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superiority over all other nations in diplomatic skill. The extravagant pretensions, blundering incapacity, and wanton violence of the successive rulers of France during the last forty years, have at times completely vitiated, and throughout rendered doubtful, the nature of our position in regard to that power. Even now, as we have already remarked, she denies us what she has herself admitted to be strict justice. From Russia, on the other hand, we have received a series of good offices, uninterrupted by any act or demonstration of an opposite character, and crowned within the last few months by the spontaneous and disinterested gift of a ticket of admission to the Black Sea. It is not in the nature of men or nations to be insensible to such a course of proceeding. It has been and will doubtless continue to be reciprocated by the government of the United States on every proper occasion, and will completely establish the friendly relation which is naturally created by the respective positions of the two powers in regard to Great Britain. It may be proper to add, for the satisfaction of those persons who are sure to misunderstand whenever there is a possibility of misconstruction, that when we speak of Great Britain as a political rival or enemy, we do not mean that it is for our interest to be on bad terms with her. By a political rival or enemy is meant a power with which we are, from the force of circumstances, in greater danger of coming into collision than with any other. Such a power is of course precisely the one with which it is for that very reason most important for us to be on good terms, and which we ought to use every effort and make every reasonable sacrifice to conciliate. Such has in general been, and we trust always will be, however at times imperfectly reciprocated, the character of our proceedings towards the British government.
Such, however, being the general outline of our foreign policy, and in particular of our relations with Russia and Great Britain, it follows of course that every augmentation of the influence of the former power may be regarded by us, looking at the subject merely under a political point of view, as a favorable occurrence. As friends of the cause of freedom and civilization, we may regret that a purely military and despotic government should be gradually gaining on the constitutional monarchies of the west of Europe. But we have, after all, not much faith in the value or permanence of these mixed modes, which seem to be, as they have been in fact described by
some of the most distinguished European writers as a sort of mongrel system, growing up naturally in the course of the transition from one simple form to another, but not containing in themselves any principle of vitality or permanent existence. It would perhaps be as well for the western nations of Europe to be under the influence of a stable and well-administered simple monarchy, as to be disturbed by the perpetual and organized war of parties, that belongs to the essence of a compound one. At all events, since Europe, according to Bonaparte, must be either Republican or Russian, and since there is, from present appearances, no great probability that the former part of the alternative will be realized, we must make the best of the latter. If we regret on the one hand that a nation, whose political forms and constitution differ so much from our own, is rapidly increasing in influence, we may console ourselves on the other with the reflection that her power, however great it may become, is not attended with danger to this country, and can only affect us, if at all, in a favorable way.
We shall perhaps be charged on this occasion as we have been on some preceding ones of a similar kind, with exaggerating the greatness of Russia, and with entertaining 'nervous terrors' of her future progress. What is meant by 'nervous terrors' of the progress of a power which we have uniformly looked upon and represented as our principal political ally, we must leave it for those to explain who make the charge. We should as soon have expected to be accused of entertaining individually nervous terrors' that one of our best friends would marry an accomplished and beautiful wife with a large. fortune, or draw the highest prize in the lottery. As respects the imputation of exaggerating the greatness of Russia, and its probable increase, we cannot but remark that our critics, instead of vaguely denying the correctness of our representations, would perhaps better subserve the cause of truth by indicating with precision the errors contained in them. Enjoying some advantages for a comprehensive view of the political field, we have habitually published our impressions with perfect sincerity, and, as far as we are conscious of our motives, without fear, affection, or hope of reward.' They have been for the most part merely statements of fact, which may be easily verified. by references to the map or the statistical table. We have occasionally, though somewhat sparingly, hazarded opinions and conjectures as to the present and future political situation of the
VOL. XXX.-No. 67.
world. In their general scope, the sentiments we have expressed coincide with those of the most enlightened politicians and statesmen of Europe for fifty years past, as is proved by the extracts given in the present article from Ségur, De Pradt, and Favier, which might be multiplied, if necessary, to any extent. In our speculations on this subject, we have little or no credit to claim on the score of originality, nor have we ever presented them as anything different from what we deem them, that is, probable speculations and not certainties. The vague charge of exaggeration can of course only be repelled by an equally vague contradiction. If any real errors can be pointed out in our statements or reasonings, we shall be ever happy to acknowledge and correct them. It is easy to see the interested motives, which may lead a certain class of politicians to represent our views as tinctured with extravagance; but we submit it to their consideration, and that of the public, whether existing facts are altered by pretending to doubt their reality, or dangers averted by denying their existence. In this, as in most other cases, it would in our opinion be a safer course for the interested parties to look the danger full in the face, ascertain its precise character, and act accordingly. The disastrous consequences of pursuing a different policy may already be seen, if we are not mistaken, in the actual situation of some of the great powers of Europe.
ART. VIII.-Life of Arthur Lee, with his Political and Literary Correspondence, and his Papers on Diplomatic and Political Subjects. By RICHARD HENRY LEE. Boston. Wells & Lilly. 1829. 2 vols. 8vo.
LITTLE has yet been published, which illustrates the early diplomatic history of the United States. The subject of foreign alliances engaged the attention of the Old Congress almost at the outset of its deliberations, and agents were secretly and openly sent abroad for the purpose of obtaining intelligence, in regard to the views of people and governments in Europe, some months before the declaration of independence. These were followed by Commissioners to treat with France, and by
others to the courts of Vienna, Berlin, and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and afterwards by Ministers Plenipotentiary to France, Spain, Holland, and Russia.
The first channel of communication between these agents in foreign countries and Congress, was a Committee appointed by that body, denominated the Committee of Secret Correspondence. The name was subsequently changed to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, but the duties powers, and objects of the Committee seem to have remained the same. This Committee had charge of the foreign correspondence till near the end of the war, when the Department of Foreign Affairs was instituted, and Robert R. Livingston appointed the first secretary. It was the custom, however, for all the despatches from abroad to be read before Congress, and the Committee had little to do, except to transmit to the ministers or commissioners the resolves and decisions of the House, with such intelligence as their means furnished, or their discretion dictated. Sometimes despatches were directed to the President, by whom they were handed over to the Committee, after having been read in Congress. It appertained to the Committee to write the answers. But all the letters from agents abroad were considered secret, and as the Old Congress held its sittings with closed doors, the reading of the letters to the members thus assembled was not deemed an act of publication. This course was prescribed by prudence and the nature of the topics discussed in the letters. It is true, that certain particulars would find their way out through the memory of individuals, and thence by an easy transition would appear in the newspapers, especially when they bore strongly on the interests of either of the great parties, into which Congress was divided during nearly the whole war; but for the most part the correspondence was actually kept secret, and nothing was published with the avowed approbation of Congress.
The official letters from our ministers and commissioners in Europe, during the revolution, are full of interest and historical value, abounding in facts and observations on the condition of European countries, rich in maxims of political wisdom, breathing a spirit of liberty, and showing that the authors understood, proclaimed, and defended the rights and just demands of their country, in a manner highly creditable to their talents and strength of character, as well as to their patriotism.
But the records of the Committee at home have little in them worthy of commendation; they are meagre and jejune, carelessly written, and fertile in nothing. The fault is chiefly to be attributed, perhaps, to the organization of the Committee, which made it the duty of no particular member to answer despatches, and thus took the responsibility from them all. After Mr Livingston came into office, the foreign affairs took another and very improved shape. All despatches were directed to him personally, and he alone was charged with the answers. Nor was he required to bring any letters before Congress, although he was left at liberty to do it when he chose. The responsibility rested with himself. Cases of delicacy and difficulty he would of course submit to that body, preferring to be guided by their voice and instructions, rather than his own unaided judgment. This change in the management of foreign affairs was most salutary, and the same system continued to the end of the war.
Nothing is more rigidly guarded with the seal of secrecy, in the foreign offices of European cabinets, than the diplomatic papers, or correspondence of the ministers at other courts. This caution is necessary, where diplomacy is made a personal concern between sovereigns, and entrusted only to a few confidential ministers, whose business it is to be well practised in the tactics of their vocation, and to maintain the interests, and sometimes the caprices of their master, honestly if they can, but successfully at any rate, and into whose doings it is no part of the people's prerogative to inquire. But in a government like that of the United States, where the acts of every public man are subject to be brought out to the view of the nation, nothing can long be hidden under the veil of secrecy. The consequence is, that the despatches of our foreign ministers are written for the public, or at least with the conviction, that circumstances or events may one day place them before the eyes of the world. The writer is thus impressed with the importance of performing his task with circumspection, and to the full measure of his ability. Hence the artifices of intrigue, the gossip and scandal of courts, and frivolous details about the habits, foibles, or follies of individuals of high rank, which make so large a portion of a European ambassador's correspondence, find no place in the letters of an American diplomatist. These remarks apply with particular force to the