Слике страница
PDF
ePub

express his eager desire of making a general peace on such terms as would produce the greatest good from the greatest evil; for this,' said he would be a work not unworthy of the divine attributes ; and if mortals could effect it, they would act like those beneficent beings whom Socrates believed to be the constant friends and attendants of our species.'

“ He added, “As to the united nations, I applaud, admire, and almost envy them; I am even tempted to wish that I had been born a Chian or a Rhodian ; but let them be satisfied with the prize of virtue which they have already obtained. I will yield to none of your countrymen, my friend, in my love of liberty ; but she seems more lovely to my eyes when she comes hand-in-hand with peace. From that union we can expect nothing but the highest happiness of which our nature is capable; and it is an union which nothing now obstructs but- a mere word.

66° Let the confederates be contented with the substance of that independence which they have asserted, and the word will necessarily follow.

66. Let them not hurt the natural, and perhaps not reprehensible, pride of Athens, nor demand any concession that may sink in the eyes of Greece a nation to whom they are and must be united in language, in blood, in manners, in interests, in principles. Glory is to a nation what reputation is to an individual ; it is not an empty sound, but important and essential. It will be glorious in Athens to acknowledge her error in attempting to reduce the islands, but an ac-: knowledgment of her inability to reduce them (if she be unable) will be too public a confession of weakness, and her rank among the states of Greece will instantly be lowered.

6 .But, whatever I might advise, if my advice had any chance of being taken, this I know, and positively pronounce that while Athens is Athens, her proud but brave citizens will never expressly recognize the independence of the islands; their resources are no doubt. exhaustible, but will not be exhausted in the lives of us and our children. In this resolution all parties agree: I, who am of no party, dissent from them; but what is a single voice in so vast a multitude ? Yet the independence of the united states was tacitly acknowledged by the very offer of terms, and it would result in silence from the natural operation of the treaty. An express acknowledgment of it is merely formal with respect to the allies; but the prejudices of mankind have made it substantial with respect to Athens. fifty Athenians, or of a smaller number chosen by them.

556 Let this obstacle be removed: it is slight, but fatal; and while it lasts thousands and ten thousands will perish. In war much will always depend upon blind chance, and a storm or sudden fall of snow may frustrate all your efforts for liberty; but let commissioners from both sides meet; and the islanders, by not insisting on a preliminary recognition of independence, will ultimately establish it for ever.

66. But independence is not disunion. Chios, Cos, Lesbos, Rhodes, are united, but independent of each other: they are connected by a common tie, but have. different forms and different constitutions. They are gems of various colours, and various properties, strung in one bracelet. Such an union can only be made between states which, how widely soever they differ in form, agree in one common property, freedom. Republics may form alliances, but not a federate union, with arbitary monarchies. Were Athens governed by the will of a monarch, she could never be co-ordinate with the free islands; for such an union would not be dissimilarity but dissonance; but she is and shall be ruled by laws alone, that is, by the wilt of the people, which is the only law. Her Archon, even when he was perpetual, had no essential properties of monarchy. The constitution of Athens, if we must define it, was then a republic, with, a perpetual administrator of its laws. Between Athens, therefore, and the freest states in the world, an union may naturally be formed.

“There is a natural union between her and the islands, which the gods have made, and which the

powers of hell cannot dissolve. Men speaking the
same idiom, educated in the same manner, perhaps in
the same place; professing the same principles ;
sprung from the same' ancestors in no very remote
degree; and related to each other in a thousand modes
of consanguinity, affinity, and friendship, such men
(whatever they may say through a temporary resent-
ment) can never in their hearts consider one another
as aliens.
· Let them meet with fraternal and pacific dispo-
sitions, and let this be the general groundwork and
plan of the treaty :-

“1. The Carians shall be included in the pacification, and have such advantages as will induce them to consent to the treaty rather than continue a hazardous war.

66. II. The archon, senate, and magistrates of Athens shall make a complete recognition of rights of all the Athenian citizens of all orders whatever; and all former laws for that purpose shall be combined in one. There shall not be one slave in Attica. .

66. NOTE. (By making this a preliminary, the is . landers will show their affection for the people of Athens; their friendship will be cemented and fixed on a solid basis; and the greatest good will be extracted, as I at first proposed, from the greatest evil.) .

“III. There shall be a perfect co-ordination between Athens and the thirteen united islands, they considering her not as a parent, whom they must obey, but as an elder sister, whom they cannot help loving, and towhom they shall give pre-eminence of honour, and coequality of power.

*«• IV. The new constitutions of the confederate islands shall remain.

66. V. On every occasion requiring acts for the general good, there shall be an assembly of deputies from the senate of Athens and the congress of the is. lands, who shall fairly adjust the whole business, and settle the ratio of the contributions on both sides.' This committee shall consist of fifty islanders and

[ocr errors]

66 • VI. If it be thought necessary and found convenient, a proportionable number of Athenian citizens shall have seats, and power of debating and voting on questions of common concern, in the great assembly of the islands, and a proportionable number of islanders shall sit with the like power in the assembly at Athens.

(“s • Note. This reciprocal representation will cemen the union.)

6.VII. There shall be no obligation to make war but for the common interest.

6. VIII. Commerce shall-flow in a free course, for the general advantage of the united powers.

“*IX. An universal amnesty shall be proclaimed in every part of Greece and Asia. .6. This,' said the Athenian, “is a thorough sketch of a treaty founded on virtue and liberty. The idea of it still fills and expands my soul; and if it cannot be realized, I shall not think it less glorious, but shall only grieve more and more at the perverseness of mankind. May the eternal Being, whom the wise and the virtuous adore, and whose attribute it is to convert into good that evil which his unsearchable wisdom permits, inspire all ranks of men to promote either this or a similar plan! If this be impracticable, O miserable human nature! But I am fully confident that if * * * more at large * * happiness of all.'

* * * * * * * “ No more is extant of this interesting piece, upon which the commentary of the sage Polybius would have been particularly valuable in these times.”

· The allusions here were obvious; but whatever were the intentions of the elegant author of this production, they in no way moved our philosopher from his straight-forward course. Peace as an independent nation, in conjunction with France as an inseparable

ally, was the only object to which he would look, on the behalf of America, in negotiations of any kind with Great Britain. When Mr Jones therefore returned to England at the close of the year, he told his friends, “As to America I know not what * * * thinks, but this I know, that the sturdy Transatlantic yeomanry will neither be dragooned nor bamboozled out of their liberty.The new minister, lord Shelburne, it is not to be forgotten, was the particular friend and patron of Mr Jones at this period.

Great Britain however, we must say, seems to have evinced serious dispositions for peace in the spring of 1782. At this period Mr Oswald, a friend of lord Shelburne, was at Paris, and brought to Dr Franklin a letter from his lordship. This was merely complimentary ; and all that Franklin could learn, from the conversation of this gentleman, was, that the new ministry of England sincerely wished for peace; that they considered that both France and America must have attained their objects in the war ; that the independence of the United States being acknowledged, they supposed there was no other point in dispute, and that they were ready to treat of peace: intimating however, that if France should insist upon terms too humiliating for England, they had both the disposition and the means to continue the war.

Dr Franklin sent Mr Oswald a letter of introduction to M. de Vergennes, the French secretary of state for foreign affairs. The secretary took time to consider its contents; and an interview between the parties was afterwards appointed at Versailles for Wednesday, 17th April.

Here the assurances of his Britannic majesty's dispositions toward peace were received with great cordiality, and similar professions were made by the French minister on behalf of the king his master. De Vergennes observed however, that the king of France had made those engagements with his allies which would not allow him to treat without their concurrence; that the negotiations therefore must be for

« ПретходнаНастави »