« ZurückWeiter »
after in case of certain events, a reversionary war with America for unconditional terms. This reversionary war, was never the object of the people of England; therefore the argument of the British was concluded bonâ fide, to accomplish their views, and to discriminate the fallacious pretences of the late administration, from the real wishes of the country, as expressed in the circular resolutions of many counties in the year 1780, first moved at York, on March 28, 1780: every other principle and mode of conduct only implies, as you very justly express it, a secret hope that war may still produce successes, and then, &c. The designs which have been lurking under this pretext, could not mean any thing else than this: “Who knows but we may talk to America at last?” The only test of clear intentions would have been this, to have cut up the American war and all possible return to it, for any cause or under any pretext. I am confident that the sentiments of the people of England is, and always have been to procure peace and reconciliation with America, and to vindicate the national honor in the contest with the house of Bourbon. If this intention had been pursued in a simple and direct manner, I am confident that the honor and safety of the British nation would long ago have been established in a general peace with all the belligerent powers. · These are the sentiments to which I have always acted in those negociations, which I have had on the subject of peace with all the late ministry ; reconciliation with Ame. rica and peace with all the world, upon terms consistent with the honor and safety of my own country. Peace must be sought in such ways as promise the greatest degree of practicability. The sentiments of individuals as philanthropists, may be overborne by the powers of ancient prejudices, which too frequently prevail in aggregates of nations. In such cases the philanthropist, who wishes the good of his own country and of mankind, must be the bulrush bending to the storm, and not the sturdy oak unavailing by resisting. National prejudices are, I hope, upon the decline. Reason and humanity gain ground every day, against their natural enemies of folly and injustice.
The ideas of nations being natural enemies to each other, are generally reprobated. But still jealousies and ancient rivalships remain, which obstruct the road to peace among men. If one belligerent nation will entertain a standing force of three or four hundred thousand fighting men, other nations must have defended frontiers and barrier towns, and the barrier of the neighboring island, whose constitution does not allow a standing military force, must consist in a superiority at sea, it is necessary for her cw defence. If all nations will by mutual consent, reduce their offensive powers (which they only claim under the pretext of necessary defence) and bring forward the reign of the millennium ; then away with your frontiers and your barriers, your Gibraltars and the key of the Baltic, and all the hostile array of nations.
“ Aspersa compositis mitescant sæcula bellis !”
These must be the sentiments of every philanthropist in his interior thoughts. But if we are not to seek peace by some particular method, accommodating to the remaining prejudices of the multitude, we shall not, I fear, in our time see that happy day, if Great Britain and France are ancient rivals, then (until the reign of the millennium shall approach) arrange that rivalship upon equitable terms, as the two leading nations of Europe ; set them in the balance by each other, the one by land and the other by sea, give to France her elevated rank among the nations of Europe'; give to Great Britain the honor of her flag, and the secu. rity of her islands by her wooden walls, and then there would be no obstruction to general and perpetual peace.
The prejudices of disrespect between nations, prevail only among the inferior ranks. Believe me for once, at least, I have the highest sentiments of respect for the nation of France. I have no other sentiment of hostility, but what is honorable towards them, and which as a member of a rival state, at war with them, constitutes the duty of allegiance, which I owe to the honor and interests of my own country. I am not conscious of a word or thought, which on the point of honor, I would wish to have conceal
ed—from a French minister. In the mode which Í have proposed, of unravelling the present subjects of jealousy and contest, I would make my proposals openly to France herself. Let America be free, and enjoy happiness and peace for ever. If France and Great Britain have jealousies and rivalships between themselves as European nations, I would then say to France, let us settle those points between ourselves, if unfortunately, we shall not be able, by honorable negociation, to compromise the indispensable points of national honor and safety. This would be my language to France, open and undisguised. In the mean time, I desire you to observe, that it would not be with reluctance, that I should offer eternal freedom, happiness, and peace to America. You know my thoughts too well to suspect that. I speak only as in a state of war; desirous to arrange the compli. cated interests, and to secure the respective honor of nations, my wishes are, and always have been, for the peace, liberty, and safety of mankind. In the pursuit of those blessed objects, not only this country and America, but France herself, and the house of Bourbon, may justly claim the conspiring exertions of every free and liberal mind, even among their temporary enemies and rivals. I am, sir, your affectionate Friend, .
D. HARTLEY." * BREVIATE,
" February 7, 1782. “ IT is stated, that America is disposed to enter into a negociation of peace with Great Britain, without requiring any formal recognition of independence, always understood that they are to act in conjunction with their allies conformable to treaties.
« It is therefore recommended to give for reply, that the ministers of Great Britain, are likewise disposed to enter into a negociation for peace, and that they are ready to open a general treaty for that purpose.
“ If the British ministers, should see any objection to a general treaty, but should still be disposed to enter into
a separate treaty with America, it is then recommended to them to offer such terms to America, as shall induce her to apply to her allies for their consent, that she should be permitted to enter into a separate treaty with Great Britain. The condition of which, being the consent of allies, no proposition of any breach of faith can be understood to be required of them, by the requisition of a separate treaty.
“ The British ministers are free to make any proposi. tions to America, which they may think proper; provided they be not dishonorable in themselves, which in the present case, is barred by the supposition of consent being obtained. In this case, therefore, if they should be inclined to offer a separate treaty, it is recommended to them, to offer such terms to America, as should induce her to be desirous of closing with the proposal of a separate treaty on the grounds of national security and interests; and likewise, such as may constitute to them a case of reason and justice, upon which they may make requisition to their allies for their consent. It is suggested, that the offer to America of a truce of sufficient length, together with the removal of the British troops, would be equivalent to that case, which is provided for in the treaty of February 6, 1778, between America and France, viz. tacit independence; and the declared ends of that alliance being accomplished, it would not be reasonable that America should be dragged on by their allies in a war, the continuance of which, between France and Great Britain, could only be caused by sepa. rate European jealousies, and sentiments (if, unfortunately for the public peace, any such should arise) between themselves, independent and unconnected with the American cause. It is to be presumed, that France would not, in point of honor to their allies, refuse their consent so requested, as any rivalship and punctilio between her and Great Britain as European nations, (principles which too often disturb the peace of mankind) could not be considered as casus fæderis of the American alliance, and their - pride, as a belligerent nation, would not prevent them to claim the assistance of America as necessary for their sup
port, thereby proclaiming their nation unequal to the con. test, in case of the continuance of a war with Great Britain, after the settlement and pacification with America. Their consent therefore is to be presumed. But if they should demur on this point, if Great Britain should be disposed to concede tacit independence to America, by a long truce, and the removal of the troops ; and if the obstruction should evidently occur on the part of France, under any equivocal or captious construction of a defensive treaty of alliance between America and France, Great Britain would, from thence forward, stand upon advantageous ground, either in any negociation with America, or on the continuance of a war including America, but not arising from any further resentment of Great Britain towards America, but im. posed reluctantly upon both parties by the conduct of the court of France.
These thoughts are not suggested with any view of giving any opinion of preference, in favor of a separate treaty above a general treaty, and above any plan of separate but concomitant treaties, like the treaties of Munster and Osnaburg, but only to draw out the line of negociating a separate treaty, in case the British ministers should think it necessary to adhere to that mode. But, in all cases, it should seem indispensable to express some disposition, on the part of Great Britain, to adopt either one mode or the other. An absolute refusal to treat at all, must necessarily drive America into the closest connection with France, and all other foreign hostile powers, who would take that advantage for making every possible stipulation to the future disadvantage of British interests; and, above all things, would probably stipulate, that America should never make peace with Great Britain, without the most formal and explicit recognition of their independence, absolute and unlimited.”