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tendency to light stinging persiflage, deepening occasionally into impertinent sarcasm, which he carried into official intercourse and even into official papers, where he felt dislike or encountered opposition. Mr. Canning could do a gracious thing graciously, and so can anybody else. He could render himself a most agreeable and apparently friendly personal or business associate. Sidney Smith aptly characterized him as a “ dinerout of the first lustre.” But where he acted the agreeable to carry out a design, it was exceedingly difficult for him to keep up appearances long, not because he hated insincerity, but because he preferred his jest to his interest. Every shake of the mask gave a glimpse of a face behind it leering with impudence and derision. Historyism was not ranker than that of his great master, Mr. Pitt. On the contrary, the growth of public opinion rendered it visibly milder—especially towards the close of his career. The one always sacrificed everything that stood in the way of his views. The other often provoked by his trifling where nothing was to be gained. Pitt appears to have been an earnest man. When he sunk broken-hearted into his grave, all men knew that a mighty pillar of a nation's greatness had fallen. His party felt they had suffered an irreparable loss. Canning lived to be cast off by the Tories, and to have such upright and truthful men as the Duke of Wellington utterly refuse to act with him politically—more, they asserted, from his insincerity and unsteadiness than from any important differences of opinion. His great talents have never been disputed. His real character has been the subject of most conflicting opinions. We have given that version of it which seems most consistent with facts. and which was certainly exhibited in his entire course towards our country. Pinkney considered his conduct, in 1808, tainted by the most gratuitous artifice—and there even rose direct questions of veracity between them. No well-informed American of any party will doubt the perfect sincerity of character of William Pinkney, of Maryland. He was one of those rare men who engage in nothing with friend or foe, to which they cannot carry a loyal and stainless good faith. His education, knowledge of the world, and talents placed him above simple credulity or subsequent jealousy. Indeed on the score of talent, an American can have no unwilWOL. III.-18
lingness to have his side of the correspondence measured against Mr. Canning's; and if the future attorney-general of the United States, and the future first American forensic orator of his day, lacked Mr. Canning's ability in any department (but that of a mere wit), it was, probably, only from the want of equal experience in that department." After Mr. Pinkney wrote home his favorable dispatches already mentioned of June 29th, 1808, he continued to have apparently the most friendly intercommunications with Canning. Two of these took place on the 22d and 29th of July, in which the latter encouraged the greatest freedom, and appeared anxious to draw out the American Minister as far as possible. But before the close of the last interview Canning apprised Pinkney that their discussions must henceforth be in writing— and that without an explicit proposal in writing, on which the British Government could deliberate and act, nothing further could be effected. The American minister had no objection to place his proposition in writing—a demand for the revocation of the orders in council, and a stipulation, when this should take place, that the Embargo should be immediately suspended as far as it regarded Great Britain—provided he could be given to understand what would be the answer before preparing his note. Canning did not press the preparation of the note, but he declared that if it was written, his Government must be left free to act upon it, without an intimation in advance. Pinkney, fearing a written correspondence might lead to unnecessary discussion, attempted to change his determination, but in vain. He was compelled, therefore, to submit a written proposition, or in effect, to drop the negotiation—and he had been led to suppose that the most favorable dispositions were felt towards an immediate accommodation. He accordingly prepared a note, and delivered it on the 26th of August. (It is dated 23d in 1 Colonel Benton's Thirty Years' View has few more warmly written pages than those devoted to the character of Mr. Pinkney (q.v. vol. i., pp. 19, 20). John Randolph's annunciation of Pinkney's death in the House of Representatives, in 1828, has become hio. ” [said Mr. Randolph] “to announce to the House the not unlooked for death of a man who filled the first place in the public estimation in this or in any other conntry. We have been talking of General Jackson, and a greater than him, is, not here, but gone for ever. I allude, sir, to the boast of Maryland, and the pride of the United States—the pride of all of us, but more "...". the pride and ornament of the
profession of which you, Mr. Speaker (Mr. Phillip P. Barbour), are a member and an eminent one.”
the correspondence.) It embraced the proposal already mentioned.
A month afterwards (September 23d), Canning replied in two separate communications. In the first, he gave as the reason for his requiring written instead of verbal communications, “a recollection of the misrepresentation which took place in America of former conferences between them "–though he acquitted Pinkney of having originated it. He mentioned that “his share" in the preceding verbal communications had been small, and intimated that he had always discouraged them and engaged in them with reluctance. On one point, indeed, he confessed he had been “particularly anxious to receive precise information, and upon which, from Mr. Pinkney’s candor and frankness, he was fortunate enough to obtain it.” As the latter had connected in his overtures the suspension of the Embargo with the repeal of the order in council of 11th November, as well as the preceding one of the 7th of January, he had been desirous to ascertain whether that of November had been known to the Government of the United States “previously to the message of the President proposing the Embargo, so as to be a moving consideration to that Message,” and “had the satisfaction to learn that such was not the fact”—that rumors of it might have reached America, but that there was no certain knowledge of it in the possession of the American Government.
The second letter announced the determination of the British Government to adhere to the orders in council as a necessary act of retaliation against France; that his majesty regarded the American Embargo as “manifestly unjust" towards England, “as according to every principle of justice,” “redress ought to have been first sought from the party originating the wrong;” that “by some unfortunate concurrence of circumstances, without any hostile intention, the American Embargo did come in aid of the “blockade of the European continent’ precisely at the very moment when, if that blockade could have succeeded at all, this interposition of the American Government would most effectually have contributed to its success.” The tone of both the letters is well exemplified in the following Canninglike paragraph:
“His majesty would not hesitate to contribute, in any manner in his power, to
restore to the commerce of the United States its wonted activity; and if it were possible to make any sacrifice for the repeal of the Embargo, without appearing to deprecate it as a measure of hostility, he would gladly have facilitated its removal, as a measure of inconvenient restriction upon the American people.”
The broad insinuation, or rather charge against the veracity of the American Government, in the first letter, is palpable. The paragraph last quoted was an impertinence worthy of a pettifogger in the theatre of a police court, or of the smartness of an actor in low comedy. Pinkney himself was placed by a false declaration in the mortifying posture of a minister who had not waited to have his official secrets wormed from him, but who had hastened, with more than rustic simplicity, to voluntarily expose them. All this (if his word can be taken) came without the shifting of a circumstance, or a particle of premonition, on the heel of a continuous train of those friendly and cordial assurances which had led him to feel confident of a ready and favorable adjustment. This was purely Canninglike. o But, to borrow a forensic phrase, he “took nothing by his motion.” Pinkney replied in the language of a gentleman, for he knew no other. But he followed up his antagonist keenly and nervously, and exposed him at every point. The letter (dated October 10th) is too long to quote, and we will take space to mention but two of its allegations. He declared that all their oral communications had been directly invited and encouraged by Canning; and he explicitly denied having given the information attributed to him in regard to a knowledge of the last orders in council by the American Government when the Embargo was recommended. And he said all that he did utter on that subject was conjectural, and that he “professed” at the time “to speak, and did in fact speak from general information only.” Canning's next official communication to him was dated November 22d, after the meeting of the American Congress; and there is nothing in it, or in their subsequent correspondence, that demands our particular attention. Congress convened on the 7th of November. The President's Message began by mentioning the propositions which had been made to England and France in regard to the Embargo, and their rejection. This experiment having failed, that law,
he said, had necessarily remained in full force. It had been borne, in general, with patriotism; it had saved our mariners and our property; it had given us time to prepare defensive and provisional measures; it had demonstrated our moderation and firmness to other nations, and the necessity of uniting in support of the laws and the rights of our country, to ourselves; and it “had thus long frustrated those usurpations and spoliations which, if resisted, involved war—if submitted to, sacrificed a vital principle of our national independence.” The proper course to be pursued henceforth was referred to the wisdom of Congress. The instructions which had been given to our ministers at London and Paris were laid before Congress. It appeared from their correspondence, that in addition to the rejection of our recent offers, England had taken no steps to make redress for the attack on the Chesepeake, still adhering to her inadmissible preliminary, and “now bringing it into connection with the distinct and irrelative case of the orders in council.” With the other nations of Europe, and with the Barbary powers, the President said, no material changes had occurred in our relations since the last session. Negotiations with Spain had been alternately suspended and resumed, and now “necessarily experienced a pause under the extraordinary and interesting crisis which distinguished her internal situation.” “With our Indian neighbors,” the President stated, “the public peace had been steadily maintained,” notwithstanding some instances of individual wrong, the perpetrators of which had been given up. He continued :
“And, generally, from a conviction that we consider them as part of ourselves, and cherish with sincerity their rights and interests, the attachment of the Indian tribes is gaining strength daily—is extending from the nearer to the more remote, and will amply requite us for the justice and friendship practised towards them. Husbandry and household manufacture are advancing among them, more rapidly with the southern than the northern tribes, from circumstances of soil and climate; and one of the two great divisions of the Cherokee nation have now under consideration to solicit the citizenship of the United States, and to be identified with us in laws and government, in such progressive manner as we shall think best.”
The appropriations of the last session for harbor fortifications, he said, had been expended, and most of the works would be completed during the season, except at New York and New