صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

The Americans are extremely mistaken, if they suppose that they are the only persons who are abused by the party that does abuse them. They have merely their share, along with all the friends and the advocates of Liberty in every part of the world.

The Constitutionalists of France, including the King and many of his ministers, meet with no better treatment;-and those who hold liberal opinions in this country, are assailed with still greater acrimony and fierceness. Let Mr Walsh only look to the language held by our ministerial journals, for the last twelvemonth, on the subjects of Reform and Alarm-and observe in what way not only the whole class of reformers and conciliators, but the names and persons of such men as Lords Lansdowne, Grey, Fitzwilliam, and Erskine, Sir James Mackintosh, and Messrs Brougham, Lambton, Tierney, and others, are dealt with by these national oracles, and he will be satisfied that his countrymen neither stand alone in the misfortune of which he complains so bitterly, nor are subjected to it in 'very bad company. We, too, he may probably be aware, have had our portion of the abuse which he seems to think reserved for America-and, what is a little remarkable, for being too much her advocate. For what we have said of her present power and future greatness—her wisdom in peace and her valour in war—and of all the invaluable advantages of her representative system-her freedom from taxes, sinecures, and standing armies--we have been subjected to far more virulent attacks than any of which he now complains for his countryand that from the same party scribblers, with whom we are here, somewhat absurdly, confounded and supposed to be leagued. It is really, we think, some little presumption of our fairness, that the accusations against us should be thus contradictoryand that for one and the same set of writings, we should be denounced by the ultra-royalists of England as little better than American republicans, and by the ultra-patriots of America, as the jealous defamers of her Freedom.

This, however, is of very little consequence. What we wish to impress on Mr W.is, that they who traduce the largest and ablest part of the English nation, cannot well speak the sense of that nation--and that their offences ought not, in reason, to be imputed to her. If there be any reliance on the principles of human nature, the friends of liberty in England must rejoice in the prosperity of America. Every selfish, concurs with every generous motive, to add strength to this sympathy; and if any thing is certain in our late internal history, it is, that the friends of liberty are rapidly increasing among us;--partly from increased intelligence-partly from increased suffering and impatiencepartly from conviction, prudence, and fear.

[graphic]

There is another consideration, also arising from the aspect of the times before us, which should go far, we think, at the present moment, to strengthen these bonds of affinity. It is impossible to look to the state of the Old World without seeing, or rather feeling, that there is a greater and more momentous contest impending, than ever before agitated human society. In Germany—in Spain—in France—in Italy, the principles of Re form and Liberty are visibly_arraying themselves for a final struggle with the principles of Established Abuse, -Legitimacy, or Tyranny,--or whatever else it is called, by its friends or enemies. Even in England, the more modified'elements of the same principles are stirring and heaving, around, above and beneath us, with unprecedented agitation and terror; and every thing betokens an approaching crisis in the great European commonwealth, by the result of which the future character of its governments, and the strueture and condition of its society, will in all probability be determined. The ultimate result, or the course of events that are to lead to it, we have not the presumption to predict. The struggle may be long or transitorysanguinary or bloodless; and it may end in a great and signal amelioration of all existing institutions, or in the establishment of one vast federation of military despots, domineering as usual in the midst of sensuality, barbarism, and gloom. The issues of all these things are in the hand of Providence and the womb of time; and no human eye can yet foresee the fashion of their accomplishment. But great changes are evidently preparing; and in fifty years—most probably in a far shorter time

some material alterations must have taken place in most of the established governments of Europe, and the rights of the European nations been established on a surer and more durable basis. Half a century cannot pass away in growing discontents on the part of the people, and growing fears and precautions on that of their rulers. Their pretensions must at last be put in issue; and abide the settlement of force, or fear or reason.

Looking back to what has already happened in the world, both recently and in antient times, we can scarcely doubt that the cause of Liberty will be ultimately triumphant. But through what trials and sufferings--what martyrdoms and persecutions it is doomed to work out its triumph-we profess ourselves totally unable to conjecture. The disunion of the lower and the higher classes, which was gradually disappearing with the increasing intelligence of the former, but has lately been renewed by circumstances which we cannot now stop to examine, leads, we must confess, to gloomy auguries as to the character of this contest; and fills us with apprehensions, that it may neither VOL. XXXIII. No. 66.

Dd

be peaceful nor brief. But in this, and in every other respect, we conceive that much will depend on the part that is taken by America; and on the dispositions which she may have cultivated towards the different parties concerned. Her great and growing wealth and population-her universal commercial relations-her own impregnable security—and her remoteness from the scene of dissension-must give her prodigious power and influence in such a crisis, either as a mediator or umpire, or, if she take a part, as an auxiliary and ally. That she must wish well to the cause of Freedom, it would be indecent to doubt--and that she should take an active part against it, is a thing not even to be imagined :-But she may stand aloof, a cold and disdainful spectator; and, counterfeiting a prudent indifference to scenes that neither can nor ought to be in. different to her, may see, unmoved, the prolongation of a lamentable contest, which her interference might either have prevented, or brought to a speedy termination. And this course she will most probably follow, if she allows herself to conceive antipathies to nations for the faults of a few calumnious individuals: And especially if, upon grounds so trivial, she should nourish such an animosity towards England, as to feel a repugnance to make common cause with her, even in behalf of their common inheritance of freedom.

Assuredly, there is yet no other country in Europe where the principles of liberty, and the rights and duties of nations, are so well understood as with us—or in which so great a number of men, qualified to write, speak, and act with authority, are at all times ready to take a reasonable, liberal, and practical view of those principles and duties. The Government, indeed, has not always been either wise or generous, to its own or to other countries ;-but it has partaken, or at least has been controlled by the general spirit of freedom; and we have no hesitation in saying, that the Free Constitution of England has been a blessing and protection to the remotest nations of Europe for the last 100 years. Had England not been free, the worst despotism in Europe must have been far worse than it is, at this moment. If the world had been parcelled out among arbitrary monarchs, they would have run a race of oppression, and encouraged each other in all sorts of abuses. But the existence of one powerful and flourishing State, where juster maxims were admitted, has shamed them out of their worst enormities, given countenance and encouragement to the claims of their oppressed subjects, and gradually taught their rulers to understand, that a certain measure of liberty was not only compatible with national greatness and splendour, but

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

essential to its support. In the days of Queen Elizabeth, England was the chainpion and asylum of Religions freedom-in those of King William, of National independence. If a less generous spirit has prevailed in her Cabinet since the settled predominance of Tory principles in her councils, still, the effects of her Parliamentary Opposition—tlye artillery of her free Press—the voice, in short, of her People, which Mr W. has so strangely mistaken, have not been without their effects ;-and, though some flagrant acts of injustice have stained her recent annals, we still venture to hope, that the dread of the British Public is felt as far as Petersburgh and Vienna; and would fain indulge ourselves with the belief, that it may yet scare some Imperial spoiler from a part of his prey, and lighten, if not 'break, the chains of many distant captives.

It is in aid of this decaying, perhaps expiring influence-it is as an associate or successor in the noble office of patronizing and protecting general liberty, that we now call upon America to throw from her the memory of all petty differences and nice offences, and to unite herself cordially with the liberal and enlightened part of the English nation, at a season when their joint efforts will in all probability be little enough to crown the good cause with success, and when their disunion will give dreadful advantages to the enemies of all improvement and reform. The example of America has already done much for that cause; and the very existence of such a country, under such a government, is a tower of strength, and a standard of encouragement, for all who may hereafter have to struggle for the restoration or the extension of their rights. It shows within what limits popular institutions are safe and practicable; and what a large infusion of democracy is consistent with the authority of government, and the good order of society. But her inflicence, as well as her example, will be wanted in the crisis which seems to be approaching:-and that influence must be paralyzed and inoperative, if she shall think it a duty to divide herself fro England, to look with jealousy upon her proceedings, and to judge unfavourably of all the parties she contains. We do not ask her to think well of that party, whethier in power or out of it, which has always insulted and reviled her, because she is free and independent and democratic and prosperous :--but we do confidently lay claim to her favourable opinion for that great majority of the nation that have always been opposed to this party-which has divided with her the honour of its reproaches, and is bound, by every consideration of interest and duty, consistency and common sense, to maintain her rights and her reputation, and to promote and proclaim her prosperity.

To which of these parties we belong, and to which our pen has been devoted, we suppose it is unnecessary for us to announce, even in America ;-and therefore, without recapitulating any part of what has just been said, we think we may assume, in the outset, that the charge exhibited against us by Mr W.is, at least, and on its face, a very unlikely and improbable one—that we are actuated by jealousy and spite towards America, and have joined in a scheme of systematic defamation, in order to diffuse among our countrymen a general sentiment of hostility and dislike to her! Grievous as this charge is, we should scarcely have thought it necessary to reply to it, had not the question appeared to us to relate to something of far higher importance than the character of our Journal, or the justice or injustice of an imputation on the principles of a few anonymous writers. In that case, we should have left the matter, as all the world knows we have uniformly left it in other cases, to be determined by our readers upon the evidence before them. But Mr W. has been pleased to do us the honour of identifying us with the great Whig party of this country, or, rather, of considering us as the exponents of those who support the principles of liberty-and to think his case sufficiently made out against the Nation at large, if he can prove that both the EDINBURGH and the QUARTERLY Review had given proof of deliberate malice and shameful unfairness on the subject of America. Now this, it must be admitted, gives the question a magnitude that would not otherwise belong to it; and makes what might in itself be a mere personal or literary altercation, a matter of national moment and concernment. If a sweeping conviction of mean jealousy and rancorous hostility is to be entered up against the whole British nation, and a corresponding spirit to be conjured up in the breast of America, because it is alleged that the Edinburgh Review, as well as the Quarterly, has given proof of such dispositions—then it becomes a question of nomean or ordinary concernment, to determine whether this charge has been justly brought against that unfortunate Journal, and whether its accuser has made out enough to entitle him to a verdict leading to such consequences.

It will be understood, that we deny altogether the justice of the charge :-But we wish distinctly to say in the beginning, that if it should appear to any one that, in the course of a great deal of hasty writing, by a variety of hands, in the course of twenty long years, some rash or petulant expressions had been admitted, at which the national pride of our Transatlantic brethren might be justly offended, we shall most certainly feel no anxiety to justify these expressions, nor any fear that, with the

« السابقةمتابعة »