Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

country, both our own citizens and hers; by the information and opinions of some of her citizens, who, having resided here, have carried home with them those erroneous opinions, which foreigners generally form about countries they visit; and it is to be feared by the behaviour too of some of our citizens in her own country, who, forgetting the trust reposed in them, and the situations in which they were placed, allowed themselves to pursue a course of conduct and conversation, calculated to confirm France in all her unfounded and injurious opinions, respecting this country. Supposing, therefore, that the people of this country are unwilling to oppose her, and the government unable ; that we should prefer peace with submission, to the risk of war; that a strong party devoted to her will hang on the government, and impede all its measures of reaction; and that, if she should place us by her aggressions in a situation, where the choice should seem to lie between a war with England and a war with her, our hatred to England, joined to those other causes, would force us to take the former part of the alternative; she has resolved on the measures which she is now pursuing, and the object of which is to make us renounce the treaty with England, and enter into a quarrel with that nation : in fine, to effect by force and aggressions, that which she had attempted in vain by four years of intriguing and insidious policy.

If such are her objects, how was she to be induced to renounce them? By trifling concessions of this, that, or the other article of a treaty; this, that or the other advantage in trade?--No. It seems to me a delusion equally fatal and unaccountable, to suppose that she is to be thus satisfied: to suppose that, by these inconsiderable favors which she has not even asked for, she is to be bought off from a plan so great and important. It seems to me the most fatal and unaccountable delusion, that can make gentlemen shut their eyes to this testimony of every nation, to

[ocr errors]

this glare of light bursting in from every side; that can render them blind to the projects of France, to the Herculean strides of her overtowering ambition, which so evidently aims at nothing less than the establishment of universal empire, or universal influence, and has fixed on this country as one of the instruments for accomplishing her plan.

It is against this dangerous delusion that I wish to warn the House and the country. I wish to warn them not to deceive themselves with the vain and fallacious expectation, that the concessions proposed by this amendment will satisfy the wishes or arrest the measures of France. Do I dissuade you from these concessions? Far from it, I wish them to be offered, and in the way the most likely to give weight to the offer. It is a bridge which I am willing to build, for the pride of France to retreat over; but what I wish to warn the House against, is the resting satisfied with building the bridge, to the neglect of those measures by which France may be induced to march over it, after it shall be built. I wish to negociate, and I even rely much on success; but the success of the negociation must be secured on this floor. It must be secured by adopting firm language and energetic measures ; measures which will convince France, that those opinions respecting this country, on which her system is founded, are wholly erroneous ; that we are neither a weak, a pusillanimous or a divided people; that we are not disposed to barter honor for quiet, nor to save our money at the expense of our rights : which will convince her, that we understood her projects, and are determined to oppose them, with all our resources, and at the hazard of all our possessions. This, I believe, , is the way to insure success to the negociation; and without this I shall consider it as a measure equally vain, weak and delusive.

When France shall at length be convinced, that we are firmly resolved to call forth all our resources, and

exert all our strength to resist her encroachments and aggressions, she will soon desist from them. She need not be told what these resources are; she well knows their greatness and extent; she well knows that this country, if driven into a war, could soon become invulnerable to her attacks, and could throw a most formidable and preponderating weight into the scale of her adversary. She will not, therefore, drive us to this extremity, but will desist as soon as she finds us determined. I have already touched on our means of injuring France, and of repelling her attacks; and if those means were less than they are, still they might be rendered all-sufficient, by resolution and courage. It is in these that the strength of nations consists, and not in fleets, nor armies, nor population, nor money: in the sunconquerable will—the courage never to submit or yield.” These are the true sources of national greatness; and to use the words of a celebrated writer," where these means are not wanting, all others will be found or created.” It was by these means that Holland, in the days of her glory, triumphed over the mighty power of Spain. It is by these, that in latter times, and in the course of the present war, the Swiss, a people, not half so numerous as we, and possessing few of our advantages, have honorably maintained their neutrality amid the shock of surrounding states, and against the haughty aggressions of France herself. The Swiss have not been without their trials. They had given refuge to many French emigrants, whom their vengeful and implacable country had driven and pursued from state to state, and whom it wished to deprive of their last asylum in the mountains of Switzerland. The Swiss were required to drive them away, under the pretence that to afford them a retreat was contrary to the laws of neutrality. They at first temporized and evaded the demand : France insisted; and finding at length that evasion was useless, they assumed a firm attitude, and declared that

64

VOL. 1.

having afforded an asylum to those unfortunate exiles, which no law of neutrality forbade, they would protect them in it at every hazard. France, finding them thus resolved, gave up the attempt. This was effected by that determined courage, which alone can make a nation great or respectable: and this effect has invariably been produced by the same cause, in every age and every

clime. It was this that made Rome the mistress of the world, and Athens the protectress of Greece. When was it that Rome attracted most strongly the admiration of mankind, and impressed the deepest sentiment of fear on the hearts of her enemies? It was when seventy thousand of her sons lay bleeding at Cannæ, and Hannibal, victorious over three Roman armies and twenty nations, was thundering at her gates. It was then that the young and heroic Scipio

, having sworn on his sword in the presence of the fathers of the country, not to despair of the republic, marched forth at the head of a people, firmly resolved to conquer or die: and that resolution insured them the victo

When did Athens appear the greatest and the most formidable? It was when giving up their houses and possessions to the flames of the enemy, and having transferred their wives, their children, their aged parents, and the symbols of their religion on board of their fleet, they resolved to consider themselves as the republic, and their ships as their country. It was then they struck that terrible blow, under which the greatness of Persia sunk and expired.

These means, sir, and many others are in our power. Let us resolve to use them, and act so as to convince France that we have taken the resolution, and there is nothing to fear. This conviction will be to us instead of fleets and armies, and even more effectual

. Seeing us thus prepared she will not attack us. Then will she listen to our peaceable proposals; then will she accept the concessions we mean to offer. But should this offer not be thus supported, should it be at

ry.

tended by any circumstances from which she can discover weakness, distrust or division, then will she reject it with derision and scorn. I view in the proposed amendment circumstances of this kind; and for that, among other reasons shall vote against it. I shall vote against it not because I am for war, but because I am for peace; and because I see in this amendment itself, and more especially in the course to which it points, the means of impeding, instead of promoting our pacific endeavors. And let it be remembered, that when we give this vote, we vote not only on the peace of our country, but on what is far more important, its rights and its honor.

END OF VOL. I.

« AnteriorContinuar »