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I do not deny that in small truckling states a timely compromise with power has often been the means, and the only means, of drawling out their puny existence: but a great state is too much envied, too much dreaded, to find safety in humiliation. To be secure, it must be respected. Power, and eminence, and consideration, are things not to be begged. They must be commanded : and they who supplicate for mercy from others can never hope for justice through themselves. What justice they are to obtain, as the alms of an enemy, depends upon his character; and that they ought well to know before they implicitly confide.
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I think we might have found, before the rude hand of insolent office was on our shoulder, and the staff of usurped authority brandished over our heads, that contempt of the suppliant is not the best forwarder of a suit; that national disgrace is not the high road to security, much less to power and greatness. Patience, indeed, strongly indicates the love of peace: but mere Jove does not always lead to enjoyment. It is the power of winning that palm which ensures our wearing it. Virtues have their place; and out of their place they hardly deserve the name. They pass into the neighbouring vice. The patience of fortitude, and the endurance of pusillanimity, are things very different, as in their principle, so in their effects.
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I know it is supposed, that if good terms of capitulation are not granted, after we have thus so repeatedly hung out the white flag, the national spirit will
revive with tenfold ardour. This is an experiment cautiously to be made. Reculer pour mieux sauter, according to the French by-word, cannot be trusted to as a general rule of conduct.
To diet a man into weakness and languor, afterwards to give him the greater strength, has more of the empiric than the rational physician. It is true that some persons have been kicked into courage ; and this is no bad hint to give to those who are too forward and liberal in bestowing insults and outrages on their passive companions. But such a course does not at first view appear a well-chosen discipline to form men to a nice sense of honour, or a quick resentment of injuries. A long habit of humiliation does not seem a very good preparative to manly and vigorous sentiment. It may not leave, perhaps, enough of energy in the mind fairly to discern what are good terms or what are not. Men low and dispirited may regard those terms as not at all amiss, which in another state of mind they would think intolerable: if they grow peevish in this state of mind, they may be roused, not against the enemy whom they have been taught to fear, but against the ministry, who are more within their reach, and who have refused conditions that are not unreasonable, from power that they have been taught to consider as irresistible.
NECESSITY, as it has no law, so it has no shame; but moral necessity is not like metaphysical, or even physical. In that category, it is a word of loose signification, and conveys different ideas to different minds. To the low-minded, the slightest necessity becomes an invincible necessity. « The slothful man saith,
“ there is a lion in the way, and I shall be devoured “ in the streets." But when the necessity pleaded is not in the nature of things, but in the vices of him who alleges it, the whining tones of common-place beggarly rhetoric, produce nothing but indignation; because they indicate a desire of keeping up a dishonourable existence, without utility to others, and without dignity to itself; because they aim at obtaining the dues of labour without industry; and by frauds would draw from the compassion of others, what men ought to owe to their own spirit and their own exertions.
I am thoroughly satisfied that if we degrade ourselves, it is the degradation which will subject us to the yoke of necessity, and not that it is necessity which has brought on our degradation.
Peace or war are the great hinges upon which the very being of nations turns. Negotiations are the means of making peace or preventing war, and are therefore of more serious importance than almost any single event of war can possibly be.
The very idea of a negotiation for peace, whatever the inward sentiments of the parties may be, implies some confidence in their faith, some degree of belief in the professions which are made concerning it. A temporary and occasional credit, at least, is granted. Otherwise men stumble on the very threshold. I therefore wish to ask what hope we can have of their good faith, who, as the very basis of the negotiation, assume the ill faith and treachery of those they have to deal with ?
It is not within the rules of dexterous conduct to make an acknowledgment of a contested title in your enemy, before you are morally certain that your recognition will secure his friendship. Otherwise it is a measure worse than thrown away. It adds infinitely to the strength, and consequently to the demands of the adverse party. He has gained a fundamental point without an equivalent.
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I do not say, that a diplomatic measure ought to be, like a parliamentary or a judicial proceeding, according to strict precedent. I hope I am far from that pedantry. But this I know, that a great state ought to have some regard to its ancient maxims; especially where they indicate its dignity; where they concur with the rules of prudence; and above all, where the circumstances of the time require that a spirit of innovation should be resisted, which leads to the humiliation of sovereign powers. It would be ridiculous to assert, that those powers have suffered nothing in their estimation. I admit, that the greater interests of state will for a moment supersede all other considerations : but if there was a rule that a sovereign never should let down his dignity without a sure payment to his interest, the dignity of kings would be held high enough,
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Before our opinions are quoted against ourselves, it is proper that, from our serious deliberation, they may be worth quoting. It is without reason we praise the wisdom of our constitution, in putting under the discretion of the crown, the awful trust of war and peace, if the ministers of the crown virtually return again into our hands. The trust was placed there as a sacred deposit, to secure us against popular rashness in plunging into wars, and against the effects of popular disnay, disgust, or lassitude in getting out of them as imprudently as we might first engage in them. To have no other measure in judging of those great objects than our momentary opinions and desires, is to throw us back upon that very democracy which in this part, our constitution was formed to avoid.
Men of no decided character, without judgment to chuse, and without courage to profess any principle whatsoever.
Such men can serve no cause, for this plain reason, they have no cause at heart. They can at best work only as mere mercenaries. They have not been guilty of great crimes ; but it is only because they have not energy of mind to rise to any height of wickedness. They are not hawks or kites; they are only miserable fowls whose flight is not above their dunghill or henroost. But they tremble before the authors of these horrors. They admire them at a safe and respectful distance. There never was a mean and abject mind that did not admire an intrepid and dexterous villain. In the bottom of their hearts they believe such hardy miscreants to be the only men qualified for great affairs : if you set them to transact with such persons,