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efficacious than that of the British orders) to French irregularities and aggressions, would be left to its fair operation (and it was impossible to mistake the consequences) while the commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain, being revived, would open the way for a return to good understanding, and, in the end, for an adjustment of all their differences.”
“On the 29th of July I met Mr. Canning again, and was soon apprized that our discussions, if continued at all, must take a new form."
“ As there is now no reason for detaining the St. Michael, she will be despatched immediately for L'Orient.”
Mr. Pinkney to Mr. Madison. London, Sept. 6, 1308.
“I HAVE an opportunity of writing by Mr. Bethune, who leaves town to-morrow for Falmouth, to embark for the United States in the British packet; and I cannot omit to take advantage of it, although I have still nothing conclusive to communicate.
The Hope arrived off Falmouth, and landed Mr. Atwa., ter, on the 16th of last month, and immediately proceeded on her voyage to Havre, with a fair wind. Mr. Atwater arrived in London on the 20th, in the evening, and delivered your letter of the 18th of July,
My publick letter of the 4th of August will have apprized you of the footing on which my different interviews with Mr. Canning left the subject of the British orders in council; and my private letter of the 2d of that month, will have made you acquainted with my intention to present, in an official note, what I had ineffectually suggested in conference.
To such a course there could not, even in the first instance, have been any other objection than that it was calculated to lead to discussion, rather than to adjustment; but, whatever might be its tendency, it is certain, that I could have no inducement to resort to it, until it was indicated by Mr. Canning as indispensable, nor any motive to decline it, afterwards,
At our last interview, and not before, it was unexpectedly found, that it was in that mode only, that I could obiain a knowledge of the light in which this government VOL. VIK
thought fit to view the overture I had been directed to make to it; and I determined, in consequence, to lay before it, in writing, the intentions of the President, with the same frankness which had characterized my verbal communications.
I have now the honour to transmit a copy of the note, which, in conformity with that determination, I delivered in person to Mr. Canning on the 26th of last month, a few days after its date. To this note no answer has yet been returned; but it is to be presumed, that it will not be much longer withheld.
You will perceive, that some time had elapsed, after I had sent off my despatches by the St. Michael, (the 8th of August) before my note was presented. The truth is, that I had employed a part of that time in framing a note of great length, which, when nearly completed, I thought it prudent to abandon, in favour of one that held out fewer invitations to unprofitable discussions, which, although I would not shun them, if pressed upon me, I did not suppose it proper that I should seek.
I believed, too, that a little delay on my part would be far from being disadvantageous. There would still be sufficient time for obtaining a final answer to my proposal, in season for the meeting of Congress; and as the temper of this government, so far as it had been tried, had not appeared to be favourable to my purpose, I believed that I should act in the spirit of my instructions, and consult the honour of my government, by avoiding, under such circumstances, the appearance of urgency and precipitation.
Upon the terms or general plan of my note, it is not, I hope, necessary to remark. You will discover, that it was prepared under a persuasion that, whatever might be its effect, it was infinitely better to make it as conciliatory as, without a sacrifice of principle or national dignity, was possible.
The topicks to be embraced by it were such as did not demand, but rather forbade, minute exposition. While it was difficult to urge, in their full force, without seeming to aim at exciting a disposition unfriendly to the object of my instructions, all the considerations which justified the United States in remonstrating against the British orders, it was yet more difficult, without a degree of harshness.
scarcely suited to the occasion, and without also the hazard of indiscretion, to display in detail the signal injustice and impolicy of persevering in them, after what I had proposed. This could be done, and had been done in conversation ; but it did not, upon trial, appear to be equally practicable, in the more formal and measured proceeding which I was now called upon to adopt.
I considered, besides, that an overture, so highly advantageous to Great Britain, which the United States were not bound to make by any obligations of equity, although it was wise to make it, did not require, with any view to the character of my country, or even to the success of the overture itself, to be again recommended, by an anxious repetition of arguments already fully understood.
As soon as my note was prepared, I called at the foreign office to arrange an interview with Mr. Canning for the purpose of enabling me to accompany the delivery of it with a communication, which I deemed important, as well as of affording him an opportunity of asking and receiving such explanations as he might desire. The interview took place on the 26th of August.
It had occurred to me that it would be proper (and could not be injurious) to read to Mr. Canning, from your letter to me of the 18th of July, a brief summary of the instructions under which I was acting. This had not been requested ; but it could not be unacceptable, and it was, besides, well calculated to do justice to the liberal sentiments by which my instructions had been dictated, as well as to give weight to my efforts in the execution of them.
I was led, by the reading of these passages, (without having originally intended it) into a more extensive explanation, than I had before attempted, of the influence which the proposal of my government would have, in truth, as well as in the judgment of the world, upon the supposed justice of their new system, as it affected the United States. To that explanation, with the particulars of which I will not, and indeed, for want of time, cannot, at present trouble you, I added a concise recapitulation of some of the prudential considerations which had been so often pressed before, and there I left the subject.”
Mr. Pinkney to Mr. Madison. London, September 24,
1808. “I am now enabled to transmit to you a copy of Mr. Canning's answer, received only last night, to my note of the 23 of August."
“I regret extremely that the views, which I have been instructed to lay before this government have not been met by it as I had at first been led to expect.
The overture cannot fail, however, to place in a strong light the just and liberal sentiments by which our government is animated, and, in other respects, to be useful and honourable to our country.”
Mr. Pinkney to Mr. Canning. Great Cumberland Place,
Aug. 23, 1808. Sir, I have had the honour, in consequence of the orders of the President, to recall your attention, in the course of several recent interviews, to the British orders in council, of the 7th of January and 11th of November, 1807, and to the various other orders founded upon or in execution of them: and I now take the liberty to renew, in the mode which I have understood to be indispensable, my instances on that subject.
I need scarcely remind you, sir, that the government of the United States has never ceased to consider these orders as violating its rights, and affecting most destructively its interests, upon grounds wholly inadmissible, both in principle and fact.
The letters of Mr. Madison to Mr. Erskine, of the 20th and 29th of March, 1807, produced by the official communication of that minister of the order of the 7th of January, and the answer of Mr. Madison of the 25th of March, 1808, to a like communication of the orders of the 11th of November,contained the most direct remonstrances against the system which these orders introduce and execute, and expressed the confident expectation of the President, that it would not be persisted in.
That expectation has not yet been fulfilled; but it has, notwithstanding, not been relinquished. The President is still persuaded that its accomplishment will result from a careful review, by his majesty's government, made in the spirit of moderation and equity, of the facts and considerations which belong to the occasion.
It is not my purpose to recapitulate, in this note, the statements and reasonings contained in the abovementioned letters of Mr. Madison, in support of the claims of the government of the United States, that the British orders be revoked. I content myself with referring to those letters for proofs which it is not necessary to repeat, and for arguments which I could not hope to improve.
But there are explanations which those letters do not contain, and which it is proper for me to make. Even these, however, may be very briefly given, since you have already been made acquainted, in our late conversations, with all their bearings and details.
These explanations go to show, that, while every motive of justice conspires to produce a disposition to recall the orders of which my government complains, it is become apparent that even their professed object will be best attained by their revocation.
I have the honour to state to you, sir, that it was the intention of the President, in case Great Britain repcaled her orders, as regarded the United States, to exercise the power vested in him by the act of the last session of Congress, entitled “An act to authorize the President of the United States, under certain conditions, to suspend the operation of the act laying an embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbours of the United States, and the several supplementary acts thereto," by suspending the embargo law and its supplements, as regards Great Britain.
I am authorized to give you this assurance in the most formal manner; and I trust that, upon impartial inquiry, it will be found to leave no inducement to perseverance in the British orders, while it creates the most powerful inducements of equity and policy to abandon them.
On the score of justice it does not seém possible to mistake the footing upon which this overture places the subject; and I venture to believe that in any other view there is as little room for doubt.