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marching with colossal strides to universal empire—and, in the execution of this hideous project, wielding with absolute authority the whole physical force of the most enthralled but most powerful nation upon earth. In a situation like this, how great is the cause to lament, how afflicting to every heart, alive to the honor and interest of the country, to observe, that distracted and inefficient councils, that a palsied and unconscious state of the public mind, afford too little assurance of measures adequate either to the urgency of the evils which are felt, or to the magnitude of the dangers which are in prospect."
He next contrasted the elevated and energetic spirit of the Revolution, its unanimity-its success-with the present temper of the nation-pointed to the FIVE TYRANTS of France their revolutionary despotism at home-their implacable, obstinate, remorseless prolongation of the calamities of Europe-their long train of unprovoked aggressions and affronts and insupportable outrages to America-filling up the measure of national insult and humiliation. He lamented the divisions in Congress. On the one side, unremitting efforts to justify or excuse the despots of France, to vilify and discredit our own government, to destroy its necessary vigor, damp the zeal of the citizens, and divert their affections from their own to a foreign country-on the other side, neither expanded views of our situation, nor measures at all proportioned to the seriousness and extent of the danger. While our independence is menaced, little more is heard than of guarding our trade, and this in very feeble and tremulous
In the community, though sounder, he saw the same enervating dispositions-a few prostituted to a foreign enemy and willing that their country should become a province of France; insinuating, that, in case of invasion, they would join her standard-others willing to sacrifice commerce, and to become tributary, rather than to encounter war or increase the chances of it.
He then depicted in the boldest colors the power, the vigor, the resources of this country, and called upon the nation to maintain their sovereignty, to resist, and to resist with energy.
"That," he said, "will be a narrow view of our situation which does not contemplate, that we may be called at our very doors to defend our independence and liberty, and which does not provide against it, by bringing into activity and completely organizing all the resources of the country."
The second of these eloquent essays examined the question as to the origin of the war, and showed that from the moment the National Assembly, which dethroned the King, declared itself "a Committee of INSURRECTION of the whole human race, for the purpose of overturning all existing governments," France commenced a career of hostility to the world, which she had continued throughout all her political changes.
"How far," he said, "it may have been wise in a particular government to have taken up the gauntlet, or, if in its option, to have left France to the fermentations of the pernicious principles by which its leaders were actuated, is a question of mere expediency, distinct from the right. It is also a complicated and difficult question-one which able and upright men might decide different ways. But the right is still indisputable. Neither were they bound to be satisfied with after explanations or qualifications of the principles which had been declared. They had a right to judge conscientiously whether reliance could be placed on any pretended change of system, and to act accordingly."
"The means of effecting her purpose were to destroy all religious opinion, to pervert a whole nation to Atheism, a phenomenon of profligacy! to deprave morals, by laws of easy divorce, and by guilty applauses of accusations by children against their parents. Its success was seen in the successive subversion and subjugation of all the minor powers of Europe. Ambition and fanaticism marching hand in hand. bearing the ensigns of hypocrisy, treachery, and rapine."
The conduct of France towards the United States, was the subject of the succeeding essays, and these were chiefly important. They gave a clear, succinct exposition of the questions which had arisen out of the treaty of seventeen hundred seventy-eight; of the rights and duties of neutrals, of the policy of the American government, and of the alleged injuries of France, resulting in a complete vindication of that policy not only from the charge of injustice, but unfriendliness-showing that the United States had done more than was required-more. than strict neutrality towards England would sanction.
A review of the conduct of the French government compelled the conclusion, that its objects had been, with the aid of their American partisans, to degrade the Government and prepare the way for Revolution, perhaps conquest. It was followed by a consideration of the probability, the inducements, the means and the dangers of an invasion.
"It is asked," he observed, "what motives sufficiently potent can stimulate to so unpromising an attempt? The answer is, the strongest passions of bad hearts, inordinate ambition, the love of domination, that prime characteristic of the despots of France, the spirit of vengeance for the presumption of having thought and acted for ourselves —a spirit which has marked every step of the revolutionary leaders— the fanatical egotism of obliging the rest of the world to adapt their political system to the French standard of perfection-the desire of securing the future control of our affairs by humbling and ruining the independent supporters of their country, and of elevating the partisans and tools of France-the desire of entangling our commerce with preferences and restrictions which would give to her the monopoly; these passions, the most imperious, these motives, the most enticing to a crooked policy, are sufficient persuasives-to undertake the subjugation of this country.
"Added to these primary inducements, the desire of finding an outlet for a part of the vast armies which on the termination of the European war are likely to perplex and endanger the men in power, would
be an auxiliary motive of great force. The total loss of the troops sent would be no loss to France. Their cupidity would be readily excited to the undertaking by the prospect of dividing among themselves the fertile lands of this country. Great Britain once silenced, there would be no insuperable obstacle to the transportation. The divisions among us, which have been urged to our Commissioners as one motive to a compliance with the unreasonable demands of the Directory, would be equally an encouragement to invasion. It would be believed, that a sufficient number would flock to the standard of France, to render it easy to quell the resistance of the rest. Drunk with success, nothing would be thought too arduous to be accomplished.”
"There are," he said, "currents in human affairs, when events, at other times little less than miraculous, are to be considered as natural and simple. Such were the eras of Macedonian, of Roman, of Gothic, of Saracen inundation. Such is the present era of French fanaticism Wise men, when they discover the symptoms of a similar era, look for prodigies, and prepare for them with foresight and energy. But, if improbable, yet if the apprehension is not absolutely chimerical, it is the part of wisdom to act as if it was likely to happen! What then," he asked, "was to be done? To compound with rather than provoke resistance? That were dishonor-ruin-death. It would be to purchase disgrace, not safety. We must resist. Shall we declare war ? No. There are still chances for avoiding a general rupture which ought to be taken. Our true policy is, in the attitude of calm defiance, to meet the aggressions upon us by proportionate resistance, and to prepare vigorously for further resistance. We must invigorate the Treasury,-fortify our chief seaports,—create a respectable naval force -raise a considerable army. Our merchant vessels ought to be permitted not only to arm themselves, but to sink or capture their assailants. Our vessels of war to cruise on our coasts, and serve as convoys, authorized to sink or capture assailants, and bring in privateers hovering within twenty miles of our coast. This implies a war, but a limited and mitigated state of war, to grow into general rupture or not, at the election of France." The declared suspension of the treaties with her, he deemed a measure of evident justice and necessity-the natural consequence of a total violation on one side. The Consular convention ought also to be dissolved, as a "mischievous instrument devised by France in the spirit of extending her influence to other countries."
These essays were commenced immediately after Hamilton had received a confidential letter from the Secretary of State, containing the substance of the late despatches from the Envoys.
Copies of these despatches were, on the third of April, communicated in confidence, by the President to Congress. They disclosed one of the most profligate scenes in diplomacy.
In total disregard of the usage of nations and for the purpose of humiliating the United States, their Extraordinary Envoys were refused an audience. The pretext assigned was, that the Directory were greatly exasperated at the President's speech, and would require an explanation of it. They were informed, that until their negotiation was concluded, no public audience would probably be granted to them. That their communications would be with persons selected by and to report to Talleyrand.
Informal agents, probably panders* and mistresses, were employed to intrigue with the Envoys. They mentioned the irritation produced by that speech; urged it should be softened as due to their honor and to that of the Republic; and yet suggested, as a substitute, the contribution of a sum of money. Thus to soften the irritation and prepare the way for a negotiation, a douceur of fifty thousand pounds sterling for the personal benefit of the Directory was required.† Acting upon the assurances of Monroe, which brought upon this nation such grievous
* Indicated in the despatches by the initials "X. Y. Z." in consequence of a pledge that the names would not be given. They were Hottinguer, Bellamy and Hauteval..
† A similar proposition was made to Lord Malmesbury. "In the beginning of the negotiation, a person named Potter came to Lord M., stating that he was sent by Barras to say, that if the English Government would pay that Director £500,000 he would ensure the peace." Harris's Papers, iii. 492.