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than hostile to its present views. In the summer of 1780, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, entered into the celebrated compact which has been generally denominated THE ARMED NEUTRALITY ; the principal objects of which were, to reduce the list of articles which should be deemed contraband; and to impart to goods the character of the bottom which conveyed them. Holland had also mani. fested unequivocally a determination to accede to the same confederacy; and it is not improbable that this measure contributed, in no inconsiderable degree, to the declaration of war which was made by Great Britain against that power towards the close of the present year.
The long and intimate friendship which had existed between these two nations, had been visibly impaired from the commencement of the American war. Although not concurring with the house of Bourbon in the wish to weaken a rival, Holland yielded to neither France nor Spain in the desire of participating in that commerce, which the independance of America would open to the world. From the commencement of hostilities, therefore, the merchants of Holland, and especially of the great commercial city of Amsterdam, watched with anxiety the progress of the war, and engaged in speculations which were profitable to themselves, and at the same time beneficial to the United States. The remonstrances made by
the British minister at the Hague against this conduct, were answered in the most amicable manner by the government; but the practice of individuals remained the saine.
When the war broke out between France and England, a great number of Dutch vessels trading with France, laden with materials for ship-building, were seized and carried into the ports of Great Britain, although the existing treaties between the two nations were understood to exclude those articles from the list of contraband of war. Attri buting these acts of violence to the necessity of her situation, Great Britain persisted in refusing to permit naval stores to be carried to her enemy in neutral bottoms. This refusal, however, was accompanied with friendly professions, with an offer to pay for the vessels and cargoes already seized, and with proposals to form new stipulations for the future regulation of that commerce.
The states-general refused to enter into any ne. gotiations for modifying the subsisting treaties; and the merchants of all the great trading towns of Holland, and especially those of Amsterdam, expressed the utmost indignation at the injuries they had sustained.
In consequence of this conduct, the British government required those succours which had been stipulated in ancient treaties, and insisted that the casus fæderis had now occurred. Advantage was
taken of the refusal of the states-general to comply with this demand, to declare the treaties between the two nations at an end.
It may well be supposed that the temper produced by this state of things was favourable to the comprehending of Holland in the treaty for an armed neutrality, and that the Dutch government was well disposed to enter into it. They acceded to it in November ; yet some unknown causes prevented the actual signature of the treaty on the part of the states-general, till a circumstance occurred which was used for the purpose of placing them in a situation not to avail themselves of the aid they would otherwise have been entitled to as a member of that confederacy.
While Mr. Lee, one of the ministers of the United States, was on his mission to the courts of Vienna and Berlin, he fell in company with Mr. John de Neufville, a merchant of Amsterdam, with whom he held several conversations on the subject of a commercial intercourse between the two nations; the result of which was, that the plan of an eventual commercial treaty was sketched out, as one which might subsequently be concluded be. tween them. This paper had received the approbation of the pensionary Van Berkel, and the city of Amsterdam, but not of the states-general.
Mr. Henry Laurens, late president of Congress, was deputed to the states.general with this plan of
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a treaty, for the double purpose of endeavouring to complete it, and of negotiating a loan for the use of his government. On his voyage he was captured by a British frigate; and his papers, which he had previously thrown overboard, were rescued from the waves by the skill and courage of a British sailor. Among these papers, which were preserved for the minister, was found the plan of a treaty which has been mentioned. This was immediately transmitted to Sir Joseph Yorke, the British minister at the Hague, to be laid before the Dutch government.
The explanations of this transaction not being deemed satisfactory by the court of London, Sir Joseph Yorke received orders to withdraw from the Hague; soon after which war was declared against Holland.
The bold measure which added one of the first maritime powers in Europe to the formidable list of enemies with which the British nation was already encompassed, was perhaps more justifiable in point of prudence than might at first view be imagined.
There may be situations to which only highminded nations are equal: where a daring policy will conduct those who adopt it safely through the very dangers it appears to invite ; dangers, which a system suggested by a timid caution might multiply instead of avoiding.
The present was probably one of those situations. Holland was about to engage as a member of the ' armed neutrality: the consequence of which must have been, either that her immense navigation would be employed, without molestation, in the transportation of the property of the enemies of Britain, and in supplying them with all the mate. rials for ship-building, and of renewing their fleets; or that, by an attempt to prevent it, the whole confederacy would be encountered.
However this may be, America received with delight the intelligence that Holland also was engaged in the war, and founded on that event ad. ditional hopes of its speedy termination,