Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

Indian Possessions, &c. &c. By a British Traveller. Dun

cans, Glasgow ; Baldwin and Cn., London, 1816. THERE are many sensible remarks in this little volume, on a subject of great national importance ; mixed, however, with no small portion of advice which it would be impossible to follow, and with numerous recommendations which in the mean time it would be impracticable to execute. From the beginning to the end of it, the Americans are represented, not without some truth we believe, as an unamiable, restless, and very ambitious people ; jealous in the extreme of British power, envious of our superiority, and filled with the most determined rivalship, first to surpass, and then to bumble us. The author, who desiguates himself traveller," seems to have lived a good deal amongst them, professing thus to be intimately acquainted with their country, iheir mammers, spirit, and political projects; and we have so far to speak in favour of the genuineness of his characteristics, as to remark that they are not contradicted by any thing which we have learned of Independent America, througle other sources. Perhaps there is, now and then, a liule excess of bitterness against them, and rather too deep a shade thrown over their moral characters, as merchants and politicians; but, on the whole, the picture, we should conceive, is a striking likeness, giving, in strong colours, the distinguishing espression of their national features, and without any intentional distortion or willul caricature.

The avowed object of this publication is to recommend to our Government a vigorous system of policy with regard to our Americau provinces ; to encourage emigratiou to them; and, abuve all, to foster their trade, to the complele exclusion of the United States, in every article which they can possibly supply, either to the mother country, or to the West India islands. The atfairs of Europe have so deeply engrossed the attention of our rulers, during the last twenty years, as to render the concerns of our Transatlantic possessions of very inferior consequence; aud it was not, in fact, uutil a serious attempt had been actually made by the Republicans to wrest them from us altogether, that we began to perceive the necessity, both of strengthening their means of natural defence, and of adding to the military establishment in the frontier provinces; and yet it is well known that, notwithstanding our utmost efforts, the failure of the enemy, in their several enterprises, was much more attributable to their want of almost every soldier-like quality, than to the adequacy of our preparations to repel invasion. The exped:ency, however, of increasing a trusty and efficient population in all the provinces, and particularly in Canada, was thus practically manifested to

the

the Government at home; and, accordingly, in pursuance of this object, various inducements were held out, upon the termina. tion of hostilities, to direct the current of emigration, which was then anticipated in England, to British America ; and there is reason to believe that the system would have been persevered in, but for the interruption of all our peaceful arrangements which was occasioned almost immediately after by the return of Buonaparte from Elba.

The observations of the author, in relation to the subject at large, may be divided into two heads; namely, as they respect the furtherance of commerce ; and next, as they respect security and defence. Before, however, we enter upon these topics, we shall exbibit a very short sketch" of the genius of the Americans," meaning thereby, of course, the people of the United States.

In commercial transactions this people are extremely enterprising, and not very nice, it is alleged, as to the adoption of means whereby to promote their ends. Custom-house oaths, which we regret to say are too frequently regarded even among ourselves as mere matters of form, impose very little restraint upon an American trader, who will swear, observes our travel. ler, that innumerable cargoes of rum and sugar were shipped at an island which was well known never to have produced one ounce of either.

“ Fraud, smuggling, and perjury, are practised with success, and without reserve, and thus cupidity prevails among them to an astonishing degree. An eminent divine of Boston thus justly characterized his countrymen from the pulpit, on' putting away the easily besetting sin.' • There have existed at all times,' said he, not only personal and peculiar, but also natioval sins. For instance, among the ancients the Asiatics were accused of effemi. nacy, the Carthaginians of perfidy; so among the moderns, the French are said to be volatile and frivolous ; the Spaniards proud and cruel; the English haughty, and evincing too great contempt for strangers ; and we, my brethren, of being greedy of gain, and not over scrupulous how we obtain it.'"

It has been often remarked that the Americans, as a nation, exhibit at once the dissipation of youth, the selfishness of maturer years, and the feebleness of old age. They are moreover ustentatious and conceited in the very highest degree, regarding all other men with contempt and disdain. They view us in particular, as slaves and degraded vassals, degenerated not only in virtue and genius, but also in physical strength. The greatest artists of the modern world are Americans; the strongest men of the modern world are Americans; the only freemen in the 1

modern

modern world are Aniericans. Created to command the Western hemisphere, and to spread terror over the other, their ambition has already planned the subjugation not only of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, but also of every island on the Eastern shores of their extended Continent; and their imaginations, heated with this ideal triumph, already stretch across the ocean, and behold their star-bespangled flags waving in the mouth of the Thames, their fleets blockading Portsmouth, and their cruisers sweeping our trade from every sea under the beavenis. Both Federalists and Democrats coincide in the full persuasion of the declining state of the British naval power, and of the brilliant destinies now awaiting their own; and they are at no pains to conceal that they entertain the most confident expectation that they will be able to annihilate both our navy and our commerce, at no distant period. They describe Great Britain as “a magnificent but sinking vessel ;” and it gives us pain to add, that, in respect of deep rooted envy and the purpose of ultimately bringing us down, the Federalists are more to be dreaded than the blustering Democrats who hurried us into the late war. The former objected to a declaration of hostilities with this country, not becanse they had any attachment to us, or any respect for the cause of liberty in which we were then engaged in Europe, but solely because they were not yet prepared to meet us, to advantage, either by land or by water. The Federalists, besides, are well known to constitute what is called, in America, the naval party; the men who strain every nerve to render their feets efficient and formidable ; and their councils, we may remark, are just so much the more to be feared and watched, that they prosecute them without noise, and direct them steadily to one great object. The other party have a manifest leaning to France in all their schemes of policy; the class again, of whom we are now speaking, dislike the French as much as they dislike us, but in all their plans for maritime superiority their projects must necessarily bear a reference 10 the humiliation of our navy, whether warlike or commercial. Connected with this great consummation, we may allude, passing, to the recent efforts which have been made at the Court of Naples to obtain a footing in the Mediterranean. The point which the American negociator seems to have been instructed to insist upon, was a naval station in the territory of the Neapolitans, either on the Continent itself, or in one of their islands, with liberty to refit their ships of war, to land ammunition, and, in short, to render it the head-quarters of their European marine. Fortunately, on this occasion, the eyes of our ministers have been opened to their desigus; and we trust that

our

[ocr errors]

our influence with the government of Naples is sufficiently pow. erful to disappoint these ambitious Republicans.

It is not enough, however, that we set ourselves to counteract their projects in this quarter of the globe : we must also look sharp after them at home. We must adopt every legal measure to encourage the trade, and consequently, the population of our North American provinces, 90 as at once to increase our strength, where we are most vulnerable, and 10 create a market for our manufactures, where it will be most easy and most advantageous to do it. During the late war the people of the United States carried on a very extensive intercourse, not only with the West India islands, but also with our colonies in other seas, supplying them with produce, which, it appears, might be raised in the greatest abundance in Canada and Nova Scotia ; and, at the present moment, we believe, a cousiderable proportion of the fish and lumber required by the planter in the sugar islands, is exported from the waters of Independent America. With respect to the former article, it is generally known that the British have a large establishment at Newfoundland, and that several thousand persons are annually employed in tishing, curing, and warehousing; but the Americans, having received perinission to fish on the same banks, and without being bampered with the restrictions imposed upon our ow!! countrymen, liave contrived to outsell them in the West India market, where cheapness, rather than goodness of quality, allures the purchaser. The British fisher must dry and cure his fish ashore, submit them to the inspection of persons appointed for the purpose, and divide them into three sorts or descriptions according to the respective markets for which they are by these judges considered fit : the American, on the contrary, loses to une in culling or drying his goods; he salts, as fast as he catches, on board bis ship, throws the

guit into the sea, at the manifest bazard of ruine ing the fishing altogether, as the cod desert such places as are contaminated with otfal; and sails for the islands where he supplies the negro-owners with a half putrid article at a very low price. In consequence of this state of things, the Newfoundland trade has been most materially injured by the Americans: so much so, indeed, that of 456,221 cwt. of fish, which were imported into the several West India islands in thiee

ending with 1807, our countrymen furnished wo inore than 97,486, whilst their rivals, owing to the exemptions already stated, succeeded in furnishning 358,735 cut. We admit that monopolies, in most cases, are bad, and to be avoided iudeed in every instance where nothing but the interests of trade alone are conxulted; still, as to the matter in haud, it is very clear that one of two things ought to be instantly done ; either our people T't

years,

should VOL. VI. DECEMBER, 1816.

should be relieved from all restrictions in the mode of curing and sorting their fisb, or all those who are allowed the privilege of fishing along with them, should be bound by the same regu. lations. In fact, it has now become an object of sufficient importance with us to enquire whether the supply of fish to the West Indies and other British colonies, should vot be wholly furnished from British capital and industry, or whether we are still to put into the hands of our inost inveterate enemy, the means of encreasing that very species of warlike force, by which they hope the most speedily and effectually to work our ruin. It is stated by the author now before us, and, we believe, upon the very best grounds, that if the Americans are indebted to their more regular commerce and large vessels for able seamen, they derive the ordinary, which constitute the more numerous classes, from this very trade ; aud the numerous privaleers which infested the ocean in the late war, drew from thence the main body of strength--men of proper habits, who could endure almost any privation or encounter any danger. It is matter of regret, therefore, that in the late treaty concluded at Ghent no mention is made of the fisheries; and it strikes us, from something which occurred at the time, that the Americans are still to be permitted to fish in our waters, but not to land for the purposes of salting and warehousing ; that is, they are to be allowed to do all that they would have doue at any rate, and prohibited from doing that which, in scarcely any circumstances, would they have any inclination to perform. It is certainly desirable, at all times, that the people of the United States should be excluded from a branch of industry and commerce, so eminently calculated 10 support a nursery of seamen; but more particularly qught this measure to be effected, amid the present embarrasmients of the trading part of the community, and whilst so many of the labouring class are unprovided with employment. If this country, observes our author, perceives the propriety of retailing her natural advantages and employing ber resources, she must not merely exclude the Americans from the banks of New. foundland, but also, by every possible means, encourage emigration; for without an increase of the inhabitants, the provinces can never carry the fishing to an extent sufficieutly great to ensure that permanent utility to the nation which it is so capable of producing.

The same remarks are applicable in their full import to die lumber trade; by which is meant the shipping of planks, staves, and timber of various sorts, for the use of the planters. Bryan Edwards estimates the annual demand of a West India plautation, of six, hundred acres, in staves und heading for raske alone, at 1501. In the year 1791, il was estimated that in

Jamaica,

« PreviousContinue »