of their navy; and, above all, by attempting to allay the animosities of partyspirit, and endeavouring to direct the whole national mind and inclination of the United States towards the aggrandizement by conquest, alike on the land and on the ocean: by adding to their present immense empire, the continental possessions of Spain and England, and the British insular domains in the West Indies.
'The great question now at issue, we are told, between America and Europe is, which of the two shall change its form and system of government? Whether Europe shall become more democratic or the United States more aristocratic? That England must not " lay the flattering unction to her soul," that she can ever make America her friend; that as the world could not bear two suns, nor Persia two kings, so the day is
B 3 last fast approaching when the globe will not be able to endure the existence of these two mighty maritime empires. The maxim of delenda est Carthago never found more cordial advocates in the Roman senate, than it now fmds as applicable to Britain in the inmost recesses of every American bosom.'—p. 246.
We do not feel appalled by the awful intimation that ' England must not lay the flattering unction to her soul that it is possible ever to make America her friend,' or by the terrific information that ' the ocean will ere long have its waters deeply dyed with American and British blood, contending for the exclusive dominion of that element, which is emphatically the cradle and the home of the mariners of both nations.' We have indeed been so unwise as to think her friendship rather better than her enmity, but neither the one nor the other is so much an object of our desire, as that she may be her own friend, and not indulge in such wild vagaries as may compel either England, or any other nation, to put forth its energies. The government of America is so fluctuating that it may well forget the events of a few years. Our author says that, of 184 members of the present Congress, only six were in the legislature in 1 80<), and have continued there without interruption; and six or seven others, who were in that assembly, but were not chosen to the succeeding ones, are again elected, all together making twelve experienced law-givers, of nine years' education. He tells us only one out of the forty senators of 1809 How sits in the Upper House; and that no member of the present executive government was in office at that period. How long the men now in power may continue is uncertain, but as long as they remain they will surely tiot forget that, after a war of less than three years, with a power whose energies were directed to objects of far higher moment, than any thing America can present, ' they could not raise so insignificant a sum as sixty millions of dollars by way of loan, although they gave, in bonus and interest, twenty per cent, for what they borrowed.'* They cannot forget ' that
* These facts are corroborated by Barbe Marbois, a Frenchman whose hostility to England approaches to insanity, and whose outrageous panegyrics on America must appear ironical even to the Americans themselves. In two years of warfare, in which none of their offensive operations were successful, they had so reduced their country, that they were unable to recruit their armies, or to replenish their treasury. 'The states (he adds) were disturbed by a powerful opposition; leading men but little known directed their exertions, contrary to the true interests of the country; a flourishing commerce was ruined; the produce of the duties experienced a considerable diminution; the internal taxes were renewed and augmented; an enormous extent of territory was disposed of; the revenue was reduced to thirteen millions of dollars; the states borrowed above sixty millions, and the treasury issued bills for more than twenty millions, and there was an arrear of nine millions. Almost all the individual banks suspended their payments in specie; the exchange fluctuated from 10 to 15 per cent, between adjoining states. On the 1st January, 1816, the debt, including the treasury bills, and the arrears, mounted up to 130 millions.'
no one in the whole Union would lend them a single dollar; nor would a single individual enrol himself voluntarily in their armies, so that they had actually prepared bills for Congress to pass enabling them to raise money by requisition and forced loans, and to levy men by the French system of conscription, when the return of peace arrested these death-blows to all the popular institutions and republican liberties of the United States of America.' They cannot be ignorant that the power which they attempt to terrify, after a war of twenty years' duration, carried on with vigour and spirit in every quarter of the globe, was enabled, from its own cicizens, without compulsion, or even intreaty, to borrow, at very moderate interest, five times the sum which America vainly attempted to raise. They cannot be uninformed that this same state, which must not presume to hope for their friendship, raised by voluntary enrolment, without force and without conscription, an army of more than two hundred thousand men, and not merely defied, but subdued the oppressor of the civilized world.
'But,' continues Mr. Bristed, who occasionally betrays what the more energetic republicans will call a cowardly want of true American spirit,
* But it behoves the United States to pause, at least^or the present, in their strides towards territorial aggrandizement; for it is understood that the treaty of Vienna, which is now the basis of national convention law in Europe, stipulates that if one European nation has any domestic quarrels, either with its colonies or within its home dominions, the high contracting parties do not interfere; but if any power attacks the integral empire of any European sovereignty, the parties to the Vienna treaty protect it. If such be the stipulations of the Vienna pact, the United States should be wary in their attempts on the Floridas, the British northern provinces and West India islands, lest they bring all Europe upon them with her numerous and well disciplined armies.' —p. 247.
We see here something that may perhaps guide us along the line which divides the two great American parties. Both unite in designs of conquest, both treat with equal contempt the law of nations and the rights of other countries, and both are filled with equal animosity to England :—but the Federalists mean to be sure and cautious; whilst the thorough-paced Jacobins, regardless of all consequences, or overlooking them in their fury for conquest, would rush on their object, and, like their predecessors in France, trust to proscription and massacre to furnish the means of maintaining the contest after they have plunged their country into it. As the parties are nearly equal on the whole surface of the states, the Federalists preponderating in the north, and the Democrats in the south; perhaps these variations may account for the different modes of
B 4 their their proceedings in the two quarters. The former have only deferred their operations till they can accumulate force to make them effectual; and therefore neither Canada nor Nova Scotia has been attacked since the peace: but the latter have commenced their operations with promptitude and decision; aud already signalized their valour by the murder of two unarmed Englishmen, the massacre of the Seminole Indians, and the capture of the undefended citadel of Pensacola.
But we must draw towards a conclusion. We cannot avoid regarding Mr. Bristed with some degree of respect. His struggles are evident. In writing his book, his pride in his native country, •which all his republicanism has been unable to overcome, has frequently had to contend with the flattering but unsubstantial prospect which the prophetic folly that ever accompanies democracy has impressed on his mind, to a degree almost equalling that of the vain people with whom he is 'domiciled,' and whom he thus describes:: 'The national vanity of the United States surpasses that of any other country, not excepting France. It blazes out every where and on all occasions—in their conversation, newspapers, pamphlets, speeches, and books. They assume it as a self-evident fact, that the Americans surpass all other nations in virtue, wisdom, valour, liberty, government, and every other excellence. All Europeans tbey profess to despise as ignorant paupers and dastardly slaves. Even during President Washington's administration, Congress debated three days upon the important position, that " America was the most enlightened nation on earth," and finally decided the affirmative by a small majority. At the breaking out of the late war with England, General Moreau, who then resided in this city, was asked if our officers did not seek to avail themselves of his military skill and experience, by propounding questions to him? ',He replied, " there is not an ensign in the American army who does not consider himself a much greater tactician than General Moreau." And our present president, in his recent tour through the Union, told the people of Kennebec in the district of Maine, "that the United States were certainly the most enlightened nation in the world."*— p. 460,
Vanity, in its earliest stages, js one of those mental diseases which is little injurious to the patient, and therefore to be treated with good nature; the vanity of a community, like that of the Americans, is of much the same kind: it is amusing; and we therefore listen to their politicians with no unpleasant feelings, when with a population less than that of the second-rate states of Europe, weakened by being scattered over a most extended surface, and separated by manners and habits as distant from each other as those of the natives of Lapland and Naples, they talk of sending forth fleets and armies to subjugate the world! The inhabitants of New South
Wales might, with equal reason, indulge the same lofty expectations. They are indeed a century behind their transatlantic brethren; but their population has increased faster, their territory is more extensive, their soil more fertile, and their climate far more salubrious: the embryo statesmen, philosophers, and warriors of that boundless continent may therefore (and perhaps they do) sagely calculate the time when, having shaken off the dominion of feudal Europe, and started in the full career of republicanism, they shall, in their progress,' whiten every sea,' in the language of Mr. Bristed,* 'with their commercial canvass, bear their naval thunders in triumph to earth's extremest verge, peer above the sovereignty of other natioiis,' even the great American one; and cause it, even before its head is ' white with the hoar of age,' to bow, with its venerable parent, to the influence of Australasia, the 'youngest daughter of the civilized globe.'
Art. II.—The Civil Architecture of Fitruvius, containing those Books of this Author relating to the Public and Private Edifices of the Ancients. Translated by William Wilkins, A.M. late fellow of Caius College, Cambridge. Part I. London. Part II. completing the work, 1818. TNNUMERABLE have been the speculations as to the sources -*- of that vast pre-eminence in the liberal arts and sciences, which raised Athens so far above every other state of ancient days. Whilst some have attributed it to the form of government, and to the freedom enjoyed by the people under the republic, others trace it to national vanity and the ambition of surpassing the efforts of contemporary states. Neither of these explanations is satisfactory: there are not wanting examples, either in ancient or modern times, of national ambition carried to equal extent, in works of science and art. The history of Athens itself affords a refutation of the hypothesis. Perhaps at no one period, compared with the advances made by preceding ages, did Athens offer a more brilliant picture than during the dominion of the Pisistratidae, more especially in the early part of the reign of Hipparchus; who, inheriting the taste of his father, was a most liberal patron of poets, philosophers, and artists. Under his directions great part of Athens was rebuilt: the advance of the arts was manifested in the splendid
* We give the whole passage, because it furnishes no unfair specimen of American composition, as adopted by the best writers in that language. 'America shall spring forward during the next, with the same velocity and force with which she lias moved progressively during the last fifty years: she will then whiten every sea with her commercial canvass; bear her naval thunders in triumph to earth's extremest verge; peer above the sovereignty of other nations, and cause the elder world to bow its venerable bead, white with the hoar of ages, beneath the paramount power and influence of this younger daughter of the civilized globe.'—p. 454.
'• "- - appear