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PRINCIPLES OF INTERNATIONAL LAW. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 2 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 2.
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PRINCIPLES OF INTERNATIONAL LAW.
(now first published from the original manuscripts.)
OBJECTS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW.
If a citizen of the world had to prepare an universal international code, what would he propose to himself as his object? It would be the common and equal utility of all nations: this would be his inclination and his duty. Would or would not the duty of a particular legislator, acting for one particular nation, be the same with that of the citizen of the world? That moderation, which would be a virtue in an individual acting for his own interests, would it become a vice, or treason, in a public man commissioned by a whole nation? Would it be sufficient for him to pursue in a strict or generous manner their interests as he would pursue his own?—or would it be proper, that he should pursue their interests as he would pursue his own, or ought he so to regulate his course in this respect as they would regulate theirs, were it possible for them to act with a full knowledge of all circumstances? And in this latter case, would the course he would pursue be unjust or equitable? What ought to be required of him in this respect?
Whatever he may think upon these questions—how small soever may be the regard which it may be wished that he should have for the common utility, it will not be the less necessary for him to understand it. This will be necessary for him on two accounts: In the first place, that he may follow this object in so far as his particular object is comprised in it;—secondly, that he may frame according to it, the expectations that he ought to entertain, the demands he ought to make upon other nations. For, in conclusion, the line of common utility once drawn, this would be the direction towards which the conduct of all nations would tend—in which their common efforts would find least resistance—in which they would operate with the greatest force—and in which the equilibrium once established, would be maintained with the least difficulty.
Let us take, for example, the famous law with respect to prizes, adopted by so many nations at the suggestion of Catherine II. of Russia. How formidable soever may have been the initiating power, there is no reason to think that it was fear which operated upon so many nations, together so powerful, and some of them so remote: it must have been its equity, that is to say, its common utility, or, what amounts to the same thing, its apparent utility, which determined their acceptance of it. I say real or apparent; for it will be seen that this is not the place to decide without necessity upon a question so delicate and complex.
But ought the sovereign of a state to sacrifice the interests of his subjects for the advantage of foreigners? Why not?—provided it be in a case, if there be such an one, in which it would have been praiseworthy in his subjects to make the sacrifice themselves.
Probity itself, so praiseworthy in an individual, why should it not be so in a whole nation? Praiseworthy in each one, how can it be otherwise in all? It may have been true that Charles the Second did well in selling Dunkirk: he would not have done less well, had he not put the price in his own pocket.
It is the end which determines the means. Here the end changes (or at least appears to change;) it is therefore necessary that the means should change or appear to change also.
The end of the conduct which a sovereign ought to observe relative to his own subjects,—the end of the internal laws of a society,—ought to be the greatest happiness of the society concerned. This is the end which individuals will unite in approving, if they approve of any. It is the straight line—the shortest line—the most natural of all those by which it is possible for a sovereign to direct his course. The end of the conduct he ought to observe towards other men, what ought it to be, judging by the same principle? Shall it again be said, the greatest happiness of his own subjects? Upon this footing, the welfare, the demands of other men, will be as nothing in his eyes: with regard to them, he will have no other object than that of subjecting them to his wishes by all manner of means. He will serve them as he actually serves the beasts, which are used by him as they use the herbs on which they browse—in short, as the ancient Greeks, as the Romans, as all the models of virtue in antiquity, as all the nations with whose history we are acquainted, employed them.
Yet in proceeding in this career, he cannot fail always to experience a certain resistance—resistance similar in its nature and in its cause, if not always in its certainty and efficacy, to that which individuals ought from the first to experience in a more restricted career; so that, from reiterated experience, states ought either to have set themselves to seek out—or at least would have found, their line of least resistance, as individuals of that same society have already found theirs; and this will be the line which represents the greatest and common utility of all nations taken together.
The point of repose will be that in which all the forces find their equilibrium, from which the greatest difficulty would be found in making them to depart.
Hence, in order to regulate his proceedings with regard to other nations, a given sovereign has no other means more adapted to attain his own particular end, than the setting before his eyes the general end—the most extended welfare of all the nations on the earth. So that it happens that this most vast and extended end—this foreign end—will appear, so to speak, to govern and to carry with it the principal, the ultimate end; in such manner, that in order to attain to this, there is no method more sure for a sovereign than so to act, as if he had no other object than to attain to the other;—in the same manner as in its approach to the sun, a satellite has no other course to pursue than that which is taken by the planet which governs it.
For greater simplicity, let us therefore substitute everywhere this object to the other:—and though unhappily there has not yet been any body of law which regulates the conduct of a given nation, in respect to all other nations on every occasion, as if this had been, or say rather, as if this ought to be, the rule,—yet let us do as much as is possible to establish one.
1. The first object of international law for a given nation:—Utility general, in so far as it consists in doing no injury to the other nations respectively, saving the regard which is proper to its own well-being.
2. Second object:—Utility general, in so far as it consists in doing the greatest good possible to other nations, saving the regard which is proper to its own well-being.
3. Third object:—Utility general, in so far as it consists in the given nation not receiving any injury from other nations respectively, saving the regard due to the well-being of these same nations.
4. Fourth object:—Utility general, in so far as it consists in such state receiving the greatest possible benefit from all other nations, saving the regard due to the well-being of these nations.
It is to the two former objects that the duties which the given nation ought to recognise may be referred. It is to the two latter that the rights which it ought to claim may be referred. But if these same rights shall in its opinion be violated, in what manner, by what means shall it apply, or seek for satisfaction? There is no other mode but that of war. But war is an evil—it is even the complication of all other evils.
5. Fifth object:—In case of war, make such arrangements, that the least possible evil may be produced, consistent with the acquisition of the good which is sought for.
Expressed in the most general manner, the end that a disinterested legislator upon international law would propose to himself, would therefore be the greatest happiness of all nations taken together.
In resolving this into the most primitive principles, he would follow the same route which he would follow with regard to internal laws. He would set himself to prevent positive international offences—to encourage the practice of positively useful actions.
He would regard as a positive crime every proceeding—every arrangement, by which the given nation should do more evil to foreign nations taken together, whose interests might be affected, than it should do good to itself. For example, the seizing a port which would be of no use except as the means of advantageously attacking a foreign nation;—the closing against other nations, or another nation, the seas and rivers, which are the highways of our globe;—the employing force or fraud for preventing a foreign nation from carrying on commerce with another nation. But by their reciprocity, injuries may compensate one another.
In the same manner, he would regard as a negative offence every determination, by which the given nation should refuse to render positive services to a foreign nation, when the rendering of them would produce more good to the last-mentioned nation, than it would produce evil to itself. For example, if the given nation, without having reason to fear for its own preservation (occupying two countries of which the productions were different,) should obstinately prohibit commerce with them and a foreign nation:—or if when a foreign nation should be visited with misfortune, and require assistance, it should neglect to furnish it:—or, in conclusion, if having in its own power certain malefactors who have malâ fide committed crimes to the prejudice of the foreign nation, it should neglect to do what depends upon it to bring them to justice.
War is, as has been said, a species of procedure by which one nation endeavours to enforce its rights at the expense of another nation. It is the only method to which recourse can be had, when no other method of obtaining satisfaction can be found by complainants, who have no arbitrator between them sufficiently strong, absolutely to take from them all hope of resistance. But if internal procedure be attended by painful ills, international procedure is attended by ills infinitely more painful—in certain respects in point of intensity, commonly in point of duration, and always in point of extent. The counterpart of them will, however, be found in the catalogue of offences against justice.
The laws of peace would therefore be the substantive laws of the international code: the laws of war would be the adjective laws of the same code.
The thread of analogy is now spun; it will be easy to follow it. There are, however, certain differences.
A nation has its property—its honour—and even its condition. It may be attacked in all these particulars, without the individuals who compose it being affected. Will it be said that it has its person? Let us guard against the employment of figures in matter of jurisprudence. Lawyers will borrow them, and turn them into fictions, amidst which all light and common sense will disappear; then mists will rise, amidst the darkness of which they will reap a harvest of false and pernicious consequences.
Among nations, there is no punishment. In general, there is nothing but restitution, to the effect of causing the evil to cease;—rarely, indemnification for the past; because among them there can scarcely be any mauvaise foi. There is but too much of it too often among their chiefs; so that there would be no great evil if, at the close of his career, every conqueror were to end his days upon the rack—if the justice which Thomyris executed upon Cyrus were not deemed more striking, and his head were not thrown into a vessel of blood,—without doubting that the head of Cyrus was most properly thrown there. But however dishonest the intention of their chiefs may be, the subjects are always honest. The nation once bound—and it is the chief which binds it—however criminal the aggression may be, there is properly no other criminal than the chief:—individuals are only his innocent and unfortunate instruments. The extenuation which is drawn from the weight of authority, rises here to the level of an entire exemption.
The suffrages of the principle of antipathy are here found in accord with the principle of utility: on the one part, vengeance wants a suitable object; on the other hand, every punishment would be unnecessary, useless, expensive, and inefficacious.
As to the third and fourth objects, it is scarcely necessary to insist on them:—nations, as well as men, sovereigns as well as individuals, pay sufficient attention to their own interests—there is scarcely any need to seek to lead them to it. There remain the two first and the last.
To actions by which the conduct of an individual tends to swerve from the end which internal laws ought to propose to themselves, I have given, by way of anticipation, the name of offences:—by a similar anticipation, we may apply the same appellation to actions by which the conduct of a whole nation swerves from the object which international laws ought to propose to themselves.
Among sovereigns, as well as among individuals, there are some offences de bonne foi; there are others de mauvaise foi. One must be blind to deny the latter—one must be much more sadly blind to deny the others. People sometimes think to prove their discernment by referring everything to the latter head, or to prove it equally by referring everything to the former. It is in this manner they proceed in judging of men, and especially of sovereigns: they grant to them an intelligence without limits, rather than recognise in them a grain of probity; they are believed never to have blushed at folly, provided that it has had malignity for its companion. So much has been said of the injustice of sovereigns, that I could wish a little consideration were given to the still more common injustice of their detractors; who, whilst they preserve their concealment, revenge themselves upon the species in general, for the adulation which in public they lavish upon individuals.
The following are among the causes of offences de bonne foi, and of wars:—
1. Uncertainty of the right of succession with regard to vacant thrones claimed by two parties.
2. Intestine troubles in neighbouring states. These troubles may also have for their cause an uncertainty of the same kind as the preceding, or a dispute concerning constitutional law in the neighbouring state, either between the sovereign and his subjects, or between different members of the sovereign body.
3. Uncertainty with respect to limits, whether actual or ideal. The object of these limits may be to keep separate either goods, or persons, or causes.
4. Uncertainty as to the limits of new discoveries made by one party or another.*
5. Jealousies caused by forced cessions, more or less recent.
6. Disputes or wars, from whatsoever cause they may arise, among circumjacent states.
7. Religious hatred.
Means of Prevention.
1. Homologation of unwritten laws which are considered as established by custom.
2. New conventions—new international laws to be made upon all points which remain unascertained; that is to say, upon the greater number of points in which the interests of two states are capable of collision.
3. Perfecting the style of the laws of all kinds, whether internal or international. How many wars have there been, which have had for their principal, or even their only cause, no more noble origin than the negligence or inability of a lawyer or a geometrician!
OF SUBJECTS, OR OF THE PERSONAL EXTENT OF THE DOMINION OF THE LAWS.
Coextensive to dominion is jurisdiction: dominion the right of the sovereign; jurisdiction of the judge. Not that it is necessary that there should be any one judge or set of judges whose jurisdiction should be coextensive with the dominion of the sovereign—only that for every particle of dominion there should be a correspondent particle of jurisdiction in the hands of some judge or other: correspondent to one field of dominion there may be many fields of jurisdiction.
What is dominion? It is either the power of contrectation, or else that of imperation, for there are no others. But the power of contrectation is a sort of power which, in a settled government, it scarcely ever becomes either necessary or agreeable to the sovereign, as such, to exercise; so that under the head of the power of imperation is comprised all the power which the sovereign is accustomed to exercise: and the same observation may be applied to the power of the judge.
Of the power of imperation, or the power of issuing mandates, the amplitude will be as the amplitude of the mandates which may be issued in virtue of it: the amplitude and quality of the mandates will be as the amplitude and quality of the persons who are their agible subjects—the persons who are their passible subjects—the things, if any, which are their passible subjects, and the acts which are their objects in place and time.
The persons who are their agible subjects are the persons whose acts are in question—the persons whose acts are the objects of the mandate.
A sovereign is styled such, in the first instance, in respect of the persons whom he has the right or power to command. Now, the right or legal power to command may be co-extensive with the physical power of giving force and effect to the command: that is, by the physical power of hurting—the power of hyper-physical contrectation employed for the purpose of hurting. But by possibility, every sovereign may have the power of hurting any or every person whatsoever, and that not at different times only, but even at one and the same time.
According to this criterion, then, the sphere of possible jurisdiction is to every person the same; but the problem is to determine what persons ought to be considered as being under the dominion of one sovereign, and what others under the dominion of another;—in other words, what persons ought to be considered as the subjects of one sovereign, and what as the subjects of another.
The object of the present essay is to determine, upon the principle of utility, what persons ought, in the several cases that may present themselves, to be considered as the subjects of the law of the political state in question, as subject to the contrectative or imperative power of that law.
Proceeding as usual upon the exhaustive plan, I shall examine—
1. Over what persons the law can in point of possibility exercise dominion; what persons in point of possibility may be the subject of it; what persons in point of possibility it may treat as upon the footing of its subjects with effect; over what persons the law has possible dominion and jurisdiction; over what persons the law may have dominion and jurisdiction in point of force.
2. Over other persons than these, it is plain that it can never be right to say, the law ought upon the principle of utility to exercise jurisdiction. Why? Because it is idle to say of the lawgiver, as of anybody else, that he ought to do that which by the supposition is impossible.
The next inquiry is, then,—the persons over whom the law may in point of possibility exercise dominion being given, over what sort of persons in that number ought the law in point of utility to exercise dominion? what persons of that number ought to be looked upon as subject to it? over what persons of that number it has jurisdiction in point of right? taking general utility as the measure of right, as usual, where positive law is out of the question.
3. It will then be another, and that a distinct question, over what sort of persons, and in what cases, the law in any given state does actually exercise dominion? and over what sort of persons, and in what cases, the law has dominion in point of exercise?
Dominion, then, may be distinguished into—1. Dominion potential, or in point of force; 2. Dominion actual, or dominion in point of exercise; 3. Jurisdiction rightful or rather approveable, or jurisdiction in point of moral right.
The nature of the present design is to determine in what cases, if actual dominion were established, it would be rightful: in other words, in what cases it is the moral right, and at the same time the moral duty,—in what cases the moral right, without being the moral duty,—of the given sovereign, as towards other sovereigns, to cause jurisdiction to be exercised over persons who are subject to his physical power? How far, and in what points, sovereigns, in the jurisdiction which they cause to be exercised over such persons as are within their reach, ought to yield or be aiding to each other?
An individual can be subject to a sovereign no farther than the physical power which that sovereign has of hurting him, or his afflictive power, as it may be called, extends. The question is, the cases in which the sovereign has the power of hurting him being given, in which of them ought he, upon the principle of utility, to exercise that power?—in which of them ought other sovereigns, who may think their power concerned, to acquiesce in his exercising such power?
In every state, there are certain persons who are in all events, throughout their lives, and in all places, subject to the sovereign of that state—it is out of the obedience of these that the essence of sovereignty is constituted: these may be styled the standing or ordinary subjects of the sovereign or the state; and the dominion over them may be styled fixed or regular. There are others who are subject to him only in certain events, for a certain time, while they are at a certain place: the obedience of these constitutes only an accidental appendage to his sovereignty: these may be termed his occasional or extraordinary subjects, or subjects pro re natis; and the dominion he has over them may be styled occasional.*
His afflictive power being the limit of his actual as well as of his rightful dominion, his standing subjects will be those over whom he has the most afflictive power—over whom his afflictive power is the strongest: over his occasional subjects, his afflictive power will not be so strong. Now the points in which a man can be hurt are all of them comprised, as we have seen, under these four, viz. his person, his reputation, his property, and his condition. Of these four points, that in respect of which he can be made to suffer most is his person: since that includes not only his liberty, but his life. The highest jurisdiction therefore, is that of which the subject is a man’s person. According to this criterion, then, the standing subjects of a sovereign should be those individuals whose persons are in his power.
This criterion would be a perfectly clear and eligible one, were the case such, that in the ordinary tenor of human affairs, the persons of the same individuals were constantly under the physical power, or, as we say, within the reach of the same sovereign. But this is not the case. The different interests and concerns of the subject, the interest even of the sovereign himself, requires the subject to transport himself necessarily to various places, where, according to the above criterion, he would respectively become the subject of so many sovereigns. But the question is, to what sovereign a given individual is subject, in a sense in which he is not subject to any other? This question, it is plain, can never be determined by a criterion which determines him to be the subject of one sovereign, in the same sense in which he may be subject to any number of other sovereigns. According to this criterion, a sovereign might have millions of subjects one day, and none at all the next.
Some circumstance, therefore, more constant and less precarious, must be found to ground a claim of standing dominion upon, than that of the present facility of exercising an afflictive power over the person of the supposed subject: a facility which, in truth, is no more than might be possessed not only by an established sovereign, but by any, the most insignificant oppressor. Any man may, at times, have the power of hurting any other man. The circumstance of territorial dominion—dominion over land—possesses the properties desired. It can seldom happen that two sovereigns can, each of them, with equal facility, the other being unwilling, traverse the same tract of land. That sovereign then who has the physical power of occupying and traversing a given tract of land, insomuch that he can effectually and safely traverse it in any direction at pleasure,—at the same time, that against his will another sovereign cannot traverse the same land with equal facility and effect,—can be more certain of coming at the individual in question, than such other sovereign can be, and therefore may be pronounced to have the afflictive power over all such persons as are to be found upon that land—and that a higher afflictive power than any other sovereign can have. And hence, the maxim dominion over person depends upon dominion over land.
But even this indicium, this mark, is not a ground of sufficient permanence whereon to found the definition of standing sovereignty: for the same individual who is one day on land, which is under the dominion of a given sovereign, may another day be on land which is not under his dominion: from this circumstance, therefore, no permanent relation can be derived. But, that the relation should be a permanent one, is requisite on various grounds, upon the principle of utility—that each subject may know what sovereign to resort to, principally for protection,—that each sovereign may know what subjects to depend upon for obedience,—and that each sovereign may know when to insist, and when to yield in any contest which he might have with any other sovereign, who might lay a claim to the obedience of the same subjects.
The circumstance, then, which is taken for the indicium of sovereignty on the one part, and subjection on the other, should be not a situation, which at any time may change, but an event: this event should be one which must have happened once—which cannot have happened more than once—and which, having happened once, cannot be in the condition of one which has not happened; in short, an event which is past, necessary, and unicurrent. Such an event is that found in the event of a man’s birth—which must have happened for the man to exist—which cannot happen a second time, and which, being over, cannot but have happened—which must have happened in some district of the earth; so that at that period the man must have been within the physical power of the sovereign within whose territory he was born.
Yet still it is not birth that is the immediate ground of jurisdiction: the immediate ground is presence—presence with reference to the locus of the territorial dominion: if birth be the ground of dominion, it is only in virtue of the presumption which it affords of the other circumstance. In every state, almost, there are some who emigrate from the dominion within which they were born. But in every state almost, it is otherwise with by far the greater number. In civilized nations the greater part of mankind are glebæ ascriptitii, fixtures to the soil on which they are born. With nations of hunters and shepherds—with tribes of American savages, and hordes of Tartars or Arabians, it is otherwise. But with these we have no business here.
Thus it is that dominion over the soil confers dominion de facto over the greater part of the natives, its inhabitants; in such manner, that such inhabitants are treated as owing a permanent allegiance to the sovereign of that soil: and, in general, there seems no reason why it should not be deemed to do so, even de jure, judging upon the principle of utility. On the one hand, the sovereign, on his part, naturally expects to possess the obedience of persons who stand in this sort of relation to him: possessing it at first, he naturally expects to possess it—he is accustomed to reckon upon it: were he to cease to possess it, it might be a disappointment to him: any other sovereign having even begun to possess the allegiance of the same subject, has not the same cause for expecting to possess it; not entertaining any such expectation, the not possessing it is no disappointment: for subjects, in as far as their obedience is a matter of private benefit to the sovereign, may, without any real impropriety (absit verbo invidia,) be considered as subjects of his property. They may be considered as his property, just as any individual who owes another a service of any kind, may, pro tanto, be considered as his property. We speak of the service as being his property (such is the turn of the language,) that is, as being the object of his property; but a service being but a fictitious entity, can be but a fictitious object of property,—the real, and only real object, is the person from whom the service is due.
On the other hand, let us consider the state of mind and expectations of the subject. The subject having been accustomed from his birth to look upon the sovereign as his sovereign, continues all along to look upon him in the same light: to be obedient to him is as natural as to be obedient to his own father. He lives, and has all along been accustomed to live under his laws. He has some intimation (I wish the universal negligence of sovereigns, in the matter of promulgation, would permit me to say anything more than a very inaccurate and general intimation,) some intimation he has, however, of the nature of them. When occasion happens, he is accustomed to obey them. He finds it no hardship to obey them, none at least in comparison with what it would be were they altogether new to him; whereas, those of another sovereign, were they in themselves more easy, might, merely on account of their novelty, appear, and therefore be, harder upon the whole.
Thus much as to the more usual case where a man continues to inhabit, as his parents did before him, the country in which he was born. But what if his parents, being inhabitants of another country, were sojourners only, or mere travellers in the country in which he was born, and he, immediately after his birth, carried out of it never to see it again? The manners and customs, the religion, the way of thinking, the laws, of the one country opposite to those of the other? The sovereign of the one, at war with the sovereign of the other? If regard be paid to birth, something surely is due to lineage: an Englishwoman, travelling with her husband from Italy through France, is delivered of a son in France:—shall the son, when he grows up, be punished as a traitor, if taken in battle when fighting against the king of France? or, on the other hand, supposing it to be right and politic for the king of France to refuse to strangers born out of his dominion any of the rights enjoyed by his native subjects, would it be right that this man, who has never looked upon the French as his countrymen, nor the king of France as his sovereign, should partake of privileges which are denied to the subjects of the most favoured foreign nation? Shall the offspring of English protestants, born at Cadiz, be reclaimed as a fugitive from the inquisition? or the offspring of Spanish catholics, born in London, undergo the severity of the English laws, for being reconciled to the Church of Rome? Shall the Mahometan, born at Gibraltar, be punished for polygamy or wine drinking?
Nor would it, it should seem, be an adequate remedy to these inconveniences to take the birth-place of the parents, or, in case of their birth-places being different, that of the father, for example, as the indicium, to determine the allegiance of the child: the circumstances of their birth might have been accompanied by a similar irregularity. During a man’s education, his parents may have lived half their time in one country, half in another; what external mark can there be to determine to which of the two countries, if to either, his affections are attached?
The best way, therefore, seems to be, to refer the solution of the question to those alone who are in a condition to give it: and to refer the option of his country, in the first instance, to the parents or guardian provisionally, while the child is incapable of judging for himself; afterwards to himself, as soon as he is judged capable; so that when he comes to a certain age he shall take his choice.
A man may, therefore, be a member of a community either permanently or occasionally.
* A man may be permanently a member of a community:—1. By lineage, as the paternal grandson of an Englishman is an Englishman, wherever born; 2. By birth; 3. By naturalization.
A man may be occasionally the member of a community:—1. By fixed residence; 2. By travelling.
Jurisdiction may be distinguished into—1. Potential; 2. Rightful; 3. Actual.
The first principle with regard to its exercise, is regard for the interest of one’s own state.
This must however be controuled in point of volition and act, by the consideration of what will be endured by other states.
The next consideration is, in what cases jurisdiction may be assumed for the sake of foreign states.
Over the natives of a foreign state, jurisdiction may be exercised:—1. For its own sake; 2. For the sake of the native’s state; 3. For the sake of some other state; 4. For the sake of mankind at large.
For the same reasons, it may be exercised over its own subjects for offences committed in foreign states.
For its own sake it ought to punish all injurious offences committed for lucre, although committed abroad by foreigners.
The following considerations may restrain the state proposed from punishing offences committed out of its dominions:—
1. The difficulty of getting evidence, since foreigners cannot be compelled to appear.
Supposing the difficulty of procuring evidence to be got over, there is another difficulty,—the insuring the veracity of the evidence. If perjury should be detected, and even proofs obtained after the foreigner is gone back to his own country, he could not be punished.
This difficulty might be overcome by a commission to examine foreign witnesses abroad, touching any particular fact, application being made to the sovereign abroad for his sanction to corroborate the powers of the commissioners; or the commission might be given to his own subjects to execute,—it being left to the judgment of the judges in each case, whether the evidence alleged be the whole, or if not the whole, whether sufficient evidence.
Such a concurrence and communication is no more visionary and impracticable in all cases, than in admiralty causes concerning captures.
2. The fear of giving umbrage to foreign powers.
The former consideration applies equally to offences committed by citizens as by foreigners. The latter scarcely at all to offences committed by citizens, or at least not so strongly, as to offences committed by foreigners—citizens of the State by which it is feared umbrage may be taken.
The following considerations may impel the State proposed, to punish offences committed out of its dominion:—
1. Regard for the interest of the citizens.
2. Regard for the interests of foreigners,—viz. the foreign state or individual injured by the offence.
OF WAR, CONSIDERED IN RESPECT OF ITS CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES.
War is mischief upon the largest scale. It might seem at first sight, that to inquire into the causes of war would be the same thing as to inquire into the causes of criminality, and that in the one case as in the other, the source of it is to be looked for in the nature of man,—in the self-regarding, the dissocial, and now and then, in some measure, in the social affections. A nearer view, however, will show in several points considerable difference,—these differences turn on the magnitude of the scale. The same motives will certainly be found operating in the one case as in the other; but in tracing the process from the original cause to the ultimate effect, a variety of intermediate considerations will present themselves in the instance of war, which have no place in the quarrels of individuals.
Incentives to war will be found in the war-admiring turn of histories, particularly ancient histories, in the prejudices of men, the notion of natural rivalry and repugnancy of interests, confusion between meum and tuum—between private ownership and public sovereignty, and the notion of punishment, which, in case of war, can never be other than vicarious.
In ancient times there was one system of inducements, under the feudal system another, and in modern times another.
The following may be enumerated among the inducements to war:—Apprehension of injustice—hope of plunder of moveables by individuals—hope of gain by raising contributions—hope of gain by sale or ransom of captives—national pride or glory—monarchical pride—national antipathy—increase of patronage—hope of preferment.
States have no persons distinct from the persons of individuals; but they have property, which is the property of the state, and not of individuals.
When an individual has a dispute about property with an individual, or has sustained what he looks upon as an injury in respect of his property from an individual, he applies for redress to their common superior, the judicial power of the state. When a state has sustained what it looks upon as an injury, in respect of property, from another state—there being no common superior ready chosen for them—it must either submit to the injury, or get the other state to join in the appointment of a common judge, or go to war.
Every state regards itself as bound to afford to its own subjects protection, so far as it is in its power, against all injuries they may sustain either from the subjects or the government of any other state. The utility of the disposition to afford such protection is evident, and the existence of such disposition no less so. Accordingly, if any individual subject of the state A, receive from a subject of the state B, an injury for which the state B forbears, after due proof and demand, to afford or procure adequate satisfaction, it is to the purpose of responsibility, the same thing as if the state B itself, in the persons of the members of its government, had done the injury.
The following may be set down as the principal causes or occasions of war, with some of the means of prevention:—
I. Offences real or pretended of the citizens of one state, towards the citizens of another state, caused by the interests of the citizens—
1. Injuries in general. Means of prevention:—Liquidation of the pretensions of the subjects of every sovereign, with regard to the subjects of every other sovereign.
2. Occasional injuries from rivalry in commerce: interception of the rights of property. Means of prevention:—General liberty of commerce.
II. Offences, real or pretended, of the citizens of one state towards the citizens of another state, caused by the interests or pretensions of sovereigns:—
1. Di-putes respecting the right of succession. Means of prevention:—Liquidation of titles: perfecting the style of the laws.
2. Disputes respecting boundaries, whether physical or ideal. Means of prevention:—Liquidation of titles: amicable demarcations positively made: perfecting of the style of the laws: regulation.
3. Disputes arising from violations of territory.
4. Enterprizes of conquest. Means of prevention:—Confederations of defence: alliances defensive: general guarantees.
5. Attempts at monopoly in commerce: Insolence of the strong towards the weak: tyranny of one nation towards another. Means of prevention:—Confederations defensive: conventions limiting the number of troops to be maintained.
No one could regard treaties implying positive obligations in this kind as chimerical; yet, if these are not so, those implying negative obligation are still less so. There may arise difficulty in maintaining an army; there can arise none in not doing so.
It must be allowed that the matter would be a delicate one: there might be some difficulty in persuading one lion to cut his claws; but if the lion, or rather the enormous condor which holds him fast by the head, should agree to cut his talons also, there would be no disgrace in the stipulation: the advantage or inconvenience would be reciprocal.
Let the cost of the attempt be what it would, it would be amply repaid by success. What tranquillity for all sovereigns!—what relief for every people! What a spring would not the commerce, the population, the wealth of all nations take, which are at present confined, when set free from the fetters in which they are now held by the care of their defence!
6. Fear of conquests. Means of prevention:—Defensive confederations.
7. Disputes respecting new discoveries—respecting the limits of acquisitions made by one state at the expense of another, on the ground of peaceful occupation. Means of prevention:—Previous agreement on the subject of possible discoveries.
8. Part taken in intestine troubles.
The refusal of a foreign power to recognise the right of a newly-formed government, has been a frequent cause of war; but no interest being at stake on either side, nothing so much as proposed to be gained, it is evident, that on both sides, whatever mischief is produced, is so much misery created in waste.
9. Injuries caused on account of religion. The difference between religion and no religion, however grating, is not nearly so irritating as that between one religion and another. Means of prevention:—Progress of toleration.
10. Interest of ministers. Means of prevention:—Salaries determinate, but effective.
Wars may be:—
i.Bonâ fide wars. A remedy against these would be found in “The Tribunal of Peace.”*
ii. Wars of passion. The remedy against these,—Reasoning, showing the repugnancy betwixt passion on the one hand, and justice as well as interest on the other.
iii. Wars of ambition, or insolence, or rapine. The remedies against these are—1. Reasoning, showing the repugnancy betwixt ambition and true interest; 2. Remedies of regulation, in the event of a temporary ascendency on the part of reason.
In all these cases, the utility with regard to the state which looks upon itself as aggrieved—the reasonableness in a word, of going to war with the aggressor—depends partly upon his relative force, partly upon what appears to have been the state of his mind with relation to the injury. If it be evident that there was no mala fides on his part, it can never be for the advantage of the aggrieved state to have recourse to war, whether it be stronger or weaker than the aggressor, and that in whatever degree;—in that case, be the injury what it will, it may be pronounced impossible that the value of it should ever amount to the expense of war, be it ever so short, and carried on upon ever so frugal a scale.
In case of mala fides, whether even then it would be worth while to have recourse to war, will depend upon circumstances. If it appear that the injury in question is but a prelude to others, and that it proceeds from a disposition which nothing less than entire destruction can satisfy, and war presents any tolerable chance of success, how small soever, prudence and reason may join with passion in prescribing war as the only remedy in so desperate a disease. For, though in case of perseverance on the part of the assailant, successful resistance may appear impossible; yet resistance, such as can be opposed, may, by gaining time, give room for some unexpected incident to arise, and may at any rate, by the inconvenience it occasions to the assailant, contribute in time or loss, to weaken the mass of inducements which prompt him to similar enterprises. Though the Spartans at Thermopylæ perished to a man, yet the defence of Thermopylæ was not without its use.
If, on the other hand, the aggression, though too flagrant not to be accompanied with mala fides, appear to have for its origin some passion or caprice which has for its incentive some limited object, and promises to be contented with that object,—the option is now, not between ruin avenged and unavenged, but between the loss of the object, whatever it be, and the miseries of a more or less hopeless war.
The Dutch displayed prudence, while they yielded to the suggestions of indignation, in defending themselves against the force of Spain. The same people displayed their prudence in yielding to Britain the frivolous honours of the flag, at the end of the war of 1652; they would have displayed still more, if they had made the same concession at the beginning of it.
Lastly, if the aggression, how unjust soever it may appear, when viewed in the point of view in which it is contemplated by the state which is the object of it, does not appear accompanied with mala fides on the part of the aggressor, nothing can be more incontestable than the prudence of submitting to it, rather than encountering the calamities of war. The sacrifice is seen at once in its utmost extent, and it must be singular indeed, if the amount of it can approach to that of the expense of a single campaign.
When war has broken out, a palliative for its evils might perhaps be found in the appointment of war-residents, to provide for prisoners and to prevent violations of the laws of war.
Will it be said, that in quality of a spy such residents would be to be feared? An enemy known to be such, could scarcely be a spy. All the proceedings of such residents should be open, and all his letters subjected to inspection.
At present, foreigners are scarcely excluded from an enemy’s country—scarcely even military men or ministers; and so soon as it is wished to employ a spy, could not a native be found?
A resident of this character could always be employed as a channel of communication, if an accommodation were desired.
A PLAN FOR AN UNIVERSAL AND PERPETUAL PEACE.
The object of the present Essay is to submit to the world a plan for an universal and perpetual peace. The globe is the field of dominion to which the author aspires,—the press the engine, and the only one he employs,—the cabinet of mankind the theatre of his intrigue.
The happiest of mankind are sufferers by war; and the wisest, nay, even the least wise, are wise enough to ascribe the chief of their sufferings to that cause.
The following plan has for its basis two fundamental propositions:—1. The reduction and fixation of the force of the several nations that compose the European system; 2. The emancipation of the distant dependencies of each state.* Each of these propositions has its distinct advantages; but neither of them, it will appear, would completely answer the purpose without the other.
As to the utility of such an universal and lasting peace, supposing a plan for that purpose practicable, and likely to be adopted, there can be but one voice. The objection, and the only objection to it, is the apparent impracticability of it;—that it is not only hopeless, but that to such a degree that any proposal to that effect deserves the name of visionary and ridiculous. This objection I shall endeavour in the first place to remove; for the removal of this prejudice may be necessary to procure for the plan a hearing.
What can be better suited to the preparing of men’s minds for the reception of such a proposal than the proposal itself?
Let it not be objected that the age is not ripe for such a proposal: the more it wants of being ripe, the sooner we should begin to do what can be done to ripen it; the more we should do to ripen it. A proposal of this sort, is one of those things that can never come too early nor too late.
Who that bears the name of Christian can refuse the assistance of his prayers? What pulpit can forbear to second me with its eloquence.—Catholic, and Protestants, Church-of-England-men and Dissenters, may all agree in this, if in nothing else. I call upon them all to aid me with their countenance and their support.
The ensuing sheets are dedicated to the common welfare of all civilized nations; but more particularly of Great Britain and France.
The end in view is to recommend three grand objects,—simplicity of government, national frugality, and peace.
Reflection has satisfied me of the truth of the following propositions:—
I. That it is not the interest of Great Britain to have any foreign dependencies whatsoever.
II. That it is not the interest of Great Britain to have any treaty of alliance, offensive or defensive, with any other power whatever.
III. That it is not the interest of Great Britain to have any treaty with any power whatsoever, for the purpose of possessing any advantage whatsoever in point of trade, to the exclusion of any other nation whatsoever.
IV. That it is not the interest of Great Britain to keep up any naval force beyond what may be sufficient to defend its commerce against pirates.
V. That it is not the interest of Great Britain to keep on foot any regulations whatsoever of distant preparation for the augmentation or maintenance of its naval force; such as the Navigation Act, bounties on the Greenland trade, and other trades regarded as nurseries for seamen.
VI. VII. VIII. IX. & X. That all these several propositions are also true of France.
As far as Great Britain is concerned, I rest the proof of these several propositions principally upon two very simple principles.
i. That the increase of growing wealth in every nation in a given period, is necessarily limited by the quantity of capital it possesses at that period.
ii. That Great Britain, with or without Ireland, and without any other dependency, can have no reasonable ground to apprehend injury from any one nation upon earth.
Turning to France, I substitute to the last of the two just-mentioned propositions the following:—
iii. That France, standing singly, has at present nothing to fear from any other nation than Great Britain: nor, if standing clear of her foreign dependencies, would she have any thing to fear from Great Britain.
XI. That supposing Great Britain and France thoroughly agreed, the principal difficulties would be removed to the establishment of a plan of general and permanent pacification for all Europe.
XII. That for the maintenance of such a pacification, general and perpetual treaties might be formed, limiting the number of troops to be maintained.
XIII. That the maintenance of such a pacification might be considerably facilitated, by the establishment of a common court of judicature for the decision of differences between the several nations, although such court were not to be armed with any coercive powers.
XIV. That secresy in the operations of the foreign department ought not to be endured in England; being altogether useless, and equally repugnant to the interests of liberty and to those of peace.
Proposition I.—That it is not the interest of Great Britain to have any foreign dependencies whatsoever.
The truth of this proposition will appear if we consider, 1st, That distant dependencies increase the chances of war,—
1. By increasing the number of possible subjects of dispute.
2. By the natural obscurity of title in case of new settlements or discoveries.
3. By the particular obscurity of the evidence resulting from the distance.
4. By men’s caring less about wars when the scene is remote, than when it is nearer home.
2d, That colonies are seldom, if ever, sources of profit to the mother country.
Profitable industry has five branches:—1. Production of new materials, including agricultures, mining, and fisheries; 2. Manufactures; 3. Home trade; 4. Foreign trade; 5. Carrying trade. The quantity of profitable industry that can be carried on in a country being limited by that of the capital which the country can command, it follows that no part of that quantity can be bestowed upon any one branch, but it must be withdrawn from, or withholden from, all the others. No encouragement, therefore, can be given to any one, but it must be a proportionable discouragement to all the others. Nothing can be done by government to induce a man to begin or continue to employ his capital in any one of those branches, but it must induce him in the same degree to withdraw or withhold that capital from all the rest. Of these five branches, no one is to such a degree more beneficial to the public than the rest, as that it should be worth its while to call forth the powers of law to give it an advantage. But if there were any, it would unquestionably be the improvement and cultivation of land. Every fictitious encouragement to any one of these rival branches being a proportionable discouragement to agriculture. Every encouragement to any of those branches of manufacture which produce articles that are at present sold to the colonies, is a proportionable discouragement to agriculture.
When colonies are to be made out to be beneficial to the mother country, and the quantum of the benefit is to be estimated, the mode in which the estimate is made is curious enough. An account is taken of what they export, which is almost the whole of their produce. All this, it is said, while you have the colonies, is yours; this is exactly what you lose if you lose your colonies. How much of all this is really yours? Not one single halfpenny. When they let you take it from them, do they give it you for nothing? Not they indeed; they make you pay for it just as anybody else would do. How much? Just so much as you would pay them if they belonged to themselves or to anybody else.
For maintaining colonies there are several avowed reasons, besides others which are not avowed: of the avowed reasons, by far the principal one is, the benefit of trade. If your colonies were not subject to you, they would not trade with you; they would not buy any of your goods, or let you buy any of theirs; at least, you could not be sure of their doing so: if they were subject to anybody else they would not do so; for the colonies of other nations are, you see, not suffered to trade with you. Give up your colonies, you give up so much of your trade as is carried on with your colonies. No, we do not give up any such thing,—we do not give up anything whatsoever. Trade with colonies cannot, any more than with anywhere else, be carried on without capital: just so much of our capital as is employed in our trade with the colonies—just so much of it is not employed elsewhere—just so much is either kept or taken from other trades.
Suppose, then, any branch of trade or manufacture to decline—even suppose it lost altogether—is this any permanent loss to the nation? Not the smallest. We know the worst that can happen from any such loss; the capital that would otherwise have been employed in the lost branch will be employed in agriculture. The loss of the colonies, if the loss of the colony trade were the consequence of the loss of the colonies, would at the worst be so much gain to agriculture.
Other reasons against distant dominion may be found in a consideration of the good of the government. Distant mischiefs make little impression on those on whom the remedying of them depends. A single murder committed in London makes more impression than if thousands of murders and other cruelties were committed in the East Indies. The situation of Hastings, only because he was present, excited compassion in those who heard the detail of the cruelties committed by him with indifference.
The communication of grievances cannot be too quick from those who feel them to those who have the power to relieve them. The reason which in the old writs the king is made to assign for his interfering to afford relief, is the real cause which originally gave birth to that interference,—it is one of those few truths which have contrived to make their way through the thick cloud of lies and nonsense they contain. “See what it is that these people want,” says the sovereign to the ministers of justice, “that I may not any more be troubled with their noise.” The motive assigned to the unjust judge in the Gospel, is the motive which the sovereign, who is styled the fountain of justice, is thus made to avow.
The following, then, are the final measures which ought to be pursued:—
1. Give up all the colonies.
2. Found no new colonies.
The following is a summary of the reasons for giving up all the colonies:—
i. Interest of the mother-country.
1. Saving the expense of the establishments, civil and military.
2. Saving the danger of war—1. For enforcing their obedience; 2. On account of the jealousy produced by the apparent power they confer.
3. Saving the expense of defending them, in case of war on other grounds.
4. Getting rid of the means of corruption afforded by the patronage—1. Of their civil establishments; 2. Of the military force employed in their defence.
5. Simplifying the whole frame of government, and thereby rendering a competent skill in the business of government more attainable—1. To the members of administration; 2. To the people.*
The stock of national intelligence is deteriorated by the false notions which must be kept up, in order to prevent the nation from opening its eyes and insisting upon the enfranchisement of the colonies.
At the same time, bad government results to the mother-country from the complication of interests, the indistinct views, and the consumption of time, occasioned by the load of distant dependencies.
ii. Interest of the colonies.
Diminishing the chance of bad government resulting from—1. Opposite interest; 2. Ignorance.
The real interests of the colony must be sacrificed to the imaginary interests of the mother-country. It is for the purpose of governing it badly, and for no other, that you can wish to get or to keep a colony. Govern it well, it is of no use to you. Govern it as well as the inhabitants would govern it themselves,—you must choose those to govern it whom they themselves would choose. You must sacrifice none of its interests to your own,—you must bestow as much time and attention to their interests as they would themselves: in a word, you must take those very measures, and none others, which they themselves would take. But would this be governing? and what would it be worth to you if it were?
After all, it would be impossible for you to govern them so well as they would govern themselves, on account of the distance.†
The following are approximating measures:—
1. Maintain no military force in any of the colonies.
2. Issue no moneys for the maintenance of any civil establishment in any of the colonies.
3. Nominate to the offices in the colonies as long as they permit you;—yield as soon as they contest such nomination.
4. Give general instructions to governors to consent to all acts presented to them.
5. Issue no moneys for fortifications.
Proposition II.—That it is not the interest of Great Britain to have any treaty of alliance, offensive or defensive, with any other power whatever.
Reason: saving the danger of war arising out of them.
And more especially ought not Great Britain to guarantee foreign constitutions.
Reason: saving the danger of war resulting from the odium of so tyrannical a measure.
Proposition III.—That it is not the interest of Great Britain to have any treaty with any power whatsoever, for the purpose of possessing any advantages whatsoever, in point of trade, to the exclusion of any other nation whatsoever.
That the trade of every nation is limited by the quantity of capital is so plainly and obviously true, as to challenge a place among self-evident propositions. But self-evident propositions must not expect to be easily admitted, if admitted at all, if the consequences of them clash with prevalent passions and confirmed prejudices.
Nations are composed of individuals. The trade of a nation must be limited by the same causes that limit the trade of the individual. Each individual merchant, when he has as much trade as his whole capital, and all the credit he can get by means of his capital can suffice for carrying on, can have no more. This being true of each merchant, is not less true of the whole number of merchants put together.
Many books directly recognise the proposition, that the quantity of trade a nation can carry on is limited—limited by the quantity of its capital. None dispute the proposition: but almost all, somewhere or other, proceed upon the opposite supposition; they suppose the quantity of trade to have no limitation whatsoever.
It is a folly to buy manufactured goods; wise to buy raw materials. Why? because you sell them to yourselves, or, what is still better, to foreigners, manufactured; and the manufacturer’s profit is all clear gain to you. What is here forgotten is, that the manufacturer, to carry on his business, must have a capital; and that just so much capital as is employed in that way, is prevented from being employed in any other.
Hence the perfect inutility and mischievousness of all laws and public measures of government whatsoever, for the pretended encouragement of trade—all bounties in every shape whatsoever—all non-importation agreements and engagements to consume home manufactures in preference to foreign—in any other view than to afford temporary relief to temporary distress.
But of the two—prohibitions and bounties—penal encouragements and remuneratory—the latter are beyond comparison the most mischievous. Prohibitions, except while they are fresh, and drive men at a great expense out of the employments they are embarked in, are only nugatory. Bounties are wasteful and oppressive: they force money from one man in order to pay another man for carrying on a trade, which, if it were not a losing one, there would be no need of paying him for.
What then, are all modes of productive industry alike? May not one be more profitable than another? Certainly. But the favourite one is it, in fact, more profitable than any other? That is the question and the only question that ought to be put: and that is the very question which nobody ever thinks of putting.
Were it ever put and answered, and answered ever so clearly, it never could be of any use as a ground for any permanent plan of policy. Why? Because almost as soon as one branch is known to be more profitable than the rest, so soon it ceases so to be.—Men flock to it from all other branches, and the old equilibrium is presently restored. Your merchants have a monopoly as against foreigners? True, but they have no monopoly as against one another. Men cannot, in every instance, quit the less productive branch their capitals are already employed in, to throw them into this more productive one? True—but there are young beginners as well as old stagers; and the first concern of a young beginner, who has a capital to employ in a branch of industry, is to look out for the most profitable.
Objection:—Oh! but it is manufacture that creates the demand for the productions of agriculture. You cannot, therefore, increase the productions of agriculture but by increasing manufactures. No such thing. I admit the antecedent—I deny the consequence. Increase of manufactures certainly does create an increase in the demand for the productions of agriculture. Equally certain is it that the increase of manufactures is not necessary to produce an increase in that demand. Farmers can subsist without ribbons, gauzes, or fine cambrics. Weavers of ribbons, gauzes, or fine cambrics, cannot subsist without the productions of agriculture: necessary subsistence never can lose its value. Those who produce it are themselves a market for their produce. Is it possible that provisions should be too cheap? Is there any present danger of it? Suppose (in spite of the extreme absurdity of the supposition) that provisions were growing gradually too cheap, from the increase of the quantity produced, and the want of manufacturers to consume them, what would be the consequence? The increasing cheapness would increase the facility and disposition to marry: it would thence increase the population of the country; and the children thus produced, eating as they grew up, would keep down this terrible evil of a superabundance of provisions.
Provisions, the produce of agriculture, constantly and necessarily produce a market for themselves. The more provisions a man raises, over and above what is necessary for his own consumption, the more he has to give to others, to induce them to provide him with whatever, besides provisions, he chooses to have. In a word, the more he has to spare, the more he has to give to manufacturers; who, by taking it from him, and paying him with the produce of their labours, afford the encouragement requisite for the productions of the fruits of agriculture.
It is impossible, therefore, that you can ever have too much agriculture. It is impossible that while there is ground untilled, or ground that might be better tilled than it is, that any detriment should ensue to the community from the withholding or withdrawing capital from any other branch of industry, and employing it in agriculture. It is impossible, therefore, that the loss of any branch of trade can be productive of any detriment to the community, excepting always the temporary distress experienced by the individuals concerned in it for the time being, when the decline is a sudden one.
The following are the measures the propriety of which results from the above principles:—
1. That no treaties granting commercial preferences should be made.
2. That no wars should be entered into for compelling such treaties.
3. That no alliances should be contracted for the sake of purchasing them.
4. That no encouragements should be given to particular branches of trade, by—
(1.) Prohibition of rival manufactures.
(2.) Taxation of rival manufactures.
(3.) Bounties* on the trade meant to be favoured.
5. That no treaties should be entered into insuring commercial preferences.
They are useless as they add nothing to the mass of wealth; they only influence the direction of it.
Proposition IV.—That it is not the interest of Great Britain to keep up any naval force beyond what may be sufficient to defend its commerce against pirates.
It is unnecessary, except for the defence of the colonies, or for the purposes of war, undertaken either for the compelling of trade or the formation of commercial treaties.
Proposition V.—That it is not the interest of Great Britain to keep on foot any regulations whatsoever of distant preparation for the augmentation or maintenance of its naval force—such as the navigation act, bounties on the Greenland trade, and other trades regarded as nurseries for scamen.
This proposition is a necessary consequence of the foregoing one.
Propositions VI. VII. VIII. IX. & X.
Propositions similar to the foregoing are equally true applied to France.
Proposition XI.—That supposing Great Britain and France thoroughly agreed, the principal difficulties would be removed to the establishment of a plan of general and permanent pacification for all Europe.
Proposition XII.—That for the maintenance of such a pacification, general and perpetual treaties might be formed, limiting the number of troops to be maintained.†
If the simple relation of a single nation with a single other nation be considered, perhaps the matter would not be very difficult. The misfortune is, that almost everywhere compound relations are found. On the subject of troops,—France says to England, Yes I would voluntarily make with you a treaty of disarming, if there were only you; but it is necessary for me to have troops to defend me from the Austrians. Austria might say the same to France; but it is necessary to guard against Prussia, Russia, and the Porte. And the like allegation might be made by Prussia with regard to Russia.
Whilst as to naval forces, if it concerned Europe only, the difficulty might perhaps not be very considerable. To consider France, Spain and Holland, as making together a counterpoise to the power of Britain,—perhaps on account of the disadvantages which accompany the concert between three separate nations, to say nothing of the tardiness and publicity of procedures under the Dutch Constitution,—perhaps England might allow to all together a united force equal to half or more than its own.
An agreement of this kind would not be dishonourable. If the covenant were on one side only, it might be so. If it regard both parties together, the reciprocity takes away the acerbity. By the treaty which put an end to the first Punic war, the number of vessels that the Carthaginians might maintain was limited. This condition was it not humiliating? It might be: but if it were, it must have been because there was nothing correspondent to it on the side of the Romans. A treaty which placed all the security on one side, what cause could it have had for its source? It could only have had one—that is the avowed superiority of the party thus incontestably secured,—such a condition could only have been a law dictated by the conqueror to the party conquered. The law of the strongest. None but a conqueror could have dictated it; none but the conquered would have accepted it.
On the contrary, whatsoever nation should get the start of the other in making the proposal to reduce and fix the amount of its armed force, would crown itself with everlasting honour. The risk would be nothing—the gain certain. This gain would be, the giving an incontrovertible demonstration of its own disposition to peace, and of the opposite disposition in the other nation in case of its rejecting the proposal.
The utmost fairness should be employed. The nation addressed should be invited to consider and point out whatever further securities it deemed necessary, and whatever further concessions it deemed just.
The proposal should be made in the most public manner:—it should be an address from nation to nation. This, at the same time that it conciliated the confidence of the nation addressed, would make it impracticable for the government of that nation to neglect it, or stave it off by shifts and evasions. It would sound the heart of the nation addressed. It would discover its intentions, and proclaim them to the world.
The cause of humanity has still another resource. Should Britain prove deaf and impracticable, let France, without conditions, emancipate her colonies, and break up her marine. The advantage even upon this plan would be immense, the danger none. The colonies I have already shown are a source of expense, not of revenue,—of burthen to the people, not of relief. This appears to be the case, even upon the footing of those expenses which appear upon the face of them to belong to the colonies, and are the only ones that have hitherto been set down to their account. But in fact the whole expense of the marine belongs also to that account, and no other. What other destination has it? What other can it have? None. Take away the colonies, what use would there be for a single vessel, more than the few necessary in the Mediterranean to curb the pirates.
In case of a war, where at present (1789) would England make its first and only attack upon France? In the colonies. What would she propose to herself from success in such an attack? What but the depriving France of her colonies. Were these colonies—these bones of contention—no longer hers, what then could England do? what could she wish to do?
There would remain the territory of France; with what view could Britain make any attack upon it in any way? Not with views of permanent conquest;—such madness does not belong to our age. Parliament itself, one may venture to affirm, without paying it any very extraordinary compliment, would not wish it. It would not wish it, even could it be accomplished without effort on our part, without resistance on the other. It would not, even though France herself were to solicit it. No parliament would grant a penny for such a purpose. If it did, it would not be a parliament a month. No king would lend his name to such a project. He would be dethroned as surely and as deservedly as James the Second. To say, I will be king of France, would be to say, in other words, I will be absolute in England.
Well, then, no one would dream of conquest. What other purpose could an invasion have? The plunder and destruction of the country. Such baseness is totally repugnant, not only to the spirit of the nation, but to the spirit of the times. Malevolence could be the only motive—rapacity could never counsel it; long before an army could arrive anywhere, everything capable of being plundered would be carried off. Whatever is portable, could be much sooner carried off by the owners, than by any plundering army. No expedition of plunder could ever pay itself.*
Such is the extreme folly, the madness of war: on no supposition can it be otherwise than mischievous, especially between nations circumstanced as France and England. Though the choice of the events were absolutely at your command, you could not make it of use to you. If unsuccessful, you may be disgraced and ruined: if successful, even to the height of your wishes, you are still but so much the worse. You would still be so much the worse, though it were to cost you nothing. For not even any colony of your own planting, still less a conquest of your own making, will so much as pay its own expenses.
The greatest acquisitions that could be conceived would not be to be wished for,—could they even be attained with the greatest certainty, and without the least expense. In war, we are as likely not to gain as to gain—as likely to lose as to do either: we can neither attempt the one, nor defend ourselves against the other, without a certain and most enormous expense.
Mark well the contrast. All trade is in its essence advantageous—even to that party to whom it is least so. All war is in its essence ruinous; and yet the great employments of government are to treasure up occasions of war, and to put fetters upon trade.
Ask an Englishman what is the great obstacle to a secure and solid peace, he has his answer ready:—It is the ambition, perhaps he will add, the treachery of France. I wish the chief obstacle to a plan for this purpose were the dispositions and sentiments of France!—were that all, the plan need not long wait for adoption.
Of this visionary project, the most visionary part is without question that for the emancipation of distant dependencies. What will an Englishman say, when he sees two French ministers* of the highest reputation, both at the head of their respective departments, both joining in the opinion, that the accomplishment of this event, nay the speedy accomplishment of it, is inevitable, and one of them scrupling not to pronounce it as eminently desirable.
It would only be the bringing things back on these points to the footing they were on before the discovery of America. Europe had then no colonies—no distant garrisons—no standing armies. It would have had no wars but for the feudal system—religious antipathy—the rage of conquest—and the uncertainties of succession. Of these four causes, the first is happily extinct everywhere—the second and third almost everywhere, and at any rate in France and England—the last might, if not already extinguished, be so with great case.
The moral feelings of men in matters of national morality are still so far short of perfection, that in the scale of estimation, justice has not yet gained the ascendency over force. Yet this prejudice may, in a certain point of view, by accident, be rather favourable to this proposal than otherwise. Truth, and the object of this essay, bid me to say to my countrymen, it is for you to begin the reformation—it is you that have been the greatest sinners. But the same considerations also lead me to say to them, you are the strongest among nations: though justice be not on your side, force is; and it is your force that has been the main cause of your injustice. If the measure of moral approbation had been brought to perfection, such positions would have been far from popular, prudence would have dictated the keeping them out of sight, and the softening them down as much as possible.
Humiliation would have been the effect produced by them on those to whom they appeared true—indignation on those to whom they appeared false. But, as I have observed, men have not yet learned to tune their feelings in unison with the voice of morality in these points. They fell more pride in being accounted strong, than resentment at being called unjust: or rather, the imputation of injustice appears flattering rather than otherwise, when coupled with the consideration of its cause. I feel it in my own experience; but if I, listed as I am as the professed and hitherto the only advocate in my own country in the cause of justice, set a less value on justice than is its due, what can I expect from the general run of men?
Proposition XIII.—That the maintenance of such a pacification might be considerably facilitated, by the establishment of a common court of judicature, for the decision of differences between the several nations, although such court were not to be armed with any coercive powers.
It is an observation of somebody’s, that no nation ought to yield any evident point of justice to another. This must mean, evident in the eyes of the nation that is to judge,—evident in the eyes of the nation called upon to yield. What does this amount to? That no nation is to give up anything of what it looks upon as its rights—no nation is to make any concessions. Wherever there is any difference of opinion between the negociators of two nations, war is to be the consequence.
While there is no common tribunal, something might be said for this. Concession to notorious injustice invites fresh injustice.
Establish a common tribunal, the necessity for war no longer follows from difference of opinion. Just or unjust, the decision of the arbiters will save the credit, the honour of the contending party.
Can the arrangement proposed be justly styled visionary, when it has been proved of it—that
1. It is the interest of the parties concerned.
2. They are already sensible of that interest.
3. The situation it would place them in is no new one, nor any other than the original situation they set out from.
Difficult and complicated conventions have been effectuated: for examples, we may mention,—
Why should not the European fraternity subsist, as well as the German diet or the Swiss league? These latter have no ambitious views. Be it so; but is not this already become the case with the former?
How then shall we concentrate the approbation of the people, and obviate their prejudices?
One main object of the plan is to effectuate a reduction, and that a mighty one, in the contributions of the people. The amount of the reduction for each nation should be stipulated in the treaty; and even previous to the signature of it, laws for the purpose might be prepared in each nation, and presented to every other, ready to be enacted, as soon as the treaty should be ratified in each state.
By these means the mass of the people, the part most exposed to be led away by prejudices, would not be sooner apprized of the measure, than they would feel the relief it brought them. They would see it was for their advantage it was calculated, and that it could not be calculated for any other purpose.
The concurrence of all the maritime powers, except England, upon a former occasion, proved two points: the reasonableness of that measure itself, and the weakness of France in comparison with England. It was a measure not of ambition, but of justice—a law made in favour of equality—a law made for the benefit of the weak. No sinister point was gained, or attempted to be gained by it. France was satisfied with it. Why? because she was weaker than Britain; she could have no other motive—on no other supposition could it have been of any advantage to her. Britain was vexed at it. Why? For the opposite reason: she could have no other.
Oh my countrymen! purge your eyes from the film of prejudice—extirpate from your hearts the black specks of excessive jealousy, false ambition, selfishness, and insolence. The operations may be painful; but the rewards are glorious indeed! As the main difficulty, so will the main honour be with you.
What though wars should hereafter arise? the intermediate savings will not the less be so much clear gain.
Though, in the generating of the disposition for war, unjust ambition has doubtless had by far too great a share, yet jealousy, sincere and honest jealousy, must be acknowledged to have had a not inconsiderable one. Vulgar prejudice, fostered by passion, assigns the heart as the seat of all the moral diseases it complains of; but the principal and more frequent seat is really the head: it is from ignorance and weakness that men deviate from the path of rectitude, more frequently than from selfishness and malevolence. This is fortunate;—for the power of information and reason, over error and ignorance is much greater and much surer than that of exhortation, and all the modes of rhetoric, over selfishness and malevolence.
It is because we do not know what strong motives other nations have to be just, what strong indications they have given of the disposition to be so, how often we ourselves have deviated from the rules of justice,—that we take for granted, as an indisputable truth, that the principles of injustice are in a manner interwoven into the very essence of the hearts of other men.
The diffidence, which forms part of the character of the English nation, may have been one cause of this jealousy. The dread of being duped by other nations—the notion that foreign heads are more able, though at the same time foreign hearts are less honest than our own, has always been one of our prevailing weaknesses. This diffidence has perhaps some connexion with the mauvaise honte which has been remarked as commonly showing itself in our behavour, and which makes public speaking and public exhibition in every line a task so much more formidable to us than to other people.
This diffidence may, perhaps, in part be accounted for, from our living less in society, and accustoming ourselves less to mixed companies, than the people of other nations.
But the particular cast of diffidence in question, the apprehension of being duped by foreign powers, is to be referred in part, and perhaps principally, to another cause—the jealousy and slight opinion we entertain of our ministers and public men; we are jealous of them as our superiors, contending against us in the perpetual struggle for power; we are diffident of them as being our fellow-countrymen, and of the same mould as ourselves.
Jealousy is the vice of narrow minds;—confidence the virtue of enlarged ones. To be satisfied that confidence between nations is not out of nature where they have worthy ministers, one need but read the account of the negotiation between De Wit and Temple, as given by Hume. I say, by Hume:—for as it requires negotiators like De Wit and Temple to carry on such a negotiation in such a manner, so it required a historian like Hume to do it justice. For the vulgar among historians know no other receipt for writing that part of history than the finding out whatever are the vilest and basest motives capable of accounting for men’s conduct in the situation in question, and then ascribing it to those motives without ceremony and without proof.
Temple and De Wit, whose confidence in each other was so exemplary and so just—Temple and De Wit were two of the wisest as well as most honourable men in Europe. The age which produced such virtue, was, however, the age of the pretended popish plot, and of a thousand other enormities which cannot now be thought of without horror. Since then, the world has had upwards of a century to improve itself in experience, in reflection, in virtue. In every other line its improvements have been immense and unquestioned. Is it too much to hope that France and England might produce not a Temple and a De Wit,—virtue so transcendent as theirs would not be necessary,—but men who, in happier times, might achieve a work like theirs with less extent of virtue.
Such a Congress or Diet might be constituted by each power sending two deputies to the place of meeting; one of these to be the principal, the other to act as an occasional substitute.
The proceedings of such Congress or Diet should be all public.
Its power would consist,—1. In reporting its opinion;
2. In causing that opinion to be circulated in the dominions of each state.
Manifestoes are in common usage. A manifesto is designed to be read either by the subjects of the state complained of, or by other states, or by both. It is an appeal to them. It calls for their opinion. The difference is, that in that case nothing of proof is given; no opinion regularly made known.
The example of Sweden is alone sufficient to show the influence which treaties, the acts of nations, may be expected to have over the subjects of the several nations, and how far the expedient in question deserves the character of a weak one, or the proposal for employing and trusting to it, that of a visionary proposal.
The war commenced by the king of Sweden against Russia, was deemed by his subjects, or at least a considerable part of them, offensive, and as such, contrary to the constitution established by him with the concurrence of the states. Hence a considerable part of the army either threw up their commissions or refused to act; and the consequence was, the king was obliged to retreat from the Russian frontier and call a diet.
This was under a government, commonly, though not truly, supposed to be changed from a limited monarchy, or rather aristocracy, to a despotic monarchy. There was no act of any recognised and respected tribunal to guide and fix the opinion of the people. The only document they had to judge from was a manifesto of the enemy, couched in terms such as resentment would naturally dictate, and therefore none of the most conciliating,—a document which had no claim to be circulated, and of which the circulation, we may be pretty well assured, was prevented as much as it was in the power of the utmost vigilance of the government to prevent it.
3. After a certain time, in putting the refractory state under the ban of Europe.
There might, perhaps, be no harm in regulating, as a last resource, the contingent to be furnished by the several states for enforcing the decrees of the court. But the necessity for the employment of this resource would, in all human probability, be superseded for ever by having recourse to the much more simple and less burthensome expedient, of introducing into the instrument by which such court was instituted, a clause guaranteeing the liberty of the press in each state, in such sort, that the diet might find no obstacle to its giving, in every state, to its decrees, and to every paper whatever which it might think proper to sanction with its signature, the most extensive and unlimited circulation.
Proposition XIV.—That secresy in the operations of the foreign department in England ought not to be endured, being altogether useless, and equally repugnant to the interests of liberty and peace.
The existence of the rule which throws a veil of secresy over the transactions of the Cabinet with foreign powers, I shall not take upon me to dispute—my objection is to the propriety of it.
Being asked in the House of Lords by Lord Stormont* about secret articles, the minister for foreign affairs refuses to answer. I blame him not. Subsisting rules, it seems to be agreed, forbid reply. They throw a general veil of secresy over the transactions of the Cabinet with foreign powers. I blame no man for the fault of the laws. It is these laws that I blame as repugnant to the spirit of the constitution, and incompatible with good government.
I take at once the boldest and the broadest ground—I lay down two propositions:—
1. That in no negociation, and at no period of any negociation, ought the negociations of the cabinet in this country to be kept secret from the public at large; much less from parliament and after inquiry made in parliament.†
2. That whatever may be the case with preliminary negociations, such secresy ought never to be maintained with regard to treaties actually concluded.
In both cases, to a country like this, such secresy is equally mischievous and unnecessary.
It is mischievous. Over measures of which you have no knowledge, you can apply no controul. Measures carried on without your knowledge you cannot stop,—how rumous soever to you, and how strongly soever you would disapprove of them if you knew them. Of negociations with foreign powers carried on in time of peace, the principal terminations are treaties of alliance, offensive or defensive, or treaties of commerce. But by one accident or other, everything may lead to war.
That in new treaties of commerce as such, there can be no cause for secresy, is a proposition that will hardly be disputed. Only such negociations, like all others, may eventually lead to war, and everything connected with war, it will be said, may come to require secresy.
But rules which admit of a minister’s plunging the nation into a war against its will, are essentially mischievous and unconstitutional.
It is admitted that ministers ought not to have it in their power to impose taxes on the nation against its will. It is admitted that they ought not to have it in their power to maintain troops against its will. But by plunging it into war without its knowledge they do both.
Parliament may refuse to carry on a war after it is begun:—Parliament may remove and punish the minister who has brought the nation into a war.
Sorry remedies these; add them both together, their efficacy is not worth a straw. Arrestment of the evil, and punishment of the authors, are sad consolations for the mischief of a war, and of no value as remedies in comparison with prevention. Aggressive war is a matter of choice: defensive, of necessity. Refusal of the means of continuing a war is a most precarious remedy, a remedy only in name. What, when the enemy is at your doors, refuse the materials for barricading them?
Before aggression, war or no war depends upon the aggressor;—once begun, the party aggrieved acquires a vote: He has his negative upon every plan for terminating the war.—What is to be done? Give yourself up without resistance to the mercy of a justly exasperated enemy? But this or the continuance of the war, is all the choice that is now left. In what state of things can this remedy be made to serve? Are you unsuccessful?—the remedy is inapplicable. Are you successful?—nobody will call for it.
Punishment of the authors of the war, punishment whatever it may be to the personal adversaries of the ministers, is no satisfaction to the nation. This is self-evident; but what is closer to the purpose and not less true, is, that in a case like this, the fear of punishment on such an account is no check to them: of a majority in parliament they are in possession, or they would not be ministers. That they should be abandoned by this majority is not in the catalogue of events that ought to be looked upon as possible: but between abandoning them and punishing them, there is a wide difference. Lord North was abandoned in the American war: he was not punished for it. His was an honest error in judgment, unstained by any malâ fide practice, and countenanced by a fair majority in parliament. And so may any other impolitic and unjust war be. This is not a punishing age. If bribe-taking, oppression, peculation, duplicity, treachery, every crime that can be committed by statesmen sinning against conscience, produce no desire to punish, what dependence can be placed on punishment in a case where the mischief may so easily happen without any ground for punishment? Mankind are not yet arrived at that stage in the track of civilization. Foreign nations are not yet considered as objects susceptible of an injury. For the citizens of other civilized nations, we have not so much feeling as for our negroes. There are instances in which ministers have been punished for making peace* —there are none where they have been so much as questioned for bringing the nation into war; and if punishment had been ever applied on such an occasion, it would be not for the mischief done to the foreign nation, but purely for the mischief brought upon their own; not for the injustice, but purely for the imprudence.
It has never been laid down as a rule that you should pay any regard to foreign nations: it has never been laid down that you should stick at anything which would give you an advantage in your dealings with foreign nations. On what ground could a minister be punished for a war, even the most unsuccessful, brought on by any such means? I did my best to serve you, he would say—the worse the measure was for the foreign nation, the more I took upon me: the greater therefore the zeal I showed for your cause: the event has proved unfavourable. Are zeal and misfortune to be represented as crimes?
A war unjust on the part of our own nation, by whose ministers it is brought on, can never be brought on but in pursuit of some advantage which, were it not for the injustice towards the foreign nation it would be for our interests to pursue. The injustice and the danger of retaliation being on all hands looked upon as nothing, the plea of the minister would always be,—“It was your interest I was pursuing.” And the uninformed and unreflecting part of the nation, that is, the great body of the nation would echo to him,—“Yes, it was our interest you were preserving.” The voice of the nation on these subjects can only be looked for in newspapers. But on these subjects the language of all newspapers is uniform:—“It is we that are always in the right, without a possibility of being otherwise. Against us other nations have no rights. If according to the rules of judging between individual and individual, we are right—we are right by the rules of justice: if not, we are right by the laws of patriotism, which is a virtue more respectable than justice.”—Injustice, oppression, fraud, lying, whatever acts would be crimes, whatever habits would be vices, if manifested in the pursuit of individual interests, when manifested in pursuit of national interests, become sublimated into virtues. Let any man declare who has ever read or heard an English newspaper, whether this be not the constant tenor of the notions they convey. Party on this one point makes no difference. However hostile to one another on all other points, on this they have never but one voice—they write with the utmost harmony. Such are the opinions, and to these opinions the facts are accommodated as of course. Who would blush to misrepresent, when misrepresentation is a virtue?
But newspapers, if their voice make but a small part of the voice of the people, the instruction they give makes on these subjects the whole of the instruction which the people receive.
Such being the national propensity to error on these points, and to error on the worst side, the danger of parliamentary punishment for misconduct of this kind must appear equivalent to next to nothing, even in the eyes of an unconcerned and cool spectator. What must it appear then in the eyes of ministers themselves, acting under the seduction of self-partiality, and hurried on by the tide of business? No; the language which a minister on such occasions will hold to himself will be uniformly this,—“In the first place what I do is not wrong: in the next place, if it were, nothing should I have to fear from it.”
Under the present system of secresy, ministers have, therefore, every seduction to lead them into misconduct; while they have no check to keep them out of it. And what species of misconduct? That in comparison of which all others are but peccadillos. Let a minister throw away £30,000 or £40,000 in pensions to his creatures. Let him embezzle a few hundred thousand for himself. What is that to fifty or a hundred millions, the ordinary burthen of a war? Observe the consequence. This is the department of all others in which the strongest checks are needful; at the same time, thanks to the rules of secresy of all the departments, this is the only one in which there are no checks at all. I say, then, the conclusion is demonstrated. The principle which throws a veil of secresy over the proceedings of the foreign department of the cabinet is pernicious in the highest degree, pregnant with mischiefs superior to everything to which the most perfect absence of all concealment could possibly give rise.
There still remains a sort of inexplicit notion which may present itself as secretly furnishing an argument on the other side. Such is the condition of the British nation: peace and war may be always looked upon as being to all human probability in good measure in her power. When the worst comes to the worst, peace may always be had by some unessential sacrifice. I admit the force of the argument: what I maintain is that it operates in my favour. Why? It depends upon two propositions,—the matchless strength of this country, and the uselessness of her foreign dependencies. I admit both. But both operate as arguments in my favour. Her strength places her above the danger of surprise, and above the necessity of having recourse to it to defend herself. The uselessness of her foreign dependencies prove a fortiori, the uselessness of engaging in wars for their protection and defence. If they are not fit to keep without war, much less are they worth keeping at the price of war. The inutility of a secret cabinet is demonstrated by this short dilemma. For offensive measures, cabinet secresy can never be necessary to this nation: for defence it can never be necessary to any.
My persuasion is that there is no state whatever in which any inconveniences capable of arising from publicity in this department would not be greatly overbalanced by the advantages; be the state ever so great or ever so small; ever so strong or ever so weak; be its form of government pure or mixed, single or confederated, monarchical, aristocratical, or democratical. The observations already given seem in all these cases sufficient to warrant the conclusion.
But in a nation like Britain, the safety of publicity, the inutility of secresy in all such business, stands upon peculiar grounds. Stronger than any two other nations, much stronger of course than any one, its superiority deprives it of all pretence of necessity of carrying points by surprise. Clandestine surprise is the resource of knavery and fear, of unjust ambition combined with weakness. Her matchless power exempts her from the one; her interest, if her servants could be brought to be governed by her evident interests, would forbid the other.
Taking the interest of the first servant of the state as distinct from and opposite to the nation, clandestinity may undoubtedly be, in certain cases, favourable to the projects of sceptred thieves and robbers. Without taking the precautions of a thief, the Great Frederic might probably enough not have succeeded in the enterprise of stealing Silesia from her lawful sovereign. Without an advantage of this sort, the triple gang might, perhaps, not have found it quite so easy to secure what they stole from Poland. Whether there can or cannot exist occasions on which it might, in this point of view, be the interest of a king of Great Britain to turn highwayman, is a question I shall waive: but a proposition I shall not flinch from is, that it never can be the interest of the nation to abet him in it. When those sceptred sinners sold themselves to the service of Mammon, they did not serve him for nought: the booty was all their own. Were we (I speak as one of the body of the nation) to assist our king in committing a robbery upon France, the booty would be his. He would have the naming to the new places, which is all the value that in the hands of a British robber such booty can be of to anybody. The privilege of paying for the horse and pistols is all that would be ours. The booty would be employed in corrupting our confidential servants: and this is the full and exact amount of what we should get by it.
Conquests made by New Zealanders have some sense in them; while the conquered fry, the conquerers fatten. Conquests made by the polished nations of antiquity,—conquests made by Greeks and Romans,—had some sense in them. Lands, moveables, inhabitants, everything went into the pocket. The invasions of France in the days of the Edwards and the Henrys, had a rational object. Prisoners were taken, and the country was stripped to pay their ransom. The ransom of a single prisoner, a Duke of Orleans, exceeded one-third of the national revenue of England.
Conquests made by a modern despot of the continent have still some sense in them. The new property being continguous, is laid on to his old property; the inhabitants, as many as he thinks fit to set his mark upon, go to increase his armies; their substance, as much as he thinks fit to squeeze from them, goes into his purse.
Conquests made by the British nation would be violations of common sense, were there no such thing as justice. They are bungling imitations of miserable originals, bating the essential circumstances. Nothing but confirmed blindness and stupidity can prompt us to go on imitating Alexander and Cæsar, and the New Zelanders, and Catherine and Frederic, without the profit.
If it be the king alone who gets the appointment to the places, it is a part of the nation, it may be said, that gets the benefit of filling them. A precious lottery! Fifty or one hundred millions the cost of the tickets. So many years purchase of ten or twenty thousand a-year, the value of the prizes. This if the scheme succeed:—what if it fail?
I do not say there are no sharers in the plunder:—it is impossible for the head of a gang to put the whole of it into his own pocket. All I contend for is, that robbery by wholesale is not so profitable as by retail:—if the whole gang together pick the pockets of strangers to a certain amount, the ringleaders pick the pockets of the rest to a much greater. Shall I or shall I not succeed in persuading my countrymen that it is not their interest to be thieves?
“Oh, but you mistake!” cries somebody, “we do not now make war for conquests, but for trade.” More foolish still. This is a still worse bargain than before. Conquer the whole world, it is impossible you should increase your trade one halfpenny:—it is impossible you should do otherwise than diminish it. Conquer little or much, you pay for it by taxes:—but just so much as a merchant pays in taxes, just so much he is disabled from adding to the capital he employs in trade. Had you two worlds to trade with, you could only trade with them to the amount of your capital, and what credit, you might meet with on the strength of it. This being true of each trader, is so of all traders. Find a fallacy in this short argument if you can. If you obtained your new right of trading given you for nothing, you would not be a halfpenny the richer: if you paid for them by war or preparations for war; by just so much as you paid for these you would be the poorer.
The good people of England, along with the right of self-government, conquered prodigious right of trade. The revolution was to produce for them not only the blessings of security and power, but immense and sudden wealth. Year has followed after year, and to their endless astonishment, the progress to wealth has gone on no faster than before. One piece of good fortune still wanting, they have never thought of:—that on the day their shackles were knocked off, some kind sylph should have slipped a few thousand pounds into every man’s pocket. There is no law against my flying to the moon. Yet I cannot get there. Why? Because I have no wings. What wings are to flying, capital is to trade.
There are two ways of making war for trade,—forcing independent nations to let you trade with them, and conquering nations, or pieces of nations, to make them trade with you. The former contrivance is to appearance the more easy, and the policy of it the more refined. The latter is more in the good old way, and the king does his own business and the nation’s at the same time. He gets the naming to the places: and the nation cannot choose but join with him, being assured that it is all for the sake of getting them the trade. The places he lays hold of, good man, only out of necessity, and that they may not go a-begging:—on his own account, he has no more mind for them than a new-made bishop for the mitre, or a new-made speaker for the chair. To the increase of trade, both these plans of war equally contribute. What you get in both cases is the pleasure of the war.
The legal right of trading to part of America was conquered by France from Britain in the last war. What have they got by it? They have got Tobago, bankruptcy, and a revolution, for their fifty millions. Ministers, who to account for the bankruptcy are forced to say something about the war, call it a national one:—the king has not got by it,—therefore the nation has. What has it got? A fine trade, were there but capital to carry it on. With such room for trade, how comes there to be no more of it? This is what merchants and manufacturers are putting themselves to the torture to account for. The sylph so necessary elsewhere, was still more necessary to France; since, over and above her other work, there was the fifty millions spent in powder and shot to replace.
The King of France, however, by getting Tobago, probably obtained two or three thousand pounds worth of places to give away. This is what he got, and this is all that anybody got for the nation’s fifty millions. Let us go on as we have begun, strike a bold stroke, take all their vessels we can lay hold of without a declaration of war, and who knows but what we may get it back again. With the advantages we now have over them, five times the success they are so pleased with, would be but a moderate expectation. For every fifty millions thus laid out, our king would get in places to the amount, not of two or three thousand pounds only, but say of ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand pounds. All this would be prodigious glory—and fine paragraphs and speeches, thanksgivings, and birth-day odes, might be sung and said for it: but for economy, I would much rather give the king new places to the same amount at home, if at this price his ministers would sell us peace.
The conclusion is, that as we have nothing to fear from any other nation or nations, nor want anything from other nations, we can have nothing to say to other nations, nor to hear from them,—that might not be as public as any laws. What then is the veil of secresy that enwraps the proceedings of the cabinet? A mere cloak for wickedness and folly—a dispensation to ministers to save them from the trouble of thinking—a warrant for playing all manner of mad and silly pranks, unseen and uncontrouled—a licence to play at hazard with their fellows abroad, staking our lives and fortunes upon the throw.
What, then, is the true use and effect of secresy? That the prerogatives of place may furnish an aliment to petty vanity,—that the members of the circulation may have as it were a newspaper to themselves,—that under favour of the monopoly, ignorance and incapacity may put on airs of wisdom,—that a man, unable to write or speak what is fit to be put into a newspaper, may toss up his head and say, I don’t read newspapers—as if a parent were to say I don’t trouble my head about schoolmasters,—and that a minister, secure from scrutiny in that quarter, may have the convenient opportunity, upon occasion, of filling the posts with obsequious cyphers, instead of effective men:—anything will do to make a minister whose writing may be written for him, and whose duty in speaking consists in silence.
This much must be confessed:—if secresy as against the nation be useless and pernicious to the nation, it is not useless and pernicious with regard to its servants. It forms part of the douceurs of office—a perquisite which will be valued in proportion to the insignificance of their characters and the narrowness of their views. It serves to pamper them up with notions of their own importance, and to teach the servants of the people to look down upon their masters.
Oh!—but if everything that were written were liable to be made public, were published, who would treat with you abroad? Just the same persons as treat with you at present. Negotiations, for fear of misrepresentation, would perhaps be committed somewhat more to writing than at present;—and where would be the harm? The king and his ministers might not have quite such such copious accounts, true or false, of the tittle-tattle of each court: or they must put into different hands the tittle-tattle, and the real business. And suppose your head servants were not so minutely acquainted with the mistresses and buffoons of kings and their ministers,—what matters it to you as a nation, who have no intrigues to carry on, no petty points to compass?
It were an endless task to fill more pages with the shadows that might be conjured up in order to be knocked down. I leave that task to any that will undertake it. I challenge party men—I invite the impartial lovers of their country and mankind to discuss the question—to ransack the stores of history, and imagination as well as history, for cases actual or possible, in which the want of secrecy in this line of business can be shown to be attended with any substantial prejudice.
As to the constitution, the question of cabinet-secresy having never been tried by the principles of the constitution, has never received a decision. The good old Tudor and Stuart principles have been suffered to remain unquestioned here. Foreign politics are questions of state. Under Elizabeth and James, nothing was to be inquired into—nothing was to be known—everything was matter of state. On other points the veil has been torn away: but with regard to these, there has been a sort of tacit understanding between ministers and people.
Hitherto war has been the national rage: peace has always come too soon,—war too late. To tie up the ministers’ hands and make them continually accountable, would be depriving them of numberless occasions of seizing those happy advantages that lead to war: it would be lessening the people’s chance of their favourite amusement. For these hundred years past, ministers, to do them justice, have generally been more backward than the people—the great object has rather been to force them into war, than to keep them out of it. Walpole and Newcastle were both forced into war.
It admits of no doubt, if we are really for war, and fond of it for its own sake, we can do no better than let things continue as they are. If we think peace better than war, it is equally certain that the law of secresy cannot be too soon abolished.
Such is the general confusion of ideas—such the power of the imagination—such the force of prejudice—that I verily believe the persuasion is not an uncommon one;—so clear in their notions are many worthy gentlemen, that they look upon war, if successful, as a cause of opulence and prosperity. With equal justice might they look upon the loss of a leg as a cause of swiftness.
Well, but if it be not directly the cause of opulence, it is indirectly; from the successes of war, come, say they, our prosperity, our greatness; thence the respect paid to us by Foreign Powers—thence our security: and who does not know how necessary security is to opulence?
No; war is, in this way, just as unfavourable to opulence as in the other. In the present mode of carrying on war—a mode which it is in no man’s power to depart from, security is in proportion to opulence. Just so far then as war is, by its direct effects, unfavourable to opulence,—just so far is it unfavourable to security.
Respect is a term I shall beg leave to change; respect is a mixture of fear and esteem, but for constituting esteem, force is not the instrument, but justice. The sentiment really relied upon for security is fear. By respect then is meant, in plain English, fear. But in a case like this, fear is much more adverse than favourable to security. So many as fear you, join against you till they think they are too strong for you, and then they are afraid of you no longer;—meantime they all hate you, and jointly and severally they do you as much mischief as they can. You, on your part, are not behindhand with them. Conscious or not conscious of your own bad intentions, you suspect theirs to be still worse. Their notion of your intentions is the same. Measures of mere self-defence are naturally taken for projects of aggression. The same causes produce, on both sides, the same effects; each makes haste to begin for fear of being forestalled. In this state or things, if on either side there happen to be a minister or a would-be minister, who has a fancy for war, the stroke is struck, and the tinder catches fire.
At school, the strongest boy may perhaps be the safest. Two or more boys are not always in readiness to join against one. But though this notion may hold good in an English school, it will not bear transplanting upon the theatre of Europe.
Oh! but if your neighbours are really afraid of you, their fear is of use to you in another way—you get the turn of the scale in all disputes. Points that are at all doubtful, they give up to you of course. Watch the moment, and you may every now and then gain points that do not admit of doubt. This is only the former old set of fallacies exhibited in a more obscure form, and which, from their obscurity only, can show as new. The fact is, as has been already shown, there is no nation that has any points to gain to the prejudice of any other. Between the interests of nations, there is nowhere any real conflict: if they appear repugnant anywhere, it is only in proportion as they are misunderstood. What are these points? What points are these which, if you had your choice, you would wish to gain of them? Preferences in trade have been proved to be worth nothing,—distant territorial acquisitions have been proved to be worth less than nothing. When these are out of the question, what other points are there worth gaining by such means.
Opulence is the word I have first mentioned; but opulence is not the word that would be first pitched upon. The repugnancy of the connexion between war and opulence is too glaring:—the term opulence brings to view an idea too simple, too intelligible, too precise. Splendour, greatness, glory, these are terms better suited to the purpose. Prove first that war contributes to splendour and greatness, you may persuade yourself it contributes to opulence, because when you think of splendour you think of opulence. But splendour, greatness, glory, all these fine things, may be produced by useless success, and unprofitable and enervating extent of dominion obtained at the expense of opulence; and this is the way in which you may manage so as to prove to yourself, that the way to make a man run the quicker is to cut off one of his legs. And true enough it is, that a man who has had a leg cut off, and the stump healed, may hop faster than a man who lies in bed with both legs broken, can walk. And thus you may prove that Britain is in a better case after the expenditure of a glorious war, than if there had been no war; because France or some other country, was put by it into a still worse condition.
In respect, therefore, of any benefit to be derived in the shape of conquest, or of trade—of opulence or of respect—no advantage can be reaped by the employment of the unnecessary, the mischievous, and unconstitutional system of clandestinity and secresy in negotiation.
APPENDIX.* —JUNCTIANA PROPOSAL.
PROPOSALS FOR THE ON OF THE TWO SEAS,—THE ATLANTIC AND THE PACIFIC, BY MEANS OF A JOINT-STOCK COMPANY,
Grounds of expectation respecting the practicability of the proposed junction.
The most recent, as well as most determinate grounds, rest, it is believed, on the authority of the work, intituled, “Memoirs of the Mexican Revolution,” &c. by William Davis Robinson, in two volumes 8vo, London, 1820: the author, a citizen of the United States, a gentleman of good character, well known to the legation of his own state here in London. In Volume II. Chapter XIII. p. 263 is devoted to this subject.
It speaks (II. 269.) of the measure in question as being known to have been a favourite measure of the last of the two Pitts. It certainly was in the contemplation of General Miranda, whose enterprise was undertaken under the protection of that minister. It was from Miranda that the Edinburgh Review derived the principal part of the information contained in its article on the subject, anno 1810.
Being so long posterior to Humboldt’s great work, this of Mr. Robinson speaks of course (p. 265.) of the nine several supposed lines of junction, mentioned in that universally known work: but by Humboldt, in making the number of them so considerable, physical possibility is alone taken into consideration: length of voyage in respect of time, and consequently prospect of net profit, not being taken into the account: to which latter purpose, if the reports given by Mr. Robinson are to be depended upon, the nine will be found reduced to one.
Nothing can be more encouraging than the expectations held out by this account of his. Three spots, it is true, are mentioned. But of the three, taking the matter upon the face of his account of it, the one from Porto Bello on the Atlantic to Panamá on the Pacific, is decidedly impracticable: another, namely from the port formed by the river Guasacualco in the Atlantic, to Tehuantepec in the Pacific, not worth a thought in comparison with the third: a chain of mountains running between the two seas, (p. 287,) and the only chance depending on the existence of some ravine, deep enough to afford a practicable passage for a cut.
In this third proposed course through the lake of Nicaragua, no mountains are in the way. From the river San Juan (in English St. John,) running from the lake into the Atlantic, it passes on to the Pacific, either through the lake of Leon, which by a river communicates with the lake of Nicaragua, or by a direct cut at a less distance.
The information he speaks of as being derived from a number of persons of different descriptions (names not mentioned,) by whom the tract of country in question had been visited. The sum of it is as follows:—
I. Elevation of the land.
Between both lakes and the Pacific, the ground “a dead level.”
II. Depth of water on the side of the Atlantic.
III. Length of a strait cut at different parts of the above dead level.
Length of a river by which Lake Leon communicates already with the sea, “Leagues 8,” say miles 24.
Neither in Humboldt’s Work, nor in any other as yet published, is any considerable part of the above information (it is believed) to be found.
Under these circumstances, the Nicaragua track seems to be the one, the only one, to which, in the present state of our knowledge here in Europe, the attention of capitalists can be directed, with a view to the formation of any such company as is here proposed.
Outline of the proposed agreement for the accomplishment of it.
I. Situation and dimensions of the proposed spot.
Taking the conception of the spot from the view given of it in the maps to Pinkerton’s Atlas, the greatest tract of territory that would be requisite to be allotted to the purpose would be, that which occupies, in length, somewhat less than four degrees of longitude, geographical miles say 220, namely, from the mouth of St. John’s river in the Pacific; and in breadth, upon an average, a little more than a degree of latitude, geographical miles say a little more than 60. Upon the face of the map, the natural boundaries are, to the north, a chain of lofty mountains; to the south, another such chain, with the exception of the “dead level” above spoken of; to the east, the Atlantic; to the west,—in part the chain of mountains, having on the other side of it the territory of Costa Rica,—on other part, the Pacific.
In this tract of country may be seen the maximum of what it can be necessary should be ceded to the proposed company; whether, from this quantity, consistently with the accomplishment and perpetual maintenance of the junction for mutual and universal benefit, any and what defalcation can be made, will scarcely be ascertainable, until the necessary surveys have been made and reported.
Whatever may be the site and amount of it, call it for the present Junctiana.
II. Proposed source of benefit to the proposed company in a pecuniary shape.
1. The price of transit, whatsoever shape or shapes may be given to it: this price being to be received from the masters of all vessels making use of the communication.
2. The absolute property in the land (land covered with water included,) of all this territory, or of what lesser portion of it shall, on report of surveyors, as above, be deemed necessary and sufficient: thence, the right of selling it in parcels, and letting it out upon leases, for building and other purposes.
III. Proposed obligations of the company.
1. To pay to the local authorities a sum in the name of purchase money for the powers of government.
2. To pay the expense of the indemnification due to all such individuals, original inhabitants styled Indians included, as possess any interest in whatsoever land comes to be purchased: the value, so paid for, to be the present value only, not any such additional value as may be expected to be derived from the accomplishment of the measure. In case of disagreement, the prices to be referred to arbitration in manner hereinafter to be mentioned.
3. To defray the whole expense of effecting and keeping up the communication: including, as well necessary fortifications towards the two seas, as necessary means of communication of all sorts, such as canals, locks, bridges, tunnels, &c.: and necessary receptacles of all sorts for vessels, such as docks, jetties, &c.
4. In respect of the price of transit, as above, the company to admit vessels of all states, at the outset and forever, on exactly the same footing,—the state or states with which the agreement is made, not excepted: no favour, direct or indirect, to be given to any one at the expense of any other state, or of all states.
5. So in respect of purchase and renting of land, as above.
6. Proposition to be made to the Anglo-American United States, to take the Junctiana Territory under their protection, by admitting it into their union: terms, except so far as shall be excepted, the same in principle with those upon which the recently admitted states have been admitted: admitted namely for a time, and while in a state of probation, under the administration of the President of the United States, and as soon as ripe, admitted on the same footing as those other states, and with the same sort of government. Considering the benefit which, in so many shapes, these United States would reap from the accomplishment of the junction, and the honour conferred on their nation by the proposed spontaneous choice, their concurrence seems hardly to be doubted of. As to this point, see § 8.
7. No slavery, in any shape, to be allowed: should any vessel, with any slave on board, obtain admittance into the territory, every such slave, upon his entrance within the territory, to he free.
N.B.—It seems essential that, considering the magnitude of the advances which the company would have to make before any returns could be expected, every security which the nature of the case admits of, should be afforded to it: and in particular against any changes to which in their origin, states so lately emancipated from so bad a form of government, cannot but appear to stand exposed; society and manners, on the part of so large a proportion of the population, being as yet on so unfavourable a footing. As to this point, see § 7.
For the preservation of its rights and powers from injury, the company might stipulate for its having the appointment of a governor of the state so constituted, with a negative upon all laws. But quere as to the need of this? See § 7.
8. The entire price of transit, at the rate of so much per ton, to be made known and always kept known to all persons concerned: no enhancement by particular and undeclared collateral charges.
9. The maximum of it to be determined by the agreement between the contracting parties: no enhancement except by mutual consent, in consequence of casual expenses and consequent net loss: expenses, the nature of which will be to be specified in the ultimate agreement.
Mexico—sacrifices eventually requisite—inducements to compliance.
For the accomplishment of the measure upon the plan here submitted, the following are among the conditions necessary:—
1. That the expense be defrayed—not by the government to which the territory belongs, but by a joint-stock company.
2. That, for their security, the dominion, of the territory through which the communication is made, be ceded to the company.
3. That the dominion so ceded have—not on both sides of it a territory belonging to one and the same government; but, on one side, a territory belonging to one government, namely Mexico,—on the other side of it, a territory belonging to another government, namely Columbia.
4. That, for security to the capitalists, members of the joint-stock company, as well as for the benefit and satisfaction of all other nations interested, the territory in question be taken under the protection of the Anglo-American United States: of all other nations interested,—which is as much as to say, of all the other nations of the earth.
On this plan, at the hands of Mexico, certain sacrifices will, on certain suppositions, be requisite.
1. In Mexico, has any such idea yet been entertained, as that of executing the enterprise within her own dominions, and with capital to no greater amount than could be either raised by taxes, or obtained in some way or other from proprietors, subjects of her own government? In Columbia, there seems some ground for supposing that a conception to the like effect may perhaps have been entertained in relation to herself; forasmuch as, many months ago, a competent person was sent out from Europe by Columbia to make surveys in this view; and, on any such occasion, its own internal resources are the ways and means which a government would naturally look to, before it thought of extraneous ones.
In Mexico, should a persuasion to this effect have already obtained possession of men’s minds, a proposal such as the present seems to have no great prospect of finding acceptance.
The probability, however, seems to be on the negative side.
1. The first point on which this part of the question will turn, is—what is the quantity of capital that will be requisite? As to this point, everything is, it must be confessed, in utter darkness. Estimate being as yet altogether out of the question, what remains is loose conjecture, and without anything but the general nature of the enterprise for its ground. On this ground, no professional man would, it is believed, set the expense at less than several millions of pounds sterling—between four and five times as many dollars.
Whatsoever be the amount, thus much is however certain, that the expenditure would require to be kept running on—running on for a length of time, probably for several years, before any the least return for the money could be received.
That any such sum should be raised by taxes—raised by government in its infant, and as yet unsettled state—by taxes over and above all that will be requisite for carrying on the ordinary business of government, is an expectation of a result, which, upon the face of it, does not seem probable.
As to a capital to be raised without taxes—a capital to be furnished by a joint-stock company, having for its members, to an exclusive or principal amount, individuals belonging to the State of Mexico:—the formation of any such company depends upon two conditions:—
1. Upon the existence of capital, to such an amount, at the disposal of individuals.
2. Upon the inability of finding other applications for it, and those of an ordinary nature, that would be still more advantageous: applications, in the instance of which the employment given to it would be under the eye of the proprietor—at the choice of the proprietor—determined on each occasion by the will of the proprietor; and would not, as in this case, have to wait during an indefinite time, for every the smallest return.
If, for example, the information that has been received is correct, fifteen per cent. and more, and with an immediate return, may always be made of capital in Mexico; while, by an English capitalist, less than ten per cent., if placed upon a footing regarded by him as an assured one, would be caught at; and for this, or something not more than this, if possessed of sufficient means of living from other sources, he would even be content to wait. On the establishment of the London Docks for example, ten per cent. was the maximum looked to; and this was long before the commencement of that state of things, by which the profit capable of being expected from capital, has been of late years so much reduced.
This point being determined upon, if the determination be that a joint-stock company, formed by capitalists of all nations, foreigners as well as natives shall be resorted to; then comes the question about the portion of territory, and the cession to be made of it.
If the only portion that required to be ceded, were the portion to be purchased by the company for the purpose of the communication, that is to say, the portion through which the work would have to be carried on, thus far no great difficulty presents itself: thus far, by the supposition, Mexico would have her equivalent: the sacrifice would be such as she would be prepared to make: the equivalent, one with which, by the supposition, she would be satisfied.
But the difficulty, if there be any in the case, lies here. It is essential to the plan, that Columbia be not excluded from a share in that benefit which consists in contiguity—immediate contiguity—to the spot through which the communication is made. For this purpose it is necessary that, while on one side Mexico has the territory immediately contiguous to the territory through which the communication passes, Columbia should have the territory immediately contiguous to it on the other side. But, according to the latest account that has been made public, viz. Mr. Robinson’s, as published in London, anno 1821, there is but one spot that affords any tolerably fair promise of any such junction on profitable terms; and that is a spot in which Lake Nicaragua is included; and if the information received be correct, not only the contiguous land on the side of Mexico is regarded as appertaining to Mexico, but also the contiguous land on the side of Columbia.
If this be not the case, if the claims or expectations of Mexico do not embrace both sides, here ends this difficulty: but if they do embrace both sides, then it is that the difficulty will have place; for then it is that by Mexico, according to the plan here proposed, a sacrifice to a certain amount will have to be made.
For its direct object, this plan has the securing the establishment of the communication for the benefit of all nations without exception; and more particularly for the benefit of Mexico, Columbia, and the Anglo-American States; these being the three nations to which local proximity will render it in a peculiar degree advantageous. But moreover, for its collateral objects it has the prevention of all that ill-will, as between Mexico and Columbia, of which the possession of so great an advantage to Mexico, to the ex lusion of Columbia, could scarcely, the nature of man considered, fail of being productive betwixt Mexico and Columbia. With more propriety might it have been said, between Mexico on the one part, and on the other part Columbia, backed by all the other nations of the earth.
This heart-burning, this source of war and disappointment—this it is that presents itself to view as the great natural stumbling-block to the undertaking: this stumbling-block it is the principal object of this proposal to remove.
Suppose even that, by her own resources and within her own dominions, it were completely in the power of Mexico to establish the communication, still this stumbing-block would remain unremoved; a nation which for a long time, at sea at least, could not but remain a weak one: this weak nation, embarked in a project, presenting a face of injury to all the powers upon earth!
For the sake of peace in general, and for the peace and safety to Mexico in particular, this proposal has therefore for its main object, the preventing a possession thus important to all nations, from being endeavoured to be taken for a subject of exclusive property by any nation—to preserve it from becoming a bone of contention to all nations—to preserve it from this fate, by placing it in the conjunct hands of three nations, in the character of trustees for themselves and for all others without exception.
On the supposition, that Mexico has placed herself, and is known to have placed herself, in so dangerous a situation, and that the aid of capital from without is at the same time regarded by her as necessary, would any such capital to any such amount be found?
By capitalists, the danger against which, in this case, adequate security would be looked for, is not merely want of inclination to secure to them the stipulated benefits, but want of ability. But as to this point in the case supposed, the company would behold itself in a state of dependence, not only on Mexico herself, but on every other power, with which, either on the account here in question, or on any other, Mexico might, at any point of time, however distant, find herself in a state of hostility. Should any such hostility at any time have place (and can it rationally be supposed that it will not at any time have place?) the most prominent object would of course be this matchless jewel,—this matchless key to commercial advantage: the first endeavour would be either to take possession of it, or (as England did by the Washington capital) to destroy it; and in either case, what would be the condition of the company?
Hereupon comes the question—the security here proposed, will it be sufficient? O yes: that it will: this position requires a separate consideration; and the truth of it will be rendered (it is hoped) sufficiently manifest in another place. See § 8.
Upon the plan of universal benefit here proposed, all nations would behold in Mexico a friend. Upon the plan of exclusive benefit to Mexico, this plan of universal benefit being supposed rejected, and known to be rejected, all nations would behold in her an enemy. Upon the plan of universal benefit, all other nations, in their competition with these two nations and one another, are secured against every disadvantage, except that which has been established by the hand of nature; that is to say, local distance. Upon the plan of exclusive benefit, they would behold themselves exposed at all times to extortion—to extortion blind and boundless: they would look to the Vistula, to the Elbe, to the Rhine: in a word, to all those water communications which in Europe run through different states. All this they would look to; and, in the scene of self-pernicious selfishness, so universally and constantly exhibited in the old world, behold evidence but too conclusive of the like mixture of improbity and folly in the new.
To Columbia, such virtual hostility could scarce fail to be, in a peculiar degree, galling and irritative. To Mexico, to the exclusion of Columbia, the junction would, on this supposition, give the prodigious advantage of a water communication between her own ports in the Atlantic, and her own ports in the Pacific. Meantime, for this same advantage, in the case of Columbia, the demand is equally urgent.
Suppose her next neighbour in possession of it, and herself for ever either destitute of it, or dependent for it on the ever precarious good-will of a foreign state,—the very idea of such a state of things,—could it, consistently with the nature of man, fail to have irritation for its accompaniment? While they themselves are confined to the supremely tedious sea communication round Cape Horn, or to the not much less tedious internal communication up the rapid current of the river Magdalena, with a tedious land-carriage at the end of it—the mercantile men of that already-established republic, with their rulers at their back—is it in the nature of man they should look with other than an evil eye on their rivals in the Mexican state, if in the exclusive possession of so irresistible an instrument for throwing them out of the market?
The Columbians, it is well known to Mexicans, have, for a considerable time past, been regarding this jewel with a proprietary eye. After many unexpected delays, so late as February 1822, a civil engineer went from Europe to make surveys in this view. Exclusion from it would produce in their breasts the sensation of a loss. In the breast of Mexicans, the non-acquisition of it would not produce any such sensation as that of loss. By the acquisition of it, in equal shares, on the here-proposed partnership footing, the sensation of gain would be produced alike on both sides.
In this state of things, supposing the partnership plan rejected, if it were not really the interest, it would at any rate appear to be the interest, of all classes in the republic of Columbia, to act in a manner more or less declaredly hostile to Mexico—to obstruct the settlement of the government—to foment divisions—to keep the country in such a state of poverty, as should oppose an insuperable bar to her putting herself in possession of so exclusive and invidious an advantage.
All this while, what should never be out of mind is, that for all these surmises, unpleasant as they are, not any of the parties concerned, but the penner of this proposal, and he alone is answerable. All individuals, on whom any thing depends, being on both sides alike unknown to him, the propensities so universal in human nature constitute the only source whence these indications of probable hostility have been derived.
A much more pleasing object of contemplation to him is the state of amity—cordial and durable amity—which the sort of partnership here proposed could not fail to number among its natural fruits. The infant state would behold in them its common parents. In the Anglo-American union, of whose kindness the Columbian republic has had such recent experience, and at whose hands the Mexican state has so sure an anticipation of the like kindness, they would behold a common friend, and a friend, in case of misunderstanding, whether on these or any other points; a common referee—a referee, such as for impartiality, probity, and sound sense, has assuredly never as yet been matched in the history of nations.
One advantage, however, it must be confessed there is, of which, in this plan, Mexico would put herself exclusively in possession: an advantage in which neither any other nation, nor even Columbia herself, could claim, any the least share. This is the glory of so extraordinary, not to say unexampled, a manifestation of the union of those two virtues, to which all other virtues are reducible—effective benevolence and self-regarding prudence. In fact, it would be nothing more than a sacrifice of personal interest ill understood, to personal interest well understood: still, so difficult to human weakness is every such sacrifice, so imperfectly understood as yet is the connexion between social and personal interest, that the characters of generosity would not the less assuredly stamp themselves, upon the face of the sacrifice, in the most conspicuous and unfading colours.
So much as between Mexico and Columbia. Now, as between Mexico and all other nations.
As, by refusal of this cession, Mexico would stand forth in the eyes of all other nations in the light of an enemy of their common welfare, so by consent to it, she would establish herself in the character—the conspicuous, the indisputable, the indelible character—not simply of a common friend, but of a benefactress—a common, universal, and unexampled benefactress. To her they would behold themselves indebted—not merely for a benefit, but for such a benefit as, unless it were without design or expectation on the part of the benefactor, the nations of the earth, taken in the aggregate, never yet received at the hands of any one. Gratitude is therefore an affection, of which, in so far as in minds so situated, any such social affection can have place, she will be an object in all eyes—in the eyes of the present generation, and of all future ones. By Spain, and Spain alone, can any exception to this observation be afforded. But no longer than the present delirium lasts, can this exception last: nations are not, like individuals, exposed to any such lamentable disease, as insanity coeval with existence—insanity beyond the reach of cure.
Howsoever liable to become faint, the colours of national gratitude may be, such is not the case with the impression made by respect. Respect is a tribute, which, where really due, not even the bitterest enemy can altogether refuse: and as to time, tribute in this shape, so far from being diminished, is even increased by it.
The cession—shall it be gratuitous?—shall it be for a price?—if for a price, by whom paid?—by Columbia in the whole—by the proposed company in the whole?—by Columbia and the proposed company in shares?—and if so, in what shares? Questions, these which of necessity must, in the present stage of the business, be left unanswered.
Thus much, however, may even here be mentioned; namely, that if by Mexico a price is looked for, self-regarding prudence may remain or not remain,—there at any rate ends benevolence,—effective benevolence, with whatever glory encircles a virtue of such matchless rarity among nations. There ends that glory to Mexico, and there commences embarrassment and obstruction. On a possession such as that in question, who shall fix a value? On what grounds can it be fixed? With an amount fixed upon without grounds, who will be satisfied? Be it what it may, who will be content to pay it? Meantime, thus much may be answered in the negative, and thence what follows from it in the affirmative. No preference must there be, in respect of the price of transit. By any such preference, the simplicity of the plan would be destroyed: the merit of it as towards all other nations would be destroyed: in this shape, an advantage could not be given to Mexico by Columbia against herself, without its being given as against all other nations. This shape being set aside, money seems therefore to be the only shape in which, if in any, advantage could on any such score be granted.
Columbia—her particular inducements to concurrence.
After what has been said on the subject of those inducements which apply to the case of Mexico, next to nothing remains to be said of those which apply to the case of Columbia. On the proposed plan, none present themselves, but those in which she will be a sharer with Mexico: of these in the next section.
With regard to Columbia, thus much only remains to be said, namely, that if the glory of the cession is assumed by Mexico, as above, whatsoever net profit, in any more substantial shape, comes to be afforded by it, will fall of course to the share of Columbia.
Inducements common to Mexico and Columbia.
For the next section is reserved the consideration of the more striking benefit, in which, upon the proposed plan, these two new states will see the old established Republic of the Anglo-American United States sharing with them, and yet without detriment to them, or either of them, in any shape. What remains for the present section will not require many words.
The spot ceded to the company for the formation and security of the communication, will naturally be a seat of new created opulence and population: elements of prosperity, rapidly increasing from the first, and till the spot shall have been incapable of holding any more, for ever on the increase.
A communication in any shape effected, commercial functionaries and agents would immediately repair to it from all nations, and with them or after them, men of all occupations from all nations on both sides of the American continent, the Asiatic, as well as the European. Junctiana, with its two principal towns, one on the Atlantic, the other on the Pacific, would present to every eye the civilized world in miniature.
The hands, of so many various descriptions, of whom in such multitudes the labour would be necessary—the functionaries of the superintending classes, whose presence would be necessary for the giving direction to all that labour—the members of the establishment, civil and military, which, upon a scale of even such perfect frugality, would still be necessary—all these multitudes put together, would form a sensible addition to the active population and circulating wealth of the territory, even from the very commencement of the work.
The narrower the spot thus allotted to the company, the more speedily of course will all this mass of wealth and population begin to run over, and spread itself over the two great states on each side of it. But be that as it may, the frontier on each side can scarce fail to be marked by a flowing tide of the matter of national prosperity in both shapes. Of this influx, so much as is formed by emigrants from other states will, with reference at least to the two states in question, be so much created, as it were out of nothing, and in this advantage no other nation will possess any the least share.
For anything like a clear or correct conception of the advantage derivable to any tract of country, from the accession of settlers in its immediate vicinity, recourse should be had to the state of things in this respect, in the Anglo-American United States, as depictured in the various printed accounts, that have from time to time been given of it, by statistical writers and travellers.
Felicity, in these shapes, has the advantage of presenting determinate conceptions, by being expressed in figures. Benefits, not susceptible of any such precise expression, but of still superior, because of anterior importance—anterior, as being the efficient causes of them—are those which will be derived, in the shape of mental improvement in every line, intellectual and moral together. In the little Republic of Junctiana, her two great neighbours, parents as they are to her, would enjoy the benefit of a common school, established under the eyes of both of them: an all-comprehensive school, of everything that is useful in art and science, but more particularly of those things that are most useful,—good legislation, good judicature, good government in every line. This, indeed, supposes and assumes, that the territory of Junctiana will be a member of the Anglo-American United States, and thereby, that the government will be in the only form to which that school can give admittance (see § 7.) for if it be in any other, nothing that is good can be answered for, on any tenable ground.
Inducements common to Mexico, Columbia, and the Anglo-American United States,—water communication between their ports on the one ocean, and their ports on the other.
Of this benefit little need here be said, after the bare mention of it. Of the matters of fact on which the magnitude of it depends, nothing, in addition to that which the maps indicate, can here be said. To the inhabitants of the several territories, and in particular to those by whom they have been contemplated, with either a political or a commercial eye: to them, and to them almost alone, must the cognizance of this part of the field of consideration be referred.
For the present, and, doubtless, for a long time to come, by Mexico and Columbia will this benefit be possessed in by far the greatest magnitude. With its settlement in the Columbian River that empties itself into the Pacific, the confederation of which Washington is the capital,—Washingtonia, if for this purpose it may for the moment be called,—will, at the first, be in the state of the hen with one chick. But out of so fertile a womb, say who can, how many more such chicks may not be destined to be poured forth. At any rate, if it be worth while to keep her fed by a frequently interrupted water-carriage, and at the end of it a land-carriage, over a chain of mountains of 200 miles in length, much more so must it be through a level and unbroken channel, of which dry land forms no part.
In the instance of all three states, this benefit, whatever may be the amount of it, has two mutually contrasted, yet intimately connected, advantages. To these states it belongs exclusively, as compared with all other states. At the same time, neither in the eyes of any one of those other states, can it be a ground of complaint, or an object of jealousy. If the act, of which it is the result, were the act of man—of man, with his selfish and anti-social arrangements—yes. But no; it is the act, not of partial and hostile man, but of impartial and bounteous Nature. Upon the here-proposed plan, the only acts in which man has any concern, will be so many manifestations of beneficence, universal and indisputable beneficence.
In the eyes of capitalists, the proposed protection at the hands of the Anglo-American United States, necessary and satisfactory.
The party here considered, as that to which such protection would naturally be looked upon as necessary, is the proposed company; the body of men by whom, antecedently to all commencement of profit, so vast a capital will be to be expended.
1. First as to necessity.
Without such a security, it seems difficult to say in what quarter, for such a purpose, a prudent set of capitalists could behold a sufficient ground for confidence.
On the part of the state or states, out of whose territory the requisite spot of ground would be to be carved, two points (it has already been observed) would require to be established: the constancy of their disposition to perform their part of the engagement, and the permanency of their power so to do.
But in respect of both these points, not only now, but for an indefinite time to come, persons in the situation of those from whom the capital would have to come, cannot but be in a great degree in the dark.
Take in the first place Columbia, the first-born and best known of the two infant states.
1. At the time at which this line is writing, neither is Porto Cabello, the last port remaining to Spain in the Atlantic, known as yet to be in possession of Columbia, nor is the result of the expedition towards the Pacific as yet known. In any complete state, the Republic, therefore, is not as yet so much as formed.
2. Of the effect of its constitution, and of its deportment in a state of peace, no experience whatever can have as yet been had.
3. Of the founder of this state, the Liberator Bolivar, the character forms no doubt already a very considerable ground for the requisite sort of confidence. Not only does it stand high at present, but it has for a long time done so in the estimation of those countries from which the capital will have to come. But the life of a single person, and that still exposed to the chances of war, is but a slender prop to lean upon. Nor, for some time, owing to the state of her military occupations, can matters of a civil nature be so much as submitted to his cognizance.
One circumstance, indeed, there is, which it may not be improper to mention in this view, and which, to English and United States’ capitalists, cannot but be of an encouraging nature. The five men in whose hands the executive power is at present; namely, General Santander, vice-president of the Republic, Mr. Gual, minister of Foreign affairs, Mr. Restropo, minister of the Interior, Mr. Castillo, minister of Finance, Mr. Briceno, minister of the War and Marine Department, are all of them, it seems, well acquainted with the English language; and to men of English lineage, acquaintance with the English language, will naturally serve as a sort of circumstantial evidence of English ideas and affections. Still, however, this, though it is no trifle, is all which, at the vast distance of Bogota, the present capital, from the place of inquiry, there has as yet been time for the public in England, or in the Anglo-American United States, to learn, even in relation to the executive government; and as to the executive government, it is but the organ of the legislative. In London, the constitution has, indeed, though only within these few days, been made public. But the constitution of a state is one thing, the conduct of the government and the people under the constitution, another thing; and of this there cannot as yet have been any the smallest portion of time for observation and experience to have applied themselves to.
True it is, that before the earliest time at which any agreement, grounded on this or any other basis, can have been entered into, light in a considerable degree may naturally be expected to have been cast upon all this darkness. A small number of years, however, how tranquilly and prosperously soever they may have passed on, can in such a case afford but a slight foundation for the appropriate confidence; and, in the mean time, if the present opportunity be not embraced,—when minds are on the alert, generous affections not yet cooled, and what is more determinately material, capital, which as yet is in an overflowing state, not yet settled, in channels from which it cannot be diverted,—this or that unfavourable turn, taken by the political machine, may have opposed a final bar to the accomplishment of this matchless work of universal beneficence.
Thus much even as to Columbia. As to Mexico, to the eye of an English capitalist, everything in that quarter is as yet in utter darkness.
The result seems to be—that, without adequate extraneous security—security on both the above points; namely, permanency of inclination, and permanency of power—without additional security, such as nothing but the guarantee of a fully established government can give, capital to a sufficient amount would have but small likelihood of finding a sufficient ground for confidence.
To what government, then, for any such purpose, can expectation turn itself? Assuredly to one alone: and that is, the government which has here already been so continually presented to notice—the government of the Anglo-American United States.
In that government, prudence is too consummate and too constant, to admit of its entering into any such engagement, without an assurance of adequate benefit to the great community entrusted to its care. The grounds for such assurance will be touched upon under the next head. Under the present, their sufficiency must be provisionally assumed.
The company will require sufficient assurance of its being permitted, at all times to come, to exact the price of transit, and the rents and profits of its lands. Meantime, for the exercise of the powers of government on a sufficiently frugal plan, and in particular for the appointment of fit functionaries, it stands irremediably incapacitated—incapacitated, partly by local distance, partly by its own unchangeable constitution—an aristocratical government, the shares in which will be continually shifting hands, objects of purchase and sale, no one of all these rulers knowing anything about his subjects, nor caring anything more about them than he knows.
Were the details of government in hands so circumstanced, a necessary consequence is, that in the minds of the leading men, in this instance as in every other, the prime object would be patronage. To render this source of profit the more productive, useless and needless offices would gradually be multiplied, the emolument attached to them swollen to the utmost possible amount, pensions of retreat added, and the richest of the offices improved into sinecures. The proprietors at large, not finding, any of them, adequate inducements to expend their time upon the details of the government or the management—no individual among them beholding any recompense for his labour, unless it were in the being let into a partnership of the sinister profit, in the repression of which the only service he could render would consist—these proprietors, the great majority of them, would at all times, with the necessarily accustomed blindness and negligence trust everything to those same leaders.
Thus, by the ever-beaten track—thus, a sure as man is man—would a government so constituted go on from worse to worse: the permanent prosperity, not only of its distant subjects, but of the company itself, that is to say, of the great majority of its members, offered up as a constant sacrifice to the particular and sinister interest, real or imagined, of a small junta of the leaders.
In a word, in neither of the two only shapes in question, could the profit be rendered permanent, by any other means than the establishment of a form of government, which had really for its object the greatest happiness of the greatest number of the people. But this it could not have, any further than in proportion to the share which the people themselves had in it. In such a situation as that in question, the people, it may be said, are not as yet of sufficient age to go alone. Such would assuredly not be the language in Columbia: such, it is hoped, would not be the language in Mexico. But such would but too naturally be the language in England. Well, then, in Washington may be seen an institution, which has long been in the habit of taking in infant states to nurse; witness Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, Missouri: and how excellent the system of nursing is—how admirable a dry nurse the President has always been—experience has abundantly testified. No sooner were the infants of an age to go alone, than the alacrity with which the leading strings would be taken off, has also been abundantly testified. Nor in all this is there anything to which any such imputation as that of vague theory can attach itself: it rests throughout on practice—long-continued and universally-notorious practice.
The circumlocution of “the Anglo-American United States,”—a circumlocution as yet indispensable—for these are not at present the only American United States,—this circumlocution, howsoever where precision is an object, indispensable, is, to any other purpose, intolerable. Well, then—Washingtonia would, by the supposition, ease the company of the cares of government: she would do for the company, and continue to do, as she has always done, well, and to perfection, that which, for the company to do for itself, in any tolerable manner, and for any length of time, would be morally impossible.
The company being at the expense of the fortifications, these same fortifications would on both sides,—and in particular on that which is most material, the Atlantic side,—be in the hands of the company: here, so long as the fortifications remained untouched, would be even against the inhabitants themselves—the inhabitants of the Junctiana territory—a security, a substantial security for the main source of profit, the price of transit. Together with the fortifications, to the company would belong the function and expense of garrisoning them. This it might do without considerable danger to itself—without considerable danger from infrugality and peculation: out of two small garrisons, the number of official situations being determinate, no great pickings could be made.
But, in case of aggression from any distant power, how would the fortifications be to be defended? By land, indeed, under a government such as here proposed, the assistance of the inhabitants of the territory might be trusted to as a sufficient defence. But by sea, a source of defence suited to the nature of that element would be necessary: and, for this defence, not only the navy of Washingtonia on the spot, but the mere name of it, would be sufficient. Under the assurance that making war upon Junctiana, would be making war upon Washingtonia, of no such war does there seem any the smallest danger at the hands of any other states. To destroy the communication, would be to put an end to their own use of it: to injure it, would be to injure themselves, were it in any other view than the putting themselves in possession of it. By putting themselves in possession of it, they could do themselves no service, any further than they could keep it. Keep it they might, if a navy alone would suffice to keep it. But this they could not do: no such thing could any one of them do without an army likewise: an army, and that sufficient to maintain itself against the three powers perpetually confederated in the defence of the object of a conquest so obviously untenable.
Anglo-American United States,—their inducements for granting the protection requisite.
I. As to the guarantee looked for at their hands.
The purpose for which the concurrence of the long-established American Republic is regarded as necessary, has been already stated,—the affording to capitalists a sufficient assurance that the source of their profit will not be dried up—dried up, either by hostility from without, or by misconduct in any shape within.
The shapes in which eventual assistance is looked for at her hands, have also been already brought to view:—
1. First of the two mischiefs against which the guarantee is looked for: Hostility on the part of any maritime power—hostility directed to the purpose of destroying, injuring, or seizing and keeping, the line of communication: eventual assistance looked for, that of her naval force.
If, of the engagement for such eventual assistance, any actual addition to expense were a necessary consequence, here would be a burthen—a burthen to set in account against the accompanying benefit. But for any such expense, no probable need, it is believed, can be pointed out. For general purposes, a naval force, to a certain amount, she keeps up already, and will at all times keep up. The sight of this force, ready at all times to be called for and brought into action, should the conjuncture in question—the casus fæderis, as it is called by publicists—ever come into existence, will, in all human probability, be at all times sufficient for the purpose: to prevent its ever being called for, its universally known readiness to come whenever called for, will suffice.
2. Second of the two mischiefs against which the guarantee is looked for: Misconduct on the part of the population of Junctiana; misconduct, whether in the general shapes of misrule or anarchy, or in the particular shape of injustice towards the company, depriving them of the possessions stipulated for by them, in return for the expense to which this same population will, the greatest part of it, have been indebted for its existence.
The Junctiana territory being, by the supposition, a member of the United States; namely, in the first instance, upon the footing of their other dependent territories, and, as soon as ripe, upon the equal footing of an independent confederate; the following are rights, for the enjoyment of which the expectation of a guarantee on the part of the union will scarcely present itself as unreasonable: understand a guarantee, not only against all other nations, but against the Mexican and Columbian nations themselves, their consent to it being included in the agreement:—
1. Right of exacting the price of transit—so it be for ever without enhancement, unless it be in certain stipulated cases; 2. Right of receiving the rents and profits of whatever lands the company is proprietor of, as in the case of any other proprietors. Under these two heads is comprised everything that seems necessary.
II. As to their inducements for the affording this same guarantee.
To the entering into the engagement thus defined, refusal, or even reluctance, on the part of the United States in question, does not seem much to be apprehended.
By the supposition, the infant state would from the first be a member of their confederacy: in the first instance, and so long as in their judgment should be necessary, in a state of pupillage and probation—on the footing of what they call a territory—a territory nursed in the manner in which they are so well accustomed, and with such conspicuous success, to nurse infant states. Now, then, comes the question of their own skill in this most useful, most noble of all arts. In this instance any more than in any former one, can any distrust on their part reasonably be expected to have existence?—distrust of their own skill, and after so many conclusive evidences of it as have been afforded by experience?
If indeed to such guarantee as that in question, any considerable danger were attached of their being engaged in war, here would be a contingent evil, to be set in the balance against the certain good. But, of any such war, the utter improbability has (it is hoped) been rendered sufficiently manifest. See the last preceding Section.
Without adequate prospect of benefit to their principals, duty and interest would concur in preventing these constantly and necessarily faithful trustees from taking any such part in the affairs of others. But of such benefit can there be any deficiency?
1. In the first place, on the supposition that, from the communication in question, benefit to any amount will be derived, of all the nations of the earth, will not they reap the greatest share of it? Already their commercial navy is not greatly inferior to that of England—to that of every other country it is decidedly superior. Erelong, in the natural course of things, it cannot fail of being superior even to that of England: and, whatever be the number of her vessels that will find a convenience in availing themselves of the communication, the convenience to each such American vessel will, in proportion to its greater vicinity to the spot, be rendered greater than it can be to any European one.
2. As to the particular benefit, from the so much speedier communication with the settlement or settlements, present, future, and contingent, in the Pacific,—on this subject enough has been already said.
True it is, that for the representatives of Junctiana, when they come to sit in congress, distance from the nearest part of the present territory of the United States will give an additional sea voyage of some days. But, upon the whole, would the length of time occupied by the conveyance be in any considerable degree greater than that which is at present occupied by the state most distant from the seat of government? And, whatever it be, what, if any, will be the amount of the practical inconvenience? At the utmost, it may operate as a slight deduction from the value of the benefit, but cannot assuredly ever operate as a bar to it.
Another acquisition, which, though not of quite so substantial a nature as either of the preceding ones, does not seem much in danger of finding the nation in question altogether insensible to its value, is that political gem called glory: glory—not of that bloody hue which, it is hoped, is growing more and more out of fashion, and will one day be as little in repute as spangles and embroidery upon a coat at present, but glory of the very purest water—the glory radiating from the uncontrovertible proof that will thus be given, of its having been looked up to as the nation which, in the opinion of two other free nations, stands highest in the composite scale of national probity, wisdom, and benevolence. Stands highest? or should it not rather have been said, is the only nation, in the government of which, any such union of virtues could, in the nature of things, have ever yet found place?
All other Nations,—their inducements to acquiescence.
From the proposed communication, formed upon the proposed plan, all other nations have more or less to gain, nothing to lose. Whatever may be the gain, it will, in the instance of each such nation, be at the risk of others, without risk in any shape to itself.
That which they will gain by this means, they could not, any of them, gain by any other means.
[* ]In modern times, one of the most fruitful sources of war has been the limits of new discoveries. They have sometimes been traced by common agreement:—but this has seldom happened till after wars or discontents which have sown the seeds of wars. It would be better to undertake such labours in cool blood, and to make previous arrangements with regard to possible discoveries, without waiting till they are made. It was thus that a pope once thought, with a mathematical line, to have for ever crushed the seeds of future wars. This was not ill-imagined at a time when the earth was flat, and the servant of servants was the ruler of kings. Since that time the earth has become round, and the power of the triple crown is somewhat retrenched. Still, however, that demarcation is not the less good as a lesson, how defective soever it may be as a law. The difficulty would be to trace such limits as should agree with objects which have not been seen. An island, for example: in what case ought the whole of it to belong to those who first discovered it, and when to many others who have equally touched at it? Ought it to belong to him who first saw it without entering it,—to him who first entered it,—or to him who first went round it? How also shall an island in every case be distinguished from a part of a continent, or even from an entire continent, which may be very extensive? And when it respects a discovered continent, to what distance shall the right of possession extend? Shall it be the space inclosed by the sea, the two nearest navigable rivers, and the high ground in which these rivers take their rise? What depth shall constitute a navigable river? &c. In these points may be seen a crowd of questions sufficiently difficult of resolution.
[* ]Country allegiance, sovereignty and subjection, may therefore be either fixed and regular, or occasional.
[* ]The following sentences are taken from Bentham’s “Projet Matiere.”—Ed.
[* ]See Essay IV. p. 546.
[* ]Two original writers have gone before me in this line, Dean Tucker and Dr. Anderson. The object of the first was to persuade the world of the inutility of war, but more particularly of the war then raging when he wrote; the object of the second to show the inutility of the colonies.
[* ]Reasons for giving up Gibraltar:—
[† ]It is in proportion as we see things—as they are brought within the reach of our attention and observation—that we care for them. A minister who would not kill one man with his own hands, does not mind causing the death of myriads by the hands of others at a distance.
[* ]All bounties on particular branches of trade do rather harm than good.
[† ]Precedents.—1. Convention of disarmament between France and Britain 1787,—this is a precedent of the measure or stipulation itself; 2. Armed neutrality code,—this is a precedent of the mode of bringing about the measure, and may serve to disprove the impossibility of a general convention among nations; 3. Treaty forbidding the fortifying of Dunkirk.
[* ]This brings to recollection the achievements of the war from 1755 to 1763. The struggle betwixt prejudice and humanity produced in conduct a result truly ridiculous. Prejudice prescribed an attack upon the enemy in his own territory,—humanity forbade the doing him any harm. Not only nothing was gained by these expeditions, but the mischief done to the country invaded was not nearly equal to the expense of the invasion. When a Japanese rips open his own belly, it is in the assurance that his enemy will follow his example. But in this instance, the Englishman ripped open his own belly that the Frenchman might get a scratch. Why was this absurdity acted? Because we were at war,—and when nations are at war something must be done, or at least appear to be done; and there was nothing else to be done. France was already stripped of all its distant dependencies.
[* ]Turgot and Vergennes
[* ]May 22, 1789.
[† ]It lies upon the other side, at least, to put a case in which want of secresy may produce a specific mischief.
[* ]The fate of Queen Anne’s last ministry may be referred in some degree to this cause: and owing to the particular circumstances of their conduct they perhaps deserved it.—See the Report of the Secret Committee of the House of Commons in the year 1715. The great crime of the Earl of Bute was making peace. The Earl of Shelburne was obliged to resign for having made peace. The great crime of Sir R. Walpole was keeping the peace. The nation was become tired of peace. Walpole was reproached with proposing half-a-million in the year for secret-service money. His errors were rectified—war was made—and in one year there was laid out in war four times what he had spent in the ten years before.
[* ]The MSS. from which the following work is taken, bear date from 21st to 24th June 1822, and appear to have been prepared for the press under the author’s superintendence. As the project brings out a practical illustration of the principles inculcated in the Essays on International Law, it is conceived that the account of it will form a suitable appendix to that work.