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"VIII. Commerce shall flow in a free course for the general advantage of the united powers.
"IX. A universal, unlimited amnesty shall be proclaimed in every part of Greece and Asia.
"This," said the Athenian, "is the rough sketch of a treaty founded on virtue and liberty. The idea of it still fills and expands my soul; and, if it cannot be realized, I shall not think it less glorious, but shall only grieve more and more at the perverseness of mankind. May the Eternal Being, whom the wise and the virtuous adore, and whose attribute it is to convert into good that evil which his unsearchable wisdom permits, inspire all ranks of men to promote either this or a similar plan 1 If this be impracticable, Oh miserable human nature! But I am fully confident that, if more at large happiness of all."
No more is extant of this interesting piece, upon which the commentary of the sage Polybius would have been particularly valuable in these times.
No. II. p. 472.
A PROJECT OF LORD ROCHFORD TO PREVENT THE WAR.*
Before the declaration of France in favor of America, Lord Rochford, formerly ambassador in Spain and in France, formed a project to prevent the war. It was, that England should propose a great treaty of confederation between France, Spain, Portugal, and England, the objects of which should be the three following.
* Sir John Dalrymple passed from Lisbon through Spain to Paris. While he was in Madrid, he called on Count de Florida Blanca, the Spanish minister of Foreign Affairs, and, after some general conversation about the war, the minister requested him to state in writing what he had to say on that subject. He accordingly sent this Memoir, which he called A Historical Anecdote. It had been drawn up some time previously, and it purports to have been the work of Lord Rochford, but its precise date is not known. Count de Florida Blanca gave a copy of the original to Mr. Jay, who was then the American minister at the court of Spain; and Mr. Carmichael sent a transcript of the same to Dr. Franklin. See Diplomatic Correspondence, Vol. VII p. 266.
The first, a mutual guarantee between these four powers of their possessions in America and the two Indies, with a proviso, that a war in Europe should never be a war in those remote regions on any pretext whatever; fixing also the number of troops and vessels to be furnished by the contracting powers against the power, that should contravene the peace in those distant parts. The second object was, to grant a participation in the commerce of America to France, Spain, and Portugal, as far as such participation might not be incompatible with the common interests, and without the rivalship of English America in England. The third object was, the adjustment of the contested privileges of the Americans, upon principles just and honorable for them. Lord Rochford was at that time Secretary of State. He told me, that the first person, to whom he had communicated this project, was the late Prince of Mazarano, ambassador of Spain, and that, though old and indisposed, he arose and embraced him, and said, "Ah! my Lord, what divinity has inspired you t" Lord Rocbford also communicated it to a friend of his, who was then, and still continues, one of the ministers of the King of England, who gave it his approbation; but Lord Rochford soon after quitted the ministry and retired to the country, by which accident the project failed of being presented to the cabinet of the King.
I have given a relation of this anecdote, because I am one of the four or five persons who alone know the truth of it, and because I am of opinion, that it is not yet too late to revive a project, which will save a million of Christians from becoming widows and orphans. As to the first object of such a confederacy, Lord Rochford did not doubt of the proposition's being accepted by all the powers, because it was the interest of all to accept it. The losses of France in the two Indies the last war, and their misfortunes in the East Indies in the present one, where, in six weeks, they have lost all they possessed; the losses of the Spaniards in the last war in the two Indies, and even the stroke the other day in the Bay of Honduras, by a young captain with a handful of soldiers; the facility with which Portugal lost the Island of St. Catharine in the Brazils, and the misfortunes of the English armies the three last years in America, all prove, that France, Spain, Portugal, and England, have their tender parts in America and the two Indies, and, of consequence, that they have all an interest in a mutual guarantee of their possessions in those three parts of the world.
As to the second object of the confederacy, I am sensible, that the idea of the other three powers participating in the commerce of America, under the limitation of its not being incompatible with the common interests of English America and England, is an idea somewhat vague, and subject to disputes. But, fortunately for humanity, there are five persons in those five countries, of characters which render them proper to draw the outlines of some determinate regulations, which will admit of no disputes, and may enrich France, Spain, and Portugal, without impoverishing England and her colonies. In America there is Doctor Franklin, perhaps the first genius of the age, who is well acquainted with the commercial connexions between America and England; France has her Comptroller-General, who, from his youth, has been brought up in the practice of commerce; in Spain, we find M. Campomanes, who has employed the maturity of his life in studies, that give him a superiority in discussions of this kind; Portugal will be assisted by the counsels of the Duke of Braganza, who has gathered knowledge in almost every field, in courts, in libraries, and even on the exchanges of the merchants of Europe; and, as for England, she has a minister, who, thoroughly versed in the true interests of commerce, will not refuse to America what he has just granted to Ireland.
As to the third object of the confederation, England, who much boasts of her own Magna Charta, will make no difficulty in granting a magna charta to the liberties of America. Perhaps the best means to expedite this measure would be to give a carte blanche to Dr. Franklin. A generous confidence is the surest means to secure a generous man. Spain has, too, very solid interests in the success of such a confederacy, and against the independence of America. The first is, that if English America becomes independent, Spanish America will be overrun with the contraband of the Americans thus independent of England. 1. England is' bound by treaties with Spain not to carry on the contraband trade. 2. She is restrained by the fear of this contraband's drawing a war upon her in Europe, which was the consequence of it in the times of Sir Robert Walpole. 3. The dearness of English and European commodities sets natural bounds to the quantity of this contraband.
But, when the Americans are independent, they will say, first, they are not bound by the treaties of the English; secondly, they will not be restrained by fear, being so far from Spain; and, having defended themselves against eighty thousand English soldiers and marines, they would but little dread the forces of Spain; and, thirdly, the low price of American commodities will cover the Spanish colonies with contraband. Indeed, necessity itself will oblige the Americans either to carry on this contraband, or to make war on Spanish and Portuguese America and their Islands. They have neither gold nor silver among themselves, and without these precious metals, they can neither cultivate their lands nor carry on commerce. They will only have four sources from whence to draw them; first, their commerce with Europe; secondly, pensions from France and Spain; thirdly, a contraband trade with the provinces of Spain and Portugal in the new world; and, fourthly, a war in these provinces.
While the Americans continue in a state, which the English call rebellion, their commerce with Europe will be interrupted by English cruisers. Thus they will draw but a small quantity of these precious metals from this first source. The pensions of France and Spain will be much too inconsiderable to support the agriculture and manufactures of so extensive a country. Their only remaining source, then, for these metals will be in the contraband, or wars with the Spanish and Portuguese provinces. To prevent this contraband, the treaty of confederation might make provision against the contraband both of the English and Americans. It is a delicate point for an Englishman to suggest the means; but, were the two nations sincerely disposed for peace, I could in a quarter of an hour suggest the infallible means.
Spain has another interest, perhaps still greater, against the independence of the Americans, and, consequently, in favor of the treaty in question. The Americans, who will be able to fly with their sails wherever they please, will make establishments in New Zealand, the Islands of Otaheite, or some other Islands in the South Sea, from whence they will torment the Spaniards in that sea, and even the English, the French, the Portuguese, and the Dutch, in the East India seas. Being independent, no treaty will prevent their making such establishments. They may make them consistent with the laws of nations. Captain Cook, in his last printed Voyages says, there are forty-seven thousand seafaring people in the Island of Otaheite alone; and Captain Wallis, who discovered those Islands, told me, at Lisbon, a few days ago, that the inhabitants of Otaheite went to the mast-head of the English ships, and ran on the yard-arms as well in three days' time as the English mariners, and gave me two reasons for it. The first was, that, living on fish, they are all seafaring people; and the second, that those who wear no shoes are always the most dexterous in mounting the upper parts of a ship. Captain Cook, also, in the same Voyage, gives a description of a port and city in New Zealand, which might in a few weeks be made impregnable; and one needs only to look at the shape of the Islands in the South Seas, in the maps we have of them, to be convinced that they have no small number of these impregnable ports.
I show myself as much a friend to Spain, to France, to Portugal, and Holland, as to England, in disclosing the following idea, which may have escaped others. Heretofore it was impossible to go to the South Seas with any safety, but in the months of December and January, and by the dreadful latitudes round Cape Horn. But the late discoveries of Captain Cook and other Englishmen have demonstrated the practicability of going thither in every month of the year, round the Cape of Good Hope, and the fine latitude of New Zealand, and in almost the same time; the one being a passage of four and the other of five months. Because the same west wind, which blows almost the whole of the year, and retards the vessels passing by Cape Horn, carries them with rapidity by the Cape of Good Hope and New Zealand.
Hence it follows, that, when the Americans quarrel with Spain, perhaps on the subject of the contraband, they will send their ships on the coast of Chili from their establishments in the South Seas, by the latitudes of New Zealand, and with the west winds, which always blow in that quarter. This is a voyage of only five weeks; for Captain Cook in one voyage, and Captain Fourneaux in another, went from New Zealand to Cape Horn in less time, and the journal of the winds, annexed to the Voyage of Captain Cook, shows, that the west winds in those latitudes bear to the east the proportion of ten to one. When their vessels are on the coasts of Chili, they will take the advantage of the land wind, which, blowing constantly from south to north, will carry them along the coasts of Chili and Peru. With this wind they will go in fourteen days to the Bay of Panama, and in the course of this voyage they will ravage the seacoasts, and make prizes of all the vessels they meet. The naval force of Spain at Lima will not have it in their power to hinder them; for the same south wind, which will push the Americans forward, will prevent the fleets of Spain going to meet them.
From the Bay of Panama, they will return by the great wind of the tropics, which never fails blowing from east to west, either to their settlements in the South Seas, or to sell their prizes in the seas of China or India, from whence they will perhaps again